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Issues Of Agency, Consent, And Sexual Violation – Still A One Way Street?

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It is time the gender inequality that we see in issues of agency and consent, and the objectification of women is questioned, and some essential changes made.

As gruesome and helpless as it might sound, rapes happen. And if it that is not bad enough, there comes along a judge who will ask the complainant to why she ‘could not have kept her knees together’! Or a politician who has the audacity to say that ‘boys make mistakes’.

With rape being the extreme, sexually suggestive remarks, brushing in public places, groping – all fall under violation of basic human rights.

As much as we might believe in the feminism movement and equal rights, a cautious mother will still tend to advise her daughter to dress modestly just so that she is safe.

I am tempted draw an analogy of this with the limited belief of my house-maid during my childhood that a bull would attack red, hence be safe and don’t wear red as you can’t stop a charging animal, right?

Why is it that women are not tempted to ‘adam tease’ men?

What does a man with cool biceps or revealing swim trunks or jeans invite from the opposite sex? Sneering remarks, judgemental comments, groping is definitely not on the list. Rape – not even in fantasy. Yes, there have been men raped or molested, but I believe that the perpetrators are often men in these cases too!

Why are such violations usually a one way street? The reasons they even exist is because they go only one way; and such is the case because of….

Centuries of conditioning

Since the beginning of time, or at least as much as history tells us, humans have mostly been patriarchal. It might have started as physical strength and moved on to every task which men did, valued more over those that women performed. Being the ones who gave birth, made them vulnerable right then. And everything she did after that was always under the shadow of men.

The bread earner was always looked up to and whatever he did considered either legal or casual. Men desired women and women became objectified. A man forcing himself on a woman was not always a crime. It was just considered a woman’s fate. Hence it is no surprise that even now, every now and then, even if she goes through a life threatening soul churning act of rape, she is blamed for it.

An era of brainwashing cannot be wiped off in a few decades. We might have to give it some more time – during which along with empowering our girls, we have to train our boys to see everything that it takes to run a household.

Physical prowess

Biologically, men have more physical strength. But should it be a sign of power? Well, it definitely is when you can use it to scare and bog someone down for a sexual assault and she fails just because she can’t match in strength.

In good faith, we do teach our boys to protect girls. What we don’t realize is that the feeling that ‘I am a protector’ itself is enough to plant seeds of the feeling of ‘I am powerful’, and it is not a very large step from there to a misuse of this feeling of being powerful.

The only way to counter this is to train girls to be physically capable of defending themselves in any situation. And refrain from telling our boys that girls need to be kept safe as an act of a protector.

Attitude towards sex

Historically sex was almost a birth right given to men and a taboo for a woman; well, until the man who has the ‘right’ over her demands for it.

Being comparatively better times now, women definitely have a lot of say. However behind closed doors, sex is still something which she ‘gives’. To deny it or demand it does not come as easily to the woman in a relationship as it comes to a man.

Right to physical proximity and right to physical pleasure should be available in equal measure to both partners in a relationship. And this should be prevalent across the board as a rule and not as an exception.

‘Looking good’

“A woman without paint is like food without salt,” said an ancient Roman philosopher.

Solah shringar are the sixteen adornments of an Indian Hindu bride, of course to make her desirable to her husband.

Why have men’s dresses always been comfortable and women’s dresses always designed to ‘make her look good’?

Want it or not, looking good is a big part of our self-esteem, men and women alike. Just that, for men it is a matter of their own choice and for women an unconscious, forced upon conditioning which has trickled down from ages of objectification.

To be comfortable, very comfortable in your own skin is what we should accept and teach the coming generation. If the shorts get higher and shirts get shorter it should be solely for the purpose of one’s own self-image not for impressing anyone else.

Image source: shutterstock

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