Why did he think he had the license to rape?
I’ve been following the Stanford rape case trial sitting here in India and it’s looking great in the land of the free and the home of the brave. The outpouring of anger against Brock Turner and the judge that gave him a measly six month sentence, and that of support for the unconscious intoxicated woman indicates that wheels are turning. However, we have Brock’s dad to thank for exemplary parenting. Brock must have done him proud. Swimming smoothly on a swimming scholarship to Stanford, one of the world’s topmost colleges, Brock Turner is your classic lad with super bright future. He hails from a middle class background and loves to eat steaks. Even though he doesn’t feel like eating them now. That’s because he’s depressed about a whole case some woman made out of the 20 minutes of action he got. In 20 minutes, Brock Turner can swim Long Course i.e. 50 meters at least 5 times. With such swimming times, you end up a finalist at things like Speedo Junior National Championships. He’s also been a two-time state champion at Ohio State Championships. Evidently, the lad can score. Not only does he get on top of fellow super swimmers, admissions into stanford, and he also manages to get on top of drunk, unconscious women. He’s the exemplar. And backing him all the way is his father. Dan Turner. Another exemplar. A whole line of exemplars. Wait. And we arrive at the definition of patriarchy. These dads seem to have a code: Rape is 20 minutes of action. To rape is to get 20 minutes of action. Consent is for sissies. If a woman is drunk and ‘dances’ (strictly subjective, since coming from Brock), she wants to give you 20 minutes of action. 4. If you are getting 20 minutes of action and some idiots try to stop you from getting it, run. And then deny. Then explain how she wanted it and you gave it, you, of the big heart. All in exchange for a back rub. Also, if she tries to use that word rape, correct it and call it 20 minutes of action. It does not matter that you drink yourself silly but if something female does so, she’s doing it so as to make sure you get 20 minutes of action. She’s liable to give you 20 minutes of A and you’re liable to get 20 minutes of A. That’s all. Don’t bother to ask her. You’ll waste time that way. And that’s for sissies anyway. When she accuses you of rape, again that filthy word, bring your past record and future greatness into the conversation and project it onto the jury, the judge, and the media. After all, they owe you! Footnote: if the woman who gave you 20 minutes of A has a past record of having a great social life, sex life, boyfriends, husbands, etc, it matters. (Just like swimming times, for example). It means she wanted more and more to give you your 20 minutes of action. Finally, when you don’t enjoy eating steak anymore, it means you are upset. And you, the gem of mankind, don’t deserve that. You see, Dan Turner is a smart guy. Read between the lines and you see him trying to tell us that his son wasn’t getting 20 minutes of action; he was giving it. Exemplary sons, exemplary dads. Patriarchy explained in 4 words. Full stop. And now, Here’s a small excerpt from Stanford victim’s letter, which doesn’t challenge the central tenets of patriarchy so much as provides a strong statement for women trying to survive it. It also thanks the two men who fell off the vicious cycle of patriarchy… “Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget. And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.”
The apex court is told that Sabarimala bars entry of women between 10 and 50 years of age because it’s a tradition. These are men who have adopted Westernised ways of living but will bring ‘Sati’ back at the drop of a hat. Women, beware! Don’t live with men that don’t respect you. Start with that God.
How would you perceive a bunch of drunk rowdy men entering a ladies’ toilet if they found theirs crowded, and shooing all the ladies out with complete arrogance (of course, they are inebriated)? Now, reverse the whole incident gender-wise and try to find it funny. It didn’t work with me, actually. It put me off. However, this is not so important or significant a part of India’s first all-female buddy movie but it certainly raises a question. Of course, the movie has a dramatic start – women mercilessly crunching balls of eve-teasers with throaty laughter and mocking eyes indicates good chick lit in these times of continuously reducing conviction rate in rape cases in the country – with cuts taking us into the lives of various characters in the movie (there are 6-7 of them, sometimes you lose count, sometimes you ask – ‘wait who is she? the bride or the domestic help?’) and how they have been at the raw end of the stick of sexism. Great, that. All of us have. In fact, sexual misconduct, assault, and stereotyping are the most significant thread that runs common in the lives of us women, Indian women, regardless of whether we are powerful or destitute, married or otherwise, aam aurat or GODDESSES. So there are these goddesses congregating in the scenic but rainy Goa to attend the wedding of one upon whose invitation they find themselves there. The mystery is that when they land up, they don’t know they have been invited to a wedding. And then, the bride takes her time telling them who she would be exchanging vows with. The movie, as has been the trend lately, focuses on upper middle class women. The contrast is offered by Lakshmi, the domestic help, who is leading a troubled existence. But, as the women discover, none of them are having it easy themselves. None. Not even the little girl. The movie shines a light on all the hallmarks of the ‘woman problem’ in a patriarchal world that is trying hard to pretend its way into making us believe of a genuine transformation being underway towards a more equal world. But, the fact is, it only takes one act of violence to make this a ’10 steps forward, 20 steps back’ game. Listing these issues here – see if you can identify with one, or at least a few, but I’m sure you’ll find many: Men staring at your assets while you go about doing perfectly mundane activities such as running on a treadmill BOLLYWOOD (and I needn’t say any more) Men catcalling as you pass by Men trying to grab at you Men looking and staring if you are ‘exhibiting’ your ‘wares’ by wearing something other than what their moms wear Men wanting you to cut to the quick to talk dirty People expecting you to take care of work and home Men second-guessing you just because you are well, not a man People judging you on the basis of your clothes, your look; even better – your profession People expecting you to own up to provoking men into teasing you, assaulting you either by calling their disdain for rules (traffic rules, any kinda rules really) or for their attempts at eve-teasing. People expecting you to behave in a way that justifies the saying ‘grace under fire’, in a situation that doesn’t remotely resemble flying fighter jets in enemy territory People emotionally blackmailing you to fall in line with traditions that work out perfectly for them but suck for you. People who think their needs (urges) are more important than yours (the urge to stay away, maybe). People who willfully abuse you just because you happen to live in their home with their family. NEED I say more? SO, anyway, the movie does a great job of describing these problems and the characterisation is quite beautiful. The arty community is over-represented in the mix, however. But Delhi-ite Pammi is a great counter to that and rooted in the real world. Finally, there’s about to be a wedding and it turns into something else. I can’t talk about it without spoiling it for the reader. What I will say, though, is that this movie is one where we could start – as women – having a dialogue with one another. BUT, it’s a pity that this dialogue of ours cannot pass the Bechdel test. It has to be about the men in our lives, but perhaps even more about the men around us, at any time, in any situation. Immense is the power they have to hurt us, ruin us, destroy us. This power is not theirs. This power belongs to the system that breeds such men. The film amply shows that. And that’s my takeaway. One of the dialogues that stayed with me – To be born a woman in India is to be a fighter!!! I love this view. Yes, fighters we all are. And we must keep fighting. We must help one another in our fights. Certainly worth a watch.