It seems now we all can talk about rape without eliciting incredulous gasps. Apparently, some people are even willing to acknowledge it as a crime. Progress? Yay! Does this mean we can talk about how this affects the men too? Gasp! Oh well, I’m going to try anyway.
So Assaram Bapu said that the horror that was the Delhi girl’s rape & death in December could have been averted if she had implored them to have mercy on her, to treat her as if she were their sister (and also chanted the Saraswati Mantra – but let’s not go there). Because obviously, Assaram Bapu believes that brothers do not rape their sister. Or fathers their daughter. Because sexual abuse of women & children is only committed by people not related to them, or those not responsible for their safety and their wellbeing. Right.
But you know what? Apart from the blood pressure spiking, puke inducing statement (and more scarily the belief system), what got my goat was the way men were branded. Not the monsters that walk among us in the guise of humans, but the honest-to-God good men, the ones that actually try to live a decent, dignified life. To me, it felt as if Assaram Bapu’s statement, in one fell swoop, absolved all men everywhere of accountability – if she’s not your sister, she’s fair game – and brushed off – with supreme indifference, if I may say so – the need for decent men in daily life. As if men are not only not expected to be honourable, but woe behold a man that tries to.
And where does THAT leave the men? The good men. Like the one that fought tooth and nail, endangering his own life, in a futile attempt to save that girl on the bus. Or the thousands of men everywhere in the country that look out for the safety of women in extremely unnoticeable, but significant ways? What of the man that raises his voice against roadside romeos, may be in the hope that someone else somewhere is doing the same to his sister/mother? Even though, yes, men in this country need decades of conditioning before they truly understand the vital importance of the emancipation of women, what of the men who are already on a journey to such a state of mind?
And really, do we really expect so less from our men? I hope they are offended, even more so than women. Because in my eyes, Assaram Bapu cast a slur on men everywhere. He tells me that the only thing preventing my father & brother from turning on me like animals is not their inherent integrity, but my relation to them by blood. That my husband is not bound by the honour of matrimony, that I cannot expect him to be faithful. He does not believe we should give men a chance at a more honourable life. Worse, he does not even believe them capable of it. Unless they are prevented by blood from maligning a woman – as if that would ever stop a truly heinous mind – they wouldn’t be able to help themselves.
We do claim that women are our own worst enemies; but truly, here is a man who is intent on besmirching his own gender. One that makes the battle of the decent soul even more difficult.