Rape Culture And Men: Will Things Ever Change?

Posted: June 18, 2014

Questions of gender violence and rape culture have no easy answers. Here is a thoughtful exploration of men, perversion, and how cultures can evolve.

I have not written anything for a long time now, with a research project taking up my time and energy. However, the gang rape of two sisters in Badhaun, U.P,  as well as them being subsequently hanged from a tree (as if to show the world that our male chauvinistic society has not changed a bit)  has made me think of the collective shame that our nation has been subjected to. It was impossible to remain silent.

As a biologist, I know about nature’s way of rectifying defective genes during the replication of DNA so that, in most cases, very little damage is done. How about perverted genes, though? I wonder if Bio-technology could target perverted genes and set them right.

Rapists who derive sadist pleasure in watching their victims writhe in pain when subjected to sexual abuse  cannot be called ‘normal’ and I condemn them from the core of my heart. How about other perverts who may not physically abuse women but subject them to mental abuse with indecent gestures and vulgar comments? Are they also not at fault? Don’t these objectionable acts and words add up to sexual abuse? I feel appalled when I hear men say – “She asked for it. If I don’t react, I cannot call myself a man”.

There is a Tamil serial that I watch while attending to my kitchen work at night. When I miss watching it when it is telecast, I watch an uploaded version on YouTube later. I happened to read viewer’s comments and was appalled at the obscenity of some of them. How come they are not deleted outright by the producers?

The level of perversion is such that I have stopped reading the comments. I can visualize a future rapist in each one of those who can pen such vulgarity. That the actresses also have their dignity is conveniently forgotten. I have no words to describe the anguish I felt. If this is reflective of the perversion that prevails in society, I am unable to visualize a future India where women will be treated with respect.

 If this is reflective of the perversion that prevails in society, I am unable to visualize a future India where women will be treated with respect.

How do we tackle the issue of rape and molestation? Psychologists say that those who were dominated by others or sexually abused themselves react by physically overpowering women. It is an act of revenge.

Is it only that?

A child is abused by a neighbor whom she has known all her life. A man who comes across as a normal family man pounces on a female colleague and declares that he has no clue as to why he did that. Army generals excuse their boys for raping women from the areas where they camp and say that they get perverted because they’ve been staying away from their wives.

By the same rule, is the wife allowed to pounce on a handsome man to satisfy her unfulfilled sexual desire? Will she do it? Years, or rather several generations, of mental tuning prevents  a woman from acting like a pervert. At the expense of sounding harsh, I would say that men have been allowed to get away with unacceptable behavior – sexual or otherwise- by society for far too long, and the current rape culture is a manifestation of their indifference to the feelings of women.

I would say that men have been allowed to get away with unacceptable behavior – sexual or otherwise- by society for far too long, and the current rape culture is a manifestation of their indifference to the feelings of women.

In my opinion, it is the duty of parents to train their boys to treat women with respect, and their daughters to stand up for themselves when abused. A father who uses foul language while addressing his wife, and the wife who takes it in her stride – are both to be blamed.

Not a day goes by without reports of rape and molestation in the newspapers. Every thinking individual is anguished and is at the same time secretly relived that it was not a family member who was victimized. But what else can be done, is my question.

I list a few thoughts that come to my mind.

  • Schools can open counseling centers and encourage children to report instances of sexual abuse. I say children because it is important to sensitize boys on the issue.
  • Parents must ask their children to feel free to tell them about any kind of unacceptable behavior from those around them irrespective of the closeness of the abuser to the family and/or his or her social status.
  • Children must be encouraged to discuss such issues and exchange notes with their peers. This would enable them to support each other at the time of need.

Finally, since the problem needs to be addressed by doctors, sociologists, psychologists, schools, parents, and women themselves there is need for interaction among different sections of society to arrive at a possible solution.

 

The Hip Grandma lives in a small industrial town called Jamshedpur and despite all its

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7 Comments


  1. Dr Mrs Sushma Joiya Pandit -

    Women Entrepreneurship can stop such crimes. Let a group of young girls join together and start a venture to manufacture/ trading . This will raise their socio-economic status and will understand the ways and means to live in the society out of the family.
    We have never allowed them to go out of the family without an escort thereby their self confidence is not built.
    Such girls are known as climbers, they want to rise but with the help of a support. Some times in search of that support they fall in the trap of wrong persons.
    Non greedy Self sufficiency of female society can reduce the chances of crime against them. Parents have no time, their brothers and sisters have their own engagements with the result they have to seek the help of boy friends. Males are always selfish, have their own network through which they take their girl friend on the wrong path. Female because of her nature tries to hide every thing from her female friends which is also a reason
    of getting them trapped

    • The solution is perhaps to impart sex education in schools and encourage students to participate in discussions to clarify any misconceptions they may have in this regard. Boys ought to be encouraged to interact with girls in a healthy atmosphere and to treat them as friends not in anyway different to their male friends. If this situation is created girls would gain confidence to venture out on their own.

  2. I live in a cosmopolitan city in India, an elite high rise residential complex in the Financial/IT District where MNC professionals reside. The lifts of all the buildings within the complex are scratched with vulgar grafitti – FUCK. Rape, violence and pervert thoughts against women is not just limited to the goonda states like UP, Bihar, Rajasthan or Haryana. This negativity against women exists in the male mindset.

    • This is only because of women being considered as objects to be used and thrown and this view is knowingly or unknowingly encouraged in the family set up too. How many women are allowed to express their opinion on important family matters or take decisions that go against that of male members in the family? She is hushed up by her own mother and mother in law for fear of annoying the men in the family. When men are treated like God they think that they can get away with anything.

    • ‘Men will be men’ is a common refrain. But do they not have the duty of standing up for them? They either look away or say that the victimized woman asked for it. Be it domestic violence or sexual abuse it is always the woman who is blamed.Whether it is the father or brother or for that matter the mother, they tend to turn away when the daughter is abused not wanting to interfere in husband and wife quarrel/fights. They either don’t want to take responsibility in the event of the daughter returning home or are afraid of gossip.

  3. The adage ‘Men will be men’ has been allowed for too long, with even our political readers advocating lesser punishment for rapist because men will be men, and they just can’t help themselves. This sentence not only belittles the violence that is perpetrated against women, but undermines men as well, by making violent behaviour and sexual attacks from men the norm and not expecting any better from them. This is true in the way boys behave amongst their peer groups as well, where a boy who does not ‘flirt’ with girls or admire their beauty via catcalls is seen as un-masculine and sometimes worse, making sexually harassing girls a necessary step to manhood.

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