There are many things about my Indian culture that I love: the history, the scientific discoveries, the art, the music, the fashion, the food, the religious and the philosophical histories.
One thing that I can't stand, however, is our tradition of backwards thinking about women and their roles in society. I'm certainly not speaking for ALL Indian people, but there are still a large number of Indian men AND women who buy into the notion that women are inferior to, less intelligent than, and less capable than men.
It may seem hard to believe in this modern age that sexism is still rampant, but I can assure you that it is. I have experienced it first-hand, I have seen it growing up in a large Indian community in New Jersey, and I have heard about it from the patients I care for as a women's health professional, and from the experiences of my friends and family members.
Sometimes it is blatant: physical, sexual, or verbal abuse. But, sometimes, it's more subtle. Sometimes, it's just making a woman feel stupid, feel worthless, feel like she doesn't know as well, doesn't have the same rights as her boyfriend or spouse or father or guardian, that she doesn't have the right to even determine her own destiny or make her own decisions. Women, being physically smaller and weaker than their testosteroned counterparts, are mistakenly viewed as weaker in other areas, like their intellect and judgement. It makes me so angry! Sometimes, I want to go to a rooftop and scream:
A PENIS DOES NOT MAKE YOU A SMARTER OR BETTER PERSON!
Now, I know some of you will think I'm man-bashing right there, but I assure you that I'm just as likely to assert:
A VAGINA ALSO DOES NOT MAKE YOU A SMARTER OR BETTER PERSON!
I wish everyone would just realize that what actually makes a smarter and better person is EDUCATION. Ignorance, in my opinion, is the root cause of all the evil in the world.
Why do so many cultures de-value women? Is the cause religion? Is the cause herd mentality? Is it brainwashing? I have no idea. But I know the solution: to be aware, to observe and report it, to not let it slide, and to EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE this and the next generation that women have the same intellectual abilities and rights as men.
Anyway, I found the following very interesting checklist on my internet exploits about what causes the faulty thinking behind sexism...I thought I'd reprint it here for those interested...I think it's good to know the cause when trying to find a cure:
FAULTY BELIEFS HELD BY SEXIST CULTURES:
1. Women are inherently evil (dishonest, manipulative, unfaithful, untrustworthy, etc.)
2. Women are inherently sexual beings.
3. Women are reduced to their "bodily" aspects, at the expense of their spiritual or intellectual selves.
4. Women are reduced to objects, who live in a man's world where the men are viewed as the predominant actors and/or subjects.
5. Women are inherently weaker than their male counterparts.
6. Women need to be properly controlled by--or governed by--men.
7. Women are powerless to help themselves or others.
8. Women are reduced to care-givers. They are praised for empowering (helping, mothering, assisting) others and condemned for helping themselves.