(WARNING: Post contains graphic details of violence against women. May not be appropriate for readers under 18).
92 women get raped in India, EVERY DAY. That is one woman every 18 minutes. By the time you get up to the daily monotony of a routine robotic life and are finished with a sumptuous breakfast of toast with peanut butter and coffee, almost 15 women have been savagely stripped off their dignity!
Ever encountered a victim of gang rape? Most of them appear to be corpses, scarred so deep, they scream in their sleep, fear drips from their eyes like floods rampaging onto the streets, sensing a male presence, their hands tremble when they feed off steel utensils and see a reflection of their faces, the horror of being violated is so encapsulating some victims chew off their fingers down to the bone just to distract themselves from the memory of that moment.
However, the idea here isn’t to demonize the entire male fraternity or label all women as martyrs. The attempt is only to pose very inconvenient, difficult to swallow, even harder to accept questions, the bludgeoning weight of the realities and find an answer. To reflect within
PINK drew me to the theater because of the very same reason – the name – PINK. A color that is associated with everything feminine, until very recently before the “metrosexual man” syndrome tried to break these shackles. Personally, I have always been enamored by women in Cobalt blue or striking purple but my proclivities aside, the intrigue drew me to what would lay the bricks to the foundation of this write-up.
The movie is a slap in the face of a society, rinsed in feudalistic fragrance of dominance bestowed upon the men by the mere fact they were men, so hard, it frantically shakes the conscience out of the darkness of convenient ignorance and just drags it by the scruff of the collar, making it come face to face with the realities of the time we live in. A society that lends far more weight to the “bright ” future of a Brock Turner than the dignity of the woman he ravaged and that too when she was vulnerable and could not defend herself.
What have we done ? What have we done to the most beautiful creation of life, after life itself.
The woman, the giver of life, the radiance of our existence, the woman that makes this sinful, evil, imploding world beautiful, the woman that adds colors to the four walls of concrete and makes it a home, the woman that imparts reassurance with her smile, heals with her touch. It will take less time it does to blink to envisage a world without women, because there would be nothing!
It’s a story set in Delhi, the rape capital of India. A distinction it has earned quite easily as it leads the way in reported no of crimes against women. Quite ironic when you think of the fact that it houses the country’s government, literally. The PM, the Home Minister, the cabinet ministers, The President of India, and yet.
If you divide the area of Delhi by the number of women that get raped every year (roughly 40,000), the possibilities are quite high that your next door neighbor has been a victim !
3 women Meenal, Falak and Andrea, one night out. Common friends, a group of men and women. Foods and drinks, someone tries to sexually harass one of them. Meenal retaliates in self-defense.
Ever been in a comparable environment? Where the male manager couldn’t resist the constant gaze fixated on your breasts, deviant and deliberately brushing past you, trying to feel you up. A friend at a party who just wouldn’t take a hint after a few drinks, a male companion that would keep making suggestive conversations Or been groped in public? How suffocating and appalling is that feeling?
Men profile a woman’s character based on everything from the color of her lipstick to the length of her dress, the laughter as a response to something comical, to an opinion on an issue. From, the time she visits a club, to the no of male viz-a-viz female friends she has. Everything about a woman, to a man, is an analytical puzzle to decipher her character and the liberties that he could take with her. While she is being warm when she hugs a colleague, his mind is busy calculating the pressure that she applied in the embrace and if that could mean, she was trying to send a clandestine signal.
Sickening ? Profoundly yes.
However, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Art, culture have all been manipulated to cater to this profiling pedagogy. A Hollywood movie had a dialogue “women don’t wear black lingerie unless they want someone to notice it”. I always thought people dressed up inside or on the out because it made them feel more confident, comfortable and good about themselves but how wrong was I.
The tables are turned when Meenal goes ahead and files a FIR (First information report) after being threatened by the gang of friends of the guy she injured, in self-defence when he tried to sexually molest her.
Can of worms is let open, the rotten filth that today forms the consciousness of the Indian male makes no bones about his shameful presumptions and his belief system that brazenly justifies his actions against a “woman like that”.
A woman today is not just a woman, she’s either good or bad, righteous or characterless, a prospective wife or someone offering sexual gratification for money and men have assumed the responsibility of categorization. If she drinks, smokes, wears a dress that reveals her cleavage, dances in carefree abandon, calls up a male colleague late at night, asks instead of being asked out, suggests a quiet restaurant instead of Pizza Hut to indulge in a meaningful conversation, buys the latest in lingerie line, accidentally shows off her bra straps, is naturally curvaceous and her shirt accentuates her figure, she is easy, is begging for sex, using everything as a ploy so she doesn’t have to spell her feelings out.
A woman here loses her right to express her dissent the moment she gets married. A woman here loses her right to express her dissent the moment she gets married. As a society we are still debating the merit of marital rape, robbing millions of women who are exploited in the name of matrimonial compunctions.
So, the cross questioning in the court room begins when the ladies are charged with attempted murder, extortion, and prostitution. Meenal’s sexual history is discussed, Falak is tortured into submission and subsequently coerced into accepting they were sex workers, Andrea is compelled to emphasize she is from North East, hence the natural invitation to the advances Men are shown the mirror, they confess to her branding a “randi”, because she was “friendly”, accepted drinks and showed interest. The next door neighbor, who could be like any Uncle we might have known for years, that testifies to their promiscuity and debauchery because the girls used to “come late at night”, and had “male friends” over!
The movie is for the men to take back a moment and introspect, to what they have done to the women, how each one of us aided in the victimization since childhood. How we never stood up to our fathers the first time he raised his voice against our mother. How we married out of love and swore to sharing the burdens and yet slept peacefully expecting her to prepare the breakfast and dinner, how we laughed at a sexist joke sitting in an all-boys group, how we conveniently called someone a whore when we first encountered a gossip around her sex life, how we refused to help a stranded lady in the night because at that hour how could a “good” woman be present there, how we tried to rub our arms against a female colleagues breasts in a crowded space, how we told our sisters not to stay out with a boy after 8 while we were out post-midnight.
The questions are endless and get more embarrassingly ugly as you descend deeper into the introspection. Apathy against women has so many heads like the hydra, from female infanticide to inequality in pay. The movie just broadly paints the canvass and incessantly hits home the point that any possible hope of corrective or correctional retreat has to begin from men, while women are empowered, laws are made stricter, investigations are made fairer, society more compassionate.
The elitism around sexual harassment of women is as dangerous as the violation itself. “It only happens in rural, backward areas, in most cases men are uneducated.” The skewed sex ratio, the significant difference in testosterone and estrogen levels, lack of sex education. While scientifically all of these could be debated endlessly but are women raping men in same numbers when the maths is tilted in their favor? No, this decadence is a resultant of deliberate ignorance to teach the next generation the value of values, while we push them for academic excellence.
To honour, honour and not conquest. To respect a woman’s choices, as much as yours. Having no demarcations between what’s masculine or a man’s prerogative or feminine. To tell the boys that before you become a software engineer you ought to become a man that would fight for the injustice to any woman on the street, shall commit to respecting a woman irrespective of all your prejudices if there in, never to objectify her, judge her or weigh her against any moral compass, deal with her anger in most humane, kind manner, consider it sin to ever raise a hand, be proud of her, never ashamed to work under her or to earn less than her, to encourage and motivate all her aspirations and not be threatened by them, to see the beauty in her dreams. Yes, the time is here when we tell our boys, respecting a woman is the foremost quality of a real man!
Pink isn’t any more or less feminine than Black. She makes the colors look good and the clock doesn’t run in the opposite direction. There is no rationale or reason to why men treat women the way they do. It’s a sense of entitlement that has never been challenged or questioned. The movie does both and does it with an unapologetic aggression and realism.
The movie ends with a definitive beginning, hopefully,one that shall be imbibed by the society one day. It doesn’t matter if she was a sex worker or your wife or anyone else in between, NO means NO.