Victimising the Good Men

There has been a lot of noise in India lately about the banning of BBC’s India’s Daughter, forcing the house to release it virtually on YouTube (which promptly blocked its viewing, at least in India). NDTV, a channel that was originally supposed to air the show in India, registered its protest of the ban by keeping a still image of the documentary’s title on its screen for the entire duration of its run-time, while messages condemning the ban flowed steadily in the footer.

Naturally, there’s another side to this. Certain self-identified feminists have supported the ban, claiming the documentary would only serve to encourage more violent crimes. Others have claimed that the documentary tarnishes the image of all Indian men, reducing them to the (colonial) stereotype of the brutish pervert. There was even a poorly-doctored series of emails on Quora yesterday, ‘confirming’ that such stereotyping is now a global phenomenon, encouraging sexist and racist discrimination against bright young Indian males, innocent of any crime. [UPDATE: further developments in that matter here.]

This morning, I saw a more personalised take on the matter on Facebook. Here it is:
Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.24.32 pm

It breaks my heart to disagree, but disagree I must.

My school was a little more than an hour’s commute by bus from my home. I began to be regularly groped when I was in Class 4/5. And by ‘regularly’ I mean every time I was on the bus. This continued till highschool, by which time I had become an expert in stealth war, standing on a molester’s foot and then lifting the other leg off the bus floor so all 50 kilos of me was crushing his toes. I was also groped by uncles, friends of the family and my own ‘enlightened’ friends – although naturally not all of them.

It incenses me that someone might want to stop the exposé of our culture’s pervasive sexual repression, perversion and gendered entitlement – that has plagued me and my friends/classmates from when we were too young to understand what it was that was pressing against us in a crowded bus – because of the off chance that it might make the wonderful men in their lives look bad. I mean, I have a father who did a lot of the ‘maternal’ raising of me when I was a baby because my mother had to be at work by 7AM. My husband surpasses every single goddamned expectation a woman can have of a man who loves her. And I still will not yield to protecting the reputation of the Indian patriarchy.

One, because men who step out of their traditional gender privilege – not as a special favour, but as a way of life – are no longer part of the problem.

And two, because Indian patriarchy is so far from deserving such protection, that the horizon isn’t distant enough.

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4 comments

  1. I feel sorry for what you had to go through as a kid. That apart, I don’t think the documentary stereotypes Indians at all. It’s a very balanced view. No- it is not a documentary that shows one side of the nation. That’s a very foolish assessment of the film. The film needs to be seen, discussed, and if required, debated. Banning or brushing under the carpet is the worst thing to do, and a persistent mistake we make. Like the argument that sex education will make the kids more promiscuous. In any case, I’m certain that all the people crying for a ban have not seen the film.

    • “Banning or brushing under the carpet is the worst thing to do, and a persistent mistake we make. Like the argument that sex education will make the kids more promiscuous.” Precisely, Rajib. And the thing about my childhood was, I wasn’t aware this was not the norm for all young girls (and some boys). That, I think, is the bigger tragedy – a greater social failure, not reducible to mere acts of individual transgression.

      • And you’ve also made another point- I think it’s very important that we tell our children that they MUST blow the whistle when they think things are even slightly awry. Fear, stigma, and the inability to understand how society will react, makes them hide ugly facts. Add to that stupid fathers who say they will kill their daughters for acts of transgression. Shocking what kind of effing idiots came out of women’s wombs. But i digress.

        • It’s true. I learnt to hit back, first surreptitiously and then verbally, loudly, because I saw my mother being an outspoken warrior against injustice every day of my life. Most of my peers suffered in silence.

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