My Choice

22 04 2015

It’s My Choice. The video that went viral recently invoked a lot of passionate response – both for and against. Maybe mostly against. Truth be told, I too cringed a few times watching it. It is a bit extreme. But I guess the intended message is this:

It’s all about not judging based on gender. No double standards. Right and wrong apply exactly the same way to both men and women. No need to feel the burden of expectations and standards set by others on a particular gender.

But why be extreme? I guess the intention is to get attention and they sure got it. Getting noticed is critically important if you are trying to make a point.  But I think that the real message is hidden underneath everything sensational and doesn’t reach the audience effectively.

This reminds me of the ‘Slutwalk‘ movement. The actual point they want to make is lost on many amid all the shock the extremism invoked.

Gender discrimination is a very sensitive issue and from my own experience learned that it’s not easy to make others see your point. Some issues are very subtle and some lines are so thin, it’s difficult to explain and make distinctions within the context of pre-conceived notions.

I just hope that there is a more effective and direct way to convey a message – without eliciting a lot of unwarranted controversy.

This video seemed like a response to that documentary – India’s Daughter. I didn’t dare to watch it. I sensed by the outburst of others, that it is full of too much nonsense that I can’t endure to listen to. The documentary itself has good intentions I guess – to bring out the truth.  What was India trying to tell the world by banning it? That it’s not true or that it’s true but we can’t own up to it? Even while I was appalled when it’s banned, I wasn’t really surprised I guess. It’s no news that many people in power, those who rule the country and maintain law and order, have similar regressive opinions. When the leadership itself is so pathetic, what can we expect! Will there ever be laws and enforcers that will really make a difference?   No one wants to talk about rape. It’s as if an accepted part of life. The harrowing Delhi incident, which left almost everyone shocked, made a lot of people start talking about rape, which is a good thing. I’m sure there are plenty other incidents which are comparably horrific that never came to light. This particular thought makes me feel utterly sad, helpless, and scared.

It’s as if morality applies only to women. It’s beyond pathetic that some people actually believe that crap. I believe that the belief that “woman is the epitome of culture and moral conduct, blah blah” – is a form of oppression in plain sight!. All I say is morality applies to one and all, equally.

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Yay! This blog turned 6 today. ūüôā





Effect of male stereotypes on women

18 04 2013

Everytime I think about the stereotypes that burden women, I also wonder about male stereotypes and how they would feel trapped by them unconsciously. But due to lack of any more insights into the male psyche, I would often leave that train of thought at that. In the following video, Tony Porter talks about just that and points out that¬†trying to fit into the¬†“manbox” (the bundle of male stereotypes) is what makes men act violently against women. This reinforces the fact that “violence against women” is a soceital issue, not just concerned with the isolated perpetrators.

(Credits: I¬†came across this¬†video on Amit varma’s India Uncut)

Another thoughtful post on the same theme by a parent of a 2-year old boy is here.

It’s heartening to see that many parents of boys are realizing this root cause and are acting and raising their voices to change the status quo.





Law on ‘dress’ and ‘rape’

11 04 2013

Was pleased to read this in March 24th issue of The Week magazine, as part of Section 376 series.

K.V. Dhananjay, a Supreme court advocate is quoted in the article saying:

“The law goes by the dictum that every man should take responsibility for what he does with his sexual prowess. Provocation by dress, thereby, is absolutely ‘no legal defence’ in rape cases.”

“If provocative dressing can be an excuse for rape, then the accused could as well offer the mother of all excuses – that the victim being a woman was in itself a provocation.”

I applaud!





Rant

22 02 2013

Besides triggering a lot of appropriate reaction Рhorror, shock, empathy -, the Delhi-rape incident  has made people to ask important questions regarding the gender issues. That aside, the more significant impact has been on the way women in general conduct their day-today lives: they are now more apprehensive of boarding an empty or near empty bus, auto or cab and extremely suspicious of talking to and dealing with unacquainted men. Simple things which they have always done before without much thought.

I and my friend, for example, feel very cautious and threatened to even do our usual stuff these days like – be out during the dusk, go out and meet people to get things done etc. The event essentially has served as a rude awakening to the fact that we are living in the midst of such insane and pervert people who are very well capable of and don’t think too much about carrying out such brutal acts. Who can ever imagine the mindset of a person who messes with a woman’s internal organs with his hand and even seek sadistic pleasure out of it. I’m not sure, which one of the 6 accused has done it, but I feel that all of them are equally responsible for the act. And I fervently condemn one of them getting off the severe punishment on the grounds of being a juvenile. Oh, I almost forgot! Who can say when the case will end and the final verdict is out!

Of course, the danger has always been there. But I guess this incident has shown irrevocably how beastly some men can behave and how vulnerable a woman’s life is. (I know I’m repeating myself a lot on this topic here in this blog but I feel compelled to do so. Kindly bear with me.)

How many women carried pepper sprays with them before? The recent incident of attempt to kidnap (with clear intention of raping the woman, needless to say) provides another dose of terror and horror. It’s a service auto and finding the woman alone after other passengers got off, the driver along with his friend planned the thing. Their explanation or rather¬†defense¬†is that they were intoxicated. As if that justifies their evil intentions. It seems like women are living among some men who are on the constant prowl – seizing their prey when found alone (or in unsubstantial company). Do they feel that it’s their right? I’m genuinely perplexed. How can someone attempt a crime without much thought? To everyone’s relief, the lady made a brave escape with minor injuries.

Well, I think this goes on and on and on….!

And what about these terrorist bomb attacks in Hyderabad…! The mankind is sick! Sick in the mind. That’s all I can say. Many innocent people died and lot others lost their limbs and got injured. What a horrible way to die! I don’t understand what to make of people who think “killing innocent people” makes them realize their goals (I wonder what they are in the first place and how sensible they are). And doing all this from behind. This is no war. I don’t understand the political and power dynamics of the world well, but I condemn every and any such act. (I know you all do too! )

Terror is everywhere. Terror is for everyone. Alas!!!

Nonviolence doesn’t always work – but violence never does.¬† ~Madge Micheels-Cyrus





Last note of 2012

31 12 2012

This new year eve does not fill me with the usual anticipation, hope, and excitement as always. It makes me much more retrospective and reflective on serious issues and life in general. It makes me feel vulnerable and helpless.¬†The Delhi rape incident has affected me deeply as is the case with the rest of the country. I can’t gather up my courage to read through the victim’s narration of the ghastly incident. My heart goes out to the girl as I try to take a look at her picture circulated around on social networks. I can’t bear to see it for more than a few seconds. An enormous amount of sadness overtakes me. Tears well up in my eyes whenever I recall what the girl had to go through.

I’m glad about the nation’s (as in “public”, not as in “government”) fury and also about the fact that people have finally acknowledged the degree of dangerous and unsafe surroundings our women are living in. It’s commendable that people are mulling over what needs to be done to amend the scenario, to bring about a sustainable change. It’s truly laudable that in addition to demands for quick and severe punishment for the perpetrators, people seem to realize that the real problem lies in the cornerstones of our culture and society. Awareness and sensitization is the key. I’ve also observed that ever since the event and the resultant uproar, more and more of crimes against women are being reported in the media. Of course, there had never been a day without at least one news item about sexual violence on women and minors, but now they are being given more space and limelight. And people are taking note without brushing them off as stray incidents. With grim, shocked, and terrified faces.

All these and more thoughts have been whirling around my mind for days and a particular thought stuck me: What if I had a daughter! I would be more than paranoid. I would be terrified for her safety. I realized with a rude jolt that more than the cultural factors which ¬†make many prefer boys to girls, this utterly unsafe world for girls/women would be the lone reason for my uneasiness (if any) to have a girl child. Of course, I appreciate the fact that being the mother of a son, I have greater responsibility on me – to shape him into a person who will treat a woman as a “person”: with respect and dignity.





Praveen Swami on rape and sexual violence

28 12 2012

Praveen Swami has put the whole thing very¬†succinctly¬†in his article titled “The danger to women lurks within us” in yesterday’s “The Hindu”. He opines that policing is a small part of the problem and hence can only be a small part of the solution. He mentions several statistics of US and Europe to drive home the point. Only 3 of every 1000 rapists ever see inside of a prison cell in US , while only 6 of every 100 women who report an offence will see the perpetrator convicted in UK.

He says, “The decline in rape in the US has mainly come not because policing has become god-like in its deterrent value, but because of hard political and cultural battles to teach men that when a woman says no, she means no.”

Startling facts were revealed by a study done by two scholars Diana Scully and Joseph Marolla, which indicate that rape is a learned behavior. The men made no effort to hide the fact that they saw hurting women as entertainment.

Praveen Swami rightly pointed out that misogyny is a part of our culture, which views large-scale violence against women as entirely legitimate.

Measures like more police officers (especially women) and harsher police action on street, and even simple ones like better lighting in public places may deter sexual¬†harassment¬†and decline rape rates. Also, legal reform backed by investigative and prosecutional capacity will help. But the real battle is one that women’s organizations have fought to address for decades – to change the ways in which men relate to women; to create a culture of¬†masculinity¬†that does not involve subjugation, he concludes.

Note: The entire content of this post is drawn from the above mentioned article. I found it so profound that I felt compelled to share its key points here.

 





Rape culture

27 12 2012

Almost everyone in the country is perhaps brainstorming now about what should be done to deter rape and violence on women and help create a safer country for them. In the process, they are forced to reflect on the society as a whole. Even as people are demanding stricter laws and more policing to curb the crimes, many recognized the problem as having deeper roots concerning the prevailing norms and attitudes of the society. Debates are going on about where does the key lie. They say it’s an outcome of patriarchy. The ingrained¬† preference for boys to girls is the sure way to instill the dominance of men over women in the minds of the people. One obvious suggestion, which works in long-term, is that parents should bring up their children more responsibly. I’m sure those who don’t entertain such base opinions owe it to their superior upbringing.¬† But how is it possible on a large scale when one is surrounded by¬† media/literature that voluntarily or involuntarily brandishes chauvinistic content?¬† It probably is like chicken and egg question. Should change in society lead to change in media or should media try to change and lead society?

Another logical deduction is that people should be educated. Indian Homemaker has put it in the most unambiguous, and straight-forward manner here (this is a must-read). The need itself proves the point that we , as a society, are in a pathetic state. Does anyone need to be educated that murder is a crime? Why isn’t there a commandment that rape is a sin? Wikiislam says:

There is no equivalent term for ‚Äėrape‚Äô in the¬†Qur’an. Likewise, there is not a single verse in the Qur’an which even remotely discourages forced sex. In contrast, there are several verses in this book which give the green light to rape and other sexual crimes against¬†women.

And there is no evidence that Hinduism forbids rape. In fact, it makes allowances for it.

The¬†BrhadńĀrankyaka Upanishad, for instance, condones rape:

Surely, a woman who has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period is the most auspicious of women. When she has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period, therefore, one should approach that splendid woman and invite her to have sex. Should she refuse to consent, he should bribe her. If she still refuses, he should beat her with a stick or with his fists and overpower her, saying: ‚ÄúI take away the splendor from you with my virility and splendor‚ÄĚ (6.4.9,21).

Source: Apologetics Press

Disgusting, I know. But that’s how it is. All the scriptures were written by men and so may be one can’t expect anything different. ūüėź¬†It’s not that religion alone can curb the evil but it sure has the potential. But of course, like everything else, even it is biased. Alas!

It’s unfortunate and appalling that at least a sizeable portion of the population opines that “women” ask for it by getting dressed and/or behaving in a certain way. The prevailing notion is that “it’s ok to rape”. It’s not treated as severe a crime as it actually is, at least by the perpetrators.¬† The past incidents/cases mentioned on Indian Homemaker’s blog only make one to gape in horror. Acquitting a rapist just because there were no injuries on his penis, while the girl is bruised all over her body?? Hats off to the judge and hats off to our law.

The way the blame is usually put on the victim (people, including those in authority, scrutinize for any indication of violation of “code of conduct” that everyone decides for a woman in India), and more and more guidelines are framed upon the occurrence of each shocking incident¬†for how a woman should conduct herself,¬† makes it appear as if women are not dealing with normal human beings but with a monster at large, with whom of course one cannot reason and one cannot expect for it to behave in any humane way. But the only problem is that this monster has innumerable manifestations, which makes its appearance at countless places at the same time.

I feel that one reason why the Delhi case has gained so much uproar is the associated brutality involved. And the fact that the girl didn’t seem to invite it. (I’m so glad none is mulling over what the girl could possibly have done to “drive” the men to the ghastly act.) There are countless such incidents happening everywhere and I believe they all need as much outrage. No matter whether the details are gory or not, rape is an abominable crime.

I don’t have any solutions to offer as of now but I agree with the opinion that the issue needs no quick fix but an elaborate long-term approach addressing the roots of our culture and society.