“Boys will be boys”- this line of reason (or the lack of it), has rattled the nerve of sane people all over the world. From the most gruesome rapes to daily instances of sexual harassment, all is excused through this rather preposterous explanation. The implicit rationale behind this is that there is nothing that can be done to change the status–quo. Men are naturally wired in a manner that they find themselves unable to control their sexual urge or prevent themselves from being provoked. Since these poor creatures also carry the burden of the world on their fragile shoulders (all because of biology, I swear. Patriarchy has nothing to do with this, public–private dichotomy be damned), their mobility must not be constrained in any manner. From all this balderdash disguised as inter–generational wisdom, it follows that women need to be more careful (all the time) and even take the blame for any form of gender violence they may be subjected to in their lifetime.
As a society that has learnt to embrace feminism in small measures, some of us from the middle and urban class have learnt to protest against this often repeated bullshit. We like to remind the dissenters that this is the hallmark of being progressive and modern. How is it then that this modernity is almost reduced to zilch post–Dadri lynching, and the most pathetic speech ever given by an Indian PM as a response to an incident of, what is obvious, communal violence? Following is the most crucial excerpt from that speech:
“People are making… ulte-seedhe byaan for rajneeti (all kinds of statements are being made for the sake of politics). Don’t listen to them. Even if Narendra Modi says something like that, don’t listen.”
I am not going to delve into the horrific absurdity that was the Dadri lynching. I am not going to mention the sheer stupidity involved in sending a sample of meat to the lab post the killing to check if it was beef or not. Or to underline the totalitarianism involved in asking an entire country to not consume meat which some people from the majority community find against their religion (ahistorical but whatever, who takes history seriously anyway?). But asking people to ignore the politicians, including Modiji himself, if they were to make communal remarks, since it is given that they will do so for political gains, is as bad as asking the women to not react to men misbehaving with them because hell, men will be men. Such an ambivalent and delayed response to what was a planned incident of communal violence is reprehensible.
Not even a single statement about how atrocious the attack was and how it should be condemned. Not even a single statement about how the accused, including the BJP ministers who chose to side with the accused and talked about how it was indeed sinful to consume beef, should be punished. Why should a party known for its aggressive hindutva, and the man leading it, be absolved of future remarks that can initiate violence simply because as politicians, they are bound to be like this? Asking people to not respond to communal vitriol and take the onus of being responsible without even once explicitly condemning the accused, the incident, or the communal elements within his own party, is analogous to patriarchy disciplining the subject rather than the perpetrator of gender violence. This is not an isolated incident of some communal lunatics running amok. It is a different kind of manifestation of an extremely unequal society wherein communal polarisation especially helps the dominant community to hold on to their prevalent position. The initial response of the BJP cultural minister to portray it as a spontaneous reaction of Hindus to others eating beef, and shift the focus on beef from the lynching, is really no different from society telling us women that certain clothes, behaviour or choice of lifestyle is bound to make men rape us and thereby take the attention away from the actual incident of sexual violence. When we have finally begun to raise our voice against sexist hogwash, why must we stop ourselves from getting appalled at what has transpired in the backyard of the national capital? Inequality and violence have multiple facets that are continuously overlapping with each other (should not be a surprise then that the BJP and its cultural and political allies also carry the distinction of possessing some of the most abhorrent views on women). We must stop choosing our struggles according to our convenience while we still have time.
Article by Nikita Audichya