Once I asked a class of sixteen-year olds, both boys and girls, mostly Christians, why the Biblical Satan chose to tempt Eve rather than Adam. The answers varied from women’s “gullibility” to their “susceptibility to flattery.” I was mildly disappointed for not getting the response which I looked forward to: “The Bible was written by a man.”
|Image courtesy: Countercurrents|
A few days back, the Travancore Devaswom Board obtained a new president, Prayar Gopalakrishnan, who seems to be the 21st century avatar of the writer of Genesis. He thinks, like the author of the Adam-Eve myth, that women are an impure species. When asked whether women would be allowed entry into the most celebrated temple in Kerala, the Sabarimala Temple, he said that he would wait for the invention of a machine that could scan the female body to determine “if it is the 'right time' (not menstruating) for a woman to enter the temple. When that machine is invented, we will talk about letting women inside."
The religious person can accept the machine which is a product of scientific temper. But he won’t internalise the scientific temper. His attitude towards women belongs to the period of Manusmriti or the Inquisition. This is the most serious problem with religion: it never grows up.
There is a movement against the Travancore Devaswom Board Pope’s remark led by the hashtag #HappyToBleed. I support the movement because it is not merely about gender equality. It is also about the falsification of the reality that religion indulges in to suit its purposes.
When the author of Genesis made Eve eat the Satanic apple he was imposing a momentous falsehood on humanity: that the woman is responsible for the sinfulness of the human race. The falsehood gained such acceptability among the believers that the Jewish men thanked their God every morning for not making them women. "Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has not made me a woman." That is part of the morning blessings uttered by every Jewish male, while his female counterpart will say, “Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has made me according to Your will.” Could a greater ignominy be cast upon the female race?
The Quran equates woman to a field which a man can plough according to his requirement. “Women are your fields: go, then, into your fields when you please” [2:223]. The Quran unequivocally gives man superiority and authority over woman. The falsehood has continued to be accepted as truth until this day.
“Women, true to their character, are capable of leading men – a fool and a learned man alike – astray in this world. Both become slaves of desire,” is one of the many such holy truths in Manusmriti.
This is not merely a matter of gender equality. The aggressive domination of patriarchy is as undesirable as the equally aggressive rebelliousness of feminism. Both are based on falsehoods. Both are falsification of the reality. What is required is a proper understanding and acknowledgement of each individual’s rights irrespective of the gender. What is required is the cultivation of a sensibility that respects a person for what she or he is.
This is not about women’s menstruation. It is about who creates what kind of truths. If India has become a country where an Aamir Khan cannot even express his family’s apprehensions about their security, it is because falsification of reality has become the norm today. The current political dispensation at the Centre is spawning Prayar Gopalakrishnans who seek the help of science and technology in order to inflict falsehoods on the country’s people.