[This article assumes that the incidents shown in the movie Mary Kom are real]
Life of any successful person teaches us a lot of lessons and so is the life of the living legend, the pride of India, our boxing star M. C. Mary Kom. This story not only shows us the virtues of dedication, sacrifice and endless fight of a fighter, this also shows us the greatness of acts by the people in their personal life. In this case her husband and children.
Life for no legend had been a cakewalk and thus all of them teach us different good lessons. The story of Mary Kom’s life tells us money and especially easy money is never the way to earn respect in one’s life. Respect needs to be earned through one’s personal works, through the values one lives for.
Choosing a career in boxing is always a tough challenge for any woman. May be the situation in North-east India is different but her choice could have costed her many important relations. Her father was completely against this choice but she has fought against all odds and the rest is history today.
Her choice of fighting against evil even when the opponent is very powerful shows the level of courage she has and provides us additional strength to fight all odds. That is why when she tells her male friend that “he is safe with her” does not surprise us. It does not demean the male gender but shows the need of women to learn self defense techniques that will enable them to fight the evil and not unnecessarily mark all men as rapists or having bad intention.
I have been very vocal about Indian women being given training on self defense techniques ever since rape and crime against women were made to look a huge issue by Indian feminists after Dec 2012. In fact this point in my article on the Delhi incident was overlooked by everyone and India was busy demanding unforeseen punishment to prevent crime, until some of the political party leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav too have come up with this suggestion. But this was also not taken seriously by anyone and feminists have come up with BIG banner advertisement campaigns like “Respect Women”. We have seen whole page advertisements on respecting women etc. However, life and acts of Mary Kom shows respect can’t be demanded like this. Respect needs to be earned through actions and achievements. That is why we see that even when the Manipuri separatists who have stopped the police van taking her to hospital for child delivery, let them go simply because she was a champion boxer. It was good that they could recognize her and let her go, that is why we see our pride in her today. We also see respect in those separatists when they listen to live commentary of Mary Kom bout in international competition and burst out in joy with her win. This shows the real power and respect of a person, this respect is earned through hard work, dedication and after many failures. This can’t be demanded through big budget media advertisements.
Women audience from North -East India watching the movie with me in a Bangalore theatre burst out in joy every time she fought with someone or shown courage and dedication. She didn’t use any man to reach this fame, she did not have to ruin a few lives to get to the top. Moreover she didn’t neglect her family to reach the top. She was always committed to her family, taken care of her kids.
In this story of a successful woman the silent contribution of a man is somewhat ignored. Her husband has taken all care of their family has made commendable contribution to this success story. We get deeply pained when we see his contribution is belittled by the director by not even showing him in Mary Kom’s family picture at the end of the movie. It was this man who has taken care of the kids all the time when the mother was away. He has done household work and freed up Mary’s time for her boxing practice. There is no doubt that Mary has made remarkable comeback after child-birth and kudos to her for that. But unlike other careerist woman who proudly call themselves feminists she has never ignored her family but the contribution of her husband to her success can never be belittled.
In short, Mary has shown us all and particularly to the feminists that women empowerment is not about creating gender biased laws or giving them reservations in everything. This story also shows us that women do not need to file false cases or promote nudism in public to be empowered. This is about taking up responsibilities and delivering the same and always standing by the commitments. It is not about taking undue advantage of society, the men around rather it is about showing up a value system that can help a woman earn respect from everyone. Feminists need not put out big advertisements asking everyone to respect them. Women like Mary Kom demand our respect because they contribute to the society in a positive way and earn the same.