By Preetam Sengupta:
Alas! We have lost our hearts — not to love, but to misogyny and bigotry, and to every other form of degraded thinking that an abjectly insecure patriarchal system keeps drilling into us day in and day out. It is, after all, this very societal conditioning that has slowly and surreptitiously taught us to ascribe the “woman” the status of the “other” sex. Goes without saying, this thin line between “sex” and “gender” is constantly subject to being blurred, redefined, and tailor-made to suit a man’s (still the defining agent of societal organisations) own selfish purpose. It seems a call for the permanent revolution of the mind is the need of the hour! What is wrong with us — men and women alike? If some men are strutting around shifting the onus of their heinous acts on women, few women in turn, are paying lip-service to this masochistic tyranny, thereby helping the perpetuation of a system gone rancid.
Yet, it is not like women alone are falling prey to such inhuman manoeuvres. Young boys and girls are no exception to the rule either. Unfortunately enough, sexual violence, it appears, has become the “rule” rather than the aberration of our times. Starting from tendering justifications for assaults against women by drawing attention to how “provocatively” a certain girl has dressed to pointing out her indiscretionary emulation of the “Western culture” to showing the audacity of stepping outside one’s demarcated threshold at odd hours unchaperoned by the men-folk, we men have said it all — cried it hoarse.
If a man condemns this “rape culture”,Â he is sought to be dismissed as “just another gay”, while women professing the same have the brunt of a “slut” to bear. What’s with this fetish for compartmentalising sexuality, I say? Besides, how and when does this irresistible drive for callous generalisation of people, their habits, their beliefs, their sexualities, and their identities see sense? Why and how is it difficult to be gender-sensitive? We had long heard of the dictum — “equality for equals”. Yet, nowhere else, more than in our rotten democracy perhaps, we have come to live under the materialisation of the saying.
If the government were a democratic arrangement, the police would be its most disappointing institution. Unabashedly undemocratic in its approach to a group of citizens peacefully protesting against the recent flurry of bestiality in every part of the country, while being well within their constitutional rights, the police deploys a force of five hundred to “take care of”Â a handful hundreds by means of lathi-charging, pelting tear gas and water-canons. Not to mention its proactively commendable role in working as the state’s emissary in trying to hush things up by paying “compensation” to the victim’s family. One must take special heed of the vestiges of an outdated colonial law which continues to plague the act of delivering justice in our country. Moreover, justice delayed becomes justice denied more often in the course of history than we would wish to concede.
We must condemn violence in all its forms and variegated manifestations, because violence cannot be alleviated with violence, but compassion and love. Our first impulse of anger in rape cases is always directed at the perpetrator. However, death penalty isn’t the solution to a societal malaise like rape. Of course, the perpetrators are culpable adequately but death penalty kills the mortal being alone; the humanitarian and ethical issue looming large goes unaddressed. Not to mention the fact that such a barbaric punitive measure defies both the principles of our constitution and international human rights law. Besides, solely legal responses would not suffice. The most effective approach would consist in moulding people’s thoughts to redress socio-economic inequalities, cultural mores as well as the malice of easy impunity built into our system.
Hence, it is against such a browbeaten culture of subordination that we must raise our voices together! Let a collective conscience lead us all to a common destination, irrespective of individual differences — as we rightfully demand an overhaul of the legal system through devising stricter laws, to be effected with integrity in an efficient system, while at the same time, and most importantly, each one works towards educating oneself in the doctrine of not gender difference, but gender equality. At the end of the day, it is only a matter of whether we treat our fellow human beings as human beings. Therefore, invoking Eve Ensler’s “Man Prayer”, I say:
“May I be a man.
Who creates space rather than dominates it.
Who seeks kindness over control. Who refuses the slap, the gun, the choke, the insult, the punch.
May I cherish, respect and love my mother.
May the resonance of that love translate into loving all women and living things.”