Adam and Eve, a story of institutionalised inequality.

I always believed that man is equal in the eyes of God and expected the Bible of all books to be testament to that.  But maybe I was just under the misconception that ‘man’ was meant to imply mankind, not merely members of the male gender.  Does the fact that Eve was created from Adam’s rib to keep  him company make her a subordinate condemned to a life of servitude and submission? Are Eve’s curiosity and misadventure with the apple sufficient reason to  mistrust female judgement and curb women’s freedom so that man can rule unimpeded??  How potent a story that it ratifies the division of  humankind into men as masters and women as servants! It certainly seems so in India, at least from a Western point of view…

So today, I refused to keep quiet and spoke my mind, which as a Western woman in the school I can get away with, but would undoubtedly not be tolerated from my Indian colleagues. Well, I never say no to an opportunity to put the cat amongst the pigeons, and as the Management are desperately trying to entice me back in June, my indiscretions are easily forgiven.  I should have made a banner and splattered in red ink that teachers are humans with rights too, even though they are mostly female, and are entitled to be consulted in matters that affect them.  In a society where the respect of teachers and women for their superiors mutes their words and protests, I felt I had to speak up for those who daren’t say the things I can say as a Westerner.  Teachers fall silent and quietly accept whatever the ‘management’ put their way.  And by management, I do not mean the female Principal, or the female Vice Principal as they receive their orders and commands from the Administrator and the Manager, men who are presiding over the running of the school.

So let me put you in the picture:  Annual Day is looming, a bright spot on the school’s calendar and I have been informed, primed and cajoled at length about its importance.  I am duly teaching younger children the jolly song of Old McDonald to entertain the masses when the day finally arrives and I will, as I am clearly expected to, wear a sari – mainly because they have bought one for me and therefore it would be difficult not to follow suit and toe the line…  Every year each school in India invites parents and neighbours to come and enjoy performances by the children; a festive occasion for parents to be proud of their children’s talents.  And as every year, the school has pencilled this in to coincide with India’s Republic Day on 26th January which is a national holiday so parents will have time to come to watch.  Interestingly, although I have been told about Annual Day ever since I set foot in the school, way back at the end of October, it has just come to the management’s attention that the main speaker at the event has got more important things to do on that day.  Sounds to me like someone did not do their job and left contacting the speaker till the eleventh hour…  So instead of ditching the speaker – surely the day is about the children’s performances rather than some random man talking for hours – and engaging someone else, with just under two weeks’ notice, Management has decreed that Annual Day will be now held on Sunday 25th January.  If teachers happened to have plans for that day, well that’s tough luck!!

So I tried to appeal to the manager’s better nature, but his only reply was that ‘teachers in the school were very accommodating and did not mind…’.  Maybe if he had taken the time to ask the teachers’ opinions and had been privy to the conversations in the staffroom, he might have found out the truth and heard the notes of dissent.  And although I was very outspoken, I was careful not to mention about leaving organising things a little too late as I was not sure who might have been the culprit, but I have my suspicions… I must admit I was shocked at the disrespect shown to staff at the school. But even in the Principal’s office , neither the Principal nor the Vice Principal uttered a word and just sat there swallowing the preaching and condescending monologue from the powers that be, probably thinking in the back of their minds about all the plans for Sunday 25th January they needed to change…

Clearly Woman’s Lib has not yet reached the shores of India, but I am sure it is on its way and eventually Adam will be shown his rightful place as an equal to Eve, not her master.  However, in India, this may still be another generation away.

2 thoughts on “Adam and Eve, a story of institutionalised inequality.

  1. Iris

    I was intrigued by the accompanying photograph of elephants with giraffe in the background. I
    thought giraffes were an African animal. Please advise if there is an Indian cousin.



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