When an ugly (or handsome) naked body sends you a friend request, you have the choice to say No. But does it end here?

About a few years ago, i was sent a friend request by a random person on Facebook with a note in my inbox saying: “coffee and friendship with me?” Not an unusual scene. Especially for girls. What was unusual and appalling at that was his profile picture. A frontal hairy and naked body of his, standing proud and confident. The sight still sends creeps down my spine. My lack of maturity at that time made me reply to his message in disgust and prompt came his response, “It’s my body. My choice. My dp. Hu r u 2 tel me wot to put up in mah dp!!!” I understood it was an insinuation to me. To keep the conversation going. To keep him engaged. So I stopped. Did the needful and cleansed my inbox off his message. But it had got me thinking then. And it got me thinking now after I watched the short film made by Vogue, directed by Homi Adjania – Are we taking it too far?

Kudos to Homi Adjania/Vogue for making a short film that sends a clear message home – we (the women) have a choice to live our life on our own terms. A powerful message and i thank social media for doing a brilliant job in amplifying the same to every nook and corner of the urban setup – where stereotypes and sexist mindset claws at the throats of independent working women but not spoken out aloud. That it will never reach the remote areas of our country where it is needed the most is problematic. But, that is for another time and post.

Meanwhile, this short film is all hunky dory. With glamorous and powerful women talking about our choice. Our choice to choose our sexuality, to choose our partner, clothes, body and life. It almost nudges us to stand up from our seat and take a stand or click on like, share and comment. So, well done there! Yet, this 2 min short film was not without the bumps. At least I bumped onto them when I watched the film.

So when you say I have the choice to have sex outside marriage, are you hinting at infidelity? Didn’t you just utter marriage in the same breath, which i believe is a union between two people and not one? So, do I really have a choice to do that? To break someone’s heart? To play with someone’s emotion, values and belief system? While I have a choice, does my partner also have a choice to ask for a happy & satisfying marriage? Let’s not confuse choice with having right. While, I definitely do not have the right to hurt my partner’s sense of respect and dignity, do I still have the choice to do that if I want to? Do I? Should I? Can I get away with just about anything because I have the luxury of choice? Can anyone put a naked picture as his profile picture and send me a friend request because he has chosen to want to be my friend? Of course, I had the choice to not accept his request. Didn’t I? So that sets everything right. Or does it?

Let’s not forget that feminism is about gender equality and not female superiority. Yes, women have long been denied their right to choose their basic needs and that is precisely why we are fighting for women empowerment. But the direction we are taking to equalise the society is going nowhere when women starts taking a condescending role. We are women. As normal as men. Not goddess, not privilege, not universe, not anything. Men or women, sometimes you can’t boil things down to choice. Sometimes there is no choice. Like there is no choice but you have to cook the damn food to calm your pangs of hunger and there is nothing wrong in doing things against your choice. Sometimes.

If answers to all these above questions are ‘yes’, then I don’t know where I belong. I don’t know why, being a feminist, I still feel uncomfortable with this idea of choice. I don’t know where this world is coming to. And i am scared and confused. Because i may have known someone whose husband was having sex outside marriage inside his bedroom, because it was his choice. The wife chose to walk out of his bedroom and her marriage with their two little kids. Except,  that’s not the choice she wanted to make. And i remember feeling sad for her.

THANK GOD FOR THE BAN!

Thank God for the Streisand effect, i watched the documentary ‘India’s daughter’. Watched it and made it a point to download it so that i can help others to see what i saw in the documentary.

Yes, it was a horrific and disgusting sight to see our stinking society stripped naked in front of my eyes, frame by frame. Yet, it was unsettling to see Mukesh Singh, the ‘educated’ lawyers and Jyoti singh’s parents co-exist in the same society. I don’t know whose society this is. Apparently society is made of people-people like you and me, and I refuse to believe that after all these years and years of cultured civilization, this is what we came up with. THIS?

I don’t care if the documentary was made to garner TRP, or to shame India on an international platform or any such alleged reasons, but I am so glad that this documentary was made. Mukesh Singh may not be a hero or a celebrity who deserves to be heard but he did tell us certain things which need immediate attention:

  1. Mukesh Singh told us rape is not about sex. It is about anger and frustrations. It is about power play in patriarchal conditioning that gives men the apparent right to show women their place.
  2. Mukesh Singh told us that he shares his view points with many uncles and aunties who we grow up listening to. These uncles and aunties are not bad human-beings, mind you and they have been equally shattered by the 16/12 incident but they don’t know that they share something very common with the rapists. They must know that. Now. Before it’s too late, because this is where the ‘rape’ mentality breeds. Not biology, not dress code, not surroundings.
  3. Mukesh Singh made us realise hard that education doesn’t mean just holding a fancy degree. You can be a lawyer or a school dropout, but if you think rape is justified in any form, you are not educated. This society is in dire need of ‘educated’ beings not degree holders. I repeat, educated beings.
  4. Mukesh Singh pointed out the stark difference between him and Jyoti Singh’s family, despite having almost similar financial background. He showed us that all we need is change in mentality and education in its true sense to prevent rape.
  5. Mukesh Singh showed us the dangerous edge of society we are hanging on to where his circle of people considers lip to lip kiss ‘inappropriate’ but raping an immoral girl justified. Please note that these are the people that make up the society too and these are the people that also consume ‘Item girl’ entertainment. These are also the people that make up more than 70% of our population.

“India’s Daughter” urges us to look at ourselves in a new light and build a society based on a civilization that takes pride in Sita and Draupadi. It pleads us to stop faking how women are worshipped in our country. It nibbles our brain to talk, criticize and analyse why rape happens and condemn the mindset of many mukesh singhs in India. We are doing much to empower women but we need to empower men too to bring in the equality that we dream of. Because the empowerment that we think men are privileged with is pointless as long as such mindset exist in the society. Rape is not a gendered issue. It is a social issue. We can’t blame the men for rape nor can we blame the women. We need to blame all of us who are contributing towards building a messed up society, brick by brick, consciously or subconsciously.

But instead of doing all that, we took the easier route. We chose to ban the documentary and shut everyone up.

P.S: I am more than glad that the documentary is banned. Now more and more people are making a beeline to youtube to watch it. As i said, thank god for Streisand effect.