Many years ago I was fantastically flummoxed at the idea of participating in the Oxford Essay writing competition. Those were the early genesis days of the world wide web and correspondence such as the 1500 word essay had to take place via postal mails. However, the source of my anxiety wasn’t the fact that 1500 word for a 14-year-old was a herculean task or even the fact that I would be competing against every other student in the world in my age category. It was the multifaceted, open to interpretation and some would say, surreptitiously intricate nature of the topic.
Condescension of women posterity . Yes, I was barely 14 and yes, The British are known for doing that to you! As history would bear testament I obviously could not even manage a consolation prize for my sincere efforts. Or maybe it was because I never really did understand the premise in the first place.
Two decades later I finally have begun to have my head wrapped around the concept and as fate would have it, I am appalled at the unravelling of the truth. As the first sunrays of 2017 hit the earth, India woke up to the horror of what had transpired on the new year’s eve in Banglore.
Bengaluru, as politicians in this country tend to drift towards the notion that changing the name of a city in some magical ways changes all its existing problems to everlasting solutions, was celebrating by the numbers out on the perpendicular, popular lanes of the MG and Brigade road. The area was even buzzing with a strong police security cover of 1500! As the midnight bell struck all hell broke loose. Unruly, uninhibited men in thousands began randomly groping women and children around them. Yes! They forcibly kissed, slid their hands inside their dresses, took their hands and held it against their crotch, filled the air with coarse and pornographic of comments and cat calls. As the horror unfolded and girls and women began scampering towards the stationed Police, the men did not hesitate to pursue and brazenly continued to celebrate their unabated misdemeanour. The incident just shocked the nation!What an unpardonably shameful beginning to the new year.
Just when you thought that there was nothing worse to witness in the great land of India, after the horrifying eve teasing incidents inside college campuses, acid attacks on refusal of marriage proposals, gang rapes inside moving buses, female infanticides, marital rapes, sexual harassment at workplace, you realized the concept of women’s safety is as farcical in this country as the debate around it.
Bangalore was proudly considered as one of the safest cities for women in the country, a distinction all other cities keep squabbling amongst themselves to wear like a barefaced badge of falsified honour. It is about time this stupendously contemptible differentiation is set aside and acknowledged that from Kanyakumari to Sopore, Kucch to Gangtok, India is equally unsafe for women. Period. The city has witnessed some of the most dastardly executed crimes against women in the recent past.
What to me stands out like a sore thumb is how the Indian male has become as poignantly selfish as he has become spinelessly coward. In the days when my mother was pursuing her Masters from Patna university, she recalls, how the classified ruffians on the campus too, had a universal principle that all women were to be respected and it was their duty to ensure that not even one bore the slightest inconvenience, forget insecurity and fear because of their indulgence or imagery of being a Goonda. This sense of solidarity with the fairer sex has dissipated. Leave alone the women on the street, even the most offensive act of indignity towards a woman in his company, the Indian male is more likely to either blame the woman, be an outright apologist and hence emboldening the perpetrators in the process.Yes, I understand men worry for the women and chose to sometimes drink the venom for the greater good of her safety but always?Remember those boys in Mumbai that got stabbed to death protecting their female friend who was being molested by neighbourhood crooks. How many of us would take a stand and find worth in “anything for honour”? People do not think and talk like that these days. It is a mark of utter stupidity. Which also brings me to thinking that does chivalry, courage and respect, standing for the women one is with, even a criteria for women to decide what kind of a man is she dating or marrying? Or is it just the fancy car and six-figure salary and the abs?
Its arduously perplexing to imagine how the “righteous “men that evening didn’t do anything or less than anything relevant to stand up to those unruly thugs that are sure to roam in careless and gay abandon thanks to our horrendously insensitive and lackadaisical Police and a burdened to death Criminal Justice system. Is there no honour left in fighting for another persons, a woman’s dignity? How do men, accomplished and erudite become hapless onlookers. Remembering the incident outside the nightclub in Sikkim where a 16-year-old woman was undressed naked by a group of drunk boys, while everyone passing by took turns to take picture of the girl! Is the conscience still alive, if yes, then clearly it displays no visible signs of being so. If No, well, that simplifies the explanation.
Well, as it goes in India, hysteria always gives way to histrionics. So, the epidemic of abashed transgressional proclivities of the perverted Indian male, gave way to the only possible answer there could have been to such deplorability – the western culture. In India it has become a fad to point all fingers,nose and eyeballs towards the west in a banal attempt to wash off our hands from any accountability. From men behaving like rabid dogs to haemorrhoids, everything has its roots in western influence. As, the Karnataka government spokesperson said, women have lost track of “decency”. They dress up like their western counterparts and invite trouble. Dressing up as per her choice? How dare she? obviously gets translated to – your property to abuse. Deep neckline, waist revealing, legs showing attire shouts – have me. This skin show is western culture. As opposed to buff naked, crackhead junkies going by the name of baba’s seen flaunting their genitalia with jingoistic pride happens to be the more nuanced Indian culture. This retrograde and regressive anathema seems to have become the deliberate bolstering of those committing crimes in mobs. They know the populist rhetoric of ” western influence” is always at their disposal.
Indian male is fast earning the reputation of a dangling hosepipe connected to a motor like mind that loses control at the very sight of a woman. Long gone and buried are the days of my mother’s collegiate security when men would take pride in the fact that no-one could raise an eyebrow to a woman in their presence. That’s how masculinity was defined back then. It has now degraded to how many woman can he sleep with today, how lewd his jokes are about a female colleague, how lucid are the gossips with his friends as to how successfully he figured out the size of her bra by fixating his gaze on her bosom all morning , how voyeuristic his experiences are as a roving eye and how callously weak he is when it comes to standing up to any injustice. Men would build their bodies back in the day of my father so that when they stood at the corner tea stall with their friends, the hoodlums wouldn’t dare to whistle or stare at any woman in the vicinity. Today, all those six packs and pectoral muscles are just for luring women into bed.The moment the wolves gather in number, the “man” in us vaporises along with his muscular and chiselled chest! That is how rapidly the road to ruins has been clocked…..less than 3 decades. Yes, three decades to decadence!
Where is this India shining that we love to boast about everytime our patriotic vein is poked? Where is the strength of unity that colleges show in times of fests coming together in lakhs but are nowhere to be seen calling for a state-wide protest unless justice is meted? Or does that kind of outrage only warranted when a few would have been raped and murdered, like it happened in Delhi. Where are those celebrities who flock the malls and beg for audiences to come to theatres for their movies? Where is the media that spends countless hours on a politician’s marriage, his suits,his dogs ,his cars? How does a society just brush this aside and go on business as usual pretending or worse not even recollecting the horror that had unfolded upon their own daughters, sisters, wives, girlfriends? What does this say about us a nation? Embassies issue safety warning for travelling female tourists because there have been tour guides molesting foreign nationals, hotel owners raping guests, local drivers kidnapping women travellers. Day in and out and we seem to judge how bright we shimmer as a nation by number of Ivy league qualifiers, revenue contributors to Google and Facebook?
As the Oxfordian behemoth of condescension of women posterity today gnaws at my skin and soul simultaneously I am left only with more stifling questions.What kind of men have we become and the kind of boys are we raising today?How do we teach the women that it is not just in the valuables does lay a man’s worth but the values and virtues he brings along, so chose your friends and partners wisely. How do we redefine virility as standing against oppression and not becoming the oppressor? How do we straighten the skewed benchmarks and yardsticks we view ourselves against as a “developing” and independent society? What are we so profoundly and delusionally proud of when the silicon city of multi-culturalism and a hallmark of India’s claim to superstardom in the 21st century treats its women with such grotesque impropriety?
The questions galore and it is not just an individual responsibility to find answers and rectify so as to a retreat to some kind of order is attained. Those who chose to live for nothing, often die for nothing! We Indians seem to have mastered that craft and it is plastered on our foreheads like an oxymoronic tattoo–India Shining!