A village school teacher once asked a class of Co-eds to punctuate the following sentence: "Woman without her man is a savage".
The girls in the class punctuated the sentence as follows: "Woman! without her, man is a savage".
When the boys in their turn punctuated it, the sentence read: "Woman, without her man, is a savage".
One is tempted to agree with Sir Roger D. Coverley and say, "Much might be said on both sides". But this is not a question of giving one's judgement. It is not even a question of value-judgement. It is a bare statement of fact. Both the girls and the boys were affirming God's own truth.
The honest truth is that both man and woman are each a savage without the other. Both are only halves of an integrated human personality. Neither would be human or humane without the other. They belong to the same species and do not belong either to two different classes or two separate castes. The distinguishing characteristic of a class is that it can be changed. A person belonging to one class today may go over to another class tomorrow. Caste is distinguished by the fact that one cannot change one's caste. One is born in a particular caste. In the case of woman and man, however, they can belong to the same caste. And yet, normally they cannot change their sex. This distinguishes the subject of the relation of the sexes from all other Social questions. It cannot, therefore, be compared with any other Social Problem. It is neither ethically desirable nor possible to determine which of the two sexes is superior.
Man and woman were made for each other as no two other beings in nature were ever created. And yet from time immemorial, they seem to have been a mismatch. And their relationship in Social life has remained more or less a vexed problem. Ever since the days when "Adam delved and Eve Span", the woman's role has always been secondary. The toys, which boys and girls are usually given, are symbolic of this disparity of status between man and woman. The boy usually plays with a sword or a bow and arrow while a girl, even in an aboriginal family, usually plays with a packing strap. In other words the man is a sort of a beast of prey, while the woman is a beast of burden.
George Elliot once remarked: "I don't deny that the women are fools; but then, they were made to match the men". It seems, however, that even on that level, they have been a mis-match. This has led to unending controversy which gradually developed into what is known as Feminism.
Hitherto the women's movement has been carried on in a spirit of defiance, as if the interests of woman and man were diametrically opposite. Of late, we have been hearing a lot about the women's Lib movement, which contemplates a world of women in which man will have no place. This is extremely detrimental, in all conscience, to the development of a healthy and integrated human personality. But this is not to say that the woman has no legitimate grievance against man. It is a historical fact that woman has been suppressed and subjected to indignities for generations.
Secondary Status of Woman
Both in the family and in society woman's status has been secondary. She has always been treated, at best, as a secondary human being, if not as a piece of movable property. She is the most depressed of all depressed classes. Even the untouchable or the Negro does not treat his wife as his equal. Man condescendingly worships her as mother, loves her tenderly as his sister, dotes on her as his daughter and dearly cherishes her as his wife. He may even be henpecked but the status of the woman is nevertheless secondary.
We dare not deny the fact that our world has been a man-dominated world up-to-date. Even in countries wherein law and in theory they enjoy an equal status with men, their status in actual life has essentially remained secondary.
Woman seeking Man's Protection
The result has been that woman has always sought man's protection. She seems to be afraid of freedom. It seems this fear of freedom has been lurking in her breast from the beginning of time, and proved the bane of her life. Therefore, the "Women's Lib Movement" has been dreaming of a world without men. This is not only an empty dream but also an impossible dream. Living together, that is living in relation to others, is the vital breath of life. It is the essence of culture. 'The development of manhood and womanhood depend on their capacity to live together as equals. They will both supplement and complement each other; and, thus, together strive for advent of an integrated human race.
One Aggressive, the other Submissive
In the present Social dispensation, woman, it seems, wants only a protected freedom, a kind of dominion status under the aegis of man. Man has thus assumed not only the proud position of protector, but has also, unfortunately, degenerated into an aggressor and a bully. There is an element of savagery in this. In a sense he has become, woman-hater and tyrant.
The woman in her turn, has become submissive and has been playing second fiddle to man. Submission is not voluntary on her part. It has come in the wake of a sense of helplessness.
Woman to become fearles
Cowardice and ruthlessness, timidity and cruelty, are two sides of the same coin. Woman will have to cultivate the virtue of fearlessness and the quality of valiance unstinted by violence. If woman can develop this quality, it will bless both woman and man.
A spirit of mutuality wanted
Let us not forget that a woman-dominated world will be as bad, if not worse, as a man-dominated world. We are striving for a world which will be a happy family of both man and woman living together in a spirit of mutuality. We do not want either he-women or she-men. Nor are we plumbing for a race of hermophrodites. What we want is a family of male and female homo-sapiens endowed with the excellences of both man and woman; for they bear and beget each other and their lives are inextricably bound together.
A Natural Di sadvantage
Woman has been labouring under a natural disadvantage. Same Nature has been unfair to the fair-sex and partial to the unfair sex. The result is that a woman can be violated. Her body can be used as sex-object without her consent. More often than not, she is visited with the dire punishment of un-wanted motherhood. The advance of scientific contrivance may help her to escape unwanted motherhood, but in the case of rape she loses her virginity for good. This is a permanent damage which she cannot escape; at least under the present circumstances.
Free sex and Rape
So, a woman can never be free in the real sense of that term in a permissive society. What is miscalled 'Free love' is in reality only an euphamism for free-sex, and where there is free-sex, woman will always be liable to be raped by men who have lost all sense of mutuality. For, in this matter of sex, the initiative lies with the men. Even in cases where woman is the seducer or the aggressive agent, the initiative does not lie with her. No man's body can be used against his will or without stimulating his natural propensity to have sex.
Sanctity of motherhood
For this we will have to change our traditional moral concepts radically. We must disabuse our minds of the notion that woman is defiled by rape. Rape, is an outrage. It is a heinous crime. But it cannot, on that account, pollute a woman or render her unclean. Similarly nothing can take away the sanctity of motherhood. No child is, therefore, a bastard. All children are ligitimate and Social assets.
If we take care to instill these notions assiduously woman shall shake off the fear of rape and consequent all-over nervousness. Man on his part should strive constantly to create a cultural climate in which eve-teasing and woman-baiting will be regarded a mark of barbarity and unmanliness. This kind of cultural hygiene is imperative, if we want to establish a wholesome relation between man and woman.
Brahmacharya in Real Sense
Both men and women will have to cultivate Brahmacharya as a Social value. This is not what is traditionally known as celibacy, it is much more. Celibacy often is understood as abstinence from sex. But abstinence from sex may be self-control or chastity; but it is not Brahmacharya in the real sense. Celibates often shun the company of women. They would even avoid approaching women, if they could. This breeds a kind of lofty contempt for women. This kind of continence has been practised for generations, both in India and some other countries. What we should aim at is not celibacy, as it is traditionally understood.
Reverence for Human Body
What we should develop is reverence for the human body. It is this sanctity of the human frame that both men and women, young and old, should imbibe. Thus alone can we attain to a social order, in which men and women will work together and live together as equals, who will mutually make their lives happier, better and more beautiful.
The Problem of Rape Cases
It was not surprising, therefore, that recently in certain advanced Western Countries the women of a city made an extra-ordinary demand. They wanted that men should be forbidden to come out of their homes after dusk, because they committed rapes. There have been reported recently several cases of women complaining of improper overtures by their bosses. In countries where women have freedom, the cases of rape are galore. This is a serious situation-a situation which should claim the anxious attention of both men and women who care for a healthy social order. It is patent that nature can not be flouted. This has been the root cause of the subjection of women through the ages. It is also obvious that women by themselves, however stout and brave, will not be able to solve this problem. Hence, their freedom will not only be formal, but also counterfeit.
Mutual fellowship necessary
How stands the case? Woman seeks protection from man and protection of man in the same breath that she strives for freedom from man's dominion. This contradiction is really the crux of the problem. It is evident, therefore, that this problem ought to be tackled by both men and women together in a spirit of mutual fellowship.
I once happened to be a guest of Mrs. Margaret Cousins, who was then President of the All India Women's Conference. In my talks on the subjection of women I often referred to brotherhood and sisterhood and wanted them both to be equally powerful and prestigious. In the course of a conversation, Mrs. Cousins came out with a brilliant suggestion. She said, "Let us not talk of either brotherhood or sisterhood but of brosterhood·" The word at once caught my imagination. She had coined the most apt and appropriate term which indicated the 'togetherness of both man and woman.' We will have to address ourselves to this problem of the freedom of woman in this spirit of brosterhood.
It is obvious that the main responsibility will lie on woman, who has been striving for liberty. It is true that Nature cannot be flouted and that in this matter they will have to evolve a force which will be superior to physical prowess, which will be able to hold its own against the most modern armaments invented by human ingeniousness.
Violence, No Solution
Women, in the very nature of things, cannot excel in violence. Violence will prove disastrous to their cause and retard the progress of man and woman towards mutuality. Women will, therefore, have to explore and adopt some more civilized and more effective method of solving their problem which in the last analysis, as well as in the first analysis, is the cause of man as a whole. A method which eschews violence of all kinds, will transform the human being and change the present social order. It is interesting to note that the greatest protagonists of the 'Women's Lib movement' have come to the conclusion that they will be able to make no headway without abjuring violent means. This quest for an invincible power, which will be mightier than all atomic weapons put together, shall be the real spiritual pilgrimage of women towards the promised land. Let them press on "heart within and God overhead". There is no other way press on, to the holy temple of Liberty.
Woman's Spiritual Pilgrimage
To sum up, this pilgrimage of the human spirit will have to be undertaken in a spirit of dedication by men and women who believe in the necessity of the liberation of women to consummate the liberation of the human race. This pilgrimage implies the advance of man towards woman and the advance of woman towards man. It means a pilgrimage of mutual approach, not for seeking mutual sexual gratification-not a pilgrimage of lust, but a pilgrimage together in a spirit of reciprocal fraternal affection which will be followed by a new era of human evolution as certainly as dawn follows darkness. This is the real meaning of woman's spiritual pilgrimage.