Cultured Much?

Posted: August 6, 2012

A few days ago, a group of men in the name of “culture cops” assaulted youngsters who were involved in a private party. The women in the party were especially subjected to harassment and humiliation. This is not the first time such an incident is happening in Mangalore. What infuriates me the most is the Karnataka Chairperson for women who has said that “Such parties mislead women”.

A mob of lunatics in the name of ‘culture’ break into a party and take law in their hands. On top of it they harass young girls and boys and all that our leaders can think of is that “Why are women at such parties”?

I discussed this issue with a few students at my college. “Simply tagging something as against our culture does not justify molestation or violence against anybody. Perception of what is right wrong or right within our culture differs from person to person,” says Sneha Balasubramaniam, a second year B.Com student. Another exasperated college student Janani subramaniam asks, “If molesting a woman is a punishment for partying, what is the ‘culture’ they are trying to set”?




It is not the first time a crime against a woman has been justified by saying that ‘she asked for it’.

The expectation that the society sets on a normal woman has always been very unreasonable. A woman, in our epics and traditions was either worshipped or held in a position of great respect. From goddess Saraswati the giver of education to Sita who is an epitome of loyalty women have always been associated with idealistic standards. Even today many families believe that it is only the women who carry the burden of culture on her shoulders. We still live in a world where everyone expects a woman to be the “ideal” everything.

My question however is that are we really living in a world where anybody has the position to even demand idealistic comparisons’?

We are living in a world where corruption is at its peak, where money dictates your life and where relationships crumble faster than a cookie. All around the world from the way we brush our teeth to the way we receive our salary has changed thanks to technology and globalization. Even our President who was earlier driving in an Indian make car has now shifted to a top notch car made in Germany. We earn our daily share of bread in this vibrant competitive globalized environment.

Yet, when it comes to “women”, you expect her to be someone who has not at all changed or steered away from the times of yore! Even though everything around us is changing we still want women to be indifferent to these changes and remain the ‘ideal’ Indian woman!

A friend who was dressed in every international brand possible starting from his clothes to his wallet once told me that he wanted to marry a ‘traditional Indian girl’. That is when it struck me that we probably have modernized in terms of our attire and lifestyles, but in our roots we are not Indian, but rather backward.

I have heard people tell me that it was not a wise idea to have a drink in a pub because once a woman is drunk she is in a state where she can be exploited. There is of course another way of looking at it. Are men simply animals with only carnal desires such that they are ready to rape any girl in an exploitable state? If such comparison angers any man with a tinge of self-respect, it is high time they stand up for the injustice done to women in the name of “culture”.

Every time I write something that relates to gender equality I quote this line. I was raised in a family where what was ok for my brother, was always ok for me. There were absolutely no double standards when it came to rules or night outs. And I also grew up with a father and a brother who never interfered with my personal space or acted in a chauvinistic manner.

These attitude changes in the society will take a long time to happen, but the immediate question here is that what we are going to do with the men who call themselves “culture cops”. People in responsible positions instead of giving sweeping statements to the media about culture and women have to have the spine to punish these criminals in the first place. These punishments must set an example to not only anyone who intends to hurt women but also to anyone who in the future tries to take law in their hands!

 

Nandhitha Hariharan is a writer with a love for anything that is pretty or covered

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