By Tinky Ningombam
It is good to see people up against crimes against women, esp., when you happen to have spent almost a decade in the capital city. Be it not of rape or murder, but every women at some point of their lives have been harassed, some way or the other. Be it eve-teasing, oogling , name-calling, stalking , stereotyping … and so on. We live in a patriarchial society. We have internalized this in our systems so well that it is unnatural for women to behave as equals with men. And in a lot of ways, women give men all the authority, always willingly. The concept of “nupa-thokpa” , the signature of a man’s good personality “manlihood”, “manly strength”, what are all these constructs but re-enforcements ? And these constructs are so ingrained inside everyone (almost subconsciously) that it seems unnatural to picture another reality. Our societal norms bind us to follow patriarchal norms.
And this is where the issue lies.
What is a woman?
Who is she?
How does a man think of a woman? Do men, like old days, still possess women as an object, a property? … as a well-guarded treasure chest only to be exchanged from a man to another man, the spouse. Are women the fragile subordinates whose role is to reproduce and nourish “men” and raise them to fend and protect and go about in his worldly ways?
I might get a few laughs at that question from the modern so called well educated people have seen extraordinary women excelling in many fields that once was thought impossible. But if one actually listens and sees the tomfoolery that has been happening in and around the country, we have men and women, educated and well-stationed, making the most orthodox comments on how women should act and behave to avoid crimes against them. In a country where more than half of the population blames the woman for any crime that happens to them, we cannot put a stop to these crimes. Because when mini-skirts, mobile phones and boyfriends are apparently the cause of rapes in the country, according to these learned lots, we cannot have a logical dialogue.
And I am irate to have been borne in a country where I am afraid to go out at 12 o clock at night because I might get raped and no man, woman or law might be able to protect me from it. I am also angry at the fact that half of you reading me will be questioning me why I want to go out at 12 o clock at night in the first place. And this is what we are talking about. I will be blamed for what misfortune happens to me when it is clearly barbaric for someone else to attack me. We live in 2013. And no, midnight is not the time when predators come out to hunt. I am sorry, but are we not living in a civilized and modern society? Should I still be going out with my hunting knife fending me if I want to go out at night, for whatever reasons it is? Are the reasons more important now or that we live among criminals who get stronger at night. We might as well live in a jungle.
Why am I helping people to impose rules over me when I have to sign certain invisible clause like “If you are a woman and you want to go out at night, take your own risk. And if you happen to wear something that does not conceal you, then please don’t even bother raising an alarm”. And this is where I say if the jungle is where we are living in, then, why follow a skewed set of “man-made” laws at all? So people at the top of the ladder should save their “Our women are the strongest and they can achieve anything” speech and let’s have the reality. If all men/women are indeed equal, is it fair that one is afraid of the other? And why keep pretending that men know what is best for women? How can we not have heard the so-well-scripted- that-it-almost-seems-true statement? “We ask women to stick to traditions and conventions because women are better than men in keeping peace, in bringing harmony. A good woman is the face of the society. Even if men commit crimes, women save the culture, they stick to traditions.”
These come mostly out of men who go on shouting slogans of “All men are equal” and go back as they do so, still asks the wife to fix him dinner and look after the kids while he goes out drinking. This is where the Orwellian word hits jack-pot. Do not “double-think”.
What is the real state of women in our society? Have we not criticized a woman who speaks more than the man of the house? Have we not heard the many advices that women have given to women on how one should behave in the company of men? We might have a handful of women who reject stereotyping but we are not free from subjection. Let’s not pretend we have a more emancipated society than the rest and it will probably take more effort to change that because we haven’t still reach the stage of accepting that there is a problem. And we are happily comparing which prison is better than the other while our idea of freedom is to be granted just a walk every evening in the prison yard.
These past days, my inbox have been filled with “Happy New Year” wishes. And that led me to question the idea of “happiness”. What indeed is happiness? How does one become happy? Can happiness be bought, snatched, controlled? Or does it happen to just rush into someone on its own accord?
And in a simple brief, I espouse that Happiness is the feeling of being at-One (in harmony) with the PRESENT. One needs to be satisfied with the mental, physical and emotional state of being at complete balance with the imagined expectations that we had in the past. These imaginary expectations have been placed somewhere in our minds through various elements in our past, be it through learning’s, experiences or re-enforcements. Hence it is really easy for someone to restrict another’s mental faculty and restrict the expectations, which in turn will lead to realization. Ignorance is bliss.
And what better living examples than woman? “Keep their dreams small, keep their world small.” “And judge them, constantly judge them and put blame on them.” “That will teach them.”
(“Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.” ~ Cheris Kramarae. All feminists are not man-haters. Man-haters are not all feminists. Despite of being ridiculed as fighting for an impossible cause, to being called outlandish, the author cannot stand subjection of women and aspires for women to be what they should be, equal and free.)