Wherever they go, it follows them. On the streets, bus stops, buses, in offices, hotels and almost in every public space, it shadows them — the male stare.
Did the dress slip from its place, is my hairdo weird? No. But the stare that scans the contours of the women’s body stays. The question remains: then why the stare!
“The gaze that traces the body contours of a woman makes her feel naked, even when fully clad from head to toe,” says advocate H. Subbulakshmi, former member of the State Women’s Commission. “It is difficult for the men to understand how women feel at that point. The insecurity is as much as being naked itself”.
Men see woman as an object and never as an entity with a mind — a sexual entity for their entertainment, she says.
She is no more than an object, says Jyothi Narayanan, a social and human rights activist. “No matter what the level of education of a man is; a woman, for them remains an object for sex. The very discussions regarding the “dress code” for women implicates this notion of how men view women, she says.
“Women are not able to say what their role is in society”, says Ms. Narayanan. Women also see themselves in roles that males want them to be. The discussions on sexuality are always on what the man desires, the image of sex is male-oriented, never considering what is important for the woman as a sexual partner.
Even among husband and wife, there are few men who seek to know what their partner wants, she adds.
No essence is given to the soul of the woman, says Ms. Subbulakshmi, especially in the modern times when everything is commercialised.
This perhaps stems from the preference boys enjoy during growing up time, when what they see around is all male centric, be it the decisions taken at home or the happenings in society, believes Ms. Subbulakshmi. “Our Constitution prescribes a beautiful paradigm of life steeped in the cultural ethos of our country, which is: Live and let live. It says that all practices that denigrate the dignity of women shall be avoided”.
Such values need to be attached with the elementary education. It is only through educational institutions that one can bring in an attitudinal change in boys.
Today’s youth have little intellectual discussions on many of the happenings in society and the knowledge base is less of experience and more of the Internet. Easy availability of pornographic material, films that have obscene visuals fire up man’s libido, which is different from that of a woman.
The idea of an independent woman who can take care of her needs and responsibilities, and that she need not be dependent on any male for her existence is yet to dawn on society, says Ms. Subbulakshmi.