Unfortunately rape culture still exists, is practiced and thrives. Let us begin to put a stop to it once and for All.

Imagine a small child falls down, gets hurt and starts crying. The parent runs to console and says “…Don’t cry like a girl…”. Sound familiar?

OR

Watching his infant granddaughter soundly sleeping, cracks a harmless joke “She is very tired from doing all the chores around the house…” Wonder what he would say for his infant grandson?

OR

Women saying “Aww… so cute! I want one and I will dress her up all the time…” As if that’s all a baby girl needs. Why can’t we see beyond clothes and accessories?

OR

Parents believing and preaching that only boys can be good at Math or Physics. That girls can forego their shot at building a career and just get married. Does it make you angry when somebody says that women can’t be surgeons because they don’t have the strength to stand through long procedures? Or men make better salesperson going from door to door because they can bear the brunt of heat, traffic and fatigue.

OR

Parents protesting their daughters’ choice of clothes only because men will get the wrong message. What message I ask? Women are forced to dress according to men’s ability to control their carnal desires? Why not teach young boys that girls and woman are people, not objects.

OR

Maybe compliment women less on their beauty and more on their intelligence. You will be surprised what a turn on that is for a smart woman. A pretty little girl need not be complacent in life, she has miles to go.

OR

The wife is criticized for a cheating husband (the other woman is not spared either!). But a cheating wife gets the cuckolded all the sympathy in the world! Cheating is cheating irrespective of which gender commits it, duh!

OR

A man with several sexual partner is lauded for his “achievement” yet a woman with similar capability is branded a “Whore”. Why such discrimination? After all, either party is doing it at their own will and accord. Not for money or under pressure.

OR

The practice of not allowing menstruating girls and women to enter a Hindu temple or even light an incense stick because she is “unclean”. Ironically, even when hundreds are praying to a goddess of almighty power! Most ancient traditions are biased towards men or favors men and are still practiced in the name of religion. Menstruation or most commonly called Periods is a natural phenomenon. It is part of our life. It is not a disease or condition. It is the power to create life. Stop shunning it as something dirty. It’s a sign of a healthy body.

OR

By the way, a woman is “Complete” only after giving birth is such a piece of bullshit! Whoever believes that is a turd! A woman is not defined by her relationship to the various people in her life. She is a person first and foremost with her unique personality. Acknowledge that! Oh, also an adult woman can cut her hair short or style it in any way she wants. She doesn’t need her husband or boyfriend to permit her. It is her part of body and she can do with it as she sees fit. If it’s a bad choice, she will regret it later. But its her decision to make without wondering how her family might feel or perceive it.

OR

Societies shaming and shunning unmarried mothers but empathizing with unmarried fathers. How easy it becomes to forget about the child being raised and not extend a hand in support?

OR

The mere practice of female genital mutilation and honor killing…

OR

The worst of all, rape victims, no matter how young, living in shadows. Full of shame covering their faces, secluded from society, are guarded by the family (that is if they are lucky to have the family accept them). It is wrong, at all levels, to blame the girl for what happened to her. She is the victim and the survivor. She needs the support, care, love and acceptance. Not to be kept hidden away like an embarrassment. It is heart wrenching to even know that a small little girl, who only likes to play with her friends or toys, is forced upon! I don’t want to bring myself to write how I would have the rapists punished! All those girls and women, they are the real heroes of our society to have survive and thrive in their lives. Quick reminder, a husband raping his wife is not OK. Being raped as a married woman by the same person she is married to, doesn’t make it any better or less traumatic.

All these and innumerable other instances,  words and actions make the society degrade women. It reflects women as inferior, weak and mere objects of affection or lust. It gradually and more often dangerously amends impressionable minds into adulthood knowing that this is normal. This is the root cause of creating an unstable and imbalanced society; harnessing fear and weakness within one half (and declining) of the population.

Shouldn’t we bring about a change in this thought process? How can we, as individuals, parents and teachers imbibe the values of gender equality, positively influence minds to look up to female role models as much as male role models; condemn marital physical abuse and rape as punishable?

Below are few thoughts that may help bridge the gap. Some ideas could work, some could be controversial, some could be absolutely worthless, whatever maybe the case, it is a step forward…

  • Lets start by admitting and accepting that Human Rights are for all men and women.
  • Equal wage for equal work.
  • Pass universally acceptable set of uniform laws to punish crimes like rape, molestation, domestic violence. That would mean removing religious fanatics from the law making process, also not allow traditions or common beliefs interfere with clear judgement.
  • Media has a big role to play here. TV soaps and movies must stop portraying women in a sleazy way or not reflect them as a burden of the family; it is quite expected for people to get influenced. Same goes to portraying men not feeling any emotion and always as the super hero rushing in just at the nick of time (No pressure)!
  • Sex education needs to be given more freely without feeling any embarrassment. It is time that communities accept that sexual feelings in all of us is normal. We belong to the Animal Kingdom (remember middle school biology class?). From an evolutionary perspective or be it the psychological perspective, it’s only natural to feel the need to copulate. Being the builder and member of a civilized community, we have better ways to express than other animals in this world. Let us keep reminding ourselves of that occasionally. The taboo or embarrassment associated with sexual feelings and intercourse is not healthy. It has led to frustration and unhealthy modes of expressing carnal desires. On the same context, rape victims shouldn’t be allowed or forced to marry their culprit. It is unfathomable to think what they go through when they share space with their so-called “husband”. It is impossible to deal with such agony while you live and share a life with the same man who squeezed all your worth into a puny act of aggression! It is wrong. It is outrageous. It is inhuman.
  • It is time we pass laws that will not only treat the  victims but also help them assimilate into the society. Continue their education; teach them vocational skills; provide them with medical assistance; provide psychological support. What they go through, even after years have passed on, can only be understood who has been, unfortunately, in their shoes. Any form of physical abuse be it molestation or rape or just violence is capable of shattering the very core of a person. STOP IT.
  • It may sound absurd or controversial to legalize and regulate prostitution and pornography. Banning all modes of sexual release has only demonized sexual frustration and increase in crimes against women and children.
  • Progress the idea of remarriage for widowed or divorced women and parents. Single unmarried parents can fall in love as well, deal with it. Everyone wants to be loved.
  • We ought to take the pledge towards treating sons and daughters equally; by giving them the same choices and opportunities. To let them know that their ambition knows no bound. That they can achieve the best and most. That they are valuable to their society, country and the global village. They are individuals with their own talent and abilities that can and should be harnessed in their best interests. Not in the interest of men at large. Next time, split that glass of milk equally between your daughter and son.
  • When it comes to the matter of the well-being of your family and friends, it’s probably best to set aside religious views, political views. Sound judgment will only dawn upon you when you are not influenced by bitter forces.
  • Last but not the least, we, womenfolks, should support each other. Set aside jealousy, anger, hatred for one another. Dare I say, otherwise we will never overcome this biased world we frustratingly call “Man’s World”. It takes two to tango, ladies! (On the same note, I find it impossible to wrap my head around the fact that more than half of college educated white women voted against a very capable US Presidential Candidate, citing reasons like “women can’t be leaders????!” Or because “women are full of hormones and will start a war!” Hello, read the news and history, may I add!)

In no way, am I bashing men or trying to give them a bad name. We, men and women, together make the greatest team. Look at our long history across the world. Women have been able to make progress because of the support from exceptional men time and time again. I am lucky to have the best man I have ever come across, for a husband. I am lucky to have been raised by an open-minded father and an independent mother. But that doesn’t stop me from voicing my concern for other women who are far less unfortunate. It shan’t stop me from giving them the strength and support they need. It is clearly not a reason for me to keep my mouth shut! And one doesn’t need a reason to be a feminist because this world is still so very imbalanced.

 

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Boro Kaka was my most favorite person in the whole family. We lost him last year to a long strenuous battle against diabetes.He was diagnosed quite early in his life but that did not stop him from doing what he loved most; cherish all lives around him and celebrate it. His charisma was so strong that anybody who ever met him, never forgot his benevolence. He helped the poor and the rich. He supported friends and family through thick and thin. He had the extraordinary power of giving unconditional love.

He brought everyone together at family gatherings, festivals and the likes of it. He didn’t require much of a reason to enjoy a feast where everyone was invited, be it the plumber or the errand boy from two decades ago or the rich business man who happens to be his long time friend.

His eyes twinkled with kindness and empathy. He was stubborn yet managed to please others. He could make anyone feel at home in no time. In a conservative society where people are often discriminated by their jobs, he had respect for one and all. He never judged them for their profession, their past or their acts.

In a traditional society, worshipping God is set at default and people act in fear of god/goddess or face the wrath. In such an era, he was not a god fearing person but a god loving person. His faith was blind and he worshipped from his heart, not in need of miracles.

Loud music moved him, and thats how he used to start his day even in the early hours. Dancing around with his mother, wife and kids ignoring their plea to let go…. As a kid I was fascinated to see his love for animals, a rare sight from where I come. First ever that I came across in life. He cared deeply for the stray and homeless, adopting dogs without a second thought.

He always put others’ problems before his own, almost to a fault. He had met with an accident that costed him a knee. It gave him a permanent limp. He recuperated from it in no time and mostly because of the constant care from his wife.

I fondly call her Boro Kaki. They fell in love when she was just eighteen and married soon after. Love and trust was what held them together. I strongly believe that Boro Kaki helped him to be the better person in every step of the way. Boro Kaka was complete when he had her beside him. Both of them made a beautiful couple with enormous heart. Their children, needless to say, are gems in our family.

He was a father figure to me. He helped my parents raise me when I was little. Not sure why, as a child I was deathly scared of him. The sound of his Enfield made me drink milk in a jiffy! He was an amazing photographer and children made him happy. As I was the only little one around for few years, he spent innumerable camera reels on me. Its refreshing to look at those funny photos of both of us. I have quite a few as my favorite. He adored me. And I loved him to death.

When I got the news of his death, I was living at the other end of the world. There was nothing that I could do. All I wanted was to be there next to Boro Kaki and my cousins.It was painful for all of us. Having lost their brother, my father, aunts and uncle had trouble coming to terms with it. It is never easy to deal with the parting of a loved one.

It is curious how he creeps into my conscious mind every now and then. I find myself staring at his photograph quite often. Deep within, I am still mourning. I can almost imagine him calling me “Naak-chapt” when I visit Kolkata next time. You see, he liked to make fun of my stubby nose, not in an annoying way though. Nothing he said or did could ever annoy me! Sometimes I like to think that an imaginary thread connects me with Boro Kaki or with either of my two cousins whenever his memory crosses my mind…

It was my wish to invite him over to experience my life in a foreign land; tour the world with him. Alas, some wishes are meant to be unfulfilled.

I think I speak on behalf of family and friends that the world was a much better place with him. It was just magic.

Dear Hillary Rodham

Sitting on my couch, chewing on bread, I had tears rolling down my eyes while watching you address the nation yesterday. Like millions across the nation, I am in shock that the unthinkable has happened. I am still struggling to understand how this could happen. Or why? Not a single shred of common sense or social responsibility can justify this. There are protests all over the country that cannot be ignored. But it will pass eventually, I am afraid.
I came to this country eight years ago as a student and today I have a family here. This country gave me hope, freedom and a career and I am extremely grateful for that. I have come to call this country my home.
I have been raised by a fiercely independent woman who did not let anything come between her daughters and their education. She taught us to be independent, opinionated and most of all self-sufficient. When I look at you, I see reflections of my mother.
Today I am busy, along with my husband, raising a baby girl. Both of us are proud of our little girl. From the very beginning, we had decided that she will know no bounds of possibilities, opportunities and achievements. That she can become whatever she dreams of. That being a woman will never hinder her progress.
And instill in her the inspiring words from a role model:
“…never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and to achieve your own dreams.”

Thank you for an indefatigable fight for this country and for women all over the world. You were, are and will remain to be an inspiration.

You are my hero.
M.