Context: Campaigns against inter-community relationships are a way to redirect anxieties over large-scale structural disruptions.
What is patriarchy? Discuss the recent expressions of patriarchy in society.
- Patriarchy: A social system that places men, women and other genders in hierarchies learns to perceive the plurality of genders as unnatural and views women with suspicion.
- Potential sign of anarchy: Lack of control over women’s sexuality is an example of such anarchy that concerns not only the women’s so-called guardians but the society at large.
- Recent political campaigns geared towards restricting intimate relationships across communities, even as a fictional plot for jewellery advertisements, reveal how deep the fear of women’s choices runs.
- Beliefs of dominant sections: The dominant sections believe that societies will collapse if women don’t stay in their pre-designated place and if the plurality of gender and sexual expressions somehow finds representation in popular culture.
- Governance machinery: Allegedly, governance machinery, that today includes the previous autonomous institutions, as well as the media, have successfully redirected anger to old civilisational fears, especially those surrounding the potential anarchy fuelled by women and their sexuality.
Expressions of patriarchy has been a part of public discourse since 1947. Discuss.
- Special marriage bill: In the early 1950s, when the Special Marriage Bill was being debated in the Indian Parliament, similar civilisational fears had surfaced amongst our early lawmakers.
- The fears were predominately represented in the discussions on age of consent and divorce with comments which were mildly apprehensive.
- Kishen Chand’s claim that women between 18 and 22 are emotional and “high-strung” (Rajya Sabha Debates 1954).
- Tajamul Husain’s contention that older parents would be better capable of reproducing strong and brave Indians “who can defend the country in times of need” (Council of States Debates, 1954).
- S Mahanty’s allegation that the women in Parliament “have lowered marriage to the morass of sex” under the pretext of equality of rights and status (Council of States Debates 1954).
- Unease with women’s sexual freedom: Even those who passionately advocated for women’s equality were not able to shed their unease about sexual freedoms. The then law minister, CC Biswas, argued:
- “Suppose two young persons have made up their minds to marry and you place all these obstacles in their way. Certain very undesirable consequences may follow (Council of States Debates, 1954)
- Women’s sexuality: According to the early parliamentarians, women’s sexuality carried both the responsibility to reproduce the race and the power to bring civilisations down if their reproductive abilities are left ungoverned.
- Those pushing forward ordinances that aim to overturn the rights guaranteed by the Special Marriage Act carry the patriarchal baggage borne by the lawmakers. But their moves also reflect a lack of courage to work against one’s own patriarchal impulses for the sake of a better future, a courage shown by the lawmakers in the 1950s.