Every time a rape makes it to the national headlines, something inside me turns hollow and depressed.
This time it’s a photojournalist working for a lifestyle magazine in an abandoned mill in Mumbai. She was with a male colleague. The worst part is she was JUST DOING HER JOB.
I find it hard to believe, each and every time, that there is living proof that we’re living in a country where men will take the liberty to invade a woman in such a manner and not think twice about it. It kills me that we live in a country where the suggested measures that men think women should take include statements like not venturing outdoors late at night without YOUR FAMILY. And of course if you’re in a bar or dressed in a skirt you’re obviously asking for it. Apparently, even the little children who get raped are somehow asking for it.
Well you know what, MAYBE we’re not okay with it not being okay for us to step out at any time of the day or night, like men can. Maybe we’re not okay at not being allowed to do our own WORK. Maybe you need to understand that a country where the women are asked to compromise so many small things that men can take for granted CANNOT exactly expect to prosper; has no right to prosper in fact.
There is a lot of cultural outrage about the steps that have been taken to protect women’s rights in the workplace, in education, for medical benefits etc. Some things are and will remain unfair and work only because they create a very healthy vote bank for the politicians. But the reason some of these things are STILL so important is because they are NECESSARY to protect the lives, the dignity and the very concept of womanhood. Because if you say ‘Men and women are equal now’, you only need to look around you to see how wrong this statement is.
Outrageous street fashion, pop culture and a rebellious night life may adorn Western countries. There ARE things we look at that make us shake our head in derision and go, ‘Well at least THIS doesn’t happen in India.’ But if you stop to really think about it, a woman in USA can step outside in a miniskirt, go have drinks, even be promiscuous if she wants to. Our personal life choices aside, at least she knows that no matter how she defines herself, men won’t suddenly pound on her like animals, rape her and leave and when she will report it the police and politicians will respond by labeling her as ‘asking for it.’
So tell me, which is worse? The freedom to take your life choices in your own hands, no matter how wrong they may seem, or being RAPED for (and also in spite) that freedom and those choices?
Aping the west, what does that mean? A part of what is seen here as ‘aping the west’ is targeted on women. Well you know what, breaking through the bonds of a patriarchal society should be the real meaning behind aping the west. It may be radical, it may seem somewhat disorienting, but it is necessary. And it IS possible to adopt this in a manner that makes it OUR own, so that we take in the good and leave out the bad.
I am somewhat tired of reading and writing and seeing posts on what I see as the rape culture of this country. Only a fraction of the total rapes that occur in India actually grab the public attention. That does not make the others any less gruesome. It just means that sometimes, some cases make us open out in a spitball of fury, outrage, anger and frustration.
But no matter how much I hate it, how much I WRITE and however much distress I feel within me, there isn’t anything I can do. It seems as if no amount of media outrage, threats, punishment, sentences or court cases are enough to make beasts like these STOP their horrendous acts.
You know where this leaves me? It leaves me mistrustful, doubting every man I see, every man who may say hello or smile or pick up and hand me something I drop. Every man on the street, in a bus, at a mall, at the beach, in a train, at a restaurant, in a hotel, at a shop, in a park, at a cafe, at a petrol pump.
And when THIS is the way women can’t help but look at all men, then all men, especially the good ones will start to feel a building resentment towards women. This leads to mutual hatred and disrespect. Which further AMPLIFIES that sense of desperate bestiality inside men such as these. Which further encourages the rape culture. I do not see an end to this cycle. Do you?