FRAILTY THY NAME IS WOMAN
From the beginning of time women have been blamed for bringing about the downfall of man. It was Eve who tempted Adam to eat from the forbidden tree. It was Helen who caused the Trojan war. It was Draupadi who was responsible for the Mahabharata. It was Sita who did not obey Laxman and was consequently abducted by Ravana. Women have also been accused of being witches. Women have always been weak and in need of male guidance. If we look towards the West, we have documentary evidence of the struggles of women. It was Simone De Beauvoir who argued that it is the society as a whole who created this creature called woman. Women were the properties of their fathers before marriage and of their husbands after marriage. Women were not expected to have literary aspirations. Charlotte Bronte’s famous work Jane Eyre charts the life of the protagonist who is an orphan. After she is sent to an orphanage where she is educated, she gets the job of a governess in Thornfield Hall where she falls in love with the owner and marries him. Yet this book was criticized later by Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea which traces the development of Rochester’s first wife Bertha Mason or Antoinette as she was originally named. Even Jane Austen had to write in full public view so as to let everyone know that she was not writing something offensive. It was Virginia Woolf who pointed out that a woman could not be fully independent unless she had a room of her own and five hundred pounds. Women revolted against male hegemony all over the world. Henrik Ibsen’s Nora shut the door on her husband and family ushering an era of female independence all over Europe. What Nora did was shocking and blasphemous. Women fought for their rights and started demanding the right to education and the right to own property, even the right to vote. Yet if we look closely feminism was not without its flaws. While on one hand they advocated freedom for all women and sisterhood on the other they were mute spectators to the atrocities committed on women of colour.
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