Saturday, January 12, 2013

Misogyny- the (not so new) epidemic

The news in the past couple of months has been extremely disturbing for me. Shootouts in schools, gang rapes, more shootouts and what not. One of these the one which I along with millions of other people were closely following was the incident of the gang rape of a 23yrd girl in Delhi.

I am not going into the gory details of the crime, I think google will be a much better source for that. I am an Indian woman and I liked to think that my country has fully embraced the modern era, one where women are treated as equals, for the most part atleast. I am not an idealist, but I had liked to think that if I could achieve what I've done so far any other girl can do the same or even better. This bit of news was a whack on the head that dragged me down, back into the dark reality.

In the aftermath of this heinous crime there were mass protests by hundreds of women and men, this warmed my heart to see not only educated women from the cities but even uneducated women from the rural areas finally brave enough to voice their opinion. What I was not prepared for was what followed. What followed is more disgusting than the crime itself.

It was a series of statements and comments made by prominent political leaders (including the president's son) and religious men who are supposed to be our moral compass. Statements like "The women who are protesting on the streets are dented and painted women..", "The rape was victim was also to blame for the crime, she should have called her attackers brothers and begged for mercy", "Women should be content with minding the affairs of the home and not venture out..". I cannot begin to describe how angry I felt when I read each of those comments (most of them which were retracted after the damage was done).

What I can now see is not just a horrendous crime and its reactions but what is emerging from this is educated people (mostly men) expressing their true chauvinistic and misogynistic opinions. And sadly these opinions are shared by hundreds of men all around the world.

We all want progress and change. The protesters on the streets of Delhi want stricter laws. While that might help a little it wont be any close to solving the problem. We already have many laws that would've helped if only they were implemented. In the case of rapes where 75 to 95% of the incidents are never reported to authorities, bringing in new laws are not going to make an impact. The only thing thats halting our progress is the attitudes of people. Note: not just men, women also.

If the rapists' mothers had instilled in them at a very young age that women are not toys, all people irrespective of women or men have to be respected, and no person has the right to touch another's body without their consent, maybe just maybe they would've thought twice before acting.

If their fathers had treated their mothers and sisters with respect, they would've never had a feeling that they were in some way superior to women and could do what they liked with women.

This state of mind is not going to change overnight. The least we, the people who protest and rage against this injustice can do is this- Look around you at the people in your life.

Women, try to teach your fathers, brothers, husbands, male friends and most importantly your sons that you are not a second class citizen. That a woman can do everything a man can and do it better if she needs to. More importantly, try to believe in it yourself. Do NOT vote for people whom you know have this sickness of misogyny.

Men, you can be the best support for any woman in your life. Do not be insecure of her accomplishments, instead try to be proud of her, be it your daughter, wife or mother. I pity those men who made those statements. They will never know the joy of being proud of the woman in their life. They will never know the satisfaction you get from knowing that your daughter/wife/mother/friend is what she is today because you supported her and helped her along the way.

The reality is that its too late to change the minds of a lot of these sick people. I guess they have to grow old, lead a miserable life spent in deriving cheap thrills from dominating and undermining women, and die out for the general population to be rid of this disease forever.