Are women headed the wrong way? Gender issues heat up the Bangla blogosphere on the occasion of International Women's Day

As the world celebrated the International Women's Day on the 8th of March, the Bangla blogosphere returned to a heated debate on one of its favourite topics – gender issues.

However, what was interesting was that while the rest of the world talked about empowerment, opposing violence and gendercide, the Bangla world was still grappling with women stepping out of home and their mode of dressing.

Are women doing the right thing by stepping out of the sheltered confines of their homes? Blogger Rongheen gets nostalgic about stay-at-home women. He feels that the world is deluding women with false promises of rights and freedom and as women step out to find their place under the sun, familial love is the sufferer.

Do women enjoy seeing themselves as objects of desire? If not, why do they appear (skimpily clad, more often than not) in various advertisements for consumer goods? Trivuj feels that women are easily deluded in this aspect and are perhaps missing the woods for the trees as far as fighting for their rights is concerned. According to him, Bengali women should seek freedom of thought more than freedom of attire. Blogger Shayon feels that women are offering themselves as bait for molestation by not dressing and/or behaving modestly enough when in the company of men. According to him it is not possible for a woman dressed in a burqa to get molested! Furthermore he shares the blame for the sad plight of women on both the liberals (who encourage women to flaunt their sexuality) and the conservatives (who bar women even the basic rights, ex: the Taliban regime in Afganistan).

This is not to say that bloggers did not comment on the day's celebrations. They did, and many of them were skeptical about the events. According to Amar Jato Katha, on this day, leaders pay lip service to the cause of women and this has become just another day for speeches, marches and conferences, instead of trying to make a real difference. Dhushor Chhaya agrees with him. Sadia feels that it is not enough to talk about women's empowerment but that we should all work towards its fruition. On the other hand, Raag Imon feels that such a day is necessary to prod our conscience and remind us of the import of issues that we ignore in the course of our daily lives even as we talk about them.

So what kind of woman is the ideal? Well, no prizes for guessing! She is the superwoman who balances home and work, is the perfect mother, wife, employee and is rooted deeply in her community and family, which she puts first, even as she strives to establish her own identity. Something in the lines of Astomeye's mom. A truly daunting task indeed!

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