June 10, 2015

When a woman talks about her sex life as her choice, Patriarchy's control over female sexuality is challenged

The mere thought of a woman talking about (consensual) sex before and/or outside marriage as her personal choice (link) has left our country scandalized.

Because:
Sex is considered as a duty which women are bound to fulfil at the behest of Pati Parameshwar.

Whereas:
(Straight) Men are encouraged to view sex as a default right which women must provide them with to justify their existence to men.

And:
Sex is not seen as an act of mutual pleasure which one is supposed to 'earn' through one's (sexual) partner's(s') consent.

Therefore:
Indian political system decided that men should be continued to be allowed to legally rape their wives - link

Because:
The institution of marriage can only be protected by legally acknowledging that wives are sex slaves, and therefore wives should have no right to consent/dissent to sex with their respective partners.

And:
Social (link, link), administrative (linklink), legal (linklink) and political systems (link, link, link) 'understand' that men can 'lose control' and have the right to rape/assault their wives (link)/ girlfriends (link)/ daughters (link, link)/ strangers (link)/ children (link)/ infants (link) or punish women participating in perceived 'immortal activities' by raping/assaulting them (link).

Which is why:
This judge relaxed sentence to a criminal who sodomized a one year old infant (link).

Because:
Quoting Indian Home Maker: // In rape culture, we understand that if the rapist was living alone, away from his native place, he could lose control over himself. // - link 

And:
Staying 'alone and away from family' in this case implies that this man possibly did not have access to sexual partner, a circumstance which invoked the sympathies of the judge.

Because:
It is understood that the womankind is obligated to provide men with sex and if they fail to do so, some of its members will have to bear the brunt by being sexually assaulted and/or raped by those men who have no access to sexual partners.

Which is why:
Skewed gender ratios and legalizing prostitution are often cited when talking about solutions to rape, so that men have access to legitimate sexual partners (and not rape other men's wives/future wives), rather than ensuring that men (or people) who violate other people's rights are punished.

Because:
Rape of a woman is not seen as a crime against her as a person, even though rape is a serious violation of one's rights over one's own body.

Because:
Women are not seen as human beings with human rights. The notion that women are people is considered radical. (This notion is called feminism, and has derogatory perceptions associated with it).

Instead:
Rape of a woman is seen as a crime against:
1. Her family's honor and/or
2. Her future husband's right to her virginity and/or
3. Duties which she owes to her current husband

Because:
Women's family/husband/society are seen to have more rights over women's lives than women themselves.

And therefore:
Rape of sex workers is not taken seriously.

Because:
There is no 'honor' associated with women daring to have sex outside the framework defined earlier in this post, and rape is taken seriously only when social honor is offended (link).

And:
Several people in India also see (consensual) sex outside/before marriage as a synonym to rape, or 'as heinous as' rape.

Which is why:
Khaps suggested: "Girls should get married at the age of sixteen to prevent rapes." (link). To prevent men from being helplessly provoked into raping sixteen year old girls children.

Because:
Men are assumed to have no control accountability over their actions, and women are solely supposed to bear the responsibility of ensuring that others don't assault/violate them.

Actually:
This is what the Khaps are not saying: link

Because:
Quoting Indian Home Maker - // When there are not enough young women for men to marry, Patriarchal societies start making excuses to marry young and minor girls, so that more men can have wives. (Patriarchal societies believe all men are entitled to sex and wives.) // - link
(Note: Patriarchal societies also do not acknowledge the existence of homosexuality and trans-gendered people.)

Also:
For Patriarchy to sustain, controlling female sexuality has been very critical: Parents are assigned with the sole responsibility of protecting their daughters' virginity till marriage in order to ensure that their daughters remain 'good and pure' for their future husbands.

Because:
Getting Married and Staying Married (at times, die trying) is portrayed as the single most important purpose of a woman's life. This motto provides the key to make women go through and tolerate abuse and violence. ("By lodging a complaint the girl would get undue publicity and that would adversely affect her marriage prospect" - link).

And therefore:
Distorted perceptions of honour were attached with simple activities which should have otherwise never have been used to justify control and violence against women.(linklink, link).

And:
Women who are perceived to violate any of these (unspecified) rules are likely to face the risk of violence against them being justified.

Which is why:
A mob of men were confident that they could publicly assault a girl who came out of a pub in Guwahati - link.

Because:
They seemed confident of two things:
a) That people would blame and shame the victim since she has participated in the 'dishonorable' act of visiting a pub at late night. 
b) That videotaping the incident would silence the victim, as it is her honor which is at risk in the society if she raises her voice.

Also:
Many people seem to 'understand' if parents kill their daughter upon finding her in a 'compromising position', they have the right to kill her (link).

Because:
Family honor lies in ensuring that unmarried women's vaginas remain untouched till marriage, and 'honor' can take precedence over parenting responsibilities and/or human rights.

Which is why:
Indian men (and parents and elders) seem to have no idea that it is not their birthright to control the sex lives of their female relatives.

And hence:
Trigger alert - violence. This man decided to padlock his wife's genitals, citing that three of his sisters and six of his nieces eloped: link (Note: Discretionary caution advised before going through the link as the article is extremely disturbing.)

Also:
Women who question the system are blamed and shamed to ensure that nobody goes against the system.

Which is why:
A woman talking about her sex life as her choice has outraged so many people.

Because:
Women having control over who, how and when they should have (consensual) sex with would be a threat to patriarchy.

Because:
This would mean that the distorted perceptions around which activities are 'honorable' cannot be used to justify controlling women. 

Many of the people who thought My Choice was irresponsible for considering (consensual) sex outside marriage as a personal choice would agree with the below:

1. It would be 'honorable' for a rapist to offer his hand in marriage to his rape victim.
2. It would be 'honorable' for a rape victim to end her life to protect her family's 'honor'.
3. It would be 'honorable' for a woman to 'adjust' in an abusive marriage than walk out because protecting the 'institution of marriage' is assumed to be the sole responsibility of women.
4. Responsible talk would be teaching women to 'adjust' and tolerate abuse in marriages.
5. Responsible talk would be to warn women of 'consequences' for reaching home late than telling them that they deserve the freedom to be able to come home any time they want without running the risk of being assaulted.

Related posts:

1. So why is My Choice upsetting to so many 'intellectuals' - link

2. Do some of us believe that parents have the option of killing their child if they find her in a compromising position? - link

3. What happens when we allow legal sanctions to marital rape - link

4. It's 'rape culture' not 'tribal culture': On the West Bengal gang-rape - link

5. I'm a woman in Indian society and I am not yet free... - link

Recommended reads:

From Indian Home Maker's blog:

1. Immoral policing: A guest post by Carvaka - link

2. I'm now thoroughly convinced that the entire concept of virginity is used to control female sexuality - link

3. The video is speaking against the acceptance of rape, acid attacks, honor killings, forced marriages etc that are viewed as normal 'Consequences' for women - link

From Sanjukta's blog:

4. Vouge Empower My Choice: What the criticism actually did to feminism - link

4 comments:

  1. I hope my view will be posted here unlike on other 'free thinkers' blogs. Though I am a male, I support women's rights movement in India. I believe we need strong people like the feminists at the very start of the movement in the west.
    Sometime back I was surprised to see that the marital rape law could not be passed citing false cases of 498a. Infact though maybe half of 498a reports may be false, in all, dowry/rape is itself underreported so I would suspect the real percentage of false cases is quite lesser. Only someone who works on the field can know these kind of numbers better.
    What I regret to see in the west is that feminism which started on principles of equality has now become exactly the institute it was supposed to oppose. Many women have begun protesting against it in the west that the pendulum has swung too far and their husbands, sons, brothers and friends and getting affected. This is because there are a LOT of vested interests inside the western movements now. And they will suck the movement dry till nothing is left to gain from and the movement has become more unpopular.
    What is unsettling is the presence of vested interests in India when the pendulum has not even started to swing, let alone swing too far..

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    1. Please be kind enough to elaborate on: //What I regret to see in the west is that feminism which started on principles of equality has now become exactly the institute it was supposed to oppose. Many women have begun protesting against it in the west that the pendulum has swung too far and their husbands, sons, brothers and friends and getting affected. This is because there are a LOT of vested interests inside the western movements now. And they will suck the movement dry till nothing is left to gain from and the movement has become more unpopular. What is unsettling is the presence of vested interests in India when the pendulum has not even started to swing, let alone swing too far..//

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  2. And the sad part is, all this and more are happening every single day because of the attitudes you have described thoroughly. There is no use crying when the system will change and when we try to change, we are treated like shit. Irrespective of this, I guess the only way to trudge forward and have any hope of this getting set right is to keep trying. And to teach the men of this country to treat woman as a person, a human before they look at her as an object.

    I am spellbound when it comes to finding out what causes men to think of women, girls, and female infants as objects for their sexual pleasure. Whatever reason they quote (provocative dressing, immoral behavior etc) obviously fall flat - How could they justify molesting girls who are no more than 6 yrs old? What provocation can a child offer at that age and what immoral behavior could she indulge in at that age of innocence?

    This unsettling state of affairs in our country is just increasing by the day and I am truly scared for the girl children who are yet to be born, whose rights and choices are questioned even before they are conceived.

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  3. //I am truly scared for the girl children who are yet to be born, whose rights and choices are questioned even before they are conceived.// Me too - I have long since believed that banning sex selective abortions is not going to help, if people don't treat girl children as human beings.

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