Let’s rethink how we observe this day
How many women does a man know or can know in his lifetime? And what type? He gets to know his mother, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, wife, daughters, friends at the educational institutions, and female colleagues at his workplace.
And I refuse to believe that he, the man, doesn’t have the mind to care for all these women. I mean “welfare” when I say “care.”
He does; he surely cares for all of them.
He doesn’t want anything to go wrong when it comes to the womenfolk that he knows and cares for. He doesn’t want these women to get hurt, get abused, or get violated. The man is happy as long as these women are happy and cared for.
But this man isn’t alone in our society -- there may be other men who hurt and harmed the women he cares for. And that’s where the problem begins when it comes to caring for women: As men, collectively.
We, men, tend to afflict the women who may not be related to us or for whom we may not have a reason to care. Sometimes, we also afflict those who are also related to us.
Who do we afflict the most? Which women suffer the most at our hands? Mostly our partners or lawfully wedded wives.
Recently, a report by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics and Unicef has revealed that one in four women is beaten up by their husbands in this country. I feel pity for the husbands who beat up their partners.
I sometimes discuss this with my partner, wondering the possible causes which lie behind this type of onslaught. Why do men beat up their wives?
We find two main reasons.
One: They don’t care for their wives. And two: They can. And if you run a global survey, you might find astonishing statistics regarding men afflicting women.
That’s the reason why we have an International Women’s Day on which we can do some soul-searching and right some wrongs.
Women’s Day is a time to look back, speak up for equality, and show that men and women are meant to live together in harmony. On Women’s Day, men’s rude hearts soften and some of us realize our responsibilities towards women and our lack of love for them -- the mothers of our children.
My partner and I also discuss whether we really need to observe this day for women. She thinks we should not.
Her opinion is very simple: She defines the day as a way to otherize women in a society which is already overcast by men’s interests and decisions.
She is also of the opinion that like all days that are observed throughout the year, a day for women also loses importance when the day is over. Men, on the rest of the days of the year, don’t bother to remember the message of Women’s Day.
I, kind of, agree with her, but with a mind to raise further questions related to the observance of the day.
Does the need to observe a Women’s Day implicate men’s failure to live up to the expectations of women? Have men failed to establish a balanced and holistic atmosphere in which both the genders can remain spiritually connected as close mates with love and affection?
Perhaps. But I think we have failed in the way that humanity has failed to nurture the environment and they have to be reminded about the misdeeds on World Environment Day.
I also think we gave our failure another dimension when we commercialized the day. On Women’s Day, businesses across the country would come up with advertisement of perfumes, whitening creams, beauty products, jewelry, fashion, kitchen ware, and food recipes.
I feel the objective of promoting these products on International Women’s Day is an attempt to keep the state of women what it is today.
Celebrating the day with these products doesn’t convey the message of the desired change that we direly need in society -- the change in our attitude towards women.
The issues which the media editorializes on seems good in terms of trying to uphold the true message of the day, but they get lost in the unending ocean of commerce of purple and pink.
The utility of disseminating the message of reducing the gender gap is pathetically lost in commerce. Our womenfolk also forget the true message of the day in their “look-pretty” attires.
They forget to raise their voices; they forget to demand for the desired change.
This is how the expected change never comes -- men continue to be manly men while women suffer the afflictions. Why would men behave in such a way that goes “against” women as if women are opponents of men?
We must be able send out the true message of International Women’s Day in society and rethink how we observe this day. Otherwise, our way of observing Women’s Day may not mean anything.
Let’s do something meaningful that upholds its purpose.
Ekram Kabir is a story-teller. His other works can be found on ekramkabir.com.