(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.