Monday, September 29, 2014

Shut Her Up Before She Starts Getting Ideas




Everyone loves a strong independent woman as long as she doesn’t mind following the rules laid out for her good conduct. It’s like the matrimonial ad, where the handsome, fair, MBA seeks a convent educated, working but homely wife. A smart, attractive working woman earning a handsome salary but seeks permission from her family before she goes and shops for a handbag.

That’s what good upbringing is all about – to listen, obey, and accept whatever comes her way without a whimper of protest. So, when the fresh from college intern joins office, it’s a given that she’ll quietly accept the extra attention her boss lavishes on her. Since she has been made to believe that she’s responsible for everyone’s happiness, she should melt with gratitude when Gupta Uncle’s son stalks her.

She’s sweet, lovely and beautiful as long as she doesn’t turn a man down. All hell breaks loose if she suddenly develops a mind of her own and puts her foot down on her boss’s when his wandering hands land on her lap. He’s shocked that the chit of a girl had the audacity to turn down his affections and makes sure that the ungrateful girl is suitably punished. Look what happens to women who file a sexual harassment case. Her character and her past are dissected and her intentions painted as suspect. After all, no girl from a respectable family will raise a stink until she has ulterior motives. Women from good families do not get raped and if they do, they certainly don’t go to a police station to file an FIR. Instead they swallow the humiliation, trauma and anger to protect their family’s honour.

Why just blame the boss? What about the woman who finds out her husband has been having an affair! In many cases, her first reaction is to blame the other woman for ensnaring a happily married man with her manufactured charms. Badly brought up children, an unkempt house, an unhappy husband are all a woman’s fault.


She may be branded as the weaker sex but is expected to take responsibility for other men’s lust. Cover up or bear the consequences. What were you thinking, stepping out of the house in jeans and a tank top? Men are the best judges of your character. They know that it’s a cry for attention and will happily oblige. Who are you kidding, telling him that it’s not acceptable when it was you asking for it?

Bitch!

Hell hath no fury than a man scorned. But a bigger hell is reserved for those women who say enough is enough and appeal for justice. What happened to Preity Zinta when she filed a case of abuse against her ex beau? I do not know enough to defend her, but a lot of people promptly engaged in discrediting her in a very one-sided way. It requires immense courage for a woman to come out and speak about her personal trauma. But what she doesn’t know is that a bigger trauma awaits her. She’ll be disbelieved, accused of overreacting and made to feel like the perpetrator when it’s she who is the victim.

Calling her a bitch is not enough. Ridiculing her is not enough. Let’s slut shame her.

This is exactly what Emma Watson is going through after she stood up at the UN Headquarters in NYC and delivered a cogent set of reasons why feminism is fundamental, inviting men to become active participants in the global struggle for equality. The very next day she starts getting threats her private nude images will be made public. Women should either comply or face consequences. How often have we seen a woman's intimate and personal history dug up only to shame and discredit her! Nude pictures of Hollywood actresses are hacked from iCloud and it’s she who has to put up with unsolicited advice on how she should have been more careful. A prostitution racket is busted and it is the actress’s name and face that are splashed all over the media while her clients go away unchallenged, unashamed to look for a new chick to screw.

As Nora Ephron had once said - Underneath almost all those attacks are the words: Get back, get back to where you once belonged.

Why is women talking of gender equality and liberation such a crime? And how the hell is sexual intimidation and harassment a response? These are not just attacks on women opinion makers and celebrities, but a show of brazen hostility on all of womankind. And this hostility is not just from a certain section of men but from some women as well. They treat feminism like a dirty virus they must keep away from. I think it comes from the stereotype that feminism is the prerogative of strident hard-nosed women who claim to hate men because they were too ugly to get laid. Please get it straight. Feminism is about gender equity and justice, not something to be ashamed of. 

But I refuse to believe that men who intimidate, bully women to assert their superiority constitute the majority. Ironically, it is these perverse mindsets that make the most noise, are the most heard and bring a bad name to the rest of their ilk. Why should fighting prejudices solely be a woman’s battle? I feel, men should also speak up and speak against this terrible trend of vicious attacks against women who opine and mould mindsets.

When you undermine a woman’s achievements and jeer her for not knowing her place or slut-shame her to stifle her voice, you are not exposing her as being weak. Instead, you are exposing your own insecurity that cannot accept a woman who refuses to cower under societal norms that male dominance has bred over so many years.

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76 comments:

  1. I agree to everything you have written here Purba...I don't understand why women shy away from the word 'Feminism' as if it's a bad word... I feel pity for such women... I really do... I know how hard it is for women...

    I am up for a promotion in office and I'm pitted against a guy..Now inspite of the fact that I have all the right checks and even better past appraisals then him which ties their hands because policy dictates I should be promoted the management is trying to coax me into saying I don't want a promotion now...They feel the male is better suited to Lead..Infact they are even insinuating that I might get pregnant since I'm married and hence they don't know if promoting me would be the right choice...So there that's our society even in the so called educated echelons

    ReplyDelete
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    1. If you refuse to accept their decision, you'll be labelled unreasonable and aggressive, The world is a cruel place for women who fight for what's rightfully theirs.

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  2. No amount of education will help till we as a society has the right attitude and unfortunately women are the worst enemies of their ilk, quite often!

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    1. It's such a deep rooted malaise and unfortunately gender prejudice is not the prerogative of the unlettered. Which is why the good men should speak up more often.

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  3. Well said, yet again. Wonder when it'll be heard.

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    1. Things are changing but we should not be intimidated by feminist shaming.

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  4. It doesn't need a man always to pull her down. Women too join in the melee if not verbally then silently.

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    1. Yes, you don't have to be a man to be sexist. Women are equally guilty.

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  5. It's the easiest way to hit a woman - intrude on her privacy, demean her sexuality and destroy her dignity. Get back to where you belong is the message, yes.

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    1. But I'm glad despite this, many women still come forward to speak about injustice.

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  6. It is a woman's fault when she thinks that feminism is a disease that needs to be treated. She is also at fault when she believes that her man is always right and is the best judge. Need I say what are her other faults ?

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    1. Blame insecurity, need for approval. And if women don't stand up for each other, who will?

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  7. I think we all are responsible .. its not just men who do it , its women too doing it .. I do wonder sometimes when will things change .. we keep talking of how india has now reached MARS.. but what good is that when we cant even get the basic society RIGHT...

    Bikram

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    1. How difficult it is to be nice to each other, to respect each others choices and to live and let live?

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    2. It is not difficult at all..
      but what is funny is that we are most of the time good and polite to STrangers but not to our own .. I wondr why

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  8. Brilliantly said Purba. I was shocked when I read about the threats on Emma. Such a dignified actress, speaking and working towards a wonderful goal and look how people react. It's disgusting. You are right, they are exposing their own insecurities and obsession.

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    1. Only insecure men feel threatened by a strong woman.

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  9. The attacks and character assassinations of Preity Zinta , Deepika Padukone and Emma Watson have proved one thing, that your celebrity status doesn't protect you from the bias and bigotry of the society. Neither does your country of origin for that matter.
    Look how media has reacted to it. Everyone talked about TOI's reply to Deepika but long before that, Shobha De wrote an even more derogatory post about it. Fox News wasn't any different in their reaction to the photo leaks.
    This is rampant. A US Congresswoman accused another Congressman for lewd remarks! That's the extent of it.
    There's no immediate solution to this because patriarchy is deep rooted everywhere in the world. We need to raise our sons better and wait for that generation to bring about a change. Funnily enough, that onus is on women too!

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    1. This is what scares you the most. If influential celebrities are not safe from unprovoked hate and slander, who is? Every time someone tries to shame them by raking up their sexual history, thousands of women are plagued with self-doubt. The more aggressive women are becoming about asserting themselves, the more vicious these attacks are becoming!

      Rather than telling our daughters that they should not be out at night, we should tell our sons to behave.

      *Well said, Prateek*

      This deserves a post from you.

      Delete
  10. You've nailed the women's 'good' upbringing requirements ! Slut-shaming a woman has become a norm and as you said, just so that she's made to get back to what she's stereotypically meant to do.
    There are hordes of women as well, who are not comfortable with the other women who've broken the mold and show open hostility.One aspect though, where I would like to highlight a subtle difference between following feminism vs.labeling oneself as 'feminist'. I fall in this mold where though I subscribe to all tenets of feminism and see it as a way of life, still hesitate to be label myself a 'feminist' probably because of the extremist connotation I see in that representation.

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    1. Even more reason why you should call yourself a Feminist. It's women who have given the 'men hating' spiel to Feminism, give this movement a bad name.

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    2. My thoughts are that its easier to fight one's battles without being saddled with the perceptions of a 'label'. At least that's what always worked for me. After all.. as long as the battle is won, why care about a label.

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  11. Why we never hear that nude pictures of a man were leaked when they tried to shut him off! Why such cheap tricks are played on women! Why nudity is a shame for a woman only and not for man! And why in many countries women are still blamed for rape and stalking (including ours). 'Let us supress her before she emerges strong/er and starts supressing us' Insecure beings want to supress and rule, others want to have a good time at controversies! I would name such people as slut and not any woman. Glad to read it!

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    1. Blame decades of patriarchy that prefers calling an elderly unmarried woman spinster and labels women open about their sexuality as sluts.

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  12. I simply loved how you have ended the post ! I have often wondered if this ridiculing and slut shaming women is simply because the men are too insecure.
    Feminism is often misunderstood. Its more about equal rights and equal opportunities and having the right to do what you want.

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    1. Yet, people prefer to define Feminism as the prerogative of intellectually shallow women, I guess it's more about choosing a definition that suits your ego the most

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  13. We have really had it up to the nose,but you know what pinches me most?When our so called leaders come up with neanderthal remarks.It is shaming and so painful.If these so called leaders have such despicable values then who knows how many others will be encouraged to follow their diktats.Remember Tapas ?

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    1. Indu, tragically our leaders mothballed mentality towards women represents a big chunk of public opinion.

      More than Tapas Pal, I remember the CM's tacit support for his remark.

      Delete
  14. That was a hard hitting, powerful post. True a woman is good till she shuts her mouth. Open it and all hell breaks lose. Excellently penned

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  15. A perfect piece of writing. Please get this published in a mainstream newspaper (not the trashy ones) because so many more need to be made aware. This deep-rooted bias is something that every child is brought up with. As kids, a boy can do what he wants, but a girl needs to start behaving more maturely and keep her legs crossed when she sits. This is when the gender bias starts taking root in a person's mind. Some people learn through education and reading that men and women are equal. The rest just keep the bias going and take pleasure in making it even more deep-rooted. The change needs to come from parents down to the children. Not sure whether this will ever happen. And that is the sad truth.

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    1. Unfortunately, a woman's problem is still perceived as hers only and if she raises a stink, she's accused of over-reacting. Change will happen when even men raise their voice against gender specific crimes.

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  16. Well said Purba. It is as if the women of the world are carrying a huge burden of 'blame.' Women are the easy targets in blame game and it starts at home.

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    1. Taking responsibility for everyone's happiness is a thankless job.

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  17. Today seems to be a day where both you and Alka have been reading my mind and echoing my sentiments. I'll go a step further and include some women into that lot of men as well. I had a discussion with a female relative today about her expecting daughter resuming work after the delivery. There was a time when this daughter was praised for her self independence and success but now the reaction is "No, she needs to take care of the child. Its not like they are in need of money, why should she work any more?"
    Had just cooled my mind down when I logged in and read your post.

    P.S- missed a few of your previous posts thanks to some bad health this month. Will catch up with them over the next few days.

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    1. It makes it much easier if stop letting others' take our decisions for us. True, they will fret for a while, but then its our life. Why let others decide what's best for us?

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  18. Purba, I'm agree with you with some exception. Infact, I've written a post expressing the concept of your last line. :)

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  19. Powerful writing straight from the heart ! Bravo !

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  20. I don't think I am a Feminist but many people who know me view me as one for I voice my opinions loudly and clearly. In one common chit chat session with a friend of the husband, he suddenly asked: Are you a feminist or what? I don't have to be a feminist to speak my mind. sigh! I can so relate to your first para....Men around me always loved me for the independent girl I am. They even keep saying, "Oh, I wish I get a girl like you to marry". I only say one thing to them: "Dude...you don't want a girl like me, we are good to be friends, but you can't take us as your wives. You men don't have it in you".

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    1. Hey, I'm married to a man who respects me for who I am. None of us is easy to live with. But then love is all about focusing on the best and ignoring the rest :D

      Delete
  21. Women are susceptible by default. Just how much is a fact this father of two teenage girls and a husband, and a brother of four sisters knows deep in his guts. Our movement towards sanity may remind one of a tortoise but remember, slow and steady usually make it to the goalpost. What I want to say here is just as there are bad men —and there legions of them and I am not even thinking ISIS or Taliban—, there are bad women too. You know what, I have never been able to quite forgive Kunti for what happened to Panchali.

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    1. Sexism is as rampant in men as it is in women and I have mentioned this in my write-up.

      Which is why Feminism as a movement should not restricted to women.

      Delete
  22. What a superbly written blogpost.... As someone who writes blog based on his own experiences, I can feel the power of your words and i guess its reflective of your own experiences as well in dealing with men and society in general. So, first of all, a HUGE apology for being the assholes we have been for centuries. I know my apologies won't matter, but it still needs to be conveyed with a sincere heart. I really agree to your point of view that it is not a girl's fight alone. In this age of so called "smart people", if this blog post needs to be written and the point of guys speaking up as well needs to be explicity mentioned , it is really a representation of how regressive we are as a society. I hope one day, a guy declares, I am a feminist and I am fuckin* proud of it.. That day would be a good day for India. Again, hats off to your writing :)

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    1. Nope, apologizing on behalf of assholes bars you from being part of this exclusive club :-)

      In fact most of them are blissfully unaware that they are one and think they are doing us a favour by showing us our rightful place.

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  23. I agree...with each and every word of yours....

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  24. How many years and tears we have yet to sacrifice to get where we belong, rightfully? And more than the act it is the holier than thou attitude that gets to me. Arrrgggghhhh I can scream my lungs out and yet I won't be able to let go of being a second class citizen.

    Stellar piece, Purba.

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    1. Of what good is evolution if it still continues to shame women into submission?

      And thank you, Vinita :-)

      Delete
  25. A great write-up. We can scream all we want, but the men of the world will continue to conspire to continue treating women as secondary citizens. No matter how much the woman achieves in whatever section of society, she is still expected to keep house for the family, cook and look after everyone but herself whether she likes it or not.

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    1. Most men don't seem to agree. This I think is the crux of the problem.

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  26. As if it wasn't enough that men stonewall and intimidate the entire concept of feminism and equality at every opportunity they get, I am astounded when a lot of women jump in and do the same! I'm afraid a huge number of both men and women had an opinion on the Deepika Padukone vs TOI fight that I didn't quite care for.
    Hopefully, attitudes will improve as we keep maturing as a society. Though it does look like a really long and steep climb from where we stand today.
    A well intentioned, angry piece, Purba.

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    1. I wish we had more men like you, Rickie.

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  27. I just viewed Emma Watson's speech yesterday and I found it extremely well laid out, logical; even sweet, in the way she invited everyone including men to participate!! How does a speech like that cause such extreme reaction?!!

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    1. It's perplexing to me as well!

      It was the most well-intentioned speech on the need for Feminism.

      Delete
  28. It is just sickening. Not only men but it is a substantial number of women who pull down other women. I guess it is all about power struggles. It takes a secure and mature society to let its women thrive. But have we reached there yet? Not at all. Are we ever going to reach there is what I wonder? Call it upbringing, conditioning, culture each is a way to cut a woman's wings down, to make sure she conforms. And if she doesn't then they are always there to shame her in the worst possible way possible.

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    1. You should see how Twitter reacts to the so called Feminists. Even I am not exempted.

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  29. Bang on! It is the insecurity of these men who are unable to accept the fact that women these days do not hesitate to voice their opinion, however uncomfortable it might be for the other person to hear!

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    1. Its because its construed as rebellion.

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  30. Water boils when heated. Whether it should boil or has to boil is no point of discussion.

    It is always control oriented world. What best women can do is what Mayawati and Mamta does. Where does that result of humiliation to men go? It is kept secret and buried and put across at the right time.

    My turn I kick, your turn you kick... will not work. Both need to change, Purbha.

    Lets be realistic.

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    1. Let's stop seeing it as a power struggle. It is not! Its a need for mutual respect for the choices we make. Live and let live.

      Delete
  31. Did I dream commenting about girls from respectable families not passing gas to not raise a stink, about Khaled Hosseini's quote of Mans accusing finger finding a woman like a compass finding north, and good men taking up responsibility of doing what is required of them? Kahaan gaya? O_o

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    1. We need more good men to speak up. It's not as if they don't exist. In fact, I'm married to one.

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    2. If only their wives let them. Does you husband speak up? :P

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  32. All true. Hopefully woem never shrink back from reporting sexual harassment in the workplace.

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  33. Its always the girls fault, I am sure that people or should I say men will be sitting even right now reading this post and blaming you and me for any and every word spoken about gender equality. But the other side of the coin is that only when we talk and raise the issue will people understand and at-least make a change. Agreed that both men and women need to accept that we are equals, and as equals we have every right to talk about what we feel and that too without being tormented and tortured by consequences.

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    1. I just don't get the skepticism a woman has to face, every time she raises her voice.

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  34. I have watched the video of Emma Watson's speech at UN & I couldn't agree more!
    Feminism is not man-hating...and it's only when both genders got together will gender equality be actually achieved in the true sense.
    'Good girls' are virgins, who don't drink or smoke or eat non-veg or dress provocatively...to indulge in either of these activities is an individual's choice & should raise no questions on her character. Why such a simple idea is taking ages to gain acceptance is beyond me!

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    1. The key to change is acceptance. Yet, all I see is resistance from a certain section of people.

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  35. I feel ANGRY when women are attacked because of their sex and even more furious when some sick minds try to silence women if they are talking about their rights.
    But at the same time I don't think feminism is an answer to the patriarch mind. I never believed any -ism is an answer to make things right.
    Being aware of 'human rights' and making sure everyone around us is aware and fights for 'human rights' when denied is the way I have always felt. I know I am speaking against the wave here but whenever I have spoken like a neutral person when talking about my rights I have found it easier to ensure it. I can't put it in better words though.
    I would fight for my right as a human not my right as a woman. I know you would say it is the same thing but it brings a difference in the attitude in real life.

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    1. I am good with any ism or the lack of it as long as it makes it easier to be ourselves and not having to take responsibility for men's behaviour.

      Delete
  36. The last to jump the fray is Yesudas crooning immorality or the fault lies in jeans. Honestly, I am a feminist not because the word is appealing but for a just and equal society. Sadly, we are hypocrites in every sense when we blame a women for the world shortcomings..plain ego, many men can't accept that women are more competent than the. I remember last I told an elderly colleague that women are more competent than us. This guy was getting all charged. That's the attitude today in this ugly patriarchal-cum-capitalist moronic society we live in!

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