Monday, March 09, 2015

That day again.

That day of the year again.. much controversy about a documentary.. the daily outrage, the daily ban, the daily saga.

So, what was i thinking of ? just some disjointed sentences , floating around my mind space .. these many decades.

The kanpur sisters triple suicide. DD documentary sound bites, from relatives/neighbours of girls - the girls in the locality would always walk with eyes lowered. wouldn't walk alone. I am 10 years old, and I am told ' yes, and thats correct. you know why? because the men are in a better position to defend themselves, the girls aren't' . Defend against what? why?

Engineering entrance exam.  general chat at friends place.  friend has a highly qualified working mother. friend is told by mother 'its critical for your younger brother to clear this exam, for you, as a girl, it was still ok.  Clearing the exam was different for the boy and the girl? why ?

Random relatives house,  a cousin brother has been married a few weeks back. This cousins mother is found to have a grocery list in her purse. listing items like broom. rice. These women are parliamentarians, nurses, press women. Another aunt chips in, 'aap yeh sab kyon dekhti hain ab? Woh aa gayi hai, ab uska kaam hai. / Why are you taking care of all this now, she has come, its her job now.  ' As a son, it was never his job to help run the house? suddenly now from his moms it becomes his wives job?

College fest, someone is groped during the drunken frenzied dancing. ( no, this is my blog, not a news report, i will not say 'allegedly groped'). boys close ranks to defend the boy in question. I am told 'taking this further would unnecessarily ruin the boys record. You don't know the background, keep quiet.' Like any of that was relevant to the incident.

Close friend has a girl friend in another country. She is working, and lives a normal life. ( read - works, goes out, meets people). friend is writhing to me about this - its not that I don't trust her, its that she doesn't understand, the men aren't good. She shouldn't do this. What should she do instead? Why? 

Another close friend, in a moment of candidness - yes, if I helped out in child care, I would feel like i was doing my wife a favor. can't help it, its just the way we think.

Best friends mother, talking about a girl in 'trouble'  ' Whats the point of complaining, a woman's life is a tightrope walk, one small fall, and your life is over. Why create a fuss? Why? for justice? for deterrence? 

So, to recap, there is a very clear script in what my life as a woman should look like. I stay at home mostly. I am very careful when I step out of the house. If I study and find a job, its not a priority, what matters are my roles as a daughter, sister, wife, daughter in law, mother. If someone assaults me in any way, its in some way at least, my fault, and then I should hush it up, for my own sake. And perhaps for the sake of family, society and even the assaulter. It doesn't sound very horrific or unreasonable does it? This is the script in a milieu of middle class, upper middle class, with every one of these people graduates from urban centers, surrounded by educated working women.

Lets stop throwing about words like uneducated men. This is not about education. And its not about men. Its about us, our culture, our mindset. The degrees of discrimination might vary, the curfew times might vary, the punishments for violation may vary,  where you draw the line might vary, but a lot of us think like this. Not just men. Not just indians.

Fringes will always exist in any society, you can only minimize their impact, can't always eliminate them. And the fringes will always find some excuse, ( in religion, in culture, in family feuds, in retaliation for provocation) to explain their depravity. So lets stop focussing exclusively on them.

But larger questions remain. Yes some soul searching might help, even if its being triggered by a foreign christian media house, hell bent on portraying india and our glorious culture in the wrong light. Some basic questions, like why do you feel that your way of thinking is the only correct way? That you are entitled to co-opt someone unwilling, into that way of thinking, even if they don't want to ? That the thought that human beings are human beings, and whats good for the goose should be good for the gander, doesn't resonate with you?

Maybe we should have a men's day, where we celebrate how the man's role as a son, brother, husband, son-in-law, father is his main identity.  Anything else is not really that important. his job, his earning, his hobbies, his identity as a human being.. all secondary, all unimportant.