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?
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.