Yesterday, a few young women were hanging out in a mall in Delhi, doing their own thing when a middle-aged woman decided to poke her nose and make vulgar comments regarding the length of one of their dresses. Not just that, she reached out to a group of men dining there and made an appeal to them to rape this group of women, as according to her, they deserved it. They followed her out and called her out on her bullshit, as can be seen in this video below.
However, even though they were joined by several fellow shoppers in condemning this woman’s behaviour, nothing and no one could get through to her. Social media has seen both men and women lashing out against this mentality but this incident brings up several disturbing points.
1. Victim shaming is here to stay. No matter how many innocent children, how many salwar kameez and burqa-clad women are violated, no matter how much so-called progress society goes through, fingers will always be pointed at show of skin as an instigator. And what makes it worse is that it isn’t just entitled men. It’s also women and even mothers.
2. There is no safe space for women. Like it isn’t bad enough that we have to walk around cautiously after dark, pepper spray in one hand and phone ready to dial 100 in the other; we now have to watch out for seemingly harmless aunties shopping emoji cushions in a mall? It isn’t just the dark alleys and the supposedly shady parts of the city. Can we take a moment to acknowledge how extremely fucked up this is?
3. There are still people out there, influencers, such as the editor of Buzzfeed India, Rega Jha and stand-up comedian Rohan Joshi who are quick to point out that those who publicly shamed this woman who wholly deserved it, were in the wrong. Because they responded to public humiliation with public outrage. That this woman is wrong but she is at the end of the day, a product of patriarchy. Sure, take a stand on public shaming but what really is the bigger issue here?
Yes, patriarchy is pretty much the root problem of all our country’s problems. But can we also agree that this was a person who chose to go out of her way to insult a woman, question her rights on what to wear and declare that she deserved to be raped. She wasn’t some helpless little suppressed girl, being misguided and being misled by some asshole male to go out into the world and pick on women, who have absolutely nothing to do with her. Of course, her upbringing has a role to play in the absolute waste-of-space she is today but are we really going to let that fly as an excuse? Do you think she would have been open to a friendly coffee and conversation session and owned her mistake? If your answer is yes, watch that video again, watch how firmly and proudly she stands by what she says. A woman by nature is empathetic to another woman’s woes, especially in the midst of a patriarchal setting, in the struggle against men trying to snatch her rights. But not this creature. And she’s not the only one!
And then there’s actress Nora Fatehi who chose to make light of the situation by saying “wow, she literally raped English.” Well done on totally ignoring women's’ rights etc.
4. Instagram deleted this video. Okay, we’re not going to hate on you Instagram, we understand there may be legal issues at play here. But still, kind of sucks that it’s so hard to get the right message out to the masses. (Completely unrelated, but Instagram has in the past deleted photos depicting period blood whereas it seems to be completely on board with profanity).
The one beautiful thing about this whole mess? Women solidarity. We love that these girls took a stand, instead of just the easier ‘letting it go’ option. We love that another woman who just learned the story on the spot came to their defense with all the vigour and anger in the world. These are the people we need to surround ourselves with. And we need to stand together, women and men both and speak up against those who are trying to cage us.
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