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How do all the justifications of ‘she was asking for it’ embolden molesters and rapists to continue attacking women, and conveniently deflect blame? Here’s a look at how the mind of a molester could work.
I could see her toned skin and her milky thighs. Her open hair and that glossy lip. She was asking for it!
I could see you execrate me. Let’s make one thing clear – this whole molester tag is false. I only did what she wanted. She was asking for it!
I could see her bare midriff and cleavage in that nonexistent dress. Her navel seemed to be hypnotising me. She was asking for it!
I could see she had lost all decency — drinking with other men, laughing, shamelessly parading her body to all and sundry. This at 11:30 pm in the city’s main square when the whole country awaited midnight. Was there any doubt? Nah. She really was asking for it!
I could see the policemen on patrol, sitting in their cars or standing at the corners. They know she is of loose character. The way that policeman looked at her and smirked, I knew he knew that she was asking for it!
I could also see in that policeman’s eyes that he was sympathetic to me. There are a million rules in this country favouring the women. No one thinks of us men! He wasn’t going to trouble me for anything. I wouldn’t be harassed through courts on some false charges. Doesn’t the law say that it is okay as long as it is consensual between two adults? Well, that’s my clean chit. I was only tending to the lady’s request. You know, she was actually asking for it!
I could see what kind of a family she would be from. This was what Indian culture and values had denigrated to. God had made women to tend to the kitchen, stay under the veil/purdah and bear their husbands’ kids. She had no business being out here. By roaming out this late at night, she was asking for it!
I could see why she wouldn’t wear a saree. Or even a salwar-suit. She wanted to be devoured by men, as many as possible. She liked being beaten and used. I can identify such women with one gaze. They like being servile. Once you slap and hit them enough, they fall in line. They do as you ask them to. Had she worn a saree instead of walking around half-naked in that tank top and miniskirt, maybe cultured, sanskaari boys would have spared her. But dressed or, heh, undressed like this, she was always asking for it!
I could see the effects of rampant westernisation. Values and morals have been eroded completely. In the glorious past, we were always a honourable nation. We respected women and elders (never mind the Mahabharata!). And then these firangis came with their mill cloths and destroyed the fabric of our country (pun intended!). They brainwashed the innocent women of our country into drinking alcohol and mingling with men who were strangers. What I was seeing today was inevitable. Unhinged from her cultural identity, she was asking for it!
I used one of the three options I had :
It wasn’t my fault at all. When a girl calls nudity fashion and incites poor me to grab her and enjoy her body, what am I supposed to do? After all, even Gods have lost when faced with the wiles of women. I’m a mere mortal. Unless her mentality is rectified, she will, time and again, keep asking for it!
Don’t blame me. Blame the girl. Where there is gasoline, there will be fire. Where there are such loose morals, such incidents do happen! I gave it to her ‘coz, you know, she was asking for it!
P.S. : The Bengaluru mass molestations were a fresh blot on our national conscience. It’s high time men, Indian men, understood that a woman is an equal human being, not a toy or a property.
I’d love to have your feedback in the comments.
Thanks for reading.
Editor’s Note: This post is not meant to be taken literally as a justification of molesters, in any case anyone missed the author’s true intent. This is a look at how, by promoting a culture of victim-blaming, we allow more and more molesters/rapists to continue deflecting the blame for their actions.
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First published here
I'm a lecturer currently, having graduated in Electrical Engineering. I love reading, playing Badminton,
Victim blaming is largely due to a lack of empathy people may feel towards another’s suffering/misfortune. In recent times we’ve seen countless examples of blatant callousness and lack of empathy on the part of the average person when witnessing even horrifying crimes. This is due to both desensitisation and the lack of a deeply internalized sense of individual “moral conscience”. The second reason victim blaming is resorted to, is due to an apparently instinctive psychological reaction to fear, that we resort to, to restore our own sense of calm and security. By blaming the victim we can continue to imagine that we ourselves and our loved ones can be safe and that we have control over dangerous or tragic situations. Thus blamers rationalize that had they been in those same circumstances, things would’ve worked out differently because they would have taken necessary precautions to control the happening of those events. This of course is all nonsense! One cannot control many situations and events- because unlike what we’d like to believe, bad things do happen to good people (even a monk may get attacked by a criminal)and seemingly good people do bad things too (for example family members may be abusers)!!! The biggest danger in victim blaming is that it justifies the status quo. It normalizes the aberration – the criminal. Thus it lays the onus of change or correction on the victim/ potential victims. That means that potential victims will always suffer less freedom and controls, while the criminals will enjoy lack of controls and deterrents and greater freedom. This is logically flawed. In a civilised society is it not that public/free spaces are the right of good (deserving) people and that the jail/confinement/restraints are the rightful place for the bad/criminals (undeserving)? While staying safe and making common sense decisions must always be a priority for all individuals in various situations, criminals must clearly live in great and perpetual fear of being exposed, shamed, punished and ostracised. Only then can women/men live in peace and be safe.
Excellent comment this, Sonia!
We are either too insensitive to others’ problems or we think that we would be able to get a better outcome if we are ever put in a similar situation. And neither of these have much grounding in reality. The truly shocking thing is the victim is somehow to be blamed for the excesses of the perpetrator. And that is where our societal detachment from reality and fantasia are hampering the growth of a civil and proper response to these mass incidents.
As you have mentioned, naming,m shaming and getting these perverts behind bars should be the way ahead, not blaming the women for their clothing or their poor timing with regards to going out. Maybe we will understand that sooner rather than later ‘coz otherwise, there’s not much hope for us a just and equal society that respects its various constituents.
Magnificent and detailed comment this from you. Thanks!
Thank you Ajit. From a sociological point of view, I have to also add (in the context of time and place of incidence of crime) that in all human societies behaviour(thinking and acting) is largely governed by rules – formal(made by the state) or informal(made by society) AND the dictates of simple “survival” common sense. So it is important that men/ women do not ignore these if they are to survive. While crime must be punished, lessons must always be learned about the context of why and how the crime happened. For eg. Since men/women who flaunt/display wealth on their person that can be stolen, are likely to be mugged, when we travel by train or bus (in India) we generally refrain from displaying that wealth, as we wish to keep our person and wealth safe. This is just common sense. We cannot protest now that since we love wearing gold, it is my right to wear gold anywhere and everywhere and no one should/can/will ever steal it. Another example is- smaller men hesitate to and rarely deliberately put themselves in danger by taking on larger men in an unnecessary duel, because they will most likely get hurt or lose face. In a perfect world these inequalities should not exist and equality should be perfect, and life is fabulous for everyone and a dream come true. But we do not live in a utopia. So we cannot abandon common sense knowledge for a personal whim/freedom, and we must not also defy it as well unless we have a back up ( for eg. celebrities hire body guards to keep them safe from crowds/crazy fans) This argument is in no way to take away from the fact that public spaces should be safe and everyone has a right to it- both men/women especially the “good” ones- who follow civilised behaviour and rules and do not indulge in crime themselves. Criminals on the other hand must always be suffer fear and shame and have restraints and get punished based on the severity of their crimes. But nevertheless we must still acknowledge that evil and bad has always and will always exist in the world and we cannot bury our heads in the sand about it. I once read somewhere “Good and evil exist; wisdom is in knowing to appreciate one and understand the other.”
Quite right, Sonia. I do accept that we do not live in a perfect world and that Utopia will always remain just that, a dream. However, the New Year’s Eve incidents can not be easily classified as something where the lack of common sense on the part of the women led to the incident. Bengaluru is one of the biggest cities in India and the crime rate there is far lower than that of the other metros. Moreover, the incidents took place in major city squares with more than 1500 policemen keeping watch. If the said women aren’t safe even under public glare and despite policemen being present, how do we expect them to be safe in other situations, like the one whose molestation was caught on CCTV camera. Her crime? She was walking through an alleyway alone at night. Or Nirbhaya, who was with her boyfriend in a bus.
I do understand your logic and I know that you have a point. However, the syndrome of molestation, rape and attacks on women is too widespread to contain it within the single narrative of the (lack of) dressing sense. Some of the women who were molested that night in Bengaluru were wearing full-sleeved/half-sleeved tops and jeans trousers. What more should they have done? Wear burqas? Or rather, maybe they should have stayed at home. This is akin to us saying that if a biker hasn’t worn a helmet, his head should be crushed. We don’t apply that logic there, do we?
And finally, yes, being street-smart will help all the potential victims. Maybe some sort of mandatory self-defence training in schools could be the way forward.
I apologise for the long delay in replying to this comment. Thank you for the wonderful way you detailed your viewpoint.
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