‘My question is, what do you do? What do you say when the majority thinks this way…’

Sharing an email. How do you react in similar situations? Do you attempt to convey that you disagree? Would you argue? If yes, then do you manage to convey why you disagree? Do you ignore, or pretend to agree or get into heated arguments?

Just wondering how do most people react to something that seems obvious to them but something that many others don’t seem to be able to see.

The email. 

Dear IHM,

I’m girl in my early twenties, raised by very liberal parents. I took it upon myself as a task to develop myself thoughtful, considerate and non-judgmental as I possibly could. I honestly never really realized how much gender inequality existed in our society until I started to notice the atmosphere around me – the girls in school, in college, the way people when they were talking about girls. Let me just share few examples with you.

For starters, I knew this girl in school (say A) who would proudly boast about her dad’s position and family wealth, and their nice big house. One day when our very close friend was leaving the country we had a get together at her house. A good time was being had, but ‘A’ showed up rather late. When asked why she was late – her dad never let her out of the house to meet friends and gave her an earful for wanting to come here, she was only allowed here because a close friend was leaving – that too with younger brother in tow. That was when I knew I she may have had a lot in terms of ‘status’, but she had close to nothing in terms of freedom. The thing that got to me most was – why is everyone so okay with it? How is it that they pretended this was and okay and acceptable?

I know another girl who left Grade 11 to return to India to get married. All was cute and lovely for a while after she married. While I kept my judgment to myself quite a few girls made it a point to congratulate her, tell her God had surely blessed her, how cute the couple looked, and how gorgeous her wedding dress was.  A year later she got divorced. Now she’s continuing her studies.

However the one that really opened my eyes something that happened very recently. The father of a friend of mine recently passed away. The family is survived by my friend, his brother, mother and his younger sister. As my friends came to hear of the news, they all showed signs of feeling sorry and having pity – but all unanimously (and disappointingly) ended their statements the same way – ‘Oh so he has a younger sister huh? Oh so he now has to work for her marriage’ *understanding tone of voice* *concerned, caring look*. While I silently nodded outside inside I was aghast.  Honestly the first time I heard it, it took a while for me to understand they were actually serious. Note that sister (the liability who needs to be married off) is doing her MBA. Also, that they are upper middle class. Note from the four people who made this statement all were ‘NRIs’.  By this I’m not emphasizing ‘NRI’ here, what I am emphasizing is that this mentality prevails among social class that has supposedly settled into a more ‘developed’ society. Two from them are girls – one of the tem is currently pursuing her Masters degree, she’s amongst the brightest in class. The other is the so-called ‘modern’ Indian girl. She drinks, she smokes, she parties. The other two were brothers but with vastly differing personalities. Yet both had the same reaction to the personal ‘burden’ he now had to carry. Also note that one of the brother’s has worked and studied in the UK for more than 5 yrs and considers himself ‘modern’.  I rarely have anything to say when I hear such things, because I never expect these things to be said in today’s world by people from my generation.

There are countless examples – a man responding to a woman in my office who just said her younger sister got engaged ‘Oh, so now your Dad can finally relax!’ (this was said inspite of there being an unmarried boy too in the house).  Some guy friends who are either married or in serious relationships find it quite okay to make jokes or share stories of times they argued/ outwitted the girl’s parents openly in front of our circle, while the girls would never retaliate in the same way, they just keep quite. Guys who make jokes on dark or ‘black’ girls. And it goes on and on. There’s a lot more to say, but it’s pointless.

My question is, what do you do? What do you say when the majority thinks this way and  anything you say to counter them will just get you looks of bewilderment in return, or blank responses of ‘but that’s our culture’, or ‘you’re trying to be too western’. How do you convince the majority that a culture that is misogynist and expects it’s people to follow strictly defined gender roles is one that needs to undergo some change at least? Especially when you’re often the only person in the group who seems to think differently.

I’m sorry this email is really long. But sometimes it feels like no one really gets it. Everyone is comfortable under the ‘traditional’ umbrella, and no one really gets why the system is unjust. I’m writing this because I know that you, IHM are one of the few people can understand my point. I also want to ask you – do you ever come across such things in social situations? And how do you tackle it?

Apologies again for the long email. I know many of your readers often email you about genuine problems, while mine is just a rant. Thanks anyway for listening.

Related Posts :

And if a woman demands equality, she should behave exactly like a male…

“Please help! How do I prove to my guy friends that women are equal to men?” 

“Can anyone guarantee that absolute empowerment of women thru feminism will improve the social balance and not give rise to new social problems?”

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

“I see you have used the word “equality”. I`m just curious, enlighten me if I am wrong.”

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Punjabi University locks girls in hostels to prevent ‘nuisance’ on Holi

Most of are so used to the idea of locking up and silencing  women and girls that we don’t even notice that it doesn’t help anybody –  not the girls, not the crime rate, not the skewed gender ratio, not the general disrespect for the lives, happiness, freedom and rights of women – which is what leads to all the rest of the problems.

We don’t even acknowledge that we still have the highest rate of crimes against women, because obviously locking up women doesn’t work. It only conveys that they and their rights are less valued than those who are assaulting them.

What we are conveying is that the boys who are feared are all powerful, uncontrollable criminals, or maybe that the crime of ‘creating nuisance’ is not big enough to be taken seriously and controlled.

Also that locking up of students (only if they are female students) is not a serious encroaching on their rights. It also conveys to the entire society (including, to the boys), that women’s freedom, recreation, voices, wishes and rights are not as important.

Also, are we trying to say, that those who are feared (the male students) are actually permitted to ‘create a nuisance’ if the girls are out? Was an effort made to talk to the boys about the university’s fears?

Shouldn’t a clear message be given to the boys that ‘creating nuisance’ would not be tolerated? That anybody encroaching on the rights,safety and freedoms of other equal citizens would no go to jail?

Are we saying that we have no way to ensure law and order?  Or is it not big enough an issue and it is easier to lock up those who matter the least?

Ofcourse, most of us can’t imagine restricting the freedom of those we fear could create a nuisance. In fact all they needed to do was let the male students know that any ‘nuisance’ could lead to serious consequences and they could also get some security. Maybe let the male students pay for it, since they are the ones who need help (with being controlled)?

It also seems that the Punjabi University believes that boys lose control only on certain days – did they wonder why that happens? Have the boys been given some special licenses on these days? If yes, then maybe the license needs to be withdrawn by those who grant it? By locking up the girls the university is clearly acknowledging that it believes that the male students are out of control on certain days, but is still taking no action against them.

If nothing else worked, if the university was sure that the boys could be neither trusted enough, nor controlled, to respect the rights of the girl students, then the delegation asked a very relevant question:

Why they don’t close entrances of all boys’ hostels and let girls play Holi inside the campus?

Ofcourse it’s also possible that the University was only trying to prevent interactions between ‘the opposite sexes’, because, like many other educational institutes in India, they too believe that Love Marriages spoil the Family System of our Nation.

Punjabi University locks girls in hostels to prevent ‘nuisance’ on Holi

(Link shared by Anil Singhal)
…a delegation of students had met senior varsity officials before Holi, requesting them that such a closure on the festival day was an assault on democratic rights of girls. “However, senior functionaries of the university responded that the tradition of locking girls inside the hostels during Holi was not new and had been going on since the past 40 years. Authorities refused to deliberate on our demand and even threatened strict action if any student violated the orders,” said Sarvir, who is also vice-president of Democratic Students Organization’s (DSO) university unit.

“If authorities foresee nuisance on such occasions then why can’t it be the other way round? Why they don’t close entrances of all boys’ hostels and let girls play Holi inside the campus? This is feudal mindset and intolerable in places like a university campus where girl students are mature enough to differentiate between right and wrong,” she argued.

“Hostels were closed keeping in mind security of girl students and to prevent any kind of nuisance on the campus. Misbehaviour with girls could have led to quarrels and clashes,”

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Male escorts and whistles: IIT-Madras’s new safety plan.

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

Can you see what made the request seem so ridiculous to those who had the authority to deny it?

“One of the so-called best professor of my department … advices his students (girls) that men can be satisfied only by two things…”

‘Daughters growing older, their egos becoming bigger, their attitudes and behavior becoming more boorish..’

A guest post by Mr GV.

IHM,

I once told you I am a member of an on line community  forum at yahoo groups. We are about 6000 members located all over the world and discuss matters of interest to the community. Most of us are elderly folks. A subject that comes up often is the difficulty in finding brides for the boys of the community.  Anguish is often expressed when girls  belonging to the community opt for “love marriages” particularly with boys from outside the community. Unlike the past, today the boys parents are having  trouble in finding suitable matches for their sons from within the community.  In the olden days, boys parents sat back with pride and were waited on by parents of girls seeking suitable matches for their daughters.  These days,  girls are much better educated and often better employed than many boys. The shoe is on the other foot now.  The issue is now being looked on as a problem in the community. Several mails on this subject have been posted in the past.

I am reproducing an edited version of one such mail from a prominent member of this group. I have sought his permission to post it here on your blog after deleting his name to protect his identity. He has kindly agreed, even after I have warned him that his views may invite strong reactions from readers of this blog, many of whom are staunch and committed feminists.

I will send a link to this gentleman so that he can follow the blog if and after it is published.

The editing is merely to reduce the length of the post and nothing relevant to the subject has been left out.

Regards and best wishes.

GV

JARGON ON THE MARRIAGE BOURSE

Hey guys, most of you, if not all of you, may be very familiar with the

jargon in the share bazaar and commodities markets. Matrimony too operates like the market economy. So this industry too has coined hits own jargon.

*INNOCENT DIVORCEE*

One of the most widely used terms to describe female divorcees is “Innocent divorcees”. Other terms that strike the eye are “upper middle class”, “affluent”, “well connected”, “prominent” “compatibility” , “adaptability”, “effervescent” , “ebullient”, “positive”.  More Lallies than Venkies use these terms. Want proof? Visit any matrimonial website featuring Lallies and you will see for yourself.

(GV :  Lalli, is a typical nick name for a girl from the community. Venky is a typical nick name for a boy from this community)

What does the term “innocent divorcee”  mean? Can you fathom it? Honestly, I can’t.  Who exactly is an “innocent divorcee”? What is innocence in a typical matrimonial situation. Was Lalli, the innocent BE (computers),MCA, MBA, or CA, or MSc. Microbiology or Pharmacy or MBA, widely traveled working for an MNC and drawing an astronomical salary and one who knows about the birds and the bees and the ways of the world, lured into marriage by a demon, plainly cheated, tortured, betrayed, exploited and thrown out? Or wasn’t the marriage consummated.  If so, then what about her four year old son?

One can’t imagine today’s Lalli being so naive. We all know that a camel can pass through the eye of a needle but  a Venky has to do Bhagiratha prayatnam to enter Lalli’s life. It’s tougher for a Venky to marry a  Lalli than clear the entrance to IIT or IIM. Such is the grilling the poor guy has to undergo, not only from Madam Lalli herself but also from her “super-educated” parents. It doesn’t matter if poor Venky is highly qualified.

That isn’t a bar for Lalli’s superannuated stenographer, section officer or supernumerary father from patronizingly grilling poor Venky and his parents and putting them through the grind. So, what or who then is an “innocent divorcee”?. Honestly I don’t know. Can any one of you enlighten me?.

*UPPER MIDDLE CLASS*

Now for the term “upper middle class”. Lalli’s parents are always upper middle class, whatever that term may mean.  How do they manage to include themselves in this class? What is the yard stick they use to decide which class they belong to?

My  limited knowledge on the subject makes me ask a lot of questions.  The average family income of a Lalli works out to around not more than 7 lakhs per annum. May be she has a Nano or a Wagon R (seldom used) parked in front of her house. The car is usually driven to the temple or to a wedding with Appa and Amma proudly riding in it, sitting erect and tossing their heads pigeon like, left and right, wondering and wishing if they are being noticed. And of course, getting out of the car, slamming the door aloud to attract attention and announcing aloud for every one to hear, “onnum chollaadey, enna traffikk jam theriyuma? ayyo romba bore??”

(GV: Liberally translated from the dialect of Tamil dialect spoken by the community:  Let’s not talk of it!  What a horrible traffic jam it was! I am fed up!”)

(GV: or as they say in Hindi “kuch mat bol, baabaa, kyaa traffic jam thaa pataa hai?, had ho gayee”)

Sorry folks, I am deviating from the narration.  If Lalli and her parents believe they are “upper middle class” living in a shoe box 442 sq.ft apartment in a pattar ghetto in Mulund or Dombivali, (GV: pattar is a popular colloquial term for the community, used with some mild contempt) we wonder about those small businessmen and professionals earning in lakhs every month, the top business executives and middle level businessmen, share brokers, mediamen and film fraternity, cameramen , directors, lawyers, highly paid medical professionals, consultants. What class are they? Are they the super rich, the aristocrats? And then the page 3 people. Are they upper middle class? If not what else?

In their bleak blinkered existence, with Lalli’s father eking out a living doing some subordinate, supernumerary job, a salary of Rs.7 lacs is big. A car is bigger.  An engineering degree or an MBA degree, from whichever third rate degree manufacturing institution, and a designation of “Manager” “Executive” (however deflated, inane and silly these may be) is the stuff dreams are made of. Lalli’s appa compares the managers of his times with today’s paper managers. An MBA from Pandurang Patil or Munisami Periappa University, however worthless these may be is the greatest of things. So, he and his Lalli are “upper middle class”.

And that gives them the liberty to talk, act and behave haughtily with persons seeking their daughter’s hand. The result?  Daughter’s growing older, their egos becoming bigger, their attitudes and behavior becoming more boorish, more condescending, more patronizing, advance towards menopause, growing fatter and uglier by the day. If perchance some Venky is meek enough to tie the knot with our Lalli, surrendering to her every whim and fancy, then hell awaits him. And very often, the marriage ends in divorce? Lalli is the “innocent divorcee”

*KOMPATTIBBILLITTY*

This is a much touted word. The first thing a Lalli’s father asks is “onga pullaikki ettanai chambalam kadaikkaradu.”

(GV: What salary does your son get?)

This is a genuine question, and a very welcome question. Valid too!

But the haughty, arrogant way this question is asked would put even an illiterate laborer to shame. There is no politeness, no humility, no kindness. A typical father of a Lalli would phone a prospective groom’s home. The conversation would go somewhat like this:

Boys father: Hello?

Girls Father: Hello, Subramaniama? (Now no Mr. no Sir.) (GV:  is it Subramaniam? ) note, no prefix

Boy’s father: Yes?

Now without identifying himself, without a formal greeting,  Lalli’s father would come straight to the question

*Ongattulai oru pullai irukkaan innu ketten*

(GV : I heard you have a “boy” in your house , (meaning a son of marriageable age) )

Boy’s father: Aamaam irukkaan (GV: yes, we have one)

Girl’s father: Enna chambalam avanukku? (GV: What is his salary?)

Boys’ Father: Saar, neenga aaru pesereyael, engendu kooppudarayal ?

(GV: Sir, who is this speaking? From where are you speaking?)

Girl’s father: *Aieee, adu ellam avvsiyam illai. Modalla pullayoda chambalam chollungo*

(GV: Arey! Let that go, it’s not necessary (for you to know) . First, tell us the boy’s salary)

Boy’s father: Saar, konjam vivarama chollungo. Neenga aaru, ponnu aaru, onga background enna

(GV: Sir, please give us details. Who are you? Who is the girl? What is your background?)

Girl’s father: “Paarungo, modalulai ongolodu pullayodu chambalam enna chollungo”

(GV:   See now, first tell us what your son’s salary is)

Boy’s father: *Enna avasaram saar?*

(GV: What is the hurry sir ? (for knowing the salary))

Girl’s fathe: *Modalla adu terinju aahanam. Kompatibbillittee vendaama?*

(GV: Right at the outset, it’s absolutely necessary to know that.  Isn’t compatibility needed?”)

Is Lalli’s father seeking to marry his daughter’s pay packet with that of the boy ?

“Kompattibbillittee”  for Lalli’s learned father also touches professional areas.  (Nalla kompattibillittee irukku.  kompooter=kompooter )

(GV: There is good compatibility. Computer = computer, meaning both boy and girl are computer professionals)

Are two computers going to tie the marital knot?

So Lalli’s father goes from boorish encounter to boorish encounter. Hasn’t he been a supernumerary all his life?  In his “aapees” (GV: the community’s typical pronounciation of  the word “office”)  he was used to being talked down.  He suddenly finds himself empowered by his darling Lalli, an ”Ingineeyar”  or an “YemBeeeYay”)  and has his day under the sun.

I can go on and on about the various jargon words but it is too painful to do so. I will bring down the curtain of charity on this sorry Lalli story and the pathetic parents.

Finally, Lalli, her hormones fast withering, her youth fading away, marries whoever she comes across, generally a Christian or a Muslim or a casteless Hindu. And ends up an “Innocent Divorcee”

Why don’t parents of Lallis shed their stupidity? Their condescending  attitude? Their arrogance? And behave like normal human beings?

What they are doing is hurting their own loved Lallis. And demeaning themselves.

============

Related Posts:

Marrying out of caste, Divorce, and Nuclear Families are Social Problems or solutions to Social Evils?

Early and arranged marriages within the community prevent social ills.

Love Marriages spoil the Family System of our Nation.

18 questions for young women (and men) of ‘marriageable age’.

A detailed check list of conditions from modern young women of marriageable age.

Are these the eight reasons you would give in support of Arranged Marriages?

“Everyone knows, when she decides not to keep relation, she will do that. But I don’t want to go far away from my mother, I want her to be with me.”

The interference of parents in the married life of their daughters…

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

It’s strange how little it is understood that an environment that disrespects and belittles women as either ‘beautiful creations’ or future roti makers (Or else what use are women?) is the environment that nurtures violent crimes against women.

Because in this environment a girl is being seen only as being ‘useful’ or ‘useless’ to men. And hence she must strive for the approval of men, their neighbours, colleagues and extended families – this mindset has created a society where everybody knows what every woman must do or not do.

Where is the humour in girls being denied education and opportunity, or Life, or being permitted each only if they adhere to patriarchal roles and their place at the bottom of the family hierarchy? (which such mindsets lead to)

Why is it funny that education and engineering degrees do not really empower women the way they empower everybody else?

Why is it a ‘joke’ to address only the male IIT B students, and then to reassure them that marrying an IIT B student did not mean they would be denied home cooked meals because their female class mates were not going to be spared their primary patriarchal responsibilities. Because an Indian girl, no matter what she achieves, is ‘of no use’ if she is not found beautiful by a man and his family, and if she doesn’t make a good future chapatti makers.

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

Fakeindianbbahu shared this link.

… the most pressing concern of IIT boys on campus- do boys have enough good looking girls to look at and hit on? So he asked, “Are there good-looking girls in IIT-B?” Men both inside and outside IIT-B rose their hands in solidarity to signal no. So he asked again, “Are there good-looking girls in IIT-B?” The hands rose again. The couple of boos from the IIT-women of course went unheard. 
Of course, all boys shared the inside joke. After all, the world was made to please them, their sensibilities, and their sexual fantasies. So they rightfully claim their space to let girls know that they are not good looking, and definitely as publicly as possible! They definitely claimed their right in unison to make women in IIT feel small.

And then when in anger I spoke to some of the Mood Indigo team members, I was told that it was all done in good humor. So while the joke is on, let’s then share one more laugh with more details of what followed.

Read more here, Sexism in Mood Indigo, or on facebook: Arpita Phukan Biswas

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“A Hindu woman derives immense pleasure in sacrifice for her husband. The white man will never ever understand this.”

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

Indian family values are good for Indian daughters?

These lines sum up the biggest reason for male child preference and skewed gender ratio in India.

Dheeyaan dee maa rani, bhudhaapey bharey paani

So what could make even the average, selfish, money-minded Indian family welcome baby girls?

These lines sum up the biggest reason for male child preference and skewed gender ratio in India.

In these lines is summed the biggest reason for male child preference and skewed gender ratio in India. This is a rough translated – please let me know any errors.

Generations of Indian paraya dhan (daughters), including those who are educated and independent (Modern but Traditional Patriarchal), are brought up for this patriarchal self sacrifice. Note: For many people Traditional and Patriarchal are synonyms.

Link shared by Sarika Varshney, See the Original Post here : https://www.facebook.com/Train.aa.gayi.hai/posts/607036439354085

एक लड़की ससुराल चली गई, A girl went to her marital home

कल की लड़की आज बहु बन गई. yesterday’s girl became a daughter in law today
कल तक मौज करती लड़की, Until yesterday she had fun

अब ससुराल की सेवा करना सीख गई. Now she has learnt to serve her in laws [“I will never live in a joint family, it has its roots in patriarchy and benefits only men.”]

कल तक तो टीशर्ट और जीन्स पहनती लड़की, Until yesterday she wore jeans and Tshirt [No Jeans For Indian Daughters in Law.]

आज साड़ी पहनना सीख गई. Today she has learnt to wear sari [Why do Indian women like to wear western clothes?]

पिहर में जैसे बहती नदी, The flowing river in her maika (parents’ home)
आज ससुराल की नीर बन गई. has become water in her marital home
रोज मजे से पैसे खर्च करती लड़की, Everyday she spent money happily
आज साग-सब्जी का भाव करना सीख गई. Today she has learn to save/haggle/negotiate while buying vegetables [“Her husband has told her she can leave if she wishes, she does not have a steady income of her own.”]

कल तक FULL SPEED स्कुटी चलाती लड़की, Until yesterday she drove scootie FULL SPEED [When a newly married Indian woman gives up her career, what else does she give up?]
आज BIKE के पीछे बैठना सीख गई. Now she has learnt to ride pillion on the BIKE

कल तक तो तीन टाईम फुल खाना खाती लड़की, She ate three times, full meals till yesterday [It’s not about hot hot chappaties.]

आज ससुराल में तीन टाईम का खाना बनाना सीख गई. Today she has learnt to cook three time in her marital home [Daughter-in-law should not be treated as domestic help, says Supreme Court]

हमेशा जिद करती लड़की, She was always obstinate/She had a mind of her own
आज पति को पूछना सीख गई. Now she has learnt to take permission from her husband [“The sense of entitlement that’s hard-wired into every male child in an Indian household”]

कल तक तो मम्मी से काम करवाती लड़की, Until yesterday she made her mother work [Dheeyaan dee maa rani, bhudhaapey bharey paani]

आज सासुमां के काम करना सीख गई. Has today learnt to work for her mother in law
कल तक तो भाई-बहन के साथ झगड़ा करती लड़की, Until yesterday this girl fought with her siblings
आज नणंद का मान करना सीख गई. Today she has learnt to respect her spouse’s sister’s wishes
कल तक तो भाभी के साथ मजाक करती लड़की, Till yesterday she joked with her brother’s wife
आज जेठानी का आदर करना सीख गई. Todays she has learnt to respect her husband’s older brother’s wife
पिता की आँख का पानी, [A daughter is] the water in her father’s eyes
ससुर के ग्लास का पानी बन गई.  Has become her father in law’s glass of water
फिर लोग कहते हैं कि बेटी ससुराल जाना सीख गई. Then people say that the girl has learnt to go to her marital home.
(यह बलिदान केवल लड़की ही कर सकती है,इसिलिए हमेशा लड़की की झोली वात्सल्य से भरी रखना…) Only a girl can make this sacrifice, this is why, may her lap be full of motherly love (maybe this means ‘may she have many male children for her spouse’s family name to continue)
बात निकली है तो दूर तक जानी चाहिये!!! Now that this has been said, may these words go far.

We even have an Ideal Daughters in Laws school in Madhya Pradesh. 

This is why all Indians value sons – to provide their families with daughters in law described in the post above. Like DG has pointed out in a comment – in a traditional patriarchal setup, un-marriageable sons are valued less than marriageable/married sons.

Related Posts:

Should women be given a share in residential property of the husband, including inherited and inheritable property?

Can’t end marriage over sari 😉

Some basic questions on joint family finances and daughters in law.

An email: My principal fear is my wife is not going to be able to love my parents as much as I do.

“I have to seek permission for visiting parents. My phone bill has to be reasonable. My expenses nominal. And my desires non-existent.”

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

Should women be given a share in residential property of the husband, including inherited and inheritable property?

The interference of parents in the married life of their daughters…

How important is it for a girl to get married and stay married?

Adarsh Bhartiya Nari – Ideal Indian Woman… !!!

Is it possible to insult someone who doesn’t value your opinion of them?

If a woman does not think being sexually active is immoral, then is it possible to ‘insult’ her by calling her names that are supposed to indicate she is sexually active?

If a woman truly does not see being widowed as immoral or criminal, then would she be offended if attempts are made to ‘insult’ her by calling her a widow? Maybe what is hurtful is that someone wants to offend or even hurt? But what does it say for the society that looks upon loss of a life partner (only for women) as not sad and unfortunate, but as an ‘insult’?

But then it seems telling someone they are acting like women is an insult, sometimes even women can be insulted with reminders that they mere women/girls.

Telling a man he is not a ‘man’ (or ‘man enough’) would also be an insult only if the man sees ‘not being a man’ as an insult.

What does such an insult say about the one who is attempting to insult?

1. In patriarchal societies adjectives/nouns/verbs/metaphors/etc that convey that women are not asexual, can be used to insult women and all the men authorised by Patriarchy to control their sexuality – these include their husbands, brothers, fathers, uncles, community elders, a neighbour’s third cousin who happens to notice her crossing her lakshman rekha, also, her country men.

2. Since aggression is seen as an essential ‘manly’ quality , insult can be attempted by accusing a man of lack of aggression. Sexual aggression is also seen as manly, in fact it is a patriarchal tool to either insult or control women’s freedoms, which is why some sexual criminals claim to ‘teach a lesson’ to either the people they rape or their families or communities. And which is why sexual crimes should not be allowed to be seen as anything less than the crimes that they are. Molestation or street sexual harassment are not ‘insults’ or dishonour, they are serious crimes that support more crimes by preventing/curtailing women’s freedom to  move out of dangerous or unpleasant situations.

It also seems adjectives that describe anybody or anything that does not support the cause of Patriarchal abuse of human rights are ‘insults’.

‘Insult’ is a powerful patriarchal tool – but it can’t survive without support from those who agree to be ‘insulted’ when they have been criminally, maybe even grievously assaulted and or when they have been told they or their family members do not fit into Patriarchal stereotypes.

How would those who attempt to insult, deal with men and women who don’t think being sexually active (or not) is anybody’s business but an adult individual’s?

A comment on the previous post asked a reader:

But you never find any insult to be worth being offended by. Do you ?

What would you find ‘insulting’?

Would you be offended if you were called a misogynist or ‘a foot soldier of patriarchy’? What if you were called a slut, a virago, unladylike, shameless etc (if you are woman) or ‘a woman’ or a Joru ka Gulaam, if you are a man? How would you react?

What control would patriarchy have if it can’t insult those it attempts to control?

Related Posts:

Would women be in some ways empowered if they saw no shame in what they could risk being called?

Babe In Total Control Of Herself – B.I.T.C.H.

What the hell is difference between a homemaker and a porn star?

This Shame belongs to Who?

TO CALL A SPADE A S****

Delhi Belly: Indecent, immoral, abusive language. Permitted everywhere except on screen.

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

Romanticizing innocence, chastity and related taboos for women.

Every blogger should mind their language.

Why does Gender Sensitivity in Legal Language matter.

‘This ‘I, Me, Myself’ culture that most of you on this forum are propagating itself is hypocrisy.’

Sharing a comment from: When married Indian women strive to look unmarried.

This comments gives an idea of what family elders and neighbours [etc] say to women who do not want to wear symbols of suhaag.  My response in block-quotes.

So am an Indian male, venturing into a women’s forum – Let me ask you a counter question – why have any customs at all. Why have marriage, or namakaranam or gruhapravesham or anything at all. Why celebrate birthdays?

IHM: Whether the reason is superstition or celebration, or ‘respect for family elders’ – one should be able to do what one truly believes in and say no to what doesn’t make sense to them – without it being seen as ‘disrespect’ towards those who wish to see it done (maybe as a sign of obedience to their wishes)

And, it’s good to know what we are doing and why we are doing it.

Why cant two people just walk in and live together when they want and walk out when they want. Why even name it marriage and divorce ? Its just about the two people right ?

IHM: A lot of people today feel safe enough to live together (or walk out) with or without getting married, because now we have become civilised enough to have made it illegal for people to be raped or murdered if they are not doing what we would like to see them do.

Why have a birth and death ceremony. Why not just dump the dead body somewhere convinient and forget about it ? This I me myself culture that most of you on the forum are propagating itself is hypocrisy. On one hand you want to live in a pleasant and vibrant society and on the other hand you don’t want to give back to it.

IHM: The ‘I, me, myself culture’ does not justify asking other people to give up their aspirations and happiness to earn our ‘respect’.  It sees the happiness and rights of every individual as equally important.

It acknowledges that we have to take responsibility for our own actions, inaction, happiness and crimes etc. It also understands that it’s unrealistic to expect the world to change to make us happy.

I think it is an honest culture  – an improvement upon the culture where those in power brainwashed or forced the weakest to sacrifice (to save the culture that thrives on their sacrifice).

Marriage is itself NOT just about two people. It is about their parents, about their future children, about their community.

IHM: Those who claim that marriage is not about just the man and the woman are not really there to solve any real problems, but patriarchal wisdom (an oxymoron?) gives them the authority to remind an abuse victim that ‘a bride goes to her husband’s home in doli must come out on an arthi’.

Link 1. An email from a daughter whose mother endured everything because she did not want to ruin her daughters’ lives. 

Link 2. An email from a Divorcee’s Daughter.

Just like as citizens are expected to uphold certain norms and work for the betterment of the wider society, a marriage is an arrangement wherein you say that you will uphold certain order and tradition for the general wellbeing of society.

IHM:Who is included in the ‘wider societies’? Widows who are considered inauspicious, and are not allowed to remarry or wear coloured clothes? Girl children? Women who are kept in dependence so that they can’t refuse, and then married off to serve the parents of their providers and protectors? Parents of Indian daughters in law?

The traditional symbols of marriage are part of that. Obviously it will not protect you against rape. But traditionally flirting / courtship (within limits) are both a fun and healthy way to get to know people and get married. Having those symbols means sending a clear signal you are not available. It is a sign of commitment and it deserves every bit of respect.

If signalling unavailability is the reason then,

1. Why don’t men display these symbols?

2. Why are widows made to give up these symbols? (even if they are not interested in remarrying or flirting)

I think it is dishonest to justify something that is not just.

There has always been an element of exaggeration and fear put in the rituals and traditions of Hindu/Indian culture. They helped in sustaining the culture. But now that you want to question everything (except the things you do), yes, it may not guarantee long life for the husband, but it will give him some peace of mind which might extend his life 🙂

IHM: Only lack of logical, honest reasoning would fear questioning. Silencing of voices and using fear to ‘sustain the culture’ are  convenient alternatives for those who benefit from the said ‘culture’.

Nobody should be asked to sustain a culture by giving up their happiness, freedom and choices.

Also, what about the men’s partners’ peace of mind and long lives?

Where does this lead too, its a gradual but sure decline of the moral fabric of society.

IHM: Moral fabric is not declining. We are finally understanding that a moral code that does not respect basic human rights is called ‘moral policing’. In the past a ‘morally upright’ person could guiltlessly burn a widow or kill a girl child. Today we are able to see that there is nothing ‘moral’ about lack of respect for human lives and happiness. So women refusing to declare their  matrimonial status by displaying a red dot on their foreheads is an indication that they feel safe in refusing to do something that makes no sense to them. That’s the beginning of a culture that does not think using force to enforce tradition is ‘moral’.

The lesser such bindings, the lower the threshold to opt out, the more misadjusted the children … its just a question of time … less community life, more I me myself, more psychological problems … more violence … it goes on ….

IHM: Children raised by adults who take charge of their own lives and happiness are less likely to see violence and hopelessness as a normal part of life

In general I found that children who grow up with their grandparents are better adjusted in life than children who grew up with parents to children who grew up with single parents.

IHM: Happy and well adjusted adults raise happy and well adjusted children.  Single mothers, maternal grandparents or two male parents – all can and do raise happy, well adjusted kids.

Everything comes at a cost, unfortunately

IHM: And the cost is paid by those who can be bullied into paying it – the lowest in the patriarchal social hierarchy?

Link: An email: “The relatives seemed to be offering ‘condolences’ for me to my mother, having the misfortune of having an ‘unmarried’ daughter…”

What about men you say ? The traditional Hindu woman has been the backbone of India. Take time to look at her … she puts up with a lot of trouble, but she is pleasant, smiling and cheerful. 

IHM: A backbone that is such a burden that a majority fasts, prays, aborts, curses, kills, visits pilgrimages for male children?

And a backbone who is kept in dependence so that freedom does not go to her head? And so she does not start seeing herself as a real person, and is grateful to be be a rib or a backbone in a system that doesn’t want her to have any rights lest she refuses to support it?

Thats because she follows a lot of the customs and rituals. Take that away and we will be heading either towards a middle-east kind of society (women don’t have this choice) or a breakdown like the west (without the supporting systems in place, it will be a total mess). The customs and rituals are not without value ..

IHM: Following patriarchal customs is empowering for women?

Without customs and rituals we would be ‘a Middle east kind of society’? Meaning our customs encourage women to travel and drive independently, and discourage forced, underage marriages?

Breakdown like the west? So what is not ‘break down’? Being forced to Get married and Stay married and bear male children? Being constantly stared at, judged, sexually harassed and then blamed for ‘provoking’ the helpless Indian ‘eve teaser’? Or being killed for saying No [link] and also for saying Yes?

Link: Teenage pregnancy: If she was born somewhere else.

Agree that the Indian male has been excessively pampered and somewhere that has got into his head. But the solution to that is not to make the Indian woman like him, but rather him more like her.

IHM: Symbols of suhaag for men? Men relocating to wife’s parents’ home and being asked to eat after everybody else has eaten? Men giving up their personal beliefs, inheritance, earnings, ancestral names, home towns, education, friends, food choices and happiness? Men being forced to wear silk dhoti and shawls while cooking to prove they are being respectful to their spouse’s extended family and culture?

But, how does anybody, men or women, being made to give up their happiness, freedom, rights and identity  make anybody happy?  Who are these people who are made happy by controlling other people’s lives? Can happiness be found and lost through controlling personal choices of other people? What kind of happiness is that?

They need to start getting into more responsible to family and society, uphold traditional customs and rituals wherever appropriate, provide the neccessary binding force for the family and yes, listen and understand his wife and balance conflicting demands.

IHM: Being responsible means upholding patriarchal customs?

And what if their culture is ‘Live and Let Live’ or human rights, freedom and opportunities to find happiness for all?

All this is symbolism, you say. All of life is symbolism, take that away (why have flag hoisting, for eg:) and what is left of life ?

IHM: Flag hoisting does not make nations – paying taxes, saving water, following traffic rules, not taking our freedom for granted (etc) does.

Also, the symbols we choose to respect matter. Symbols that deny colours to widows can’t claim to respect women.

When you are purely symbolic, but dont follow it in spirit, you are a hypocrite but the symbolism is a constant reminder and put in the colour to life to make it more meaningful.

IHM: Some symbols wipe out colours from people’s lives.

Link: “It was very cruel whatever they did with my didi. Even the ladies were abusing her.”

Take away the symbolism and it gets even worse. Yes, not having a sindoor and mangalsutra is a personal choice and one needs to respect that, but one needs to respect a women wearing it a lot more (at least I do)

IHM: Why do you think those who wear a mangalsutra deserve more respect? Does that mean no respect for widows or single women?

And what if they had no choice in wearing the mangalsutra, do they still get ‘a lot more’ respect?

But more importantly – How do they benefit from this respect? What if they would rather have their rights and then other people’s ‘respect’?

“Please help! How do I prove to my guy friends that women are equal to men? “

Got this request in response to this post:

“Hey IHM!

Please help! How do I prove to my guy friends that women are equal to men? “

IHMEquality means that we do not need to prove how capable or ‘superior’ we are, to have the same basic rights that everybody else has.

So, when we say everybody is equal we mean, everybody has an equal right to happiness, dignity, justice, safety and freedom (etc), no matter what their age, ability, skin colour, literacy level, sexual orientation, race, caste or gender.

Do you ever feel the need to ‘prove’ that you are ‘superior’? In a joke maybe? It seems some people do. What makes some people want to ‘prove’ (sometimes jokingly) they are superior?

What do they mean when they say men (or women) are ‘superior’? What can make some people more deserving of basic rights than others?

Here are three arguments used to ‘prove’ that ‘men are superior to women’. Do share if you have heard any others. 

1. Men are superior because a woman cannot take off her shirt but a man can.

A possible response: A woman being able to take off her shirt without fear of shaming, stigma, violence, honour killing or moral policing, would be an indication of a society that doesn’t see women’s bodies and lives as everybody’s business.

Objectification of women and their bodies does not make men superior to women, it’s a social evil and should be challenged. The societies where women are not objectified seem to have lesser (sexual or otherwise) aggression by men against women and children.

Also, a sari without a blouse was a standard dress for majority of Indian women. [Link]. It didn’t give them right to equality, they were still burnt, honour killed, married off as kids and killed at birth.

Also if we were to use the above logic, does the fact that women can bear children make them superior? Does the scarcity of women make them ‘superior’?

2. A woman can’t rape a man, so men are ‘superior’. 

A possible response: This one seems to be a variation of – “The male community, including myself, needs only 10 minutes, just ten minutes… to send what is called sperm, into the uterus of a female.”

Or, लो आज नारीवाद का अंतिम संस्कार किये देता हू – roughly translates to ‘Come, let me perform the last rites of feminism today’. [link shared by anonymous]

So are murderers ‘superior’ to law abiding, non violent citizens?

And, also a man might never learn whose child he is raising – does that make women superior?

3. Why have there been ten times more male inventors and scientists than female ones? 

The email says,

 I KNOW that the reason for this isn’t that men are superior but how on earth do I explain it to the people who believe that it is so?”

A possible response: Even today women are expected to give up career opportunities to have families/for parenting. Having a wife seems to make it easier to focus on career – women generally don’t have wives to take care of their meals, laundry, parents and children. And if a woman demands equality, she should behave exactly like a male…?
Making one parent (women) choose between career and parenting will eventually lead to more and more women choosing not to have children.

Related Posts:

And if a woman demands equality, she should behave exactly like a male…?

How Did We turn into Such A Regressive Society?

“So why do we wear clothes again??”

Weird, funny facts about Misogynists.

When a newly married Indian woman gives up her career, what else does she give up?

A tag: But when a woman sees a hot man, nothing happens in her brain?

 

“Can anyone guarantee that absolute empowerment of women thru feminism will improve the social balance and not give rise to new social problems?”

Sharing an email. My response in red.

Dear IHM,

I’m not a blogger or a social activist and neither intend to be one but after reading a number of posts in your blog (to which I accidentally came across), I have mixed emotions and opinion for your posts. In most of them I agree with both you and the feminist commentators, but in some of them my mind and heart simply refuses to accept your opinion, so much so that I couldn’t stop myself from writing to you. I am not a feminist or a follower of patriarchy. I’m a person who likes reacting to a situation or an individual by applying his knowledge, experiences, logic, reasons, and rationality.

I wanted ask a few questions which striked my mind after reading your blogs. I would  feel extremely privileged and thankful if you put these in your blog as i want to see people’s  reaction and comments. Finally I would just like to thank you for inspiring me to be more socially aware and to feel free to write/say what you think.

So the questions are as follows (my questions don’t mean to harm or hurt the sentiments of any individual or group.) :

1. Is feminism a practical approach at its purest form towards relationships, gender issues and life?

IHM: There cannot be a more honest, fair and practical approach.

In it’s purest form, ‘feminism is the radical notion that women are human’ (just like non-women), with human aspirations, feelings, failings and rights.

2. According to feminism, is it justified/correct by any standards, if a woman claims to be in an otherwise unproblematic healthy love relationship (say married/in an affair/live in or any other kind if im forgeting any) with one man and while in relationship with him knowingly & willingly involves into frequent/occational casual sex or an affair or spends too much time with another man/men in order to quench her physical/emotional thirst, because….

IHM: Only as justified and as correct as it is for any two people in any relationship, two men, two women, a man and a woman.

Feminism acknowledges that women are as human as anybody else, and as capable of dishonesty as anybody else. Women are not goddesses to be worshiped, or possessions/amaanat/paraya dhan to be ‘given away’, or honor to be ‘protected’.

 ….

Please listen to what I have to say. In patriarchy there are a lot of things which I myself hate. Women are really looked down upon and have to face a hell lot of problems in their lives to live happily and peacefully. I accept whole heartedly that part of yours. But there is a huge underlying question behind empowering women thru feminism and giving them their rightful equality which may be they deserve (I don’t want to jump to conclusions aheadhand).

IHM: Everybody, even terrorists, child abusers and murderers have ‘human rights’, which is why they are sentenced only according to the laws of the land.

Why do you think should women have to ‘deserve’ ‘rightful equality’?

And who ‘gives’ equality to women?

How did ‘they’ become qualified to ‘give’ women (or take from women)  their ‘rightful equality’?

Did women give them equality? Who are these deserving ‘they’  who do not have to ‘deserve’ their ‘rightful equality’? Women’s parents? But one of them is always a woman. The society? Approximately  50%  45% of  that is women too.

Why is the rest of humanity entitled to ‘equality’ – who are ‘they’ equal to?

Can anyone guarantee that absolute empowerment of women thru feminism will be healthy and efficient enough to improve the social balance and not give rise to any new social problems or be a potential threat in future?

IHM: What is this ‘social balance’ that cannot be maintained without oppressing half of the humanity?

What we have is a system that has failed to instill even basic human values in those who follow it. This  ‘social balance’ tolerates parents and grand parents hating some of their own children, keeping them in dependence and forcing them to live with abuse and torture. We have a system that does not acknowledge that lack of basic human rights for half the population leads to a desensitized society where might becomes right. This ‘social balance’ worships power.

And what is ‘absolute empowerment’? Equal rights to seek happiness, justice, self reliance and freedom is ‘absolute empowerment’?

Because like patriarchy the idea of feminism also has many flaws.

IHM: Feminism is about human rights for women, children and men who do not fit into patriarchal gender stereotypes. What do you see as flawed in that?

Moreover do you really believe that men and women in India are prepared enough to go thru such major psychological and attitude change in near future?

IHM: If not now, then when? When every misogynist says they are ready to ‘give’ ‘equal rights’ to those who ‘deserve’ it?

All that is needed it for parents to value their girl-children – not possible until they see them as liabilities, – can’t change until daughters continue to be seen as ‘future daughters in law’, –  can change if everybody sees self reliance and not marriage as their goals.  Once marriage ceases to be the only purpose in Indian daughters’ lives and when parents start seeing them as their own children and not as paraya dhan/future dils/, they will take their rights (and crimes against them) seriously – and only then will the society start valuing women. It all begins with women being seen as people (i.e. humans) and not as future wives, future daughters in law, sister of men, mothers of men, ghar ki izzat, ghar ki lakshmi and paraya dhan.

I also think gender studies should be a part of school curriculum. Children should learn in school that no matter how their families treat some family members – everybody is equal.

So what could make even the average, selfish, money-minded Indian family welcome baby girls?

Do you think that women in india are well aware with the responsibility that comes with the effect of feminism in its absolute form, if and when it comes to effect.

IHM: The responsibility that comes with being seen as human?

Women need to be aware of this responsibility, only as much as the rest of the humanity, no?

Don’t  you think that even if feminism has to come in our society it needs redefining in an elaborate way?

IHM: Maybe the media needs to talk  a lot more about how nobody has the right to ‘give’ equality to equal others because we are all born equal?

About how each one of us owns our bodies, minds, lives, careers,  opinions and happiness, and each one of us responsible for our own actions?

And maybe we need to talk a lot more about how harmful social hierarchies are?

3. According to feminists, is marriage an overrated or outdated or obsolete institution? What are the advantages and disadvantages of marriage for an average Indian? I know about the guys but what does a feminist girl bring to the table when getting married?

 IHM: I am not sure I understood the question. What do those who are not feminist (women or men) ‘bring to the table’? What should anybody bring to the table? 

LINK: Marriages are sold to Indian women in a glossy cover.

But I guess feminism for Indian women would mean more people marrying only because they want to marry, and only those who they want to marry.  This could bother some people:  LINK: Early and arranged marriages within the community prevent social ills?

4. Like patriarchy isn’t materialistic/selfish love being promoted/introduced in fashion in the mist of feminism and women liberalisation?

IHM: Shouldn’t people have a choice in whether or not they want to be unselfish? Forced unselfishness is abuse, not selflessness.

‘Materialistic love’ thrives when half the population is denied self reliance (in a million ways including through banning public spaces for them) and the other half is forced to be providers.  [LINK:The traditional arrangement is equal in distributing the responsibilities?]

Related Posts:

A comment: One more thing, had I been financially independent I would have never got married.

An email: Can a woman be married off with a promise to the in laws, that her father would find a job for her?

Arranged Marriage Market: “Oh! then our son has to take care of you and your wife too”!

How can the society ensure that marriage (and homemaking) does not result in women becoming financially dependent on their husbands?

So what does marriage mean to traditional and conservative Indians?

And if a woman demands equality, she should behave exactly like a male…

Society benefits immensely from childbearing, childrearing, and caregiving work that currently goes unpaid.

Weird, funny facts about Misogynists.

“In unison, everyone agreed that asking her out was outraging her modesty…”

So here’s a young man who thinks ‘Women have too much power in the system.’ He seems to believe that getting a man arrested for asking them out is empowering for women.
Do you agree with him? How does any action that makes it difficult for women to choose their own partners, empower them?
Who do you think is being empowered here? What is being reinforced? Who is controlling? Who is being controlled?
Anon User’s post on Quora, was in answer to : ‘Why is it difficult to date an Indian girl in general?’Please do take a look at, ‘I was arrested for talking to an Indian woman. (Link shared by Ashwathy) 
Anon User posted about his experience when he had gone, with his mother, to see a medical specialist. While he was waiting, he saw this doctor who he thought looked nice, he thought they had ‘a good eye contact’ and decided to approach her.
Now in his words,
“… she got out of her room and walked towards the stairs. I followed her, and basically asked her to stop.
Me: Stop
She: Yes?
Me: We should get together this weekend.
Her: Why?
Me: We’ll have fun. Maybe get a cup of coffee or something!
Her: Get lost…
I walked away and sat down on the sofa, waiting for my Mom to come back. In a few minutes, the chief of security asked me to step into his office. I went there. The woman had apparently complained that I had harassed her.
Her boss, the senior doctor (SD) was also there.
SD: What did you say to her?
Me: To who?
SD: To her… (pointing to her)
Me: What’s it to you?
SD: I’ll tell what it is to me you punk. I’ll call the cops.
Me: I merely asked her out, she said no, and I walked away.
SD: (To his security staff) Don’t let him go.
So I went back and sat on my chair.
In a couple minutes, my Mom stepped into the room, and signaled that she was ready to leave. We left, but since my knees were hurting, I didn’t walk fast. In less than 30 seconds, almost 30 security people surrounded me, four or five jumped me, and forcefully dragged me back in.”

His mother started crying and pleading. The police arrived. In his words:

“In unison, everyone agreed that asking her out was outraging her modesty, and that I had been completely unethical. Moral policing is one of the hobbies of Delhi police anyway, and seemingly that of every Indian who can speak.

Finally, the husband arrived.”

[Please note: For many Indians, the offended party here is the husband.]

‘He walked up to me and slapped me right on my ear without hearing a word. The police didn’t do anything to stop him, and I had to reason with him with statements like, “Look, I didn’t touch her” and “I didn’t mean any disrespect” and “I didn’t know she was married.” He didn’t calm down.’

According to the anon user, an FIR was filed, and he was arrested and had to ‘pay a good amount of money to a lawyer to arrange bail’. His family, like everybody else, believes he has ‘a criminal mind’. He further says,

“I have decided never to approach women anymore… at least as long as I am in India… Even if it means that I don’t ever get laid again. Women have too much power in the system.”

And:

“…the husband of that woman slapped me in full public view and with cops looking but never interfering. That’s true.

What is also true is that the father of this woman issued a death threat to me, again in full public view, and in front of all these cops. He said, “I will cut your head into two pieces. I will slice your throat. I am saying this in front of the police, and I am not afraid.”

Yeah… so asking a woman out is a crime, but hitting a man, or issuing a death threat, in full public view, in front of the cops, with CCTV monitoring all around is not!

Understandable. NOT.” …

Anon User ends with:
“I am all for gender equality. But somewhere along the line, we (as a nation, or at least as a city) seem to have confused the abolishment of misogyny with promotion of misandry.This is pure misandry.”
Do you see this as ‘pure misandry’?
Or is this an example of how Patriarchy works?
Do you think Anon User was wrong to approach the woman?
Why do you think did the woman react the way she did?
Would you say it is really difficult to ask an Indian woman out? Why is that so? Who does this empower?
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