Subjugation and Women subjugation
The word subjugate comes from latin word subjugates the past participle of subjugare, from sub and jugus where the meaning of sub means under and jugus is “yoke” in the latin and subjugate literally means, ” bring under yoke”. Farmers control the oxen by the mean of yoke over their soldiers. During the ancient Rome, the captured armed forced were compelled to go under an ox yoke as a symbol of surrender to the Roman conqueror.(“subjugate”) The Cambridge dictionary defines, subjugation as “to defeat people or country and rule them in a way that allows them no freedom”, and to treat one’s “wishes beliefs as being less important than other people or their wishes or beliefs”. It is the process of bringing someone or something into control. It is a type of injustice where a group is dominated by taking their rights and freedoms.(“subjugate”) Thus subjugation can be referred as activities which cut the socio economic cultural and religious rights and equality impeding one group to fully grow and participate in the society. Through gender perspective subjugation can be taken as the various forms of violence against women may take the various forms from domestic abuse, trafficking, rape, child marriage, female genital mutilation, traditional practices, son preference, sexual harassment prostitution, trafficking, pornography, murder, slavery, genocide, anti abortion custodial violence and so on. Scholars and feminists have different perception related to the modes of women subjugation.
Women have been facing discrimination in social, political and economic aspect since the time immemorial. Ritumbarna Trivedi in her article, “Patriarchy System and The condition of Women” mentions the unequal gender roles in Hindu philosophy and religion. She shows the domination of male in the ancient history. She says that the Hindu epic Ramayana also reflect the male dominance in the society which can be reflected through the character of Sita. Despite being dedicated and loyal towards her husband, she becomes the victim of the male dominance. Her abduction by Ravana shows the helplessness situation of female in front of male supremacy. After her rescue, she was asked to perform the fire ordeal to prove her purity and loyalty towards her husband. Such explanations from the religious epic reflect the presence of women subjugation during the ancient period. The epic Mahabharata also shows the subordination of women in the society. Some women characters undergo various suppression and domination. Gandhari was married to Dhristaratha, a blind but a wealth person against her will. She herself blind folds to equal with her husband who clearly shows her sacrifice and devotion as a result of the patriarchy hegemony. Another women character Draupati is married to five Pandavas and becomes the victim of male supremacy. The incidence of loosing Draupati in gambling is the best example to link the then society with the male dominance and hegemony against the women. Thus it can be said that the violence and subjugation against women has been continuing from the era of Ramanyan and Mahabharat through the ethos and ethics of Patriarchy society (3-4).
Tahira Basharat in her article, “The Contemporary Hindu women in Indian” mentions that Hinduism which is regarded as one of the oldest religion of the world opposes the fundamental rights of the female. The Vedas, scripture of Hindus is quite against the fundament rights of women. The laws of Manu quote that women are never independent. As a child, she must be subject to her father and as an adult to her husband. A good wife constantly worships her husband and is the virtue of women. She has to serve her husband day and night. As per the religious scripture, a Hindu woman is no less than a property. Thus the Hindu culture pre ordain women to be ruled by the male and her standard of being an Ideal depends upon her faith and service to her husband. (243 -244)
On the basis of different varieties of religions, men and women play different roles. Christianity is also based on patriarchy culture. The roles of women and men in Christianity were not equal in the early history and can significantly vary today. Christianity has been able to threaten the female sexuality through the myth of Adam and Eve.
Ahluwalia affirms that some religions teach that adults should marry and have children, but Christianity teaches that some people can choose to stay single, and /or give their lives to Christ as priests, monks or nuns. A family is said to be important – portrayed as a place where children learn to be good adults. However, Christianity particularly has its biblical teachings which legitimise male domination. The Old Testament is patriarchal as men were in control. In the Ten Commandments the wife is listed as part of man’s property as portrayed in Exodus 20:17 which states that ‘you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his manservant, or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour’s. This commandment clearly states that the wife is a possession and therefore, the man assumes a dominant role and the woman becomes docile proving that religion oppresses her. The creation story in Genesis 2:21-23 teaches that Adam was created first then Eve was created from his rib and that a woman was created for the benefit of man. Men use such teachings to dominate women (qtd. in Ethelia 2).
The religious faith and doctrines elevate the status of men and assign women the submissive roles. It is seen as a barrier to gender equality. Women are depicted as the victim of church patriarchy. Many leadership roles in the church have been assigned to the males. Women have been still restricted from performing certain tasks in church. The men have dominated in hierarchy and compel women to remain silence since the religion believes; she is born out of Adam and should be submissive towards male.
Watton states that the traditional attitude of Protestant Christianity is that women should not speak in church and must submit to their husbands. They say it is the role of men to provide for the family and to lead the family in religion. Only men can be church leaders and teachers. The basis of their teachings is on Paul’s teachings in 1Timothy 2:11-15 which states that ‘A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach, or to have authority over a man, she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve and Adam was not the one deceived, it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing, if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety’. A similar teaching is found in 1 Corinthians 14: 33b -35 which reads, ‘As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to enquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home, for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church (qtd. in Ethelia 3).
Roberta Magnani in her article, ” Powerful men have tried to silence abused women since medieval times” mentions that in early Christianity during the medieval age young virgins become the object of unwanted sexual predation; as they openly resist and speak up against harassment, they are subjected to even more physical violence. The letter of St Paul to Timothy (1.11-14) in the Bible’s New Testament declares:
Let the woman learn in silence, with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to use authority over the man: but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed; then Eve.
Silence is the soul of femininity and the state of being a woman. Most of the young virgins became the object of dignitaries, aristocrats, roman prefects, consuls and so on with power on them. The women body was an acceptance parcel to them without any doubt and question.
Power by male in the medieval ages was enacted through sexual violence. Women have been excluded from society for speaking about the abuse and discrimination. For instance, St Agnes was thrown in a burning flame as she denied marrying the son of Roman official. St Petronilla, was stretched of rack and put to death and St Agatha had her protruding organs cut off when she resisted sexual indulgence with the Roman prefect.
Sr Prudence Allen, in his paper, “Plato, Aristotle, And the Concept of Woman in Early Jewish Philosophy”, put forth the Plato’s concept of women according to the sex polarity on cosmic level is that men are active and the soul falls first into male bodies and the forms are the source of wisdom. Women are receptacle and passive. The soul of cowardly or immoral men fall into female bodies and the matter is the source of ignorance Whereas Aristotle’s concept of women according to the sex polarity is that men are hot, active and have seed and provides soul. They have rational soul and capable of ruling irrational soul. They are superior and by nature has virtue to rule. Women are inferior, passive and have no seed but provide body means that has the function to carry the fetus, give birth and suckle the baby. Women have rational soul without authority over irrational soul. They are inferior and by nature has virtue to obey men. Women by nature are supposed to work for homely activities and are emotionally, so they are to be ruled by men (91-92).
John Stuart Mill in his book, The subjection of Women says from the ancient origin all men desire to have a women favorite to them. So they inculcated everything in practice to enslave their mind which made women with no self control and will but yielding to the control of other. This way of influencing women benefitted men holding the women as meekness submission and resignation in the hand of male as a sexual attractiveness. (18-19) He furthermore adds that men uses various means to influence over the minds and put everything in practice to enslave their minds and place women in social and political subjection to men (21). The social sub ordination of women has been as a social institution in the modern period (26).
Kate Millet in her book Sexual Politics links politics where certain groups have no representation in a number of recognized politics structures that their position tends to be so stable, their oppression so continuous (24).She further adds that when there is patriarchal form of government as the institution where half of the population comprises of females the principles of patriarchy dominates female. She links politics with patriarchy where a certain group with power “male” dominates another group “female”. Women are trapped in the imbalance power relationship. In patriarchy a male system of power is designed enforcing women to subjugate. (25, 26).
Colette Guillaumin, a French feminist, in his book Racism, Sexism, Power and Ideology says, “A woman is never anything but a woman, an interchangeable object with no other characteristic than her femininity, whose fundamental characteristic is belonging to the class of women” (178). She is right in her belief that the specific nature of the oppression of women is caused by the “appropriation” of the class of women by the class of men (178). The relationship between women and men is a kind of power relationship. Guillaumin’s theory of appropriation well explains that women in general are discriminated on the grounds of gender. Marriage is the enforcement as well as the legalization of the power relation between the sexes. She goes to the extent of saying that “marriage is only the institutional (contractual) surface of a generalized relationship: the appropriation of one sex class by the other”(193).
Jaggar in his book Feminist Politics and Human Nature mentions that feminism has been always existed and women have been the subordinated. They have consciously and united, and sometimes unconsciously and solidarity resisted against subjugation through the history but the organized feminists view began from the 17th century after the political and economic transformation which England and extended to France and United states. (3)
Some feminists connect patriarchy to male psychology. For radical feminists society is a single system which they called as Patriarchy and is based on violence whereas socialist feminists view the struggle it as the struggle between men and women as changing through the mode of production. (Jaggar 160).
Women’s oppression by their husband is not to be understood in terms of the quality of the relationships established by individual married couples. Some of the relationships may be extremely tyrannical; others may be distinguished by affection and respect. The oppression of housewives is o be understood rather in structural terms: it is a function of the economic dependence of the wife of the husband. (225) jaggar
In most of the countries both in developed and developing nations women are denied of the basic rights and freedoms. In Nepalese society where women constitute more than half of the population are denied of human rights from the cradle to the grave and is similar in other countries too. Infanticide is rampant in many parts of the world where a baby girl is not welcomed. Various social evils and problems based on religion pretext has hindered the overall physical and mental developmental of women. Such practices such as sexual abuse and flesh trade are threatening the reality of women as an independent entity.
These violence are based on religious pretext, Individual and communal perception, and discriminatory state policy resulting to subjugation on women. Women workers generally paid low for their labor and even they are sexually abuses and raped by the employers. Failure to provide dowry leads to violence activities and sometimes even death of female. Early marriage is another form of violation of human rights which is especially done on parent’s consent denying the aspirations and feeling of girls.
Society has various perceptions towards women. They see women as physically weak and their role in nurturing the babies make them depend upon female. The responsibilities of caring the household chores and activities are particularly linked to women. The roles provided thereof has made man socially culturally and economically powerful. Social restrictions make the mobility of women limited to choose their interests. Thus many restrictions through social rules and norms have result to women subjugation Women surrender control to others because they feel pressurized by the punishment through the established social norms and values.