Before I start, I take the opportunity to wish a very wonderful Women’s day to all the bold and beautiful ladies who have made an attempt to fulfil their dreams having overcome their fears and crossing all the hurdles of patriarchal society. May God bestow his blessings to you to live the life you actually deserve. At the same time, I laud all the men who have contributed to the success journey of any of the women. And to all men, who have discouraged women, you might have actually helped women to become bolder and self-dependent.
Now, coming back to the track;
Read the following excerpts from some XYZ newspaper or ABC website:
…A 27 year old boy returning home from party at 3:00 a.m. was robbed by three hooligans. When he retaliated, the bullies stabbed him and ran away. The boy later succumbed to his injuries and died on the spot….
…A 27 year old girl returning home from party at 10:00 p.m. was stopped by three hooligans. They passed scurrilous comments on her. When she retaliated, the bullies abused her sexually and stabbed her. The girl died on the spot…
Now, what are your reactions to both the incidents? Or say, what are the comments we get to hear from our society?
Reactions to Incident No. 1:
“Now, guys can’t even roam at 3:00 a.m. Isn’t it quite usual for them?”
“Were the bullies caught?”
“What are the police forces doing?”
“Alas! What a loss for his parents.”
“These incidents are utter mockery of law and order.”
“Why did nobody help him?”
“Now, guys can’t even enjoy with friends late at night. After all, they work hard and they need to enjoy venting out their frustration in some way or the other.”
And so on….
Reactions to the Incident No. 2:
“What was the girl doing so late at night?”
“At first place, why was she out of her home?”
“What was the girl wearing?”
“Was she in an inebriated condition?”
“She must have given indication to those men. She was walking alone at 10:00 p.m. What does this imply? It implies that she was sex deprived and was looking for a prey. First she invited and then she wanted to run away. So it happened. No sympathy for her parents.”
“Why did she retaliate? She should have willfully surrendered or she should have pleaded saying, “Brother, Please let me go…” Girls should never get into altercation with men.”
“The girls of this generation are blindly copying the western culture. If they follow Indian Culture, this will never happen.”
“She was 27 years old. Was she married? If yes, then why was she not with her husband? If no, then why was she still unmarried? Definitely she was a woman of arguable character.”
“I hate girls going to pubs, parties. It should happen to THESE KIND OF girls and all girls should take it as a lesson and should stay at home with their family.”
And many more….
In a nutshell, in the first incident, the bullies were blamed while in the second incident, the victim was blamed; her character was questioned. It can be inferred from the responses from the second incident that the girl crossed the line drawn by the regressive, patriarchal, orthodox misogynists. So, the girl was blamed shamelessly illogically for her ordeal.
Now, my question is: Who draws the line for girls?
Is it drawn by the driver and conductor of the bus who molest a girl who is returning from her work?
Or is it drawn by the security guard who is duty bound to provide safety to the residents of the apartment or office?
Or is it drawn by the Khap Panchayats who are at the top in the scale of rigidity and retrograde thinking?
Or is it drawn by the hypocrite brother who sees no wrong in roaming with friends at midnight physically assaulting others’ sisters but who takes pride in controlling the life and freedom of his own sister?
Or is it drawn by those vagabonds who are mostly found in the roadside tea stalls making lewd comments on every passing girl?
According to the interpretation of Indian Culture by these male chauvinists, a girl is expected to seek permission before entering a temple but a man does not need permission before entering a woman. The Do’s and Don’ts for female are framed by these male chauvinists. Though these rules don’t have any legal backing but they have the silent approval of a substantial part of the society. This is the reason that the rules are still in continuation. It’s not that only male members are behind this framework. Many uneducated literate women make equal contribution in torturing women.
And every time, women right activists raise their voices; their dissenting voice is silenced by intimidating threats of rape or death. Our society associates different traits to different genders. For example, aggression, decision making power, bravery, enjoyment, freedom etc. are considered as innate qualities for men.
On the other hand, timidity, shyness, submissiveness, dependence, being emotional, obedience etc. are expected from women.
The moment a girl exhibits traits like defiance, speaking in raised voice, aggressiveness, open mindedness, she is termed as a violator of social norms i.e. slut, in one word (she crossed the line. Right?).
A very common statement which most of you might have heard:
“When a girl knew that she was going to ABC place where many men would be there, then why did she go there? If a girl visits a place where so many men are there then expecting them not to rape her is an unattainable hope.”
My reply to the above conjecture can be inferred from the following analogy.
“Human beings are advised not to enter dense forests because they can be killed by wild man eater animals. The basic nature of man eater animals is to attack human beings or other animals, kill them and eat them to satiate their hunger. That’s what they do for their survival.”
Now, those who make above statement, do they want to say that the basic nature of a man is to sexually assault women? Do they want to say that this is what men do for their survival? Do they want to say that being pervert is a basic trait of men? Do they want to say that interpreting a girl’s smile or her way of dressing as an indication of interest in making physical relation is a prerogative of men?
We have a habit of stereotyping men as well as women. The root lies in the upbringing of a person. Not all men make relationship with girls with the only aim of having sex. Not all women make relationship with men to extort money from them.
Yes, men can be good cook; they can be good home maker; they can be emotional.
Again yes, women can be good decision maker; they can be good car driver; they can have rational approach. We have enough examples of women excelling in every field.
The thought of ‘one size fits all’ is spoiling our society.
The problem lies in the mindset. There are crimes in society. Some crimes are targeted specifically against women. And in most cases, the crimes are committed by men. Because of these ‘beast like men’ the whole sect of men is branded as ‘criminals’.
The change has to be brought in the mindset. Stop giving credence to the evil norms in the name of preserving age old tradition. With time, one has to evolve. We had ‘sati pratha’, ‘devadasi system’ in past but people took successful initiative to get them proscribed.
When we talk about gender equality, we should stop giving preferential treatment to women. For example, expecting a boy to offer his seat to a girl in public transport repudiates the very concept of gender equality (provided that seat is not reserved for ladies). And ladies should also not grab seats meant for gents. Women are not crippled or handicapped that they can’t stand. In its stead, offer your seat to senior citizens or physically handicapped person or pregnant woman. This is my notion of gender equality because preferential treatment is also a type of differential treatment.
As the fragrance of Women’s day is still in the air, my message to all women is:
“Do not depend on others to take stand for your happiness. When Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi fought in the war field, there was hardly any trace of women empowerment. Her valor and bravery compelled the British General (who defeated her) to pay tribute to her in these words: Here lay the woman who was the only man among the rebels. You can be the harbinger of women empowerment. Take stand for yourself because no one else can or will do it. When you claim equal rights, take the responsibility to perform equal duties as well. Live a dignified life. Don’t let your existence be threatened by confining it within the so called line.”
Give respect not only to women but to every creation of god.
Live and let live.
Stay happy. Stay blessed.