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The recent 'harmless rape joke' by a politician left me triggered but not shocked. What's also a joke is the ill-representation of women in places of power!
As I write this, I have few emotions.
Failed, yes. Triggered, yes.
Angry? Sadly, no.
The ‘harmless rape joke‘ made by a politician in the State Legislative Assembly of a supposedly developed, literate and advanced state of India has been all over the news.
But what we saw was just two men from two opposite factions joking about what many boys and men joke about in school and college corridors, on roadside, in private messages, and where not?
Today, it was just two men talking about it on camera.
Should it be disturbing? Yes.
Will we forget about it as soon as a new headline comes up? Yes.
Because it was just a ‘harmless’ joke.
I know my title is unfair to many boys because hashtag not all boys. But when hashtag all girls are targeted by rape jokes, I guess it’s only a fair title when the game has always been unfair to ‘all’ girls.
Harm begins at home. Harm begins when little girls are told to sit a proper way and cross their legs and not play with boys as they grow older.
Harm begins when girls are told about safe and unsafe spaces, but the real-life world is like a minesweeper game with no clues.
Harm is with not knowing a single woman who has never been touched inappropriately or worse. At least, I don’t know any such woman.
Harm is this exclusion and this attack; harm is this constant reminder in the form of power equations.
Harm is being reminded of it on news, of being reminded of a harmless joke, from men holding a lot of power. Harm is in being powerless, and in feeling defeated.
Because life must go on. Because women need to get up and take care of chores that are invisible to men. Because the representation of women is so scarce in the concrete galleries of democratic institutions that women must forget about a silly joke!
You know why else?
Because women should be reminded of this power equation again and again, and so should men. Because if women are not made to feel intimidated, they would come up to ask for representation, wanting to be seen, recognized, acknowledged, fighting for rights, space and, finally, to yield power. So, you keep reminding fellow men of that one thing that can hit the women the most.
The Harmless Joke. You see, in a country were talking about sex is taboo, unsafe sex is encouraged for men’s pleasure, bodily autonomy of women is not fundamentally recognized, but we’re almost the most populous country in the world, a lot is skewed whilst application of logic and reasoning.
Sex is not just an act of passion and love but also implication of logic and reasoning when between two equal individuals. A lot is unsaid but understood – boundaries, safety, rights, consent, pleasure, respect. It’s equal give and take. But, when almost half the demography is seen inferior to the other half and in the service of the other half, sex too, is seen as a service.
When Nirbhaya had happened, another fine gentleman sitting in another reputed state gallery of the Republic had said, had the girl been cooperative, she would have been left unhurt. Of course, Sir. Why not? Because this is the ‘level of expectation’ many men have from women.
A fine gentleman had written in a comment section, and it’s imprinted on my mind – women are not complete. They are deficit because they have holes. It is men who complete them, fulfil their desires, satisfy their bodies, and provide for them and financially support them in life while protecting them. That is the natural, biological role of men and women.
The 20-year-old me back then was shocked.
The 29-year-old me today isn’t.
A whole bunch of people that worship Shakti also are complicit in this disintegration of Shakti if they remain quiet. But ultimately, it’s up to women because power is still a faraway dream.
The question today is about survival. And that begins at home and ends in the galleries of democracy where laws are made. Laws that directly and indirectly affect all women.
And it is up to women, to either sit quietly and move on after the silly joke or demand half the representation in every space. Because it really is about survival now, and ill-representation is a harmful joke.
Image source: Still from City of Dreams
Mostly writing, other times painting. Here to celebrate little wins. I am on the same page as you, just a different book - you read mine, I'll read yours.
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