Gender: A prerequisite to exist in India
The word gender is a firm consolidation of a person’s belief to be a part of a community which adheres to the same biological functions in their life and cultural roles in the society. The aforementioned line may put forward a pretty picture to be sure, but it is a huge misconception all the same. Gender, in layman terms, is the socially cinched role bifurcated into males and females respectively. One may categorise him/herself as male or female on the basis of their task in society, not their sex. Hence, the terms ‘sex’, and ‘gender’ are fundamentally different.
In a country such as India, people are termed as male or female ever since their birth. To be more precise, a boy is commonly referred to as ‘family’s new doctor/engineer’, while the girl may not even live to see the end of her first day. The biggest shame of the nation is the wide scale prevalence of female foeticide and infanticide, especially in the rural areas. According to the 2011 census, the female sex ratio in India is 940 females in 1000 males. The everyday occurrence of buying and selling of brides without batting an eye is just one of the social evils which is perpetuating in the country. The concept of patriarchy is deeply rooted in the country’s culture and the glaring need for social reforms couldn’t be more pronounced. The equality between genders is not just limited to the formal recognition of females, but must be inculcated in practice too. The new form of the modern feminism is also encapsulating the idea of gender equality, and hindering its multidirectional diffusion into the society. Nowadays, being a feminist is considered to be sexy in India and is emphatically propagated by the ‘elitist classes’ as a form of female superiority. This incites the fragile male ego and fails to ingratiate the concept into their psyche. Gender equality in these terms isn’t just ‘What males can do, females can do it too’, rather it is ‘Women can be as brilliant, good, bad, or crooked as men’. Hence, equality goes both ways and is superimposed upon each other as established in the previous statement.
The essence of gender equality has taken a new meaning in the modern world. The inclusion of the third gender in the society and it’s subsequent acceptance in the society formulates the agenda of gender equality in modern India. The gaudy and flashy clothes wearing Hijras have always been a part of India since ancient times, but they finally received their due when the Indian Supreme court legally recognised them in 2014. The rapid embracing of Hijras in the society was spearheaded by the government, from adding the third gender in college admission forms to booking railway tickets, the strumming of the inclusion started strong but has lost its initial momentum since then. Though the transgenderism and its awareness in India is upended by various campaigns and other means, unless it is propounded at the school level and incorporated into the education of children, it will be an uphill task to imbibe it within the society. There are about two million Hijras in the recognised Indian community and innumerable others living in India. In spite of their legal recognition, the current status of the impending decision on the IPC Section 377 has severely impeded the growing community and has encroached upon their right to life and privacy.
The progressive attitude which has recently started developing in India is the need of the hour for the country to socially progress and India has to really start to walk the walk, instead of talking the talk. A determined approach to bring about social change is required, and the holier than thou attitude of various people needs intricate bridles to keep the digressions to a minimum level. The ignorant attitude of the common man towards the issue and stark neglect towards society are among the reasons which inhibit social change. Hence, in order to be a part of the Indian society and exist as a free and independent citizen of India, the third gender has to acclimate itself as either male or female, which in itself originates due to the restricted and traditionalist culture of the nation. We can only hope that the change which is needed may arrive by the time we are of this world, considering it took nearly seventy years to recognise an important part of our community in our country.
Semester I, VSJMC