Vantage point

Monday, July 25, 2005

I Am Offended!!!!

Whenever the issue of harrassment of women/couples at the hands of either policemen or other elements of the society, both prudish and lecherous, is raised, one of the prominent arguments made is "she/they brought it upon themselves".

The main thrust of this argument is that men are by nature sexual predators, and in any situation are likely to lose control. This, it is deemed, is an act of nature, and as unavoidable as a dog barking. However, women's clothing and behaviour, is not dictated by nature. So they can control it. Hence the onus of preventing incidents of eve-teasing and molestation, somehow, lies primarily on the woman. If she walks alone down a street wearing a mini-skirt, she is "asking for it".

Many bloggers, mainly female, have written how insulting this argument is towards women. About how unfair it is that a woman be actually blamed for something being inflicted upon her.

I raise a different issue. I say this argument is extremely insulting to least a large number of men... who do not act as if imposing their lust on other women is a god-given right. I, am personally offended, that according to some people, my kind, i.e men, are supposed to act like animals wanting to hump the first thing in sight. As a man, I am offended at this warped logic which pulls down the rest of the population to the level of the most barbaric repugnant male.

There have been several occasions when a pretty woman passing by has caught my eye. But not once in my life have I even remotely considered "molesting" or "eve-teasing" anyone. And trust me, it does not take Herculean Mahatma Gandhi or Jain Monk style self-control. It's not like I took classes in self control and hence can let a scantily clad babe pass me by without feeling her up.

As silly as this statement might sound, it has to be made - It is easy to not molest a hot woman on the streets.

The fact that it is so easy makes it even more insulting that the so-called guardians of Indian culture say "It is natural for a man to get aroused and act rashly. The woman should dress decently to avoid it." To give a parallel, it's like saying.... see, animals urinate whenever they want, wherever they want. That is hence natural. So it's unreasonable to expect a human being to go to the bathroom. It's just unnatural.

Remember, when a woman walks down the street in a short skirt, and a man gets "aroused".... the arousal happens in the man's head and not the woman's. Hence the onus lies on the man to control it. When a couple is making out in public and a prudish old lady gets "offended", the offence happens in the lady's head and not the couple's. Hence the onus lies on the woman to do something, maybe look elsewhere or go home. Sadly, most social commentators forget where the arousal or offence happens and blame the wrong people.

It is easy for me and a vast number of men like me to not molest a woman because of upbringing. That does not mean my parents sat me down and said "If you see a hot babe in hot pants, don't pinch her butt". But I was taught, more implicitly than explicitly, to respect others.

Respect does not mean falling prostrate at the feet of elders every time you see them. Respect does not mean paying lofty lip service to the role of women in society. Respect comes from within. And respect for another person is shown by letting that person choose to live life his/her own way. If you respect another person, you won't impose or intrude on the way they live their life.

Yet the behaviour of those men who molest women betrays this very lack of respect.

And whoever says that such behaviour is supposed to be a norm for my gender, I very respectfully give them the finger.