Since it is Karthika Pournami today (a Hindu, Jain and Sikh holy festival, celebrated on the full moon day or the fifteenth lunar day of November), one of my colleagues expected me to perform pooja at home. (Yes, I work on a Sunday too). Well, assumptions are fine. But, what followed was irksome. “Because you are a girl, you are supposed to do it,” he said. Further, “You will get a good husband if you do it. Now, you don’t stand a chance.” Though his lines don’t mean anything to me, they sure point to the way most (not all) men look at or think about women.
The second case was even more baffling. Walking to have dinner at the nearest eatery at around 8.30 pm, I encountered this man who slowed down his bike and called out to me loudly “darling…..daarlingg…”. I ignored or rather chose not to look at him. (That’s how Indian women generally pretend, to avoid such circumstances). He then brought his bike almost to a halt and grabbed my hand (before I could even realise it). I was shocked but at the same time, grabbed his hand with mine and eventually, he fell off his bike and had scratches all over his face. Though it gave me a sadistic pleasure to see him fall, people around me didn’t quite help me, except for their judgmental gaze. Those gazes were full of “what is she doing here at this time?” “Why is she out?” “Doesn’t she have a home somewhere?”. And, not surprisingly, all those were men and some who I knew. Hyderabad is a safe city. I’ve grown up here all my life and walked home at 2am too. But, this was different. Why this barbaric mindset or view about women that it is their flesh that men want? Why not have a humane side and respect her as another human being?
I do know all men aren’t like this and that men have been bearing the brunt of all the negative news coming their way in the wake of rape incidents. But the fact that it took a Nirbhaya incident to wake up a lot of people, however, remains true. But, why should someone die (after being raped so brutally) in this country for one to figure out that one needs to be a human? Have we stooped that low?
We still have quotes/ captions/ banners at anti-rape protests or elsewhere (pointing at the mother): “Teach your son about consent.” Why can’t that be told to a father too? Do we realise that the period the mother was raised was also a patriarchal one or rather a masochist/chauvinistic one? So, the mother, in this case, would obviously inculcate what she was taught during her time. And, why do we see parenting as something connected only with the mothers? Isn’t it a father’s responsibility too? (The case of a single mother/father is totally different though).
It is notions like these that still make sexist opinions prevail. Things are no different even in our daily lives. It is time we let go of such opinions and stop being a country full of hypocrites.