Stri Purush Tulana was a reaction to a news article published in 1881 in Pune Vaibhav, an extremely orthodox weekly newspaper.
The article was written attacking a young Brahmin widow who has sentenced execution for murdering her illegitimate son to avoid public disgrace and ostracism.
Later on, it was this sentence was changed to life transportation. The article criticised women in general for their ‘new’ loose morals.
Tarabai Shinde’s essay Stri-Purush Tulana is an attack on the dominance of patriarchal society. The author was married at her young age and her marriage did not prove to be successful. Her text reflects her frustration of being a sufferer in the hands of men.
Shinde explains some arguments that are against women and followed by society and then rejecting them on logical grounds justifies the innocence of women, thus vesting the blame on men. She is not only frustrated by the men in the world but with the Gods as well.
Her Obsession with Gods
Tarabai Shinde raises the question of the just rule of Gods. She says that Gods have given every kind of happiness to the men only. On the other hand, He deprived women of all these things and made them sufferer throughout the ages.
She asks how He can forget His creatures (women) after creating them. A woman has no particular identity of her own. She is considered to be a material being.
Sins of women are considered to be worse than the blunders of men. Even a little mistake on the part of women can lead to her disgrace in society.
Her Arguments Against Men & Defence of Women
- First, women are accused of witchcraft. She says that men have more intellect than that of women so they commit deeds worse than witchcraft.
- Second, women are considered to be suspicious. However, it is so because they are uneducated and thus all kinds of doubts arise in their minds. On the other hand, men, in spite of being educated, have minds full of treacherous ideas. They do every wrong deed to meet their ends. Such ill wills never arise in the minds of women.
- Women are considered to be arrogant. However, if examined justly, it will be found that men are more arrogant.
- Women often commit mistakes. However, men commit every crime without hesitation. Though men are educated, the prisons are mostly filled with men and not women. The greatest crime, according to Shinde, a woman can commit is adultery. However, it is the man who fills in her mind such things and encourages her to do so. Even in Shastras, it is written that a widowed queen can beget sons from a rishi but cannot remarry. Moreover, a woman does never get the inheritance from her father. Women are considered to be narrow-minded and mean. However, men are meaner and pretend before their officers for promotion.
- Women are considered to be the violators of social norms. However, their condition makes them so. A poor father marries his daughter to an old person because he is rich. After his death, she becomes helpless. On the other hand, rich parents marry their daughter to a poor man who lives at their home only. However, a girl never likes him for his low birth. How she can be happy with him. Moreover, a poor man considers his wife to be everything for him but when he acquires money she becomes useless for him.
- Women are considered to be fraudulent. However, men are more deceitful. They become babas and show off their religious devotion but in reality, they do their best to extract money and lead a luxurious life. Evil always roams their minds.
- Women are beautiful and thus males are attracted towards them. But it is not their fault. Shinde tells how in movies a woman is portrayed wrong having the ill mentality. Media, today, has also been promoting social inequality by proving the incapability of women in society.
- According to Shinde man entrap a beautiful girl by praising her and assuming his love for her eternal and of the spiritual kind. Innocent girl agrees to all this and gives her soul and body to him However when a girl becomes pregnant the so-called spiritual love of men seems to vanish. Now she is useless and characterless.
Shinde holds that these differences and inequalities are not created by our society but media, as well as the religion, is equally contributing to it.
The views presented by Shinde are for all women. If one goes deep into the matter, one finds that women have been suffering not only because of gender but also being of race or poverty or illiterate society etc. In every society, the woman is subjected to some kind of discrimination.
For instance, I read Robinson Crusoe in which Defoe writes that he sent some women from Europe for the pleasure of the men who were on the Island where he remained entrapped for 32 years (at the end of the novel).
Hence not only our society but everything on the earth, be it media or literature or theology, everything has promoted gender inequality and thus Stri Purush Tulana by Shinde is a reaction to this inequality.