I’ve always had the deepest respect for men who raise their voices for women rights. But a man completely free from his chauvinistic mind set in our society is the real rare species. Nowadays, a lot of men are supporting their women in thinking for themselves and progressing in life as individuals. The norms and culture of our society are changing. Our society is in its transformation stage but is still lacking a lot.

As a woman, to write about women without sounding hard core feminist, is tricky. But being a keen observer and having experiences, I feel compelled to write.

Women and their role in society is such a huge topic to discuss; it has many dimensions.

Women are hardly accepted as individuals in our society. Expectations from women to sacrifice are much higher than from men, though I believe to sacrifice out of love is embedded in her nature by default. What agitates me is the fact that their role and lifestyle are not only dictated but controlled by men. We live in a patriarchal society. We need male support for even being independent. Women are not often encouraged to think about themselves and have the power to make decisions. I am not against women who by choice want to stay at home. As a woman, I can understand that the most basic need of a woman is security. Women can only progress and work comfortably if provided with the right kind of environment. However, the outside world is shaped by men and their mentality. If only men really respect and change their perspective towards women, only then the society will progress and develop in the true sense.

Many women in our country are working because of financial issues or other social issues. The sad part is working is not something they enjoy or are excited about, in most cases. So they themselves feel cursed instead of feeling privileged to be part of a workforce. There is a mental flaw and lack of maturity in the thinking of both male and female members of our society. I often find double standards in men who outwardly pose as liberals and encourage other women to work, but shun their “own” women from working or even stepping out of the house. Well that tells us a lot about their limited thinking and hypocritical mind set.

This kind of approach is common even in our females. A woman once said to me that any woman who went outside to work with men deserved to face harassment. Believe me, that woman is educated and has a postgraduate degree. Moreover, there is another class of men who become liberal to enjoy the company of women, but does not take them seriously as a workforce. This is another way of degrading them. Exceptions and good men are there but rare. The concept of shutting women behind walls and not letting them go out to work to avoid evil is ridiculous. It’s a way to encourage men to behave as badly as they want to, and to not correct their bad attitude towards women. All women deserve to be equally respected – whether they stay at home, go to work or to any place.

Women are often tagged as gossipers but surprisingly, at work, men gossip more than women. They talk a lot about women: from their physical appearance to their marital status. What is the point of this? I never get it. Why is an independent woman a source of curiosity to men of all ages at work? Why can’t they mind their own businesses and focus on their own women and work. Their very nature to control, have authority and their misogyny doesn’t end at their homes.

There are only a few men who really support women to work and progress as individuals; treat them as equal and capable human beings. In order to come out of this narrow-mindedness completely, we need to educate our society. We should stop using religion for misogyny and for imposing a certain set of standards on women. Basic moral standards and ethics are the same for both genders.  God created woman as a human being, then why are men and women both trying to make her the lesser being? Why all moral religious policing is restricted to women? Why don’t men focus on their own conduct? Even the men who themselves not keen followers of religion use religion to shun women.  We must discourage that kind of approach and behaviour.

I agree with the fact that women are of a different breed than men. They are different in their physical strength but women can have similar or superior intellectual capability than men, depending upon their upbringing, knowledge and environment. If our society wants to progress, our behaviour towards women needs a fine overall tuning.

I will conclude with Manto’s statement regarding women that he wrote decades ago but which is still very relevant to our society and its hypocrisy:

“Our society allows a woman to run a brothel but does not allow her to run a horse cart.”