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On This Rakhi, Let’s Talk About Misogyny

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Today, my  Facebook & Instagram timelines are flooded with posts and stories of people clicking pictures with their sisters and brothers. Of course, it’s that day of the year where you have to show love for your siblings, cousins etc. No, I am not a pessimistic jerk. The festival of Rakhi is “sacred”, I believe. This festival celebrates the bond between a brother and sister, the bond of protection, obligation and care. So before we talk more, let me take you through some  recent news headlines:

 

1) Across India, horror turns to outrage at gang rape and murder of 8-year-old Kathua girl

 

2) 9-Year-Old Girl Allegedly Raped In UP’s Unnao, Cops Sent Family From One Police Station To Another

 

3) 8-Year-Old Mandsaur Rape Victim Struggling For Life; Here’s What Has Happened So Far

 

4) Delhi: Man beats wife to death with a hammer in front of three kids; flees from the spot

 

5) Man jerks off to a woman in local, nabbed

 

6) Daughter-mother beat up for objecting to eve-teasing

 

I could go on posting zillions of links like the ones above.  You know what is a common factor between all the above cases of rape, domestic violence and eve-teasing? The misogyny that runs blatantly in every corner of this country. What exactly is misogyny? According to Wikipedia, “Misogyny is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls. Misogyny manifests in numerous ways through social exclusion, sex discrimination, hostility, androcentrism patriarchy, male privilege, belittling of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification. It won’t be an exaggeration if we were to say that misogyny unites our nation. From east to west and north to south, crimes against women have reached a new high. Why am I writing all this on the eve of Rakhi? Because it’s high time that we stop pretending that everything’s normal in our society.

Most of you aren’t a part of such heinous crimes mentioned above. And I know a good percentage of male readers must be thinking- “Dude, we aren’t promoting misogyny!”. But, unfortunately, you are. In some way, we all have been guilty of doing it. Here’s a list of things which I, unfortunately, you believe if we observe and try  correcting, will help us celebrate Rakhi with real meaning:

 

1) Family

 

In an era, where feminism is a hot debate, let’s just ask ourselves if we are even at a point where we can talk about feminism? Feminism is about having equal rights- socially or professionally. But, before we even talk about equal rights, we should know that a particular gender isn’t even treated as humans in our society. You post a picture with your sister on social media on Rakhi, saying how much you love her. But, the same sister in your family, is treated as a secondary member throughout the year while you enjoy the male privilege.

In a society where a son is always pampered and given more importance than a daughter, equal rights are not even debatable. The debate is- why your sister treated as “Paraya Dhan” or “Bojh”  to the family? Why doesn’t she enjoy the same privileges that you do as a son? Is this not misogyny?

 

2) Name-calling

 

I have seen some of my friends sharing some dank memes on social media that are sexist. A girl’s character being assassinated by calling her names which you would never utter in front of your family. A girl who you loved or pretended to love suddenly becomes a slut and a whore after the breakup. And that doesn’t even bother you once?

A girl that you like and you try to woo all the time becomes a bitch if she rejects you. That shows how shallow you are. On the other hand, if a guy calls your sister by such names, you would want to beat him to death. Why such hypocrisy? You have been there and done that too.

 

3) WhatsApp Forwards

 

My family group is the worst. The husband-wife jokes are so sexist and nobody even bats an eye! All these jokes are female bashing; where either she is blamed for shopping too much or her family or her mother is depicted as a villain. Tanmay Bhatt (AIB), has a theory where he says that jokes should never be on the oppressed, they should be on the oppressor. While enjoying the male privilege of sitting in an office, if a guy shares a joke on a wife who’s a housewife, the joke is on oppressed.

 

At least the family groups aren’t filthy. But, what is up with an all-boys group on WhatsApp? I can’t even dare to open the WhatsApp media gallery in front of my girlfriend. That’s the extent of filth which is shared on a boys group in WhatsApp. Sexist jokes, derogatory remarks, sickening pictures and videos and whatnot. Boys WhatsApp groups are places on WhatsApp with the highest misogyny and we all are a part of it. We all are, accept it. When you share an image of a girl on your boys’ group next time, imagine how would you have felt if the image was of your sister!are places

4) Eve-teasing

 

Let’s just talk this out for once and forever. You staring at a girl for longer than five seconds counts as eve teasing. And trust me when I say this, it’s not about how long you stare at her. It’s about your hungry eyes that are full of misogyny. In schools, colleges, streets, malls, local trains everywhere this misogyny is noticed and ignored as if it’s something normal.

 

Eve teasing is not normal. It is a criminal offence which can land you in jail. So, before you try and check out the girl standing next to you, think- what if she files a complaint against you? Oh, do you think she would not notice? I have talked about this with so many of my female friends and here’s the thing- Girls know when you are staring at them and what your stare means. So please, be less pathetic!

 

There are so many other things from daily life I can write about, but then a perception will be made that I am trying to malign a festival. I am not. The things mentioned above are the things we do on a daily basis. You knew when you read it. You knew it was you I was talking about. Because we all have done it in some or the other way. I am not a messiah who hasn’t done anything wrong ever. The point is, have I tried to overcome these demons in me? The answer is yes.

 

As a society, we have been fed misogyny throughout our upbringing. It’s not entirely our fault. But we will be at fault if we continue to abide by the rotten mentality that’s spoonfed to every kid in this country. The most beautiful part about being a human is we can evolve. We can always correct a mistake.

 

Look at the Rakhi tied on your hand and question yourself if you are really protecting your sisters? And by sisters, I mean the entire female population of this country. ( All Indians are my brothers and sisters, remember?)  

 

This Rakhi, let’s try to be better brothers. This Rakhi, let’s try to evolve a little and stop the misogyny.

 

Happy Rakhi, you all!

 

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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