(Posted as part of the Blank Noise Project Blogathon)
Delhi’s attitude to women and the reason why it is so can be perfectly illustrated by this following incident I was witness to some time last year.
Coming home one late afternoon, I boarded a bus that got pretty crowed a few stops ahead. Among the passengers was this family, including a very old-looking and frail mother with a son who must have been in his thirties at the most. I was sitting on the “ladies” side of the bus, and the seat next to me was empty. The son sat down next to me and the mother took the seat in front of him.
As the crowd started growing, soon enough a woman asked the gent next to me to vacate the seat for her (reserved for women on that side of the bus). He did get up, but as soon as the mother noticed what had happened, she threw a minor tantrum and got up from her seat to give it to the son!
For a while there was shocked silence, and then the situation even got to the usually insular, unconcerned Delhi-ites! The fellow, though, remained unaffected. Actually, he seemed a bit surprised that a frail mother standing in a crowded bus so her young and healthy son could sit could cause so much excitment. There were other women who were standing and they of course demanded that he get up and let some other woman have the seat, which after all was a reserved one.
The mother, funnily enough, defended him, saying he was her only boy and he had to sit!
It is this “concept” of men that is perhaps at the root of all harassment—not just in Delhi, but all over the world, probably. The idea that all men are special and women exist only to make life easier for them! The notion that being male makes you a complete human being and gives you the right to shape the world in which females must conform to your ideas of right and wrong.
Which explains why wearing a certain kind of clothes or going out at a certain time means that women are “asking for it”. No one questions why men don’t have enough manners to mind their own business; people are too concerned telling women to wear the right clothes, otherwise “it serves you right if you get harassed”. The worst part is, the heartiest propagators of this “concept of men” is women themselves, who, with fundamentalist zeal drill it into the heads of their infant sons and daughters that being male means being more equal than others.
6 Replies to “The “concept” of men”
ugh, i can just imagine the scenario in my head. all too often i have seen this happening, where a mother will justify her son’s actions even if it’s murder. but must say i have noticed a difference between the guys brought up in India vs. Indian guys brought up in the US ie. ABCD. the concept of respect is markedly different in both. I have a couple Indian men friends who I think I had to “earn” their respect from… as much as i like them, i feel i need to shout to be heard sometimes. so it makes you think: what makes them think they are better?? american men on the other hand (at least the ones i know) just have this innate sensibility to be nice, courteous and respectful.
It is shocking and so drearily familiar. Boys spoilt rotten and made to feel they are better than women just because they are male. It happens all the time and I actually feel very happy when I see such boys later start mistreating their parents. I feel no sympathy for the parents because I think they called it upon themselves.
It’s all pretty disgusting and what is shocking is that there’s no sign of things changing. In our neighbourhood, even working women are expected to do household chores and are critised if they ask their husbands to help out. The media is not helping out – it calls any woman in a short dress “empowered” ! As for the Government – well, it cannot even provide reservation for women in Parliament! Unless the media and the Government get their act together, things are not going to change.
I guess this is post is deviating from the point.
You say that the mother gave up her seat for her son. Two points here. I am sure that same mother would have given up her seat for her daughter too. My mom would also try to do so (its a different matter that I may not accept it) So I think its more a matter of mother’s love for her children rather than sexual harrassment. Another, even if the mother is wrong, remeber she is a ‘woman’.
All I am trying to say is, the problem is not men. Its education (including sex education). If people are educated, they will stop treating sons and daughters differently, that will correct the skewed sex ratio in India. Also, with sex education, the future generations will not be as conservative, will be able to date during schools and colleges, which would in turn reduce the sexual frustration/energy/inhibition/curiosity that is usually pent up in today’s men. I foresee this as the only feasible solution for sexual harrasment in India.
Hello Harty… a new reader of my blog! Welcome! 🙂 However, I will have to disagree. Highly unlikely the mother would have given up a seat for a daughter – not unless she was pregnant and she was hoping for a grandson!
And I don’t get your point about her being a “woman”. That just makes it worse, doesn’t it?
I agree though about education and also sex education. Important not only for pent-up frustrations in men, but also in women – the existence of which people don’t like to acknowledge.