Women should never be independent
The Vedic view is women should be protected, not independent -- independent means exploited. Women should be protected. In their childhood they should be protected by their father, after marriage by their husband and when the husband leaves home by their sons. A women therefore always takes the position of being protected by a man. This system is nice as it stops prostitution within society. Women are restricted in their dealings with men, similarly, men are also restricted in their dealings with women.
Today the tendency is men want to exploit women to the maximum degree to satisfy their senses without being prepared to take any responsibility for protecting and providing for the women and children. If a women becomes pregnant it's her problem and she has to either have the child and bring it up as a single mother undergoing all the difficulties that entails or she has to kill the child by having an abortion. This is the result of not protecting women.
There is no social outcry. Men are happy as they can have sex with as many women as they like without considering the consequences and the women are happy because generally they enjoy being exploited by men in this way. Now the women want complete freedom to kill their children at their own free will because having children would interfere with their "lifestyle."
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The times are changing
There has been a marked change in attitudes in Australia even within my memory. I can remember a time when within a family the parents put aside their own personal desires and worked for the good of the family. There were many cases of husband and wife staying together for the benefit of the children even though they were having difficulties in their relationship. There was a sense of responsibility, that we have become parents of these children and now we have a responsibility to give them a good upbringing. But this has changed. I'm sure there are still many caring families out there but I suspect they were not marching in this feminist rally.
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Men don't want to be dominated by women
It is not in the woman's interest to become overly strong and domineering if she wants to attract a man. Of course they are trying to change the men as well, but still generally men don't want to be dominated by women. It is described in the Vedic literature a chaste women controls her husband not by becoming strong and overbearing but by her natural womanly qualities. Any man will be captivated by a wife who is completely chaste and who serves him nicely. She will actually control her husband, not by force but by her attractive womanly qualities.
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What's this go to do with Krishna?
So what has this all got to do with Krishna consciousness and spiritual life? On the spiritual platform we understand we are not these material bodies, but we are spirit souls, eternal servants of Krishna. So on this level we are not men or women. I am in a man's body at the moment, but next lifetime I may take a women's body. So I am not male or female, I'm a servant of Krishna. Actually there is no difference between a man and a women. Our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada revolutionized the preaching of Krishna consciousness when he came to America and allowed women to live in the temples and to preach side-by-side with the men. Srila Prabhupada was criticized by his Indian godbrothers on one side for allowing this and on the other side, in America, he was criticized by the feminists because there was still some separation between the men and the women. So it is a very difficult situation.
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Actually the Krishna consciousness movement gives full opportunity to both men and women to serve Krishna side-by-side, but the nature of the material world requires that we take some care. The most entangling thing within the material world is the association of a man and a women. In the Vedas women are called sri or that which expands, because the association of a man and a women expand the material concept of life. Therefore for a transcendentalist, association with women has to be carefully controlled. The system of religious marriage therefore provides a regulated method for men and women to associate with each other. Everything can be dovetailed in the service of Krishna, so marriage also can be used in Krishna's service. If the main business of the husband and wife is to serve Krishna they can help each other in their spiritual lives and serve Krishna together. They can have sex life to bring nice God-conscious children into the world and raise them as pure devotees of Krishna. Such family life is truly auspicious and in such a family the service of Krishna will be everybodies common goal.
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Just surrender to Krishna
Generally, in todays materialistic society, people are working for their own personal desires. If their desires can be fulfilled in the association of another person that's alright, but as soon as there is some interruption in the sense gratification they will immediately break off the relationship and find someone else to satisfy their senses. This mentality is now very prominent. In the past people were concerned with their families welfare, their community, their nation and sometimes the whole world. These philanthropic ideas are now not so prominent. People are now generally interested in their own sense gratification only. So the idea we are presenting, that you should give up all desires for personal sense gratification and simply surrender to Krishna seems to be a quite radical and unrealistic proposal to many people, but it is what Krishna has said in the Bhagavad-gita so we, as servants of Krishna, can't say anything else just to suit the general public opinion.
Chant Hare Krishna and be happy! All glories to His Divine Grace A.C.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada!
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