Monday, February 4, 2013

Why Ladies First?

Amrit Sadhana

I remember, in my childhood when the younger kids played with older kids they were accepted reluctantly. The older ones couldn't refuse the younger ones because it was their mother's order to take the younger siblings along with them. So they would find a way out, they would call the younger ones " kachcha neebu" meaning a raw lemon : not ripe enough to play with the older ones. They were not taken seriously, ignored, at best tolearted by the elders. The youngsters, too, felt hurt for being labelled as " a raw lemon" . What could they do but wait till they grew older and take revenge with kids younger than them? All smaller people want to be treated as equal to the people higher than them.

When I hear the phrase "ladies first" I have the same reaction, as if I am being treated as a 'raw lemon.' Men think, and women too, that it is an honor that the women are given the first preference. But it is not, it is an insult. Special privilege is given to the undeveloped and weaker sections of society.

It was Osho who underlined this while speaking to a girls' college in Gujarat some forty five years ago. In his inimitable firey way he was trying to shake the girls from their psychological slumber and encourage them to reclaim their individuality. I don't know how much the girls understood at that time but even today the plight of women is no better than it was half a century ago.

In the light of the latest upsurge of violence against women there is a fresh demand to protect women. But who do women seek protection from? The same men who lust and molest them. If men on the street misbehave with them they come home and ask their family men to protect them. Ironically, these men are dangerous to other unknown women on the street. Would they really want to protect women?

This is no soultion to the problem. Women have to learn to rely on their own inner strength. The girls should grow up together with boys so that both get familiar with each other. Down the ages we have been separating them and it has not made the women stronger nor the men happier.

Is it not strange that even after thousands of years of our moral education, culture and religion, we have not been able to accept a natural friendship between a man and a woman; that the woman still does not trust the man regarding his sexuality?

An urgent solution is needed. Trust nature, do not go against it; for it only produces insanity such as we see all around.

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