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Gender Equality: Let The Men Become Pregnant

The following is a conversation after a press conference in Chicago from 1975 with Srila Prabhupada who challenges modern ideas of how to solve exploitation of women in a society dominated by men.

Prabhupada: Where is the independence of woman that she has to carry the weight of the pregnancy and the man is free? What is the answer to this question? Hmm? Answer Visakha.

Visakha: A woman is trapped by her body. She has no choice. By her body she must.

Prabhupada: So she is already dependent on nature's law that man is free from becoming pregnant and the woman has to take the burden. Then where is the independence, equal right? Equal right means sometimes man may become pregnant, sometimes woman may become pregnant, but why only woman should become pregnant and the man goes away and she has to take care of the children, beg from government or this and that? Is that independence? Eh?

Satsvarupa: For them, the independence has become contraception. "I don't have to have the child," they say.

Prabhupada: That means you commit another sinful activity. Then you become dependent on nature. You'll be punished. The punishment goes to you. In this way... And the whole thing becomes cumbrous. So where is the benefit of equal right, independence? Phalena pariciyate. We have to see the result of every action -- whether the result is beneficial. If the result is not beneficial -- the action is not beneficial. There is cases of rape cases. The victims are women. Why the victim is not man? Why? In every rape case the sufferer, or the victim, is woman. And why not the man?

Jagadisa: Male means predominator, female means predominated.

Prabhupada: Then? Where is the independence? Why artificial independence?

Harikesa: In this brain weight matter, the sixty-four ounce and thirty-six ounce, is that every brain, male brain, is...?

Prabhupada: No, no.

Harikesa: No. That is what they think you've said, that every male brain is sixty-four ounces, every woman is thirty-six ounces.

Prabhupada: No, no. The highest brain substance found in man is sixty-four ounce.

Harikesa: They did not understand that.

Nitai: He said it clearly.

Prabhupada: And the highest brain substance in woman found, thirty-six ounce. So that proportion is always there. It may be twenty ounce, forty ounce, but brain substance in man is more than the woman. That is a fact, always.

Harikesa: Is that in the Vedas also?

Prabhupada: No, I am talking of the psychology. I have given the name, Dr. W.S. Urquhart. When I was student, he said. So he is a great authority in psychology. So I have given the date. But they say, "Now they have improved." Then what can be said? But they could not improve this position: they have become pregnant. For the last hundred and thousands and millions of years, in the history we hear that woman is pregnant. We never heard the man is pregnant. So where is the progress? If you are actually making progress, so millions of years ago, the history we hear... Even Ramacandra, millions of years, Lord Ramacandra. Sita became pregnant, not Ramacandra. If you take history, now where is the improvement? Millions of years ago, Ramacandra. Sita became pregnant, not Ramacandra. The law of woman's becoming pregnant, millions of years was there. And what improvement have they made now? They say, "We have made improvement." What is that improvement? Millions of years ago, Sita, she became pregnant, and Ramacandra did not become pregnant. Man did not. So what is the improvement at the present moment? Is there any instance, a man is now becoming pregnant. And not the woman? So where is the improvement?

Jagadisa: Even all species of life it is the same.

Prabhupada: Inauspicious?

Brahmananda: In all other species...

Prabhupada: Yes. Even in animals, the female animal becomes pregnant. That is the law. So where is independence? Let them pass resolution that "Henceforward, man will have to become pregnant." Is it possible?

Jagadisa: Srila Prabhupada, the whole civilization, American western civilization, is now bewildered by this theory of woman's liberation.

Prabhupada: But how they will be liberated on this point? First of all let me know.

Jagadisa: They're simply crazy.

Harikesa: They may bring up the argument that they are not concerned that they have to bear children just as long as they can be superior.

Prabhupada: Oh. This argument is like: "You go on beating me with shoes; still I am independent. I don't mind you are beating me with shoes, but I am independent." It is the argument like that.

Devotee (1): There were supposed to be some aldermen here, but one of them was a woman and it has been on the news already about what you've said and she doesn't want to come now.

Prabhupada: Alderman?

Brahmananda: They're like city council men. But in this case it's a city councilwoman. So she has refused to come because the comment... There has been a lot of publicity created. (laughter) So they are speaking on the radio that "The Swamiji has come to solve all the problems by saying that woman is inferior to men."

Prabhupada: Yes, that's a fact. (laughter) So what the man says?

Harikesa: They are being quiet. They are too afraid to say.

Prabhupada: That means they are accepting. When they are quiet... Quiet means... Maunam samyati raksanam. If there is some argument and you remain quiet that means indirectly you accept.

Harikesa: They are thinking that if the man were to speak out, then he would not be able to get his sex pleasure. The woman would withhold sex pleasure from the man if he were to speak out.

Prabhupada: No, that is not possible. At least in America, I know, they pay man for sex pleasure. Is it not a fact? Eh?

Jagadisa: I didn't hear, Srila Prabhupada.

Prabhupada: Sometimes woman pays man for sex pleasure.

Jagadisa: Sometimes, yes.

Prabhupada: Yes.

Brahmananda: Srila Prabhupada, there is one lady. She would like to come and see you. She is the mother of one of our devotees. But she is coming wearing tilaka and a bead bag.

Prabhupada: Very good. (pause) But I am not speaking of my experience. When we speak, we speak from the sastra. So this woman's dependence is described in Manu-samhita. And there are many instances. Just like Kunti. Kunti was not ordinary woman. She was very learned, exalted woman.

Brahmananda: This is one point, that in our devotional line there are spiritual leaders who have been women such as Kunti. She gave...

Prabhupada: But still... Therefore I say. Still, she remained dependent on their son. That is is my proposition. Just like the sons, they lost the game and they were to be banished. Kunti was not banished. So when the sons went to forest, Kunti also followed because she thought that "I am widow. I am dependent on my sons. So wherever my sons will remain, I shall remain." She was not... She did not lose the game; neither she was ordered to go to the forest. Similarly, Sita, Sita, wife of Lord Ramacandra. Lord Ramacandra was requested by His father to go to the forest, not Sita. Sita was also a king's daughter. So she could go to her father that "My husband is going to the forest. Let me go to my father's house." She did not go. She preferred that "I shall go with my husband." So when husband said that "You are not banished. You stay at home," she said, "No. I am dependent on You. Wherever You shall go, I must go." This is Vedic culture.

Brahmananda: Her chastity was her great virtue.

Prabhupada: Yes, that is the thing.

Brahmananda: Nowadays that is no longer true.

Prabhupada: Nowadays may be different, but I am speaking of the Vedic ideas, that woman in all circumstances, unless the husband is crazy or something like that, mad, or..., in every case the instance is that wife is faithful and subservient to the husband. That is the Vedic culture. Even the husband goes out of home, vanaprastha, the wife also goes with him. When he takes sannyasa, at that time there is no accompaniment of wife. Otherwise in grhastha life and even vanaprastha life, the wife is constant companion and subservient. That is the history of Vedic culture. History, Gandhari, because her husband was blind, so when the marriage settlement was done, she was not blind, but she voluntarily became blind by wrapping cloth.

Devotee (2): She remained with the cloth wrapped for her whole life?

Prabhupada: Whole life.

Devotee (2): Whole life.

Prabhupada: She voluntarily became blind. And up to the last point of her husband's precarious condition, she remained with him. These are the examples. There are other examples. Damayanti. They became so poor that they had no clothing. So the one cloth divided into two, husband and wife. So these instances are in the Vedic literature, that wife remains always faithful and subservient to the husband. That is their perfection. Now the Americans may not like this idea. That is different thing. But we are speaking of the Vedic culture. And these are the instances, vivid instances. Why Sita accompanied her husband? And because she accompanied her husband in the jungle, the war between Rama Ravana became possible. And it is the advice that "When you go to other countries you should not take your wife." Pathe nari-vinarjitah. Because it may create some trouble. But still, the faithful wife goes with the husband.

Brahmananda: You've used the example of this, that woman is less intelligent of the size of the brain, given by one professor in 1920. So they took offense to this because their idea is that what might have been scientific fact in 1920, in 1975 is not scientific fact.

Prabhupada: Then where is the proof? From 1920 to 1975, where is a woman who is extraordinarily bigger than man?

Brahmananda: Well, they might be able to bring some scientist who would say in 1975 that according to their calculations, there is no difference between the brain of a woman and the brain of a man.

Prabhupada: Yes.

Brahmananda: In other words, that, what is considered scientific fact, that changes according to the social ideas that are prevalent in a particular time.

Prabhupada: No, no. Social ideas, there is no standard social idea. That is another thing. You can change in any way. But so far physiological conditions, that has not changed. The feature of the woman's body has not changed. So how the brain will change? The bodily feature of woman as it was in 1920, it is still going on. Outwardly we see. So how inwardly it is changed? In 1920 the woman was becoming pregnant; there is no change now that man is pregnant. So how you say there is change?

Brahmananda: I don't know, but she said that they have spoken to scientists and that scientists say that the woman's brain... Now a scientist says a woman's brain and a man's brain is not different.

Nitai: No, no. She said that even though the woman's brain may be smaller, that that doesn't make a difference in intelligence.

Harikesa: No, they think it is the creases in the brain. Just like Einstein had a very small brain, but there were many creases, so they say that's why he was very intelligent, because there were creases.

Prabhupada: But since 1920 to up to date in the history, there have been many great personalities or very prominent personalities, but where is the history that women are greater than the man or are equal to the man in the history?

Satsvarupa: They have a standard answer to that that the women have always been oppressed, that the women could have become great philosophers and writers and politicians, but they were always kept in the home. So now they're going to change this, they say. It's only due to the man's oppressing them and keeping them down.

Prabhupada: So this pregnancy is also pressing. The man has pressed to become pregnant? This is man's pressure or nature's?

Brahmananda: Of course, they will try to stop that. Through contraceptive methods and abortion, they will try to stop having children.

Prabhupada: But that is not stopping. That is artificially taking some other measures. That is not stopping.

Harikesa: The two countries that have women as leaders are in the headlines all the time. Like Israel, Golda Meir, they are always war between there and Egypt.

Brahmananda: Argentina also.

Harikesa: Argentina, and India. Now there will be war. Wherever there is woman in charge, there is war, disruption. But they think because they are in charge, that proves they are equal.

Prabhupada: I think in Indian history she is the first woman to be in charge of the state. Before her, there is no instance of woman becoming in charge.

Brahmananda: In Sri Lanka also, they have woman in charge. That is also considered Indian.

Prabhupada: According to Manu-samhita, which is Vedic laws, it is said that "Woman is not to be given freedom." They have to be protected. According to Vedic civilization, women, children, old man, brahmana, and cow -- they are to be given protection. The state should give protection. [break] ...the defect of modern civilization is that vox populi.

Nitai: Yes.

Prabhupada: Everything is passed by popular vote. But that is also defective.

Brahmananda: You brought that out nicely by giving the example of Nixon. He received the largest popular vote of any president in the history, and he was also then pulled down.

Prabhupada: Indira Gandhi also. She got the largest number of vote...

Brahmananda: Even more than her father she received.

Prabhupada: So what is the value of these votes? If, by vote, if you select a wrong man and again you try to drag him down, then what is the use of this popular vote? Even in Communist country, the, what is called, Krushchev? He was the head. Now nobody knows where he is.

Brahmananda: Stalin also. He was...

Prabhupada: Stalin died.

Brahmananda: But after he died, they completely discredited him. They pulled down his statues and he was completely disgraced.

Devotee: A nonperson, they call him. It's the word they give, like Krushchev also is a nonperson.

Prabhupada: Non.

Brahmananda: Well, they consider them not to have existed.

Prabhupada: Oh.

Brahmananda: It is such a... In that way they have disgraced...

Prabhupada: Erased from the history.

Brahmananda: Yes. (pause)

Prabhupada: So it will create some agitation?

Brahmananda: Yes.

Harikesa: Oh, yes.

Devotee: It was NBC?

Brahmananda: No, it's a local station.

Harikesa: They may put that on nationwide. It's such hot news. (laughter)

Brahmananda: I was seeing in one of these Time magazines. On the rear page they're advertising a cigarette that is especially meant for women. It's a slimmer size. The larger size is for the men; the slimmer size is for the women. And the title of the advertisement, they show one picture of a woman cleaner, sweeper. She is cleaning the floors. This picture was taken in the 1920's. It was taken in Washington D.C. because in the background they show the capitol building is there in Washington D.C. So then they have a picture of a modern woman. She's sitting there looking very nice. And they say that "You've come a long way, baby." (laughter) Whereas in the 1920's you were sweeping the floors and now you're sitting on a throne.

Prabhupada: "So you accept this cigarette."

Brahmananda: Yes. "This cigarette is meant just for you to show that you're superior."

Prabhupada: I think there was some objection, woman taking this objection, why woman's idol should be displayed in the shopkeeper's show windows.

Brahmananda: The mannequins.

Prabhupada: Yes. There was some protest. Generally, they keep the dolls of woman, beautiful woman. So there was some protest.

Brahmananda: They even now have protested...

Prabhupada: In advertisement also. Woman's pictures are so many. So why they are taking woman's picture? We also say that maidservant, 1920... Now she has become. Like the woman... There are many men like that. Why not men? Why they are taking advantage of the woman? Why there is no protest, that "Why you are taken?" There are many men who has improved from 1920 up to date. Why don't you give that picture. Why woman's picture? Where is the protest? Whenever there is some fashion dress, the woman's picture is given. Why? Is there any protest by the women for this that, "Why you are taking advantage of woman"?

Jagadisa: These days the men are doing that also more and more, dressing up so fancy and getting their pictures in the magazines.

Prabhupada: Of women?

Jagadisa: Men also. Nowadays men are also doing that, thinking that it's so important to dress in fancy clothes.

Prabhupada: No, dress, that's all right. But generally they present woman's picture.

Brahmananda: Yes, they protest that this shows that woman is being exploited.

Prabhupada: Yes.

Brahmananda: Actually, they are just feeling frustrated because it is a fact that woman has been exploited by the men. So now they want to counteract this.

Prabhupada: No, we don't say that woman should be exploited by men. We say the man should be responsible and give protection to woman.

Brahmananda: But they feel so angry from the exploitation that they cannot accept that actually a man could protect them.

Prabhupada: That is bad experience. But the ideal is different. Ideal is that man must be first-class and he must be responsible to take care of the woman, and she should be given all protection, all necessities. That is the duty of man. Just like father takes the charge of his daughter, similarly, husband should take charge of the woman. And similarly, elderly sons also took charge of the woman. The father never exploits the daughter. He gives all protection. That is the duty of the husband also. When she is grown up, she cannot remain under the protection of father. She is given, therefore, to a suitable boy to take charge. But the charge is the same, to give protection, all comforts. And because there is no first-class man to take charge of the woman, they are declaring independence. All the men are doing that. They keep girlfriend, make her pregnant, and go away, goes away.

Brahmananda: In that sense we can say that the women are inferior, but the men also, they are not first-class.

Prabhupada: That we also said, that there is no first-class men. So if there is first-class man, then whole question is solved.

Jagadisa: The men are behaving just like dogs.

Prabhupada: Yes.

Brahmananda: Today in the hotel where we went there was one barber shop. And the name of the barber shop was "The home of the dog."

Prabhupada: Accha?

Brahmananda: Yes.

Prabhupada: What is the meaning?

Brahmananda: Well, the idea is that the haircuts of the men are so long, they look like...

Prabhupada: Dog.

Brahmananda: ...shaggy dogs.

Prabhupada: After all, all these questions can be solved if people become Krsna conscious. There is no such discrimination. Panditah sama-darsinah [Bg. 5.18]. Samah sarvesu bhutesu. These distinctions are there on the material platform. On the spiritual platform there is no such distinction.

Brahmananda: So that is something that the reporters did not understand. This point was not discussed very fully, that actually we don't, we are not unkind to women, we are not exploiting them as others do because one who is in the spiritual life he feels he is equal to... Men, women does not matter.

Prabhupada: So you can write that spiritually, there is no such distinction. Spiritually, Krsna says that "Although there is distinction in the material field, low and high, but one who takes shelter of Me..." Mam hi partha vyapasritya ye 'pi syuh papa-yonayah, striyo vaisyas tatha sudras. Find out this verse.


mam hi partha vyapasritya

ye 'pi syuh papa-yonayah

striyo vaisyas tatha sudras

te 'pi yanti param gatim

[Bg. 9.32]

"O son of Prtha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth -- women, vaisyas, merchants, as well as sudras, workers -- can approach the supreme destination. Purport. It is clearly declared here by the Supreme Lord that in devotional service there is no distinction between the lower or higher classes of people. In the material... [break] ...than great jnanis and yogis."

Jagadisa: But this point of Krsna consciousness is very difficult to understand, and it will only be possible for a very few persons to grasp this truth. Therefore you are encouraging us to introduce the proper social system so that gradually people may understand. Otherwise they could never accept Krsna consciousness.

Prabhupada: Krsna consciousness is understood by the first-class men. In the social system, if we don't keep a first-class man, a section, then it will not be possible, socially. Or if next alternative, that everyone agrees to chant Hare Krsna, then it will be possible. That is the simplest method. You become first-class or last class; it doesn't matter. You take to this chanting Hare Krsna mantra, then you become equally in spiritual consciousness. So it is already published in the paper?

Brahmananda: Well, all the radio stations are carrying it. And the TV will probably have it tonight. Actually, this one purport might clarify the disagreement. They may not be so angry.

Prabhupada: Why do they not understand, by nature's discrimination the woman is put into greater difficulty by bearing child?

Brahmananda: That is the one thing they cannot avoid. They cannot escape.

Prabhupada: Why this arrangement is by nature? How they can change it?

Brahmananda: Someone was telling me that there have been many instances that when women are being taken to the hospital to give birth to their children -- they're in the ambulance, and they are experiencing the pains -- that they are cursing their husbands, "Why you have given me this pain?"

Prabhupada: Yes, because birth pain is very severe.

Brahmananda: They vow never to have sex again at that time. But...

Prabhupada: (laughs) That sloka I was... Trpyanti neha krpana bahu-duhkha-bhajah [SB 7.9.45]. To... The sex life and the aftereffects are full of miserable condition, so once they have sex life, they become, woman becomes pregnant, and the painful conditions are passed. But still, he or she is not satisfied, again takes the same thing, entailed by so many sufferings. Trpyanti neha krpana. Because he has no knowledge, he commits means the same thing again.

Jagadisa: Chewing the chewed.

Prabhupada: Both of them suffer. But irresponsible father avoids, then the both suffering comes on the woman. She suffers the pain, birth pain, and suffers to raise the children. And the man goes away. How they are going to solve this problem? What is their answer? They become dependent on the man during sex life and purchases the pain, birth pain, and accuses the husband. And then, when the child is born she has to take care. The father may go away. The mother cannot give up the care of the children. Out of affection, she is carrying two child. So these are the aftereffects. So can the woman avoid sex, which is entailed with so much sufferings? She submits. Where is the independent woman? Therefore, if one is spiritually advanced, then she becomes.

Brahmananda: Then he becomes.

Prabhupada: She can become equal with man. Spiritually advanced man and woman, they are equal. So long one is materially encaged, this is not possible. (pause)

(Room Conversation after Press Conference -- July 9, 1975, Chicago)

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