At times, I tend to forget we are neck deep in the 21st century. You cannot blame me though, can you? No, this is not going to be your classic feminazi rant. How will I be taken seriously if I stoop down to that, anyway?
On November 18, 2017, a 22-year-old woman was gang-raped by three men on her way back to her PG in Chandigarh. Like the mindlessness of Bigg Boss, this too seems like any other news to most. What brought this case into the limelight was Bollywood’s cool aunty and Chandigarh’s MP Kirron Kher. She had a mother-like suggestion for all women.
Indian Express on November 30 reported that Kher, during a press conference on Wednesday, had wisely asked people to educate their boys to avoid such crimes. However, due to the nature of nosy Indian aunties or displaced motherly instincts she added, “Bachi ki samajhdaari ko bhi main thoda sa kehna chahti hun… saari bachiyon ko ki already jab koi teen aadmi baithe hue hain uske andar… to aapko usme beta nahi chadhna chaeye tha….I am saying this to protect the girls…”
The next day, she clarified that whatever she had said was not to shame or blame the victim, but due to her concern as a mother.
Ever since she made that statement, she was heavily criticised by many on social media platforms, while there are some who thought what she said makes absolute sense. Right before writing this, I decided to discuss the situation with a friend of mine. In passing, I told him I was planning to write an article on Kirron Kher’s statement. He looked at me with cluelessness, so I calmed my vein and explained the entire scenario. There he sat, holding all my hope from humanity between his pursed lips. And then came the golden word “Toh?”
I was mildly disappointed (read: outraged) and went on to explain (read: mildly yell) that he should understand he is entitled and privileged enough to sit here and find nothing wrong with this motherly advise. No one was going to tell him to not board any sort of transportation if it had occupants of another sex. To which he said “You need to understand that this is like knowing you will bang into things if you walk in the dark. So it is better to switch on the light and then walk.”
I want to say I stared at him in disbelief, but that would be an understatement. Being clueless as ever, he decided that imparting a few more words of wisdom would probably prove his point. Thus, he added, “When she knew there were 3 men, and the world is unsafe, she should not have taken that auto.”
I decided not to hit my head on the wall because there is already too much that has been said about women who bleed. And most of us often do this: Decide to choose our peace of mind over baseless analogies used to rationalise fleeting comments that carefully pick out patriarchy and mix it well with our adrak wali chai. And I am equally guilty of this tailored nonchalance. Here is where the irony falls, all of this is happening right after the entire #MeToo trend. Me too what though? “Chug down 4 beers aur saari feminsim niklegi on the face of a bowel” I heard one day on the bus.
Our pseudo-everything culture has blurred the lines of movements that run for or against a certain issue. And this is sprouting from every 1-minute conversation in an elevator, on the staircase, wedding receptions and bra-panty wale bhaiya. These and several other places are where we find our Kirron aunties. They don’t necessarily ooze severe Punjabi vibes, with loud shrill voices. They are packaged in varied ways ranging from light eyed fair men, to 18-year-old boys, to women in their 20s to 50s, and also jagat fathers and found in different corners of our tiny world.
Recently, I had gone to a cousin’s wedding where I was enlightened more than I wanted to be enlightened. Right from the shade of my lipstick to cut of my blouse was everyone’s business. And to be honest, it is fucking annoying. I really want to grab everyone by their collars and yell “I don’t care!” Because really, do we?
I want to be able to travel through public transports at any time of the day or night. I want to be able to have guy friends and vice-versa, without being told that it will affect my married life in future. I want to move around the world without everyone imposing what they think is right. Because that is what is happening, more often than not.
So I will take an auto at night if I am running late—even if there are men inside—and hope that I get home safe because you taught your child well.