I think I haven’t paid enough attention to problems of women devotees. Personally, I didn’t know they had any, every time I had a chance to check they were doing fine, often visibly better than me, so when I hear talk about women abuse in our society I just draw blank. I really have no idea what they are talking about.
Sure, I’ve heard stories of personal mistreatment and bruised egos but, while being sympathetic, I thought to myself that it was a par for the course, everybody suffered from this and I got my fair share, too, or at least I feel like I do/did. I don’t think it qualifies as institutional mistreatment and subversion of our siddhānta, no more than all the other things that we did wrong but somehow managed to survive.
First thing that comes to my mind is how female devotees were pushed back after Prabhupāda took them to India and they had to behave appropriately for that culture. It was a sudden let down for them, I understand, but I also think they were understanding back then, too. No one revolted against it, afaik. It’s much much later that those old wounds were reopened and suddenly they wanted “prabhu” title back, just as they were called in the 60s.
They were also literally pushed back in our temple rooms so that they didn’t “bother” male devotees. I guess that was rather painful but in my temple they weren’t in the back, they had half the temple room to themselves, they were seated back only during the class. Bhāgavatam speaker is not a deity, though, he is not supposed to treat all people equally but follow etiquette. Women should not sit right in front of the sannnyāsīs or brahmacārīs, I think that’s obvious.
Even if they were told to stand in the back during deity darśana I, personally, don’t see it as a problem. It’s where I stood most of the time, too, and by choice – it’s good for the ego and develops humility. Or maybe our female devotees didn’t understand that part – how humility might get more appreciation from the Lord so if somebody shuts you down and you learn not to take it personally is actually a good thing. Women might not understand that, the are less intelligent, after all (sarcasm).
That’s another thing – about women’s intelligence. We frame this discussion in such a way that it doesn’t answer questions or solve problems anymore, perhaps we should try another tack.
In general, females have smaller heads which necessarily host smaller brains, which means there are less neuron connections (though it might not be true), and neuron connections are a sign of higher intelligence. Science should be on the side of Prabhupāda in this case but, as with everything female, facts don’t matter when feelings get hurt (another stereotype).
Judging by actual measurements of intelligence women are doing just fine and can often wipe floors with their men competitors if it comes to IQ battle. They have proven themselves just as capable in many fields of human endeavor, including science, so stereotypes might have some basis behind them but when dealing with each particular woman personally they are often useless. Well, not entirely useless, ‘cos if you want to manipulate women you can play on stereotypes, too, and trick them into following traditional women’s roles, but I’m talking about honest estimate of women’s abilities.
I don’t think the situation was very different in Vedic times, too, though it could be that modern women advantages are due to men degrading faster in Kali yuga rather then women getting smarter. I mean girls who do better at school are also better in every aspect of their personalities, they don’t lie or cheat, they work hard, never give themselves any slack, and are usually morally upstanding children. Those who fail at that are not very good with grades either, at least in my limited experience.
But let’s say that women were just as smart as men even in Vedic history, how does that square up with limits on their traditional roles? If they were equal or better, why did they always have to be subservient to their husbands?
That’s where I think feminist liberals are wrong – when they assume that strong, intelligent women were put in service to weak, not so smart men who didn’t deserve their position.
The phrase that I can’t get out of my mind is “rectification of names”. It’s a Confucian concept and at its heart it means that people should follow their dharma. Rulers must act like rulers, teachers like teachers, fathers like fathers, husbands like husbands, and wives like wives. Somebody must wear pants in a marriage and it should be a man.
A woman, therefore, can be as strong as she can be, but she must be paired with a stronger man. Arranged marriages should never put them with men of inferior quality, it would simply not work. That’s why there are rules that allow a higher varna man to take lower varna woman as a wife but not vice versa. Afaik, a woman must never under any circumstances be put in service to someone inferior to her.
That’s where the rule than grooms must be older helps, too – to give men at least the advantage in years and experience, which can hopefully translate into wisdom so that his wife sees him as her superior.
Personally, I’ve met plenty of women who are “way out of my league”, though nowadays this phrase means mostly sexual attractiveness. They come from a better backgrounds, have better education, better jobs, have always been richer and so on. We just won’t match in the long run no matter what or how we feel towards each other, it won’t work and I’ve always been fine with that, but that’s might be due to lessons in humility I mentioned above. These lessons are hard when they come but they do bring benefits later on.
I can’t even count how many times I worked for female bosses so when somebody accuses me of patriarchal misogyny or something I don’t accept it at all. What I am saying is that these bosses, brilliant as they are, must be married to someone even better than them.
If they don’t then their husbands would play female role in their relationship and while there’s nothing particularly wrong with that it might complicate things in a number of unpredictable ways because those men have to cleanse their male propensity to control and be in charge and if they don’t do that then they get to keep those anarthas.
I can also understand that some women develop so much power than finding suitable men for them is next to impossible but that’s the problem entirely of their own making, they are the ones who declare “self-fulfillment” as the ultimate goal and want to compete with men in every area. So they won, what next? It’s a Pyrrhic victory.
These problems with women are no different from problems with science – people invent new things, don’t have a clue what they are really doing, accept first signs of success as proof of concept, and then get buried by side effects later on. When global warning finally gets us some might realize that inventing the internal combustion engine wasn’t such a good idea but back then, in the 19th century, they were too shortsighted to see where it would all lead. Same happens to feminists – at first it feels great and liberating but then the whole thing collapses, just in a few decades of practicing.
And then they all frantically scramble to patch the problems and give themselves hope that it will all work out in the end but, as with global warming, all those solutions are too little too late.
Unlike with car engines, feminists have been warned from the start – don’t do it, it will ruin social fabric of the society, but they didn’t listen. Perhaps women do have lesser intelligence after all.