It’s something I’ve said before, and it’s something I will say again. New Delhi needs to be rechristened Rape Delhi or something to that effect. In Uganda, rape is a war crime. In New Delhi, I wonder if it is even a crime anymore. If you’re Indian/living in India, sipping your morning coffee and reading the paper, and you see ‘Rape in New Delhi’, more than likely you will be angry but not particularly surprised. Saying somebody was raped in New Delhi is like saying it snowed in the Arctic. It’s something that never goes away. It isn’t just the rape capital of India, it might as well be the rape capital of the world.
India is still, sadly, largely patriarchal. We’re at the end of 2012 and still attempting to break stereotypes that belonged in the Middle Ages, that everywhere else in the world disappeared at the turn of, I don’t know, the 19th century. And we’re not even doing a very good job. Browse any online newspaper and the comment boards will be chock-full of misogynistic rubbish that somehow blame the victim, for reasons made up by the commenters, reasons that make rational sense to them and them alone. Reasons like, the rapist ‘lost control’, the girl was ‘skimpily dressed’, or a lot of other comments that somehow imply the victim had it coming. The kind of comments that make you want to throw these morons against a wall and beat the living daylights out of them. (And I’m not even a violent person.)
For those of you who are as yet unfamiliar with what happened – a 23- year old girl caught a Dwarka-Delhi bus with a friend after watching a film. The people on that bus beat her up, gangraped her in the bus driver’s cabin, nearly pulverised her, then her friend for attempting to protect her, and then threw the girl out of the moving bus. In spite of the fact that the bus passed FIVE police checkpoints, nobody stopped it or even bothered to look.
It’s something that sends chills down your spine wherever in the world you are, chills and utter shame when it happens in your own backyard.
I’ve written time and time and time again about my absolute lack of faith in the Indian judicial system in general, and that continues. But New Delhi/NCR policemen are a whole new level of foul, disgusting, bottom-feeding dirt that do not even deserve to live, let alone have any power.
If a girl is raped, their first thought is not, oddly, “How do we catch these men and what do we do to them?” It is “What was the time when the girl was raped?” If it was nighttime, that is their rationale for justifying said rape, because ‘what is a woman doing out so late at night?’. “What was she wearing?” Because if she was skimpily dressed, of course she’s to blame, she might as well be holding a sign that says ‘do me now, I want you inside me, violate me completely’. Or that it ‘was consensual, but these guys just get violent halfway through so the girls call it rape’. Because that’s completely logical, obviously.
It’s not just them though, lots of people somehow seem to think if a woman dresses as she wishes, drinks, parties, or basically has any will of her own, she is a ‘loose’ ‘slut’, and I don’t know what either of those two terms mean. Basically, according to them, said woman is trying to be a man, which is unacceptable, women to them are supposed to be beings that are there to stay around till you feel like marrying one, then mop your floors and make you food and tea, show off to your wife, and put your penis in as and when you feel like, following which, if and only if you deign to choose, she will carry your seed, which is hopefully a male. (This is exactly how the brain of your average misogynistic MCP Indian man functions.) Women are not meant to be just regular human beings with different genitalia from men, they are not supposed to have their own desires, wants and needs, unless aforementioned needs include ‘staying a virgin for marriage’, ‘looking for a boy’, and, oh, ‘marriage’. And whatever they think marriage entails, which they think, for the most part, is access to sex as and when you want it.
Why am I talking about these people? Because it is precisely this sort of mindset that gives rise to hordes of utter idiots who do not respect women, or even other human beings, which is another thing New Delhi is notorious for (like this guy, who shot a toll booth attendant because he didn’t want to pay).
The moment you believe men are the only acceptable species of human, the species that should hold power, and women are not homo sapiens, but just some sort of instrument that is there , you have morons like these. This sort of backward ideal of the woman being unequal, a sad little being that depends on a man for everything, including to give her life meaning, (which of course it has none of otherwise), is not something I see changing any time soon, simply because there are both women and men out there who believe in it and are watching it propagated through pathetic TV shows that are on Indian television all the livelong day. [An aside: One of said TV shows includes, to my knowledge, a woman whose husband cheated on her, left her for another woman whom he later married, and she still keeps a photograph of him on the mantelpiece and gazes at it lovingly. (Saw all that in a promo.)]
That, to me, is one of the root causes of stuff like this. The simple fact that we’re not moving forward from patriarchy, misogyny, from the idea that the man (and not man, but the homo sapien with a penis and testicles) is an ultimate being and all else is his kingdom to do with as he pleases. Instead of TV shows (which are a prime way of reaching out to the bulk of our population across every socio-economic level, because watching TV is something everybody does) that are about women being married off, looking for a husband, looking for marriage, and only that sort of thing, maybe there could be shows about women looking for careers, looking to make their own choices, doing something with their lives. Sadly, as I type this, I see a promo for a new show about a girl looking to have a “Karan Johar-style ‘sasural'” to marry into. It cuts to a shot of the girl serving a boyand his family tea, and the boy then saying “Oh, nothing beats mum’s tea”. Incidentally, the girl in said promo looks to be about 15, 16 years old at the time of her pining for a ‘fancy sasural’.
I have made no secret of my absolute hatred towards arranged marriage, which is a term that makes me go into Hulk Smash mode. Really. It brings up bile and vomit and possibly stomach acid, because the ideas behind it are disgusting and outdated. I have also written about my feelings regarding arranged marriage at length before. That ad highlights a few of these reasons. The whole idea of marrying not a person, but a family. The idea that you need marriage to be a ‘complete person’, whatever the hell that is. The idea that you have to serve someone tea (if you want tea, you better get it yourself), the idea that a girl must serve tea to a groom-to-be, and the idiot groom, whose mother’s apron strings might as well be his damn umbilical cord, has to comment.
Nearly EVERY socio-economic stratum and sector in Indian society has access to television. And not just television – satellite television. How do I know this? Drive past a chawl (for non-Indian readers, that’s an Indian ghetto), slum, makeshift set of homes, even a construction labourer’s tinfoil-and-asbestos home and you will find a satellite dish hoisted atop it.
Clearly, we have data that will prove how much of our population has access to TV. More people nationwide have access to (and by access, I also imply an understanding of) television, more so than newspapers because a large chunk of our population is also completely illiterate.
Can we not then use a tool we know is at our disposal to disseminate messages that we also know will be useful and will make an impact? Instead of using primetime cable network time to broadcast archaic TV shows that are little more than period Victorian dramas masquerading in 20 layers of makeup and Indian clothing, we could use it to get people OUT of a mental rut instead of digging them deeper into it.
But we can’t seem to.
The second big issue is the fact that there is absolutely no fear of retribution among these people. They know that with money and connections, or either one of those two, they will get off scot-free, untouched, and free to roam the streets like the pathetic sewer-rat vermin they are and commit as many crimes as they please. Nobody will touch them, if they know the right minister, cop, have a rich uncle, aunt, mum or dad, or are rolling in money themselves.
Actually, scratch that. No matter what socio-economic background you come from, rape is part of a completely messed up, life-sized game of Monopoly that seems to come with a ‘get out of Jail free’ card. Which is exactly what they do, if they even find themselves in prison to begin with.
Our legal system is absolutely pathetic. It takes at least four years to even BEGIN to deliver a verdict, and any verdict made in that time or less is looked upon as something wondrous, and ‘wow’. More than half the cases out there have probably been lying in files since they were registered, the only things that have seen them being silverfish, for whom it is their next meal.
Rape or divorce, who cares? It is all ALWAYS made out to be the woman’s fault. Here you can read about a Bangalore judge who asked a woman looking to divorce her husband on the grounds of domestic violence to ‘adjust’, because her husband puts food on the table. Why are abject morons like this given any power whatsoever?
People actually have lists and pointers for steps they think women should and should not take so they can ‘avoid being raped or eve-teased’. Don’t stay out at night, don’t dress in ‘skimpy clothes’, inhabit crowded areas.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Rape is not about sex. It is not about so called ‘horny feelings’ or these men’s ‘lack of access to sex’. It is not about cellphones, chowmein, interaction, or the age of marriage. It is about disgusting, feckless criminal assholes who think they can have their way, and in New Delhi, end up doing so.
I also abhor the nomenclature of rape by the news media. Why must rape be described as ‘VIOLATING MODESTY’? Is a girl’s virginity her so-called modesty? I am well aware we live in a disgusting, completely backward society that in Twenty-blooming-twelve (and now thirteen) that seems to prize a girl’s virginity, look to it as an indicator of her virtue, grace, her purity, her brilliance, and of course that all-important criterion, her success as a wife and human being, which of course are not mutually exclusive. India is one of the few countries where you still hear of rape victims being married off to their rapists. Why? Because the rapist ‘deflowered’ them, and since he has already taken her, er, ‘modesty’, he might as well KEEP it.
But must so called modern media, media looking to erase this sort of retrograde ideal, promote it, on whatever level? Rape is not a ‘theft’ of anything. It is not a violation of a woman’s modesty. It is, however, a violation of her as a human being, which is the same as it would be if it were a man. It is a violation of her right to exist peacefully. It is a violation of justice to allow scum like this to roam the earth unfettered, swaggering around without any fear of punishment.
Violence has never been something I have condoned, but every time I read about a rape case in New Delhi (which is to say, every day), I keep thinking taking some sort of harsh, yes, violent action against these lowlifes, these sorry excuses for human beings might be effective, at least at instilling some sort of fear within them, something that seems insofar to be nonexistent. Considering that these same men seem to think rape proves their ‘masculinity’, I suggest doing away with their genitals, which would have the added benefit of ensuring trash like that never reproduces, ever. We won’t also have commenters like this guy I saw on the Times of India online comment board, pity I can’t find a permalink anymore:
” zahoor ahmed (bambayi) 1 min ago
why so much hype on this gang rape?the girl was roaming around in late night with a boy…what else one can expect? “
We don’t need to be leaving women tips about how to take care of themselves, we need to be weeding out crappy human beings from functioning society (if you can even call it that, really).
And to all those morons, everywhere, talking about people’s ‘mothers’ and ‘sisters’ and ‘how would the rapists like it if it were their mother or sister’, or ‘rape the rapists’ mothers and sisters’, WHY all the “mother-sister” talk? Are you not supposed to respect a woman otherwise? I suppose it’s telling that the two most insulting words in hindi have to do with screwing somebody’s mother or sister. Because if they aren’t, you’re free to do what you’d like, right?
We need to change the way we think (and by we, I mean a nation). We can all sit and wonder from what rat-infested corner of hell people like those rapists are born. And you know where? Right here.They’re all born right here. Right under our noses.
I have severe insomnia, and sleep less than the bullfrog (which Google tells me is the one animal that does not sleep. At all, ever), which means that I spend my time with a book, in front of the computer (which, obviously, I am doing right now) and in front of the television, which I only do as a last resort because there really is nothing even half-decent on there anymore.
So when it’s nearly 6 a.m, and I’m still struggling to fall asleep as my mum wakes up, I switch on the TV to see what’s on there, which is never, never anything but infomercials for all sorts of things. I always wondered who in their right minds would watch the shit that was on the telly, then I yelled ‘mea culpa!’ ‘mea culpa!’ and resigned myself to being one of those people:
a) too lazy to get off their behinds to get the remote and change the channel
b) Have serious insomnia and cannot sleep a wink, not even if they wanted to (which they rarely/never do)
c) You, dear reader, because let’s face it – at some point or the other in your life, no matter where you’re from, what you do, or how old you are, you’ve watched that stuff. Without flipping channels. And watched the infomercial from start to finish – sometimes even multiple times. (Don’t be embarrassed. We all do it.)
You see all kinds of stuff being sold on television. Everything from stain removers, newfangled vaccum cleaners, smoothie makers, blenders (and about 3021452 other kitchen appliances) and exercise equipment to body shapers, cosmetics, face washes, hair-removers (more on this one later) to the most disgusting of all, women’s underwear. ( I do NOT mean women’s underwear is disgusting, far from it, but in my humble opinion, wanting to buy it off the telly/internet is. Extremely so.)
While a lot of the infomercials are for products designed in the United States or United Kingdom, the funniest are the local ones, all of which have people peddling religious stuff to ‘protect you from the evil eye’ – they even show bright red laser beams coming out of the person’s eyes, and shooting into somebody else’s, like some sort of alien mating ritual, or something straight out of The Man Who Fell to Earth (although that’s paying the idiots who make these ads a compliment they really, really do not deserve.)
I’m going to discuss the global infomercials first, the ones with obscure products from the United Kingdom/Germany/China/you name it.
These guys seem to have some rule of thumb they go by while making their little ‘movies’. Most of them are for cosmetics/cosmetic related products, and control underwear seems to be extremely popular.
First, you find a diverse group of women (tall, short, fat, thin, old, young and all different races) because we have to show how they’re all the same. Before you say ‘of course all people are the same, no matter where they’re from’, that’s not what I mean at all. By the same, I mean all of them seem to have that same haven’t-taken-a-shit-in-three-weeks look on their faces when they look in the mirror, and they all have the same problem – husbands/boyfriends that have issues with their wobbly bits, and the degree of constipation seen on their faces is directly proportional to their general dissatisfaction. All-female audience (again, all diverse) nod their heads and cluck sympathetically.
Enter knockout, quasi-celebrity,super-fit hostess who really doesn’t need slimming ANYTHING at all, dressed in such a way as to show her flat stomach, breasts (if she has big ones, and they all always do), and her perfect bum, which is the result of exercise/dieting/starvation/surgery or some permutation or combination of the above, claiming that it isn’t her, but the undies.
The hostess then introduces another semi-celebrity — a makeup artist, washed-out soap opera star, or something in that milieu, with a 5-minute soliloquy on how difficult like this, with all the conviction of Meryl Streep.
Out come two models, who like the hostess are ridiculously skinny, modelling the shapewear, followed by someone we’ll call ‘lumpy-bumpy’. [She isn't, really, but from her behaviour (and that of the audience/hostess/celebrity guest etc.) you'd think she weighed 300 kilograms.]
Lumpy-bumpy is wearing a dress two sizes too small, and pinching at its clinginess. (Even if you’re a size two, you’ll feel suffocated and idiotic in a size 1 dress. Common sense. Which none of these people seem to possess, or aspire to.)
Cue constipated faces, apparent unsuccessful struggle to get gigantic turd out of system, and sympathetic head nods and clucks from the women in the stands. Suddenly, out comes the Hot-ess (that was intentional) with the miracle shapewear, getting an already normal sized, even petite woman into it.
A moment of suspense before new,made-over lumpy-bumpy walks out, to gasps, wide eyes, applause, amazed head nodding, and ‘Oh my GAWWWD!’ followed by much stomach-patting, nodding at self in the mirror, and, finally, the pièce de résistance – Lumpy’s husband, sitting in the stands or hidden somewhere, coming forth with a hug and a kiss and an ‘Oh my god, honey, you look GORGEOUS!’ – and Lumpy’s life-mission has now been achieved! You can have it too, if you order this crap:
Bad dubbing is something I won’t go into, simply because it’s far too commonplace.
Slimming products are exceptionally popular, no matter what they’re made of. To sell them in India (or to hippies elsewhere), all you have to do is attach the word ‘ayurvedic’ (even though their contents are extremely questionable) to them, and voila, you’ve got yourself wads of cash. For instance ‘ayurvedic’ Slimming tea, for people who ‘exercise and eat perfectly healthy food but are still obese’ (there’s a term for them, and it begins with B and ends with S). [This does not include people with genuine medical issues - but then again, they should be in a doctor's office, and not watching an infomercial, for a solution.] Slimming tea ads, however, are especially terrifying – one showed a ‘homemaker whose husband had had an affair because she had put on weight after having a baby’ – that is, of course, the most unnatural, abhorrent thing in the world.
There’s also slimming oil – they even show a VERY badly photoshopped obese man, complete with a terribly-edited, fake paunch that would make Santa Claus envious. If you have a busy lifestyle (and seemingly can only take in food that has been fried a trillion times in enough oil to give the world’s entire population enough cholestrol issues to last three lifetimes), it’s simple – all you have to do (and this is paraphrased from the infomercial) is spread the oil across your belly, and as the fake doctor on the TV tells you, oil attacks cellulite, then attacks fat, and then gives you an ‘even, toned body’, and in the case of the slimming tea “a new, great personality and many, many friends!” <—- Quoted verbatim.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but the only way you can get one of those is eating right and exercising, unless you’re genetically predisposed to it, in which case, you’re extremely lucky. Here is a link to an article explaining what cellulite is (and how advertisers mislead everyone).
THIS is my favourite type of Indian Infomercial – the kind that preys on the rabidly religious and superstitious (most of whom deserve it) .
You are warned of how, if you are successful, you will necessarily attract jealousy (sure, okay, natural human emotion).
But with jealousy comes the evil eye, of course, and with the evil eye comes your downfall, the end of everything you hold dear.
Your factory will burn down (sure, evil eye, not arsonist, because THAT is logical), your baby will fall ill and/or cry (because that can’t be colic, or the fact that its immune system isn’t as strong as a full-grown adult’s), your business will fail, and of course, a hot favourite – ‘marriage proposals’ or ‘rishtas’ will fall through.
*DUN DUN DUUUUUUN*
What does the evil eye look like, you ask? And I oblige. (And apologise in advance for bad sound/video, but this is exactly the bit being referred to, and brilliant it is.)
Miracle remedy to all these problems? The Evil Eye Bracelet/Necklace/Ring/whatever else you wear as jewellery.
The sheer volume of evil-eye related crap on TV (and apparent evil in these ‘characters’) is astounding, and makes me wonder, sometimes – are all these doddering, plump, supremely rancorous women really from Frodo’s visions in the Mirror of Galadriel, dressed in saris, trying to fool us all?
So I came up with my own little illustration of what I think REALLY happens in these infomercials.
And as I let the hilarity of random ‘foreigners’ and token white guys talking about how much the evil eye charm helped them, and housewives who used a singularly effective combination of slimming tea and charms to bring their straying husbands back to them play in the background and wash over me, I am lulled into a mindless, relaxed sleep.