By Hiloni Mithani:
“Girls want their dresses to be sleeveless and backless, and yet, when men stare at them, they deem them characterless”.
The above message was forwarded to me via WhatsApp one evening, and my very first reaction to it was frustration. Frustration at the fact that there were still a lot of people out there who took these messages as a joke, and admit it or not, believed them to be true.
The one who sent it may not have taken it that seriously, but the ripples it would have created were definitely serious ones. That evening, the message would have justified yet another mother’s restriction on her daughter and strengthened yet another brother’s belief that it is fine to stare at women because it is their fault for wearing such clothes in the first place.
We take to social media for every problem, every solution and every emotion. We have come a long way, and a long moreÂ still remains. The word ‘gender’ itself, is enough to push our thinking in a specific direction, and there is hardly a time when hearing the word ‘woman’ does not spark a train of thoughts in our head, be it the fight for equality, or the fact that this fight has even been used against the men of this society.
Chivalry and misogyny, both have always set the female section of the society apart from the male section by calling it the ‘fairer’ sex, or the ‘weaker’ sex. The customs and norms of our culture have always made women an issue – their clothing, their behaviour, the limit to which they should achieve in life. And these norms are ingrained into us right from the time we are born.
We all know for a fact that no child was born misogynistic, born believing that he belongs to a ‘better’ gender. Children learn from what they see. The men learn from the way they see the womenfolk of their household treated right from when they were children. The mother cooks food, cleans the home and goes to work. The sister is not allowed to roam at night or wear short dresses. The father earns money, and is called the head of the family. Therefore, women must handle the household even if they spend as much time working out of home, they must have restrictions on themselves in the name of safety, and that men are head of the family just because they are men. Little boys are told to stop crying like they were ‘little girls’, and therefore, as men, they must not cry, but be strong.
When these very little boys and girls grow up, they have a set of ideas in their head, which, when you try to change, sparks a revolt for as is always the case, our first reaction to change is revolt, then acceptance. The habit of victim blaming is characteristic to our society as a whole, be it the urban areas or the countryside. Parents often tell their daughters never to report cases of harassment, because the guy is from an influential family, or maybe because you live alone and he can harm you in many ways. And mostly because ‘log kya kahenge’.
The acceptance of the fact that women are theÂ ‘other’ half of the society will not come easy, but will definitely set in for sure. Years back, let alone protests, the very fact that women can be empoweredÂ and need to live without norms imposed on them was not even a remote thought. Do your bit, the next time you see an unfair message, let it not be shaken off as yet another message you receive everyday.
The only solution to rapes, with the present mentality of still a majority of our society, is to have no women, and that isn’t happening. Time to speak up.