Sunday, November 16, 2014

Where are Fairer, Better Half in Almaya?

Dr. James Kottoor

         I really mean the voice of the  WOMEN FOLK in Almayasabdam blog.  Speaking to the Second Vatican Council Pope Paul VI raised the same issue and asked: Where are the 50 per cent of Catholic Humanity? He was referring to the absence of women folk in the Council.
        The whole world, we know, is male dominated and when it comes to India it is Patriarchy in its form ruing the roost here. Women are literally dumped in the dust bin starting from widespread instances of female feticide to Sathi (widows immolating themselves in funeral pyre, may be even now who knows) once practiced in India long ago.
            For sometime I have been observing the writers and respondents in Almayasabdam, and it struck me as terribly odd that there are hardly any names of women to be found anywhere, in spite of the fact Almaya is from Kerala considered to be cent percent literate and noted for lady writers, speakers, Managers, CEOs and MLAs.
          Curiosity sent me searching and I finally hit on the name of a solitary lady and no other and so I was forced to brand her as the "solitary boast" of Almaya. Wordsworth had spoken of a "Tainted nature's solitary boast" That was about Mary the mother of Jesus. And who was this solitary boast of a name I found in Almaya? It was Theresia Manayath.
          Then I recollected, having read several thought provoking sensible comments from her. The last was the comment she wrote about Pea-cocking bishops? That provoked me to find out her background, but there was neither an email nor a phone number. So I contacted some of the administrators of Almaya for help. But they could not and said the name could be a pen name. Whether I will succeed to get in touch with her or not: Dear Solitary Boast, please accept my congrats for writing often in Almaya sensible comments, also my thanks for the moral support to whatever I wrote extolling Francis. If possible let me hear from you.
Record of 1350 Visitors a Day

          I say this, because, Almayasabdam is now in the processes of making a giant step forward, not a baby step, in its four years of growth. Its fourth birthday was on Nov.6th and on Nov.15th, its administrators had announced: "Last day no of visits, a record of 1350".  Many of the readers must have missed that one line announcement and its importance.
         What the announcement was trying to communicate was:"Last day, Nov.14th 1350 people visited Almayasabdam blog,while the regular visitors per day was hovering around one thousand, the last one month.
          For the last several months a team of dedicated administrators were working hard to shake Almaya out of its "Frog in the well" small space of Kerala, and to make it national and what is more global, with readers and contributors from all over India and from around the world. As a result your must have been noticing writers appearing from Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Chicago, New York, UK etc. Simultaneously you must have seen a study spurt in the variety of material as well -- News items, articles and titbits of general information -- published daily in Almaya
           As a result, the regular graph months ago of 500 or so of daily visitors began to soar and for the past one month it was floating around 1000 daily visitors. That rising graph has hit 1350 on Nov.14th and this momentum is on steady increase. The first mark of the importance of a site is its number of daily visitors. So it speaks well of Almaya.
           Almaya has to make progress in many more areas. Only one important area I touch here, where it is lagging behind abysmally, that is in the small number of lady writers, email contributors. Only when male and email views compliment and merge into each other, can a family atmosphere emerge and flourish, which is very necessary as the Universal Church and Church in India are focused this year studying problems challenging human family which starts with man and woman.
                                              Why Gender Inequality?
Gender inequality exists in the Catholic Church because men and women forget they cannot be "fully human" without one another. “Man without woman is not fully human. And woman without man is not fully human either. Each without the other is a piece of humanity, incomplete,"  said Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Religious  who was addressing the triennial meeting of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), a membership group for approximately 2,000 leaders of Catholic sisters around the world, on Aug.12/13
 He went on to explain. God created man and woman in his own image and likeness. There are three things here: 1.Man and woman is not God. They are creatures.2.Man without woman is not fully human, and woman without man is not fully human, either. Each without the other is a piece of humanity, incomplete. 3. Third and that which saves us all: We are the very image and likeness of God. Why is it difficult to experience gender equality in the church? The problem of walking together as man and woman is something that needs to be delved into and explored more and in a deeper fashion, even among male and female religious, according to the cardinal.
Visibility of Women Urgent
        That was a bit of a theological digression. What is relevant to the point under discussion is to make visible the active presence, not passive or silent presence, of the better-half of humanity in the Almayasabdam (the Church Citizens’ Forum).The question is: How to begin? Where to begin? Who will bell the cat? To ladies and women folk who are already writing in Almaya (because there may be women other than Theresia Manayath) I would suggest: Each one bring one! Bring one or more of your friends to join in the talk of the town. To the men folk who are already writing I would suggest: Ask your better-half to contribute her share feminine touch to “complete” the male view.
           What is most important is, we have to duplicate the Family Synod Discussion in Rome – which was the most open and transparent, out-spoken on the pros and cons of every issue without mincing words – here in India, not for two weeks but for a stretch of one year till Oct.4/ 2015, on parish, diocesan and national levels? That can be done only on a national open Forum like the Almayasabdam, accessible any time and available at any time to all. Almaya should freely offer its services  to our Bishops in the absence of any other existing ones. Normally bishops should be willing to accept such an offer. Otherwise they will have to find or create another FRUM of discussion. It is for them to set the agenda of discussion for the coming months in consultation with priests, religious and Laity, because Church is after all the People of God made up of all sections and not just the clergy or hierarchy.
           So may I now call upon the readers and contributors of Almayasabdam, especially the fairer sections among them, to speak up and express their views for the benefit and edification of all concerned?

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1 comment:

  1. This subject had been brought to discussion by me more than once. (See my article 'കേരള സ്ത്രീകളേ, ഉണരൂ!) There was a Maria Thomas Peedikackal (- see her poems in Almaya
    who used to contribute. Now she is in Australia, I think. Perhaps Shree Josantony can trace her out and bring her back to Almaya. Our Indulekha and her mother Aloshya should also start writing articles and comments, as they do sometimes for Sathyajwala. We have not heard from Monika Thomas since a long time. Srs. Jesmy, Mary Chandy etc. are also women who think in the line of Almaya. Some one should invite them to express themselves in the blog. There should be many others like them who could strengthen us.

    Yes, it is important that Almaya has an equal number of women writers as men contributors.

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