Stereotypes are ways of thinking that everyone develops while growing up in a certain environment. There may be positive stereotype or negative stereotype. Individual is just a unit among aggregate. Everyone has a particular mindset that is a collection of all thoughts and ideas together that have a societal impressions. Every society tries to separate things in a good or bad category and try to give a definite shape to every idea in their traditional terms and oppose thoughts and ideas which do not fit into their shaped or categorized society.
Stereotype towards women is not a new phenomenon. It has a long history. In India, particularly women, were not conserved as they are today. There were women like Gargi in the 7th century BC. She was an ancient philosopher and was able to get education and she was known as “Brahmavadini”.Indian culture was not as conservative towards women as it is now, but this period was not as too long. In the medieval period women were restricted and being barred from enjoying fundamental freedom. Sati, Dowry, preference for male child and significance of women as a subject of sex were prevalent.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy , Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and Jyotiba Phule were some social workers who worked for the upliftment of women. There were also writers who fought against gender stereotype, but in there own way. Ismat Chughtai and Jainendra Kumar were some feminist writers who extensively worked for women. Their writings show the reality of women’s life.
Patni– By Jainendra Kumar
The story depicts situation of pre-independence India and stuggle people for freedom. The story revolves around a women named Sunanda. Her husband Kalindicharan is always busy with his responsibility towards nation because he is a freedom fighter. He is indulged in making strategies and plans against Britishers. Sunanda tries to keep herself busy in unnecessary works so that she can forget her helplessness . The incident when Kalindicharan came with his friends and were loudly discussing how they will extend their plans Sunanda felt very ignored by her husband because she also had some expectations with her husband and she had always suffered because of him but never questioned him. Because this is not how Indian women are suppose to be. They are trained in this way in their childhood. They are bound to suffer and accept all the deeds of their husband. Kalindicharan as a man is not as suppressive as other men are but he never gave priority to Sunanda. He disregarded all his duty towards Sunanda. That day when Kalindicharan asked her for lunch like he is apologetic for something and also he talked to her like an unfamiliar women, this makes her angry and she denied to serve lunch to his friends and then Kalindicharan controlled himself and apologized to his friends and planned to go somewhere Sunanda suddenly came with lunch for all that was not enough. Kalindicharan found it disrespectful and yelled at her. This incident represents that women’s dignity can be taken away at any time. Her respect does not matters.
Sunanda did not kept anything for herself. The relationship that they both share was very shallow. They rarely shared a word with each other. Sunanda’s character is very selfless. Communication inferiority is the reason why their relationship is impaired. When Kalindicharan was discussing about the passion in fighting for motherland she could not get it because zeal is unfamiliar to her, the flame of life is smothering for her, her husband never tried to discuss these things with her. It’s not that she did not want to understand. For her life was not worth living. Even if she wanted to live she could not found reason to live. For a mother ,to lose a child is the deepest pain and she had gone through it. She believed that this was because of her husband’s careless behavior towards her and her child. She feels realy broken, the pain of losing a child cannot be healed easily. But a women does not have much say, all she knows is to serve her husband in whatever conditions like a slave.
Sunanda here depicts the reality of women’s life of that pre-independence period. Even after independence the scenario has not changed, even if some women are economically empowered today they are politically and socially recipient of gender stereotype. In the patriarchal society like India, the plight of women cannot be understood easily until one put himself in those conditions. One would feel totally broken and busted in these pathetic societal tides in which women are living since ages.
Gainda by Ismat Chugtai
The story is written in very delicate manner and it slowly acquaints us with incidence that are quite shocking with help of lively characters. The lead characters are two girls that have class differences, Gainda is lower class girl who is helper at the narrator’s house. Gainda is at puberty age and a widow. Her innocence is shown when she describes it proudly to the narrator that she is a widow. They share a bound of sisterhood. Narrator feels jealous of her when she remember that when Gainda was married to a man that was much older than her, she wore new sarees, new jewelleries and was very happy at that time. Here we see that the way of upbringing of girls in society where she is filled with the fantasies of marital life and pride in getting married. The present scenario of gainda’s life is fully wretched and pathetic. Now she does not get attention that she got when she was married This represents the condition of mentality of society where it is a taboo that women’s respect and dignity ends with ending of her husband’s life. But Gainda is a fifteen year old girl who does not even realized what is the meaning of being a widow and why her bangles got broken ,why she can no more dress up .Gainda receives frequent hints from “Bhaiya” that he like her. Bhaiya is an upper cast boy, son of her employer. He is aggressive but never showed anger towards her. Bhaiya tries to get closer to Gainda several times. They had “some”. Gainda got humiliated because she was not supposed to have desires. She faced double rebellion being a lower cast girl and also a widow. Indian societies are very strict towards women. Questions are always raised on women dignity even if she is not guilty. It is a taboo that women who are widows, they are not suppose to have sexual desires. They have to denounce it. Gainda is has always been a recipient of injustice and hardness by society. She was also a victim of domestic violence. women suffer with these drastic situation. The situation get even worst when Gainda became mother. Bhaiya was sent to another city far away from her. She was continuously beaten for months. Women like Gainda live pathetic life. The story nullifies the situation of women ,how gender and class stereotypes are deeply rooted inside us that the basic humanity has been destroyed .Gainda ‘s child was treated badly as unwanted. They did not give her cloth to wrap her child. Women’s dignity is shredded in pieces today and crime against women have increased rigorously. Women are subjected to serve men’s sexual desires . Women in society are downtrodden, their existence have been ignored economically and politically. The serving and caring nature of women have been treated wrongly, it does not means one can do whatever they want to do and women will abide that. Women are expected a lot and in return get nothing but mistreated instead, since childhood until death. In Gainda’s situation she was disregarded by everyone but everything faded when the narrator ,her friend and her employer’s daughter came with a kind and overwhelming welcome for her child and opened her heart for both of them.
These two stories “Patni” and “Gainda” totally have concern with women in our society. These stories show that women in our society are downtrodden and helpless in all sphere. They are deprived of everything that men have socially, educationally and economically. Jainendra kumar in “Patni” simply presents state of women. They live in an ignored environment where nobody cares for them. This makes them mentally annoyed with relations but even after that these women have to serve and accept everything .
In Ismat Chugtai’s story “Gainda”, Gainda lives on pieces of her employer .Because she was a widow and also lower caste women. She was not allowed to get re-married with Bhaiya. Women are not supposed to have sexual desires specially when they are widow. It is very difficult for a widow women to survive in society because people threat these women badly. Child Marriage is the root cause of bad conditioning of women because this is the beginning of a threatening life after which women’s dignity and confidence is broken. Ismat Chugtai tries to efficiently nullify the pathetic status of women in society.
- Bharat darshan.co.nz