October 30, 2013
Morality and Mobile Phones in India
According to the International New York Times, keeping mobile phones out of the hands of women has become a crusade for gray-bearded chauvinists in India. The cheap mobile is particularly troublesome to those who want to preserve old controls.
... The cheap mobile unsettles long-standing gender relations because it introduces a means of autonomy that was not present before. The sociologist Manuel Castells exquisitely captured the essence when he wrote that, “mobile communication is not about mobility but about autonomy.” It’s autonomy that makes a personal, private communications device so disruptive of old social structures.
Stories are common of village councils declaring (without any legal right to do so) that no woman under 40 should have a mobile phone. Mobile phones, according to this view, are especially dangerous in the hands of young people who can engage in clandestine courtships, which could lead to elopements or resistance to marriages arranged by family elders.
The mobile phone’s ancestor—the landline telephone-was also controversial when it debuted 130 years ago.
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