Freedom Vis a Vis Independence: An Overview in Light of Feminism, Women's Development and Empowerment

By Adhikari, Harasankar | Journal of International Women's Studies, July 2013 | Go to article overview

Freedom Vis a Vis Independence: An Overview in Light of Feminism, Women's Development and Empowerment


Adhikari, Harasankar, Journal of International Women's Studies


Abstract

Educational development and participation in the workforce are prime factors in the changing situations of women in society. The movement towards equality and justice for women is gradually captivating Indian society as a human development indicator. To examine the views of women on independence vis-a-vis freedom as instruments to achieve equality and justice, 50 girls age between 16 to 26 years were selected purposively adopting a stratified simple random sampling. They were from different socio-economic background living in both rural and urban areas. They were studying in different levels from high school to university. The study has explored their views on their freedom and independence in respect to their romantic relation, marriage, marriage partner and marital relation, family relation, mothering and economic relation. The findings show that the majority of these girls were against male domination but still seek the attachment to males as essential in their lives. They fostered their need for freedom variously in their daily lives without interference of others (especially males). In this connection they would prefer romantic relations and premarital sex. They would settle their conjugal relations through love marriage and its' stability would depend on liberty and respect of their counterpart. In their opinion their family would be micro-nuclear and they would be the sole decision-makers. They would bear single child and the child would be reared up jointly by them. But they would not allow breast feeding to maintain their physique and beauty. They argued that they would play dual roles of home maker and wage earner for their self dependence in terms of finance. So, they were cultivating their mindset for freedom in certain affairs of their life and it was the prime hindrance of their equity and justice.

Keywords: women equality and justice, sex role, male's dependency, family relation.

Introduction

The words 'Freedom' and 'Independence' are synonymous in terms of literary meaning. But 'freedom' suggests a demand from a particular thing as someone needs to be free to sleep, to take food, to move freely. But 'independence' is an expression of liberation as in free to act according to his/her own will within the framework of the societal norms and regulations.

Traditionally, gender bias in stratified and multilayered societies (Ghadially, R, 1988) is a determining factor of progress of the society. Gender identity is attached to an individual's phenomenological sense of being masculine or feminine in roles, preferences, interests, attitudes and behaviours (Furman, W, B. Bradford Brown & Candice Feiring, 1999). Gender identity is interchangeable with gender roles (Furman, W, B. Bradford Brown & Candice Feiring, 1999). In the case of women the stereotype of feminine character has been loaded with the duties of household activities, procreation of children, and care and attention to the family members and their interests. (Sander, V& Lucy, D. (ed.), 2010). Women's lives tend to be private and domestic in India explicitly while the lives of men are public, social and political. From childhood boys enter into a group based on universal membership, while girls continue to participate in a particular gender role. Male personalities are in an "allocentric" milieu and female personalities are in an "autocentric" milieu. Gender role training makes boys into children while girls remain "little women" (Chodorow, 1989). So, they are groomed for marriage, for reproduction and nurturance of human species for their economic survival and social acceptance. It is involved the traditional demeaning of women- results in stereotyping and the denial of recognitions (Agosin, M, 2003).

This difference is the cause of male domination in the patriarchal society as females are deprived of pursuing personal interests in favour of stereotypical women's duties. And they have often found security in- maintaining customs and tradition, thus institutionalizing the discrimination against them through education and socialization of children.

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