Saturday, March 7, 2015

I don't think I have felt like this in a long time - that I have so much to say and the need that others join me and speak out. I have never before felt that my self imposed exclusion from social media has hampered my voice and my ability to speak out.

I am obviously speaking out about the documentary made on the Delhi 2012 gang rape. As a student of JNU, which led the protests from the front , I felt I was involved and that it could have been me. I cannot understand why as a country we want to ban this documentary. Neither can I understand why we are supporting this government ban saying things like 'The Britishers have left India, they do not have a right to depict us' or by claiming that the documentary is a maligning of India's image in the world.

Oh India Shining !  You do not want to accept what so many of us fear, what so many of us live with everyday. India is very much what the documentary reflects us to be. We are not a country where this rape was a freak accident. We live with this everyday. I have been living in Delhi for the past six years and I know I have encountered the same men - EVERYWHERE.

Sexism and patriarchy run amok in this vast superior nation of ours. I was once told by one of my own classmates that the reason I got a glowing recommendation from  a male professor was because I am a woman - by someone who himself had reviewed what I had written and told me that it was very well written. In universities like DU and JNU, where Feminism is so on the agenda, we have probably scared our male colleagues into morphing their own sexist views, but no way have they disappeared. If that is the situation I have encountered in an alternate universe that my educational institutions exist in, the situation in the rest of the unafraid and unabashed India is bleakly despondent.

I remember having questions when the rape case was being monitored - why was the victim's name covered ? The parents give an answer in the documentary- her name was Jyoti Singh and they are not afraid who knows it. It was not her fault in any way and coding and decorating the violence that was meted out to her is not okay. She deserves to be more than a symbol which makes men feel better about whatever little they have done to rectify the situation.

I love you so much , all Men - there are so many of you whom I have seen grow up to be the right kind of men , men I have been proud to know. This is not penis envy, or man hating at any level. This is an appeal to accept that what most of you are like in this country and to redouble your efforts at proving that you are not 'it'. Men cannot shy away from making us believe that this is not what all Indian men are like - we have been proving ourselves at every level to every kind of man and every kind of woman (formed in a unique blend of sexism and patriarchal institutions) for years and years. Our life has been difficult at so many levels, it is not too much to ask that you too prove yourself to be better than what ultimately a lot of you are like in this country.

As a smoker, I have encountered glares and odd looks from the local pan wallahs when I want to buy a cigarette- I have changed vendors because I have felt uncomfortable. As much as we want to deny it , life in India is not safe for any woman no matter what she is doing.

I don't know how coherent my thoughts are - I am so angry and so afraid that I CAN FEEL the words slipping as I try to form sentences. I know that this rape atleast, incited anger in not just women but a lot of men , men who were raised right, who figured out that this is not what being a man is. I want to live in a world where  I feel safe, where I do not feel like going out at 11 and returning alone was an 'adventure'.

This is not fair on us - we are not second rate citizens and no matter how much we do to prove we are equal in capacity, our life and the choices we make to live are not equal. We are not free and we are not safe.

I urge you , to watch the documentary, share it, spread it across the world - let it be spread enough that it becomes a part of popular stereotypes about India in the west. Let the Indian stereotype change from cashiers and cab drivers to rapists and sexists - if only to tell Indian men that this is not what they are and to some day be in a position to challenge these stereotypes. I want the word out ,to an extent that feminism has a fighting chance as a reactionary mechanism.