Some time ago I came across this beautiful film, The Battle of the Sexes (2017), which portrays the phenomena primarily from the tennis world during the early 1970’s. During this period, the women’s liberation movement was gaining ground. Patriarchy was being challenged and the face and character of society were gradually being turned.
He publicly declared that women were weaker than men and their match was not even half as exciting as that of men. Besides, not many people went to watch them. The film neatly brings out the clash of the sexes; the clash of opposing ideologies: male chauvinism and women’s liberation and the battle of culture: modernism against traditionalism.
Riggs challenged the then, women’s number one, Margaret Court and defeated her with ease in straight sets. In doing this he believed he had once and for all established male supremacy and proved the point that girls were in actuality,’lesser’ than men. If a woman in her prime could not conquer a retired sportsman, then no female athlete can claim equal recognition, anything or pay as compared to men. Riggs however, grew overconfident and contested the leader of women’s equal status in tennis, Billie Jean King. Billie agreed to face him with great reluctance. The match was highly publicized and even dubbed’The Battle of the Sexes’.
Despite the fact that that infamous tennis game was dubbed’The Battle of the Sexes’, the actual battle has been raging probably since Man’s fall from Original Grace. When God created man and women He made them complementary to each other (Gen 1:26-28). He ordained that man should dominate woman. But through sin and in sin, man not only dominated the world, he also dominated woman.
In the past 60 years however, thanks to movements like women’s liberation, issues like equality of the sexes, respect for women, salaries and so forth, have come before public consciousness and have increasingly grown as a topic of discussion and debate. Progress has been terribly slow, but has nevertheless happened. The recent case of the Weinstein scandal only serves to reiterate my point of the snail-pace of progress.
In India – a land of varied cultural and religious traditions, each with its own way of honouring or subjugating women – the situation is not very pleasant. In fact, it’s quite dreadful. The Nirbhaya case among countless others are still fresh in our minds. Everyday’s news has a report on violence against women. What could possibly be the source of all this insanity?
To be able to answer this question I think it is very important that we ask and answer another question:”When does a male child realize he is superior to a female?” It may seem odd but it is vital. A child is unable until a specific age to distinguish between male and female. Even if it does so, it is only able to identify differences and similarities. The child has no idea of superior or inferior. When and how does he start to realize that he’s superior then? Obviously socialization and upbringing play a significant role. By observing how his family or the community or society into which he is born and raised functions, he begins to form thoughts, mould character and layout behaviour.
A child is very likely to treat women in a way that he has seen growing up. And so, I think that treating a woman as you would treat your grandmother, mother, aunt, sister, relative or spouse would solve half the issues. But a huge obstacle arises: what about those who don’t treat their grandmother, mother, aunt, sister, relative or partner well? If a man is not able to relate to girls who share his blood in a healthy fashion, it is very unlikely that he will treat other women nicely.
The Indian male psyche is corrupt. As a result of media’s unbounded desire to”sell”, women have become objectified in nearly every field of life and this denigrated picture of women is often splashed all around advertisements, billboards and the like. With so much negativity around it requires a determined effort to shun the alienation of women and recover the main relation. A detox of the brain is the need of the hour and strict and binding laws will do much to aid the process. Besides breaking down stereotypes through education and conscientizing individuals regarding the media, stronger steps need to be taken. Actresses need to come out stronger and put an end to an objectification of these, and mostly their bodies, through the media. I believe actresses would send a strong message if they decided that they wouldn’t do”damsel-in-distress”, item songs and carnal appetizers at all. If the public don’t want to see them for the character they play but only for the skin they show, then no amount of money could compensate for the objectification they experience.
The status of women in India is rising but aside from outside forces, girls, especially those with power and capability must stand up for their rights and dignity. It is not enough that male chauvinism be convicted, feminine helplessness must also be equally condemned.