What are we generally thinking of when we say ‘Respect Women’?

What would you say if you wanted to convey that women’s rights to freedom, safety, public spaces, seeking self reliance or happiness etc should not be viewed as privileges? 

What are we generally thinking of when we say ‘Respect Women’?

I think respecting women would be respecting women’s right to Human Rights. It would mean not expecting women to have to ‘earn’ basic rights (viewed as birthright by the rest of the population).

Abida Nahid shared this on Facebook this morning, with the message, “Zero vision day.”

Respect Women - Zero Vision Day

Can asking the society to ‘Respect Women’ be compared to asking men to be chivalrous to women – where basic courtesies extended to everybody else become an indulgence when extended to women?

Maybe instead of ‘Respect Women’, we could say, “Respect Women’s Rights’?  But again, that implies choice.

What would you say if you wanted to convey that women’s rights to freedom, self reliance, safety, happiness, loitering, public spaces should not be viewed as privileges?

Related Posts:

Display of respect to those in power, in Indian culture.

When you offer her respect,

Of Viragoes, Shrews and Tom Boys.

 

40 thoughts on “What are we generally thinking of when we say ‘Respect Women’?

  1. Someone I know says “I respect women”, and in the same breath starts talking about how “sanskari” his wife is because “she always dresses decently” and how “she never complains” even though he has made it clear that he won’t leave his parents, which is especially difficult because “my mother can be difficult”. Yes, he actually says all this.
    I tried to reason with him twice, and on both occasions I was told that I was too “modern” and if his wife were to dress or act like me, he probably wouldn’t “let” her.

    So basically, most people respect women as long as they respect men’s wishes/rules.

    That being said, I also know a few men – okay, only two men – who actually stand up for women’s rights when women themselves won’t. They think women should be doing more with their time, explore their potential, and be who they want to be without bothering about what people think.

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  2. Question: what we think when we say Respect Women?

    Answer: We don’t think anything.

    In case if we think anything then whether the woman is daughter, sister, mother . No identity as human being.

    Since she has no identity as human being all human rights are denied to her . In India even Fundamental Rights are denied to women in name of culture .

    Now we come to mother, sister, daughter, wife etc .we respect them till the time they are in framework of patriarchy . We don’t respect working mother otherwise family will not bad mouth her . We don’t respect sister who doesn’t want to follow decision of her brother. We don’t respect daughter otherwise why would have killed her in womb. The one who are able to born are not respected when they demand human rights . We don’t respect wife who ask her husband to grow up and understand what actually marriage means. To all these women’s we have different names.

    When we say we respect women we do only lip service nothing else.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel it’s unusual if someone feels the need to explicitly state that they respect women.

    I don’t respect “women” or anyone else, for that matter.

    But do we really need to respect someone to acknowledge their humanity or treat them decently ?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. In a country as messed up as ours, respecting women would mean putting them on a pedestal and treating them like they’re above human. Supposedly the ultimate symbols of sacrifice and all that jazz.😦
    A place that truly respects people, man and woman alike, doesn’t need to put up billboards and banners that talk of ‘respect’. In my opinion, treating people (adults) as human beings capable of reason despite their gender, race, or religion is what should be seen as a virtue.

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  5. Today when Ms. Kiran Bedi officially joined the BJP, the BJP spokesperson Mr. Sambit Patra gave a statement saying – “Kiran Bedi joining BJP is in itself welcoming move.We give chance to talent, give chance to women.”

    Give chance to women… such a big favor on the women it seems. Otherwise women have no business doing what they want, let alone be in politics.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What are we generally thinking of when we say ‘Respect Women’?
    I never use this phrase because it seems to have some kind of condescension behind it.(atleast in the Indian context). To me it sounds like they’re trivialising sexual assault – calling it harmless eve teasing and fun. Sexual assault goes beyond simple disrespect – it is HARASSMENT and VIOLENCE. I wish there was some way to highlight that.

    Can asking the society to ‘Respect Women’ be compared to asking men to be chivalrous to women – where basic courtesies extended to everybody else become an indulgence when extended to women?
    Chivalry, when seen in the context of being polite to people is a beautiful thing.My best-est female friend holds swinging doors open for me( because she knows sometimes I don’t have the strength to do it.) I do the same for older people/children/anyone carrying bags. Whenever I’m entertaining, I always pull out chairs for people sitting at the table and put them in ricks when they’re going home for the night. Its good manners.
    But the so called chivalry that we see towards women everyday- which swings from infantilization to thinly veiled antagonism- this is simply benevolent sexism. I don’t see why a man should be venerated as “chivalrous” when he helps out a woman in trouble – its simply called being a decent human being. I would be deeply suspicious of a man who is overly courteous to a woman while at the same time extremely shitty to other males.

    What would you say if you wanted to convey that women’s rights to freedom, self reliance, safety, happiness, loitering, public spaces should not be viewed as privileges?

    “Treat a woman as you would treat a man – like a human being”
    ” Male/female/trans-gender – all humans have equal rights”
    “being female doesn’t make one a second class citizen”

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  7. I cringe when I read a “Respect Women” sign or I read the phrase in TOI type comments. I feel like an older person that people bow to and then promptly ignore for the rest of the event. I feel like a disabled person who people don’t want to make eye contact with and would rather pretend I’m invisible. I feel like a minority who is “tolerated”. I feel like a child to certain parents who talk in front of their children as if they are absent or can’t voice their own opinions. In other words, “Respect Women” feels condescending to me.
    Respect the rights of all human beings regardless of gender, race, ability, orientation. And do it without expecting people of the ‘other’ (gender/race/ability/orientation) to be grateful.

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    • Couldn’t agree more. So with you on the cringw-worthiness of the that ‘directive’. ‘Respect women’. Why does anyone have to be *told* to respect anyone else? What about being a decent human being to everyone without having to be asked?

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  8. I think respecting women is as simple as respecting a person. Just because women are a different gender from men does not exclude them from being human beings. A lot of times, “respecting women” ends up translating to vacating seats on buses, helping carry bags, and in general, actions that are thought to be chivalrous ( like IHM mentioned ). And the thought process behind these actions grow into some sort of a mafiaesque “protection” that all women should buy into or face consequences.

    Instead, just respect everyone’s rights to live their lives they way they deem fit. Recognize that people ( which includes women) can have opinions that can be different from your own. And do not trample on their personal space or freedom. Automatically, you end up respecting women too! You don’t have to do anything extra or special.

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  9. I dont think they mean anything, its just lip service, maybe a bit enlightened ones say it to mean dont rape her, dont insult her in public, and dont criticize her choice in print, apart from that they feel perfectly fine dictating her life, after all they do it ‘ for her own good no’ ???

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  10. I don’t want faltu respect ! Just treat me like a human being instead of having different standard just because I am a woman ! Let me be !
    I just hate general slogan like respect women etc ! It means nothing !
    Indian men don’t respect their own family women otherwise they would not treat them as servants, lord over them, or pretend they are big favour to them !
    I don’t know a single man who treats women they know equal !

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    • “Indian men”, like other human beings, exhibit a whole spectrum of behavior, including not treating others with respect to being the epitome of decent human behavior. It’s quite plausible that you have not come across a man who treats women he knows as equal but believe me they’re out there. The issue is not so much with men per se, but the way in which they are raised to become men from boys (and also with the way girls are raised to become women). Men are as much the prisoners of the system called patriarchy as are women. Generations of men have been raised and still being raised with these notions of “respecting women”; and the women of these generations also buy into it, thus creating a society which expects such superficial display of so called respect while avoiding the real issue of not valuing individual freedom. It’ll take a lot of debate, a lot of argument to set things straight but the implied assumption that there is something wrong with men is neither correct and nor is helpful to this unfortunate situation.

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      • //Men are as much the prisoners of the system called patriarchy as are women. Generations of men have been raised and still being raised with these notions of “respecting women”; and the women of these generations also buy into it, thus creating a society which expects such superficial display of so called respect while avoiding the real issue of not valuing individual freedom.//

        I agree.

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      • Patriarchal upbringing is to blame most of the times but in actual real life when men are all grown up and lived on their,cooked and cleaned up after themselves the moment they get married they stop doing all that !
        I have in my family one such love marriage where the man does talk big and fair,but the woman goes to work and comes back and cook,take care of the child and clean up !
        The guy does no chores simply because he doesn’t feel like doing !
        So I don’t its only patriarchal upbringing, men all over the globe have a sense of entitlement which is irrespective of upbringing !
        Those 10% of men who actually respect women as fellow human beings are well just sorted ,humble and sensible human beings !!

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      • Underlying this “respect” is a profound and deep-rooted disrespect.

        In middle-class families, brothers are supposed to their sisters’ keepers, husbands that of their wives and fathers of their daughters.

        Most Indian families are pretty open about valuing sons more than daughters.

        Men in such families see this growing up. They are sent to better schools than their sisters. They get more expensive toys, clothes and shoes. They get better medical treatment.

        They see the innumerable ways in which they are favored over girls.

        Small wonder then, that many men cannot grasp that women are as valuable as human beings as are men.

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  11. When most people say “respect women”, I think it really does not mean much. It is like one of those things we blindly share on Facebook without really thinking. Yes, most people immediately equate it with being chivalrous and not being sexual towards her for whatever reason.

    I think the entire idea is simple – Be nice to everyone be it man, woman, children or animals.

    In asia, respect is associated with obedience which is why I am really a big fan of that word, however, respect in the sense of you respect me, I respect you is okay to me.

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  12. When I was growing up, whenever I heard that one should respect women, it was always followed by ‘because they cook, they clean, they give birth to and raise cheildren ‘.
    It should have been , ‘because they are humans’.
    No wonder society alienates widows, spinsters, and childless women.
    Then, I started hearing stuff like ‘Respect women because they are someone’s daughter/sister/wife/mother’.
    Note here, the use of ‘someone’s’.
    And then there are those who think they have the ultimate reason – ‘Oh they are the very embodiment of sacrifice and they endure so much hardship for their family’.
    Idiot, they are sacrificing and enduring because they do not have a choice. Also, if that is the benchmark, then males do not deserve any respect do they? They don’t cook,clean,produce and raise kids,sacrifice or endure hardships like a woman.

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    • Aarti, you hit the nail on the head. Even today I see these types of messages – there was recently a video that showed people interviewing for a certain job and no one wants to take it because it has no pay, lots of over work, etc. Turns out the job title is “mom” and then everyone is laughing, crying, gushing at the sacrifices “mom” makes, how much she gives up so society can function, and how the video is such an eye opener, and this is why women should be respected.

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  13. What should it mean? It should mean, “We should respect women just as we respect men because we’re all equal as human beings”

    What does it actually mean in India? “Men, behave decently in public. Women, don’t get ideas about equality and all. You need to earn your respect by being a good slave”

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  14. Anyone else have the dying need to know what is there on the sign to the left of the “RESPECT WOMEN” message?

    And after reading the “RESPECT WOMEN” sign if one takes a left turn, are there more signs?

    If I get street name, and check out the “Street view” on Google Maps, I might get lucky?

    Thanks.

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  15. “It would mean not expecting women to have to ‘earn’ basic rights (viewed as birthright by the rest of the population”

    Why do you write “the rest of the population” when you mean boys and men? It’s a bit confusing. After all, intersex individuals are not likely to get any more respect than women.

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    • One very simple thing would be for girl children to be raised as humans, with self reliance (emotional and economic) instead of marriage as the main goal in their lives. Once the parents stop viewing their girl children as ‘paraya dhan’ (or Future daughters in law) – they would value them, and they would value their rights and happiness. Once the parents value their daughters, the society would too.

      Without the basic rights of almost half the population being ensured, no development is really possible.

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      • I totally agree to what you are saying but my only concern is to be able to avail these basic right India should be provided with the basic necessities then only we will be able to focus on social issues……how do you think government can help? Do you oil and gas sector can aid ?

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  16. Pingback: What are we generally thinking of when we say ‘Respect Women’? | thefeministblogproject

  17. Pingback: Relationships – Making Someone Happy | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  18. Pingback: The right to deny or to give consent takes the power away from Patriarchy, and gives it to the individual. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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