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Guest post by @PowercutIn

PART A: Against Women Who Accept Slavery (Written Few Days Back in Frustration)

NOTE: This may hurt many. I don’t intend to say all women are same but some of them are exceptional. And this note is all about those exceptional women - not to target entire womanhood as I know there are ladies who know how to respect themselves, and others.

Stressed out, burned out for past many years trying to wake them up, to empower them, only to hear that husbands forcing sex on wives is okay n cannot be compared to rapes. Such comparison is a dumb comparison? And these slaves want dignity? Who will respect such women? Not me. Sex workers command better dignity.

Seems marriage is a license for sex - anywhere anytime for the 'dear' hubbies who can also go ahead and beat them if they say no. That is a different case?

If your husband beats you up in front of your kids, it is NOT okay. You are setting up a bad example. But no, it is Bharatiya Naari, born to sacrifice. Then go die. Why all the drama?

One day, while on hold on a call, I got to hear a mom saying to her daughter - "There is a word for people of your type - Vaishya (whores/sex workers)". If your mother calls you whore in front of others, should you hit back or should you retreat sulking? And what kind of mother would call her own child a whore. Setting up an example where gals choose to elope rather than seeking permission to marry the boys they like? I thought the relation between a woman and her girl is more of friends but it was proved wrong when I got to hear that dialog.

So?

1. Forced marriage is okay,

2. Submitting to husbands anytime, anywhere is okay

3. Beaten up by husbands is okay

4. Then I guess, being killed by husbands is too okay as it will open the doors of heaven for them. After all, husband is god. No?

Rani Padmini committed suicide when her husband was killed in a battle so that she is not used as objects by the enemies. Razia Sultana stabbed herself to avoid being caught by Akbar's forces. But they dint die just like that. They fought until there was no other option left. Being women, they fought the huge forces of Akbar and British. And they knew they'll lose their dignity if caught and they chose dignity over slavery.

But the case now is different. They are part of a democracy. They want laws - external entities to protect them and these laws should not apply to their husbands. In other words, women (not all) who don't have any respect at homes and are okay with it, want laws that will force others to respect them?

If I don't respect you, no law can make me respect you. Laws don't prevent crime, morals and values do. But then, husband is a deity. Go pray, be beaten up and bear children all your life only to be thrown away after your hubby loses interest in you.

From past few days, I am trying to convince myself this is not my problem. I am trying and trying to keep away. Only problem is, my mom always said if someone needs help, do whatever you can. She died fighting all the odds, for me and my brother. But these women, I don't think they need any help. They just need sympathy and a "special" status. I guess the best compliment a women (barring few who want their dignity at any cost) would expect from anyone is 'bechari - poor soul'.

Someone convince me it is NOT my problem and I need not spoil my health over these issues. Am already suffering from depression and anxiety; the past two months were already terrible when this Delhi rape case further added to the stress. Should I care? Why?

PART 2:  WHAT CAN BE DONE? (UPDATE: Jan 4 2012)

Someone said it is a curse women should live with. Why? Because they are told they need external support of a man? And a man who employs rude/disgusting methods, is it a man? You need a friend, not a beast. Cut it off. Leave him and start a new life - I know it is easier said than done. Society will ask plenty of questions and create hurdles. But that is the way it has always been. And if you need to go to the other side of river, you will have to find a way to cross it.

There is no quick fix solution to all this. At least, not in my knowledge! All I know is a mother is the best teacher and influences her kids more than anything else. Passing on good moral values to their kids makes sure at least some families down the lane are civilized. That is if just one mother accepts the challenge. You know how a tree grows inside soil, the roots. The values you teach your kid will not only serve one or more family in one generation but propagate to many others in the coming generations. MOTHERS HAVE THAT POWER. The only thing is - you have to believe that. And if you can get your partner to share the responsibility, nothing could be better. EXPECTING THE CASE WHERE YOUR PARTNER IS AGAINST YOU, you need to set an example that guides your kids forever. Problem is the emotions that tie us with relations. We cannot kill them easily. But I guess one can find a way where our emotions do not become a hurdle in others' growth, if you understand what I am saying. At least, we can try!

ROLE OF MEDIA

Media can play an enormous role in educating not only the youth and coming generations but also the adults. It has the power to mould the society by affecting the thinking process. But as Narendra Modi said, the media these days is busy selling beauty products. And other than that, it shows soaps where women are vamps and trying to harm other women or whatever. I don’t watch much of TV (actually, stopped somewhere in May 2011) but almost all soaps are kind of enhancing the negative side of humanity - killing the emotions necessary for people to coexist. This won't change unless the viewers want change as the media houses want profit - at any cost. Still, if they want, they can dedicate some 10 minutes of prime time for educating people. How much loss would it be for them? As I am writing this, I can see them saying no. The people charging by 'seconds' may not want to waste any airtime for things does not involve cash inflow.

WHAT IS LEFT?

Past few days show a ray of hope as I see people rising against evil. If that spark is true, probably, they can form groups to educate people who do not have access to internet and similar media. Roadshows, banners, whatever - may or may not be effective. But try something on an experimental basis and see? Youngsters can make documentaries and show them in remote areas by arranging contacts using the Internet? Nothing solid here - just possibilities.

At the core of change, lies proper moral education. This may sound as if I am being what you call an RSS person is. But laws, are a short term option and may not be able to do justice always. Each law in IPC comes with one or more loopholes. For example, one section states the min age for marriage as 18 and other states marital rapes are rapes only when the bride is below 15 years! Makes sense?!

Analyzing all the prospects, the change is possible only when the women take a step forward. It took centuries to degrade the value of women who were revered in ancient Bharatvarsh. We cannot expect a reversal in a short time. The efforts should continue, consistently and then, over a few years, we will be able to see a society where the line between women and men is erased. Think!

13

This post addresses a lot of questions being raised by the slutwalk. Mostly in conversations on Twitter (because questions raised are similar, and I can embed tweets as questions more easily.

But first things first. If the below is similar to your response, you may first want to read an earlier post on women and rape and then the one explaining what a slutwalk is, before proceeding, because otherwise, the rest of the post may only be unnecessary confusion.

Response to the post on Slutwalk on Facebook

Please dont get me wrong but its Triveni Sangam....Exhibitionism in Name of Feminism to the Delight of Voyuerism........jokes apart a shallow superficial attempt entertaining though......common sense says yes we have a right to carry a wallet ir purse but if you flash it be prepared to face what may follow.......

To understand the idea of a slutwalk, it is important to first see women as people deserving of dignity in their own right, not allocated dignity on the basis of judgments by others.

As the idea matures, many questions are raised, concerns voiced, discomforts addressed. Here are some of the main ones I noticed.

There is a lot of discomfort at the word "slut" being used. Some triviliaze the protest.

And it is not necessarily people who would judge women thus. Its an ugly word. It is entrenched as one kind of woman very deeply into our psyche. And that is not a "good" kind of woman.

Let me begin with saying that Madhavan Narayanan is a man I respect tremendously and I can say with a lot of confidence that he wouldn't be demeaning women for sure. He has been one of my earliest follows on Twitter, and I have found his words to be an inspiring mix of insight and humor. Without taking himself or the world too seriously to get rigid, he is able to question the crux of many matters in a humorous way that bypasses resistance and invites conversation.

It is a measure of how much power the word "slut" has, when it has a person usually never at a loss for words admitting discomfort at its use. It is an embarassing word. It is a word not uttered in decent company. Certainly not with a woman. Even on Twitter. Not even when you have no such attitude.

But there are people for whom this word is a tool. It is a tool to engage in what is essentially a hate crime, or bullying and excuse themselves by deeming a certain quality of the target as legitimate for degradation. It is an attitude of excusing crime, of disempowering women and of creating an unsafe society.

It is also not only about women. This attitude is used for everything from eve teasing to child abuse and gay bashing to rape. It is about a way of thinking that excuses crimes by calling a person a legitimate target. Also practiced by families, parents, guardians to punish the victim for being the target of a criminal. From honor killings to husbands accusing wives of "provoking" lechers. It is an acceptance that allows jokes about rape victims as normal conversation, or makes lewd comments about someone funny. It is one that allows public figures to make hideous comments like rapes curing lesbianism. And it is not only men who do it. Women judge too. It is a social reality. One that makes many people unsafe.

Read an old old post on women's clothing and social judgements

It is not just the word slut. It is an attitude. An attitude that no one feels able to own in the light of attention, but holds as reality in assessing the world. In judging someone as worthy of being abused because of what they wear, how they act or other circumstances or qualities.

In the words of THE original women who slutwalked:

Historically, the term ‘slut’ has carried a predominantly negative connotation. Aimed at those who are sexually promiscuous, be it for work or pleasure, it has primarily been women who have suffered under the burden of this label. And whether dished out as a serious indictment of one’s character or merely as a flippant insult, the intent behind the word is always to wound, so we’re taking it back. “Slut” is being re-appropriated.

We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault.

And I agree. "SLUT" stays. The only way I would support changing the word was if it could be changed to be understood by more Indians - take your pick:

randi-chaal or chinnar-morcha?

Get it? Having bad names for women is the problem. Get rid of them, and you don't need to be embarrassed.

So, join us in de-shaming them. Find a slutwalk in your city, or better still, organize one.

Respect is an attitude. Dignity is a right. #slutwalk Don't judge us for your thoughts.

Delhi is slutwalking on 25th June 2011

Mumbai has one planned.

Details of both will be added soon.