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

What did Abhijit Mukherjee mean when he described the anti rape protesters as ‘dented and painted women’ and disco going youth?

Maybe he wanted to make the anti-rape  protesters look frivolous. And how do we make Indian women and young Indians look bad or frivolous?

Show them as ‘too westernised’ to care about Indian values like a woman’s honor/modesty [Ek Hindustani ladki ki Izzat], and what else is a sexual assault if not loss of honor or modesty of a woman? (Remember, Zinda Laash.)

President Pranab Mukherjee’s son calls anti-rape protesters ‘dented, painted’

“Women who are protesting have no connection with ground reality. These pretty ladies coming out to protest are ‘highly dented and painted” said Abhijit Mukherjee.

Many politicians seem to believe that the best way to make women look not worthy of respect is to show that they are not Adarsh Bhartiya Naari, [Link to the kind of mindset they seem to be appealing to].

Wipe your lipstick before you condemn a politician. (BJP General Secretary Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, soon after 26/11).

And more,10 Sexist Remarks By Indian Politicians.

But here’s why, despite these patriarchal voices, there’s hope.

‘To the Young Women and Men of Delhi: Thinking about Rape from India Gate’ – by .

“stop treating rape as a matter of honor and dishonor altogether, and expose and boycott those who would insist it is a matter of honor and dishonour. Treat it as ordinary, disgusting, evil violence, as the naked expression of power, and you will see that the expression of power is never challenged by the demand for death. It is easy for those who think of women as property to demand death for those who violate their property rights over women. That is why many men who will demand death penalty for rapists will happily go home and rape their wives. (Because in their understanding they cannot ‘rape’ their wives, only strangers can rape ‘their’ wives.) If you want to end rape, to end the forced sexual subjugation of one human being by another. You will have to look elsewhere than the gallows for comfort.

Remember, the rapist’s intention is not sexual pleasure (because the ONLY way in which pleasure can be had is through the reciprocity of desire, through love, through erotic engagement, not through taking away someone’s agency by force and without consent). Rape is not about sex, it is about humiliation, its intention is precisely to make the raped person think that now that they have been subjected to sexual violence, their life will no longer be worth living. The rapist and Sushma Swaraj are in perfect agreement about the worth of the life of a rape victim. The reason why some men rape women or others who are in their power is because they believe that some lives are more important, worth more, than others. That is the key to patriarchy.” 

Where does this sense of impunity that seems to govern the actions of so many men come from? It cannot come from biology alone. Because, thankfully, not all men, not even all men in positions of real or imagined power, are rapists. Rapists choose to access a cultural code of permission. There is something in the cultural baggage or vocabulary available to us all that normalizes sexual violence, even renders it trivial, as a bit of horseplay at worst, or the hallowed order sanctified by tradition, at best.”

Do read the entire article here: http://kafila.org/2012/12/23/to-the-young-women-and-men-of-delhi-thinking-about-rape-in-delhi/

Note: ‘Denting and Painting’ is a commonly used term, generally used by car- mechanics who beat the dents in the car body, back into shape, and then apply paint over scratches to make a dented and scratched car look new.

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

  1. http://www.firstpost.com/living/dear-abhijit-babu-the-society-of-painted-and-dented-ladies-responds-570895.html awesom no?
    These idiots spews shit like these without thinking… then wonder why women take harmless jokes ‘seriously’. Then they jump up and apologize becz majority do not find them funny.
    http://daily.bhaskar.com/article/MP-BHO-delhi-gang-rape-she-should-have-submitted-to-rape-says-woman-scientist-4128063-NOR.html -> this lady has all the qualities to be a future PM!
    http://frrole.com/o/arundhati-roy-delhi-bus-gang-rape-and-p-channel4news-new-delhi-> or this lady with her obsession to ‘stand out’ even when the country is trying to stand up for what is right for once?

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    • The Daily Bhaskar news is horrendous. It’s not enough to let dumbos run around and go on and say what they feel like if it is condoning a crime/infringing on rights of citizens or shifting blame from the perps to the victims . They should be made to pay – at the very least heavy fines (couple of lakhs). When it hurts financially at least they’ll remember to keep their mouths shut the next time around.

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  2. What a dolt! Imagine if the President’s son can say this what about the common man? Was watching Sanjay Nirupam go after Smriti Irani, and thinking that if a man can be so insulting to a woman on national television , what can he do to her when there is no one around ? Nirupam and Mukherjee seem to underline the regressive mentality of society, i.e.; that women should remain in “womanly” roles, as subservient wives, mothers, daughters and sisters. If they don’t, they risk being defamed, beaten back, or raped.

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    • Agreed. While I don’t agree with everything she said, she did raise a number of valid points. I discussed this issue with Roy, ages ago, I am glad she finally broke her silence on the topic. Arundhati Roy has a penchant for calling a spade a spade, even in the face of public displeasure, something which I observed ever since I was an activist for social egalitarianism in India. For those who want to contest her argument.

      1) Rapes of lower caste women by upper caste men is very common in India. Why don’t we see anyone protesting.
      2) In North East India, the feudal class of men, the Indian Army rapes the tribal women with impunity. Thanks to the AFSPA, any opposition can be branded as ‘seperatism’ and with tactit approval of the very people who commen for ‘women’s rights’ in this blog, get silenced.

      And the most important thing to ponder about. While I have raised this particular issue a number of times – both with the feminists I meet in real life, as well as oneline, including this very blog – why does IHM, who writes about every issue related to women’s oppression in India, avoids the issue of rapes by Indian Army in NE India?

      (I am well aware that this isn’t going past your moderation que. But I am raising the point anyway, for your reading pleasure, if nothing else. And thank you for being a reader of Kafila, one of my pet projects. I was flattered when you used a link from Kafila to talk about the “Sliver of Oppression” of an overly privileged upper class South Delhi woman who has nothing wanting in her life, but whines about ‘male oppression’.)

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      • Although I don’t deny that Roy makes fairly valid points at times, I personally feel that she also has a penchant for self-righteous what-aboutery which tends to annoy people. When people are protesting against a specific act of violence, it’s a bit silly to come out all guns blazing, and proclaim, “But…But…But…What about THAT act of violence, why not protest THAT?”.

        Her argument isn’t factually incorrect (it’s true that no one has protested gang-rapes in Kashmir with such intensity), but it is not very meaningful either.

        This protest is, in a way, a first. This is not the first gang rape ever, and arguably, isn’t even the most brutal crime ever committed (events like riots are a whole different class of brutal), but obviously, something snapped this time.

        Women are raped every day in India, in every state, including the North East and Kashmir. The fact is, affluent, urban Indians have a general tendency to ignore ALL gender violence, not just gender violence perpetrated by the Indian Army or high-caste Hindus or whatever ‘upper’ class one wants to talk about. I’m sure Roy knows that. That fact of general indifference cannot be lifted out of its context, placed in the mold of selective, deliberate indifference towards certain issues, and then used to push an agenda. Perhaps selective indifference does exist. I do not deny that.
        However, it’s a whole lot of hooey to claim that BECAUSE no one protested so vociferously against the gang rape of a Kashmiri girl, we must accept that there is some kind of active discrimination at work here.

        As well, I think it’s a bit presumptive to simply assume that everyone here apart from you supports the AFSPA. I am personally not in favor of it in its present form, and I don’t doubt that there are others who disagree with its implementation.

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      • Dear IHM,

        For as long as I have been reading your blog, I have never come across a post (or a comment) that approves or condones violence in any form (including rape) against women in whichever part of the country they take place. Your blog has always promoted women’s rights in accordance with gender equality. Being a male, I wouldn’t return to your blog if I found it to be ‘feminist-sexist’.

        Also, owing to the huge number of issues across the country, there will always be the disgruntled individual who would accuse you of not taking up their issue (and equate it to you approving of the issue). If I were one of those individuals, I would rather refrain from visiting your blog altogether instead of throwing about my frustration through acidic comments continuously.

        Questioning the validity of a protest over an issue (or the validity of an entire blog) just because some other issues have not been taken up/protested for is absurdity of the highest level.

        Please continue to do the good work of creating awareness (with the help of debate and discussion) through your blog. Doing that is something much much more purposeful than wanting or not wanting anything in life.

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      • //”why does IHM, who writes about every issue related to women’s oppression in India, avoids the issue of rapes by Indian Army in NE India?”//

        Why indeed do you not, IHM?! Didn’t you know you simply HAD to write what others think/expect you to?! Tsk tsk tsk.😉😛
        (As Viresh says in his comment, you just go ahead and do the good work of creating awareness. Wish I could give his comment more likes)

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      • I agree. As an armyman’s daughter, I have heard whispered conversation of Army excesses in Kashmir and the North East. I didn’t think much of it before, but the Manorama incident shocked me and shook me up badly. I came to see the institution that I’d been raised in with new eyes.
        There is no hope for the AFSPA being repealed though. Our politicians cannot tolerate dissent from middle-class citizens from mainland India, forget about tribal women from “the colonies”. As far as the sliver of oppression is concerned, that’s all it takes to extinguish a young life on a moving bus.

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  3. It’s precisely these off-the-cuff, trying to be too smart sort of remarks that reveal the mindset of most middle-aged men in India. Mr. Mukherjee probably saw his own remarks as just some witty intervention in the debate. Men like him don’t realize that this is not the India of their MCP childhood and teenage. Young women these days (and their parents too) are just not going to tolerate anymore of this kind of bull-cr*p that reduces women to objects and provides a benign environment in which sexual harassment and violence take place. Enough! Resign, go home and get lost from the public sphere.

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  4. Apparently, he’s now “apologized” for his remarks, and “did not intend to hurt anyone”. (Rolls eyes)

    Check it out here

    As for “dented and painted”, I came across another article (sorry, lost the link!) which said its a term used by car mechanics and such to describe cars that have dents, which are then rapider and painted over. Seems utterly insulting in the context it was used here.

    And how do we make Indian women and young Indians look bad or frivolous?

    By quotes like these! By thinking that all they do is hang out at pubs, dress “foolishly” (whatever that means!), drink, shop and date. I don’t understand why they think people who drink, and shop, and date can also hold their own in intellectual conversations, and do their part to better society. It isn’t one or the other.

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  5. If it takes a group ‘dented & painted’ women to make the wrong, right, what is it to him? It is funny that some men rather spend time profiling & character assasinatng people just because the protestors are women. Whatever happened to the cause of protest? It means nothing to him? Nothing at all?

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  6. I think what he meant was that women had the right to protest if they were wearing a sari and hiding their face behind a pallu. That is all I could make out of his comment.
    Or, maybe he was limelight hungry. How do people even think of doing that at the expense of being humiliated?

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  7. This one has to go to TIMES NOW’s Editor-in-Chief, Arnab Goswami, for taking on Abhijit Goswami last night on the Newshour Debate. Amazing to see the guts of a shameless Abhijit Mukherjee who withdrew his comments and yet did not have any regrets over what he said. But I was shocked to listen to the young activists like Rahul Easwar talking like the conservative age old decision makers of the society. I couldn’t believe that we still have youngsters with a mindset like this.

    We all must unite and boycott the politicians by expressing our right to refuse them. Go to the votebank and use the ‘No Vote’ option. Refuse to accept any of these butchers as our the decision makers of the country.

    “stop treating rape as a matter of honor and dishonor altogether, and expose and boycott those who would insist it is a matter of honor and dishonour. Treat it as ordinary, disgusting, evil violence, as the naked expression of power, and you will see that the expression of power is never challenged by the demand for death.”

    This is something that has to be consumed by each and every person in this country. It is not the victim (rather the survivor) who has lost honour. It is the rapist who should be dishonoured. They are the ones to be barred from the society. Make their deeds public, shame them, boycott them.

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  8. What is so very humiliating to think is the very fact that even after so much has happened around us, our society can only live and think enough to find fault with the girls. I agree, all girls may not to be angels and virgins… But does her background, the dress that she chooses to put on, or her dating preferences and so called cheap social attitude(whatever that is meant to be) got anything to do with the others?? Why cant we give her her time and space and for once not find so many faults… Even after eating her raw, rejoicing with her flesh and finding contend with this menace, can’t we for once let ourselves endure some silence if not speaking up for her cause? That would be the most sincere thing we could do rather than killing her bit by bit through words, deepening the wounds of her already decaying soul…

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  9. To say the least, that’s rather rich, coming from the him.

    How much connection, pray, does the politically inactive son of a powerful politician-turned-President have with ‘ground reality’? It’s not as though HE has to live with the fear of rape everyday.

    Comments like these are both symptomatic and causative of the very conditions which created these protests. It’s like people cannot even seem to look beyond superficialities when it comes to women. Does she go to pubs? Cannot trust her. Does she wear makeup? Not trustworthy. Lipstick? Good Lord, why should we even listen to her?

    The other day, we are at my wife’s sister’s place, and I overheard one of my nephew’s friends (would’ve been maybe 17 or 18 years of age) talk about his girlfriend in terms which it is impossible for me to describe here, apparently because she refused to kiss him. According to him, she ‘led him on’, and then backed off to portray herself as ‘high and mighty’. I mean, these aren’t underprivileged, uneducated kids we’re talking about. I ended up giving the guy a lecture about sex and personal limits that he apparently never got from his parents, and later on, I actually told the nephew to keep his distance from guys like that. Although the gang rape which happened in Delhi was horrific, it must also be pointed out that it was a rarity. Most rapes do not happen that way. Most rapes happen when guys like the one above think it’s okay to disrespect another individual’s personal limits when it comes to sex, and that they have certain ‘rights’ over someone else’s sexuality. Not all of these folks will turn out to be rapists, but a very large number of rapists think much the same way about sex.

    The enablers for the misogynistic culture we live in today can be found in the daily acts of small-scale sexism. Challenging those acts robustly and promptly on a personal level is the first step towards creating change.

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  10. I don’t understand… what has rape got to do with “honour”? How are the two linked? Rape is a crime, just like murder or robbery or assault. Who speaks of “honour” when someone is murdered or robbed or beaten up?

    People have GOT TO STOP linking sexual crimes with “honour”. Only when this mentality goes away, will rape survivors get the justice they deserve. If anyone deserves to be “dishonoured”, it is the rapist – for committing a crime.

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  11. Is it even surprising? He’s not the only one – half of the parliament thinks the same. Or may be 90% of the parliament. And why not – afterall they all are the product of the same society.

    And all of this has got absolutely nothing to do with educational qualifications. An example – a colleague of mine (early 40’s), wife doing PhD in IIT-Bombay, 2 kids, recently attended a cultural festival @IIT. Was delighted to see lots of girls in micro-mini skirts. He has this to say –

    ‘Yaar itni choti skirts pehenna hai to fault unhi ka hai.’

    And everybody else in office nods their heads in agreement. And this when they read of so many gang rape cases – a lot of them involving even 4-12 year old girls, rapes by family members, aquaintances. These have nothing to do with the victims clothing (Which is not to say it would be justified if it had to do with their clothing).

    There’s no way for me to put sense into these people without offending them. Atleast i don’t have the patience and skill to explain this to them nicely.

    God knows what its going to take to change this mind set.

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    • Actually men like your colleague know that its wrong to blame the object of their lust for their own bad behavior. You don’t need to be an enlightened soul to realise that you are responsible for your own actions.

      These men merely want to shift the blame from themselves to the object of their gaze/ lust and be pardoned and excused for their own bad behavior.

      The vast majority of Indian men behave perfectly well when the micro-mini belongs to the boss’s daughter or to the politicians mistress. How come their venal desires are only unleased on targets who cannot fight back?

      In the army, I’ve seen officers fix their eyes steadfastly on the ground when a general’s wife walks in, with a plunging neckline and a backless sequinned sari blouse. How come they don’t lose control then?

      Men can control themselves when they have to. Its just that they’d rather get away with incusable behavior and blame women for it.

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  12. The need of the hour is to make din into every head: dented or painted, EVERY SINGLE ONE of us have our rights. The sad part is here are many masked Abhijits amidst us who think along these lines but simply don’t voice their thoughts.😦

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