"In these modern times, the more skin women show, the more they are considered fashionable. If my sister or daughter stays out beyond sunset celebrating December 31 with a man who isn't their husband or brother, that's not right... If there's gasoline, there will be fire. If there's spilt sugar, ants will gravitate towards it for sure." – Abu Azmi
Just when I thought that things couldn't get worse after the demonetisation disaster, here we are... with a bomb right in the centre of gender discourse in India. We are like hamsters on a wheel when it comes to gender—we work our ass off running, but we reach nowhere, bringing us to an existential crisis. Our leaders and politicians still get off on pointing the finger at victims, citing their dress and immorality. We really can't expect much from the leaders, people — they are busy building universities that will basically tear the global best university charts even as they promptly tell girls that late night studies are immoral.
We are like hamsters on a wheel when it comes to gender—we work our ass off running, but we reach nowhere
So, as a loyal, obedient citizen to our leaders, especially the likes of Abu Azmi, here are a few things I would like to ask for my own well-being and conduct.
1. The issue about "Western dress"
Ok, so you say that provocative "Western" dresses may invite offenders, but how do you explain women in sari and salwar kameez facing sexual harassment from men dressed in Western attire? Why are most politicians who comment on Indian attire themselves clad in Western-style shirts and pants? What's the whole point of FDI when we can't wear Western dresses, in which trade in India is booming—why even ask for their investments then? After all, the government regularises trade benefits. So, Western-wear is not a moral issue, it's a business proposition in which our politicians and businessmen collude.
2. Are we still minors?
I understand the politicians' concerns that women need to be escorted by their fathers or brothers or any other male member of the family. But what I am confused about is this: elections are soon to come I really need to know if I am still a minor so that if I am, and if my security needs to be looked after so much, I would have to refrain from voting as an adult.
Why are most politicians who comment on Indian attire themselves clad in Western-style shirts and pants?
Besides, on seeing women if a bunch of men have unrestrained hormonal changes and they are impelled to apply force, then aren't they as dangerous as wild animals? In that case, isn't it necessary to identify those animals and keep them in proper confined spaces? The scenario in our present case is like a leopard attacking a human and because the leopard is supported by a bunch of political leopard- chauvinists, the first thing we do is question the victim—the human that has been attacked—and blame him for having the flesh and bones that make him so irresistible to leopards.
3. What about the country's growth?
Most politicians in India righteously take up the cause of patriotism and try to uphold the moral fibre of society. Like the BJP didn't know that 76% of Indians live without internet before implementing DeMo. In India, 40% of the students enrolled in PhD programme are women. Almost 13% out of the 21% salaried population are women. It has been predicted that if India is able to increase its women's participation by 10%, India's GDP will increase by 16% by the year 2025. So, to advise women to stay at home would be compromising on our country's growth and prosperity. Hmmm... not so patriotic. And this doesn't serve your chest-thumping braganomics on the country's ideals.
5. Where's the mythology now?
In their speeches, most politicians eulogise our country by using the metaphor of mother for her. They want to see in every woman, the image of Sita. I understand the Defence Minister when he used the imagery of Hanuman burning Lanka for the surgical strikes across the LoC. Mahatma Gandhi fought the British by using principles gleaned from the Gita. Stories and anecdotes from religious texts are umpteen to justify our actions. But, if we indeed live by mythological precedents, we don't seem to take into account what Rama did to Ravan for abducting Sita. How come an entire government and judicial apparatus is rendered impotent when it comes to dispensing justice for women?
6. Hello, earth calling
I just saw the video clip in which Manoj Tiwari blatantly mocks people queuing up for cash post demonetisation. It's not just the lack of sensitivity. It struck me that he is a living proof that there are people who didn't have to stand in a queue—just like me, since I have a brother who I manage to bully into doing my chores. But who is Manoj Tiwari's big brother? Politicians keep demonstrating how they are quite removed from the events on earth. Our travails are so alien to them that they cannot muster up any sensitivity. They choose this privileged alienation. Most men, in fact, are similarly alienated by their privilege to the plight of women.
By beating around the bush over dress and the hour of night, our leaders only want to defer their occasion to confess how miserably they have failed.
In terms of the power of its female politicians, India stands at the ninth position in the world. Yet the indignity with which women live in India is confounding. From the reckless comments by politicians, mass molesting, gang rapes to the judiciary's ineffectiveness, it's a clear that those privileged with a phallus rule and that pool nobody cares about the most so-called treasured entities of the society.
No matter how many protests and candle-marches we take out, society remains apathetic, unsympathetic. It's almost as if we are demanding an alternate reality in seeking justice and security. What women in India need is a basic acknowledgement of her existence! We are at a position where the only options really given to us are to become silent victims or renegade self-defenders. By beating around the bush over dress and the hour of night, our leaders only want to defer their occasion to confess how miserably they have failed.