Saturday, December 29, 2012

Calling her “maal” or just "appreciating" her beauty? You are an eve-teaser too, my friend!

Following the tragic incident of gang-rape in Delhi, popularly known as the “Damini gang-rape case”, there have been mass-protests across the nation. The social networking sites, more specifically Facebook, has not only played a phenomenal role in mobilizing the youth but has also served as an indispensible container for expressing anger. The crowds and status updates, shared photos and links indicate a significant contribution by the men folk. This is not to say that all men are rapists or potential rapists. This is also not to say that all men are eve-teasers or must have eve-teased someone. But there are and have been many men (Here, I give a personal reference and say I know them. This is to emphasise that this is not an assumption) who do “eve-tease” and status updates by them condemning these acts has come as a shock. Another shocking fact is that there have been cases of molestation in some public demonstrations as well (I am not talking about policemen). For some, It can be argued that going to these protests or supporting them is another way to woo women or gain their trust but for others, I think it is because they are unaware of their own acts. This may be also because rape is a “crime” while eve-teasing is not such a “big-deal”? Maybe! In this article, I plan to identify and define “eve-teasing” for these men and some of my acquaintances and also burst some of their myths about eve-teasing.

What is eve-teasing? Eve-teasing is something that happens in public spaces, in bus, metro, auto rickshaw or on streets? It involves whistling or passing lewd comments, generally to women who are strangers?

This is an incomplete answer. Eve-teasing is alone done in colleges, by people we know, our classmates, friends, colleagues or anyone. It involves staring at a woman in an improper way and at improper places. Most men are accused of staring at a woman’s breast, most do when women are not looking at them and some even do in front of them!

It involves “complimenting” someone’s beauty when they just don’t like it.  Calling a woman “pretty”, “cute”, “sweet” or whatever against her will is uncomforting for her and is definitely not taken as a compliment!

Most women also don’t like to be called “hot” or “sexy” or being told how good or “perfect” their figure is. You know why? Because they are not supposed to be seen as objects of lust and desire!

So eve-teasing is not restricted to a small section of people on streets or public transport. Also, eve teasing is not just passing a comment. For a man, it must be just passing a horrible comment which shows his own standard but for a woman, that one-line is enough to humiliate her, create a sense of fear, make her feel disgusted about her own self and cause depression. A girl can never forget any instance of eve-teasing. Somehow, she can never forget it. And no act is small or big!

Re-think before you say you “respect” woman. If you have to respect something, respect her identity. Don’t respect her as an object of your lust and desire. Respect her as an equal human being, capable with the same intellectual level.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

No, she did not "ask" for it

“I could not control. She had PROVOKED me”; “Look at her clothes! She should have “expected” this, He is a MAN afterall!”; “I had to show her, her RIGHT place”; “It is not rape’! She is my WIFE”; “How does it matter, she anyway had a LOOSE character”...

We live in the 21st century where women have proved it that in no way, is she less capable than a man. And we continue to “surprise” the society. But, however much educated, liberal-minded we have been “fortunate” to become, the fear of rape has not gone away. Our freedom lasts with sunset. We continue to be a source of tension for our parents. We are still tensed about the misused strength of our male counterparts.

For Rape is not just a forced sexual intercourse, It is a tool to re-enforce patriarchy where women are supposed to be submissive, tied to the household and serve as objects of lust and desire. So whenever a woman has tried to speak up, tried to “venture out”, dared to dream, demand the right to decide for her own life, she has been made to pay for it. It is a “punishment” to keep a woman in her “limits”. It is a reminder to her that she can be overpowered and so has to be in her “Right” submissive place.

So even in the recent gang-rape case in Delhi that took place on the night of 16th December 2012. A girl was gang-raped in a moving bus. She had boarded the bus at around 9 with her friend. The molesters had begun with commenting on her decision to be out at night and with a male friend. She was then gang-raped.
Even when it is not a “punishment”, rape is not considered a crime in our society. It is a “mistake” and a “fault” of the rape victim. She had “provoked” the rapist through her “indecent” dress, behavior or because she was of a “Loose” character. The farce about “indecent” dress is barbaric and illogical. A study conducted on the psychology of rapists world-wide states that rapists select women who is appears weak or less-confident and can be overpowered easily. A woman dressed in “indecent” clothes will be far from being less-confident. And even if clothing is to be blamed, then are we saying that women in burqa do not get raped? A woman may look attractive in certain clothes but she does not issue a license to be raped. What is “inappropriate” behavior? Well, it may be anything that is “morally” wrong but is “legitimately” done by men. Though I do not say that women should seek equality in “wrong” but my only question is why is “goodness”, “purity” only reserved for women?. The rape victims are also often accused of having a “loose character”. They are proved to be sex workers. But even if they are sex workers, Isint a rape of a sex worker, a rape too? Aren’t they women too? Don’t they have a right over their body? A NO means a “NO”.

Even in this case, there may be people who dare to say that it was a wrong decision to be out at night. It was a wrong decision to board a private bus with hardly any passengers? There were 6 people in the bus. How on earth would she know that four of them were not passengers? But yes, she had “invited” rape. This time by “trusting” people, by forgetting that she has to be “Extra-careful” and by considering herself as a human being who is entitled to the rights of entertainment.

I also seek to question this farce of victim blaming in only cases of rape. Why don’t we ever blame a man for being robbed? Why don’t we blame a man for being attacked? Why don’t we say that it was his fault that he was carrying too much cash or he was careless with his wallet? Why does he not “provoke”?

All these are just excuses. Only a bull gets provoked, not human beings. We are dealing with demons, not human beings. However, sadly, our society does not accept this. And this has also been accepted by women. I often see women justifying rape because “men are like that. They cannot control”. A biological fact is that women are much more sexually active but the society has always tried to control her sexuality. But it is really the men who need to be “tamed” now.
Instead of women, why can’t we ask men to be in their “limits”? Why can’t we ask them not to rape? Why is that in a rape only the rape victim gets dishonored and not the rapist? I remember how when we were planning to shift to a new locality, we were informed that a girl was raped in that locality. I wondered why this piece of this news was mentioned to us when the girl was not even in the locality anymore.

I believe that Women’s destiny lies in their own hands. The change lies not only in changing mentalities but in the nurture of sons. I know a mother who had beaten up his sever-year-old son when during a fight, he had lifted his younger sister’s skirt to make her embarrass and lose the fight. It is only when the mother makes equal rules (like the extent of freedom, time to come back) for her son and daughter, when she stops pampering her son to the extent that he disrespects her, when she teaches him not to dominate over his sister just because he is a boy and only when she stops justifying his son’s habit of eve-teasing can the society change. The nurture of a man is really in the hands of his mother. It is the mother who makes his son a saint or a beast.

A woman needs to, as an Afghan ex-politician and Human Rights activist, Dr Sima Samar rightly puts it, “Stand for each other because we are our own class.”

also published@

pic url:

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Reimagining the "Weird"

“When I go out, I see people point at me and make fun of me. I come back and would cry out. I would curse myself for what I am. I also refrain from moving around much”, she said. She is a eunuch.

As she said that, I felt guilty as many times I also used to try for a second look. Unlike many others, I may refrain from sniggering at them but I would make them conscious and unknowingly, remind them of their status in this heterosexual society. Like many others, I would found them “different”, more specifically, “weird”, “peculiar” or “abnormal”. I would try to imagine how they can like someone of their own gender or about those people who consider themselves of the other gender. I would find it hard to imagine and would even find it “funny”.

But now I ponder why it is “funny” and “unimaginable”? As we must recall, women coming out of the domestic sphere and performing tasks which were dominated by men was also “funny” at some point of time. Jokes about women and their capabilities still have a circulation but they get challenged now. So they are no longer “funny” for some. So maybe “funny” is just a perception and related with time and space. “Funny” is a tool for suppression.

Yes, they are “different”. But the difference only lies, I realized, in their way of perceiving themselves and choosing who to get attracted to. But there also emerges a problem in this. Is it about how they perceive themselves or how we perceive them? Are the genders and sexes really two? Is that the biological reality? Have we assumed heterosexuality?

A fact of nature tells us that homosexuality, hermaphroditism and other forms of alternate sexualities exist in animal species as well. Male bats have a huge tendency for homosexuality. A more known fact is about hydra which is clearly hermaphrodite.

So how is it unnatural as many have claimed? Works of Social scientists have shown alternate sexualities to have been deeply woven into the political, social and economic fabric of societies across the world. But even if we do not get into the social and science part of the debate, let’s think from a human perspective.
They have different or alternate preferences but aren’t they still human beings? Do we have any right to humiliate them? Do they harm us in any way so why does their existence cripple our minds so much? They are not “cursed” or “sick” or anything. They are as much as a creation of the God as we are. Why does their private life matter so much to us?

20th November is celebrated as the “International Transgender Day of Remembrance”. The Day is celebrated in memory of all those transgendered people who were murdered by those suffering from the “mental disorder” of homophobia. Owing to my limited knowledge, the two names that I know are of Harvey Milk and Dr. Srinivas Ramachandran Siras. Harvey Milk was the first Gay American politician. He had contested elections, in response to the increasing cases of murder and torture of transgendered people in his region. He was assassinated by another politician. Dr. Siras was a renowned professor in Aligarh Muslim University. After his identity of being a homosexual was revealed, he was suspended. He had also received death threats and after few months, was allegedly murdered.

But there exists thousands and probably millions of unknown victims. It may be hard for us to “understand” them. But we, as the so-called “civilized” beings, have no right to humiliate them. Next time, we feel tempted to stare at them, let’s imagine the situation when for some reason, we were being stared at or was mocked at. I am sure it will not be hard to imagine. 

alsp published @ countercurrents