(This first appeared in the Sunday Guardian)
Over the past few months, many people in this country have been attempting to have a conversation about equal rights. Each time we start talking about how citizens belonging to a particular gender have been relegated to second-class status, the conversation gets hijacked by something trifle. However, on international women’s day, a few high-minded activists took to social media website twitter dot com to bring everybody’s focus back on perhaps the most important issue of our time: men’s rights.
For far too long women in this country have been manipulating the men into thinking that they are lesser beings. Men have been oppressed in this land of ours for centuries. Whether it was watching from the heavens as their wives voluntarily gave up their lives by forcing members of her family to throw her into her husband’s funeral pyre, or conning kings into marrying so many of them that the poor fellow had to suffer every man’s worst nightmare – having more than one mother-in-law. Over the last few decades, women have been trying to have it all by taking it away from the men. Not satisfied with letting their family elders choose which man they have to spend the rest of their life being subservient too, they now want to be the one taking all the decisions concerning their life. If women are allowed to decide what they want to wear or who they can be friends with or what time they want to return home, that would render religious leaders and judgemental senior citizens without anything to do.
That is why they all breathed a sigh of relief when during the discussion on the anti-sexual violence bill, the brave men in Parliament took a stand against criminalising every so called ‘harmful male behaviour.’ Just because some women let themselves be caught in compromising situations every now and then doesn’t mean that we have to penalize every man in this country. To paraphrase India’s premier icon of sexual desperation, Mahatma Bhagat: First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they realize that you won’t take no for an answer so they start running away from you. Then you chase after them because if women didn’t want men to sexually assault them, they wouldn’t have been doing provocative things like, you know, existing.
* * *
Recently, due to some unforeseen circumstances, I found myself at a fast-food “joint,” at 11p.m., ordering what I hoped was an edible pile of fried cholesterol. I noticed that a large crowd was present at the same venue. However, in one of the safest neighbourhoods in the city, at a time that wasn’t ‘too late in the night,’ there were no female patrons. And that’s one of the consequences of our delusional that victims of sexual crimes are ‘asking for it.’ Every time we hear about a horrific incident of sexual violence, some asshole will try to mansplain how the victim has to share some of the blame because she put herself in that situation. If only we’d have restricted more of the victim’s freedom, nothing like this would have ever happened!
This train of thought was the subtext of the discussion about the anti-sexual assault bill under consideration in our most important legislative body and winner of the Palme d'Or for the ‘Worst Advertisement about Democracy’, the Lok Sabha. Besides the victims themselves, the second biggest villain was the ever dependable ‘western culture.’ When in doubt, blame the west.
Damn you and your wretched hold over our minds, western culture! Pretty sure it’s western culture that makes people believe that women in this country don’t have a right over their own bodies. It’s probably western culture that makes people ruthlessly kill a new born when they don’t approve of its gender. It’s the cowardice evangelized by western culture that makes people in this country look the other way when they see sexual harassment taking place. If it wasn’t for the corrupt influence of western culture, no MP would have dared to rise up in parliament and give a rousing defence of criminal stalking.
None of our problems would have existed if we’d just followed Indian culture.
Now please excuse me as I’ve got to explain to a class full of teenage girls how our ancient traditions expect them to treat their future husbands like a God.