India’s Daughter

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I wasn’t feeling well today but taking the day off was impossible with work pending and meetings aligned. The crucial meeting got cancelled and I took a “work from home” hoping I would feel better with some rest. But then I turned on “India’s Daughter” on Netflix- a documentary I had decided to watch when all the uproar died down. Now I want to throw up but there isn’t enough food or bile inside me. I will write a review on the other blog in a few days but here I just want to talk about how I feel right now.

I may take breaks to try and throw up so this post may be a little disjointed

What do women want? Not just in India but across the world? We, or rather I, just want to “be”. I don’t want to be defined or noticed or protected. I just wanted to be treated like a normal human being- someone who has the right to do what she wants, when she wants. I want to be able to say whatever I want to… to whoever I want. I don’t want to be a mother or wife or daughter or sister. I don’t want to be a “Mrs”. I don’t want to take anyone else’s name. I want to wear whatever I look good in and go where I want, when I want.

Sounds pretty simple. As an educated woman who supports herself financially and is part of the middle upper class, there should be no problem. I can afford to fly internationally, take cabs, go to malls, talk to other educated people. Right? Except… it’s not that simple. There are two problems:

  • Men. I don’t know how or when they got the impression that they are superior and it is their job to protect a woman’s dignity. I come across crass attitudes everyday- a man making fun of women drivers… a man commenting on women who smoke… a man who looks at a woman’s legs when she wears a skirt… a man who handles his wife’s money… a man who can’t find a woman to be his life partner and has to turn to his parents for that. These are attitudes which are not difficult to change and yet, I don’t see change.
  • Women. When a woman does not stand up for her rights, she takes all of us back. Quitting work to stay at home, wearing mangalsutra, wearing sindoor, fasting for the husband, living with in-laws. Just because you can smoke or drink with your husband and call him “sweetheart” or “baby” does not mean equality. Two people have to be equal in the real sense of the word.

I come from a very conservative background. My parents were very strict. I could not wear sleeveless (they don’t have an explanation for how the sight of my arms can turn on a guy), talk to boys, go out at night with female friends, be rude to elders (even if they were clearly wrong or psycho), talk about sex etc etc. I have heard my parents say a million times that they have absolute right over this kids and their kids’ lives. Statements like “If my daughter is immoral, I will shoot her in the head” were common. In the very last conversations with my mother, she told me she would hit me. My reply was “If you touch me, I will hit you back”. And I would do it. I have no regrets or apologies for making the decisions of my life and I refuse to get blackmailed. This is my life all the way. Nobody else has any right over it.

There are two Indias today (according to me)- one has people like me, we are unapologetic about what we want, how we want to be treated and we have worked hard to be able to demand equality; and then there is the other India, where people want to drag us into the dark ages. Jyoti’s rape was a struggle between these two worlds. It wasn’t about sexual desire but a struggle for the power.

A man, when he makes sexist comments, may or may not a potential rapist but he has a similar mentality.

There were allegations that India’s Daughter was funded by BBC to malign India’s image. I don’t think our country needs help for that. Let’s just focus on changing ourselves and the world will notice it too. It isn’t like there are any examples of women’s equality that the international media can highlight. Also, it mentions the rape/abuse statistics of other countries as well and they don’t look too good either. I hope this documentary wins an Oscar. It would be a fitting reply to the government and fellow Indians.

Was the rapist, Mukesh’s testimony required? Was he paid for the interview? I don’t know. I don’t care. It was a coup for Leslee to get his interview but what he said wasn’t shocking. Don’t we know this? Don’t we see this around us? Whoever expects a rapist to have remorse is goddamn stupid.

Anyway, I am going to just turn off my phone and the laptop and get some sleep. I don’t think I can do anything or talk to anyone after this.

Do watch this documentary and read my review soon.

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