Isn’t it amazing how rapid a build up we have seen around this rape meme for India and in it’s various tentacles and extensions lie all the ideas of western feminism especially as they pertain to the western idea of female sexuality. I am primarily referencing
Udwins documentary which basically solidifies western hypothesis that Indian men are rapists and Indian women are victims
Latest video by top Bollywood actress promoting premaritial and extramaritial sex
The reader should know that this has been part of the continuum since the early 1990’s when western firms were trying to create a market for woman products in India. That time we saw a large number of Ms. India’s become Ms. Universe’s and a lot of focus on looks and color. It was a period which saw a shift in aspirational female role models in India. From scientist, doctor, teacher, dancer, singer to model and actress. Post independence both model and actress were viewed as terrible aspirations for the average woman in India (which is not great either and speaks to the confusion in our colonized society that I reference below).
This has continued and accelerated into sexual freedom, single motherhood both through our media (which includes entertainment) as well as our policyholders who have passed laws that in effect breakdown the traditional Indian family (498 is one of them along with alimony laws that border on ridiculous and only target Hindu families such as entitlement to ancestral property). Add to this other laws around sexual harassment and given our asymmetry of power structure some privileged Indian women have been using these laws with alacrity.
The latest with Udwin and Vogue are a sort of a social reengineering flashpoint to bring home the various investments in the last 25 years. There is a forceful attempt to inject western feminism in India through the English speaking Indian woman. There is an attempt to make us feel like victims when we are actually victors, to break our foundations which actually give us much more power than a western female would have and the end goal is to destroy our society, culture and convert us to control our resources, our minds and our behavior (on the how in another post please). By the way there are some excellent writeups about the ecosystem relating to Udwin’s documentary.
Examining the Wests culture of Rape: Kalavai Venkat
The endless agony of England’s Daughters: Dr. Rahul Shastri
Nirbhaya’s rapists documentary rubs my nose in the dirt: Dr. Radha Rajan
In this hopefully short blogpost (for there will be many others on this subject) I will try to be objective and state facts and innate assumptions to lay some sort of a framework from which we Indian woman can start viewing ourselves. There is no intention to solve any problems or play a blame game. This is just the beginning.
Please understand some key assumptions/ framing points here. I use the word Indic society as an indicator of not what actually may be in Indian society but what is represented by the knowledge systems of Indic culture and is still there within pockets of Indic society and has to be a basis for this framework.
“Western Liberalism and Western Religion” are actually two sides of the same coin. Both in effect lead to similar outcomes of individuals and state/church. The intermediate entities that can truly provide independence and freedom such as family, tribe, jaati are lost. Power is in the hands of a few in both models and the permutations and combinations that exist in between. That said Western Feminism has truly helped western women because of the framework of their society.
No one is arguing that Indian women don’t have it bad. Of course we have a long way to go (and that is yet another blogpost on how we define empowerment). But Indian men have it bad too. Infact, Indian kids, animals, environment everything has it bad. The bigger question is that if we were to do a quid pro quo from a resourcing standpoint how good would we have it or how good did we have it at a point in time in Indian history when we were resource rich (read Megasthene’s Indica or other literature before the 800 year siege). To take a point in time when we are recovering from 800 years of colonialism and then to harp about specific asymettries makes no sense at all. These asymetries are a consequence of the colonialism and in fact would be exacerbated had it not been for Indic culture (yet another post). We were afterall ruled by those that left biggest imprint on Pakistan and yet we are still better wrt Nari Shakti. So all else being equal India’s social culture has prevented the level of deterioration of condition of women.
In western society men and women are separate. Western religion treats women as inferior as vessel and a utility. However, free the western women might become due to her laws she cannot escape the reality of the male god and male memes in society. That is why nature which is female is to be exploited and destroyed. All female is just a utility. In Indic culture women and men are as below. Need I explain anymore. We are part of a whole. The universe cannot exist without Shakti and Shiva.
Hence the world of an Indic woman comprises of her parents, spouse, children and everything that defines this universe. True Nari Shakti is that which optimizes this universe for the Indic woman. That which is being appropriated by the western idea of feminism such as rape within an Indian context is a family issue, a tribe issue and not just an individual female’s issue. Take away the laws in western society and we will see what happens to the women there. Unless within the structure of western society comes this view of female energy complimenting male energy, they will have to depend on laws.
This womans day a big shout out to the stay at home Mom: Manini
Sex in Indic culture is not a guilt ridden act. Of course, it has become one due to 800 years of colonialism but Indic society accepts that people have different proclivities and actually accomodates that. A womans desires are not trivial and she should not have to shout from the rooftops to fulfil them. Devi’s idols were often made with the clay from the “Houses of specific women” because the Devi is all women. Yes sex in India is a private act. In western society, you see a shouting out from the tops of building and a loud declaration of sexual liberation. The vogue video is case in point. That is because the society has intrinsic guilt about this despite their resources and laws and shouting it out makes it better but making it sound like a human rights thing. What we have in Indic society is the long term assessment of the consequences of our actions (which may be eroding thanks to the social reengineering goiing on) such as STDs., pregnancy out of wedlock, breakdown of the family. There is another point deeply rooted within the precepts of tantra but this is not the forum for it. One would prefer the wisdom of assessing all choices vs. having a thrill per minute.
And last for this post but not least and probably the most important point – we are a duty based society and not a rights based society. What that means is that everything we do, every action is driven by duty. If everyone does their duty, then stability prevails not only for humans but the planet. Hence what is viewed by western feminism as suppression is actually a duty performed by someone from Indic culture. That same duty is performed by a son who looks after his aging parents or the old man in the village who feeds the strays. Within Indian society we not have a breakdown of this with some performing their duty and others their rights.
Summary and outcome
Western feminism has significantly helped western women. That is because their society was structured in a way that truly subjugated the female. They did not throw the baby out of the bathwater because the baby had already died. The bathwater was really dirty.
For India we have a lot of wealth within the knowledge systems of our society that needs to be preserved and leveraged. We need to evolve where Nari Shakti is concerned but we need to do so on our own terms.
For the next few parts I intend to take up each point and expound on it.
Reader please excuse grammatical errors and the absence of reference material. I will improve this as we go along but just wanted to get the dialog going. I will be adding Nari Shakti blogposts along.