I am Sheena. A girl, a human being of this society. Or should I say as much a human being as any man in this society? Why do I need to remind this to you all? Well, I have to remind this to every single person in this society, every moment of my life, in every statement that I make, for every choice that I make, for every decision that I take, because the society that we all breathe in is highly patriarchal! Today while I pen down my feelings I am full of outrage. And the level of the outrage is such that all the vocabulary I know fails to put it in words.
Today, as I watched the movie ‘Padmavat’ with my family, I realised the level of patriarchy that is deep rooted in the society we live in. The movie showcases the excellent valour of Rajput men in protecting their ‘mitti’ and their ‘motherland’. But what about the Rajput women? The movie very conveniently shows that the women fighting for protection of the motherland is a far-fetched thought, and that they can’t even fight to protect themselves. And so they chose to end their lives rather than letting their enemies take control of their ‘bodies’. I remember a dialogue from the movie where the actress says, “Rajput mardon ki talwar me jitni takat hai utni hi takat Rajput aurton ki kangan me hai (The amount of strength that a sword of a Rajput man has, the equal amount of strength can also be seen in the bangles of a Rajput women)”, then why not use that strength to fight the battle of defending onself? Another statement says, “Jo ranbhumi me ladte ladte mar jae usse shaeed kehte hai aur wo veergati ko prapt hote hai (The one who dies fighting a battle on the battlefield is a martyr and they attain martyrdom)”, then why can’t the women attain martyrdom by dying the death of a warrior while fighting? Another statement goes, “Humara Dushman jo humara sharir chahta hai usse hum humari parchai bhi nasib nahi hone denge (The enemy that lusts for our body, shall not be allowed to touch even our shadow)”. But why can’t the women fight and punish the enemies at fault rather than punishing themselves and committing ‘johar’, that I prefer calling ‘suicide’?
All this reminded me of a very short conversation that I had with a friend during my graduation. Here is how it went:
Sushant: Sheena what would you do if someone tried to rape you? How will you protect yourself?
Sheena: Obviously I will try to protect myself. But see Sushant let’s be practical. Say if I am alone and 4 boys come and try to rape me, what can I potentially do? Yes I will get raped and won’t be able to protect myself.
Sushant: I did not expect this answer from you.
Sheena: Well then what did you expect?
Sushant: I expected you to say that, ‘Me jaan de dungi par kisiko meri izzat ko hath lagane nahi dungi (I will rather die than to let someone even touch me)’.
Sheena: One moment, why should I die?! Am I only a chalta firta model of ‘izzat’?! Is that all the value that my life has? Is that what you identify me for? Because according to you I should end my life once my ‘izzat’ is looted. And why the hell should I commit suicide? Is it my fault that I was raped? And how will me committing suicide punish the guilty? The guilty will go around freely raping other women and wanting them to commit suicide without affecting him at all. I would in fact struggle to live and then kill those bas****s who did that to me…
And the conversation ended with a silence from his side…
I don’t understand, why is it so difficult to think that women can fight too? Why the hell is all the importance of a woman brought down to her ‘izzat’, as if it is this ‘izzat’ that women breathe and that once that is lost, they lose their right to even live?! Why is a woman always a responsibility of some man or the other all her life?! Why is it so difficult to think that women can take onus of their own lives?! Why aren’t the girls taught from their childhood to stand up for themselves? What is this society that I am living in? What is this culture that is being promoted? Why are women given a secondary status in this society?!?!?!
I feel even more terrible when I have to take up this argument with women around me. That slaps me on my face with the harsh reality of the society that we live in. That tells me that even women today have accepted that once their husbands are dead, everything is over for them. And it is better to end your lives rather than fight for a right to still live a dignified life. That tells me that they have accepted the secondary status given to them.
They are not the women, back then who did ‘johar’ or now who accept it as a matter of pride and glory that are at fault. It is the society and the culture of treating women as objects of fulfilling lust that is being promoted which are at fault. I remember this advertisement of a deodorant, wherein a handsome chap sprays the very sexy smelling deo all over his body and what follows next, any guesses? Very sexy looking ‘apsaras’(angels), not able to resist the sex appeal of this young lad, come falling down from heaven. And you know the best part of this ad? This young, handsome, very sexy looking and now “sexy smelling” chap is not at all shocked to see these angels, because that is exactly what he expects. Oh WOW!!! They just nailed it. That’s exactly what angels up there and we girls down here want all the time, that’s what we live for, that’s all our value in this society and in the lives of men is, isn’t it?
The deliberate attempt to divide the human beings of this society on the basis of gender, the mentality to objectify women and the culture to treat women as secondary beings of this society are very effectively pitched to be a fight against men. But is that really true? Do all men you know want to come and rape you? And for those who want to, who is responsible to punish them? And that too punish in a way that no one dares even think of such crimes again. Who permits and promotes such ads and movies wherein the value of a woman is brought down to her ‘body’ or ‘izzat’?
It’s high time we come out and say that yes, the society we live in today is a patriarchal society, but we will fight against that! the value of a woman’s life is not limited to her ‘izzat’, and we women can fight for our rights along with the men in this society!