Women And Negative Stereotypes: An End Before A Start

Published on Countercurrents.org, by Divya Bhargava, 06 July, 2009.

We may be reluctant to believe that discrimination against individuals because of their sex, race, age, sexual orientation or health status still exits in institutions in most countries. We also may not want to accept the fact that sexual violence is common in all culture, that women are victims of rape, battering and sexual harassment each day, despite legislation prohibiting such violence, common policing, workplace policies, counseling and training programs exist. Yet this is the reality for most women …

… Cultural images of women:

Culture ideas, symbols, norms and values play a significant role in the creation of women images and the differentiation of gender roles. The purpose of the present article is to understand the images of femininity in Indian society from ancient to modern times. India, a heterogeneous society, presents conflicting women images. The normative model image of Indian womanhood has displayed remarkable consistency. Images of women have not remained static and have undergone numerous changes. However, certain basic models have widespread acceptance.

Various cultural images of women:- Pativrata – unconditional devotion to husband, Glorified Motherhood, Bharat Mata Image. First at the societal plane, the perception of different categories of women is distinctly shaped/conditioned by the popularly accepted female images/stereotypes. Secondly, at the interpersonal level within the family situation, these images frequently impinge in a variety of ways. Indian girls grow up with deep rooted sense of fear and insecurity which not only restricts their social mobility in the mundane day to day life but also often psychologically cripples them to face the hardships of life in general and resist gender based discrimination in particular. These gender dichotomies, flowing almost directly from the popular images fostered most significantly, these images in most Indian families. Thirdly, and perhaps most significantly, these images leave a deep imprint upon women’s self-perception … (full text).

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