Saturday, December 29, 2012

The machinery or our mindset: The rape blame game

    Heroine wearing a sleeveless top and shorts gets groped in public by a random guy, and hits back at him in public. Hero is informed by a minion that something like this is happening, and walks into the scene. Hero rubs the hand of the guy and the heroine and then gives a 5 second lecture to the guy about how you should not hunt for 'flesh', and then turns to the heroine.

    Hero: "Your saree is missing, so is your in-skirt. You are standing just in your undergarments."
    Heroine: "These are  shorts"
    Hero: "Aei. These are shorts for you. For us (guys), this is an undergarment. Oh yeah, where is your blouse .. You are standing just in your bra"
    Heroine: "This is a sleeveless top"
    Hero: "For you this is a sleeveless. For us (guys), it is a bra. You expose your underarms, wear navel rings and have body art on your thighs. Is this an exhibition?"
     **Heroes friends who are watching cheer**
    Hero: "You wear clothes that enable other people to count the number of moles on your body. And then, you thrash the guy with your sandals when he gropes you. Off late, this has become your (girls') latest pasttime no? God created man for women, and women for man. They are there to satisfy each others' needs. He (God) created everything, but it is up to us to live rightfully. One guy for a girl and one girl for a guy. If you want to live as the one girl for a guy, then expose your body like this, just to him. If you show it to everyone, then all the guys on the road will want to sleep with you. "

    **Heroes friends who are watching cheer again**

    Hero: "Look here, be a proper girl, and wear a saree and cover yourself properly. Then guys will not look at you as a girl but as God. Go!"

     ... and  like a friend on Facebook pointed out, the hero goes on to dance in a 'exotic' location with the heroine, in the same movie with the heroine wearing skimpy clothes.

    This is definitely not a single case. There have been movies where our popular stars have used 'Rape as a tool to prove their manhood', when the heroine doubted the same. There have been instances of similar lectures where the women folk are expected to dress up in a certain way, if they are to be respected. And the scenes get cheered and the hero is wolf whistled for putting the heroine in her place. There has always been a tendency to use heroines in movies just for the glam factor. A popular heroine once said she was surprised that a director asked her to cover her hip when it was getting exposed while shooting for a movie; as it is generally the other way around.

    When your mainstream idols reiterate such stereotypes, it is hard for people to grow out of it. Perversion is something that is encouraged by cinema today, and in my opinion is one of the major influences on people today. If only our directors could come out of the same and give an equal footing to women ...

    Today the problem of sexual harassment, abuse, molestation and rape is so widespread that not a day passes without my Twitter timeline seeing a Retweet by someone about a rape case somewhere in the country. And to think these are only the cases that are reported, horrifies me. Not a single day passes without my parents worrying when my sister is out with her friends in the evenings/night; that too in a relatively safer city for women like Chennai. (Again, my opinion. May not necessarily be factual)

    An India Today article in 2009 estimated that nearly 90% of rape cases in India go unreported. There are shocking news items about kids as young as 3, being molested or raped etc. Given the level of crime that already goes unreported due to the 'shame' that will be brought upon the family or the girl having to go through her trauma once again, and for a variety of other reasons; I am not sure if capital punishment is the solution to reducing these instances. It would only increase the pressure (Self, family and external) on the girl who went through all the trauma in the first place. Given the magnitude of the punishment, the reluctance to report the same would only increase.


    "It was a close relative of ours, how could I let my parents or someone else know. It would have snowballed into a major problem," she said as she narrated her story of going through the trauma to me. Most such cases where the perpetrator of the crime is someone known, go unreported. "I have been followed on bikes by guys at night when I was walking on the road as well, quite a few times." But when asked she didn't do anything about it, she said "It is counter productive. I am even reluctant to let my parents know, lest they start worrying even more. I've learnt to ignore it these days."

    We cry out loud for capital punishment, but when people don't even come forward to complain, capital punishments wont solve anything. That said, a discussion here at the campus, made a valid point. Aren't we, in the society, a major cause for this as well? "How many guys are willing to accept a girl who has come out in the open about having gone through something like this, for marriage? At the same time, if the girl hides it, we are perfectly fine about the marriage," asked the moderator for the discussion. Isn't this attitude, of sidelining girls who have gone through the trauma, more traumatic for them? The discussion made me think twice, about what stops us from accepting girls who have been through something for no fault of theirs.

    When a girl goes through this, the society frowns upon her; and doubts her integrity. Whether she was properly clothed, whether she was inebriated, whether she has a boy friend etc. Our society, is quite archaic and sexist that way; and our 'culture' looks down upon girls who drink and says that a girl shouldn't be doing something like that. When a girl goes through this, she is said to have destroyed the 'honour' of her family. Even in the Delhi Case, an Indian Express article pointed out how relatives of the girl wanted to know whether the girl would be able to get married and have children; at a point when the entire country was worried about her surviving this ordeal alive, in the first place!

    At the end of the day, people resort to the easier alternative and the general human tendency of shifting the blame else where, and who easier than the government in this case. While the government, can indeed be said to have mismanaged this case at various levels, preventing the crime at large, cannot be something that the government alone can do. All of us, in the society will have to take a step towards it.

    It cannot be just the government only at the end of the day, as this is more of a societal problem, than a political one. Unless people realise the gravity of the crime and the pain that a girl goes through during and after the crime, it will be hard to put an end to this as a whole. The change, as always, will have to come from within.

    Instead of being "ashamed" of being in a country that cannot "protect" its women folk, why don't we all start doing our bit first? By standing up and questioning, if a girl is eve-teased in public transport, for a start?

    Disclaimer: Quite a few of the views expressed in this are not my own. I have used some of the views that friends or people whom I know, expressed, on social media and otherwise. The credits definitely belong to them.


    Prabhu Dhev Ravi said...

    You have used this scene to the fullest haven't you?! :P

    Tanya Sehgal said...

    I have watched some movies with the same drama sequence & you interpreted it in a very thoughtful way. We need to draw the line first, then only we can wish for a safer country. But girls wearing decent clothes, being sober are still molested & eve-teased in broad daylight... Now, what's the logic behind it? Men need to tackle their so called urge of man hood in boundaries, learn to control because blaming it on a women's cloth is not right I guess.

    Preetamsnotes said...

    I completely agree with Tanya. In this democracy of ours, people are free to choose how to conduct themselves and what to wear.

    Others don't have to police what a woman need to wear or how she needs to behave.

    To add to Tanya's point, its not just men but also other women who put such implications.

    I believe its more of a culture issue than a sexist one.

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