So, I have done a couple of blogs in the past as well that harp hard and stoic on women’s issues. And just like I have said before, that is not because I am a woman or a feminist. I feel the need to write these blogs because, I am a human, and despite changing times, changing education, changing exposure and the evolving youth, nothing is really changing.
You also know that I don’t like to play the blame game when it comes to issues – I like to get to the bottom of things, and at all times, try my best to put out some sort of a solution to it, even if the solution in question may seem like intangible, slow and tedious.
I am writing this blog today because of a conversation that I had with a male friend right after the New Year. We got to talking about my blog and one thing led to another and soon we were having a pretty heated discussion about women, women’s rights, feminism and the Bangalore incident.
The thing that vexed me like a clockwork is when he said, “Yeah, yeah, I know what happened was wrong but why is everyone talking about it for an eternity? The news channels, the papers and social media is abuzz with the incident for the whole of last week.”
Maybe because it IS actually pretty serious? Maybe because what happened to those girls could have happened to your family member and then you wouldn’t be able to brush it off so mundanely over your cocktail hour?
While I shut him up with a dose of my best concocted retaliation of words, I got to thinking about men.
While the men who groped and molested the women, as randomly as buying a pack of cigarettes from the by-lane shop, and as easily as if they knew that their actions would not have any real consequences exist, what about the men who were sitting inside their houses on New Year’s Eve?
The molesters are criminals, but what about the rest of the men out there?
What about my friend who thought that talking about something as serious as violation of human rights of an individual is a topic that is “tiring and exasperating”?
What about the politician who commented about bullshit such as western culture and girls asking for trouble by wearing clothes that were revealing?
Are these men any less criminal than the men who actually “acted” criminal?
I have had too many such interactions in the past to tell you that, these men, who were completely “innocent”, sitting quietly at home, enjoying a solitary drink with their families, have at some point argued that, maybe, that the girls are actually asking for it.
And it is because of these men that nothing is changing, really.
Let me quickly give you a few examples to prove my point.
Once, while on holiday to India, we were amongst a lot of people that I’d like to call close to me. I’d also like to call them highly educated, advanced, mature, all of them socially & economically forward and most of them who have travelled the world.
When we started speaking about safety of women in Bombay, some of them began citing various reasons for the lack of safety.
Speaker A said that while the safety of women who work late is a huge concern, it is imperative that the women in question are more careful when they are travelling at night. He vehemently nodded while thumping his fist over the chakhna-laden table that they should travel in packs, travel with a trusted driver and always be alert.
Speaker B went on to question why women wear short skirts, or shorts or revealing dresses when they know that they live in India – It’s like saying, Aa Bail, Mujhe Maar – If women really want to be safe, they should wear things that were non-sexual in nature. May be if girls want to wear skimpy clothes, they should rather wear it when they are with family.
Yep, Speaker B actually said that.
And for your information, Speaker B was a woman herself.
Speaker C gave us all a different angle to look at, on this matter altogether. He began his rant on how pure our culture was back in the day, when Bollywood movies did not have scintillating song sequences where a certain Sunny Leone spiraled to Laila Main Laila or where women were not compared to Tandoori Murgi. He went on to say how the western culture has infiltrated our country and its youth, and that girls get influenced by these acts by mega movie stars and find themselves ways to feel and look more like a Laila.
Or Tandoori Murgi.
Now tell me girls, how exactly do we make ourselves more desirable and look like the juiciest Tandoori Murgi in town?
Maybe rub some Tandoori Masala all over our bodies and stick our head in the oven to overcome the humungous amount of crap that these speakers were raving about?
So yes, nothing is changing in our country because there exists people such as this in every single family in India.
And as far as I am concerned, they are as much criminal as anyone who has committed a “real” crime.
Tell me – Why should women who work late be careful when they are taking their daily local train home? – Women are tax-payers too and have the equal right to take this government-aided train to safely reach home.
Why should we travel in packs? – Are we wolves?
Why should we be the ones to trust a driver, when after all, he’s a man too?
Why don’t men be careful when they travel at night or travel in packs or travel carefully with a trusted driver?
Second, comes, clothing, the eternal, done-to-death argument of clothing!
Aa Bail, Mujhe Maar? – Like seriously?
Don’t reveal your shoulders. Don’t reveal your cleavage. Not your navel too. And oh, don’t even think about revealing your legs.
Because what can be more sexual in nature than a pair of limbs that God gave us all for walking, running and maybe kicking the shit out of some people?
Women who are fully clothed get comments of having a great posterior all the time – So now, should we begin changing the shapes of our bodies so that these Bails don’t come rattling towards us?
Wear skimpy clothes only when with family? – No, ma’m, I don’t think I want rules of having specific audience for my strappy cut-out bikini for the love of god!
And why don’t these rules apply to men? – Why aren’t men supposed to not roam freely without their shirts and feel completely at ease in their own country?
It’s a free country, no? – And isn’t this freedom equal for all, barring gender?
And finally, about western culture.
It is not the western culture that has the item songs, and it is not the western culture that told you to write a song that compared women to a variety of oddly unique artefacts, starting from Laila, to Tandoori Murgi to Afghan Jalebi to Baby Doll.
It all came right from India.
So don’t go blaming the western culture for everything that’s wrong with our youth.
I don’t see how the western culture could have affected our girls so morbidly that they felt the need to wear jeans and a tank top to a New Year’s Party, instead of wearing a saree or a salwar-kameez which probably would have been influenced by our great Indian culture.
Would dressing up in an Indian attire guarantee zero sexual harassment? – If yes, we all should it right away!
But sadly, it wouldn’t.
Because, we all know that clothing is not the problem.
The thing that needs to change is Thinking. Mentalities. Ideologies.
Men need to realize that no reason is good enough for a man to molest a woman.
Women need to raise their sons to believe that.
We are NEVER asking for it.
We are not asking for it when we travel with our girlfriends on a train to Goa all by ourselves.
We are not asking for it when we have done six vodka shots and are sloshed.
We are not asking for it when we are clubbing and dancing away the night like there’s no tomorrow.
We are not asking for it when we wear track pants and sweaters or when we wear a bikini to a pool party.
Because everything that we are doing are all within our rights as per the constitution.
We are not asking for it even though it may seem like to some drunk dude who has the brain the size of a pea, not developed enough to control his sexuality, who has a heart made of stone that refuses to hear the distressing, pitiful and pathetic screaming of the woman he is violating.