Daughters and Sons

The hot topic yesterday was India’s Daughter.

This post is my two cents. Not on the documentary but on the atmosphere the documentary created.

I am sure I don’t need to reiterate my revulsion of the rape and inhuman murder of Nirbhaya. I have a daughter who is barely two years younger to Nirbhaya… and she lives away from home- ALONE. I have another who lives with me at present but who will also move out one of these days; tomorrow or some day in the future. She too will have to fend for herself; I will worry about her too.

But these statements are misleading.

I am not worried about my daughters only, I am equally worried about my son. I am not worried only about my children, but about all children. All day today I have read commentaries about how unsafe India is for women. Only for women? And only in India? Really?! Isn’t that a tad naive?

The fact that rape threats are a thing says a lot about how rape isn’t a lapse in self-control but often a tool to punish & control others.

~Steph Guthrie

Is India safe for those boys/ men who are not rapists and will never be? Is it safe for them to come to manhood surrounded by the kind of filth they see? Is it safe for them to be declared guilty to begin with… only because some monster belonging to their sex has shamed mankind once again? It is somewhat like the guilt of the German people because of the things Hitler did. Is that a safe environment for boys/men- to be declared guilty and less than human as a default status? No! And I am worried about that. Very worried.

Men are as much victims of violent men as women are. Both men and women suffer at the hands of violent people- people who have no compunction about unleashing their inner strife on any innocent bystander. To grow up in a violent society, to witness such acts of brutality, dehumanized you in a horrible, ugly way, Such an environment can never be called safe by any standards.

I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other. Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they’ve been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally, a young a guy will raise his hand and say, ‘I stay out of prison.’ This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, ‘Nothing. I don’t think about it.’ Then I ask women the same question. What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. As the men sit in stunned silence, the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine. Here are some of their answers: Hold my keys as a potential weapon. Look in the back seat of the car before getting in. Carry a cell phone. Don’t go jogging at night. Lock all the windows when I sleep, even on hot summer nights. Be careful not to drink too much. Don’t put my drink down and come back to it; make sure I see it being poured. Own a big dog. Carry Mace or pepper spray. Have an unlisted phone number. Have a man’s voice on my answering machine. Park in well-lit areas. Don’t use parking garages. Don’t get on elevators with only one man, or with a group of men. Vary my route home from work. Watch what I wear. Don’t use highway rest areas. Use a home alarm system. Don’t wear headphones when jogging. Avoid forests or wooded areas, even in the daytime. Don’t take a first-floor apartment. Go out in groups. Own a firearm. Meet men on first dates in public places. Make sure to have a car or cab fare. Don’t make eye contact with men on the street. Make assertive eye contact with men on the street.

~ Jackson Katz

But the thing that I really wanted to say is something else. And please, don’t say I am trying to dilute or condone the current socio-civil climate of India! Far from it!

This is not just an Indian phenomenon. Crimes against women are rising all over the world. Those fellow Indians, who have been running amok on an unrestrained spree of India Bashing following the introduction of this documentary on the social media, would do well to remember it.

Today, I have heard/ read (educated, discerning) Indians calling India a hell. I am not stupid enough to claim that it is a heaven. India has her unique diseases as does any country in the world- some of them a lot more potent than those in other parts of the world. But the tone of all the vituperative rhetoric being bandied about today was that incidents like 16th December 2012 happen (have happened/ will happen) only in India. I protest against that tone. I object to that assumption.

The issue is neither local nor something new. That certainly doesn’t mean we sit with our hands-folded over our belly and pretend we can’t see it growing under our very feet. Search the Internet and see for yourself how women have been treated the world over from the very beginning of human history. This article and this are merely the tip of the iceberg.

Throughout history, rape was as much a part of war as killing a foe was. It seems to be almost mandatory that a conquered territory must expect its women to be raped. It has always been the last, final act of war- across cultures, nations and time.

Do you know, they found land mines in woman’s souls.

~Andrea Gibson

More than the rapists, it was the lawyers- and all of their ilk- who ought to be hanged first of all. The righteousness… the glee with which they declared that Nirbhaya deserved what she got, has completely unhinged me. They look so horribly ordinary! They could be your neighbor or the grocery shop owner down the street. When (and why) do they turn from being the apple of a mother’s eye into something you feel like stepping on and grinding its last bit out of existence under your heel in horrified revulsion?

This poem says it all for such men… and the unfortunate women in their families. I’m sure you will note that the poem was not written by an Indian girl.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQucWXWXp3k?rel=0]

As long as the world continues to raise such sons, its daughters will continue to suffer. Nirbhaya fought back, that’s what added to the brutality with which she was punished. She ought to have submitted to it quietly, her rapists said.In fact, she had no business being out after six… or being born at all. Until societies stop assuring the men that it is their job, responsibility and right to teach a lesson to the women, the rapes will go on.

And not just in India.

Screen-shot from the documentary
Screen-shot from the documentary

Daughters and Sons

17 thoughts on “Daughters and Sons”

  1. Only you could have put your thoughts across so well. Both men and women are equally at risk and parents need to raise more responsible men. Ones who stand by women and fight. And not against them. Loved your thoughts

      1. Umm. I’m a bit wordless when it comes to this. Not coz I don’t have thoughts, but I’m tired of the monotony of the discussions after. So I’ll just say I agree with Sid on this.

  2. You already know my views on this, Dags. I hate this India bashing or male bashing that becomes a free for all after such discussions. Perhaps, some people are really bitter or they want to say things that are the flavor of the season. I feel social media is a menace most of the times. Yes, these attitudes exist. Yes, patriarchal mindsets is a problem. Yes, change will happen, has to happen if we make the right efforts which includes accounting for these who come from extreme penury. Most of them live in inhuman circumstances and then take out their frustration on those who they seem are enjoying while they are struggling day in and day out. Loved the post!

    1. I agree Rachna. Perhaps those who are India Bashing are merely concerned and scared about what they see around them. In the past few months I think our collective BS tolerating ability has been put under too much strain. But shadow boxing never solved any issue… it merely helps burn out your anger.

      I don’t want that anger burned out and dissipated. I don’t want people engaging in proxy-wars while the real war razes our homes to dust. The elephant will not walk out of the room by itself. It needs to be pushed out by force. And we need all hands on the elephants behind right now.
      And, I already know your views on this. 🙂

      Loved your comment! Thank you!

  3. Love you Dagny for writing this post! Love you anyway 🙂 But really, thank you for saying all that you said here. Yesterday I read someone’s FB status about being ashamed to be born in this country. I wanted to give my piece of mind but resisted because I don’t know the person that well. This is exactly the kind of outrage and shame such films and propoganda want to provoke. And today, not just the usual culprits like NYT have written India-bashing stuff, even a newspaper in Kuwait and Pakistan are saying this is how Indian men are!! And still we never learn or bother to learn about the dymanics of internationalised/globalised discourse. We keep on playing into the hands of propogandists, over and over, instead of really doing something more constructive to clean our own houses.

    1. I don’t know which world they live in Beloo, the India Bashers. They have no right to be so ignorant. They have access to the Internet and the world press. how on earth can they choose to remain blind to the atrocities against women in other countries?!

      As for Pakistan and Kuwait… arrrgggghhhhh!!!

      I wonder what drives these master and missy goody two-shoes. Throwing invective around on social media is so easy. They will be loud in their protests and dissociate themselves from the shame as vehemently as possible. And that will be the end of their duty.

  4. I liked the way you have tackled the whole issue, Dagny. It is not country-specific or even region specific but a universal issue. The last para is the voice of sanity and reason. The links say it all.

    To allow such a movie to be made and then first outrage about it being allowed to air and later outrage about it being banned — all speak of sensationalism at its worst, as Beloo has pointed out in her piece in Swarajya. Do you know that many don’t even know that the permission to shoot the film was given in May 2013?

    We need serious studies, not some filmmaker’s version of a social study to remedy the issues of women’s safety. These are at worst travel advice for tourists against visiting India. And no, I have not seen the movie and yes, I believe banning .it won’t serve any purpose except give a bad name to the government. It is another matter that had it not been banned, there would have been an uproar about that too. Suffice to say that we are living in times of online outrage and would do it with or without a valid cause — till another cause/non-cause comes up.

    1. Zephyr,

      I am very edgy about the current trend of belligerence for the sake of belligerence. Rebellion has become a tad too easy nowadays. Being contradictory is fashionable. Most often the ‘ranting’ is spewed for its own sake; it has no connection to the ranter’s world view. If, that is, the ranter even knows what his world-view is.
      In a controversial issue of this kind, I too am very careful where I express my opinion. Getting trolled by uncouth boors strangely has no fascination for me. 😀

      I am aware that the permission for the interviews was given by the UPA govt. For the life of me I don’t know what they were thinking of. I doubt if they knew either… the bunch of idiots!

      As the inimitable PG Wodehouse said, “Common report is an ass whose long ears only catch the sound of its own braying.”

      To describe online behavior today, we need only replace the words ‘common report’ with the word ‘Netizens’ as we’re done. 😀

      Yes, I’m wicked. Shoot me! 😀 😀

      Thank you for expressing your views so lucidly. it is a delight for me to have your thoughts on my posts.

      Love and hugs! <3

  5. I agree, the incidents of oppression and assault on women is a worldwide phenomenon, although I feel it is handled more maturely and sensitively in developed countries than developing countries. The condition in African countries is even worse than India. This hatred against one’s own country will not solve anything. How long are we going to hate everything about our country and do nothing about it!

  6. This documentary and its ban has surely left a huge impact on almost every Indian. I am afraid of sharing my views on the subject because I do not see any fruitful discussion happening but a whole lot of people ready to bash you without even properly understanding the point you are trying to make. I had promised myself to not read anything on this but your title brought me here. And I’m glad that I stopped by to read this.

    1. I am glad you stopped by to read this too Rekha. I think ‘public outrage’ has turned into a rabid dog which attacks anyone and everything for no rhyme or reason. And it doesn’t hold you to any constructive action. All you need do is salver at the mouth and have yourself counted as one who has registered their protest. Then it is business as usual.

  7. It’s true that it’s not just an Indian thing! I believe you unconsciously inspired me to write my piece! LOL! Take a look when you have time!

  8. I was off social media largely because of work but purposely because of things and issues like this. The documentary and the kind of reaction it got left me…..well I don’t even have a word for it. Also, you make the most valid point when you speak about the lawyers and everyone of their mindset (which would be the majority of our population, men and women included) who make it her fault. It is never her fault, it is the fault of the environment that raised one human to be so disrespectful towards another human. And protests, banning documentaries and anything else, well we have all seen how much good it have achieved. I think its high time, we all stop talking and start acting. Teach our children to respect humans and humanity, raise our kids to be the change we want to see.

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