New Year, New Beginnings

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Each year, in the first week of January, we are joyful and hopeful. We hope that the New Year brings us bucket-loads of happiness; we hope that everything that had disappointed us in the previous year will straighten up and present itself in a better way. We hope for many such little things that might make our lives better.  It has been two years since the horrifying news of Delhi gang rape splashed across newspapers, and the protest it had generated has mellowed out.

Recently, I read a post that said- “This incident happened two weeks ago. I had an exam and my exam centre was at Nangloi, near Kashmiri gate Metro station, Delhi. As I reached the metro station, I took the escalator. On the escalator, I had a guy standing in front of me, who had a girl in front of him. The girl was wearing high-heeled footwear and was carrying a big trolley bag. The girl lost her balance for a moment and was about to fall down. This guy in front of me noticed this and out of reflex and courtesy opened his hand facing out to support her. His hand happened to touch her back. Her balance was restored. As we reached up the platform, to my surprise she slapped the guy and yelled at him “How dare you touch me?!”

You probably think that the girl is ungrateful, and arrogant to first accept the help from a stranger and then turn all the fury on him as if he had molested her rather than helped her. In india, even though women trot in high heels and short skirts, they cower in fear. To them, every man walking on the road is a rapist. Women are suspicious of any benevolent act. If a guy offers you a ride- he could be a rapist, if an auto-wallah is willing to drop you to your destination at night- he could be a rapist, if some men are standing beside you at a bus stop- they could be rapists, if a male friend asks you to come alone- no matter how much you trust him, he could be a rapist. A woman feels unsafe even in the protection of her own family, because who knows if her own father or uncle could force her into doing things she never wanted to do.

In a time when people ask to be treated equally, women in India silently pray with hands clasped and quivering lips to keep them safe from any attention that might lead to her “shame”. This year, I hope that we take a few steps towards making women feel like they have their own space to breathe in, and that they do not need to feel defenceless against those who disrespect them and do not care about their wishes.


Chivalrous Men?


It is funny how your concepts and beliefs clash with what the society expects of you, and you in turn expect the world to go two different ways. Recently, I was at crossroads, waiting for the traffic to move, when I saw a lady police officer directing the traffic and a fat male officer lounging in a chair nearby at the booth. I was outraged as I thought, “what a shameless guy, making a lady work on roads when he can do the work himself”. But at the same time I was reminded of how I keep talking about providing equality to both the genders.

When you see a woman walking somewhere lugging the luggage while her man walks ahead of her like he has no care in the world and every right in the world to walk like that, you feel nothing but outrage because you expect the man to carry the bags. It is of course a chivalrous act to do so. But when one talks of being as same as the opposite sex, is it right to expect men to be the gallant ones? Is it right to ask them to pay for your bills or repair your cars or carry your bags? The question causes serious dilemma in one’s mind because it clashes with their beliefs.

When we talk of a human’s physique, it is quite obvious that women have a slender frame, softer skin and a womb. They were, like every other female animal, built for birthing. But, a woman holds the same mind a man does. And the thoughts formulated go different ways just as a man’s do. They understand the difference between right and wrong, they decide to trust people, they are inquisitive, they are creative and they are strong and independent. But there always remains a need of feeling loved and cherished. There remains a yearning to be respected for who they are, and what their thoughts are just like men would like to be understood.


So when people throw their hands in the air in exasperation blabbing on and on about how women cannot be feminists and still demand chivalry from men, they must understand and realize that although she demanded the right to vote and the right to earn as much as a man does in a society, there shall always remain a need in her to be loved and cherished and there shall always remain a need in him to love and cherish.

Men when you give your opinion on the shoes your girlfriend or wife is planning to buy, you must realize that if you think of that as your right, you should also consider it your duty to carry that box of gaudy pair of shoes you made her buy. You must not leave her at the station platform with the heavy bag which holds your clothes and certainly not at the vegetable market full of vegetables you are going to gulp down. You must be considerate enough to offer your help and insist on doing it because a woman makes many many sacrifices to make your life comfortable. You must pay for the date the first couple of times if you have asked her out because you want to be with her, not the opposite. And you certainly must step up and defend the honor of your wife or girlfriend or date when she is harassed even if she dragged you into the bar because that is what men are to do. They are supposed to love, cherish and protect BUT only when needed. And when I say that they need to do all the previously mentioned things, I do not expect you to interpret their meaning as handicap her by taking all the decisions by yourself or disregard her thoughts because a woman is supposed to sit quietly and adore her partner. Although the crappy romantic novels romanticize Neanderthalism it is nothing but portraying women and men in stereotyped roles which will do no good in the twenty first century.


Feminism or sexism?


Every person is beautiful in a way. It is not merely her physical appearance that makes her fit for someone’s desire. It is her attitude, her personality, her like and dislikes, her views on things. It is everything. After all, she is an equal, with a say in every aspect of life. But that is more of an imaginary situation.  Take going to a food store. There come millions of customers. Some would prefer cereals, some would prefer chocolates, and some would prefer candies. Some who cannot afford an expensive chocolate would settle for something that doesn’t hurt her pocket, while those who can buy a better one would buy what they want.

I believe the same thing goes for dating or marriage. A person who has better prospects; she looks good, is good to talk to, has an amazing body, earns well, or anything the other person is searching for, she will get whoever she wants. Whereas if a person is not so good-looking, or is fat or does not have enough a good earning, she will have to compromise and settle for what is available for her.

This is certainly a sexist point of view. Looking at a woman or a man as a product, as a consumable thing served to the other half with a specific outlook is certainly a sexist approach. But it is noticed, that all of this implies more to women. They are the ones who are conscious of what they look like, or are made conscious of the requirement to be a certain way. And yes, one can always blame this male dominant society to make it look like a woman is lovable only when someone is a certain type. It is pretty obvious that everything affects everybody. A sexist outlook is omnipresent. This is a male dominant society. I recognize about every person to be a victim of it. It could as well be an irremovable part of our selves. It is so deeply embedded in each one of us, that although some might take themselves to be die-hard feminists, they fail to realize that they are working towards the same view as everybody else, just with more words. Not just that, they succeed to make their friends lean towards the same thoughts as theirs. Everyone one loves playing with a Barbie doll. After all, she has been introduced to children as a play toy for all. But little do people realize that they are also introduced as a certain stereotype for prettiness. In vulnerable young minds that can be molded so easily, an ideal look of beauty is instilled. And that defines how they look at themselves and others.

This whole issue is so obviously present everywhere, and yet it goes unnoticed. One should take care of what they instill in their children. Because what they learn, and observe is what continues in the society. One needs to stop this male-dominant approach in every aspect of life, So that a person develops into a human being with sensitivity, with respect for everyone around (their own sex and others’) and not into an animal with no sense, but the basics.