Gender equality and human relations

| Updated: October 24, 2017 08:52:13

Gender equality and human relations

The overpouring exuberance centring around the International Women's Day gives, more often than not, a misleading impression. Does it celebrate what in conventional sense is understood as womanhood or feminism? Successful women's rise to fame is highlighted in glowing terms. Stories of most of these women credited to have broken the barrier or trodden the forbidden pasture for the first time ever are inspiring enough, no doubt. But they are not representative of any society on this planet. They are just a rare breed like their male counterparts with backgrounds not so enabling. 
Admittedly, human society is yet to be perfect where gender differences -overt or covert -have disappeared. Discourses on gender discrimination even at a time when societies across the world claim to have made spectacular scientific and technological progress sound hackneyed and stereotyped. The approach to the issue is mostly exclusive where human society seems to be divided between two genders. As if there is a continuous gender war. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people hardly makes it to the picture. 
Society's character is shaped by human relations. Man-woman relationship has been wrapped in mystery by virtue of societal norms. The important point is to establish normal relations between the two. In some tribal and matriarchal communities, interactions between the two sexes breathe a fresh air courtesy of the simplicity that governs their lives. Sexual violence is an anathema in such communities. Female body is not displayed there as a sex object. 
True, in conservative societies, the attempt is to put women behind a veil. On the other hand, if male chauvinism marks some conservative societies' effort at limiting women's freedom to the advantage of dominant male members, the free or liberal societies take advantage of the too much of freedom. It is because of this, conjugal relations mostly hang from a tenuous thread. 'Live-together' gets the better of marriage and children grow up under single parent care. 
In societies in between the two, the problem is acuter. The young generation discovers itself neither here nor there. Missing the sense of belongingness to roots and culture they try to imitate lifestyle without the backing of education and restraint. The result is sexual aberrations where violence and licentiousness combine together to cause society moral and cultural haemorrhage. It is rotten psychology that is taking a heavy toll in the absence of strong defence against it. Girls and women are finding themselves at the receiving end. 
Pitted against such a situation, the success stories of a few women are no match for the widespread social rot. A review of the overall value system is in order now. Human relations based on mutual respect for each other are a precondition for narrowing the gap between genders. At a time when political clout has broken the traditional chain of command in villages, the rising upstart leadership gives a damn to the earlier established order. But not backed by education and cultural moorings, these muscle-flexing elements turn a blind eye to many injustices in party interest or even themselves initiate such a process in order to swell the rank. 
The problem thus aggravates further with the entry of new gadgets of entertainment even into once sleepy villages. Money and opportunities have gone into their heads and soon enough they walk straight into many avenues of moral debasement. Women are a minority here and at times they become a party to harassing and abusing their kinds simply because on protest they are made to eat the humble pie. 
Clearly, the disease of irreverence is what is blighting societies like Bangladesh. Even in human relations involving highly educated people, the subtlety of emotion, passion, ambition and intellection often gives in to crude and bland behaviour. Many couples live with it because they have no other means to get out of it. Such relations are however not limited only to men and women living under the same roof but also cover a variety of interactions in society. Refinement in taste and culture may have helped hide some of the baser instincts but at times some do really get exposed. 
So, the point here is to cultivate human growth in its natural stride, not in a contrived or manipulated pattern. Education here is a vital input. But perhaps the kind of educational system now introduced in the country fails to live up to the challenge. There is a need for remodelling it with the aim of extending its reach to take care of life in a comprehensive manner. Education without the backing of culture and traditional values cannot really be equal to the task of making a scholar a complete man. Commitment to family, society and nation must be balanced. Avarice and consumerism restrained, individuals can indeed perform their obligations properly. 
Feminism is no answer to the problem of gender inequality. It is at best a rebellion against social disparities suffered by a particular segment and at worst, to borrow from PB Shelley, 'a beautiful and ineffectual angel beating in the void' its 'luminous wings in vain'. Parity must be achieved on equal terms where both parties need to be enlightened, tolerant and civilised enough to appreciate human relations at its most glorious.                    

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