Postpartum Depression: Break the Silence

Guest post by: Purna K.V., Blogger

(Original Post appeared on her blog here: http://koumudi.blogspot.co.za/2013/10/post-partum-depression-yes-i-faced-it.htm)

Post-Partum Depression. Yes , I faced it and No , there is nothing wrong in talking about it.

Those of you who see my pictures on facebook and think that mine was a happy pregnancy and a perfect delivery and everything was a perfect little dream-come-true…… are wrong. It was actually far from it. I had suffered from a severe prenatal depression in my last trimester and an equally severe postpartum depression after delivery.

It took me a long long time to come back to normal and start living life normally. It took me a long long time to actually come to a conclusion that I should write about it. Yes, there is no need to be ashamed of it. It can happen to any other woman on this planet and it comes without a due notice and we are far from being prepared to face it. Knowledge is wealth and I thought I should provide awareness about PPD ( Post Partum Depression ).

All was well until the starting on my last trimester ( 7th month ). I was working as well in Johannesburg , South Africa, and didn’t have any problems. I moved back to India during the same time to rest at home and deliver in Hyderabad. Ravi came just to drop me back home , had a brief holiday and went back to wind up things at Joburg.I thought this phase would be the most relaxing time of all and was really excited with it. But the travel from Johannesburg to Hyderabad left me with swollen feet and a tiredness which didn’t go away for as long as a month after that. Even my swollen feet took a lot of time to get back to normal. And it is when I was staying at my home in Hyderabad , that depression set in. It started with lack of sleep and a frustrated mind as to why I am not able to sleep. I was bored at home and didn’t have anything to do. I couldn’t travel outside , because I didn’t know driving and the weather change between Joburg and Hyd traffic left me nauseatic. It was better to sit at home rather than travel outside with all the pollution and traffic. And above all , you know what elders say , you are pregnant so don’t do anything without out help. My stamina kept decreasing and so did my appetite. But I thought it was all normal and definitely hormonal. Yes , it was hormonal , but it was not normal and I realised this only in my 8th month. It was the first case of PPD in my family and nobody knew about it.I started imagining all kinds of things and was not happy about it. I always felt that , whatever came into my mind didn’t at all leave me and it only started creating deep impacts and craters in my mind. The ability to control my thoughts was absolutely gone. I felt that my mind was not in my control anymore. I felt that I was some other person and this person is nowhere near to what I am. I felt that something was happening to me and I am not able to stop it. Lack of sleep , lack of appetite , restlessness , no peace of mind and always sad about something which I was not able to apprehend properly. I also had insecure feelings about staying away from my husband and when it was un-bearable , I contacted Dr Vijaya and told her briefly about my situation. It was not only psychological and emotional , it was physical too. I had nervous weakness in my hands and legs , and I was not able to stand and do things properly sometimes. I never felt like waking up from the bed and do something to kill the boredom.

In our society , giving birth to a child and all the pregnancy and delivery phases of life are supposed to be “happy” things. And if it is anything different from it , nobody would want to talk about it. It is all hushed up and the fear of the society seeing you as a “bechara” makes us hide things. But I did no such thing and walked straight into Dr Vijaya’s office and spoke to her. My scared mother accompanied me. I am thankful she did.

May be Dr Vijaya knew already and was suspecting the worst. But she was kind to me and comforted me with her words. She appreciated my outward thinking and the boldness I had to come and talk to her. Because , she said , most women wouldn’t do it. She told me that PPD is a spectrum kind of a thing and almost 80% of pregnant women experience it but at different levels. Some are tolerable and some are not. But mostly , women don’t express it to the gyneac or the midwife. So most of the society doesnt know what’s happening on the inside.

My mother was totally unprepared to face all this. And she never felt or knew that all this was due to hormonal changes or due to changes in pregnancy. She thought I was saying and thinking about issues wantedly .She was scared with the way I was thinking and manifesting things in my mind and her being scared , made me even more timid and frustrated as to why I was like that. After going to Dr Vijaya , we concluded that it might be the mood swings and depression kinds and was normal and a part of pregnancy sometimes. This comforted my parents and husband… but not me. Because it did nothing to my mind so that the pain and everything could go away. I wanted to be happy and welcome my little child. And the fact that some other things were taking precedence over it made me guilty and that guilt started killing me from inside. I couldn’t ignore it and as it was physical too , I was even more scared as to how I would be able to take care of my baby if I was not even able to walk properly and do things normally.It was pure hell. Ravi pre-poned his trip and returned early. But no matter who was beside me and what they had to say to me , the suffering didn’t go away. I had erratic fears over silly things coming into my mind and it scared the hell out of me.I had frequent fear and panic attacks. My brain would be blank and cold for a few minutes.  I knew that my family was putting a brave face outside but were equally concerned and scared from the inside.

Finally , when I delivered , I wasn’t scared of anything in my life , except the “thing” that I was going through. I gave birth normally  and very boldly. Because I wasn’t scared anymore. I had something else to be worried about. Physically , mine was the perfect delivery that anyone would want. Not a single medicine given to my body and not a single prick from the midwives. But psychologically , I was somewhere else. Nothing gave me happiness , expect for pure and intense sense of care towards my child. I took care of her to the core. May be the guilt that built up inside was coming out in this way. My physical  and psychological symptoms remained , even after delivery and then Dr Vijaya suggested me to a clinical psychologist. She spoke to another lady who gave birth in the same center and also a psychologist. Unfortunately , she was out of town , so she referred me to another elderly man in Sweekar-Upkaar , Jublee Bus Stand , Hyd.

I was breast feeding and my body was in the process of healing. But I had to go to consult him. He listened to me and referred me to take some tests. Not lab tests. Some written tests ( I thought they were like some tests to determine my concentration and mind body co-ordination ) which took a lot of time. I had to leave my baby in the car and go to take the tests , occasionally coming back to feed her. There is a phrase in telugu……….. “ Idemi kharmamooo” anipinchindi. I don’t know about the cure , but the visit to the doc itself can make you feel so low and less of confidence , as to something is seriously wrong with you and you need somebody’s help to fix it. It makes ourselves feel like yuk.  Finally , he told me that , I didn’t have any previous mental disorders and this was something that had popped up only in and around pregnancy and hence will be termed as “Post Partum Depression”. He gave me 2 sessions of relaxing my muscles as I was constantly complaining about the nervous weakness in my hands and legs. I almost begged him to give me a medicine to calm me down and make me peaceful. But he denied it as I was breast feeding. He said , treat it as a punishment from God and bear it for 6 months. My duty as a mother was more important than what I was going through and he asked me to come back after 6 months , if I felt it didn’t go away.

He told us a lot of things. He said that , in pregnancy , a woman’s body undergoes a lot of changes.Some are physical and some are psychological. Some are good and some are bad. Now , we the people , miss the bad part. We always think that having a baby only brings joy to us. Ofcourse it is a happy thing………. But it doesn’t always bring joy to us. It also makes us nervous and all the emotions around taking up that responsibility and doing our part correctly. So , “pregnancy and delivery is a happy thing” is highly overrated. It can be the opposite also and there is nothing wrong with it. Sometimes , the wiring in the brain changes permanently because of pregnancy , he said. And I am unfortunate that I have had the bad effects of pregnancy. Having a baby is a very big change in life and different people react in different ways to it, consciously sometimes and sub-consciously sometimes. Nothing is wrong or right in it. And if the pressure on the brain becomes un-bearable , then it translates into physical symptoms like the ones I had. In the spectrum of PPD , may be I fell into a “more and intense” scale. It happens to everybody and not everybody are vocal enough to go to a doc and express that something is wrong. Because we are bound by families and society. And this insecurity and the “unhappy” part are buried under the name of society and the family’s name in the society.

It took me an year and half after delivery to completely come back to normal. And I didn’t take any medicines. It was long , hard and a challenging journey and at the end of it , I guess I have turned out to be a lot more tougher than before. I was sceptical about writing this post from a long time. But finally could muster the courage to put it in words and provide awareness to others. PPD in a severe way happens only to a very very few people. But we must be prepared to face it J.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Posts:

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

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

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.

“… people will say we encouraged these men to follow us… even though we are innocent”

When young women hear victims being shamed, blamed and silenced after each news of sexual crimes against women, is it surprising that they feared they would be blamed for the Street Sexual Harassment they faced everyday?

In their suicide notes — one runs into six pages, the other is four-page long —  the girls speak of fear and shame, of disrepute, of tongues wagging simply because young men had been following and harassing them.

“Everyday a new man would come and chase us. They would pass lewd remarks and offer us phone numbers.
The people around us would stare as if we had done something wrong. You know how bad our colony is… how people will say we encouraged these men to follow us… even though we are innocent,” Madhu wrote.

What could have lead to their fear of being blamed and shamed?

Take a look at just one example of what they feared,

Related Posts:

Is stalking of girls and women illegal in India?

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

What did Sharad Yadav mean by, ‘Who amongst us has not followed girls?’

Reserved seats and coaches are not a special indulgence towards women, they are an indication of a serious social problem.

The fearlessness of the Indian ‘Eve teaser’ (sexual criminals)

Are we trying to threaten Indian women with rapes as punishment for modernity, independence and self reliance?

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

Dad knifes girl for speaking to lover

“As long as the men do not understand that they CANNOT and WILL NOT get away with such behavior and criminal acts, the rape culture will not go away”

Controlling crimes against women: What works, what doesn’t work.

This is what rapists do when there is no fear of punishment.

How Victim Blaming confuses rapists, police and the society about when exactly does non-consensual-sex becomes a crime.

The rapists often don’t see their actions as crimes, the police said, and don’t expect the victims to report them.

It’s Your Fault

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

How did we make Indian criminals believe that they have 7 khoon maaf if they can claim to be teaching Indian women a lesson in Indian values?

Allahabad girl Aarti Yadav beats harasser, sets bike on fire

Can sexual harassment be compared to Terrorism against a whole community called women?

“Such mannequins will excite men and pose a danger to women.”

“I am safe because I’m very careful in the way I behave and dress in public, on the streets.”

In Gurgaon, jobs, safety and roads after 8 pm, reserved for men?

The night I was not an easy prey.

Which city in India, do you think is the safest city for women? Do women in that city stay at home after dark?

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

When they don’t even understand crime, how are they ever going to begin controlling it?

Those charged with our safety should have a true understanding of what it is to be a survivor of sexual assault — slut or otherwise.

 

 

This 27 year old woman could not be forcibly married off or silenced or shamed.

I see this news as a positive story.

The young woman had a job. She valued her self reliance and was in a position to refuse to give up a job that her brother (and I am sure many others) did not consider ‘suitable’ for her.

And she was in a position to refuse to submit to a semi-forced marriage.

Man-attacks-sisters-hair

One Question: Do you think we need a law that bans Forced or Semi Forced Marriages? And another that makes seeking opportunities for Self Reliance a legal  right…  but since that is a fundamental right, maybe a law that  legally forbids preventing other adults from seeking lawful opportunities to make themselves self reliant.

Because, what use are the rights to Equality or Freedom without the power to fight for them? And that power can only come from Self Reliance.

What if this brother had not done something as obviously unacceptable as this? What if he had threatened her with some other more popular (and acceptable) means of controlling – like social boycott or shaming?

Her hair will grow back and now that the case is public, it will be seen as a warning by other ‘brothers’ who harboured similar ideas.

Link shared by Abhishek Oza

Man ‘attacks’ sister’s hair for refusing to marry his pal

 

BANGALORE: A 27-year-old woman who refused to marry the man chosen by her younger brother was in for a shock: her sibling punished her by forcibly daubing hair-removing cream on her head and leaving her with a partially bald pate.

Santosh was also upset with his sister for working in a bar. Jayanti, who was earlier working as a bartender in Mumbai, had moved to Bangalore a few months ago to take care of her family. She alleged that Santosh never stuck to one job and hardly took care of their parents.

How do some TOI and Navbharat Times commentators view this news?

We continue to excuse the use of silencing of victims to deceive those who might condemn or provide/find support.

Who does this Silence empower?

Comment: It is their business and public has no right to know that, unless the family relents.

Not just Domestic Violence by husbands, but all violence by family members is excused as a ‘Personal Matter’.

Comment: भाई बहन का निजी मामला है (it’s a personal matter between the brother and the sister) Link

And here – Is this even relevant?

Comment: लड़की भी कोई अच्छा काम नही कर रही थी (the girl was not doing exactly a nice job) Link

This is a possibility,

Comment:… इस लड़की के भई ने अपने उस दोस्त से कुछ पैसा लिया होगा तभी वो जबरदस्ती कर रहा था की वो शाद्दी कर ले … (Maybe he had accepted money from the friend that is why he was trying ot force her to marry him.) Link

Shame, honor, freedom and controls are all linked.

Comment: What a shame young girls working at bar for living and our businessmen, politicians and officers earning in lacs n crores. On the top such brothers with no responsibility and barberic nature’

What I found shameful is that the brother thought he could control where she worked and who she should marry.

Related Posts:

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

By lodging a complaint the girl would get undue publicity and that would adversely affect her marriage prospect.

Dad knifes girl for speaking to lover

How many women would dare to say this?

“Girls need to be little bit aware of the consequences. Men – will enjoy …”

Please watch Queen. Feels like our country is finally changing.

“10 years ago, the girl would have been counselled on how to change her dress sense for the boy, how to do as he says.”

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

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

In Gurgaon, jobs, safety and roads after 8 pm, reserved for men?

From this it seems Gurgaon pub attendant’s rape could have been prevented by the police,

…the cabbie and the victim’s brother approached a PCR van parked near Sahara Mall. But when a police officer called the victim on her mobile phone, one of the accused snatched her phone and politely told the cops they were dropping her home. And shockingly, the police did not act.

The incident raised serious questions on the effectiveness of police patrolling and setting up road barricades , particularly on MG Road. [Cops called victim, captors said all’s wells]

And how does the administration ensure that such shocking inefficiency is never repeated again?

… the Gurgaon administration on Monday passed an order virtually absolving its responsibility of ensuring women are safe. The administration has told all malls, commercial establishments and pub owners that they cannot have women employees working beyond 8pm. [Read more: Don’t work after 8pm, Gurgaon tells women]

Do you as a citizen find the Gurgaon Administration’s response reassuring?

Would it not have been more reassuring if it was made clear that negligence of duty by the police would not be repeated or excused?

So now, the next time there is a rape, the victim would feel she first needs to convince the police that she wasn’t working after 8 pm – maybe then she won’t report. No reports, no rapes.

For once I agree with something in a comment on TOI article.

Well, what will happen if the criminals start raping girls in the day time…????? WILL THEY ASK WOMEN TO STAY INDOORS ALL THEIR LIFE…????

Are jobs, safety and roads after 8 pm, in Gurgaon, reserved for men?

What if a woman was coming back from a wedding or a hospital or a movie or birthday party or a play, or shopping, a school annual function or a dinner after 8 pm?

Vidyut@Vidyut Restaurants should stop serving food to women at 7:30 or earlier so that they can be home on time #OccupyGurgaonNights

So do Gurgaon roads belong to men and criminals after 8 pm?

Related posts:

I do not like reservation.

I don’t care for freedom

And the answer.

In the last post I asked a question. Please click here to find out how right or not so right your answers were.

Related posts:

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

When they don’t even understand crime, how are they ever going to begin controlling it?

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

Media continues to be sympathetic to the rapist.

This writer seems to think women in conservative clothing face no sexual harassment on the streets, and when women dress in certain ways they face more harassment. An honest rethink shows that to be untrue. I have blogged about traveling at night, in a non AC train compartment to a small town in India, in jeans.  It clearly reaffirms that the only thing that stops such men from harassing women is fear of unequivocal condemnation (which could lead to punishment). If we continue to blame women for asking for it, they would never have the confidence so needed for fighting back or for firmly refusing to tolerate harassment.
The media probably means well and is genuinely convinced that if all the women started dressing conservatively sexual crimes would come down, and if all the women started wearing jeans, short skirts and high heels, we’d see an increase in crimes against women. This ignorance mindset is the reason why we need discussions. awareness, rethinking, reconditioning and debates (etc) created by Slut Walk and such protests.

The writer says,

Even the basic argument of SlutWalkers that men should not ogle women who are dressed revealingly is ultimately unrealistic. Yes, a woman can control how she projects herself in the world but she needs to be aware that the way she dresses can trigger certain reactions around her which she cannot control.” [Link]

Such eagerness to defend sexual criminals is not unusual – it’s called Rape Culture – meaning a culture that justifies instead of condemning rape. Sex offenders are encouraged by this ignorance and excuses. Most rapists are aware that their crime might not be reported because the victims might fear  criticism just like this one for ‘triggering reactions they can’t control’.  Such mindset makes the victim the culprit, little realizing that sexual crimes are not a result of sudden uncontrolled impulses, the rapists (or molester) is generally aware that he would find direct or indirect sympathy, and the victim would either not report or be blamed for the rape.

My non Indian friends dress more conservatively in India. Then  why can’t Indian women Please Adjust?

My non-Indian friends in Delhi dress more conservatively than they would do in London or New York because they are aware of the cultural differences and wish to protect themselves against possible misinterpretation.

And that makes it okay for Indian media and police (etc) to not be taught that women’s clothing is not responsible sex crimes against women?

SlutWalkers inhabit a fantasy world if they think they can be invulnerable to the force of culture, history and social conditioning — and the fact that most of us take three seconds to form an opinion of someone based on their appearance or accent.

They know they are vulnerable because of a culture that excuses crimes against women and that is why they are trying to create awareness, debates and discussions – it’s okay to hear what an average street sexual offender feels to be able to stop such crimes.

And about history  🙄  read this, https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2011/06/25/slut-walk-and-how-womens-bodies-are-different-so-they-need-to-be-covered-for-their-own-safety/

For those who prefer ‘decent‘ protests, did you even notice this or many other such protests?

If calling it Slut Walk gets people to notice the protest, and if it starts discussion, the protest is already a success. (Even if some people can’t adjust to women refusing to die of shame at being called behaya/sluts/besharam/other names that should have sent them scurrying for their dupattas)

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

“So why do we wear clothes again??”

‘I wish one had the liberty to slap these kids to senses and send them back to kindergarten to be taught…”Why do we wear clothes again??”’ (From J’s comment here)

So why do we wear clothes?

1. For protection from heat and cold? Most civilisations that did not need protection from cold did not have rigid rules for body being covered up.

Did traditional Indian clothing have blouses or shirts? Men and women wrapped a dhoti or sari, children generally wore nothing. Body was decorated with flowers, ‘alta’, turmeric, sandal wood paste, kohl and jewelry, wanting to look good was not considered inappropriate.

When invaders arrived from locations where clothing was necessary for protection from extreme heat or cold, they also brought along the concept of ‘shame’ and modesty. In ‘Chokher Bali‘ the newly wed refuses to wear a blouse with sari, because it was too British (modern).

Once the society starts covering women up, Margaret Atwood describes how the threshold for what is found sexually attractive changes, soon even a glimpse of an ankle becomes sexually provocative.

One example: Pakizah has the hero falling in love with Meena Kumari – after he sees her beautiful feet. Was that love?

2. Do we wear clothes to look better – to look sexually attractive?

Was there this fear that if women did not cover up, men might stop finding a mere glimpse of a part of a woman’s body attractive? (Margaret Atwood, Handmaiden’s Tale)

Mr Balvinder Singh’s experience in Nagaland shows making rules about covering up a woman’s body, is the beginning of objectification of women, to ensure ‘excitement’ does not ‘turn into monotony’.

“The men wore only a loincloth and the females wrapped just a shawl below their waists. The women folk of all ages were seen working in the fields, carrying fire wood or hay for the animals, pounding barley, washing clothes at village water points, knitting on hand looms (almost every house had a hand loom where the women would knit shawls etc) or attending to other such daily chores of life, wearing nothing on top.

While a small cleavage visible under the thin dupatta or through the pallu of a woman’s saree is certainly a pleasant sight for any man worth his salt, without harbouring any malafide thoughts in the mind, but there in the villages of Nagaland it was an anti climax to see the dangling pairs of bare boobs, available to look at in abundance in all shapes and sizes. Initially they were a cause of some excitement, which was natural , but gradually the excitement turned into monotony. I was reminded of the words of a famous poet that the ‘beauty that is veiled looks more beautiful’.” [Click here to read the entire article]

3. To prevent offending the sensibilities of those who think covering up is a religious/social/cultural/safety requirement?

This is extremely subjective.

Some people find even the glimpse of a woman’s eyes offends their religious sentiments, some find sleeveless blouses offensive, for many only traditional clothing no matter how much it convers or reveals is acceptable.

Some think it’s okay to wear anything so long as one can ‘carry  it off’.

Most people simply resist any change. So in most places,  there are rules regarding not just skin, but also how much of which clothing should not show.

So the sight of boxers and bra straps offends some people.

For many other people’s legs (shorts, bermudas), calves, arms (sleeveless) and knees (skirts), midriffs (saris, lehengas), shape, curves (fitted clothing) are offensive.

In  India showing one’s back and midriff is acceptable when one is wearing a sari, but not if the outfit is Western. Nigeria disagrees! Read Nita’s post – ‘Sari an immodest garment?’

So it seems what’s okay in some societies is not acceptable in some other societies and the rules change with times, all the time. Most societies seem to accept and rigidly follow their current – generally unwritten norms.

How do these norms get created? And how do they change?

How is it that more of these rules apply to women?

Could these rules be a means to control women’s sexuality?

Why do you think do humans wear clothes?

Related Posts: 

The way a woman dresses.

No Jeans for an Indian daughter in law.

Not just a pair of jeans.

All teachers except Indian women can do their job well enough in Western clothes?

This Shame belongs to Who?

I can’t get over the fifteen year old girl who committed suicide in Mangalore, and I can’t get over some people saying the Pink Chaddi Campaign by Consortium of Pubgoing Loose and Forward Women is not dignified !!

Here are my thoughts on both, because both are linked to the conditioning that led to this thinking.

When I was young, I found and read from a scrap of Rajasthan Patrika (a Hindi Newspaper) and asked my mother,

“What is balaatkaar?’

Where did you read this word? … err.. when someone tries to kill a girl, it is called balaatkaar.”

Of course I sensed it was more, I had seen the sudden horror on her face. I was not expected to hear of such words.

So now what will she do? Will she have to kill herself?”

What? Why will she kill herself? That only happens in the movies! This will be considered a bad accident and she will live a normal life.”

But apart from that first time, whenever we read of any news of any girls being sexually assaulted my mom’s reaction was always, “Now who asked her to go out so late at night!/be in the wrong place/ be with the wrong people? …etc
It was always the girl’s fault.

When we were preparing for our ICSE – just a month or so before the exams a friend and I stepped out of my house, we were discussing some school stuff like all students do, when this man in a white dhoti – decided we needed to be taught a lesson, he looked old, probably was a construction worker, and he decided to let us know that he had not (yet) been bobitted.

I never said a word to anybody. We did not even say anything to each other.

I did not know what I felt. I felt I was made dirty? And basic common sense said it couldn’t possibly be wrong to have stepped out of out our house, and walked till the friend’s house in the same colony, in broad daylight.
I think most women do not know what to feel. Anger? Hurt? Disgust? Loathing? Self-loathing? Our conditioning makes us feel dirty for something someone else did …and our common sense refuses to accept that.

If somebody had said I was at fault then maybe I would have accepted that too.
Nobody tells us what to feel…. and yet they do it all the time. Everything around us tells us to feel guilty.

We should hear voices categorically condemning such acts. I was not yet fifteen, and although we had a Biology chapter on Reproduction, we were told nothing about what really mattered. Somebody should have.

But today I know my daughter would know how to feel.
And one thing I am sure of – that she would feel NO GUILT.
She would feel, ‘B*&^^% pervert, needs to be bobbitted!‘ She would walk home and throw an angry fit, maybe cry if she feels really angry and helpless.
But whatever else she feel she would never, ever feel GUILTY.

She may wish him dead but she would never, ever feel the need to take her own life like this young girl – a year younger than her, somewhere near Mangalore did.

And how I hate everyone who allowed this to happen.

So I say this, even if the whole world pointed a finger at my daughter and said, “But he must have graphically imagined how you looked inside that T shirt/jeans/etc.” She would have no hesitation in couriering a packet of pink chaddis to let him know he does not have the power to humiliate her until she allows him to do that.

How can any passerby on the road make any girl feel shame, for something HE did?
That is what the Pink Chaddis Campaign is about. The message being – ‘Our dignity is ours. No act of hooliganism, no street sexual assault (euphemistically called eve-teasing), no stripping and walking us in the streets of Orissa, no tearing of our clothes in pubs, no filthy acts of yours can SHAME US. THIS SHAME BELONGS TO YOU.’

This is why Pink Chaddis and not Pink Choodis. No bangles could have conveyed this.

And I talk about my daughter because she is not my HONOUR. She is not this family’s, her dad’s, her uncle’s, her brother’s, and her cousins’, and every other man in the family’s izzat/pagdi/honor/dignity… She is our child. And we will never degrade her by calling her our Dignity.

We take full responsibility for our own honors and dignities and this young lady is never going to be anything less than just another family member here.

Get my point?

So let’s please take control of our dignity. Let’s tell Mangalore molesters that they cannot even take our Dignity in their hands.