Asima Chatterjee- First Indian Woman to Earn a Doctorate in Science

India has always put a feather on the cap when it comes to its contribution to the field of science and development. Throughout history, it is evident that along with men, Indian women too have been prominent contributors to science. One such great personality in the field of science was Ms. Asima Chatterjee

Prof. Asima Chatterjee was born in 1917 in Calcutta, British India. In spite of the regressive ideologies people possessed for women back then, Chatterjee’s family was extremely supportive of her education and encouraged her to be an academic. Her father was very interested in botany and Chatterjee shared in his interest. She graduated with honors in chemistry from the Scottish Church College of the University of Calcutta in 1936.

Asima Chatterjee received a master’s degree (1938) and a doctorate (1944) in organic chemistry from the University of Calcutta’s Raja bazar Science College campus, making her the first Indian woman to earn a doctoral degree in the field of science. She was acknowledged as the Doyenne of Chemistry. She specialized in synthetic organic chemistry and plant products as part of her doctoral research. Her research was directed by Professor Prafulla Kumar Bose, one of the pioneers in natural product chemistry in India. she was also inspired by the doyens of Indian science, like Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray, Professor Prafulla Chandra Mitra, and Professor Janendra Nath Mukherjee, who influenced her career as a natural product scientist. In addition, she had research experience from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Caltech with László Zechmeister. Chatterjee’s research focused on natural products chemistry and led to the development of anti-convulsive, anti-malarial, and chemotherapy drugs. She made significant contributions in the field of medicinal chemistry with special reference to alkaloids, coumarins and terpenoids, analytical chemistry, and mechanistic organic chemistry over a period of 40 years. Her work led to the development of an epilepsy drug called Ayush-56 and several anti-malarial drugs.

She published around 400 papers in national and international journals and more than a score of review articles in reputed serial volumes. In addition to many citations in her work, much of it has been included in several textbooks.

She has won several prestigious awards such as the S S Bhatnagar award, the C V Raman award, and the P C Ray award; and is the recipient of the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award, in recognition of her contributions to the field of science. In addition to these accolades, she was also the first woman to be elected as the General President of the Indian Science Congress, a premier institution that oversees research in science. She was also nominated by the President of India as a Member of the Rajya Sabha from February 1982 to May 1990.

On the request of the late Professor Satyendra Nath Bose, FRS, she wrote Sarai Madhyamic Rasayan, a book in Bengali on chemistry for secondary school students, published by Bangiya Bijnan Parishad, an Institute for the Popularisation of Science founded by SN Bose himself.

In an era where people saw women as mere “property” that belonged to her husband, she rose to earn a name for herself. Due to her impeccable contribution to the field of science, she is truly an inspiration to many young girls. Being one of a kind, her achievements will be lauded for many more years to come.

Basic queries related to feminism. Part-1

Q1) What is feminism and when did it start?                                             

Feminism, one of the most influential ideologies, seeks to analyze the social position of women and lays the foundations for the reform and advancement of women in all areas of society.

This struggle for power, like class and race struggles, is potentially revolutionary. In fact, it is the oldest power struggle, the least public in its manifestations of conflict, and the most fundamental in its impact on society. In the Middle Ages or even ancient times, it makes more sense to start our studies at the end of the 18th century and the French Revolution. The Enlightenment and Revolution influenced women in France and other parts of Europe with the prospect of freedom and revolution. Mary Wollstonecraft is a leading early “feminist” writer and in her book “An Indication of the Rights of Woman (1792)”she says that women should have the same legal rights as men on the basis of equality of humanity, moral worth, rationality and freedom; It was wrong that women were defined by gender as denying their educational, legal, economic and political rights. She declared that there will be a beneficial revolution in the relationship between men and women.

As sensitive as these views appear today, they challenged the male-dominated power structures that ruled all levels of society in the 19th century. With men being liberated, women hoped their interests could be promoted through voting and parliament.

Three “waves” of feminism can be seen: the first between 1830 and 1930, focused mainly on legal and political rights; The second, in the 1960s and 1970s, focused on much more basic personal and relationship issues. The third over the past decade has also been essentially a reflection and re-evaluation of what has been accomplished.

Q1) Do you believe that only certain groups of people should be allowed to have an access to certain opportunities and rights? if no then why do we see this discrimination being practiced and why should anybody decide that?

Before answering the question, let’s deeply understand what equality of opportunity means.

Peter Westen, a renowned philosopher shows that an opportunity is a ternary relationship between a person, some obstacles, and the desired goal; however, a person only has an opportunity if he has a probability to achieve that goal. When you encounter insurmountable obstacles, you will have no chance. This makes it impossible to achieve a goal. For instance, one cannot have an opportunity to become the president of India if he is not a natural-born citizen. Many people, therefore, have no opportunity to become president of India. A person can have an opportunity even in the face of many, quite critical and severe, obstacles. So, a natural-born Indian citizen has the opportunity to become president, but he faces serious obstacles, such as accumulating the relevant number and distribution of votes, social obstructions, and gender obstructions.

For the opportunities to be equivalent within a group, each member of that group must confront obstacles that are not insurmountable. In our example, all Indian-born citizens have equal opportunities, when alterable obstacles such as race, gender, and religion are removed and when main barriers remain, such as getting democratically elected. One exception to alterable obstacles is that of biology. One can put a limit on sociological factors like racism, sexism, and casteism but not on the biological ones. Biology is the reason why men are preferred over women to form an army. The same reason goes for women as nurses are mostly women. You still can give equal opportunity to women to apply in the army but you can’t guarantee the equal outcome as a woman biologically has less stamina, power, and aggression than a man which are imperative to be a part of an army.

Now coming back to the question. No, I do not believe that only certain groups of people should be allowed to have an access to certain opportunities and rights. The real evaluation should be on the main obstacle. We should ultimately try to contain the alterable obstacles like racism, sexism, casteism etcetera. If we are able to minimize these obstacles, it will bring us quite close to achieve equality for opportunity.

The reason why discrimination is being practiced is because the alterable obstacles aren’t getting minimized as the sociological impact of flawed mentality taken from the society and the liberal provisions in the country are letting the young minds get corrupted.

They are taught from starting that, girls are only for household purposes and girls aren’t capable work outside the house.

They are also told that one cast is higher than another or one race is greater than another or one religion is purer than another. This impact does make the upcoming generation susceptible to becoming sexist and racist.

Introduction: Identity Politics and Political Correctness

Identity Politics

Identity politics is a term that describes a political approach wherein people of a particular religion, race, social background, class or other identifying factor develop political agendas and organize based upon the interlocking systems of oppression that may affect their lives and come from their various identities. Identity politics centers the lived experiences of those facing various systems of oppression to better understand the ways in which racial, economic, sex-based, gender-based, and other forms of oppression are linked and to ensure that political agendas and political actions arising out of identity politics leave no one behind.

There is a very positive element to identity politics, that identity politics can be a great source of strength and unity to minority communities: they help them feel psychologically safe and secure especially when coping with life in the West. Language, culture and religion are the ways in which people also cope with the psychological stress of trauma or rapid change — refugees and migrants will band together in ethnic communities in new countries in order to stay connected to what they have lost or left behind. More and more people join the social groups which results in more authority and power. And as it is said, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The social groups formed on the basis of their particular identity now starts to diminish, cancel and supress any valid argument made against them. Now that the majority of people are on the side of these social groups related to Feminism, Gay right activism, anti-racism etc, a person having an opposing but a valid strong argument can’t place it without being called as anti-feminist, homophobic, and racist. In most cases it leads to their career being destroyed.

This whole mob mentality which evolutionized from a primary cause to help the oppressed groups, class is because of the absolute power it gets on the later stages. They think that everything they do is correct and which is horribly wrong. This whole thing of identity politics has a bad effect on the society. Forget forgiveness, something said mistakenly isn’t tolerated at all and the criticism, hate and abuse the person has to suffer is immense and eventually leaves a mark for the rest of his life.

Political Correctness

Political correctness is a term used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society. The term has been used to describe a preference for inclusive language and avoidance of language or behaviour that can be seen as excluding, marginalizing, or insulting to groups of people disadvantaged or discriminated against, particularly groups defined by ethnicity, sex, or gender.

Political correctness makes sure we remain within societal boundaries that have been previously established. This helps us maintain the previous progress we have made regarding acceptance, equality and inclusivity. By directing people to be careful in their speech we help prevent negative polarisation and the acceptance of prejudices. This way we do not lose progress in tolerance and equality. The spread of hate crimes, extreme nationalism and prejudices can also be attributed to from lack of political correctness in politics. When people with a platform say bigoted things, the wider population sees these views as legitimate.

Political correctness restricts public debates and thinking in society and in mainstream media. This results in ‘touchy’ issues not being discussed efficiently. There is no flexibility with social boundaries. Political correctness is a form of social engineering used to silence people with ‘controversial’ ideas. Political correctness is not fixed, so what is unacceptable changes. But who gets to decide what qualifies as unacceptable? Politicians who condemn others citing political correctness (excluding ‘hate speech’ or clear examples of discrimination) are going against the principles of freedom of speech. They are silencing people according to their own standards. Some people think political correctness is a leftist plot that silences the right and removes ‘alternative politicians’ from mainstream media. Because much of the world’s views are not strictly ‘politically correct’, they are not represented. Others think that ‘The whole political correctness movement was invented by the Far Right to inhibit any meaningful discussion of diversity issues in order to keep racial, gender, and other barriers in place.

Marriage or Career?

While most of the women living in the modern society will choose career over marriage, why is the society uncomfortable with their choices?

Image Souce: YourStory

Women have evolved from a dependent gender to a representative individual in the society. When most of the women earn their living on their own, there are many people who keep on forcing them to give up their career choices. Why is society so much uncomfortable in accepting the independent state of a woman?

You might be thinking that in what era am I living in; aren’t things like these extinct already. But in an answer I would like to say ‘NO’. Even today society wants women to stay at home because ‘Agar zyada padhi likhi hogi toh zyada zubaan chalegi iski’ (If she is more educated, she’ll have more opinions) Wait… What? Why do you want to have a submissive, Why do you want women to follow your orders, Why such dominance over a specific gender?

These are some basic questions asked by every woman at one or the other place in her life. Sometimes these questions have brought revolutions in the old customs and sometimes these questions fade in the screams of domestic violence, rapes, molestation, etc.

With the spread of awareness, many women are getting justice against these crimes but who will get justice for women who are suffering everyday because of their own family members?

Yes, you read that right. These wrongs aren’t highlighted but one in every three woman in India faces the pressure of marriage. She is forced to continue her studies after the marriage. Women aren’t allowed to have jobs in which they earn more than their subsequent other. Fathers and Husbands want their daughter to be dependent on them because they think that the day she becomes independent ‘Ladki haath se nikal jaegi’ (We’ll lose the hold of our daughter).

I’ll tell you one story which took place recently with me, One of my friend stopped talking to me. All of a sudden, She blocked all my calls and messages. I stopped contacting her after trying for a while. After few months, I get to know the reason. The reason left me speechless. Loosely putting in her words, ‘When I placed my desire to have a part-time job, Mom scolded me and told me not to contact you anymore. She thinks you are a bad influence and all these seeds of being independent are sown into me by you.’

Amazing! Isn’t it? And I’m not building up this story for this article. This is a true story of me and my friend. If speaking up for yourself makes someone a bad influence then we really need to re-consider our thoughts and customs.

Family needs to choose between a submissive unhappy daughter and an independent happy daughter. Because its high time we start to address the issues which bachelor women faces not only from the society but their families as well.

On this International Family Day, I’d like to address every person with a family to treat their daughters as their own family and not like ‘Paraya Dhan’ (Other’s wealth); I’d also like to tell the daughters to stand up for themselves and not make any decision due to family or societal pressure.

I’d like to conclude this feature with the words of a famous singer:

People are going to judge you anyway, so you might as well do what you want.

Taylor Swift

AN INTERVIEW WITH NOVELIST-FILMMAKER TRISHA DAS

Trisha Das, a filmmaker and bestselling author, has just published Misters Kuru: A Return to Mahabharata (HarperCollins India priced Rs 350), her latest work of feminist mythological fiction.

Ms Draupadi Kuru: A Novel is a sequel to her book. After the Pandavas, the racy, sassy roller-coaster ride full of action, adventure, romance, and comedy is set in modern-day Kalyug in Delhi as a kind of continuation of the Mahabharata.

Das has previously written and directed over 40 documentaries in her filmmaking career, winning an Indian National Film Award (2005) and being named the International Artist of the Year at the UGA (2003).

She discusses the significance of reimagining and rewriting myths from a female viewpoint, her early influences from Indian mythology, and the use of humour in mythology.

The Kuru novels are a kind of sequel to the Mahabharat, rather than a retelling. Thousands of years after the conclusion of the original Mahabharata, the storey of Ms Draupadi Kuru picks up in modern times. Draupadi and her companions descend from heaven to Delhi. The Pandava brothers accompany their women to Delhi in The Misters Kuru.

When asked the question “How were you motivated to write a feminist retelling of the Mahabharata in a contemporary setting?” She replied saying, “My motivation was simple- I wanted to give these characters another shot at their lives, at reshaping their destinies. So many of them were forced into living lives they didn’t want to- being stripped of their kingdom, exiles, et cetera. I though it would be fun to see what kind of lives they would choose, given the choice.”

A mythological woman apparently only has power over men if she has a small waist and lotus eyes, or if she is their mother.

It’s a pain. Women are celebrated for their sacrifices or their appearance rather than their accomplishments. Any form of resistance to being punished or attempt at self-determination is severely punished, and women are constantly punished for their menfolk’s dumb decisions. Ask any attractive woman wanting to take a bath in the woods. Consent is practically non-existent.

She said once, “My maternal grandfather started my fascination with mythology as a young child. He was religious, but in an inclusive way, and he told the best stories from both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. I read various versions and interpretations of the Mahabharata growing up and, as an adult, delved into the Ganguli and Debroy translations, alternate versions like Bheel Mahabharata and mythological fiction. I used to watch the TV series every Sunday on Doordarshan and point out mistakes, which everyone in my house found thoroughly annoying.”

Feminism is a relatively new phenomenon, but female dominance has always existed in some form or another. Even when the official narrative did not endorse it, women have always been strong. They worked in the shadows or exercised influence by dressing up as men, being saints, or a thousand other ways to get around the machine. Feminists are now working to shift the narrative and modify- same result, different approach.

‘Where is my BEST HUSBAND Award?’

“She’s not even appreciating me for doing the household chores and managing the kids myself for the whole day…!!!”

Excuse me, What? Are you asking for an award just because you did the work that women have been doing almost everyday since ages? 

This might sound astonishing to you but this is what our society has been fighting for. By ‘Our Society’, I indirectly mean to point out ‘Our patriarchal Society’. 

Image Source: ThoughtCo.

We hear this word ‘Patriarchy’ on a day-to-day basis now, but what is the meaning of this word? Patriarchy simply means the supremacy of the male members of the family. What it indirectly hints at is the inferiority of the female members. We have witnessed this patriarchy since we were kids. Don’t tell me you did not. When you were asked who your superhero is, Didn’t you respond- Dad? We have always seen our mothers working day and night at home doing all the household chores, managing the kids, cooking the food and yet no one has ever appreciated her work. This is a very minute example for the patriarchal system that continues to be passed on as a legacy to every next generation. 

But didn’t patriarchy exist before? And if it did then why was it not so much talked about? The simple answer to this is the lack of awareness among the women to acknowledge the wrongs being done to them. And one cannot fight the issue which is not even accepted as an issue. In the times of our grandparents, everyone believed this is how life ought to be and thus women accepted every dominance done by the opposite gender. 

Today the means of communications have excelled and it has become quite easy for us to know what is going on in the other parts of the world. Because of the developed communication, social media and other sources, the women are aware of what is wrong and as the common proverb of hindi says, ‘Bardaasht karne ki bhi hadd hoti hai, jab sanyam ka ghada bhar jaata hai toh wo toot jaata hai’ Loosely translated: There is a limit to tolerate and when enough of the patience is tested, it breaks. This can also be the reason why women are raising their voices against the patriarchal norms. 

While there are so many patriarchal customs being followed in our society, there are still many who deny it exists. For those denying these, some of them are listed below:

Dowry System: 

  • This is one of the major reasons why women are considered as a liability on the family. There’s a celebration on the birth of the boy child whereas the family mourns when a girl child is born because when she’ll be married the family will have to arrange the dowry. As a solution to this many girl children are killed as a foetus whereas others are drowned in the milk vessel after birth. 
  • If somehow the girl manages to escape the cruelty from their paternal family, she is killed by her in-laws if they are not satisfied with the dowry. This is termed as ‘dowry death’ in our Indian constitution. According to Indian National Crime Record Bureau, there were 8,239 dowry death cases, 1,285 cases of attempted dowry deaths, and another 4,890 cases with pending investigations in 2009.

Sati Pratha: 

  • ‘Shave her head, break her bangles’; ‘Who will take care of the child, you must remarry’. These are two different cases- First, when the husband dies; Second, when the wife dies.
  • It has always been believed in our Indian society that a woman’s life is nothing after her husband. After the death of a husband, a widow is seen as a public property by other men and as unluck by her own family. She is not allowed to enter holy events because her presence is considered inauspicious. Imagining the atrocities of this, many women wilfully gave up their lives by sitting alive on the burning pyre. 

Ridiculous, Isn’t it? But many of these customs have been eradicated with the help of new laws and orders regulated by our constitution. In modern India, people have derived modern ways of formulating the patriarchy. Some of them can be listed as:

Unequal Pay: 

  • When there is no inequality found in assigning the tasks to women, there is a major difference found in their pay-scale. This is one of the major issues found in the corporate world and even the movie industry. This issue needs to be spoken of. 

Lack of policies: 

  • While many companies offer paid maternity leave, there are still many companies who fail to provide the same. Left with no option, women have to leave their jobs. There is still the lack of creche facilities in every domain of the work sector. While fathers enjoy their fatherhood, we need to ask the mothers who lost their careers for their child. 
  • Many companies lack the policies to safeguard women’s right resulting in the rise sexual harassment cases at work place. Due to the lack of these policies today only 6% of urban women enjoy employment. 

Overburdening: 

  • Some years ago, women used to manage the household. With the increasing inflation rate, it has become almost inevitable for women to not work. Women are stepping forward to share the responsibilities of their husbands, but this case isn’t vice versa.
  • With women stepping into the work-sector their workload seems to just have increased. Now they have to manage their work at the workplace and also complete their household chores. Too unfair!

For how many is this overburdening going to continue? It is high time for every woman to speak against injustice. Our Society really needs to understand that, ‘Women are not the goddess of sacrifice neither are they a sexual toy to be played with.’ As our former Prime Minister said: You can tell the condition of a Nation by looking at the status of its Women, Women are not a liability for the nation, instead they are an asset.

Feminism

What is feminism?
Who are called as a feminist?
What does a feminist do?
Why feminism arrived?

Before saying about feminism let me clear one thing feminism is not only about women getting equal rights and opportunities rather feminism is a belief that every individual should be given equal rights, powers and opportunities. If you stand for equality then you are a feminist. Basically feminist are those individuals who takes care no one is treated unfairly.

Feminism started in the 19th and early 20th centuries addressing issues of women’s suffrage (the right of women to vote in elections). The second-wave feminism started in 1960s broadened debate to include cultural inequalities, gender norms, and the role of women in society.

During the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe many Enlightenment philosophers defended the rights of women, including Jeremy Bentham (1781), Marquis de Condorcet (1790), and Mary Wollstonecraft (1792). Other important writers of the time also expressed the views of the feminist.

Unlike the Western feminist movement, India’s movement was initiated by men, and later joined by women. The first phase of feminism in India was initiated by men to uproot the social evils of sati (widow immolation), to allow widow remarriage, to forbid child marriage, and to reduce illiteracy, as well as to regulate the age of consent and to ensure property rights through legal intervention.

But feminism as an initiative by women started independently a little later in Maharashtra by pioneering advocates of women’s rights and education: Savitribai Phule, who started the first school for girls in India (1848).

 Tarabai Shinde, who wrote India’s first feminist text Stri Purush Tulana (A Comparison Between Women and Men) in 1882; and Pandita Ramabai, who criticized patriarchy and caste-system in Hinduism, married outside her caste and converted to Christianity (1880s).

The Bengali reformers included abolishing sati, which was a widow’s death by burning on her husband’s funeral pyre, abolishing the custom of child marriage, abolishing the disfiguring of widows, introducing the marriage of upper caste Hindu widows, promoting women’s education, obtaining legal rights for women to own property, and requiring the law to acknowledge women’s status by granting them basic rights in matters such as adoption.

The second phase started when Mahatma Gandhi expanded Indian women’s public activities by initiating them into the non-violent civil disobedience movement against the British. Many women organisations formed. Women-only organisations like All India Women’s Conference (AIWC) and the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) emerged. Women started looking for their scope in leadership roles in political parties, women’s franchise and communal awards. In 1954 the Indian Communist Party formed its own women’s wing known as the National Federation of Indian Women.

By the 19th century and 20th century more women issues came to spotlight. More amount of women became active and started protesting for their rights. Feminists in the 1970s challenged the inequalities that had been established and fought to reverse them. These inequalities included the unequal wages for women. The aim was to abolish the free service of women.

Struggle of feminist are still going on. Many women are still fighting for their freedom. We need to change this view that women don’t need permission they have their voice and they can make their own choice.

Let’s find out about some Indian feminists and their contributions. They are :

  • Savitribai Phule  She is one of the earliest Indian feminists. She started the first school for girls in India in the year 1848.
  • Tarabai Shinde – The writer of India’s first feminist text Stri Purush Tulana (A Comparison Between Women and Men) in 1882.
  • Kamini Roy She is a poet and suffragette. She became the first woman Honors Graduate in India in 1886.
  • Saroj Nalini Dutt – She is the early social reformer who pioneered the formation of educational Women’s Institutes in Bengal.
  • Mira Datta Gupta – Activist for women’s issues and one of the founding members of the All India Women’s Conference.
  • Sarala Devi Chaudhurani – Founder of the Bharat Stree Mahamandal, one of the first women’s organisations in India.

Addressing Toxic Masculinity

 

“Sometimes people hear “toxic masculinity” and think the term is anti-men. It isn’t. It’s anti-telling- men -they-have-to-repress-emotions- and – be-dominant-alphas-to- be- considered – real-guys. It’s pro-men. Thinking, feeling, resilient, strong, awesome men.”

– Amanda Jette Knox

I am sure that if you’re an international K-pop fan, then you are no stranger to the knee-jerk reaction people have after they have begged you to show them the images and/or music videos or any K-Pop group. Most reactions generally revolve around “They look like women” or “They are too feminine” or “Why are they wearing make-up?” or the infamous “Are they gay?”.

This made me wonder, what exactly is it that causes such a reaction? What does it mean to be ‘man’ or to be something lesser than that? Are we, as a society, missing out on addressing the toxic masculinity that plagues the young minds?

Although, there have been some colloquies on it, most of them leave out the dialogue that Asian men are particularly hyper-emasculated in western culture (and also by minorities in western culture) which could also be a reason why people automatically react in this manner, besides already having discrimination towards appearances that don’t fit the extremes of femininity and masculinity. As for the people mouthing off about K-pop looking too “feminine”, it ends up bringing up the connotation that femininity is a bad thing somehow. It’s essential to understand that feminine and masculine traits are social constructs, so they change according to each culture.

What is toxic masculinity?

Toxic masculinity is those elements of our social definition of masculinity that have concrete negative impacts on men by promoting behaviours such as refusing medical treatment to appear strong, suppressing emotions that show vulnerability, and idolizing violence as a solution to problems.

These behaviours are enforced by other men (and society as a whole), by challenging the manhood of those who deviate from this behavior, while also teaching each other that manhood is something to be valued above all else. In addition, most of them wrestle with the perception of masculinity, which, in a feudal society like ours, is very conditional. Of course, women perpetrate violence too: they can be aggressive and brutal, particularly to other women. But undoubtedly, the culture that stokes such violence smacks of machismo. Manhood is not naturally given, but is a goal to be achieved. To be born a boy is a privilege but one that can be lost if one is not properly initiated into masculine practices.

What are the core features of this model of manhood?

First, aggression is natural and desirable in men. A ‘real’ man is eager to pick up a fight. If he does not, he is told to wear bangles on his wrist. Even the slightest intrusion in his physical, mental or social space is unacceptable. Second, men must be tough — muscular and unemotional; they must not be easily perturbed, must not grieve and cry. Part of what it means to be tough is to suppress empathy towards others, to be embarrassed by fear or any other vulnerability. Third, men must be ambitious and ruthless. Once they set a goal, it must be achieved regardless of consequences to others. Since winning is all-important, other men striving to achieve the same goal are rivals to be eliminated. Extreme competitiveness, on this model, is a classical male characteristic. Fourth, it does not behove men to consult others, negotiate with the weak, or settle for anything less than what they want. They take independent decisions that brook no questioning. As famously put by Amitabh Bachchan in one of his films, ‘Bas… keh diya na (Enough, I have said so).’

And if you don’ fill in these roles, then too bad, you’re deemed to be not ‘man enough’.

In most discourses, however, what isn’t properly addressed is that women perpetuate toxic masculinity too. There is an institutionalized aspect of masculine toxicity as culture that we recognize as true for men in general, but ignore being equally true among women, even many feminist women. Most people and groups do this to some extent, it’s hard to be fully self aware and self critical. We don’t always see the flaws in ourselves as readily as we see them in others. Part of feminism is recognizing the invisible structures that pull societal norms to be what they are. This is just an aspect of that and speaks to the idea that we really have to be the change we want to see in the world and it’s pretty naive to consider yourself or your group as “clean hands” in the matter just because you are aware of one piece of the puzzle.

So, what can be done to overcome this?

The first step would be, abandoning ‘just for men’ attitudes, and not doing it for the sake of getting women to like you. ‘Woke’ bros are just as problematic, so just live honestly and act respectfully towards everyone. Stand up for what’s right even when it’s hard and you’re a minority voice.

Just like we “make room” or “hold space” for voices that are actually impacted by the problems we see in our society it makes sense we should do the same to at least include men as valuable voices to addressing the “male toxicity” problem. Only they can speak their own truth.

Violence, misogyny, and no accountability are pillars of toxic masculinity. So, knock down those pillars daily. Embracing who you are and standing up for those who need it, you start to realize gender doesn’t have a place to shape our lives as rigidly as society tells us. Call it inner peace and confidence! You can embrace your personhood, just not things. You can embrace your own idea of a ‘masculine’ identity, just don’t be attached to the external.

“All of us have to recognize that being a man is first and foremost being a good human. That means being responsible, working hard, being kind, respectful, compassionate. If you’re confident about your strength, you don’t need to show me by putting somebody else down.”

Credit Where It Is Due

Who invented the telephone? Alexander Graham Bell. Who invented the computer? Charles Babbage. Who invented the automobile? Karl Benz. Who invented the airplane? The Wright Brothers. We all were taught in school about the great inventors and scientists who created history by creating something extraordinary, but as history has appreciated some of the remarkable people it has not been so kind to the women inventors and there were times when the credit of something remarkable was passed on to a man, stealing away not only the credit but also a chance to be recognized and be remembered always. Let us take a look at such incredible women who’s inventions were credited to their male counterparts.

Rosalind Franklin- In 1958, James D. Watson and Francis H.C Crick received a Nobel prize for their groundbreaking discovery o the double Helix, which changed our point of view of the human DNA, but little do we know that it was Rosalind Franklin who actually discovered the double Helix but died 4 years prior of cancer with no recognition whatsoever.

Lise Meitner- In 1944, Otto Hann won a prize in Chemistry from the Royal Swedish Academy for his discovery of nuclear fission. This discovery would later contribute to the making of the atomic bombs. The woman that he worked in this dangerous research was Lise Meitner, who never received credit for her work.

Hedy Lamarr- Hedy Lamarr was an American-Australian actress and a fashion icon, but she was also the brilliant mind who took part in the invention of the radio guidance system- the system that enables the WiFi and Bluetooth that we use every day. What’s tragic is that while she was presenting her invention to the Navy with her partner, George Antheil, the Navy just pretended to not be interested in it and then stole it later on. Unfortunately, she received her due to recognition in her 80s.

Margaret Knight- In 1868, a woman who was working at a paper bag factory, invented the machine that sealed and folded the paper bag on its own, saving millions of dollars in the workplace. It may sound nothing but back in 1868, it was a revolutionary idea. But there was a machinist who asked to see her machine and he went and tried to patent it in his name behind her back. Fortunately, she fought him and because there were several eyewitnesses, she managed to win the case and received her credit.

What does empowerment/bravery have to do with gender?

Not making women Commandant Officers in the army is simply prejudice and fear of the fraternity of male officers.

The argument made by the Solicitor General in the Supreme Court that women officers of the Indian Army cannot be made as Commandants because male soldiers will not obey their orders is in fact irrational. In 1992, women were first included in the Armed Forces through the Short Service Commission. This service is of 10 years which can be extended up to 14 years.

They train in OTA Chennai and work shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. Their posting takes place at risky, rough and tough areas, whether it borders Kashmir or as a UN Peacekeeper, Libya and Congo. In areas bordering Pakistan and in the North East, there are hardly 4-5 officers and even sometimes just a sole woman officer with her male soldiers.

The question is when the head of NCC battalion of over 800 girls can be a male commandant, then why can’t a woman be the commandant of that battalion? The argument that the physical difference in women makes them less capable of the military is ridiculous. Whether the fighter is at the junior level or senior position.

There is no need for more or less muscle power anywhere. At the senior level, job profile supervision, strategy making and decision making have to be done. An order issued by the Ministry of Defense on 25 February 2019 calls for giving a permanent commission to women in the army from the date of the order. But this leaves off the demand of women who have served the country for 24-25 years and most of them have crossed 40 years of their age.

It is necessary that the policies of the government should be proposed considering those who are currently the officers in the army and should not be made considering the future. Now that the time has come for these high-ranking women officers to be given their right to serve in high positions, the appellant suspects that selective 332 women officers, who are just 4% of their entire capacity, will purloin the vacant positions at a higher level in the military. This is nothing but prejudice and fear of the fraternity of male officers.

The Army considers women officers as an effective workforce for lower-level positions which extends up to 14 years of service and considers them incompetent and unfit for the Commandant level, which is a culmination of hypocrisy. People argue that this battle is parallel to fighting against the government. But they have to understand that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it clear that women should be taken for bureaucracy and all senior positions of government. The Prime Minister’s words are political volition.

It should be believed that a person’s rank or role in life should be according to integrity and merits. On the one hand, we send Captain Tanya Shergill in the Republic Day Parade to lead the contingent and on the other hand, we argue in the Supreme Court that she is not entitled to be a commandant in the army. This reflects the military’s dual policy towards its people. The fight is not against the government but against the misconception and mindset of bureaucracy.

Our women officers have suffered sentimental throbs during their 25-year job. To be sidelined despite having the ability, the lack of job security due to the ambiguous cadre status and working below the 6 batch Junior Officer affects the morale of giving 100 per cent for the service. The argument that can be made in favour of these women officers is that the mode of war in the world is changing. The world is evolving in a cyber age and even wars are not left rearwardly. Signal communication has to govern in ever-increasing adverse surroundings.

New technologies and methods of demolition are being prepared every day. And analytical skills are more than the physical ability to deal with them. Women are making missiles in DRDO and Chandrayaan in ISRO, then why can’t they command a battalion? We all know the answers to these questions. This idea needs to attain policies.

Men and women live in the same bunker in the army. Once a woman or a man joins the army, he/she is just a fighter, apart from gender. It is only the qualification that should decide their position in the service. Are women kept in the army only as fancy chunks? So that the army is not labelled as ‘men zone.’

And they only maintain a women-men ratio so that the data can be shown internationally.
How is heroism related to gender? When a woman can handle the election campaign of Srinagar, which is currently the most unstable area in the world, without being in the army, then why can’t women handle the commandant’s charge?

A woman can be second in command but not a commandant because women can perform in the army only as long as they do not hurt the ego and arrogance of men. However, when we look at the other side of the coin, there are some false feminists who have used the card of family and child care responsibility to deny the call of duty. There was a case when a female officer refused to go to Nagpur to court-martial because she had to take care of her newborn. Such excuses should be condemned.

If the Supreme Court and the government feel that women are not competent for combat or defence service because they are women, then their entry into the service should be stopped altogether. But Punita Arora, Padmavati Bandopadhyay, Mitali Madhumita, Priya Jhingan and Tanya Shergill prove all those arguments wrong. High positions are being demanded as rights, not in charity.

FEMINISM

feminism Archives | Green European Foundation

With the aim to have an equal world for both males and females, in 1870, a revolution for change by the name ‘feminism’ emerged from France. It firmly believed in equal space for females at par with males. Feminism is a counter to patriarchy – a society in which the males dominate; which is a prevalent form of societal arrangement around the globe. As a movement, it focuses on pointing out the adverse and disastrous effect that patriarchy can bring to a woman to face, not only in the home but also in workplaces.

A constant refraining of females’ equality that they should have been subjected to, make them sceptical of their own self. They accept it as inevitable and devalue themselves. Even biology is widely used as a defence for male’s dominance over females, by limiting the abilities of women, categorizing what they can do and what they can’t. Thus satisfying the deep-rooted gender stratification which hierarchically ranks people in society based on gender. It’s just a very simplified way to stratify society into males and females. But feminist think sex and gender as two different things, sex on the hand is predominantly based on physical things and attributes, gender on the other hand concerns psychological and cultural differences between males and females. In such circumstances around the globe, feminism appears to be that driving force that drives women to stand and ask questions to these patriarchal norms, not themselves. The whole objective is making a change in behaviour and action of society towards females. It’s a journey from A (status quo) to B (female equality). 

Feminism, though being a common and well-heard concept to many, is often wrongly interpreted to mean ‘treating women over and above men’. In the pursuance of this misunderstood concept of feminism the aim sometimes becomes ‘destroying men’ instead of destroying the ‘patriarchal ideas’ that are deep-rooted into society. It needs to be realised that this movement is not about making men lesser than women but to make the women equivalent to the men. By meaning or calling men in any way inferior to women, goes completely against the whole idea and concept of feminism.

The very aim of Feminism is not to override men’s’ race and thrash it all together but to rather question and root out patriarchal thoughts from society. Based on these two interpretations, we have two classes of feminists, equality feminists and difference feminist. While the former focus on sameness, latter focuses on putting females somewhat on privileges over males. Formerly made highlights in 19th and 20th century, latter was prevalent near the 1980s and 1990s and afterwards. 

To conclude, until women subordination is “common” to both females and males, establishing a society of equality among them is a far cry. All Feminism can do is, it can reach to females and tell them their worth and encourage them for the demand for equality. But the interpretation and foot-steps of feminism must be carefully watched otherwise people will have to start a future movement to root out matriarchy.

The dreams we dare to dream.

If we are talking about the present scenario everybody starting from a kid in high school to a working class adult to a pop sensation all of us are suffering from a thing what we call as a conflict of conscience. So in a manner we are asked to grow up when it’s required and at the same time we are also told not to talk while the so called adults are speaking. Therefore we all are in the same page of mental tussle and dilemma that what is right and what is wrong and what does the future beholds for us.

Well if you ask me we all inherit that so called thing called conscience which helps us to differentiate in things and acts which we call humane or inhumane,kind or cruel. If you are still wondering what am I talking about let’s talk about things like a boy can’t wear makeup or a girl should not wear shorts bikinis. Well why is that? Why is it always about you can’t do this you can’t do that what will the people think if you do something like that well what someone else is thinking of me it should not be my problem. As we should always live our lives in a manner that we can embrace everything we are and we can be. As that wise being said love yourself and your decisions and if because of some circumstances things doesn’t work out the way you planned rise up fight again as at least in that way you took your own decision that means that failure won’t be turned into an excuse and that is what makes life a precious thing to behold and beguile. To be frank this society needs some serious reformation as people thinking that a woman can’t do this because they are physical lesser capable or comments like someone is not man enough because of their orientation or developments at the cost of millions of trees who are the only beings keeping us alive from the extinction which is already in effect is not justified.

People will always say stuff like that your dreams are unrealistic,grow up,drinking is a sin, making love is bad and really weird stuff like that but at the end of the day the most important question which we all should ask is what do we want?As that’s all that matters. To do something you love to do is what enlightens our soul. Fight for your dreams and the cause you believe in and live your life in away that you won’t have any regrets and you love each second of your life. As after a storm there comes a light a light of hope justice and Love. Surround yourself with people who actually care for you because there will be a few for sure but don’t dabble with fake ones who are just their to pull you down. As it doesn’t matter if you are associated with one person or a hundred, as long as that one person really cares for you there is nothing to regret .

As at the end you will not need immortality and at that time one life will be enough to touch the stars and to make miracles as we pass to the great unknown together with people with whom we shared this place called home.