It has been some time now since I’ve been concerned and overly aware of feminism. Like for most issues that interest me, I want to dedicate a post to it but I’m scared and almost too certain that I won’t be able to it justice. So, I would like to apologize in advance if you feel that way after you finish reading it. I can’t resist stating an obvious fact before beginning, feminism is not man-hating. It’s focused on women and NOT men as its goal is changing a destructive mindset or perception among women about themselves and men are merely a part of this goal.
A few days ago, a male friend posted a video of himself on social media, talking about predominant rape crimes in India and emphasizing people (men) to respect and protect women in their families. There’s nothing wrong with what he’s saying except the fact that I find this strategy to reduce evils like rape useless. This emphasis and awareness of women’s equal respect have been around for quite some time yet there doesn’t seem to be any decline in the number or nature of rape cases. The perpetrators of evils like rape are not just uneducated people who’ve never read or heard such messages but rather those who’re ignorant or oblivious to the abhorrent nature of their crimes. For instance, a student from Cornell University who’s been taught to respect women throughout his childhood commits a rape because not many care to teach more than that. Another problem is that by assuming that demanding respect for women would solve the issue, we’re focusing on a somewhat less ugly and immoral aspect of rape. The most immoral ones are the tearing apart of the victim’s dignity, the violation of her bodily integrity and being exploited in the most inhuman way possible (and these aspects are involved in almost all the heinous evils inflicted by humans on others) and there seem to be little efforts to spread awareness along these lines.
Let’s talk about misogyny. First things first, what is it? It is the policing and enforcing of patriarchal norms. It’s not a psychological but a social issue which also involves inculcating beliefs in women like “Women are givers and not takers.”, who then themselves become the perpetrators of it. For instance, in the Delhi Gang Rape case, what pained and shocked me more than the moral insensitivity of the justice system was the support of the perpetrator by his female family members. Another worse instance is the Daniel Holtzclaw case in America where the jury involving 4 female members cried for a male perpetrator who raped 18 black women to show how sorry they were for him when they convicted him. As a woman, it makes me sick and helpless to see other women standing up or begging mercy for these misogynist assholes. Misogyny takes place in many subtle forms as well, like body shaming, and “asking” women to act and dress “decently” in public. We’re tamed to be “obedient” in ways as abhorrent as civilian rape. To quote Claudia Card, “Civilian rape is an instrument of domestication (breaking for house service) and exploitation. It breaks a woman’s spirit, humiliates, and tames, produces a docile, deferential soul. It teaches her that she will have in her own body only the control she is granted by another.”
Talking about stranger rapes, which send a message of the need for protection for women, she further adds, “Although stranger rape may be for the sake of dominance as an end in itself, a common function served by its toleration is to secure female heterosexual dependency and service. The rapes of some women send the message to others that they need protection. The ever-present threat of rape from childhood through old age produces a society of women oriented toward serving men, women who are animated by hopes of securing protection as a reward and who eventually feel bound to the men through misplaced gratitude for “protection” that is mostly only a withholding of abuse.”
We want men to respect us, but we fail to respect and care for ourselves. We expect people to internalize the concept of respect without realizing that most of us can’t even fully comprehend what it means to respect someone. To put in other words what I said earlier, rape is not merely an ugly display of disrespect but that of authority. As long as we have a patriarchal society, we can’t get rid of the evil of rape and until then, the only thing which I feel is in our power is to make ourselves strong enough to not need any man to fight our battles for us.
Shourya Mohaniya is a student of Mathematics and Philosophy
She has hijacked this blog and I love it.