Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Wrath Of The Feminine
1989-90 Satellite television had still not invaded our drawing rooms.  Back then the idiot box was not that idiotic and it brought the family together rather than divide it.  I still vividly remember the kaleidoscope of images flashing on the television screen - Romanian dictator Ceaușescu being bundled into a vehicle and later sentenced to death by his own people, the Berlin wall coming down amidst jubilant cheers, pro-democracy students being slaughtered by their own government at Tiananmen Square, the mighty USSR crumbling into small countries.  It’s a period no one will forget in a hurry. 

2010 – 11 It seems as if someone has pressed the rewind button.  This time it is the Arab world shaking off decades of cowed passivity under dictatorships.  India readily succumbed to the heady fragrance of Jasmine and its simmering discontent found a vent in the proposed Jan LokPal Bill.  It was an uprising that took the elected by surprise. 

The world is in a period of transition again - a difficult time marked by impatience and disappointment of the people in rebellion.

If you have been following these upheavals closely, you will observe the pivotal role the youth has played in these movements.  In Egypt, it was not the traditional opposition groups, but tens of thousands of the youth who braved tear gas, rubber bullets.  They gathered support through social media and mobilized public opinion.  For a change the young were ready to take the reins of change they had been dreaming of. 

It is another matter that the Arab Spring has now turned to Arab hell, as dictators like Assad and Gaddafi strive to curb rebellion ruthlessly.

The young and the restless can be a volatile mix and leaders have discovered it at their own peril.  

 There have been countless debates on what could have possibly triggered these revolts. Dissatisfaction with the elected, rising expectations, impatience for progress...But what you probably did not know is that the skewed sex ratio is also touted as one of the factors behind growing social unrest.  Asian countries with severely skewed sex ratio have given rise to a generation of boys with pent up testosterone and nowhere to go.  Imagine a pack of strappy boys having to vie for the attention of 3 remaining girls in the village and one of them prefers spending her time wrestling in her Dad’s akhadaa.  In this battle for the few remaining women, it is money that wins, leaving the poorest unhappily unmarried.  Now couple it with unemployment and you have a platoon of angry young men ready to spit fire at the slightest provocation. 

Nevertheless, it is this sex ratio imbalance that makes a woman feel so special. She has hordes of men tailing her wherever she goes, who will never shy of expressing their appreciation in a primal language of wolf whistles and cat calls.  The sight of a female form makes their vehicles defy speed and logic and their enthusiastic gestures of yearning are enough to give a good soccer like practise to our frail hearts.  A woman is an easy target. If she rejects your advances, you can throw acid on her face.  If there’s too much salt in the curry you can smash the plate on her face.  Want to teach her a lesson - just strip her off her clothes. 

And to top it all we have a breed of parents who don’t think twice before denying their girl child her life –   the sacred giver of life.  The one who could have been your first teacher, your first love, the reason for your passion.... 

But despite an acute shortage of women in our country – it’s them who run the show.  Amma, Didi, Madam, Shelia Chachi and Behenjee make grownup men wish they had their diapers on.  Look what happened, when the Queen who runs the show from the backseat, took her ailing self to Obama’s bankrupt country.  Her knights are behaving like a pack of bumbling fools, creating a black-hole of controversies.  

Ironically these powerful women in politics have not leveraged their position to do anything substantial for other women.  Our voices, our expectations, our anxieties are of no consequence to them.  Is it because women are too passive for our own good?  Do we let off our mantris a bit too easily?

Since August is perfect for Kranti – I think it’s time we all said buss bahut ho gaya.  It’s time we found a voice and reject discrimination, violence, subjugation, indifference..... If you choose to ignore us yet again, it will be at your own peril.  Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.  And once a woman flares up it’s not easy to calm her down – like the mighty Brahmaputra she can wreak Durga she can descended to vanquish the evil demon, Mahishasura

So what’s stopping us? 
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  1. I have been termed as big mouth already. So you can imagine :-p

  2. August for Kranti really sounds like we've got a violent protest going on.

    August mein Virrudh would be better? I wonder.

  3. These are tumultuous times indeed and the currents run strong. I hope that when time writes the history of this era, the youth is not left wanting.(I don't remember, but someone in my english textbook had said something like this).

    There is a SMS that circulates around DurgaPuja and other Goddess festivities that we always look towards Goddesses for favours and boons like Saraswati for Education and Wisdom, Lakshmi for Wealth, Durga for Character and safety and yet we undermine the role of any other woman, who could in fact be Goddess incarnate.
    No wonder many of them hold key positions, but you are right, they don't seem to be promoting others. Like Behenji and the crime report in her state, its startling.

    Fathers, be good to your daughters
    Daughters will love like you do
    Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
    So mothers, be good to your daughters too

    ~John Mayer

    Nice post.

    Blasphemous Aesthete

  4. while i am alive i hope to witness bras being barred from fashion world and women be set free :) and no am not joking...

  5. just saw an ad of life cell in RD 'proof that women are luckier than men'...may be not...too much unwanted attention or total ignorance...both seems to be the problem for is a problem created by men (though cannot deny the role of women too)...a problem that is going to haunt the men back, if they don't learn their lessons soon...its time we change...

    Great Post...


  6. Nicely worded, a very good read and of course love your signature touch in the end...:)

  7. Absolutely Awesome as always...Until such time a lady Anna takes up the cudgels for the greater good of the society ..We have to live with it..I don't think slut walks are of use...But great thought all in all..Purba Style...

  8. somewhere at the far east corner of our country is a iron lady " Irom Sharmila chanu " who, for last 11 years, has been fasting for the removal of AFSPA 1958,which means Armed force Special Powers Act . According to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), in an area that is proclaimed as "disturbed", an officer of the armed forces has powers to:
    "Fire upon or otherwise use force, even to the causing of death, against any person who is acting in contravention of any law" against "assembly of five or more persons" or possession of deadly weapons.
    To arrest without a warrant and with the use of "necessary" force anyone who has committed certain offenses or is suspected of having done so
    To enter and search any premise in order to make such arrests.
    It gives Army officers legal immunity for their actions. There can be no prosecution, suit or any other legal proceeding against anyone acting under that law.

    It is time the people of this nation recognise , understand, support this struggle for Right to Live with Dignity in your own country that their fellow citizens in the Northeastern part of the country (Manipur) are demanding for spearheaded by the Iron lady . It is time for the Govt to react before the "wrath of the feminine strikes.". well written Purba.sorry to take up so much space.

  9. wow, there is no better way in which our position and power as well as our helplessness could be as well defined!

    we do hold a lot of answers if only we would understand the questions properly...we can create a change in the world if we just start to create it within us!

    and the youth-yes, i have never seen them as charged up as they are is amazing and one of the biggest revelations of our times too:-)

  10. Hmmmm....well articulated. If you ask me, we are a bunch of hypocrites.
    But I will tell you something....since some months we are only receiving sweets if a girl is born. No sweets for a boy's birth.

  11. Ah, this post makes me feel real good ... I breathe full, my nose up in the air, proud! I think a lady Anna should awaken in each of us everyday, instead of waiting for the-one to start fasting against harassment and discrimination.
    Good read!

  12. What stopping us?

    Only the majority of the world.

    When men don't accept us as equals, how effective do you think our protests will be?

  13. like the post manifold.. and all those ladies you mention are just an exact replica of male dominated politicians.. good for nothing. Hope we get another Nightingale pretty soon.

    Weakest LINK

  14. i've noticed women politicians are unusually similar to the men

  15. Wow Purbaji, brilliant insight of linking the Jasmine Revolution to a skewed sex ratio!! Superb!!

    I can't help agreeing with your thoughts but I need to bring up a predicament- I think I'm seeing a lot of such write ups on the imbalance n inequity handed over to women by men. About social imbalance n favoritism created by men. About men who dishonor, disrespect and disturb. But seriously, how many of us actually know of such men in real life except for the ones from the media?

    My point is, most of us men are not at all like that... we guys r not really all that bad...sure in 3 billion(or 500mill in India), there will be bad apples but isn't that the case in either gender?

    I wonder when we'll have a guy write something similar about the other endangered species - the not-so-few good men? :)

    And no, I cant write cos I'm still a bad man.


    1. Umm, I have had the (dis)honor to have met quite a few of them and suffered at their hands.

      Believe me, men who "dishonor, disrespect and disturb" are the silent majority in this country.

      Every time a man watches in silence as a woman is molested in public, he becomes one who "disrespects, dishonors and disturbs".

      How many Indian men have the courage to stand up against gender inequality?

      How many men protest when their parents treat their wives badly?

      How many men protest when they are served "hot, hot chapatis" while the women get to eat cold leftovers later?

      Gender inequality manifests itself in many, many ways in Indian families. Most men turn a blind eye to it.

  16. Bhavana...Assertive women are considered an anomaly.

    Pzes...Virodh is protest and kranti need not always be violent.

    Anshul...Once in power they are more concerned about holding on to their kursi and making hay while the sun shines. Of course I cannot generalize - I am sure there are a few good ones.

  17. Chintan...If we burn our bras our men will be in jeopardy. What will they fantasize about?

    SUB...It is societal conditioning, lack of awareness, unwillingness to change. And women cannot be absolved of the blame.

    Saru...Glad you liked.

  18. Rajesh...I still don't know what Purba style is but I am glad you liked :)

    RK...The media had brought Irom Sharmila's struggle to our attention when Anna and his team grabbed centrestage in April.

    It is unfair that a woman has been campaigning for removal of AFSPA for over a decade and the centre has turned a blind eye to it.

  19. Suruchi...Passion coupled with tenacity can even move mountains.

    Prats...Badhai ho :D

    Ambika...Years of social conditioning has made us complacent - we need to change that.

  20. Priyanka....That's exactly what we have to get rid of - what can we do. Yes you can if you believe in yourself.

    Rachit....We don't need reservations but reforms.
    Parents who do not think twice before killing their baby girl should be punished severely.

    Little John...They behave like men to be taken seriously.

  21. A thought provoking post with a heady concoction of hilarity...Purva really good!

  22. A completely new angle to how women being a rare shining piece can bring in violence to the society. And I agree with you in saying that 'bahut ho gaya'. It is high time we banged a strong feet down and fight for an equal status. In fact few women also support the lowering of sex ratio. Definitely a sad state of affairs. And I loved the line "And once a woman flares up it’s not easy to calm her down". Completely true.

    Lovely post :)

  23. Hey is the sweet bong girl with a beautiful smile letting out a war cry? Loved it,

    Btw, the powerful women of our country headed by the Great Madam and the rest are not passive as you have suggested, but are content with the power they hold and its advantages all for themselves.

    Isn't it a shame that a de facto head of the country and the state chief minister together preside over the 'third most dangerous place for women?' Why do they care for their discriminated and abused counterparts?

  24. Raj....It is a woman who is often at the receiving end of domestic violence. The unwanted attention..leering..snide comments...a brush here..a squeeze...this is not something we read in papers but experience it first hand.

    And I am not absolving women of blame..we consider ourselves week and hence are treated accordingly.

    Rahul...Glad you appreciated the hard work I put in.

  25. m so happy for a balanced post on a topic as delicate and unresolvable as gender. and yes, if there is a problem within us, its cure is also within us,its us who has to resurrect us,and those who are in a capacity to do the same should make note of this...we cannot go on playing the blame game on the opposite sex all the time,though our flexibility on this issue should not be misjudged for our tolerance for anything and everything.

    1. Absolutely.

      I am always struck by how every woman I have ever met has agreed that India has a "woman problem"

      Almost every Indian woman I know complains privately about how unjust and unfair Indian society is to women.

      This complaint is universal - it cuts across class, religion, and socio-economic lines.

      Women see the problem yet do nothing to fix it.

      Instead, they perpetuate the very same socio-political-cultural structures that keep them down.

      If every Indian became an agent of change, in very small, but significant ways, then a revolution would take root.

      1) If every Indian woman raised her son to respect women...
      2) If every mother-in-law treated her daughter-in-law as a human being and not a drudge...
      3) If every woman on a bus or a train stood up for a sister being groped...
      4) If every mother insisted that her family would not demand dowry and would contribute to the wedding expenses...
      5) If every female manager nurtured her female subordinates instead of projecting her insecurities on them....
      6) If every female film-maker (Farah Khan, are you listening?) vowed not to portray women as mere eye candy...

      We women complain about how unjust Indian society is, but what do we DO to change things?

  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

  27. Deepthi...Most women are sincere, honest, idealistic and hard working.
    Agreed we stress ourselves out juggling our many roles but we still manage to be nurturing and caring.

    I hate it when women use their femininity to leverage benefits.

    Zephyr...And doesn't it make your blood boil when Sheila Dixit makes irresponsible statements like One should not be adventurous

    And Mayawati is a megalomaniac obsessed with her statues and her many handbags.

  28. first time i have come across such a heartfelt issue from you. Very well written one at that. Female kranti is happening at the ipper echelons of society, it is time that women like us who have a voice make a difference!

  29. Some good will definitely come out of the social churning going glimmer of hope is the number of youth, boys and girls coming out and demanding governance.

  30. Very true - this skewed sex ratio and what it can do to women. Imagine that world.. Let us not think for a moment that Amma or Didi can do anything about it. UP which has a woman CM has the maximum number crimes against women.. so there!!!

  31. fasting?
    flavour of the day!

    inquilab zindabad!!

  32. Usually I like your posts very much. But this one is an exception.

    Tying the social unrest to skew in sex ratio and then launching on a women uplift movement...
    I don't know I just couldn't get the connection.

    I agree with all you say about the prejudices against women and how women in power has not done anything substantial for their ilk.
    One hundred percent!

    But it is just that first few paragraphs and the last few deal with completely unrelated issues. And there is an attempt of force fitting. That's my opinion.

  33. A grain of sand ...We choose to ignore many things but we simmer inside.

    confusedyuppie...Well, definitely not a first one for me. And I do agree that it is us, the so called empowered ones who can bring about a change.

    Alka...They see a saviour in Anna. They see this as battle between the good and the evil.

  34. Meera...Delhi is no better and we've had a woman CM for the last two terms.

    magiceye...No fasting for me please, I love eating too much.

    Sairam...I wrote what I felt, sorry to have disappointed you.

  35. Go Ahead, Ladies!
    Battle Speed!!

  36. Along with youth,we have communication systems that helps spread messages faster.
    Girl Power is Super power (if people let the foetus grow into a baby and then let the baby grow to a girl)
    I enjoyed the read.

  37. This is one August Kranti I am surely joining!

  38. Trinidad, Thailand, Australia, Germany...women are the new men, the new rulers. But sadly enough crimes against women show no signs of lessening. World's 9th most powerful person is again a woman from our country, yet women continue to be raped, molested sexually harassed in the capital. I really don't get the reasons behind.

  39. Umashankar....And you will cheer from the sidelines?

    Blue Lotus...If only each mother could tell her daughter, reach for the stars, don't let anything hold you back.

    Sapna...Aab Dilli door nahin :)

    Samadrita...Sadly even in the 21st century, women are perceived as possessions. They continue to be objectified.

  40. @Purba so finally you have created a dangerous post, I am not sure what you are trying to say but the fact remains that man or woman power corrupts all. I still remember the Indira Gandhi days, the only time independent India went in for emergency. There are more examples, Long before the bumbling knights was the Iron Lady of UK, Maggie Thatcher. I have no doubt that India has gone to dogs and there is no realistic chance of a turn around on social parameters, but still I am not able to see the point. Amma, Chachi, Behenji and Madam are all props for other men or were propped by them in the past. Didi I am not sure as I am not versed with Bengal politics. We are at an inflection point and there is only way to go from here, to oblivion.

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  42. Good one Purba, I really like the part about the girl child.

    The post did took me back to the times when we had only good old DD.

  43. Vikram....I don't agree with you when you say Jayalalitha, Sonia Gandhi, Sheila Dixit and Mayawati are mere props. But I won't contest the fact that power corrupts all - once you grab the coveted post, you want to hold on to it all costs.

    Why do men feel threatened when a woman writes about emancipation and her rights?

    Prasad...We all miss DD, don't we?

  44. Purba,

    I hope and pray that people get the hidden much needed message in this.

    Take care

  45. Indian women have had their spirits so completely crushed that and their voices so completely silenced that rebellion is not even an option.

    Almost every woman I have encountered has some or the other tale of discrimination and abuse.

    Hostile in-laws, dowry, abusive or philandering husbands, unequal access to education and employment, rape, sexual harrassment and domestic violence -- how can a woman survive all this and still feel wrath and outrage?

    1. All of us at some point have time have faced harassment. We fume, fret, yet very few of us choose to do something about it. We accept it. And this makes it worse!

      Like you have put so beautifully in a previous comment. As a boss...a colleague..a mother..a is up to us to change perceptions.

      I have shared your inspiring words with all my friends.

  46. Interseting , thought provoking subject of Skewed sex ratio and its social implications.Loved the way you put it .Just want to mention mot to forget Ms.Kiran Bedi and her invaluable contribution to the Anti Corruption movement....
    Nice post...


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