“To victims of sexual assault or any trauma, tell your story. Only then will you find someone who had similar experiences, with whom you can connect and move forward…”

I have come to understand that I like to read about other people’s journeys from trauma (of any kind) towards some amount of healing or acceptance. Recommendations requested and welcome.

The first such book I read was The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood [link], which was comforting at a time when nothing could comfort. Now I offer it to anybody coping with child loss. The second survivor story I bought but did not start reading for almost two years, (because it seemed too popular and I thought it was about praying) – then I saw the movie on the TV and finally picked the book. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert –  still surprises me with the impact it has on me (and on atleast one other mother who loves the book as much) – I am reading it for the second time, reading it slowly, savouring every word. The comfort this book brings is specially unexpected because the book is not about child loss, I was surprised that divorce and heartbreak could hurt this much. How the book ends or the story doesn’t matter – what I love is reading about Elizabeth Gilbert’s experiences as she struggles to find some moments of peace. This struggle to help herself was (is) immensely relatable.

Then a friend recommended Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, and now I have just finished reading and am still feeling overwhelmed with the Girl in the Woods: A Memoir by Aspen Matis.

Aspen Matis is a rape survivor. She decides to hike the same Pacific Crest Trail that the Cheryl Strayed does (in Wild: From Lost to Found).

Each of these books has been an eye opener. I have come to see that loss and trauma affects many of us in nearly the same way. No matter what causes it, atleast for a while, the trauma changes the way the survivors view life and everything else.

Aspen Matis felt nobody ‘gets’ what she was going through, including her mother, “I hated her consistent need to know the list of different foods I’d eaten that day. I remembered how she’d asked me if I’d had a good dinner in the same phone call when I’d told her I’d been raped.”

For a long time after the rape, she doesn’t know what she wants… because what she wanted was not possible. The book made me want to reach out to her, to hug her nineteen year old self and to thank her for her courage in sharing her experience. I was saddened but still thankful to be reading how she felt. When have we ever heard a rape survivor’s side of the story? Such first person accounts should be shared.

I had not thought of what a sexual assault could do to every part of the survivor’s life. Consider what it could do to her self confidence: Did she really ask for it? Could she have prevented it? Did she experience rape or was it not really rape? Was she capable of taking care of herself? Could/should she trust men ever again? Was she safe from further assaults? Would she ever be able to have a normal relationship? All her relationships change forever, including her relationship with herself. Then there was the humiliation, the ‘shame’, the anger and the helplessness. I strongly recommend the book for anybody who would like to understand what a sexual assault can do to a victim. Also, what lack of clarity about one’s rights can do. Why having a voice and knowing one’s rights is more empowering than all the safety alarms and pepper sprays in the world. And how terrifyingly disempowering lack of confidence is. I loved the author’s honesty.

In a society like ours that does not even acknowledge that rape is ‘sex without consent’ – this book could be a beginning. Do read and share.

But why was this book healing for me? It made me see I was not the only one coping with what I couldn’t change. AND it made me want to go for a long, long hike.

And I agree with her when she says, “To victims of sexual assault or any trauma, tell your story. Only then will you find someone who had similar experiences, with whom you can connect and move forward...” [from here – What Girl in the Woods Author Aspen Matis Found on the Trail to Independence:]

“It was OK for her to say ‘no’ after saying ‘yes’? Saying ‘yes’ doesn’t mean a blanket sanction to any sexual activity.”

In our hearts forever.

An email: Satyamev Jayate touched a deep wound. After almost 30 years I broke the silence.

Books I am reading.

Why I liked ‘Rabbit Hole’.

A Hiker’s Guide to Healing – Aspen Matis

When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her. —ADRIENNE RICH

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“…it’s better if he is NOT a family guy. Extra points to the one who hates kids.”

n shared this link.

When her parents asked her to marry, this Bengaluru girl put up her own matrimonial ad 

When 23-year-old Indhuja Pillai’s parents put her profile on a popular matrimonial site, her initial reaction was that of anger and annoyance. She says she is not ‘marriage-material’, but what equally irked her was the way her parents chose to describe her on the site. “It was so unlike me”, says Indhuja, a Bengaluru-based professional.

 

The posting of the matrimonial ad for an adult child by the parents, the description that doesn’t match, the irritation felt by the adult child – many would view this as a normal part of Indian arranged marriages.

But this young woman responded with ‘a sarcastic statement’, she created a website – marry.indhuja.com.

She described herself as an atheist tomboy ‘married to self’, who earns ‘Salary – Overabundant for self. Saving a little to travel.’

An Indian woman of ‘marriageable age’ saving for travel and not for marriage is still not common.

So what kind of man would she consider spending her life with?

‘A man, preferably bearded, who is passionate about seeing the world. Someone who earns for himself and does NOT hate his job. Must be flexible with his parents, also means, it’s better if he is NOT a family guy. Extra points to the one who hates kids. Points for a great voice and an impressive personality. Should be able to hold a conversation for atleast 30 minutes’.

 

Doesn’t want a Provider and Protector. Knows what is important to her. Has interests and passions. The final and only goal in her life is not to Get Married Stay Married. Doesn’t want children. Plans for more than ghar sansaar. Even if the post is meant to be a sarcastic statement – it’s a positive.

Related Posts:

But if there is so much of hesitation in spending time to know a person… aren’t the marriage hopefuls playing with fire?

Only when raising ideal daughters in law is not their goal, would Indian parents be able enjoy having and bringing up girl children.

“A 28 year old, independent woman who dreams big does not really fit the definition of an ideal Indian DIL.”

An email: I want my parents to know the real me, why do I have to lie?

Response from the email writer accused of betraying her “parents, country and culture by not having an arranged marriage”

“I am glad that my parents never thought of raising us as ‘future daughters-in-law’.”

An email: “I said I would look for second marriage with following conditions.”

An email: Salary of the prospective groom must be 3-6 times more than the salary of the prospective bride.

“I want to take my own time, get a job, then think whether or not to get married. But, I can’t tell my parents all this.”

‘We grew up in a very liberal family. We knew what our limits were and our focus was our education. We never betrayed our parents.’

Are these advises and suggestions possible for an Average Indian Woman to even consider? Will she be able to think that way… educate me

Shadi ke baad ladki ki PRIORITY sasuraal ki taraf ho jaati hai?

“And on the other hand, we have this section of women who seem content and even happy with the current set-up. This seems akin to a freedom struggle going on here.”

Sharing an email by A Confused Male.

It can be confusing unless we have had the opportunity to find out how those who are involved actually feel.

Those who benefit from the system (via obedient elder-care providers, ladke wale status, dowries etc) probably cannot be expected to view it honestly. The few unhappy voices that are heard are accused of washing ‘dirty linen’, being westernised, or of not being sanskaari enough.  

Many more voices are hushed whispers, or silenced. 

Also, the few women who do speak up are able to do that because they have that option – and most still choose anonymity. 

While women face complete control, men in such patriarchal families are not really free either. 

Amongst other things, men may not be free to love or marry someone they like and may not be permitted to choose what they do for living. It’s tougher to fight control, emotional blackmail and abuse, when it comes from those who seem to genuinely care and possibly claim to ‘live to see them happy’. Also, in return of such controls, they are offered benefits which lead to dependence, controlled freedom and a sense of entitlement.

And then there is this censorship of not just what some people are permitted to say, but also what some obedient adults are permitted to hear or read. 

Too many social evils are rooted in the present system, like male child preference, sex selection, dowry, bride burning, ill-treatment of widows, dependence of elderly women (and men) on their male children, semi forced marriages, objectification of women (aggravated by segregation), adults who are not emotionally and economically self reliant etc. 

Dear IHM,

Hope you are doing fine.

Am a regular reader here. Wonderful platform you have created.

Sharing here an observation as well as a few questions for debate by you and your readers. If you find this worthy of your space, kindly share on the blog anonymously.

Thanks.

————-

I have been looking at a population segment in my state (Gujarat) – semi-urban/small town, middle/upper middle class, local college educated, average jobs/business class people with 5-10 lakhs per annum incomes. And following are some observations (Just my observations. No concrete research or statistics to back these):

– Men and women marry young – generally before they turn 26-27, ages where people are still to form strong views on what they want from life and hence often defer to parents’ judgements.
– Men and women are quite prepared for “arranged” marriages. Such marriages are between two families and hence the two set of parents are the key decision makers. If they agree on a match, their children generally agree. There is no feeling of being “forced” into a marriage. Horoscopes match; Cultural, social and financial backgrounds are similar; External aspects – height, weight, complexion, car, house are in order and so compatibility is automatically assumed.
– Marriages seem healthy, the husband-wife seem to get along fine – well set in their respective responsibilities and busy with their children. The physical abuse seems to mostly not exist. Divorces are unheard of.

Further, the way boys and girls are brought up in this segment of population and the kind of things they see around them, the following is readily accepted and neither party sees any big issue with these:
– Wife relocates to husband’s town/city and lives with his family
– Wife changes her surname to that of the husband
– Wife refers to the husband as “aap”
– Wife adopts the customs, preferred deities, cooking style and schedule followed in the husband’s home. MIL takes the “responsibility” of “training” the DIL in these (a younger DIL is preferred as she is “easier to mould”)
– Wife can continue to work only if the husband’s family permits. In any case, she is expected to quit working on attaining motherhood. Till she works, money belongs to the husband and his family. Spending a lot of her own money on her birth family is frowned upon and would need permission from husband
– Husband will be a “mumma’s boy” and will not openly side with wife in case of a conflict. Husband will consult his parents on major decisions / expenses
– Wife is expected to “give” sex to husband when he wants
– Marriage is for life. Unless there is physical abuse or outright pre-marriage lying about medical/financial condition or likes, divorce is unthinkable

Followers of this blog would find most of the above oppressive to women. But these men and women, since a very young age, have seen only such marriages around them that there is nothing unusual for them in this set-up. A woman accepts all of the above knowing well that some other woman is going to marry her brother and accept the same conditions as a DIL in her own home. Likewise, a man who expects the above from his wife has a sister who accepts the same in her husband’s home. How do you expect any different from what’s prevalent in your own home? And so no one seems very bothered and considers this as a normal way marriages are. Essentially, they are perfectly comfortable with the conventional gender roles and the traditional idea of a marriage – a man is responsible for earning, a woman is responsible for children and home and that after marriage a woman’s birth family must assume a secondary place in her life.

So on one hand, we have a section of women who, through their own lives, are waging a spirited battle for truly egalitarian marriages and man-woman equality and are rightly refusing to do things that parents/husband/in-laws/society expects out of them just because “that’s what a woman should be doing” or “that’s our culture”. And on the other hand, we have this section of women who seem content and even happy with the current set-up. This seems akin to a freedom struggle going on here. I guess, to a segment of population in pre-independence India, British rule wasn’t as big an anathema. But to those who believed in principles of freedom and equality and self-determination as well as those who had a greater exposure and had seen better, British had to be ousted at any cost. Likewise, today, for the section of Indian women who have clear thoughts on equal marriages, it is a period of struggle till men and the society at large come around and start sharing their justified worldview.

But I also wonder – is ignorance a bliss? Not knowing better – isn’t that a reason why so many women (and hence men) seem quite happy and satisfied in their marriages? I admit that for some of these women, they do know better but don’t have any other choice due to various reasons (kids, financial dependence, social stigma etc.). But a lot of women I see around me in this segment seem genuinely satisfied with their lives. They were fed a certain image of a marriage right from their early days and they seem to have no heartache when that image turns out to be largely true, even if to another section of women such marriages may seem like patriarchal horror stories.

All of this has led to three questions in my mind and it may be good to hear views of readers of this blog on them:
1) Is the happiness I have observed only superficial? Do the women in such population segments also feel shortchanged in the Indian marriage setup?
2) A marriage with a partner of choice, after a lengthy and healthy period of dating could be wonderful and bring immense happiness. Or it could cause a lot of grief later due to high expectations on both sides. On the other hand, in a traditional family arranged marriage (with similarity of social, cultural and financial backgrounds and predictable expectations) the “happiness quotient” is consistently decent. Any marriage is a gamble eventually and so if we draw a normal gaussian curve of marital happiness, the “choice marriages” are mostly likely to end up on either of the two extreme ends while the traditional ” family arranged” marriages are mostly likely to end up somewhere in the thick middle. Is that a fair assessment? Of course each marriage is dependent on the two individuals involved but I am only considering the impact of two big variables: compatibility (high in choice marriages, generally of a certain minimum level in the family arranged ones due to similar backgrounds and upbringings) and expectations (high in choice marriages, moderate in family arranged ones).
3) I would like to get married but I haven’t “clicked” with someone so far (more than a year since I started looking). With all my expectations from marriage – a friend, a companion, love, compatibility etc. have I set myself up for discontent and disappointment? Would I have been better off if I too had shared the traditional view of marriage – same as that of the majority in the population segment I live in?

– A confused male

Related Posts:

My husband gives me the usual ‘you have not just married me, you have married my family..’ sermon

“I will never live in a joint family, it has its roots in patriarchy and benefits only men.”

An email from a Happily Married Indian Daughter in law…

And, Please watch Queen.

Only when raising ideal daughters in law is not their goal, would Indian parents be able enjoy having and bringing up girl children.

Another email. When an Indian daughter-in-law has no brothers.

Instead of eyeing their husbands’ ancestral property, why don’t Indian daughters in law make their own homes?

“And when I told her about his abusing me she didn’t believe me. Now here I am all alone, deprived of the love of parents.”

Sharing an email.

Parental control; silencing of victims by not believing them; teenage marriages, pregnancies and motherhood; control by in laws in patriarchal joint families; Violence; emotional abuse; inability of mothers to walk out of abusive marriages; dependence of women on spouse; poverty and dowry leading to further abuse … we don’t seem to talk enough about all the harm each of the above can do and do.

And encouraging self reliance is not seen as a parental responsibility in our society. Patriarchy can’t survive without the dependence of those whose human rights it abuses. 

Hi ihm,

I have been reading your blogs for quite some time and they really enlighten me so now I have decided to share my story.

I am from a typical indian family where they have every problem you discuss in your blog, well except my father never beat my mom or me or any of my sibling.

But he is a womaniser, an adulterer and a sex offender. I was his victim for 15 years when I finally got enough courage to stand against him.

My parents got married when they were in their teens and by time my mother was 18 she had two of us to take care of. My mother was not educated and belonged to a poor family with a large number of siblings. My grandmother is abusive. My mother being the only daughter in law at the time, my grand mother used to beat her, curse her, didn’t let her talk to anyone and only allowed to touch her children when she had to, and after that she had to have to bath.

My father is mostly away because of his new job. When I was a toddler my mother joined him and that’s when my abuse began. Because of all the abuse that my mother went through in her teens, she grew up to be a abusive parent, she is controlling, physically and mentally abusive. My father cheated on her from time to time and it causing her became mentally unstable.

And when I told her about his abusing me she didn’t believe me. Now here I am all alone, deprived of love of my parents. How much I wish sometimes that I was never born. Why they give birth to me so my father could have a toy to play with. Isn’t it right he given birth to me and he can use me as he wish. My mother can kill me for telling me such lies – isn’t this what our culture teaches us never disobey your parents and don’t question their decisions so who I am to question them? This is a life I can’t escape because this is not my sanskaar and even if I do try to escape I would drown in my self guilt. I can’t betray a mother who has sacrificed so much in her life to give us a better future ((which she understood) and I can’t live with a father who betrayed my trust. My mother still hopes that he will love her and respect her once she is old, so what option does it leave me? I don’t have courage. I am very tired fighting all this.

Related Posts:

An email: ‘Dark childhood and other thoughts.’

“…if this thing comes out my husband will think my wife is after all not that ‘pure’ or is not that ‘untouched flower’”

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

An email: Satyamev Jayate touched a deep wound. After almost 30 years I broke the silence.

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

Sexual abuse victim thrown out of school for being a bad influence on other students.

In Rape Culture, we understand that if the rapist was living alone, away from his native place, he could lose control over himself.

Teacher arrested for raping six year student.

“She was warned several times and was used to unethical practices like friendship with boys.”

Home most unsafe place for women : A unique court-ordered study by Delhi Police has revealed.

Remaining unseen or unheard doesn’t make women safer. Having a Voice does.

But then, Being Silenced and Being Locked up would make anybody unsafe.

The study affirms what feminists have been saying all along – that asking potential victims to be invisible or to be sexually unattractive to the rapists does not control sexual crimes. (And has not for centuries)

This, and the society’s tolerance towards, and lack of seriousness towards sexual crimes makes criminals fearless. The more likely a criminal is to be excused, the more likely they are to assault. The more voiceless the victim, the more vulnerable they are.

Also – women’s absence from public spaces does not make public spaces safer for women.

We should also acknowledge that the Stranger Rape Myth is a misleading myth that makes it difficult for women to walk out and away from places of crime.

Do read.

Home most unsafe place for women

NEW DELHI: Over 60% offences of rape, molestation and ‘eve teasing’ (sexual harassment) recorded across Delhi till mid-September occurred inside the house and the accused were known to the survivors. A unique court-ordered study by Delhi Police of 44 police stations throughout the capital has revealed that women are most unsafe at home with their relatives or acquaintances.

Related Posts:

What makes men rape?

Study finds 98% of India rape victims knew their attacker.

Crimes against women: Madhya Pradesh tops in rapes, Bengal in total crimes

Martial Arts for women to fight back rapes?

Child marriage “is an evil worse than rape” and should be completely eradicated from society, said a Delhi court

19 Rape Facts that Khaps, Cops and Chautala should know.

Do you see a connection between this murder and the assault in Guwahati?

Can we blame everything on patriarchy?

What kind of men are likely to sexually assault women?

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!

‘What Shri Yesudas said in public is what most of the parents are telling in private.’

I was away and did not see this positive news until Saturday afternoon. The times are changing and it’s good to hear long established lies being debunked.

Thanks for sharing Mr G. Vishwanathjee.

Yesudas strikes a sour note with comments on women’s attire

“What should be covered must be covered. Women should not trouble others by wearing jeans,” K.J. Yesudas, musician, said here on Friday, inviting protests from political leaders, women’s groups and the public.

“They [women] should not try to become like men but must behave modestly,” he continued. The attire, he said, is unbecoming of Indian culture and what lends beauty to a woman is her demureness.

Until recently comments like this were accepted as common sense and traditional wisdom.

So it’s a huge positive that no matter how obviously absurd Mr Yesudas’s comment might seem to some of us, it is still being challenged, discussed and responded to.

Unbelievable though this seems, there are many who still agree with him, and are going to quote him as the final word on what their women should be allowed to wear.

And those who quote him would not just be doing this because they hate women, but because they can’t see what options can their women be permitted.

Many of them sincerely believe that lewd comments or stares (i.e. women failing to avoid attention or disrespect from men) is amongst the worst things they can watch happening to their women, worse than their women being allowed to lose freedom, happiness, and worse than their women not being viewed as people with feelings of their own.

Everything must be sacrificed (by women) to ensure that lewd comments and stares don’t offend those who fail to see who should be outraged and by whom/what.

Because they believe that women should be held responsible for protecting the sensibilities of those respectable people who do not want to watch women being subjected to lewd comments.

This comment is a response to the article in the Hindu.

What Shri. Yesudas said in public is what most of the parents are telling in private. I would like to suggest these progressive people to just remember for a moment of the past as to whether they had ever noticed or felt embarrassed or scared when their daughter or close relatives wearing these dresses were stared upon by strangers or subjected to lewd comments.

I hope the outrage and protests bring to notice that:

1. What should be found objectionable and embarrassing, and should be controlled is the ‘lewd comments’.

Yes it’s difficult to understand after centuries of having heard otherwise.

So let me attempt to explain.

2. Making excuses for the lewd comments also means – that now, after centuries of doing this, we aren’t sure who is the victim:

i.)  the harasser – being troubled by women in jeans, or

ii.)  the women, or

iii.) those who believe they have to take decisions for ‘these women’.

3. All along, the person making ‘lewd comments’ knows he has well known figures commiserating with him. (Some of them are probably justifying their own past and future actions?)

4. Only now since more of us, including women, have a Voice do we learn that women have feelings too.

Suchithra krishnamoorthy, playback singer:
#Yesudas Men shouldn’t be allowed to talk so much and must learn to behave. Y provoke us women into wanting to slap u?

 

5. Though I think misogynists should be allowed to talk – Silence does not change any points of view, Dialogue does.

6. And dialogue also means that we know we aren’t the only ones who can see how absurd it is to defend an obvious wrong, and to blame the one who has been wronged.

Related Posts:

“People will say we encouraged these men to follow us, even though we are innocent”

Not Just a Pair of Jeans

The way a woman dresses…

Women and their unmentionables. Understanding Objectification.

What do ‘Modest’ women have that their ‘Immodest’ sisters don’t…

“My dad tells me not to wear skimpy outfit when he is around”

“The male community, including myself, needs only 10 minutes, just ten minutes… to send what is called sperm, into the uterus of a female.”

 Gujarat Police urges girls to stop wearing jeans, shorts

This Shame belongs to Who?

“Sometimes it seems like every single thing I do has the potential to be something ‘provocative’.”

Yes, I’m a woman, I have breasts and a cleavage, Deepika Padukone slams leading daily.

My skirt is not your license, pervert. – A splash of my life…

What is this big problem with Bra Strap Showing?

Did the posters threatening acid attacks on women wearing jeans surprise you?

 

Women and their unmentionables. Understanding Objectification.

This is a rambling and unedited attempt to understand why there is so much tolerance, in all Patriarchal societies, to Objectification of women.   

Many believe, and see it as obvious, that since women (unlike everybody else?) have bodies they should expect to be discussed, commented upon, condemned, stalked, hated, adored, sexually assaulted, respected, objectified etc.

Specially if the parts of the body being discussed have been sexualised – like legs, lips, eyes, breasts, ankles, back, belly, neck, midriff, shoulders, thighs, knees, toes, ears, mouth; because, why else were these body parts created if not for men  – to view, approve, own, disown, love, hate, honor, decide whether they are obscene or graceful, whether they look more attractive (to men) covered or uncovered, and how much covered or revealed?

This belief that women (or their bodies) exist to serve some purpose in men’s lives is reinforced when we hear numerous statements, like those that imply that our Skewed Gender Ratio is a problem – not because it indicates something seriously and evilly wrong with the society, but because it means there aren’t enough women for men to marry.

So, it’s obvious that when Deepika Padukone pointed out, “Yes, I’m a woman, I have breasts and a cleavage.”, many of us can’t quite understand what she means.

[Yes, I’m a woman, I have breasts and a cleavage, Deepika Padukone slams leading daily.]

Because, the point for many is just that. She should not forget that she is a woman, and has breasts and a cleavage. She is supposed to keep them covered or lose all right to dignity or privacy (for want of better word).

Here’s a TOI comment that explains the attitude better:

“If a person is not ashamed to remove his/her clothes for whatever reasons there may be, then why make a big fuss about people peeking into the pics looking for something ‘more’. Lets not let ourselves down to a level where public scrutiny might shame us”

It’s not just breasts. Women are viewed as a collection of body parts and the parts have been transformed into objects that serve to attract, delight or disgust men. What other purpose do women’s bodies serve? Women (i.e. their bodies) it seems were created for men.

Try viewing legs (women’s legs) as means for moving from one place to another – it would be considered a radical and impractical idea by many – because non-radical or default or the ‘normal’ remains how they appear to the male eye. Like – whether or not they are modestly covered, how good or bad they look, what colour, shape, texture, size, covering appeals to men.

TOI says:

Deepika Padukone SHOWS off again !!

 

‘… when her dress went too far and a part of her unmentionable were visible for a second ..although it isn’t a blooper but we definitely caught something peeping out of her dress.’

How do women’s body parts become ‘unmentionables’?

‘Some 150 years back the women in kerala launched a feminist revolt for the right to cover their breast, women in kerala were not allowed to cover their breast; mostly this rule was applicable to lower caste women, when someone from higher caste would come she should show her breast to cover ones breast was considered a sign of immodesty. Brahmin women can cover their breast while venturing out but at home they had to be topless, shatriya women cant cover breast infront of brahmins and lower cast women couldnt cover breast infront of anyone. The cloth worn on lower part couldnt be lower than the knee.’ [Click to read more]

There are contradicting ways in which women’s bodies are objectified.

One is seemingly respectful, protective and caring, another is gallant, chivalrous and seemingly liberal, and yet another one is openly misogynistic. All involve sexualising of women’s body into parts and seeing women as objects created for men’s convenience.

1. One view claims to honor, worship, find graceful, love, adore ‘the beautiful women who give men life’ and who sacrifice their happiness and self interest for men.

They believe crimes against women would end if all men viewed all women as their mothers and sisters and if all women lived and dressed in ways that didn’t draw any attention to them (basically if women were not seen).

They don’t talk about incest or child abuse or other crimes against women and children inside their homes.

They might believe that West is the cause of all crimes against women in India. They believe sexual assaults happen because men are weak and fail to control their ‘natural’ urges and that such men should be castrated or hanged or stoned and spat upon. And they might believe that women are too good to have such ‘manly needs and urges’.

They might also believe that lesser evils in man can be reformed by the love of a good woman.

They, like others misogynists, insist that women’s bodies were created for men, the Uterus to provide male heirs (though beautiful daughters are needed too, or else there would be no one to provide loving care, tie a rakhi, wear pretty bichias and bangles, provide opportunities for kanya-daan, save the rituals, customs and culture etc. So, yes, they admit, daughters have their uses too. These are the people who would appeal to parents to have daughters but may believe that divorce and love marriages are social evils.

They don’t talk about what women in unhappy marriages should do, they believe good women know how to stay happily married and such women would rather die than bring dishonour to family.

This view urges men to ‘respect’ women like their own mothers and sisters, but says nothing about viewing women as humans – capable of feelings, failings or desires.

Those who hold this view won’t allow women to compare themselves to men. They insist that men are weak, spoilt, selfish, aggressive, crude and that’s okay because they are men. But women can’t afford to be like this and they mustn’t attempt that. Because women are special – they are mothers. (Yet they don’t think children should carry their mothers’ names and lineage forward)  They believe it’s okay for women to give up their families, names, identities and happiness for men. They are likely to admire women who suffer in silence, sacrifice and serve without complaining. And because all women are goddesses and those who are not are merely misguided, and should be still ‘respected’ and taught about their duty to ‘mankind’.

They don’t see much hope for a woman who is not found beautiful by men, which is why they feel they are being compassionate and reassuring when they insist that ‘all women are beautiful’. Occasionally they can be also be found assuring random women of their attractiveness to men, and then be hurt when women are not appreciative of their generosity.

It simply doesn’t occur to them to see women as people and not as bodies, beautiful or ugly or deserving or not deserving of men’s love. They don’t see that their view too is all about Men, because they believe it is a Man’s World and women can be very satisfied and lead fulfilling life if they made men’s convenience their life purpose.

They might also believe that everybody (not just those who can enforce it) has the right to decide what in women’s bodies is condemnable or controversial, moral or immoral, shameful or shameless, excusable, obscene, vulgar etc.

Women who ignore or disagree with this view are viewed as leading selfish lives devoid of men’s approval or worse, ‘men’s respect’ (though some of us might consider them Empowered). Which is why misogynists view women who do not wear traditional clothing as a threat to Patriarchy.

2. Another is a seemingly Modern Mindset where one hears claims like ‘I love women’.  

Why do they love women?

Because women are beautiful. Women are hot. They are perplexed when some women are not delighted (forget grateful, not even glad) to be loved by them. They admire a thing of beauty – and all women are beautiful.

This view does not see women as individuals.

But the world would be so boring (for them) if there were no women in it. They are fine with women ‘flaunting’ their bodies (the default is ‘covered’, if it is not covered, then the body it is attached to, has no rights over it). Beauty is to be beheld. So women should be free to enjoy the appreciation when they go ahead and ‘show off’. (Not covering is automatically ‘showing off’ or even consent)

Those who hold this view have been questioned by women and media for making statements like, “I love women!!” and clearly didn’t get why this was found offensive by some women. It wasn’t even about women. It was about what men loved. What kind of skin colours, hair volume and texture, clothing etc they preferred in women. What makes women attractive (to men). What women should do to win a man’s approval. Isn’t it awesome/fortunate to be born women in a world where men just can’t do without women.

This view does not talk about rights or respect and generally views male attention and approval as empowering for women.

3. A third kind of objectification is the blatant objectification where women and women’s bodies are viewed as man’s properties and dangerous for social harmony and are best kept covered, locked up, denied voices and rights. This view is generally criticised and those who hold it are viewed by all, including the other two above, as misogynists.

But for those who hold this view of women, there is no other way of life.Their honor lies in ensuring their cows, homes, women, crops etc are kept safe from other men. It’s all about men. Men own everything including women and their lives and their bodies.

* * *

Finally here’s a comment that comes close to what Deepikia Padukone probably feels.

I am astonished by TOI tweet. Would you react same if your genitals are being discussed in public.

I wonder if all those who don’t understand, would be fine if the parts of their bodies or lives and choices that are ‘not covered’ were to be viewed as ‘flaunting’ and were open to public scrutiny, leering, commenting and judgment. Though ofcourse their preferences are no reason for Deepika or anybody else to tolerate the same.

What do you think?

Why do societies get away with women being denied the ownership of their own bodies, covered, uncovered, attractive or unappealing (to men)?

Related:

The full extent of what urban India believes about menstruation is extraordinary

 Gujarat Police urges girls to stop wearing jeans, shorts

“So why do we wear clothes again??”

A response to: Why we think women activists should change their attitude of “wear what you like”

Why do Indian women like to wear western clothes?

What women ‘choose’ to wear…

Weird, funny facts about Misogynists.

Yes, I’m a woman, I have breasts and a cleavage, Deepika Padukone slams leading daily.

I think this is a positive. This simple statement makes so much sense,

“Yes, I’m a woman, I have breasts and a cleavage.” 

It should start a much needed dialogue and hopefully influence in some small way, the way women’s bodies are viewed. As of now, everybody in India seems to know who owns women’s bodies – including the bodies of women in public spaces.

I also hope we hear more about how offensive it is to those who are directly affected, than to the brothers, fathers and husbands of some of them. We also must consider the possibility of some women not having willing male relatives to feel outrage of their behalf.

At the same time, it’s not surprising that many Indians can’t quite understand what  Deepika Padukone could possible mean. Because, the point for them is just that: She should not forget that she is a woman, and has breasts and a cleavage.

These comments on the internet should be read without anger or outrage,   because those who are saying this, probably believe what they are saying.

1. For this commentator – It’s all about Men.

Why on the first place show ur body to Men? Beauty is not skin show only . Deepika must realise it someday.

What men find beautiful. And what women must realise about men’s preference, i.e. women’s skin showing versus women’s skin covered. 

It’s not surprising that they think this way – because even when we talk about the Skewed Gender Ratio, we hear it’s a concern only because men need wives. And when we talk about protecting women from sexual assaults, it’s because they are men’s sisters and daughters. 

When do we hear about women as people with rights and feelings and Bodies of their own?

 

2.

I condemn the TOI article. At the same time, I sincerely think that by showing their physique only, most of these cine-stars make their living. So there is controversy here. I think we should condemn both.

Why do you think is this comment condemning ‘both’?

There is no doubt in his/her mind that a woman ‘showing’ her body is wrong – and that women need approval and deserve condemnation for attempting to view their bodies (and minds) as their own business.

So if a woman steps out of her home, and doesn’t keep in mind the preferences of men in the street outside, what else does she expect?

 

 

3. 

This comment is why objectification of women needs a post, many posts, maybe a tag. We should talk more about all the ways in which women are objectified. And if and how it influences women’s lives and safety.

what about item numbers ? what about leela ? dam maro dam . They show if they get money , when no mone?y. Rape and crime against women are increasing and they play a important part in that.

Also, rapes and crime against women are not increasing. The silence of survivors is ‘decreasing’. The confidence to report rape is increasing.The fear of being shamed, blamed and named is decreasing.

* * *

Many more misogynistic but mostly heart felt opinions on the links below.

Do these opinions matter? Do they influence women’s lives? I am sure those who hold these opinions do control the lives of ‘their women’ – their sisters, wives and daughters.  I am confident that Deepika Padukone’s assertion is a step in the right direction. Specially since she did get a male friend or relative to speak on her behalf.

Deepika Padukone Should Consider it a Compliment: ‘Defence’ of Cleavage Tweet

Yes, I’m a woman, I have breasts and a cleavage, Deepika Padukone slams leading daily; Bollywood stands in support

OMG: Deepika Padukone exposes cleavage!

Some related Posts:

A double mastectomy in a world where a woman is seen as ‘packet of behinds, thighs, hair and lips’.

That special combination of beauty and innocence, the pretty inspires men to protect and defend it.

Kangana Ranaut’s interview.

If pre-marital sex if here to stay, then so are HPVs and other STDs.

My skirt is not your license, pervert. – A splash of my life…

 

 

An email: ‘Dark childhood and other thoughts.’

Sharing a heartbreaking email from a courageous young woman, titled – ‘Dark childhood and other thoughts’.

Do consider:

1. The cousin knew he could get away with the sexual abuse. 

2. The mother saw the abusive husband’s anger as a bigger threat than the child’s trauma.

3. The mother seemed to have chosen Silence as the solution – probably because that is how patriarchal societies have traditionally dealt with this and many other crimes against women and girl children. 

4. I also think that fear of any medical evidence was all that mattered – so long as nobody knew, there was no obvious loss of virginity and no known premarital pregnancy, sexual abuse could be pretended away.  

5. For many, child sexual abuse is more about shame and family-honor than a lost childhood. Because – girl child’s life and happiness is not seen as important, her future in laws’s approval/marriageability (or ‘honor’) is. 

6. All this is convenient for the abuser – who obviously understood, even as an adolescent, that patriarchy tolerated such crimes.

The email writer says, ‘I desperately need a closure.’  What do you think would help? 

Dear IHM,

I am a young girl from Nepal, living abroad by myself at the moment. Nepali society, predominantly Hindu, is largely similar to Indian patriarchal society. I grew up listening to relatives giving my son-less parents open advice on how to conceive a boy. I was overjoyed when my younger sister was born when I was about 8, but I couldn’t see the same look of happiness on neither my parents’ face nor the relatives.

This is the first time I have ever written this, and it gives me chills down my spine, but I was sexually abused as a child, starting from age four or five (might have been younger). He was my maternal cousin, the only son, who everyone in my family so loved.

He is older than me by 8 years, but he kept on abusing me until he was an adult (18). My mum’s brother’s family lived in a different city, and we visited them about once or twice a year, and that is when he would secretly take me to this room, give me some book (I loved reading) and sexually abuse me. I was so young that I had no idea what was going on initially.

In the following years, I was terrified and kept quiet. He wouldn’t say anything during the whole process but just play with my privates and try to penetrate me. I remember wishing as a child that this was not reality and that I would one day wake up from this horrible nightmare. And hence when I was about seven or eight, I told this to my mother. She was shocked but she would insist I do not to tell this to my father. She took me to the hospital under fake name to get myself checked. But after the results came out okay, she never did anything ever about it. Now that I come to think of it, I think she didn’t really believe me and she loved the son of her only brother (my abuser) too much.

I dreaded going to visit their family annually but it continued. I remember asking the innocent child in myself on why he picked me, among all the cousins. Did he know that the marriage of my parents was abusive and unsuccessful and that my mother was weak? Once he was about 17, he moved to my city and started living with our family for his college studies. He continued abusing me for a year or two under the roofs of my own house.

One day, I was sick of all this (that was the last day of abuse) and  I got up and yelled that I would tell my mum everything (I had already, years before, but like I wrote above, she didn’t really do anything). Once I faced her however, I couldn’t say anything. I was already let down by her once. I didn’t say anything to anybody but I stopped talking to my cousin. I didn’t talk to him for about 4 years, and everybody in my misogynist family circle was talking about how I was a rebel child for not talking to my own elder cousin, how I was not respecting elders, etc.

Today, we talk occasionally. We have never discussed about it. My mom hasn’t said anything about it to anybody, let alone him. I hate him for ruining my innocent childhood. I still hate him with burning rage. I especially hate how he is worshiped by my relatives circle because he is the only son and a doctor. I hate how he has managed to disguise himself as a loving, responsible man in all these years. The only reason why I didn’t do anything about it after I was an adult was because I thought he was young when he did that to me. But now when I think of it, his last abuse towards me, for sure, was when he was 18+. Not too young to know that it’s WRONG to exploit a child.

I hate the guts of my mother who couldn’t even protect her own child. Now, after all these years, I still think about it often and think about what to do. I desperately need a closure.

I still turned out to be a thoughtful, fierce, independent individual despite my horrible childhood. And ever since I was old enough to understand things, I was never abused or anything as such.

– Need a Closure

Related Posts:

“…if this thing comes out my husband will think my wife is after all not that ‘pure’ or is not that ‘untouched flower’”

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

An email: Satyamev Jayate touched a deep wound. After almost 30 years I broke the silence.

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

Sexual abuse victim thrown out of school for being a bad influence on other students.

Society cannot afford to have live sex bombs who, if let loose, are a potential threat…

In Rape Culture, we understand that if the rapist was living alone, away from his native place, he could lose control over himself.

Teacher arrested for raping six year student.

Here’s why a 6-year-old rape survivor was ordered to marry alleged rapist’s 8 year old son.

What is that one thing that can change an Indian girl child’s life?

I think that one thing is her parents seeing her as their child and not as her future in laws’s daughter-in-law (Paraya Dhan).

Everything changes when a paraya dhan becomes her parents’ child. Her happiness, her future, her comfort, her health, her safety… and eventually her rights and  freedoms also become important enough to fight for.

Once the family values her, so will the society.

Do you agree?

But how do the parents begin to do that?

By realising that Getting Married and Staying Married need not be the only way for a girl child to ‘settle down’.

And what’s the first step for that to happen?

Education ofcourse.

Which is why I am supporting #​Selfies4School by Breakthrough.

Nation Against Early Marriage

What happens when a girl child goes to school?

1. The girl child gets to be a child that she is. She gets a break from housework and taking care of younger siblings. The school might also provide nutrition and opportunities for physical activities.

2. Makes it possible for a girl child to begin to see that there is more to her life than Getting Married and Staying Married.

3. Schooling also makes it possible/easier for her parents to delay a girl child’s marriage.

One huge plus in all this is that most Indians value Education and Success.

#Selfies4School

According to a UNICEF report, India has 47% of the world’s child brides – although we have festivals where we ‘worship’ girl children. 🙄

‘Breakthrough is hoping that #Selfies4School will help ignite conversations in the drawing rooms of professionals and the educated classes.’

Igniting conversations is a powerful step in the right direction I think, because without conversation there is Silence.

How do you like the campaign mascot – Uma with her dupatta flying like a cape 😀

Uma Selfies4School

Take a look at this video – in Hindi.

Related Posts:

“See – UNICEF has figured it out. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out.”

Teenage Pregnancies – not our culture…

His sister is 26 and has two kids, the older one is 8! Another sister, around 18 is also married.

The life and times of another Indian Homemaker.

19 Rape Facts that Khaps, Cops and Chautala should know.

When life ends at twelve.

So how did you go to school?