Sunday, 20 July 2014

The ‘Mardaani’ Problem

A Socratic Question that’s cropped into my mind is:

‘Does a Woman need to be referred to by a Manly adjective like ‘Mardaani’ in order to describe her as being strong or assertive?’

This question has been revolving around my head for a couple of days now since I read a couple of pieces where writers had used this adjective to refer to a specific “breed” of women if I may refer to them as such; women of a strong and assertive nature, who stood up for their rights and fought back against patriarchal society such as it is.

The battle raging inside is whether it is right to refer to women as being strong and (insert synonyms) by using adjectives generally used for men; the word in question here being ‘Mardaani’. How does calling a woman as such have effects on both sides of the scale is the question I’m grappling with.

I totally get the point of calling women ‘Mardaani’ in the metaphorical sense of the word as ‘being like a man’; Man here being the gender generalized as being assertive, brave and strong. This idea is mildly acceptable because it compliments women, as writers I've read have been meaning to do I presume. But the downside of this positive aspect is that it generalizes men as being all those things and that is frankly insulting. Not all men are the same and complimenting women at the same time as insulting men is not the way to do it, methinks.

Coming to the literal part of it, I wonder why a woman needs to be called a ‘Mardaani’ in the first place. I believe that a woman need not be referred to in this particular manner and so do a lot of women I've had the chance to put this question to. It is actually demeaning to women to do so. Feminists who attempt to portray women in a manner which is equal to men are actually doing the opposite by admitting that all these qualities are only in men and that women need to borrow this adjective in order to be complimented or praised.

By taking the basic premise of men having qualities that only some women do, these people are putting men on  pedestal themselves; something I’m sure they don’t want to do if they want to see women on an equal footing and not a rung under the other gender. Even I as a man find it disturbing that people and especially writers are doing this because it is the sacred duty of writers to make their readers think.  When using the word ‘Mardaani’, they put in the metaphorical sense and assume that it is done but what of making their readers aware that it is unnecessary to do this and thereby make them think of how they wish to see women; as dependent on the other gender so as to borrow characteristics or as having those characteristics by and of themselves?

And even though I have an opinion on it, I’m still looking for answers. A little help perhaps? The comment box is just below.