Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gender Equality and Marriage

I have always favored gender equality when there are many closely associated with me who believes that men are superior to women. It must be my upbringing or maybe the Indian/Hindu culture. I have realized over the years that men and women are equally vulnerable and each deserves no special treatment. A woman can be strong on her own without feigning weakness. When one talks about the empowerment of women, it should never be by making a man weak. Every society needs strong men and women. When men/women are made to be strong they are naturally inclined to help the weaker in the society. So I believe empowerment of women is not the only change we want in our society, we want the men and the women to be equally empowered so that they support each other.

The other day I stumbled upon a blog and Uma Challa who has taken this fight seriously. In addition to fighting for women she fights for the numerous men who are now abused under the various laws brought in the name of women. There are many causes that this organization is fighting to uphold the sanctity of marriage. It may not have been noticed by many regarding NCW’s (NATIONAL COMMISSION of WOMEN) recent proposal to amend Section 125 of Code of Criminal procedure (CrPC) to include women involved in live in relationships to be eligible for alimony. Now I do not have anything against men or women who do not want a marriage certificate but prefer to live-in, but I do believe that this right should not encroach upon those who have taken the marriage vows seriously.

Now coming to the religious text that I should be following as a Christian, and that I am sure many like quoting to make the woman shut her mouth, let me quote the following that I prefer to see.

Gal. 3:28: "There is neither Jew or Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

But for the present, let me be an opportunist and hold onto the Indian/ Hindu culture that I so love rather than my religion to emphasize gender equality.

This has been done beautifully by Uma Challa in her blog:

The inseparability of the male and female entities in the Universe was recognized by Indians as early as the Vedic times. This beautiful sentiment is manifested through the representation of Goddess Parvathi (Uma) and Lord Siva (Maheswara), known as “the parents of the Universe”, as UmaMaheswara or Ardhanareeswara (half-man, half-woman). This representation indicates that while both the female and male forms have their own individual identities and strengths, they are still interdependent. They complement each other and, it is only by combining their individual strengths that they are able to create and nurture life in the Universe. This divine couple is considered by Indians as an example to be emulated by all human beings.

Now I do not care if there are some Indian texts that say otherwise. But how absurd it is when everyone knows that there are certain things the man cannot do and vice verse. So I just cannot understand why it is difficult to accept that they are created in such a way that they are complementary to each other.

Now let me look at the meaning of complementing:

1- Completing part (something that completes or perfects something else)
2- One of two (either of two things that form a unit

Is it not beautiful and right? Something that completes or perfects something else and none is higher or lesser. Both entities are equally important to complete the relationship. And this is what I believe the institution of marriage, which ought to be the pillar of every society is all about.

Let me end this with a poem from Khalil Ghibran on marriage: Khalil has compared the man and woman to the oak and cypress trees or to the pillars of a temple. Now can anyone say which tree or pillar is superior?

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.


  1. Its sad that there was never a woman apostle along with Jesus !!!

  2. Happy Kitten, your words and thoughts leave me speechless. You have given voice to what equality between man and woman should mean. They compliment and complete each other, as perfectly represented in the tin-yang symbol of the Chinese.

    "Empowerment of women...should never be by making a man weak" HK about sums up everything because otherwise, instead of complimenting and completing, they start competing...natural partners become unnatural adversaries. Where can happiness be found in that?

    The religions say it, Kahlil Gibran says it in a manner like no other philosopher-poet can. Yes there are discordant voices too, as there will always be in every human activity or relationship. But why speak of them and lose the beauty and the joy that can only be yours by looking at and following voices that show you the positive, unifying path in which growth of one is not at the expense of the other?

  3. Gender equality, i believe is something that should be dis-associated from religion.....

    There is no point in looking at scriptures....
    The reason i say this is because, any text can be easily misinterpreted.....
    it happens in all the religions...
    and gender equality is one of the factors which will show, how much a country has progressed....

  4. Happy Kitten! You have said it so beautifully! Yes, in any relationship, partners should compliment each other and not one over-powering the other. Beautifully said.

  5. Happy Kitten - Blogrolling you :)

  6. KK; there you go.. even a non Christian knows the route to take! But Christ never belittled women and always had equal concerns for them. Hence I love this man so much. He taught women, healed women, and accepted women, even those considered "unclean." As for sending them as Apostles, I guess he must have thought about the practicality of woman traveling alone in those days.

    But as Ajit commented it is best not to take religion into this since we will have our own ways to interpret them, but unfortunately religion is so much engraved into our lives.

  7. Vinod thank you for your kind words.

    I wish we will succeed in teaching our children to respect and accept one another.

  8. Smitha thank you. Needless to say that I am happy to be blogrolled by you.

  9. So true, Asha! Once, before you dealt with this topic, if I remember correctly. and you have a very balanced approach.

  10. Indrani: yes I did write about it earlier... something prompted me to do so this time too.

  11. This is a beautifully written and very thoughtful piece.
    You have considered all aspects of the matter, and presented it in a very well-balanced manner.

  12. well said - wish it all came about automatically between two people.that's how it should be. i have seen many men talking and taking a superior position just due to peer pressure!!

  13. Thank you RM; when it comes from you, who I blv has tested this concept and succeeded it is indeed inspiring. You have managed to balance work and home and while enjoying the well deserved fruits of your toil continues to face life with the same zest. Let me say it again; it is people like you who inspires us.

  14. Maddy:

    "i have seen many men talking and taking a superior position just due to peer pressure!!"

    How sad .... if only they could be liberated.

    But then in marriage, it takes a while before this adjustment happens, if it it ever happens. But once this happens this is the most beautiful relationship on earth.

  15. I agree, 'Every society needs strong men and women. When men/women are made to be strong they are naturally inclined to help the weaker in the society.'

    Sums up how I feel. Not competitors but partners, equal partners.

    I feel if women are equally empowered, it kind of balances the system and we have a better society.

  16. Men and women are different. They have different sets of strengths and weaknesses. I feel we cannot compare men and women, and they should compliment each other rather than fighting for superiority.

    Jesus definitely had respect for women. But unfortunately the church has no respect for women. The whole system of nuns has to be scrapped. They should be liberated to live a normal life.

  17. IHM; thanks for dropping by.. I don't miss reading any of your posts.

    Yes.. we need more strong men and women in our society to take India forward. Strength of each one should not be used to subjugate but to support each other.

  18. Ajith you are right and since more from the younger generation is feeling thus it is indeed an encouraging factor.

    As for nuns, I guess one cannot generalize it. If Mother Theresa was known to the outside world, there are many others who go about with their service quietly. There are many who have taken up this way of life voluntarily and continue to believe in it. And even Mother Theresa had her moments of doubt. But then every system should adapt and even purge itself. So if there is rot within the Church, it should act. I read that the Church itself conducted a survey among the nuns and have come out with results. As for hierarchy, I guess they will continue to be governed by men. But as you said, those who have been forced into this due to financial reasons or otherwise can be liberated.

  19. HK, you voiced such sane thoughts - and each spouse complements the other.

  20. Thank you Swarna.. it is a relief to know that many agrees to this concept


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