Where Do We Lack
by Saryu Sharma
(New Delhi, India)
The recent spate of offences against women has horrified me. As a girl, I fear while stepping out of the threshold of my house. It not only entails me to be always vigilant, but also entails me to consider those career prospects which do not require late working hours.
Therefore, I wonder as to where we, as a society, lack that with every passing year-in spite of imparting the best possible education and sensitising people towards gender equality- the brutality of such crimes is increasing.
After a long period of contemplation, I realised that the roots of this problem, or rather morass, lies in the process of socialisation itself. In India, children are raised in an environment where gender differences are stark. Parents’ differential expectations of their sons and daughters are sufficient to lay the foundation for gender inequality in young minds. From the colours of their school bags to their toys, everything suggests the inequalities between males and females.
It is crucial for parents to provide an environment to children where they do not imbibe the prevalent social notions about gender, but critique them. This is because we cannot cocoon ourselves from these social circumstances as ‘we’ constitute the society, and, thus, what affects the society in general, will impact us as well. Moreover, we cannot expect a social change to be ushered in without sowing the seeds for such a change ourselves.
Another aspect of this situation which perturbs me is the role of media. Even if the home environment is geared towards creating an ethos of equality, children cannot be prevented from the corrupting influence of media which endorses and thrives by promoting gender stereotypes. Media never pays heed to the content of the programmes they broadcast and their impacts on children. The characters depicted in each and every cartoon series (as these are the programmes which are exposed to the most) embody ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ traits, which, thereby, infuses the idea of differences between genders in children’s heads.
Hence, it can be inferred that we, as a society, are accused not just of socialising our children in a wrong way, but also of being ignorant to other socialising factors, like media, which surround children every moment and contribute to males’ animosity to females that is later vented out in the form of such heinous offences. ***