This article will explore societal gender norms, which we consciously or unconsciously follow to manage our heterosexual relationships. Before elaborating on the above said, I would like to analyze the term GENDER.
Gender is a socio-cultural phenomena in which people are divided into various categories such as ‘male’ and ‘female’, which is further associated with ‘clothing’, ‘roles’ and ‘stereotypes’ . So gender is not something we are born with (we are born with sex- biological) but is acquired. It is associated normally with ideas and roles according to our sex.
So now we can say that gender is a construct but we must not forget that gender also constructs us. It constructs us through binaries such as active- passive, rational – irrational, mind – heart etc. Among each of these opposites, one term tends to gain privilege over the other, with the subordinate term typically aligned with feminism.
Coming to the issue of power and relationship, it can be argued that we fulfill our prescribed gender roles more through a knowledge of what we are expected to be rather than what we are. From this perspective, gender is not a free standing identity, it is constructed in relationships and through relationships.
POWER plays a vital role in a relationship. Power is both a source of oppression when ‘abused’ and a source of emancipation when ‘used’. It matters on which side of the power equation is one on. There are various points which I want to address with respect to power.
* Power is like an entity, may be acquired by virtue of one’s position within a social hierarchy or through sheer brute force.
* Linked with development of one’s ego.
* The ability of a person or a group to impose their will on others despite resistance either in the form of withholding or offering rewards or in the form of punishment.
* Capacity to have an impact – produce an effect – potential for change.
* Power is something when one person complies with the other’s wish out of fear of deprivation.
* Most importantly subordination of women has to be understood vis-a-vis male power.
These are the various points related to power, which we face while we are in a relationship. Surprisingly, girls are actually prepared to behave as powerless beings agreeing with powerlessness. They fail to control their lives and to develop confidence in their abilities. They appropriate gender normative role and do not consider non traditional alternatives. Societal pressures also ensure female powerlessness and hence ‘maintain existing relations’.
Apart from this, male members of the society control female sexuality and keep them in external surveillance which is at the heart of patriarchy. Lovers actively resist their beloved striving towards gender equality. Power is unquestionably connected to masculinity.
Those people who fail to perform their gender roles appropriately are subject to isolation or it leads to clash between the two. Girls who are not submissive in nature are not considered as GOOD and this is highly questionable . One should also question the definition of GOOD. whereas boys who are not that strict , firm and typically dominant in nature are not considered as ‘masculine’. Even idea of masculinity needs close scrutiny.
While concluding , I would like my readers to rethink on the issue of gender roles and power associated with that. One should also question , why those people who do not follow the path prescribed by traditions ans society are doomed to isolation?. Why a girl who is strong and rational is still considered inferior to an irrational boy ? . Why a girl who wears short clothes is called a ‘slut’ ?.
Lastly, one may argue that if a person is playing his/her gender and power roles consciously or unconsciously, it is only to remain or to manage their relationships properly, then this notion of being in a relationship has to be rectified. As it may not be the right way to lead one’s life. One should maintain his/ her individuality and other should respect it. One must remember to respect oneself. The narrative should shift from SELFLESS LOVE to LOVE FOR THE SELF .
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.