I wish I had a time machine and control over tomorrow’s newspapers. Are we heading towards dystopia? Or are we already there? Every time you turn the pages of every day’s newspaper, it smells of blood. It has become commonplace to find terms like ‘molest’, ‘rape’ and ‘murder’, but you know what is impossible to find between those paragraphs, words and sentences? It is an eight letter word, almost on the brink of extinction, anesthetized with the poison of cruelty and sadism, and unfortunately, the word is H-U-M-A-N-I-T-Y.
Not surprising indeed. From the gruesome gang rape of Nirbhaya to an eighty-year old woman murdered, with a plastic bottle penetrated in her private parts, for how long will a woman be treated as a papier-mâché doll with no life, carrying the honour of her family in her vagina?
All her life, we see a woman trying to ‘fit’ in, fashioning herself according to various situations like modeling clay, meant to exist as a decorative art piece, an ideal woman.
Why do we not understand that there is no one way to be a woman, just as there is no one way to be a man?
You can claim to be everything and nothing at the same time, embracing contradictions inherent within you. What we see is a long list of meaningless arguments thrown at a woman to ‘behave’ in an ‘appropriate’ manner. These may range from “No one will marry you if you are short”, “don’t wear bright colours if you are not fair-complexioned” to “don’t eat pickles during periods”, “wear dupatta to cover your chest”. All her life, we see a woman justifying herself even for trivial actions with people judging her right from the breadth of her smile to the length of her skirt, and even the cleavage of her low cut garment, as if Partition just repeated itself. Well, how deeply rooted division and segregation is, I wonder.
Every time when she walks on the road, she hears lewd comments being passed on her skinny jeans, her well-fitted tshirt, her lipstick, but what is taught to her is to ‘ignore’ and pretend as if nothing happened because ‘baat bigad jaayegi’ (matters will get worse), because you know, acid attackers, how they are? In spite of the seriousness of the issue, the term that is used for this physical and mental assault is ‘Eve-teasing’.
Well, one fails to understand why such a euphemism has to be employed for public sexual harassment? ‘Teasing’ is to make fun of a person in a playful way. Trivializing rape and sexual molestation is not justified. According to Section 354 of The Indian Penal Code, “Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage… her modesty, shall be punished…” What do we make of ‘modesty’ now? Timidity and meekness, I suppose? Well, we are conscious enough to spot what IPC did there. It made that subtly deliberate attempt to define how a woman should be. Thanks, but no thanks.
“Look down, guard your private parts, you are a ‘flower’, so beware of the bees because we know, there is a possibility of your fragility turning to breadcrumbs”; sounds familiar, right? We never teach the girl to fight and tackle the situation but rather encourage her to dress right, be submissive and polite. We also impose on her, a ‘reasonable’ curfew to not go out at night, because crooks who see women as objects of voyeuristic pleasure might be watching her, and she has to understand “yeh duniya kitni zaalim hai” (This world is unjust). Shielding herself by carrying the armour of pepper spray and knife, she is always ‘performing’ the tightrope walking stunt balancing her individuality on the one hand and norms on the other, trying to make a choice between aberration and convention, derangement and depravity. Sadly, the choice is not even available to her in many occasions.
In many cases, men are also molested in their professional spheres but our society with its fixed and rigid mentality often does not take it into consideration. Stop and think!
Will you or will you not? This is a choice you have to make NOW. All we need is a simple thing and that is, we want sons and daughters not only in our country, but in this world, to respect each other as humans, to understand that both sides feel the same pain and humiliation when mentally assassinated, both sides have differences that need to be embraced. Let us replace ‘versus’ with ‘with’. Words alone are enough, maybe gestures too. Let us talk and listen. Let us discuss consistently the inconsistencies of this society and let us make it work.