Objectification Of Women: Where Have We Gone Wrong?
The city of Bangalore was again in the limelight all for the wrong reasons. Just a day after the mass molestation on New Year’s Eve when thousands of residents gathered on the street to welcome the New Year, another such incident shocked the nation. The case in question is when a girl was molested by six assailants as the locals of the area played blind and mute spectators. While four accused have been caught for the heinous crime what is surprising is that the residents of the area where the incident took place “do not want to talk about it” as they transferred the blame on “outsiders” quietly ignoring their responsibility. Their interference could have saved the girl from facing such a plight but rather “local” people chose to return indoors by 10 pm, turning a deaf ear to what happened after their set time.
This incident has disturbed the whole nation and women have returned to the streets – this time to protest against the society that continues to nurture age old beliefs when it comes to gender equality. Why is it that it is always the woman who has to suffer because of the misogynistic, backward thinking of the male counterparts? Why can’t men move beyond objectification of women? Where have we as members of the society who perform our roles as parents, guides, peers gone wrong? We are quick to blame the western culture for ‘degrading’ our girls but never point our fingers at men who are the real culprits. Aren’t they the ones who are morally ‘degraded’?
The onus of the repercussions lies on many but a major portion of the responsibility must be taken up by the family; it is the place where a child spends his formative years and gains his or her understanding of the self and the surroundings. It is the family that conditions sons and daughters in a starkly different manner and sets down codes of conduct providing utmost liberty to the sons while restricting the daughters within the four walls of the home or rather the kitchen. This is the starting point where boys gain extreme confidence in themselves, all for the wrong reason while girls feel under-confident of themselves. This differentiation starts at home. Let’s understand these better with a few examples:
- I was once a part of a conversation between two women. The first lady wanted to complain about the other’s son who would continuously disturb her daughter. With not a single expression of shock, regret or embarrassment, the lady was quick to snap that she could not help her in the matter as her adolescent son just ‘could not control himself’ whenever he saw a girl.
- In another instance, a neighborhood family had a son and a daughter but the rules for the two were starkly opposite. The boy, soon to officially fall into the category of young adult, was allowed to smoke, drink, have a girlfriend and bring her home anytime. The girl, on the other hand, his senior by four years, was conditioned to stay indoors and learn household chores.
Let’s imagine what would have happened if the roles had been reversed. What if the girls had dared to check out boys, smoke, drink or boast of a boyfriend? The actions of Khap panchayat are enough to highlight the screwed mindset of men.
Let me draw examples from closer home.
- An acquaintance of mine was blessed with a baby boy and we went to their place to greet them. As per tradition, the mother of the boy tied a black thread with a small bell around his waist. It would ring every time the baby moved. When their elder daughter walked in I couldn’t hear a bell ring. On asking the reason she replied, “Have you ever heard of Radha wearing a bell around her waist? It is only in the case of Lord Krishna.”
- In another instance, you’ll find a lot of people who are original residents of mountainous regions but find it difficult to travel through curvy paths. Women, especially face a lot of problem because of the harsh climatic conditions and secondly because of lack of basic facilities like washrooms. We’ll take the second case. Men often joke that it is too troublesome to take women along in a trip to the mountains because of their ‘tantrums’ but they fail to understand their needs. Men have the freedom to ‘relieve; themselves anywhere they want without giving the presence of women a thought. Women, on the other hand, have no access to public toilets. As a result, they do not drink much water which makes them dehydrated resulting in lack of oxygen in their bodies. Even otherwise, you won’t find washrooms for women in the cities.
From a young age men are asked to treat their surroundings as their territory that they have access to anytime but women are asked to ‘control’ themselves.
Another point that is always raised is their dress code and curfew limit. Shouldn’t we turn the argument on its head and ask the same thing from our boys? Wouldn’t the girls feel much safer and free if the boys do not roam outside after a given point of time? Can’t the girls object to men wearing low waist jeans or body hugging clothes?
This difference in our approaches is also a product of our education that imparts us learning of various subjects except for moral science and ethics. But in this rat race to make our children doctors, engineers and civil servants we forgot to make them good human beings.
Let’s liberate our minds from old age thinking that rather limits us as human beings. Let’s stop and take responsibility of our actions. And if you ever find yourself sticking up with patriarchal codes of conduct, ask yourself, “What is wrong with me?”