I wasn’t surprised so much by this challenge that Sharad Yadav, MP, threw to his colleagues in the parliament–after all, he has never really seen the need to be even seen as politically correct on issues related to women.
He knows well that his core constituency doesn’t care for such niceties. He knows he can get away with making his real feelings known.
I remember how, during the debates on Women’s reservation Bill years ago, he had heaped scorn on ‘baal-kaati’ women (referring apparently to women with short hair), who he said would be the only beneficiaries of the said bill if ever it came into being. The howls of protest that emanated from women and men of varying hair-lengths had not made him turn a hair.
What did surprise me, though, was the reaction of our esteemed parliamentarians when faced with such a poser–instead of even a whimper of protest, it apparently evoked peals of laughter. None of our MPs seemed to mind being branded as stalkers. Which, if anything, seemed to validate Yadav’s assertion.
Actually even that should not have been so surprising. MPs from across the political spectrum have , after all, been fighting tooth and nail to prevent marital rape from being criminalised by law. Our elected representatives believe that outlawing marital rape would destroy the institution of marriage, never mind that more than 104 countries have it on the statutes without any obvious harm coming to marriages in those countries. And if the powers-that-be think that rape is all right, even par for the course, as long as the rapist is the victim’s husband, it is but natural that they should consider stalking as a cute, harmless, fun, boy thing. Who cares what the women think! Lets not dwell on that too much!
The point is, our leaders are products of this very society and are hence, unfortunately, bound to have the same prejudices and biases which afflict the common masses. What women feel has never amounted to much. Traditionally,women have never had even a semblance of choice in their personal lives. Until very recently (and even today), most Indian women were made to marry whoever caught their parents’ fancy and fitted the bill. Whoever married them assumed the right to have sex-on-demand and to use them as baby-popping machines. Women’s consent was of no consequence at all. Of course the women couldn’t have liked it, even the men must have known that, but when did it even matter!
The concept of a woman’s ‘consent’ is thoroughly alien to our culture. In fact, the very idea that a woman might have a mind or a will or an opinion or likes and dislikes of her own is somewhat ludicrous in the Indian context– if she claims to have all of these, she is probably prone to having delusions, and either way it is totally inconsequential in the larger scheme of things.
And so when Hindi movie-makers made all those movies depicting ‘virtuous’ heroines playing hard to get– who kept saying no even as they meant yes (Na na karte pyaar tumhi se kar baithe!!), but were too dumb to even know their own minds– they were not teaching our guys anything they did not already believe. Art was just imitating life. The most they could be accused of is reinforcing prevalent cultural trends and maybe also trying to soothe the collective conscience of men, who formed the most of the audience. Like, hey, its okay, women are always saying no, they don’t always mean it, don’t let that bother you, it is not your fault, its just their nature, you’ll sure as hell get them if you persevere!!
And so, dear girls, tu haan kar ya na kar, you will have roadside Romeos following you around like bodyguards, regaling you with classy numbers in their lovely voices, occasionally
scaring the daylights out of you surprising you by coming close enough to whisper sweet nothings into your ear…what!! you don’t like it, you say? You’re joking, right? Anyway, every man worth his salt has done something like this sometime or the other–Sharad Yadav, the newly appointed patron saint of the young men of India, most certainly has– and he will see to it that they continue to do so with impunity!