Disclaimer before you read further- I have technically no real exposure to all legal, social, etc. facets of the Women’s Reservation Bill, and therefore, my acquiescence or lack thereof is as far from educated as it is possible to be.
The only reason I’m talking about this is because I was reading “Maximum City” bu Suketu Mehta (finally) and he mentioned the Women’s Reservation Bill, saying that it would probably be passed in the next few years. That is when I turned the pages back to check out when the book was first published –2004. I know- technically it doesn’t seem a long time ago- its just 2009. But then I realized it’s going to be 2010 soon, and further, that 2004 was when I was a fourteen year old in 9th class. THAT seems like a long time ago.
Now my skepticism as to the passing of the Bill comes through this- in order that the Bill be passed, the law makers in parliament need to be sensitive to the issue of lack of representation for women. And that is something, which I have realized within a year of living in a world outside my school, where girls were on top of the political ladder generally, that men very rarely are able to do.
Other than typical male thick-headedness and superiority complex- for which I hope some day a genetic cure will be available- this is also the typical perspective of the oppressor group as opposed to the oppressed or wronged group. The former don’t understand the needs of the latter simply because they are not living the realities of the latter. If a high caste Hindu has to live one spat-on day of the Scheduled Caste, perhaps he wouldn’t complain so much about his son taking a seat in a university. As Bethany from Boston Legal said – “You simply cannot separate (a community’s) history of persecution and the threat of future persecution from its politics.”
So here’s the problem – you need women and understanding men for the passing of the bill. The latter are the rarest or rare breed, and the former are slowly becoming extinct in India. In order for a woman to be voted into Parliament, you will probably need about twenty men behind her as allies, since the gender wise voter pool would be male. You could say that the women might be willing to vote for a woman without twenty men behind her but here’s the problem- we don’t have that many women. Our sex ratio is one of the worst in the world, and it’s not getting any better, and the women who are still around generally don’t even vote- reasons would obviously include patriarchal dominance.
‘But no, lets us men just keep believing we are the masters of the universe and have the right to dictate terms.’