Disclaimer: My ideas mentioned here have evolved with time, but I have kept the content as is for I find a lot of it still very relevant.
I feel like ruffling a dying bird’s feathers, but I really can’t help myself. I saw my city and virtually the nation brew in anger for almost two weeks over a kind of crime that questions our very claim to civilisation. And, yet I kept quiet. I saw my friends wear black and mourn over this, and yet I kept quiet. I witnessed posts and status updates, questioning the male psychology; I felt humbled and yet I kept quiet. I shivered in fear and concern for the women I love and yet I kept quiet. They say passion comes from either anger or fear. I felt both, and yet…
And now that I write it’s not something that will move you to the depths of your heart or maybe won’t even touch you. And it’s not at all because I am too mild or complacent about this whole issue. Believe me I was as much affected by all of this as all of you were. I just feel that the way everyone has responded to this issue is a bit misdirected. I don’t presume myself to be the guiding light of ‘Ra’, but I think a somewhat different approach to this will be much more useful.
So, let’s get straight to the point.
First of all I refuse to accept that any Indian male is so sexually frustrated that he might go to the extent of sexually exploiting a women in public and risking a death sentence. That’s just implausible. This is not my male ego, believe me. Sex to our gender is not as important as many females might feel. Surely not worth spending your whole life in prison. Agreed that even biological studies have confirmed that males are more easily enticed for sexual contact, but if you say that a testosterone-charged, sexually-hungry male is all it takes to get women raped, you are wrong. All I am saying is that stop viewing males as caged animals thirsty for sex. An incident as heinous as sexual abuse cannot be a product of simple sexual hunger.
It implies more of a psychological attack than a physical one. By saying this I am not undermining the impact that the physical act of abuse has on the survivor. Abusers use sex as a weapon to impose trauma on the other. It’s as simple and as appalling as that. Because sex is something personal and regarded intimate in our society, it is used to attack the person in the most hurtful way possible. Forcing sex onto someone will violate the person’s basic instincts, because it is regarded as something reserved. It is intended to harm the person emotionally not just physically. And guided by the trash we import from pornographic sites from all over the world it results in death. But before I get to that let me make one point to which we all shall agree. For someone who has been abused our reference as a ‘victim’ is a second attack on the ego, and this one is as abusing as the first one was. So, if you read this the one small change to which you can contribute is start viewing them as ‘survivors’. To go through a trauma such as that and yet have the courage to stand up and face life, needs a strength and integrity that demands respect, not sympathy. I witnessed sexual assault on a fellow classmate when I was twelve years of age. It is uglier than one can imagine, but the aftermath of the incident i.e. the pity or the marginalisation, is even uglier. My friend… He did not manage to survive. So if one purpose I want this piece of my writing to fulfil is to get the so called ‘victims’ be identified as ‘survivors’.
Now let’s get back to where we were. Rape or to go by the more appropriate term Sexual abuse, has more of a social and psychological reason. It’s the inherent belief ingrained probably in our genes that sex is luxury and the female is an object to be acquired. Ignore the bluntness but every single fairy tale or story from folklore portrays the male as more powerful than the female and the female is almost always portrayed as a beauty. How many stories can you name where the female is the protagonist who saves her handsome, clean-shaved male from demons? Even if there is any it won’t show the female in a state of power more than the male. It’s the basic notion of feminity and of manhood taught to us since the time of Adam. With that being taught to everyone, is the yawning gap between male and female psychology, really a surprise? And this is where the idea of sex muddles everything even more. The idea of male being a rung above the female pervades into this realm as well. The result being that every ordinary male believes in sexual supremacy over a female. And this idea has been so firmly ingrained that we acknowledge it without even thinking about it. Every girl dreams her prince, doesn’t she? And every boy dreams about saving his princess from whatever. I don’t say this is absolutely wrong. But I say that this sends the wrong message. So, you might try and think about the fairy tales you are going to tell to your kids. A utopia of equality between male and female cannot be established with these ideas being preached. I say ‘utopia’ because a reality of equality is too difficult to achieve. Not that we should stop trying, but in a society where more than one kind of element exists, there always has to be an upper and a lower level. What can be done is that this gap can be reduced.
Equality in sexual believes, however, can be achieved. Today we view sex as something that the female has to offer and the male has to demand. The belief that men or women are doing a favour by involving in sex, needs to be removed. So long as we continue to shy away from this topic, it will continue to haunt us. Sex education is something more than sexually transmitted diseases and protection from unwanted pregnancies. It needs to preach that a relationship is a partnership not a customer service.
The more we become aware about sex, in the general way, i.e. the less rare it becomes in our commonplace lives; the lesser it will remain a weapon of assault against anyone. Of course this doesn’t mean that one should start having sex left, right and centre; but at least it should not be marked as ‘the forbidden topic’ in our lives. For instance think of the number of times you actually say the word sex in one day, or in one week. Why make sex such a big deal? After all, it’s a biological activity; as ordinary as going to the washroom.
If a girl gets surrounded by a bunch of abusers, unfortunately there isn’t actually much she can do about it physically. The responsibility to stop abuse lies on the rest of the society more than, say the parents of the abusers. It wasn’t like, they were brought up to be abusers. Every person is a product of the society. When I see thousands of women and men protesting on the Rajpath, I wonder what exactly are they protesting against. Death penalty for those fiends is too ordinary. It will relieve them of the humiliation too soon. Sure they don’t deserve to live any more. But they deserve humiliation, much more than what they rendered on the unfortunate victim; because she did not survive. But that is not the solution. I saw a woman carrying a placard which said “Society teaches ‘don’t get raped’, not ‘don’t rape’.” I completely agree with her. But is protesting outside the Rashtrapati Bhawan the way to awaken the masses? We don’t need to awaken anyone except ourselves.
We blame the police forces, but I pity them. About fifty percent of our population is female. Even if we assume sixty percent of them to be in potential risk zones, we are looking at approximately forty million females. Two policemen with each female means eighty million policeman. That is eight times the entire strength of the armed forces. Impossible.
It is us who are to be blamed for every single case of sexual assault, because we have allowed sex to become a weapon to be used against someone. Rape fundamentally is a form of retaliation against the female, as if to say, ‘look, that’s what I can do to you.’ We need to make that claim ineffective. Men need to stop thinking that they are sexually superior and women need to grow even stronger. Strong enough to say, ‘if that’s all you can do, I pity you.’ It needs to be realised that sex is not a ‘give-take’ thing; it’s a ‘share’ thing. What these fiends did was murder; crude and simple. Sexual assault is designed to murder the person’s esteem. The only way to stop this is to stop letting sex become something that destroys you as a person. It’s a crude solution but it’s the only one there is. You can go on shouting ‘don’t rape’ – ‘don’t rape’ all your life; and no one would pay heed. (My mom has been telling me for twelve years to take studies seriously, I never did.) Our outlook towards sex needs to change. As individuals we need to bridge the gap between male and female psychology towards sex. And also the gap between the social status of women and men.
I don’t know how many of you have noticed but in all books published by the NCERT, for the past few years, wherever possible examples have been given in the female gender. It’s these small steps which can lead us to the utopia we all desire.
Hoping that if you cared to read this far, you might leave your comments. Do criticize if you don’t agree. Looking forward to a better future…
P.S. I used the word ‘sex’ thirty three times in this document. Hope you understand what I am trying to say…