Trigger Warning: Rape
Anger, grief, outrage—it’s a mix of all emotions.
Last month, a young Dalit girl was gang-raped by four upper-caste boys, and she lost her life subsequently. The girl’s body was cremated late night by the police, and her family was not allowed to attend the hasty cremation. All of us condemned this despicable, reprehensible incident, which sadly isn’t the only one.
When I closed my eyes, I started thinking of all the similar incidents that have happened in our country in the last few years. Just let that sink in for a moment. Rape has been used as a weapon of war and oppression throughout history. It has been used to degrade women and their communities and to instill fear in them. This is very well depicted in “Khol do”, a story by Saadat Hasan Manto.
Patriarchy makes us embrace false beliefs, and we end up becoming ignorant and even violent while upholding these so-called values. Our minds, hearts, souls, intellects are confined in the shackles of patriarchy, and it stands strong despite perpetuating violence and hierarchy. But when are we going to teach our boys about toxic masculinity? How do we help them unlearn these ideas?
They are insecure about their masculinity, their selfhood, their place in the universe, their life, and its meaning. To achieve the prescribed standard of ‘manhood,’ they will knowingly and unknowingly hurt people. They will try to possess, control and even own us to gain hierarchy. Because this thinking gives them some meaning. This animosity makes them feel superior.
Girls are told to cover up, wear ‘modest’ clothes so that they don’t attract ‘unwanted attention’. They are expected to be subservient and compliant, mild-mannered and meek. But nobody teaches boys not to crack rape jokes. I’ve seen families who’d shame their daughters for wearing a short/revealing dress. What makes it so pathetic is that it implies, “the other girl who wears such a dress deserves it”.
This never-ending narrative perpetuates a culture of undermining those who are already at the lowest rung of society, which is an integral part of rape culture.