As a child, I remember playing with “pretty” dolls. That changed my definition of pretty and I recovered quite late, that is, when I indulged into serious research after I was angry with how the world sees women. And the world sees men and women differently. When you hand a girl a doll and you let her dress up the doll and design clothes for the doll, you sow the first seeds of objectification. How the girl sees/dresses up her doll is how she thinks an ideal woman must look like and is how she would see herself in the future, constantly trying to live up to an image that is inanimate. This doll, this object that she tries to personify, is indeed what she has already seen in the movies, which, again, is not an image perfect in reality. We all know how barbie and other dolls look–replicas of supermodels. This is how we change the definition of beauty for her. But the girl’s endeavour has only started soaring… She inadvertently becomes the object and not the subject.
It’s personal taste to like a face but it’s social crime to define it as the only beautiful one. If perspective is what makes one beautiful, why do girls roam around loaded with mousse, rouge, and blush? Why do they enhance their eyes, hide acne and scars, dye their hair?
A healthy skin is a sign of good health but is instead treated as a standard of beauty.
This is how we create an implicit pressure on girls to look good, to satisfy a certain criterion of beauty, and not preserve/embrace what they were born with. These insecurities give birth to more insecurities and a boost to the cosmetics industry.
We have an obscene affinity with fairness in India. We consider it normal for boys to play football in the sun but advise girls to prevent sun tan by playing indoors (usually with a teddy bear). (I believe that playing with replicas of humans and animals stimulates emotional quotient of a child but that sure is an independent topic. )
Many mothers make their daughters believe that they indeed fit into the category of beautiful girls. They tell them they are beautiful because “they have such a facial feature”. The society later breaks the girls’ faith.
And all this happens while the girl’s little brother is encouraged to play a sport, to strengthen his body, to solve math, to show courage and bravery. Many of us will argue that we do encourage girls to take education seriously and to equal boys in all arenas. I will agree with the point but insist that it is not enough.
Some of us are raised by parents who know everything of what’s written here and yet the society, the external influence of relatives and friends dissuade the child from being anything but a girl.
From the beginning, a girl is made to believe that she is physically weak, that her final retort is weeping, that she is beautiful only if she fits in the definition of beauty. It takes an effort beyond normal to overcome this belief. A boy is made to believe that he is powerful, that weeping will make him weak, that the responsibility of earning a living is on him, that he has to be more educated than a girl, that a girl looks up to him for a better life, and that a real girl is beautiful according to the standards the society has made.
This is where we define the space for each.
What am I up to? I was always curious about kids growing up to be boys and girls, and I wondered if the chromosomes have a part to play. No, they do not. I was never sceptical that human psychology is induced and almost every human behaviour can be traced back to one’s childhood. So this is one woman’s ambition to shred this psychology and lay every detail open. What may follow next is now-insurmountable and a huge dream I am nobody to speak of as of today. Maybe tomorrow, until I have realized that I have the potential to pronounce it. I will know it by trying it and I might fail, but I have hope that something might come out of this endeavour.
As part of my research, I am bringing to you thoughts that can change how you see your actions. Since not everyone likes to read fat books, I will document highlights in short.
As the Indian government passes the law for more stringent punishments for stalking, voyeurism and acid attacks on women, buzz sets in. Hopes and expectations have risen like bubbles of boiling water. Before these bubbles experience a fall and you think it was just gravity pulling these down, let me advise you what to expect.
What to Expect?
Good question. If you are being stalked by someone then you may register a complaint to your nearest police station.
What not to expect?
Great question! Well, you already know it. 😉 Do not expect the police to register your complaint.
For your information, it is now a punishable offence for police personnel not to register an FIR. We were in need of one such law on paper at least. Happy realization Indian Government!
Central Government Act Section294(b) in The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (b), whoever sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.
Section 509: Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman – whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
My experience so far:
Eve-Teasing: A guy, sorry, a boy, not even 15 years old, eve-teased me under section 294(b). My friend slapped the boy. The boy left. He came back with three more guys, this time adults. Before that argument became physical, I felt it was time we called the police. The police station was nearby. I warned the boys that I will take them to the police. I was stupefied at their agreement to this proposal. At the police station, the guys made a phone call. I guess they had the policemen talk to some politician because after the call the policemen started scolding us for getting involved with ruffians. They told us that our law always takes the side of the ‘minor’. The men in Khaki refused to register a complaint, and as a token of mercy they let ‘us’ free.
Stalking: A few months back, I started getting calls from a mobile number. I handled it my way first. (Some abusive words, warnings of a police complaint, blah…blah) The stalker didn’t budge. Then I decided to ignore those calls. Calls started pouring in from a few more numbers. Finally, I lodged a complaint to the police.The police called back on the number I was getting calls from and asked me to change my number as a solution. I had to feel satisfied that they at least registered my complaint this time.
Eve-teasing maybe: I had gone to register a complaint against a phone theft and one of the policemen started staring at me in a way I felt very uncomfortable. I looked back at him in order to make him realize that I knew what he was up to. He gave up, but I felt eve-teased in the police station by a policeman. Where could I register an FIR?
Moral of the crap written above: the Bill is fit for the paper. (Add Only!)
What do I think?
We can deal with eve-teasing, molestation and all such crimes together. By the way, we fought colonialism without a war. Non-cooperation movement, if your memories are withering. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-cooperation_movement) We may all raise our voice together, and I’m sure it will be heard. We have the right to object. We do not always have to co-operate with the society and the situation. Poor women of our country, they fight only with outsiders. In fact, some of them believe wrong is wrong only when it‘s known to people. Well, this is something that deserves a full-fledge discussion. For now, I have something else to say. Do you know who gives birth to eve-teasers and molesters? A woman. Biologically. And for what I know, some women fail to prevent their boys from maturing into eve-teasers and molesters. Some women. I know many of them who stand by their boys irrespective of what they do. Whether it’s hitting another boy or hitting at girls. When boys fortunate enough to have a family become eve-teasers, their families share the crime. It is the crime of not imbibing in their kids respect for women. When a mother compares her son and daughter only on the basis of gender, she shares the crime.
Of course, fathers too are equally responsible. If we cannot expect this from a woman, then there’s no point in blaming the other gender and the society. A mother should be a woman first, a mother second. When a family sends its son out of the house, it should at least make sure that its son is moral enough to resist the malice coming from bad peer group.
You do not open the window when you know that the wind coming in could be dusty, do you?