|Quid quid latine dictum sit, altum videtur|
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D Mervin Ffingir writes, and having writ, moves on:
Sunday, December 23, 2012
If you haven't been discomfited by a government form that demands a father's or husband's name, you're part of the problem.
If you think that a woman must change her name, first or second or both, when she marries, you're part of the problem.
If you are not ashamed of laws that treat women as if they were possessions of a man, or less than men in any way, you're part of the problem.
If you work for, or patronise, a company that insists a woman has no identity of her own, that she ceases to become part of her birth family once she is married, you're part of the problem.
If you think that ladies compartments in trains and ladies seats in busses are a solution, you're part of the problem.
If you think security cameras and banning sun-film on vehicles are a solution, you're part of the problem.
If your son can stay out late but not your daughter, if your daughter must be 'dropped home' but not your son, I know I'm being hard on you, and I would do the same in our cities, but you're part of the problem, as I am.
If you are not distressed by playgrounds where little boys run wild but where you don't see any little girls, by boys coming out to play cricket on the street during a bandh, but not girls, maybe you're not observant enough, or maybe you're part of the problem.
If you run an ad campaign that has hunky male film stars asking the world to 'be a man' and join him in protecting women, you're part of the problem.
If you think that getting men to think of all women as their mothers and sisters and daughters is a solution, perhaps you're not a problem, but I'm sorry, I think you're very wrong. It should be enough to think of them as fellow human beings, with rights of their own as valid and as important as yours.
If you think offering bangles to a man, or saying he should be wearing a sari, is an insult, you could be making a very subtle point about gender imbalance, in which case I'm sorry I didn't get it. Or you could be part of the problem.
If you call sexual harassment 'eve-teasing,' you're making a crime sound like boys-will-be-boys mischief, and that, I'm afraid, makes you part of the problem. If you think that 'outraging the modesty of a woman' does not smell strongly of woman-as-possession, then perhaps we have different sensibilities, but I'm inclined to think you're part of the problem.
If you think that chow mein or other foods result in uncontrollable libido, you're a lunatic and definitely part of the problem. If you think anything can result in uncontrollable libido, you're a very serious part of the problem and should be restrained for your own good and the good of all around you.
If you think the solution is giving young men child brides so that they can satisfy their lust, you're part of the problem.
If you think rape shames a woman, that her izzat has been stolen, that she is henceforth a "zinda laash," you're part of the problem.*
If your stock visual for rape stories is a woman with her face hidden, you're unimaginative, wrong, and yes, part of the problem.
If you think people having sexual intercourse, or even marrying, outside the religious, communal, economic or gender boundaries that you are comfortable with (and no, I don't include children and animals here) is against your culture, you and your culture are part of the problem.
If you think that she shouldn't have been wearing those revealing clothes, because dressing that way is provocative; if you think that she shouldn't have been out that late, alone; if you think she was being 'adventurous' because she was returning from work at 2 a.m.; if you think rape happens because 'men and women interact with each other more freely'; if you think she invited trouble because she had a drink—or two, or three, or six—or because she smokes; if you think her being the only woman in a group of men was foolish; if you think her having had sexual intercourse with someone—or several someones—she's not married to makes it understandable that other men would think they can have sex with her against her will; if you think that her having sexual intercourse for money makes it okay to have sexual intercourse with her against her will; if you think her working at a bar is a reason why she will be targetted; if you think that her husband has a right to have sexual intercourse with her whether she wants to or not, you're part of the problem.
Yes, if you think there's any possible justification for rape, if you imply in any way that a woman is asking for it or provoking it, you're part of the problem.
And if your reaction to young people protesting a culture that makes rape commonplace is not standing up and saying, "We hear you, we're sorry that you're upset enough to come together like this, we're upset too, we're doing our best to stop this and our resolve is strengthened because we know we can count on your help," but instead you fire water cannons and tear gas shells at them, and then decide to lock down the area, you're not only part of the problem, we will lose faith in your ability to ever find a solution, because you are central to the problem.**
* Sentence rephrased after a suggestion from Harini Calamur
** Some very smart people I respect said, on Twitter, that this last paragraph took away from this post, referring, I guess, to the violence and vandalism that took place today. I must clarify that I was referring to what I had learned from reading about the situation yesterday, and leaning a lot on Nilanjana Roy's from-the-spot tweets and subsequent blogpost, and a chat with her on the phone last night. Which is that the mostly young people at Raisina Hill yesterday afternoon were not just protesting peacefully, but also actively stopping fellow protesters when they crossed the line. For example, telling each other not to throw back tear-gas shells, because that would give the police an excuse. Later yesterday, I know, and definitely today, various opportunistic ruffians and/or political parties descended on the protests, and things changed. I do not, by any means, seek to condone the violence that has now happened, and never will agree with violence as a means.
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