Yesterday, I wrote a letter to the VHP. Taking up on that, a mother of two daughters wrote another to me expressing some concerns she has. I appreciate the efforts various people have made to bring it to your attention. Thank you. I would not have liked to miss it and the TL is a bit chaotic.
Before I reply, I want to say that I’m glad she wrote this, because these are concerns many women face, as well as people who care for those women. It is vital that these things are talked about as a society, country. Laws can’t fix these things. Only we can, and these conversations help.
The rest of this post is addressed to her. My words are in Gray.
A Hindu writes to Smt Vidyut
This is going to be free flowing and short –
Dear Smt Vidyut,
Slut-walk hasn’t interested me one bit because it is a lot of drama. I had hoped the VHP would shut up while this drama wraps but perhaps it’s too much to ask for from at least some of their leaders.
That is sad, because it never was drama. It is no small thing for women to parade themselves in protest of how they are seen. It is satyagraha of the highest order. No different from facing down oppressors with sticks and insisting on what is right being done.
As a Hindu, I am not impressed with historical anecdotes about Hindu women asserting their sexual rights with Hindu men playing along sportively. That was then. This is today.
If you don’t like the anecdotes, that’s fine. They are not the point. The point is that in the here and now, there is something very wrong with how women are seen and that it is not acceptable, and it needs to change.
I am of the opinion that without our roots, we cease to have a pool of wisdom to guide further choices. On a tangent, I think that is a large part of what is wrong with India today – that we have abandoned what we were and are adopting things we have no roots in. We only blindly absorb new thought and that helps no one. Neither the men, nor the women. If you think that today is very different (and it doesn’t sound like a compliment to the men), I would say it becomes more important to make an effort toward positive change.
I have two lovely daughters. I have young women in my family I care about and love very much. Feminists and assorted “slut-walkers” have made life unsafe and miserable for women and dare I say, for men – with their idiotic demands of “gender equality”, “right-to-wear-what-they-want” etc…which of course follows its own logical course on the liberal trail. They have also accomplished something far worse – removed the need for a man to be responsible and protective of women.
With two daughters, you have a clear choice here. One is to become a freaking mother and at least try to make the world safer for them or empower them with thoughts that they may try it. The other is to imprison them and teach them to live half-lives, looking over their shoulders, worried for their dignity and suffering insults in silence. Both ways, they will survive, if that is a goal worth having. Your love sounds a very convenient love, if you will not fix wrongs to keep them safer, but imprison them in a convenient cage. I don’t call that love, I call that abandonment – emotional abandonment or worse, repression.
Several loaded things here. You talk as though you are unique about caring about the women in your family. That is untrue. In your place, I would be fighting for the right of my daughters to live full lives, follow their dreams and to hold their heads high with respect – no matter what – to never hide themselves, to never be ashamed of themselves, to never suffer insult silently, BECAUSE they are loved. If you assume that someone thinking differently from you doesn’t care about their young women and can afford radical thought, you are being insulting in your attempt to establish yourself as a caring parent.
How did “feminists and slut-walkers” make life unsafe and miserable for women? That is useful information in this conversation. Would enrich us all if you added it.
I am no believer of “gender equality”, because it is a polarizing thought and creates false comparisons. I believe everyone should have a basic right to dignity and the freedom to live to their full potential. I believe the right to wear what you want is a fundamental right. And not just to wear, but to be safe and respected while wearing it, even aunties in their oh so provocative saris with tantalizing glimpses of cleavages and waists providing teenagers anatomy lessons and forcing them to learn to really look a lot to see something interesting 😀 .
In the days when Hindu women were braver, Hindu men were real Men. No “liberated woman” would mock their natural masculine instincts and responsibilities as “oppressive” and ”patriarchal”. In the old days, these brave and free women vied at being more feminine and subtle.
This is bullshit of the highest order. Men have often been assholes. Then and now. Ram kicked Sita out of his home. Yudhishtir gambled away his wife. And these are two so called “ideal” men. You can’t use the excuse that those men were better, hence women respected. That is nonsense. It was the chroniclers who were wise, who created narratives that people could learn from and created the foundations of a civilization in the process. Often, those too are different from modern values.
I am also quite offended that you imply that today’s men are “not real”. For one, it is extremely insulting to them. For another, it leaves no hope. It appears that we must covertly sneak around these predators, which is an awful thing to say about your husband, son, father, brother, friend, teacher, guru, vegetable vendor, neighbour’s kid…. more than half the world being men, slapping a label and calling things hopeless won’t do the trick. There still remains a need to get along, to find safety and mutual dignity.
All the in-your-face feminists and such like have managed to do is to create the kind of “men” one gets to see in most urban centers these days – along for the ride with absolutely no strings attached. What fun! All in the name of equal rights freely given! Yeah, why not.
I agree with your word urban center – progressive thought has not percolated much in rural or conservative communities. I also appreciate that you think they are “along for the ride with absolutely no strings attached”. I have experienced some of that. However, not all men were like that. And the world needs more “good guys”, which are sadly disappearing out of shitty attitudes. As they say, it ain’t over till you stop. I refuse to stop here. Nor do I agree that men in general are like that. I know many wonderful men who respect women, or even better, realize that they have been acting like assholes, and change. Many men.
I think this kind of thought is far more dangerous to the safety of your daughters than a million slutwalks. A girl who will not protest wrongs done to her is fertile ground for further wrongs – BECAUSE she will not retaliate. Rape statistics have far fewer provocative clothes than conservative, and far fewer confident women than meek ones. Blows your safety calculation out of the water.
Another thing that bothers me is your extremely low opinion of men as basically users, yet you will see your daughters married to such an asshole without preventing it? And earlier you claimed to care for them? But you would rather them suffer for life than a week? Nice. My parents thought like that too. It did a lot of damage to me.
I would appreciate it if you showed my letter to your daughters and asked them if they thought this would make them unsafe, rather than imagining consequences. They know the world they live in, they know the changes needed for them to feel safe.
Such men being men at least biologically and not having very many other real Men to stay their hands, will misbehave no matter what women say and in what manner they say it. That makes me worried sick.
I hear you! I hear your worry for your daughters. It is not true that men will misbehave no matter what women say. A woman cop with a gun would get their hands where they belong real fast 😀 Jokes apart, it is an age-old trick to prevent protest by brainwashing/dominating someone into believing it is futile. I hope you see through it.
No rational person remains unchanged by new thought. These men you speak of are not animals, there simply are things they have not considered. No one has an ambition to be the “bad guy”. They have not thought about respect and the impact of their actions on women as something worthy of thinking about or having ideals around. That can be changed. One small thing at a time. One assertion at a time, one thought at a time.
Men will not misbehave no matter what. They have been intellectually abandoned as animals and pampered for having dicks. No one expects better, so they have no need to think that any change is needed. It is different from not able to change.
So Smt Vidyut, if you are really interested in making this world a safer place for women, help men find their true meaning in their masculinity. Or is that sexist?
Not sexist at all. In fact, in this reply, I defend the dignity of men from you, if you are really reading it. No one should be stripped of dignity. It is a basic right, and I will raise my voice in support regardless – which is also why I don’t limit myself a feminist.
The slutwalk is also about men finding their masculinity. About becoming men rather than lecherous predators. About there being respectful and insulting ways in which they act with women.
I am glad you wrote, because you present a vast segment of conservative thought in our society. In your words, I see a person who knows exactly what the problem is, but is frustrated and has lost hope on there being an end to the suffering. You hold a low opinion of men, which I have no doubt the men in your life have earned. You have seen any attempt at sanity fail, and you are tired of supporting optimism.
My invitation to you is to find hope again. You have two daughters. You owe them that. You owe them a world where they can live. More than that, you owe yourself the right to be you, no matter what.
With love and respect,
You may read the original letter here. BTW, totally charmed at being called Smt (Shrimati). Been a long time.