Sunday, January 18, 2009

Whose Life Is It Anyway?

What's the best thing modern age (or any other age) gave to women?

I think it has to be a control over how many if any, kids they wish to have.

This post by Bones made me wonder why most organised religions seem to look at contraception so suspiciously.

I think religion fears that contraception might make women and men 'immoral' ...
Or else why do we have derogatory words for babies born out of wedlock?

There are some who think there is nothing as important for women as wanting to be mothers. Such glorification of motherhood also means if you can't or don't wish to have any children there must be something wrong with you. They make me understand why some women 'are actually annoyed that men do not have to undergo labour pains' ;)

The mental level of such thinking is the same as the mental level of my maid's alcoholic husband, who insisted that tubectomy would make it convenient for her to cheat on him!

She had agreed to undergo tubectomy after the birth of her fourth daughter but her family won't even come to meet her in the hospital for days. (Also because she put an end to any hopes of a male baby) .

She was sickly and underweight and it was difficult to imagine her surviving many such pregnancies, but we have a social system that authorizes us to take decisions for, and control other lives.

Sickly or not she didn't care if they abandoned her. She feared that if she died her husband would dump her four unwanted daughters in some orphanage and marry again.
(They were fine eventually. I saw him riding his bicycle with the baby in the basket to keep her happy while the mother tried to finish house work).

Women would have no careers or economic independence, that came with working, without this control over their own bodies.
Can you think of anything else that has changed women's lives as much?






38 comments:

D said...

Honestly, I think the best thing to have happened to women are sanitary pads.

I mean it.

Sahaja said...

true....i think these customs were put in place at the time wherein there was no protection for women or while men were of the feeling that hurting a woman is a matter of pride! Those times where really women were kept in such a darkness that they could not protect themselves!
Times changed, but still people r stuck in past!
any age, finally what matters is the partner understanding !!

snippetsnscribbles said...

I agree completely with D and you, IHM!!!!

well said both of you!!

Solilo... said...

Oh! we still find so many women preaching on how motherhood is the ultimate to have happened to us and that is what stemmed by post the other day.

Anyways, I guess internet is the best thing to have happened to women :)Now at least people are aware that they aren't alone in the decisions they make and sometimes you get courage from others who are sitting so far away in another part of the world.

BTW IHM are you still busy chatting up with your sister? I miss your comments :)):))

Charakan said...

Yes IHM, Very correct. Religion fears contraception because birth control will loosen the grip of religions on women. Opposition to abortion also come from religion mainly due to same reason.

@lankr1ta said...

You know IHM contraception, even abortion are not very "modern" things. women since time immemorial have tried to control their reproductive cycles. Knowledge about herbs ad plants was passed down among the "wise women" ( many of whom were labeled witches because of this knowledge of theirs). Modern contraceptive methods brought it out of the closet and made it more "acceptable"( though how acceptable it is, we all know) in modern society. You are so right, having control over one's body- is a very big thing and has done a lot in empowering women.

minnesotameetskarnataka said...

I think you nailed it when you said, "Can you think of anything else that has changed women's lives as much?" That is probably why some major religions are against it--because birth control has changed women's lives and roles.

The only other thing that would come close would be voting.

Your maid sounds like a strong woman to have chosen for herself in the face of such opposition.

Indian Home Maker said...

@D And tampons also. In fact tampons were created by a woman - I read somewhere on the net.

@Sahaja Yes I think you are right ... Why don't we just don't think !!!

@snipettsnscribbles Thank You :)

@Solilo Also, my husband is back home after a long time - he's been away the whole of December! I wish we had a few more hours in a day. Right now the family is asleep :)

@Charakan It's all about power then it seems, no?

@Alankrita You are so, so right!! I have read about the witch hunting (including in Da Vinci Code) ... I should read more about this!!

@minnesotameetskarnataka I think the maid was desperate. She was in a bad condition. and I have seen courage always works. She took the right decision. And we talked to her husband and I guess basically he was reacting to his conditioning - he knew very well this as the right thing to do.

Usha Pisharody said...

Right! Though the notion of this control over one's body, for a woman, is certainly a big step forward for the woman, and a thorn in the side of a still male dominated society by and large, it is still taking time to transfer itself into reality, in a lot of places.

Your maid is a very courageous woman, and luckier still to have your support in talking to her husband. That matters a great deal to women who find themselves in such a predicament.

And why do we still persist in the thought that a woman has not entirely existed unless she has a baby? For all those who do not want to, or cannot, why does society make them abnormal or downright inhuman? Sad, but then, there it is. However, in some small measure, things are changing for the better with more support coming in for women who insist on practicing contraception, and voicing their fears and opinions.

And finally- along with contraception, yes to Sanitary Pads and Tampons. Especially tampons [which, would you believe, we still do not get regularly at our corner of the world; supposed to be a city corporation!! :)]

Great reading to start the day!

aneri_masi said...

I'd add the freedom to choose who they marry (although a lot many still don't have it!) to this.

And KUDOS to your maid!

varunavi said...

Why always women should do a tubectomy? Why don't men under go a vasectomy that doesnt require any hospitalisation.Why always women should bear the pain, she bears the pain whether for birth or for birth control.

@lankr1ta said...

@varunavi I think in the case of chemical birth control, women need to do it, simply because it is easier to control a woman's fertility chemically than a man's( I do not really know of any popular men's pill like contraceptive) I think the male plumbing is a little too complicated to control chemically( but I may be wrong- have not read too much about it). And quite frankly, in terms of contraception- I like being the one in control. And yes, it is unfair women bear the pain of childbirth- but I guess thats how we are, naturally.

IHM, I wonder if you have read the Earth's Childen series- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth%27s_Children These are a series of stories set in prehistoric times - based on research from Neanderthal sites over Europe and they ahve some very surprising findgs about contraceptive herbs.
Oh and they are female-centered. They totally rock. Begin with The Clan of the Cave Bear- its a story I cn say with confidence you will love.

Ajit said...

the list (apart from what you have mentioned)
1. Voting
2. Financial Freedom
3. Social Freedom...

though it still does not exist in many cases... (i might be wrong).....

Bones said...

I think opposition to birth control is also about power i.e. not giving women the power to choose and control their own lives...

Anrosh said...

when she realized that no matter who said what or who told her what to do, she has the right to listen only to herself. Only she and she came first..and everybody else came after her.

cafephilos said...

I agree with Bones. Opposition to birth control is a power grab. Of course, the Theory of Evolution allows us to fully see the stakes and motivations involved. But even without those insights, it's clear a male can benefit from controlling a female's reproductive choices. To me, the odd thing is religion tends to take the more juvenile side of the issue and glorify it. I mean, isn't it more juvenile to try to control your partner's reproductive choices than it is to respect her choices? But in this matter, like in so many other matters, religion sides with the least mature and most juvenile approach to the problem.

hitch writer said...

Very sensible post IHM.

Sensibility must prevail and must be spread in all sections of the society !

Usha Pisharody said...

Do visit here to pick up a something I have for you :)

churningthewordmill.wordpress.com said...

i donno how many of us have control over our bodies( and therefore our lives ) and if this control can be found across all sections of the society, but i do believe that we are certainly better off than the generations before us. if nothing else we at least have better access to information...so if we do want to make choices, we make informed one.

Smitha said...

I agree most of the comments posted earlier.. Opposition to Birth Control is defintely power play.. As for why women need to take up measures like tubectomey - I guess because - that way, a woman can be totally sure - and in control of her life.. It is sad however that even today, that a woman is supposed to be 'incomplete' if she does not have children. I remember, how so may people assumed that something was 'wrong' coz we decided not to have a baby until both of us were ready for it..

Chikki said...

Just wana say, your blogs are amazing..

I am new in here. Honestly, i find your blogs amazing including this one. Keep writting .:)

my space said...

Every one should have a right to take decisions about themslves...but it is a bit complicated..we are not isolated from society so our actions will have an effect.
Having said that Every woman should have aright to take decisions about her health.
I think diaphgrams , sanitary pads make life easier but what will bring true change is Education..

Phoenixritu said...

I agree with you and D - contraception and sanitary pads

Indyeah said...

This is such an awesome read..
What changed our lives?Yes, to all of the above..ie.…control over our bodies….. the choice of whether we want to have a baby or not...,also D's point...Oh yes!without sanitary pads....where would we be?and yes to your point IHM,Tampons......the one which makes our 'other self','the supposedly...so-called unclean one'.invisible to all but us(try figuring out who’s the unclean one you fools!)
...THE THREE most important things/ideas/choices/inventions...

But all this for a woman who has reached a certain point in life….ie she’s either working/a little educated or very/non-working but in a city/urban or influenced by urban phenomena like your maid…(because she has observed and she knows she has a choice…

Ajit has put forward some very good points...
look at how In various projects, rural women are becoming financially independent....and that appears as a threat to the male order of that particular village..
Now,village women might/might not have sanitary pads/tampons or even the right to say no to having children...,or whether they want to sleep with their husbands,some of them might have 5 children or more...or less ...
But give these women the chance,just one simple chance,the opportunity to earn their OWN money and see the awesome,awesome change in them….
The same women who have not seen a pad/tampon in their entire lives nor do they know whether there is a pill or any other way to not have a child…..NOW have money of their own…no more begging in front of the husband…no more dependence…
That is the biggest power ….for women of all kinds…Financial Independence…..the various mahila associations in rural areas...and this one in bangladesh...which is just brilliant

Indyeah said...

Now mahila Pradhaans have reserved seat….now some people might say…that oh but the power is with the husband still she is just a pradhaan in name…

True in quite a few cases…...but even if one woman uses that position to empower herself…..that reservation is worth it…and bit by bit…whole generations of women will stand with their life,their power in their own hands…

Hence Voting,Reservations/quotas fow women and financial freedom(most of all this)are soo important too…


For, in the case of reservations which is for downtrodden/discriminated against people…I simply ask this….who more in need of it than women?The most downtrodden, subjugated of all…in the whole world?Where and on which front haven’t we fought?

Indyeah said...

This is why I love your posts...they make me think...so much...and sometimes even I discover of where I actuallly stand on certain things...

my hair's turning all grey now with all the thinking..:)

Braja said...

Funny, I just did a post on motherhood and not being in it and the Indian response to this westerner :)

Pixie said...

Loved the post and the comments! :-)
But, whatever be the disadvantages we women might face even today, I feel this is the best time for us... We are making a change, we inspire change...
People are stopping by to listen and to question age-old patriachal traditions...
Parents are a better lot... the discrimination, might still be there, but its lesser and men are behaving better...
This has truly been the era of change, however small, it has been significant and it has been constant.

apu said...

IHM, great post. Contraception (in whatever form) is one of the best things that's happened. And, as was said, neither contraception nor abortion are really modern, it's just that they've got safer and in a more controllable form. I'm just reading a Tamizh novel set in an earlier time - where a woman dies in a back-alley abortion. It was so chilling to read.

Tanu said...

The domestic violence act enacted by GOI in 2006.It is a great empowerment and protection for women from all kinds of domestic violence.
Abusive husbands are found in all socio-economic strata of Indian society.

Another point-
A married, educated lady should not consider abortion as a birth control measure.Myself witness to such cases; Beyond comprehension!!

Does it matter said...

Absolutely true.

Though I do notice that not one of the many comments on yr post specifically refers to the regressive practice of Christianity and its power bearers in trying to take away from women the right to abortion. Similarly, for all the good work she did, Mother Teresa was one of the worst enemies of women freedom, but people tend to ignore it. Maybe there are only 2 religions in this world that are supposed to be open to criticism - Islam and Hinduism? But, I digress.

All religions have existed only to divide and rule. One reason for that could be, that organized religions, like god, have been created by men. Not by women.

And that is why the men who created these rules, also decided to use them to keep women subservient and under control.

But the biggest thing modern times have given women is a forum, a voice. Whether it is technology, the media, the WWW, cellphones whatever. But it is awareness - of what happens in one country and worldwide; that things **could** and should be different; that women elsewhere (somewhere) can dare to dream differently, and live their dreams.

And therefore, democracy. The ability to speak without fear.

Monika said...

great post... and loved what D said and i agree with her so much

Chirag said...

Brilliant IHM. Contraception, threaten the religions as it kicks them in the ****. Pope had even stopped a consignment of Contraceptions for Men and Women even after a rapid spread of epidemic of AIDS all across Africa.

Indyeah said...

Please do drop in and pick up something:)
http://ofsongsforthesoul.blogspot.com/2009/01/overwhelmedand-love-and-appreciation.html

Mama - Mia said...

ahh yes! contraception (incl the recent morning after pill), sanitary napkins and education!

and i am verry amused by epople who are againt contrception!

cheers!

abha

Pinku said...

You are so right IHM...my own life is a testimony to that...thank God for the pill...

freespirit said...

As one of my friends put it, "in this day and age a woman cannot become pregnant...unless she wishes to". It might not hold true for all cases but is applicable at least to the urban class. Hopefully it'll soon be applied to all women. Plus we can then be spared the eternal hindi movie cliche-"main tumhare bachhe ki ma banne wali hoon..."

Mampi said...

With their limited knowledge, men dont even want control over their own bodies. Why would an average middle class male have an inhibition about having a vasectomy otherwise? How can they not feel jealous of women having control over their own selves?