“Why do many young Indian men say they are interested in dating, but leave the decision of anything on the longer term to their parents?

Sharing an email. 

Dear IHM,

I’ve been a regular albeit silent reader of your blog for quite a long time now. I would appreciate it if I could have your views and those of your readers on the following :
Why do many young Indian men say they are interested in dating, but leave the decision of anything on the longer term to their parents? Is “my parents wouldn’t approve” a sort of excuse to pre-empt any kind of long-term relationship?
In this case, if a girl still chooses to date such a man and maybe get into a short-term relationship, does sex remove all chances of a possible future?
How important are age and age difference in a long-term relationship (with the possibility of marriage)? I find that men are willing to date older women, and cite the age difference as an attraction, but they also mention the age gap as being one reason their families would disapprove.
Also, if a couple is compatible (and have worked out their differences, say financial or religious beliefs), then why would any reasonable parent disapprove of the relationship?
I personally don’t believe in an arranged marriage, and my parents are understanding, and I am sure they won’t have any problems so long as they get to meet the man I’m interested in. I have heard of people having to give up someone they are in love with, under family pressure. I do not know if I’m missing something of the larger picture, but how does choosing a partner from the same caste/community assure compatibility and happiness?
I can understand that in case both partners choose to go the arranged marriage route, choosing someone with a similar background would help in finding some common ground, and I also assume both partners get enough time to interact and are not pressurized to say ‘yes’. I find that if I go on a date with someone, the only thing I know at the end of a few hours is whether I want to see that person again. So I can’t understand how one can consent to marry someone after having hardly interacted with them.
I would like to know the views of you and your readers, especially young men.
- A confused young woman trying to understand the complex Indian young man.

Does vengeance equal feminism?

Guest Post by wordssetmefreee

Warning – spoilers on ‘Gone Girl’ – book/movie review

Has anyone read the book, “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn?  A NY Times bestseller that was made into a movie starring Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck, the book/movie is disturbing on many fronts.

It is meant to be dark humor when intelligent, manipulative, psychopathic Amy gets revenge on her mediocre, selfish, entitled husband Nick, through an intricately planned out and meticulously executed series of chilling crimes.

On the surface, it seems like we’re finally seeing a complex woman character, a rarity in bestsellers and Hollywood.  Amy isn’t sweet, warm and compassionate.  She IS the bad guy.  And there are reasons given for the warping of her mind as well – the emotional manipulation of her parents.

However, as you progress through the novel, Amy goes on to concoct a false murder charge against her husband (using compellingly manufactured evidence), and when that begins to fail, uses her innocent ex boyfriend in her schemes, then murders him, then accuses him of rape and abuse, returns to her husband but continues to manipulate him with threats of turning the media and law enforcement against him.

I found the plot severely undermining the very real abuse that countless women face and it almost seems to match the thinking of men’s rights activists who constantly talk about “false rape charges” and “false abuse charges” as their reason for opposition to rape and abuse laws. In reality, the law enforcement in many countries shames and silences rape victims rather than taking their reports seriously; yet, what we have here is a twilight zone of a woman victimizing several men who slighted her as well as ensnaring the entire media and law enforcement.

Gillian Flynn considers herself a feminist and claims that her book is also feminist because of its “non-conformity to the traditional perception of women as innately good characters“. Somehow, her argument doesn’t quite fly.  So, Amy is not good and sweet and boring.  However, Amy’s character feels like a comic book evil temptress, complete with the perfect sexy body and dark, destructive mind.  She’s completely stereotypical in that she brings to life the worst nightmares of misogynists.

The book is bursting at the seams with other male/female stereotypes.  Nick is clumsy, reticent, somewhat clueless, a little selfish, a “little” unfaithful, but essentially good-hearted.  Amy is classy, privileged, articulate, intelligent, and if a woman is privileged/intelligent, then of course it follows that she must also be manipulative and evil.  Nick’s mediocrity makes him “innocent” and his selfishness is “mostly unconscious” and his unfaithfulness is overshadowed (and forgiven?) by Amy’s incredible capacity for vengeance.  The “evil media” takes advantage of his male inability to pretend grief, when what he’s actually feeling is relief. (makes you want to give him a hug, doesn’t it?) Amy’s intelligence however is used for a destructive purpose. Maybe another argument for men’s preference for “simple women”?   When asked to describe his wife, Nick actually says in frustration, “She’s complicated!”  (Sorry, Nick, a woman is a human and humans are complicated, what you should’ve got yourself is a toy if you wanted something simpler.)

Other charming women characters in the book include Amy’s emotionally manipulative mother who has used her daughter for her personal fame and riches, a media siren who is bent upon making Nick’s life hell, a 20 something voluptuous student who throws herself at Nick (home wrecker?) and crime groupies who want to use Nick and take selfies of themselves with him. The only real woman in the book is Nick’s rough-around-the-edges twin sister, Margo, who also co-owns the bar with her brother. She tries to help her immature brother despite her frustration with his mistakes. She tries to remain fair to Amy even though she dislikes her. But even Margo lets us down when she says “complicated (woman) means b***h”.

Here’s a quote from the book, which has been used to illustrate the underlying feminist tone of the book –

“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and jams hot dogs into her mouth …. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined manner and let their men do whatever they want. …. Men actually think this girl exists. ….. And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. …… Maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics.”

In the above sense, the book does hint at the irony of it all – the real progress that women have made in the social and emotional realm of relationships is still minuscule.  We are leading nations, heading successful companies, but who are we at home, really?  A Nooyi who is ordered to go pick up the milk?  A Sandberg who suffers mommy guilt?

Here, I began to have hope.  I thought the author was portraying how women are forced into certain roles by society and in the process, let their whole lives revolve around selfish, uncaring men who want to see a sugar coated, simplified, corseted version of them.  And I hoped that Amy would eventually refuse to be straight jacketed, that she would emerge free from the selfish expectations of society.

However what does Amy DO ABOUT THIS?  What does she do to fight this cool girl burden and set herself free?  She becomes one!!!  How un-empowering is that!  She becomes this cool girl that Nick wants her to be. And Nick predictably falls head over heels for her.  But she’s mad at him for making her do this, so she takes revenge.  There is absolutely NOTHING feminist about this.

Another argument that Flynn put forth for feminism is that women are sick of being used and brushed aside, and when Amy finally begins to take back control in the relationship, when she starts calling the shots, it’s a win for the women’s cause. On some level, is Amy’s viciousness deeply satisfying to all of us women, who are familiar with some form of oppression or the other?  I thought about this but could not find a shred of fulfillment in the self-destructive nature of vengeance.  The argument that getting even feels good is faced with one problem – relationships are not held together with a gun to someone’s head. Freeing oneself from abuse doesn’t mean abusing the abuser.  You are no longer free when you inflict pain on someone, because you are taking on a burden. Taking back control of her own life is what Amy should’ve done, not taking control of Nick’s life. Ever heard of a thing called divorce, Amy? So, much more simpler that revenge.

Feminism is not about being a martyr, nor is it about taking revenge on men for the lost opportunities, but to demand equality in all spheres of life.  And this is what makes the book extremely disturbing – because it taps into the age-old fears of men – that women are irrational, nasty, manipulative creatures, sexually controlling and bordering on insanity, who if given the power (equality misconstrued as power), can easily destroy men to bits.  This mindset of fear is at the root of misogyny and the book does a great job of amplifying it.

Gone Girl is oddly reminiscent of the film noir movies of the 1940s, which possibly reflected men’s fears about women’s newly emerging post-war independence.  A series of films had at the center of the plot, a troubled, brooding male (Robert Mitchum, Fred MacMurray, or Humphrey Bogart) who succumbed to the evil charms of an intelligent, seductive woman.  The outcome of this interaction would be destructive for both of them. The men invariably were lead astray on to a twisted path of deception, murder, and mayhem under the influence of these femme fatales.

With this book/movie (Gone Girl), the virgin-whore dichotomy is still firmly in place.  Men continue to feel torn about choosing between the “simple, good, non-threatening, but boring woman” and the “interesting, sexy, intelligent but ultimately destructive woman”.  Neither kind of woman exists in reality.  The only place they exist is in the fear-ridden minds of misogynists, and the books and movies that flow from them.

If you read the book or watched the movie, please share your thoughts on it. If you didn’t, please share your thoughts on the concept of vengeance, getting even, and feminism, or on the distorted/appropriate portrayal of strong women characters in books and movies.

Ragging Culture

Guest Post by wordssetmefreee

In the following case, do the people who ragged the student understand that what they did is inherently wrong (let alone understanding that it’s a crime)?

http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/Student-Attempts-Suicide-Family-Cries-Ragging/2015/02/04/article2651563.ece

And yet another case where the parents think their son was ragged and tormented and consider his death suspicious (not an accident):

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/nujs-student-falls-to-death-parents-allege-foul-play/

In the above case, I wonder if the student shared with his parents that he was being tormented? If so, did they listen? Did they take it seriously? What specific actions were taken to curb the ragging/bullying?

Bullying is a universal problem. In the US, we deal with it in high school and the earlier part of undergraduate college. In India, we have the added problems of lack of recognition of bullying as a crime (both in homes and colleges) and improper (or lack of) law enforcement.

There is a third very important factor specific to our society – the hierarchical/power culture that pervades through many other abusive relationships (rich versus poor, elder vs younger members of family, groom’s parents vs bride’s parents in weddings and post-wedding life, upper caste vs lower caste, land owners vs farmers, upper class vs laborers, well connected vs man-on-the-street, politicians versus common man), and we can almost see this naturally extending to the campus arena – seniors versus juniors. Once again, respect is demanded for no logical reason. Respect is taken, not earned. Appeasement is seen as the only way to peace and being left alone. Fear is mistaken for respect and power drives the relationship.

I’ve known people who consider ragging as “part of life” or a “milestone in the journey to adulthood”. Some have referred to it as “character building” and a “rite of passage”; others consider it “harmless” and “fun” and for these, ragging seems to bring back nostalgic memories of their student years.

My cousin graduated from the Naval Engineering College at Lonavala about 15 years ago. The first summer he came home, he was unrecognizable. He was gaunt, bone thin, and developed a skin rash that could only be attributed to stress. During ragging he (along with others) was put through unbearable levels of physical pain and mental humiliation. He came close to quitting a few times but somehow pulled through.

But after he got married ( a few years later), when his wife asked him if the ragging at NEC was as bad as she had heard, he shrugged and replied, “It made a man out of me.”

Ragging, on the other hand, portrayed as amusing or hilarious in popular movies like 3 Idiots and Munna Bhai hasn’t helped either.

Ragging is a form of abuse, period. It can be emotional, verbal or physical. It involves repeated, possibly aggressive, humiliating, or manipulative behavior that is deliberately aimed at asserting power over another individual or group. It is harmful to the physical and emotional well being of students, something that any educational institution by its very definition, should be concerned about. In some cases, it can be violent and result in injury or death. Regardless of whether it is mild or severe, it should be treated as unacceptable.

Ragging, bullying, hazing – this destructive behavior goes by different names and takes on various forms around the world.

But it makes one wonder what goes on in these people’s minds? What are they thinking when they insult, humiliate, or harass someone? I’m on the PTA for my son’s high school and bullying is an ever-present concern at the meetings. We’ve had 2 incidents this year, one of them was milder (inappropriate language toward a gay student), but the other involved consistent, deliberate, and elaborately planned out harassment by a group of people toward one student (consistent because the victim remained silent for a longer period before complaining).

In general, education, awareness, strict law enforcement, and counseling definitely minimize/reduce the problem to some extent. There is no doubt in any student’s mind (at my son’s school) that bullying is wrong/unacceptable/illegal.

However there is another side to bullying, one that educational institutions have little control over – the student’s home environment. Despite the education and awareness that is routinely dispensed at the school in the form of talks, fliers, help lines, seminars, text alert systems, counseling, and assertiveness training, bullying still happens. Why? That’s because we don’t have complete control over the environment that creates bullies. How much of bullying happens because some children/youth grow up never learning that it is a serious crime? How many of them have heard it being referred to as something that is “part of life” or a “rite of passage”? Or things like “boys are by nature aggressive” or “boys don’t cry” or “conquer or be conquered”? How many of these children grow up being bullied by the adults who raise them?

We can only look at the behaviors of bullies and find some common underlying issues. Numerous studies indicate that most bullies tend to exhibit the following traits:

  • lacking a sense of control over their own lives
  • anger that is not dealt with constructively and often misdirected
  • low self-esteem
  • may have witnessed violence or aggression at home
  • may have seen power being used unfairly at home
  • may have been bullied by others
  • lacking in empathy
  • lacking in remorse
  • may have experienced harsh, physical punishments at home
  • possibly exposed to only win-lose situations and have seldom seen win-win relationships
  • insufficient or inappropriate socialization during childhood

And then, there are the passive bullies, the ones who don’t initiate the bullying but quickly join in when someone else gets it going. They seem to exhibit the following traits:

  • herd mentality and lack of strong opinions
  • hungry/deprived for attention
  • low self esteem
  • looking for someone ‘superior’ to latch on to
  • tendency to exhibit hero worship and unquestioning loyalty
  • lack of identity and the need to belong

There is a third group that is worth looking at – people who witness bullying. By silently watching a crime, they are knowingly or unknowingly encouraging it. A study titled “Bullies, Victims, and Bystanders” published on athealth.com concludes that “bystanders create the illusion that the bully has the support of the majority and this perception perpetuates a culture of bullying”. These people tend to –

  • not want to get involved and generally don’t take a stand on anything
  • may not connect the dots (if it’s him today, it could be me tomorrow)
  • may not see bullying as a crime and believe it is amusing
  • may be less empathetic
  • may not have been taught self-respect and individual rights in their home environment

What can colleges do to deal with ragging/bullying besides developing a strict code of law and enforcing it?

  • The first thing that comes to mind in terms of solutions is to have a zero tolerance policy or ‘3 strikes and you’re out’ against bullying behavior. But this does not necessarily solve the problem entirely. Bullies have a way of seeking out victims off campus or on social media, via smart phones or in cyber space.
  • It is therefore important for an educational institution to work on the bullying person (or persons) as an individual. Counseling may be needed for the person engaging in this behavior to see his actions as not only criminal but as genuinely wrong and hurtful to others. Counseling may also explore the underlying issues of the individual and find positive ways for him to relate to others and develop acceptable coping mechanisms for issues that cannot be easily resolved.
  • I don’t know if we have counselors at colleges and universities, or if they are trained to guide and support students in addressing their emotional health and development, but if we don’t, we should definitely work toward that goal.

A University of Albany study that examined the relationship between parental aggression toward children and the children’s behavior states that “Parents who may displace their anger, insecurity, or a persistent need to dominate and control upon their children in excessive ways have been proven to increase the likelihood that their own children will in turn become overly aggressive or controlling towards their peers.”

While we need laws against ragging/bullying and we need proper ways to enforce them, preventing bullying behavior primarily begins at home. We need to ask ourselves what we are teaching youngsters in our own homes.

On the communication front –

  • Are we using positive communication to resolve differences with our children and with each other (spouses)?
  • Is the communication style used by parents straightforward and assertive or is it manipulative/sarcastic? Words can often be used in punitive, damaging ways in the form of labeling, veiled threats, and ‘ harmless jokes’ that perpetuate stereotypes.
  • Are we listening to our children when they are angry with someone? Are we showing them ways to resolve their conflicts in acceptable, legal ways?
  • Are we able to handle our own anger at our own problems in a mature and responsible manner?
  • In conflict situations, are we addressing the problem or resorting to personal attacks?

On developing trust and self esteem –

  • Do we trust our children when they complain about abuse? Have we taught them how to stand up to any form of abuse – verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual? Do we take their reports of ragging seriously?
  • Are we helping build their self-esteem by recognizing their strengths and supporting them with their challenges?
  • Are we instilling confidence in them so that they don’t feel the need for approval and/or belonging from the wrong sources?
  • Are we allowing them to develop their own identity so that they don’t feel the need to put someone down to feel superior?

On power play –

  • Are our children engaging in arguments with the sole purpose of ‘winning’ or are they engaging in discussions with the intent of learning?
  • Are we creating a democratic environment at home, with room for different ideas and viewpoints? Are children able to express disagreement without fear? Are they able to express disagreement without shouting or getting abusive with parents?
  • Are we refraining from using intimidation and aggression in the form of a loud voice, physical punishments, and threats?
  • Are we using our power as adults and parents wisely and fairly?
  • Are we showing respect to our children and earning their respect rather than expecting unquestioning obedience?

On values –

  • Are we respecting people of all cultures, communities, and backgrounds both in our words and actions? Or do we make casual racist remarks or put down people based on their caste, color, gender, orientation, or economic status? Do we subtly convey our hatred or mistrust for the ‘other’? (Children pick up on their parents’ prejudices even when they’re not overtly stated.)
  • Are we teaching them what constitutes a crime? Do our children understand that taking away someone else’s right to be educated in a safe, non-threatening environment is a crime?

The above strategies are helpful not only in preventing children from growing up to become bullies, but also in preventing them from becoming victims of bullies.

Again, it would not be entirely wrong to claim that the emotional well being of children is a low priority in traditional hierarchical families and expecting our existing parenting philosophy to change drastically is wishful thinking. However, cynicism is not the answer. I think identifying and defining the problem is the first step and a prerequisite to awareness building and finding solutions.

Bullying gives people a sense of power. It’s up to us to create and promote democratic environments (both at home and educational institutions) that don’t function on the power principle, and instead operate on awareness of individual rights, mutual respect and boundaries.

Please share your experiences with ragging and ideas on how we can change the culture of ragging.

“This is reply to BBC for making video on rape cases in other countries…”

How do men (and women) in patriarchal societies respond to anything they perceive as dishonour?

With retaliation?

But why did ‘India’s Daughter’ offend some Indian men (and women)?

1. Maybe because many of us view women as men’s ‘mothers and daughters’ and hence as Men’s honors and shames.

(And not as equal citizens, which is also why some of us are less outraged with the rapists’ lawyer saying, ‘women have no place in our culture’)

So any mention of sexual attacks on Indian women is something to be hushed up, not made into documentaries?

2. Also, many of us realised this.

As repulsive as it was, it’s a good thing the Delhi rapist came out with that statement. Now all those misogynistic politicians and opinion leaders who held a similar view ought to realise they think like a rapist.[Indian Feminist League]

Harvinder Singh of Delhi made the video below in two hours. The 28-minute video’s description reads:

“This is reply (sic) to BBC for making video on rape cases in other countries when they are them self (sic) at the 5th place in world’s rape list (sic), to remind them daughter is daughter, she is not Indian or British & we have same pain for British too.”[Delhi businessman’s reply to ‘India’s Daughter’ causes online stir]

How is this video a reply to Udwin’s documentary? Did the documentary make you feel the same way? Why?

Do some of us feel better after watching this ‘reply’?

Do we believe that we have ‘proved’ that ‘their’ women are equally unsafe?

How does that deal with the fact that many of us do talk and think like rapists? Or that we continue make non serious and ignorant attempts to control crimes against women? 

Do we still prefer Silence (achieved with Shaming and Blaming the victims) to deal with rapes?

The problem for many, even now, is not rape and how fear of such assaults affects the entire society. How it continues male child preference and skewed gender ratio in India, and how it leads to girl children being denied education and opportunities (in India) and how women are herded indoors, specially after dark. How it also leads to early or child marriages.

The problem for many is not that victims are silenced, while everybody else has lots to say on how the victim could have saved herself from becoming a zindaa laash.

I didn’t see the entire video – because it seems the purpose of the video is to settle scores by showing we aren’t the only ones who don’t care for the rights and safety of almost half the population.

And I think the right ‘reply’ to Leslie Udwin’s would have been to demand reforms that ensure easier reporting of rapes, quicker sentences, fighting against lawyers trying to prove the rape victim deserved the rape, better support for survivors and media campaigns condemning victim blaming and shaming.

Below is the Delhi businessman’s reply to ‘India’s Daughter’,

 Related Posts:

Letting an outsider see or comment upon our imperfections is washing dirty linen in public?

Sexual crimes against women in India continue to be matters of Indian Men’s Honor and Dishonour.

‘In our families, we don’t take this kind of thing outside,’

Should Lawyers ML Sharma and AP Singh be disbarred for their remarks and opinions expressed in the documentary India’s Daughter?

Should Lawyers ML Sharma and AP Singh be disbarred for their remarks and opinions expressed in the documentary India’s Daughter?

Defence lawyers ML Sharma and AP Singh have been served notices by the Bar Council of India (BCI) for their comments in the controversial BBC documentary India’s Daughter. The two lawyers appear in the documentary, that was banned by the I&B Ministry, and made statements that have led to angered reactions from people.

Their statements on a woman’s conduct in the context of the December 16 gang-rape are personal opinions, derogatory in nature, and unfortunately shared by many men as well as women in India. The outrage, however, stems from the fact that they represent the men convicted for the gruesome rape. They have been given three weeks by the BCI to explain why a disciplinary action shouldn’t be initiated against them for their statements. [Lawyers ML Sharma, AP Singh Issued Notices For Remarks on Women. Should They Be Disbarred?]

Do you think the misogynistic (and possibly very ignorant) lawyers defending the Delhi bus gang rape and torture convicts should be disbarred?

If yes, then on what grounds?

Is it against the law for lawyers (or anybody else in India) to express hate for women? What about all the others who agree with these lawyers? Should they be held accountable too (in whichever ways possible)?

A victim’s character, clothing, social life etc are not legally admissible as valid reasons for sexually assaulting her. Should a lawyer be disbarred for still attempting to use these justifications? Why do they continue to try this?

If no, then why not?

Would it help if his statements were publicised and condemned (not banned) and lead to awareness campaigns about:

1. ‘Consent’ in sexual relationships.
2. About every citizen’s right to safety.
3. About our tolerance to violence.
4. Also, more discussions about why some men rape and how to identify and control such potential criminals.

Do many of us think like Rapists and their lawyers? Do listen to Javed Akhtar – 58 seconds and no more than a few sentences.

Another lawyer said:

If he were a woman, he would have filed a case against a man everyday.

Related Posts:

Rape and clothing: How it’s all dressed up – A guest post by Praveen Talwar.

Nirbhaya’s Parents Talk to NDTV About Documentary on ‘India’s Daughter’

Why does the Delhi bus rapist blame his victim in prison interview?

Nirbhaya’s Parents Talk to NDTV About Documentary on ‘India’s Daughter’

Girl has disease that draws her to men: Asaram’s lawyer

“This man is openly threatening his daughter and is instigating others to burn alive their daughters.”

Justice Verma Committee is inviting solutions and ideas in regards to sexual harassment/ assault/ molestation/ rape.

“Ninety percent rape victims go willingly, but later they meet criminal minded people…”

Family court matters taken away from Justice Bhakthavatsala

India might finally get proper laws against sexual harassment, instead of just “eve-teasing”.

Making Marital Rape a legal offence is the fastest way to make it clear that Rape means forced sex, not lost Virginity or Honor.

Who are we hoping to hang with Capital Punishment for rape?

Forcible sex with wife doesn’t amount to marital rape: Court

How does an average Indian define Rape, Child Abuse and Consensual Sex?

Why does Gender Sensitivity in Legal Language matter.

‘Madam so many rapes don’t happen in Germany coz girls don’t refuse to have sex.’

Do you see this comment as a step towards convincing the world that Indian men (and society) respect women?

A female professor of Germany refused to accept Indian student coz of rape cases in India. I want to say – Madam so many rapes don’t happen in Germany coz girls don’t refuse to have sex.[www.facebook.com/KRK.Kamaalkhan]

What do you think does he mean? Others before him have said the same thing ofcourse.

How do you think does Kamaal R Khan define rape?

Does he seem to respect a woman’s right to consent or to refuse sex?

Does he seem to view women being raped as virtuous and moral (She was too pure and sanskaari to desire being violently and sexually assaulted); and does he seem to view women having or desiring consensual sex as immoral?

Related Posts:

Here’s why I think the society should not obsess over a woman’s virginity.

‘The victim should have surrendered when surrounded by six men, at least it could have saved her intestines’. [Anita Shukla]

The girl could have called her assailants brothers and begged them to stop.[Asaram Bapu] –

“Girls should be married at 16, so that they don’t need to go elsewhere for their sexual needs. This way rapes will not occur.” – Rape being viewed as Sex outside marriage.

7 things that can make ‘Rape sometimes right’.

Where Consensual Sex is Rape, and Forced Sex a legal right.

Making Marital Rape a legal offence is the fastest way to make it clear that Rape means forced sex, not lost Virginity or Honor.

Forced intercourse in marriage not rape: Delhi court

Forcible sex with wife doesn’t amount to marital rape: Court

Girls morally bound not to have sex before marriage, says fast track court judge

“Girls should be married at 16, so that they don’t need to go elsewhere for their sexual needs. This way rapes will not occur.”

“I will not sit back and allow the image of India’s men to be tarnished by an article that does not articulate other sides to India.”

 

A Woman Who Doesn’t Have to Fit In

A Guest Post by wordssetmefreee

Khoobsoorat – Movie Review

(Warning – Spoilers, lots of them)

When my niece recommended I watch this film, I was skeptical. It sounded like a predictable Bollywood romance, replete with beautiful sets, fine costumes and jewelry, one dimensional characters with very little subtlety, and situations that are too easily resolved, usually through the use of lectures and bit of melodrama.

It turned out to be some of the above. But despite these predictable traits, the movie surprised me.

The Protagonist

What I liked about the film is of course the protagonist Mili (Sonam Kapoor). Or rather, I came to like her. Cautiously. Gradually.

Mili is silly, irritating, and clumsy. She puts up her feet on the dashboard, drinks from the wine bottle, and eats messy food with her hands. She takes selfies of herself everywhere. I thought, “And THIS is what they call ‘spontaneous/bubbly’?” I rolled my eyes.

But over the course of the film, Mili emerges as a woman who likes herself and is not excessively concerned whether others approve of her or not.

She is very good at what she does (physiotherapy) and she does it unconventionally and with lots of heart thrown in.

Mili has had 3 breakups so far (shown funnily in a little flashback) and even though she’s just had it with men for a while, she hasn’t had it with life. In fact, she’s enjoying life more than usual, with the complications of a relationship removed.

Mili dares to dream. She isn’t overly awed by Prince Vikram’s wealth or class. At first she’s attracted to him, and then she begins to like him when she sees his human side. As she finds herself becoming closer to him, her only worry is that he is engaged. Never once does she feel he is “unreachable”. It’s as if she’s always seen him as an equal, as another human being. She conveys an easy, natural sense of self-worth here.

Supporting Characters

Another pleasant surprise – there are two other strong female characters in the film – the Maharani, Vikram’s mother, played by Rathna Pathak, and Manju (played by Kirron Kher), Mili’s kick-ass, Punjabi mom. Both characters were portrayed reasonably well. Power does not make the Maharani evil and being middle class does not make Mili’s mom servile.

The Maharani, although strict and rule bound, never raises her voice or gets abusive as befitting her classy background. Her bossiness is restrained, her dismissals aloof, her rebuttals are often polite, and her language is impeccably clean. And there are layers to her. You can understand that she needs to be authoritarian in order to run such a large estate, several businesses, and keep an army of staff running smoothly. You also sense she is protective of the wheelchair-bound Maharaja. She will not let anyone cross the wall he has built around himself. She fears that it could be devastating to him. Gradually, their previous relationship is revealed. How they played polo and tennis together. How the Maharani had love and friendship and playfulness from her husband before one tragic incident brought their lives to a screeching halt. Theirs was (and is) an equal marriage, a rarity among older (or even younger?) Bollywood characters.

As a foil to the Maharani’s character is Manju, Mili’s mom – loud, bull dozer like, and calls a spade a spade. You can tell where Mili gets her guts and a bit of craziness from. Manju often advises her daughter to “go get “em” if she needs to and to “not take any crap from the guy’s family”. That really made me laugh with happiness!:)

And now, coming to the male lead – Prince Vikram played by Fawad Khan. The actor is smoky handsome and sexy (I can see why my niece was so hooked on this movie now:). When I say sexy, I don’t just mean his physical attributes. I think people who are good looking in an empty sort of way are seldom sexy. He has what attractive men and women have – an air of mystery, a certain aloofness, quiet confidence that doesn’t require loudness or aggression, a reluctance to easily reveal himself and yet he does so in vulnerable moments. And when he does reveal himself here and there unintentionally, you like what you see.

When Mili accuses him of not joining the party with the servants because he has to maintain his distance/status, he replies, “Yeah …. something like that.” He doesn’t deny that the class gap exists and he doesn’t have all the answers. And then adds, “or perhaps, they (servants) would prefer it that way (him not joining their fun).”

He is puzzled by Mili’s craziness. He is befuddled by her impulsiveness. He is wary of her inclination to say things without a filter. He is jolted by her tendency to act on whim, without the slightest though to consequences.

But when he watches his mother’s reaction to Mili’s wackiness, he is secretly amused. All of his emotions were subtly conveyed – a raised eyebrow, a shrug, a warning look, a little hesitation, a tensing of the shoulders, a bit of subtle sarcasm, or some delicate rephrasing of an otherwise crass situation.

There is great chemistry between the two characters. In both the kissing/hugging scenes, they are BOTH drawn to each other, the feeling is mutual, and Mili as the woman is a willing partner, and once she is also the initiator.

Vikram finds himself reluctantly but helplessly drawn to Mili, despite his rational understanding of the volcano he’s walking into. Mili, on the other hand, true to her character, courts fire, and gives no thought to the consequences.

Humor

There are several funny moments – some everyday situations, some contrived. When Mili asks people from the royal family to join her skype call with mom, her mother puts on a sweet smile, but once they leave, blasts Mili for doing this to her when “she’s cutting onions and sweating in the kitchen”.

When the kidnappers tell Mili they’re just getting started with their ransom “business” and she’s their first victim, Mili who is now high on something, says, “I get it. I remember being excited too – when I got my first client.”

Mili’s breakups are funny – one is with a clueless guy who has found his soul mate in another clueless girl. Another guy is just someone who couldn’t handle Mili’s feet on his dashboard anymore.

And Vikram’s use of “hum” (we) to refer to himself are greeted by irreverent Mili (and her mom) with a “Who the heck is We?? Hello?? I see only one person here!”

I chuckled when the Maharani (upon being confronted in the middle of the night by Manju) says with lovely poise, “I’m sorry but I need my 8 hours of sleep. Can we discuss these “interesting” theories of yours in the morning?”

Room for Improvement

I thought they could’ve balanced out Mili’s character a bit – she doesn’t ALWAYS have to be smiling or ALWAYS have to drop things – we get it – she’s a fun gal and a tad clumsy. But when Vikram tells her they cannot share a future because they are so different, Mili hardens and softens at the same time. She looks at him both angrily and sadly and says, “I agree.” This is where her character looks more complete, more multi-dimensional. I wish there were a few more of these contemplative moments for Mili.

The confrontation between the moms was unnecessary and Manju’s pettiness and arguing to the bitter end dragged down the last part of the movie a bit.

I also thought the Maharaja’s situation was resolved a bit too simplistically. While I appreciate Mili’s determination to do her job as a therapist and her efforts to bring fun back into his life because she believes it will help him recover, I wish she never explicitly TOLD him he is stuck at the time of the accident, and needs to start living again. I wish she had trusted his capacity for self-direction. And I wish he had taken that first step forward himself, with her support.

The Ending

Loved the ending though! It is the royal family that learns to relax and adapt to Mili’s crazy ways rather than Mili changing herself to fit into the clan’s honored traditions. This is not shown explicitly but implied through the Maharani’s humorous acceptance of Mili and the last credits song.

The movie is based on an older film of the same name starring Rekha. And it does have shades of the Sound of Music. I’m not sure if it passes the Bechdel test but overall, I confess I enjoyed this movie. Charming characters, three strong women, one dashing prince, a hauntingly beautiful palace, and lots of heart make this a warm, pleasant ride. Did you like it? Let me know what you think!

Sexual crimes against women in India continue to be matters of Indian Men’s Honor and Dishonour.

Looks like some of us are not exactly proud of our opinions. It seems we’d like the world to believe our society values women and girl children. We also want to create the impression, it seems, that women’s safety is taken seriously in India.

Creating a good impression on other people is ofcourse a part of our ‘log kyaa kahenge’ (What will people say!!) culture. That’s what Honor and Shame is all about. 

Sharing a comment that sums it up – by Gayathri Brown-Iyer. 

The logic is astounding. Rapists can rape, police can refuse to file FIRs, politicians, celebs, etc can shame women for drinking, wearing western clothes, blame them for their rape, rationalize rape, etc — but nooooo, no one dare make a documentary exposing that. Let’s not try to understand how eerily similar the thoughts of rapists and the aam janata is. That’s just too uncomfortable for us to confront as Indians. Mera Bharat Mahan!

You know what is insulting to victims is not documentaries like these. These documentaries show us what causes the victims to be victimized. What is insulting is pretending that these rapists are monsters and aberrations in our society — when in reality our society enables and encourages rapists while silencing and stigmatizing victims.

Related Posts:

Why does the Delhi bus rapist blame his victim in prison interview?

Nirbhaya’s Parents Talk to NDTV About Documentary on ‘India’s Daughter’

Nirbhaya’s Parents Talk to NDTV About Documentary on ‘India’s Daughter’

Let me share this talk from NDTV last evening. Please do watch. 

Leslee Udwin says the documentary shows why the rapists feel no shame or regret. They come from a society where sweets are distributed only when sons are born, where daughters are given only half a glass of milk, where women don’t matter. These rapists feel a woman dead or hurt is not such a “big deal” – they also know they have sympathisers. She is also keen for the documentary to be shown in India, because she believes that that this documentary is going to be eye opening.

Nirbhaya’s Parents Talk to NDTV About Documentary on ‘India’s Daughter’

“… what brought me to India was respect, admiration and being inspired by those extraordinary protesters, the ordinary men and women of India, who went out on the streets, who led the world by example, because I, I myself have been raped. And I say this, it’s very important that I say this because there is no shame that should adhere to me as a result of that, the shame is the rapists. What I’ve discovered on my journey, and if I hadn’t met with these rapists, I wouldn’t have come to the answer I’ve come to, the deep insight I’ve gained, which is that the disease is not the rapist, the disease is the society and we, as a part of that society, must take responsibility for encouraging men to see women as of no value.

You asked me why did I have to meet with the rapists? Because I knew to get a meaningful answer to my question, why do men rape; why does violent rape happen, I had to go to the source. I had to hear it from them. I had to sit and ask them a hundred questions about who the significant women in their lives were, what they think of women, how should a good woman behave, what makes a bad woman. I needed to understand the mentality otherwise I would have made a superficial documentary. …

… the attitude that I understood and perceived in these men is, what’s the big deal? Everyone’s doing it. Why are they looking at us? Isn’t that important for the public to know? Isn’t it important for the public to know that these men have zero remorse? Why do they feel it’s acceptable, because our society makes it acceptable; because when a girl is born, sweets aren’t distributed at her birth; they are distributed at the birth of a boy. A boy is given a full glass of milk. A girl is given half a glass of milk. This is where the problem lies. You tell men that women are of no value. Of course they are going to do what they want with her. Why not?

Also watch what Nirbhaya’s mother has to say.

Please do watch.

 Related Posts:

Why does the Delhi bus rapist blame his victim in prison interview?

Milton Crisp Casserole Roti TVC

The husband reaches home at 1 30 am. Heats his sabzi and takes hot chappaties out of the Milton Crisp Casserole – without disturbing the wife. Do watch.

Milton Crisp Casserole Roti TVC

Compare it to this ad,

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It’s not about hot hot chappaties

Marriages in Indian Advertisements.

Three blatantly misogynistic TV ads.

Marriages in Indian Advertisements.

Ruchi’s husband may not like to live in a Joint Family.

So where did I see this happy Indian bride …and her delighted daughter?

What kind of company policy puts a husband-wife couple in a boss-employee relationship? Doesn’t matter which of the two is on top.

“If a girl has done MBBS or IAS, I can understand that she did not get time to learn cooking. But it’s strange how you, a mere journalism post graduate, failed to do so.”

‘Your future is standing next to you. One of these girls will be cooking for you in the future.’

How many women would dare to say this?