“A protected generation of women like my grand mother’s did NOT seek equal rights.”

So you thought nobody could argue with the need for the streets to be safe for women (or anybody) at any hour? If the streets are unsafe for women at 3 am (whatever they are wearing or not wearing) – who does it benefit? (except criminals)

A blogger was harangued by offended comments (trolls?) when she blogged about the Delhi bus gang rape in, ‘Men will be men! But when did they turn into animals?’

She responded to a comment with,

“People like these guys have no right to tell us women what we do/don’t do right! Even if a women walks naked on the street, NO man has to right to force himself on her. We live in a civilized society, not in a jungle, where you pounce on anything that looks like a prey.”

What would you say to someone responding with this?

“BTW are you saying walking nude in the 3 AM is civilized act?”

Not too different from Andhra Cong Chief, Botsa Satyanarayana saying, “Just because India got freedom at midnight, is it necessary for women to move on the streets at midnight?”

Freedom at midnight is reserved for some?

“His wife is an MP. Does she not go around Delhi city at midnight?” asked Vangapandu Usha. Link)

And BTW who makes streets unsafe for women?

Another comment complained:

“A protected generation of women like my grand mother’s did NOT seek equal rights. They knew they did NOT go to war, they did NOT put out fires, they knew they were protected but agreed to their place in society…”

It seems ‘the protected generation of women’ wants to be able to step out of their homes without fearing for their safety too.

Jan 1st 2013, Protesting for safer country for women, Gurgaon

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And it’s not just the college students (who go to discos after the protesting) who are lighting candles.

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And it’s not just the dented-painted women.

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Because we either continue to let the streets be unsafe for every Indian woman by locking ourselves inside our homes, or do every bit to ensure some women aren’t forced to see being safely locked up inside their homes as the better option – believing that ‘known devil (at home) is better than an unknown devil (on the streets)’DSC_9174

I lit two candles.

DSC_9148Related Posts:

It was not just the driver who raped her. - Amit, Mashed Musings

Has this Rape issue been stretched too far ? - Hitchwriter

It could have been you or me - Shail

What do dented-painted women and disco-going protesters understand about a rape victim’s loss of honor?

Women, and not their modesties, are feeling outraged. So is everybody else.

Biology vs. Culture DEATHMATCH!  - Nandini

 

39 thoughts on ““A protected generation of women like my grand mother’s did NOT seek equal rights.”

  1. In many ways its quite shameful for our society that only after an outrage such as this and after such a horrendous act that finally people in our country atleast are discussing this issue..

    I guess in many ways thinking is slowly being forced to change… Pity the thick skinned society needs a wake up call where someone pays by life… :(

    • Sometimes people tell me this issue has been stretched a bit too far… and I always feel… its the need of the hour… finally this problem of rape in our society is starting to churn a few stomach’s… running away from it was never going to solve a problem… I sometimes envisage… next time when anyone tries to touch a girl the crowd gets along and beats the crap out of the guy..

        • If you remember you once shared a story of a woman who went to another village everyday for an affair outside her marriage and once got stuck in rain and had to come via a bridge…. was raped and murdered… some questions and then a psychological analysis of answers… I have asked the reaction from a lot of people and strangely… guess about time… last few days whenever I ask it I get the answer that the goons were the villains (at fault) or the society that knew the goons were there and still let them exist… amazingly earlier I used to get a lot more answers like Circumstances at fault some worse like she deserved it types… I guess it is certainly not stretched far… infact for a thick skinned country like us a day or two of protests doesnt affect us at all… the more this is not let to die the more hopeful we can be it will change the way people think.

        • Yes Hitchy I remember!! Here’s the story –
          Let me ask you a question.
          “There is a married woman and her husband works long nights and doesn’t return until the early morning. When her husband is away, the wife gets dressed up and goes to an island where she has affairs with random men. When these men get too close to her, like if they want to take their affair to the next level, she purposely gets in fights with them. Then she takes the ferry back home before her husband arrives. She’s also really drunk.
          ….

  2. I agree to every thing here, IHM, except the fact that our grandmothers are speaking up. In my opinion, these are mostly people pulled out by the fact that they have daughters, identify with this girl and her mother and are horrified by the brutality. If there weren’t enough people out there doing this, I doubt we’d have seen too many of the earlier generations out lighting/protesting. I am not blaming them, just saying that the conditioning goes deep and it is acceptable to be pulled by their maternal instinct but not enough to ask for their space for themselves.

    And even these people are a small token for the large populations who are still abused, still enslaved in their homes. Partly by the men who rule their lives and partly by their own inability to break out of it – the dependence, the fear and mostly the conditioning, fear of their own peers’ contempt.

    Have only commented on the point I disagree with, every other point is spot on. Glad you lit two. I know TJ would have been out there, at the forefront of this protest.

  3. “A protected generation of women like my grand mother’s did NOT seek equal rights”

    And then they realized, they were wrong. So generation after generation, they started teaching their daughters to fight for their rights. The only problem was that they forgot to teach their sons.

    • Sushma,

      There has been no generation in living history that has not tried to change the status quo and make it somewhat fairer.

      That comment is nothing but post hoc romanticization of a time the commentator obviously knows very little about. Any student of history will tell you that the nonsense about a ‘protected generation’ is an insult to the memory of hundreds of thousands of women who marched and rallied and protested against British atrocities with as much vehemence as any man, the women who never shirked from lathi charges and arbitrary arrests that broke the will of many a brave soul, women like Preet Lata Waddedar, who swallowed a cyanide pill rather than be captured by the British, and Matangini Hazara, the 73 year old woman who led a procession of over 6000 people right to the British police station and who did not stop despite being shot in the chest at point blank range.

      The freedom struggle is merely an example, but it is an important one.

      If many women did not fight fires and wars, it was because chauvinistic thinking such as the one demonstrated in the comment above resulted in a lack of opportunity. There was certainly no lack of will.

      As Gandhi himself said:
      “To call woman the weaker sex is libel; it is man’s injustice to women. ”

      Our grandmothers were braver and stronger than we might think.

      • Thanks IHM!

        @Praveen –
        “If many women did not fight fires and wars, it was because chauvinistic thinking such as the one demonstrated in the comment above resulted in a lack of opportunity. There was certainly no lack of will.”

        I agree.

  4. The best way to respond to such a comment is to ask, what exactly constitutes a civilized act.

    If a woman naked or otherwise, walks down the road minding her own business is considered uncivilized, then please will anyone find me an adjective to describe the behavior of those vile beings.

    The problem here lies in the nature of the average Indian man and some women too, who want to control the lives of women in general, because it makes their lives easy. The average male is spoiled and his sense of entitlement is unmatched by any other class of people on the planet.

    Now coming to the “grandmother..” comment. it is simply stupid to compare the lifestyles of people who are separated by a generation. Even if grandmothers and mothers were very happy just being domestic, there is no need to force it on today’s woman who wants a little more for herself.

    • Also, I’ve seen some homeless women (and men) walking/sitting stark on the streets. Some of them could have been abandoned by their families… heard a couple of cases where mentally ill patients were let go like that. Or a mentally ill person could have ventured out of an institution on their own and were lost. Does that mean people are free to rape them because they had no clothes on? Will they also be seen as ‘asking for it?’ Argh!

  5. “A protected generation of women like my grandmother’s did NOT seek equal rights”

    Rubbish.

    India’s feminist movement is much older than any living individual’s grandmother and even before there was such a thing as a feminist movement, there were early calls, initiated by a newly-generated class of liberal Indians educated in the West, for the abolition of various discriminatory practices carried out in the name of tradition.

    Women’s organizations played substantial roles during the freedom movement,
    and while Gandhi himself was no feminist (he subscribed to what would today be considered a traditional view of gender roles), he was progressive for his time and encouraged women to participate in public spaces even as he campaigned against practices like Sati and child marriage. Nehru was famously vitriolic about Hindu strictures against gender inequality and incorporated women’s rights in his secularist ideology.
    In that backdrop, women’s groups such as the All India Women’s Conference took up women’s issues at a national level, demanding reform in education and greater employment opportunities, even as they railed against British rule and batted for independence alongside more male-dominated parties, such as the Congress. Active in practically every major political event after the 1900s or so, women played a key role during the Swadeshi movement, and braved police brutality alongside men.

    The Indian constitution itself was deeply influenced by the ideal of gender equality and made specific provisions seeking to protect women from discrimination, which was certainly novel for a document of its time. Although there were voices of dissent seeking to emphasize nation building over women’s rights, women (and men) from our grandmothers’ generations stuck with their agendas, arguing correctly that true freedom could be achieved only when both men and women were free not just from the British Raj but also from oppressive social practices., and that women’s upliftment was as important a goal in itself when it came to building an equal and free nation.

    If our grandmothers’ generation had been so content to stay chained to the kitchen sink, we wouldn’t have had the constitutional protections that at least provide a basis for gender equality in governmental policy, nor would we have likely had female suffrage, a right to divorce, laws against spousal abuse, mandated affirmative action or policy directives to ensure upliftment of women.

    Apologies for the History lesson, but I guess it was required here.

    • This. I was even taught this in school – the CBSE 11th grade English textbook had a whole chapter dedicated to the contribution of women in the Indian nationalist movement .
      It was an interesting piece which specifically highlighted that India never required a SEPARATE suffragette movement simply because Indian women were already part of the political movement from its inception.

      To a 16 year old, it was quite inspiring at the time to read that unlike the UK or the USA, Indian women of that time never had to demand voting rights from men, rather, there was never any question of NOT having them.
      In other words, our grandmother’s generation never demanded BUT expected equal rights, and got them as well!

      Of course the equal rights existed more on paper, than in practice (and maybe still do), but it’s still worth remembering this inspiring bit of history- Indian women (unlike women in the so-called progressive west) ALWAYS had their EQUAL rights and franchise enshrined in the constitution of their country from the very beginning.

    • History lessons are fun. But this one stayed as one for the books. Every day life was very, very different. For every one who benefited by educational reform, there were several who lived within 4 walls for most of their lives….location changed from father’s home to husband’s.

      Not arguing that we had enlightened people in those times but that their everyday was not influenced as much by the laws/constitution/individuals. The fact that we outlawed child marriage in 1929 should not translate into 40% of the world’s child marriages still happening in India.

      My point is the everyday Indian who rarely has to enforce laws or go to court is the larger part of our grandmothers’ generations. Sure we had 15 women out of 217 in the constituent assembly. So? Enough? Constitutes a generation that fought for its rights? I know not. Ambedkar did more for women than the women themselves could have!

      If previous generations were indeed chockful of firebrands, we’d not have to still exhort women to liberate themselves today, telling them that they are worth it!

      • Sangitha,

        Previous generations were not chock full of firebrands, but no generation ever is. Ours isn’t either, and no generation ever will be, because for most people, it is much easier to simply adapt to the status quo rather than fight it. The vast majority of any society at any point of time will, almost by definition, never be at the bleeding edge of social revolution.

        The point wasn’t that previous generations were so much greater than ours; the point was, the demand for freedom and equality isn’t some newfangled concept created by people born yesterday.

        If you’re expecting ANY generation to fight for its rights much harder than women did back then, or do right now, you are in for disappointment. That is just not how the world works, and we might as well be realistic about it. Most people are going to be much more worried about their next dinner party, or the headache they’re having, or the kid they are sending off to college than about social revolutions that you and I believe in. Positive, healthy change takes time and a whole lot of luck. Those of us who do desire change must accept that fact.

        Historically, the socioeconomic barriers to equality in India have been truly immense. Remember, we’re talking about a country whose literacy rate was about 12% in 1947, with female literacy less than half of that. The most serious economic issue before India back then wasn’t a low growth rate and high inflation; it was preventing the famines which were prone to culling entire populations and villages. For this society, fielding 15 women out of 217 in the Constituent Assembly in 1949, was a tremendous achievement.

        It’s easy to underestimate the work done by earlier feminists and intellectuals in today’s climate, but if we’re further along in 2012 than we were in 1920, it is most certainly in part due to their untiring efforts.

        It could have been better, but it could have been much, much worse too. Sure, many common women never reaped the fruits of the equality that existed on paper, but to conclude from there that their generation never desired equality is fallacious and nonsensical. Just because they did not succeed to the degree we’d want doesn’t mean they did not try just as hard as we do. The tide was against them, but they struggled valiantly, and that contribution must be acknowledged, not dismissed as a flash in the pan, or as some kind of fringe phenomenon.

    • Well said, Praveen. My grandmother keeps telling me she would have loved to have the freedom I have nowadays. Just because people wouldn’t listen to their wishes and dreams doesn’t mean they didn’t have them!

  6. Thank you IHM for posting the link here. The very reason I didn’t moderate those comments (or trolls?) was because I wanted people to see how regressive some men are, and they are around us. We need to watch out and speak out. Thanks again :)

  7. I literally feel my blood boil every time I hear the “women should know their place” argument. What place? And who are you to decide? Do we tell men where their” place” is? It’s beyond non-sensical, really.

    As for the walking nude at midnight – I admit, I’ve said that before. As Desi Woman says, if a woman walking alone at midnight wearing (or not wearing) what she wants is uncivilized, then I really have no idea what the rapist/street harraser/ their defender’s behaviour ought to be called. She has just as much right as the next person (man or woman) to walk down any street with her head held high, and without the constant fear of being harassed/teased/raped/killed. But, this is a very difficult concept for some to understand. Like someone once said, when you’ve always had a certain right, you cannot imagine what it is like for others to not have it or be able to exercise it. ANd then of course, you do not support their fight to be recognized.

  8. For some reason, I am unable to sleep well. Each morning when I wake up, this incident is the first thing I think of. I have never seen blood or crime. I run away from any sign of trouble. I do not know the victim. There is absolutely no reason why i should even feel anything about this incident that happened so far from where I live. I have nothing that would even make me think of Delhi. Nothing – not even calamities such as train mishaps, earthquake or tsunami damage, has ever occupied my mind like this. I feel like crying. I feel very angry. I discuss this daily in office and at home and constantly think of what I can do to prevent such crimes. I do not know why. But I feel sad. I keep watching the TV news for updates. I visit all blogs on this. I look for news on this. Why? I am deeply troubled. I feel bad that I could not save her even though this incident is just virtual for me (through news, internet. etc). I am unable to focus on work. I grit and gnash my teeth whenever I read any new updates on this.

      • I think that is because it was the most brutal form of crime, the most brutal form of punishment for being a woman, and for being herself. The issues we talk about on this blog and some others, the issues that almost all women face everyday, in the form of a very valid concern from your mom, telling you to be careful at night, or the not-valid concern from strangers on your plans to make a baby, to the very “innocent” jokes on marriage during lunch by your colleagues, to the exhibition of patriarchy in the most subtle and not-so-subtle forms, to the innumerable rapes that go un-reported everyday, to the stigma things like rape, divorce, live-in relationships have even today. I think this incident was a culmination of the day to day troubles women have to face, it was an incident to shake many people out of what they took for granted. Maybe that is why this particular incident affected so many at this level?

    • I think it is because Our Girl was one of us.

      Just a woman trying to live her life: Watch a movie, build a career, fall in love, use public transport.

      But Indian society and the monsters it breeds don’t like women doing their own thing.

      The message was loud and clear: Claim you freedom and get raped and killed OR stay within that Lakshman Rekha.

      • I agree.

        I also think her bravery moved people. I think every woman on some level mentally prepares herself what she’d do if she ever faces this kind of situation. There is always this fear of being overpowered. This girl endured our worst nightmare, and yet she fought till the end! I think, that is making people want to be brave too!

  9. I had been discussing this with someone and got this – ‘Ladkiyon ko raat me bahaar ka kya kaam ho sakta hai?’. That post that Hitchy refers to sprang to my mind too. It is sad that there are still some people in our society that subscribes to views like these, but it was heartening to see the out pouring of protests – from all sections of society. I am sure that my grandmother would have been equally outraged if she has been here. And a day would dawn when these voices would be drowned out by those which demanded and got true equality for all in society.

  10. //“A protected generation of women like my grand mother’s did NOT seek equal rights”//
    So? Is the person who asked the question a replica of his grandfather, doing the same things, staying in the same place, the same way?! Ans yet he wants women to be like their grandmothers, and not ask for their rights.
    And what stopped or stops monsters from barging into a home, beating up the men and raping the women? Protected generation indeed! When such things happened, people simply shut their mouths and kept quiet out of fear and shame. Or else they committed suicide. Monsters will be monsters. When they don’t find prey on the streets they will move to homes. The answer is not to breed monsters, not to lock ourselves up and appoint guards. And what when the guards themselves are monsters? Who will protect women from THEM?!

  11. How does time or dress matter? If one gender can walk around at any time wearing any dress… It is only right that the same be extended to the other gender also. This painful incident has also brought to light the pathetic views of many on women rights and sexual assaults. We need a psychological and social change to assure equal rights for women.

  12. Here’s what I suspect:

    The men who shift the blame on to women in various ways — by alluding to their dress, their behavior or their lifestyle, know very well that sexual violence has NOTHING to do with what she wore, who she was with and at what time.

    The rape victims in Khairlanji weren’t wearing a backless Dior number, neither was T Manorama when armymen raped and killed her in Manipur.

    Rape has EVERYTHING to do with male privilege and entitlement. These “gentlemen” are only enabling men to rape and molest with impunity, because that’s the only way women’s progress can be curbed and eventually reversed.

    These men, irrespective of party, caste, class affiliations, are determined to protect the male right to rape and molest, any time he wants to.

    Violence against women will prevent millions of women from pursuing their dreams.

    1)The young girl who applied to an out-of-state college will choose a college nearer home.
    2) The ambitious professional with that lucrative assignment will pass it up because she’s too scared to work late like her male colleagues.
    3) The home-maker who loves make-up and Western wear will switch to full-sleeved kurtis because “why provoke them”?
    4) The college student who loves hiking in the Himalayas will pause and wonder “is it worth the risk”?

    That’s what its all about. Reversing the gradual progress and freedom women have won in the last few decades. These men hate that.

  13. to the grandmother comment.
    I disagree, my grandmother lived with my grandfather in a camp near the grand anicut and she was absolutely safe or so she told me. she went and came all hours, and not even by so called safe transport. she always spoke up, travelled as she pleased nad even fought against the british. many of hr friends did too.
    she always claimes she was respected as a human being and on par with the men who fought too. yes she cooked and cleaned and had kids, but my grandfather, worked, setup, taught and disciplined kids too.
    She was more open mnded than my parents/uncles or anyone in the next gen. who truly enfored the patriarchy mindset and of course my mom firmly beleived when i was growing up that it was not RIGHt for girls to be outside after 6pm !!!!! i don’t know if they have changed now. but i thnk whole mindsets need to change both for men and women and both need to pay close attention to how we raise our kids .

  14. Their minds are crippled forever. I suppose people who wrote such comments didn’t use their actual names or Facebook profiles do so. Maybe because they are not ‘man’ enough. Hiding behind and anonymous tag and trolling is what these kind of people are best at. They don’t have the guts to do anything else.

    I don’t have anything else to say.

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