A Painting by Toulouse-Lautrec
A lady may dress like that.. or
Or dress like that….
It doesn’t matter for in both choices of attire or the lack of it, I see the better half of humanity; the miracle that makes human kind and its survival possible. No one can deny that without the opposite sex, our lives would be empty notwithstanding whether we are men or women. Yet we condemn ourselves to destruction when we engage in gender based crimes. The emphasis today is that women, or men for that matter, deserve to have their privacy and freedom including sexual freedom respected.
It seems like perfectly acceptable statements. Yet we in this country seem to find it extremely difficult to comprehend and implement the same in our day to day lives. Not only was a lady kicked off a moving train because she did not submit to sexual harassment of her co-passengers, but women wearing western attire attending a party were deemed to be of immoral character and beaten up in front of a perverted media cameraman. To call these crimes appalling is an understatement unlike any!
As a country, India is yet to overcome its hypocrisy. For all the emphasis on “decent dressing”, “cultural purity” and “discouraging westernization”, we have forgotten that our population is dangerously apathetic to the concept of women rights. On one hand advertisers include sexually explicit content for ordinary mundane articles such as deodrants and even Cements for crying out loud, merely because it is a sure shot way of catching the sexually frustrated Indian man and yet on the other hand, we caution against women dressed in western attire branding them as holding loose morals. In most movies, women characters serve to be of little value than constituting eye candy and are dressed in short skirts and tank-tops; because producers know that ultimately our men will watch the movie for that eye-candy factor than for anything else. Yet on the other hand we continue to live with scant respect for privacy or decency; allowing and approving appalling crimes against women.
Today’s attacks in Mangalore is appalling but not unexpected. Every time we are covertly or overtly concerned with the happenings of people in other homes, every time we gossip about our neighbors, assume all sorts of non-sense when we see a guy and a girl sitting together around a table in a coffee shop; it is nothing but the same disrespect for privacy and tolerance that those hooligans in Mangalore exhibited in beating kids wearing western clothes. So the change is not required for those hooligans but among our population in general, so that we look at ourselves first before we point fingers at others.
Organizations like Hindu Jagarna Vedike or Sri Ram Sene or institutions like the Khap Panchayat which infamously authorized honour killings, display the failure of our society to evolve and embrace liberal values. Worse still, it represents the decadence of our political class and our population which condone such atrocious behaviour without so much as making an effort to comprehend the horrors of the repercussions of such condonation.
Yet for all those who fall victim to irrational schools of thought which allow such misplaced vigilantism under the guise of “preserving the cultural heritage and the consequent atmosphere”, the question I ask is this, Would you be okay with some good for nothing thug slap your daughter/wife/girlfriend or grope her no matter what the reason? The answer is of course a big NO. The answer thus is conclusively in favour of the notion that today’s events at Mangalore deserve the most strict punishment under the law and the banning of the organization. Yet when the corporator of the concerned area approves such ridiculous behaviour, it is a stark reminder of the scant respect we have not only towards the laws but also towards privacy and dignified behaviour.
The world cannot be changed. However, when Mohini appeared in a transparent wet sari in front of Lord Shiva and he decently backed off when Mohini said “no” to his sexual advances, it represents the ethos that is part of our perception of women. If we can just take a cue from Lord Shiva and learn to come to a point where a lady can walk naked for all we care and we still give her the respect that she deserves; that would be a culture to be proud of. Therefore, to conclude , Indian culture is to be dismissed unless someone can restore its connection to this story of Lord Shiva. Good night!