In the upsurge of events, rallies, outbursts and reflections concerning women on 8 March, I noticed a poster with the slogan, ‘Y should Xpectations Change with Chromosomes?!’
The slogan was conceptualized by Dextra Pereira and Ryodan Pereira, a sister-brother duo from Betalbatim, Goa. Dextra, an under-17 gold-medallist at the National Taekwondo Championship at Ranchi 2011 feels that expectations for women are lower than those for men. Their slogan seeks to change the status quo.
We receive 23 chromosomes from each parent. It is the Y chromosome that decides if the child will be male (46, XY) or female (46, XX). Most psychologists argue however, that beyond our biological sex (male or female) our gender roles arise from socialization – our learning histories, through which we accept our society’s expectations for our behavior.*
Only one chromosome, can tilt the balance and decree a human being’s destiny. Today finds us asking why the Y chromosome in some humans has led them to commit unspeakable acts. What is often discounted is the process of acculturation, of abject poverty and, feral license which these perpetrators have grown up with in a lawless universe.
Men and women today are more interdependent than before. With the blurring of roles, (some) women drive and go to work while (some) men stay at home and mind the baby. Marriage between a man and a woman celebrates this bond where you make a decision to spend your life with one person who you love, or come to love. A child is nurtured in the loving embrace of the mother and father.
Virtual offices have made it possible to work from home, giving women with soft skills an edge over men in a communication-driven corporate culture. The Vishaka guidelines empower women with a court of appeal to deter unsolicited attention.
I set my students the task of choosing one image associated with women and to speak about it. One group spoke of woman as ‘salt’ – without it, food, and our existence, is tasteless. Another group saw woman as a ‘light’ which goes from her house to another to illuminate it. Still another group saw woman as a ‘utensil’ which spent itself cooking food, but at the same time which could be used as a weapon if need be. The last group saw a woman as a ‘chameleon’ – changing her roles as a sister, as a mother, as a wife, and as a daughter-in-law. A woman blended so completely into her role so as to be almost unseen.
On my way to work today I saw ads which showed a woman in a sari in the kitchen, another smiling coyly showing her gold jewelry, the third was of a woman applauding a man on a winning streak in the casino, and the fourth showed a woman in shorts on a scooter. How come none of the ads portrayed women highlighting her strengths as a light, salt, a utensil, a chameleon – or a fist?
*See www2.ivcc.edu/brolley/Gender%20Issues.ppt; pix courtesy Bill Bickel at cidutest@wordpress; published in Gomantak Times Weekender St. Inez, Goa, on 15 March 2015.