ANGST IN MY PANTS
(Published in Hardnews, August 2012)
(Published in Hardnews, August 2012)
A few days before the Higgs boson aka God Particle experiment at CERN threw up exciting results and made the world cheer, I posted the following comment on Twitter: ‘Tsk, why are scientists looking for the god particle in Switzerland? It’s here in India – ask any Indian mum who has a son.’ Incidentally, I was dead serious. Most Indian men (not all, thankfully) are treated like incarnations of God from the time they’re born. And while they are aware that they can’t get away with murder, they’re pretty sure that they can get away with eve teasing, molestation and rape. It’s so easy, isn’t it? They just have to blame the victim for dressing provocatively and our unenlightened patriarchal society heartily agrees with them.
What is even more alarming is the behavior of the National Commission for Women (NCW) after the Guwahati molestation case. First, a panel member, Alka Lamba, blithely revealed the name of the victim instead of doing her job – i.e. protecting her. Thereafter, the NCW chairperson Mamta Sharma said that women should be “careful about the way they dress because such incidents are a result of blindly aping the West". I must add here that I think Ms Sharma is a very reasonable person, and I’m hugely relieved that she didn’t suggest we should wear burkhas - thank god. However, comments like these make me wonder if the NCW has been infiltrated by female imposters in pretty sarees and bindis. I find it impossible to believe that modern educated Indian women would make insensitive statements like that. Hello, are we supposed to change the way we dress because some Indian men have absolutely no self-control and behave worse than animals? Why can’t men be ordered to change the way they think instead?
Meanwhile in Uttar Pradesh, a khap panchayat has laid down a list of things that women below the age of forty cannot do. It’s the usual Talibanesque rubbish: they can’t use mobile phones, wear jeans, wander around alone after dark et cetera. The Taliban, sorry, the khap panchayat frowns on love marriages and solely blames denim jeans for men going astray. Now I know why that phrase ‘village idiot’ came into being. By the way, as a woman over forty I am planning to sue that khap panchayat for the sexist undertones: How dare they imply that forty-plus women are unattractive? I’m also planning to set up a Women Only panchayat to lay down a set of strict rules for men across the nation. Hey, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Here are a few of the rules I have in mind:
- Indian men are not allowed to go to pubs. That way, pubs will be safer for Indian women. Also, we’re treated so cruelly by our society, we’re the ones who need to swallow gallons of alcohol to drown our sorrows.
- Indian men are not allowed to wear jeans or trousers. Dhotis or kurta-pajamas must be their dress code. How dare they stain our wonderful ancient culture by wearing vulgar western clothes?
- Indian men are not allowed to step out of their homes/offices after dark. That’s the only way we can ensure that our streets are rape-free.
- Indian men are not allowed to use mobile phones. Particularly not mobile phones with cameras because some of the perverts tend to film the women they rape / molest and circulate the footage or use it as a blackmail tool.
- Indian men are not allowed to harass women they don’t know on Facebook with friendship requests. Having been at the receiving end of many persistent friendship requests from absolute strangers, I know exactly how annoying it can be.
- Indian men are not allowed to treat public spaces like roads, railway station platforms et cetera as their personal bathrooms. We find it extremely vulgar and smelly besides.
- Random Indian men with pre-historic mindsets are prohibited from laying out codes of conduct for Indian women. The Indian constitution clearly states that we’re equals. If you can’t respect that, you deserve to be behind bars.
- And finally, Indian politicians who support anti-women diktats of khap panchayats should be made to break rocks in jail too. I look forward to seeing the son of the Union minister of civil aviation in starched jail-wear, together with several other politicians.