TW: Rape, Sexual violence, Casteism, Transphobia
While it is not easy to keep track of all that is going wrong with the world right now, because let’s admit it, it is definitely more than what we can count on our fingers. Hundreds and thousands of people dying every day, acres of forests burning down by the minute, democracies and economies crumbling right in front of our eyes and whatnot. I am here hoping to grab your attention to one of those issues that keep coming up twice or thrice every year and then conveniently takes a backseat.
I would like to begin by apologising to every survivor out there. Your trauma is valid. Your anger, your murderous rage, your every emotion no matter how “ugly” they are named are valid. Your need for vengeance and retributive justice is valid. I have no right to speak on behalf of any one of you.
This article is addressed to all those out there who take less than a minute to hear about a rape incident and have already typed out #DeathPenalityForRape and #LynchRapists or claim #JusticeServed after fake encounters of rape accused. After you are done with your one-minute ritual, can we sit down and have a conversation about why that will not stop the next rapist from doing exactly the same things that the previous rapist just did. Yes, this is a callout. If you are not in the mental space for one, walk away right now.
While all of us feel better about ourselves after putting up the Instagram art of Lady Justice with blood-red eyes as our status and have forwarded the recycled WhatsApp forwards to 20 of our contacts, some of us are still scared to tell you. Scared to tell you, that the last meme you shared about the loose women that dressed too skanky, contributes to rape culture. The last time you told your colleague she was overreacting to an honest compliment about her beauty, you were part of it. The last time you hi-fived and called your buddy lucky while he told you he had to do something against his will in the bedroom, you made the world a less safe place for all of us.
Next up, let’s also look at how choosy we are with our reactions. Not all rape cases are deemed worthy enough to get a dedicated hashtag. Four Dalit women are raped every day in India, and this is apart from all other caste atrocities and honour killings committed. Yet it takes us a Reddy, an Iyer or a Verma for us to be mad about rape. We have also learnt very well to blind ourselves against crimes committed on trans communities, merely for not adhering to the heteronormativity.
We have cheered for Arjun Reddys and Kabir Singhs and let out sighs of awe for Ranjhanaas who refused to back off after they were faced with rejection. It was often just renamed as hurdles in their passionate love stories. We also refused to side with survivors that did not meet our standards of morality and womanhood. The ones that drank too much, spoke too loud, wandered too often and the ones that dared too much. Let me tell you, we are not really mad about the rapes, we are just a voyeurist society that low key enjoys brutality.
Your refusal to side with abusers in power, for your own convenience, will. Your courage to question your friends and relatives and initiating an uncomfortable conversation about their transphobia and casteism, will. Your rejection of movies and heroes that do not understand the concept of consent, will. Your thumbs down on rape jokes and memes, will. Your tiny and consistent actions everyday yield more power than a two-minute grand gesture.
And as a woman, let me tell you, I would much rather be not raped than have my rapist hanged.