The ‘Indian Man’ is under the scanner again. Oh, well, he’s under the scanner almost always but rape and molestation cases that gain more media attention for some reason or the other tend to escalate the scanning. Here are some of his scanning highpoints: All of a sudden, ‘staring’ becomes one of the biggest offence, the nation can think of. It’s alright to ‘check out’ though. Well, I am just saying. College Canteen: ‘I think that cute guy was checking me out’ Accompaniments: Does my hair look okay/ Am I looking fat/ Can I borrow your lipstick? Office Party: ‘Is he like checking me out? He’s kinda hot, isn’t he? Accompaniments: Ta da! It’s the other ‘viable women’s’ turn to get scanned. Healthy competition is good. Yeah, so like if you are ‘in the league/viable/hot/cute/adorable/blip blip bloop bloop….you’re basically qualified to stare. Whoops…sorry ‘check out’. But…it’s absolutely okay to ‘stare’ at girls if you are girl. Results/reasons may vary though: You stare with admiration because she’s nicely dressed/ because she’s nice legs/ because she’s long hair/ blip blip bloop bloop. You stare because she’s so shabby and unkempt and you are a far superior being. Basically you’re more check-outable than her. You stare because she’s got ‘waise type ki ladki’ written all over her face (but you of course focus on the face because you’re not the Indian Man). So much so for the Indian Man. Mission Annihilate Moral Policing finds a collateral. Suddenly ‘The West’s tolerance’ becomes the talking point. All you want is to feel liberated. How? Wearing whatever you want, kissing in public, burn bras, show ‘em how to love and I was thinking demand nude beaches as well maybe? And when you’ve felt all the freedom in your fingers and bones, all the stares (and whispers) don’t matter. Yes, countless discourses and debates have already been written and mulled over about sexual crimes against women and women’s lib in India: sarcastic, hard-hitting, statistical, rebellious, emotional….all routes lead to the same destination: futility. The second weapon is to adopt the West literally and resort to actions that aggravate the situation rather than alleviate the differences in social outlook and practices. In my humble opinion, discourses are still better than copying convenience-oriented Western notions of ‘liberty’ just to prove a point without any concrete results. Some of the things I think of time and again… All the voices, discourses and discussions on social media platforms, does it really reach the intended audience?
- Class difference has a direct correlation with high-profile rape cases. All high-profile rape cases, in my opinion, has a distinct `undercurrent of class difference: Uber (Cabbie and Executive), Shakti Mills (semi-educated chawl residents and journalist), Nirbhaya (day labour/truck driver and a seemingly upper-class couple)
- The discourses rarely ever make a logical correlation between cause and effect. It either profiles the criminal (as was the case with the Uber jerk) and what must have been playing in his head or is too busy debunking the ‘culture of victim-bashing’. The few voices that do try to speak sense (like I came across this blog asking women and people in general to follow basic safety rules instead of expecting random people to be decent and honest) gets outnumbered against all the ‘righteous and angered voices’ slamming the ‘Indian Man’.
- Women’s Lib. Touching upon the surface is what things are restricted to. Forget all the ballyhoo surrounding patriarchy and objectification of the Indian Woman. ‘The man will provide’ psyche is so ingrained in us that we turn a blind eye to how we are subconsciously adding to it. How many of us can really ignore the lure of ‘an NRI husband’ even if we are working and quite happy in our jobs? How many of us do not mind the ‘little compromises’ that come with marrying into wealth and comfort? How many of us stand by our grand visions of marrying ‘Mr.Right’ and not ‘Mr. Wealthy Pants’ (FYI, Mr. R and Mr. WP can very well be the same man, but my statistical instinct tells me it usually ain’t so)?
- And finally, does anyone care that India is an amalgamation of several countries within a country. Sometimes, I fear that our vanity in the ‘unity in diversity’ constitutional preaching is holding us back from addressing several issues in a case-specific and sensitised manner. It is not just geographical contours. The norms and mindset of the Hindi heartland is as different as chalk and cheese from its nearest neighbours in the east (Bengal/Orissa). The patriarchal culture in South India has its specific quirks as against the Khap system in Haryana…..so on and so forth.
Yes…this is just as well another discourse. I simply happen to think that state-specific special teams consisting of people who really do care – one educational and another vigilante – could perhaps tackle the problem better than innumerable discourses and debates and bra burning.