Jul 27, 2009

The Great Indian Cultural Tamasha

This, this, and this - if nothing else, must be Indian culture. Oh, and this definitely is.

I'm speechless.

I'll only say, "Support bacteria - they're the only culture some people have."

I'm not trying to be funny or insensitive, but I'm too disgusted to comment on those. And sickened with seeing this happen every damn day.

How, how, can we accept people hating each other as part of culture and look the other way, yet not accept people loving each other (and I'm not even talking about same-sex)?

How is it that we think nothing of humiliating, hurting, harassing, raping, killing other people yet would never ever wish the same upon ourselves or our dear ones?

How is it that we are so blind to others and so full of ourselves that we just cannot accept anyone who is even slightly different than us or does not think/act/live/drink/eat in the same way?

How can we justify any amount and any magnitude of wrongdoing under the labels of 'culture' and 'religion'? How can one person/group have a definition of 'culture' or 'religion' that can be applied to the family, state, nation or even humanity as a whole?

When will we see a woman as just another individual and not a 'woman'? When will we see her as a human being just like any of us? When will we see her as a person and not our or someone else's or just anyone's property? When will we see her as an equal?

Why are we tolerant of the wrong things - harassment, rape, murder, crime against women, crime against children, deceit, betrayal? Why are we not tolerant about religious freedom? Why are we not tolerant about artistic expression? Why are we not tolerant about relationships - between the same or opposite sexes? We could be but we are not. What we are tolerant of, instead, is bullying, crime, gross neglect of safety, and the subversion of justice.

Why do some of us, despite being taught to worship women, go about raping/molesting/killing them? Why do some of us think that if a girl wears a sleeveless top or shorts, she is 'available'? Why do some of our men have serious issues with reporting to a female boss? Why are some Indians so sexually repressed that even looking at a woman arouses them enough to molest/rape her?

The real issue that we must grapple with when such incidents occur is India's collective inability to accept that women have rights, that they are human beings, that they should be left alone, and that they have a right to occupy space in the public arena. If we do not tell a woman to eat brinjals instead of potatoes or drink juice instead of water, what possibly can give us the right to ask her to wear a saree instead of jeans?

It runs deep into our collective psyche. Most of our men wish to marry so that they won't have to eat outside food while living alone in their city of work. In a family run by a working couple, it is the woman who is expected to carry out all the household chores after performing her duties at the office. The men just take it for granted. The women do, too. What's worse, if an understanding husband tells his buddies that he manages the home/kitchen or babysits while she is at work, as a genuine gesture for the woman he loves and not as a favour, he is likely to be ridiculed and laughed at.

It is an insult of the highest order to call a man a woman, or to say he tends to display certain 'feminine' qualities (such as love, caring, understanding). Why can a man not be accepted as being loving and caring and understanding? Why is a man who loves his wife and stands up for her called her slave, or even an eunuch? Why does a man constantly need to prove his manliness to the society by lording over the women in his life? Can he not love her or care for her as she does?

The answer is staring us in the face - everyday. In our towns and villages, millions of little boys grow up listening to someone telling a woman that she should not hold her head high when she walks, or that a woman's true calling lies in serving her husband and his family (mostly extended). In some small town a rape victim is asked to marry the rapist. In another village, a girl without a dupatta is called a whore and beaten and/or killed, and I haven't even mentioned jeans yet! In a well-built house in an affluent colony, a mother calls upon her daughter to help her with the dinner, never her son. In the same house, the father asks his son to get stuff from the market, never the daughter. So deep rooted are these gender roles that it is almost impossible for the average Indian to think of an gender-independent environment. Most of us discriminate without even realising it!

We as a nation are so sexually repressed and so condescending/patronising towards our women that we make it seem acceptable for a guy to feel a girl up in the bus, or slap her bottom on the road, or grab her chest in a shop, or touch/look at her inappropriately. Every single woman in this country will have a similar story from her life - regardless of whether she was wearing a burqa or a ghunghat or a saree or a skirt or a two-piece bikini. So much for the attire being responsible! Those who say women must not show skin since that turns men on must remember that their are men who can get turned on even by a glimpse of a woman's eyes or hair or hands or feet. Or simply her height - that turns on people too! So what must women do, be seen with a blindfold? Or not be seen at all? Or not be at all?

Indian society, with its holier-than-thou hypocrisy thinks nothing of perpetrating crime against women. Not even babies are spared! How do we stop it? Do we make fornication legal? Or do we make being a woman illegal? I believe a better way would be if we stop blaming the woman for the crime against her. If we really can accept that if drinking or smoking or dancing or losing your virginity is wrong for girls, it is wrong for boys too. If it is okay for boys, why not for girls? Our Constitution says we are all equal. So why do we add an asterisk to that and say 'conditions apply - check if you have a penis or breasts'?

We can never completely eradicate crime in a society, and even not crime targeted at women. But we definitely don't need educated (not simply literate) men demeaning their wives. We definitely can't accept mobs sexually assaulting women. We definitely can't tolerate a woman being shamed for being molested or raped. Lastly, we definitely must never let a woman feel she ought to have been born a man. How, as a nation, can we be outraged if a terrorist goes about killing innocent people, yet not feel even as much outrage if 50 men strip an innocent woman?

When will we learn to treat our women well? When will we give them the respect that they so deserve - if not for being women, at least for being humans? When will we stop judging our women on the basis of how and what they eat/drink/wear/say/act/live? When will we see our daughters and sons as no different from each other, both being our children? When will we see our husbands and wives as our partners and friends, with equal rights and equal responsibilities?

The links at the start of this post say (rather scream in my face), "Not any sooner."

Edited to add:

It was a saree-clad Sita that was abducted by Ravan. It was also a saree-clad Draupadi who was publicly stripped by Dushasan. Yet, it is Sita's fault coz she overstepped her boundary and Draupadi's fault coz she laughed at Duryodhan. Never mind what Ravan and Dushasan did! And if they could do it and get stories written and TV serials made for themselves, so can we. Behold the modern Ravans and Dushasan - a dozen a penny! Oh, and 'God' Krishna could get away with stealing the clothes of women who were bathing, and we proudly narrate the story to our sons!


Anonymous said...

I can see what made you so upset... this is all so outrageous, read the post without a pause... we need to write and read this often enough for it to sink in somewhere...
There were also virginity tests performed on around 150 women in Madhya Pradesh, before they could be married in a mass marriage ceremony.

Nobody wondered about the men.

I read each of these News with horror. Imagine how easy it would be to marry any woman if raping became the substitute for loving, wooing and proposing.

Surbhi said...

But IHM, the people we target do not read, and not our blogs at least. It makes me feel so upset that all this happens everyday. Every hour, in fact. And no one does anything. Worse, its always always the girl's fault. And because of these sick people, men everywhere are mistrusted. Its so unfair. What can be done? How can we change what's been ingrained in the Indian psyche for centuries, so ingrained that it has become second nature? It is so scary and so frustrating.
Sometimes I feel that if I have a daughter in the future, I wouldn't want her to be raised in India, where she will always be made to feel apologetic for being a female - and worse, by people who have no business even thinking about her. But running away is no solution, is it?

furion said...

The behaviour of indian men towards women is knowingly or unknowingly is governed by following three feelings:
1) Ego
2) Lust
3) Fear
Actions come to forth depending on how strong or weak the feeling.

chandni said...

and u finallydecide to come back online and leave a comment...

was wondering why no updates...actually still wondering...new post we demand!