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Preetam Kaushik

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An Open Letter to Sheryl Sandberg

Posted: 01/05/2013 04:18

Hi Sheryl, if you were British, I would have greeted you with the all endearing "dear". Oh how I wish I were a woman to benefit from your words of wisdom in Lean In. But I am man enough to let you know that I am on your side, not because I sense victory but because the issue that you have raised is close to my heart.

I would like to share with you the roadmap I have in mind for setting things right for all the women of the world once and for all. I would like to begin at the beginning. Let us first change the gender of God to make better sense of this wonderful cosmic creation attributed to him - I mean her. If we want to go by the Semitic theory of Creation we shall have to re-write the scriptures. In our book (I presume we are on the same page for executing this project) Adam will have to be created out of the rib of Eve - that is if she allows God to touch her ever again.

Hey, I have missed the most important point. This messing around with Eve's rib would depend on how she feels about living all by herself in the Garden of Eden. (Living is actually a wrong word to use at this stage of our story of the Creation. How can there be life without death?) She may not want to share her Paradise. In our new scripture what do we do with Satan? Shall we change his gender too? Did I hear our Eve say that let the evil ones remain trapped in their male gender? So be it.

If we go by the Hindu theory of Creation, we may decide to let things remain as they are. The fastest computer designed by a woman's offspring (see I got over the issue of giving exclusive credit to the male gender) would crash trying to re-write the scriptures. It would be more than a monumental task to make the Hindu scriptures gender correct. In the Hindu system of belief the work is neatly assigned to a trinity of gods - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma is the Creator. Presumably he was out of job the moment he finished creating the cosmos. That should explain why there is just one temple, in Pushkar in Rajasthan in India, where he is worshiped. Vishnu is the Preserver and, therefore, attracts a fairly large crowd of devotees. But the most worshiped god is Shiva because he is the Destroyer. You don't mess with the terminator. Do you?

Sheryl, how do we go about changing their gender? The best we can do is look at the silver lining. Hindu mythology has accorded a revered status to a number of unwed mothers mentioned in the scriptures. They are called Mahasatis or extremely pure ones. One of them, Kunti, had a love child from the sun god who had warmed her bed for a day. According to Hindunet "None of the most revered Satis were sexually chaste".

I suggest you take on the job of playing God from here onwards, because an independent divine power may not necessarily show interest in our agenda to make the universe gender-correct. We are going to raise the red flag over the divine will for having sent mostly male prophets for the guidance of our forebears. Mary or Mariam, mother of Jesus, has been accorded the status of prophet and so have five others. We are told that 124000 messengers were sent to guide us, but only a handful of them are accounted for. However, there is not a single woman prophet who played a lead role in helping mankind choose the right path. Why? In Hindu mythology we find Lopamudra and Gargi being accorded the status of Rishi, the Sanskrit equivalent of prophet. That's it.

Forget the prophets. Let us examine the composition of the clergy that is supposed to provide us religious and spiritual guidance in this world, here and now. The Papacy can never go to a woman priest. The Archbishop of Canterbury too cannot be a woman. Women are not allowed to call the faithful to prayer. Neither can they lead the congregation for namaz inside a mosque. Have you ever seen a woman priest in a Hindu temple or a Sikh gurdwara?

Circumstantial evidence informs us that all organised religions are man-made and patently anti-women. No religion accords women a place of dignity and equality. Take the recent case of Savita Halappanavar, who was working as a dentist in Ireland. She died a slow and painful death because Irish law doesn't allow abortion. But Savita was not seeking an illegal abortion. She had suffered a miscarriage which required aborting the foetus to save her life.

Sheryl, we are now coming to the tough part of our job. We shall now examine the role of Mother Nature in allowing the male of the species to play the lead role. It would appear nature too had conspired against the female of the species. Have you ever seen a herd of animals being led by a female?

My dear, no matter how hard we try to make out a case for gender equality even the laws of nature do not support our case. If you still insist that we must not give up our fight for women empowerment let us travel back to the savage state. Now that you are playing God, would like to push men into the caves and shelters for protection from wild animals and members of the rival savage tribes? Would you then play the role of hunter-gather, along with child-bearing? Think Sheryl, think.

Let me end this open letter to you on what might sound like a note of dissent. In contemporary societies discrimination based on caste, religion, color, gender, nationality etc. is unacceptable. But I do lament the demise of the conventional domestic structure. The house-proud housewife is now part of our happier memories. Most homes are now night shelters. The emotional bonding between parents and kids is almost dead. Can we not re-invent our old-fashioned happy homes without compromising our career choices? A happy home is one in which the woman of the house runs the show. Should not these seemingly mundane domestic issues be an integral part of our discourse on gender empowerment?

 

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