My blogpost has attracted heavy criticism and comments which has prompted me to do this new post. Much water has flowed downstream in the interregnum including the alleged rape of a maid by a successful Indian film star. These days 25 per cent of Indian newspapers are filled with shocking disclosures of one rape case or the other. Recently another girl was taken for a good time by her boyfriend and gang-raped by him and his friends.
I fail to understand where I have laid the blame on women for being raped because they deserved it in the above post. The following is the comment I have made, note especially the use of the word “approve”: “So actually I also do not approve of sexily clad pop singers and their many imitators I see around me.” That I don’t “approve” (Blame my age and my conservative upbringing for this. After all, it’s my blog, isn’t it?) doesn’t mean I am implying that their act of dressing sexily has invited the rape. In fact it’s women who dress ordinarily who get raped, women who dress provocatively are too smart to be taken advantage of. So where’s the question of my saying “they were raped because they dressed provocatively?” What I was implying was that a man (with his ancient, chauvinistic and libidinous outlook) when he sees an almost naked pop star on television and walks out and sees a few provocatively clad women (newly liberated, progressive, smart) he gets aroused. What next? He exercises his dominant male power over another woman (a powerless, probably minor, vulnerable, very un-provocatively dressed, financially challenged a la the maid in the alleged Ahuja rape case).
Why do men do this? Good question. But a difficult one to answer. However, I will give it a try.
The answer may lie in the difference in the sexuality of men and women. In the testosterone-charged workplace of today, where more men wield power than women, the latter are at a disadvantage and if she wants to make any progress, the choice put to her by the men are obvious. So the male film/commercial director or dress designer who asks the actress/model to bare knows she will do it. What then? Instead of condemning and fighting the exploitation of women, they take this as a sign of their progress. So the bolder the better; the more provocatively dressed, the best.
Commenter here have deliberately twisted what was my “disapproval” or what I thought was not appropriate to label me as anti-women and postulate that I believe that the women were asking for it. Not true. What I was offering was a considered view deduced from much soul searching, and not a bias against women. In the cases I mentioned in the blog post one was a servant or maid and another was only dressed for shopping in the mall. Come on guys and gals, do not impute meaning and twist words and implications without reading my post.
This is what I wrote in a reply to a comment: “I understand your concern. Society [Please note, I wrote “society” and not “women”] itself is to blame for making womenhood into an abhorrent word, to be abused and taken advantage of. Emancipation has come with more women working, but also the abuse continues in them being portrayed negatively as “sex objects” in films and videos (Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, etc.) which has taken the level further down instead of up. Women who imitate these icons are following a stereotype instead of breaking away from it. So actually I also do not approve of sexily clad pop singers and their many imitators I see around me.”
My critics on the blog has substituted “women” for “society” on the double and then proceeded to comment without reading any further what I wrote about “emancipation” and “sexual stereotypes”. Not done. One even wrote in a rejoinder, “There’s a potential rapist in our midst.” I am aghast!
Agyatmitra writes: “Also your whole argument puts the onus on women? Ironic. It is like saying people who are rich invite decoity/murder. It is saying women are to be blamed for prostitution because they do not take a stand. It is blaming a child for making a mistake for being abused by a teacher/parent.”
You know what an “item number” is in Bollywood parlance, and what is the meaning of “item”?
“Item” in this case, if you don’t already know, is a “sexy bold woman”. You know what, there are many actresses who specialise in doing “item numbers”. Have these sexy dancers ever voiced their concern at being called an “item”? In fact, has anyone from the feminist brigade? Why aren’t they campaigning for the removal of the word from movie magazines and other trade publications?
Why Bollywood alone, in every Indian linguistic culture a beautiful woman is called “maal”, “item”, “charakku”, “phataka”, etc.
“Thu cheez (thing) badi hai mast mast,
I didn’t see any protestations and demonstrations after this song became a big hit. It is this mind set that has to change and it is not happening because even men who sympathise with the cause and want to discuss and remove the cobwebs are branded chauvinists.