By T. Mukherjee:
I won’t go easy on myself this time. The singular argument preventing me from commenting on the most discussed events of the country has been invalidated right now, by a female friend who claims that if a person has had sex more than 50 times in his or her lifetime, irrespective of age, he or she has experienced rape at least once, either as the victim or as the perpetrator. That got me thinking about marital rape first and then the inevitable definition of rape; whether it’s a sexual act or a political one.
I’ll be honest. I have experienced the sexual desire to force myself on someone who is not interested in me, numerous times. I do not think that makes me a pervert, because I never act upon such desires, except pave ways for fantastic imagination. And I thought, that was being creative. I do not wish to stop such thoughts, because they’re nice, and fun, and physically rejuvenating at times. I do not wish to act upon them, out of respect for the other person, stranger or otherwise. I would not like to be sodomized myself, therefore I would not ‘fuck’ a girl whoÂ doesn’tÂ want it. Simple.
In most cases, it’s me and my state of mind that offer an explanation. It never has anything to do with how good the girl looks, or what clothes she is wearing; it’s just me and my state of mind only. Now the question is, what exactly stops me from acting upon my thoughts? What exactly makes me respect the other person’s wish, what exactly makes me think that I should not do unto others what I would not like to be done unto me? What exactly makes me think these things that they do not think?
Education was my easy answer, education that enables the mind to think slightly more than some one-liner logic. However, my friend here, sitting beside me says that oneÂ doesn’tÂ need education to know what’s right and what’s wrong. These are basic parameters, she insists. She also takes care to admit that she has often looked at male strangers on trains, and indulged in few minutes of a casual fantasy. Yeah, she chooses her words very carefully.
She tells me that rape is a political act, used by someone to make the other person, the victim, submit to the idea that he or she is more powerful. A man can rape another man in a jail to earn submissive behavior from the latter. So, rape is not about gender discrimination, feminism or ‘masculinity’. Rape is a weapon like any other, nobody minds using it on strangers, as long as they are guaranteed that they won’t be caught.
So, is that it? That means the reason why I would not act upon my impulses and ‘harm’ another is because I have a family and I have responsibilities and I cannot afford to take the risk of being caught or tried in a court for rape or sexual assault. I cannot afford to have such a thing on my records, for reasons social and financial. I won’t get any job, even if my family bails me out. I would be very ashamed to walk on the streets of my own neighborhood, even if I manage to prove my innocence to the law, using other illegal weapons. I am, probably, scared of the aftermath of raping somebody. In that case, fear is a good thing.
That makes the culture of rape, in India or elsewhere, a very economic problem. I’m not saying that only poor people can be rapists. Rich people can too, but they get away, and they can afford to take such risks. It’s just the middle class, that cannot afford to be the perpetrator. Yes, I have heard of child abuse being perpetrated by middle-aged middle-class men, but that’s probably because a child is involved, and they usually think they can get away with it. I have also heard of a middle-aged man from a middle class background, with a wife and two kids, who has raped another middle-aged woman. But, that’s rare according to the statistics. People who are very concerned about how their community perceives them, usually refrain from wrong-doing. Usually. And that’s a ray of hope, however bleak.
If economics is the answer, then India, Africa, Sweden, USA and all other countries with high rates of incidences of rape or sexual assault can stop playing tabloids and look into their policies that determine their citizens’ standards of living. At least the recent incidents that are being reported in the Indian media are bringing into limelight, just those rapists who, surely, do not use Facebook, and probably, do not read newspapers or listen to news bulletins on TV. They might watch TV serials, yes. So, they have no way of knowing how crazily the entire country is screaming against rape. If they felt the heat, they would be cautious and conscious; they would have a better grip on their libido, or whatever makes them do it. However, I don’t know if a person knows even one hour prior to the act of committing a rape, that he is about to be a rapist, and I’m talking not just about first-timers, but also about those wretched souls who have raped many women in their lifetimes, getting away with it every time, probably because they live and work in such pockets of civilization where rape is not considered wrong enough to be reported to the police.