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It is their toxic, violent masculinity, which makes them say things most women would not say. It is an act of publicly saying they see women as naked bodies in their minds and that women should know this.
When news broke of Malala Yousafzai’s wedding, social media was divided into those who were happy for her, having seen her grow up from a determined young girl into an equally determined young woman, and those who were criticising her.
The latter were a large majority, and their issue was not just with the fact that Malala had, not very long ago, called out marriage as an unnecessary institution, and now she was getting married. It was something deeper, more malignant, more all-pervasive in most patriarchal societies.
And then I began seeing posts like this vile one I came across on Facebook. Screenshot here.
When I started seeing people criticising Malala Yousoufzai on getting married, I knew this was coming.
Yes, she had said that about marriage being an unnecessary institution and then herself got married. I know everyone around me who has got married, has said this at some point of their life. People often end up doing the same things they don’t think should exist an in ideal world. On top of that, she never said she hates marriage and will never do it, she only questioned why marriage should be as important as it is considered to be.
I knew that this criticism of Malala will never be limited to her ‘being a hypocrite’, but that it will invite all islamophobia, misogyny, and the special hatred towards muslim women to the surface.
And the thing people chose to make fun of was not her politics, not her changing stance, but her having sex, even if in a marriage.
Marriage in the imagination of men is primarily about sex. When men think of women having sex, they never think of it as a mutual act, they see it as “it being done on them”. Sex in the imagination of most men is violent, it is an imposition on woman that the men are entitled to. Women are told that if they choose marriage of their own volition, they are “secretly wanting sex” and that it is “such a shameful desire”.
Jokes are their way to exert power over women they cannot shame otherwise. This is the reason the most so called ‘upholders of social propriety’ among men are ones making most offensive jokes. It is their toxic, violent masculinity, which makes them say things most women would not say. It is an act of publicly saying they see women as naked bodies in their minds and that women should know this.
In the minds of most men, this will keep men ahead of women who don’t want to be laughed at. This will keep their hegemony on sexual talk and sex intact.
Image source: Twitter
Mohini is a resident of Delhi, pursuing MA Development at Azim Premji University. She has worked with social movements and as a translator. Her interests include hindi poetry, classic cinema and understanding the world through read more...
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