An Imminent Demise

IMG_0444As I make my way through Mumbai’s crowded streets in my car, I’m often disarmed by the resilience of its pedestrians. Perhaps, resilience is the wrong word; it seems more aggressive than that. A left hand held out in warning and the security of being one of a horde is capable of bringing moving traffic to a grinding halt. And it does. Often. But, there’s more to it than just that. I’d like to believe my estimation that pedestrians take more risks when they see a woman motoring a vehicle toward them is the assessment of a taxed mind and not a reflection of reality. And, yet, I’m not convinced. I do find, with every passing day, that the men, women and children who lurch into the path of my speeding car perform these acts of recklessness with an ease not always reserved for male drivers. Is it a fact universally accepted that a woman will be more accommodating to these transgressions? That her ‘natural’ inclination to nurture will prevent her from mowing down jaywalking pedestrians?

I find it infuriating. As much as I do when knowing glances are exchanged when a woman’s car stalls or when I watch an advertisement that depicts a man on a motorcycle benevolently waiting for a floundering woman to reverse her car in to a parking spot, smiling apologetically at her non-honking savior the whole while.

I’ve just watched, the now banned, documentary on Jyoti Singh’s rape and murder in December 2012 – India’s Daughter. I’ve just been reminded of my status as an object: as a diamond, a flower, a nothing-at-all in need of protection. I’ve been reminded of my natural role as housekeeper and homemaker. I’ve been reminded of my female fallibility.

I’m not going to comment on the vacant eyes of a remorseless, convicted rapist and his vitriol for the female kind as he sits on death row. I’m not going to comment on the sorrow and incomprehension of a family who lost their child to a most gruesome end.

My concern is concentrated on the imminent demise of objectivity. I worry for the moderation that permits a thinking, female IMG_4458mind to look upon the other gender as a partner, an equal. I am disquieted considering the repercussions of pushing us, the ‘other’ to the edge. I am fearful of the combined wrath of an angered womanhood whose tolerance has been disrespected for far too long and what it will mean in the future.

In my opinion, the longer we take to reach consensus on gender equality the more we ensure it remains a chimera, to be replaced by something far less equitable. Unfortunately, for lawyers such as AP Singh and ML Sharma, the maintenance of archaic norms of gender inequality will not manifest itself in women embracing their status as protected imbeciles confined to hearth and home. The continual co-option of women’s needs and rights by men will be met with pent-up fury in the future. Innocuous and indeed legitimate demands for gender parity are forging into a groundswell that will not stay contained for long. The dam is set to burst and the waters its keeping in check are swirling with discontent. Once it bursts, equality may no longer be much more than a trifling keepsake from the past.

“…what rough beast, its hour come at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

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3 thoughts on “An Imminent Demise

  1. Beautifully written, Ay, as always. As an outsider to the workings of Indian politics and social norms, my first question is – why on earth was this documentary banned in the first place? It seems as though it would be very difficult to change any attitudes until rape is a subject that can be discussed openly.

  2. Passionately argued, Ayesha. I remember a comment that Alistair Cooke (the British broadcaster who became a perceptive observer of American life) made on race relations in the USA, that blacks would only get as much equality as the whites were prepared to give them. I recalled that comment after reading your post, and thought: will Indian women ever live to see men treat them as equals, as flesh-and-blood individuals having lives of their own, with the right to make their own choices? Is there any point waiting for that day, which feels so depressingly far, far off? Is equality of the sexes an attainable goal in India? Will it remain (as you write) a chimera? What’s the point asking someone for something they, arrogantly, are not prepared to give, when they pig-headedly refuse to acknowledge your existence, let alone that you have rights, when to them you are just an object to be used and abused according to what their depraved minds might be telling them? I understand the sentiments behind your argument, and maybe India’s women shouldn’t bother anymore; maybe they should just go ahead and do whatever they wish to, and damn the consequences, damn what menfolk might think (who cares what they think anyway?). It will be a sad day for Indian democracy, for Indian society, were that to happen, were the dream of gender equality be buried under an avalanche of rampant misogyny, imbecilic patriarchy and violent disrespect.

  3. So beautifully written Ayesho. I loved it , and i think its time that the women not take everything laying down.
    Men as such should be severly punished for even thinking like that ( The laywers are living chimera’s , who are roaming around freely in the society), and yes , if that means punishing “ALL” the men who think the same ,then it should be treated with outmost prority.
    Our country needs DRASTIC changes and it needs to start NOW!!

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