Indian Men and Their Inability to Support Women's Rights

TW: mention of crimes against women

I follow a lot of feminist pages directed towards Indian women on Instagram for empowerment and to undo years of conditioning and trauma that every Indian girl has, consciously or subconsciously, by being brought up in an Indian household which echos years of oppressive practices against women. Whether it be seeing silent power dynamics play out, watching your mother having to conform to typical gender roles or being treated differently from your brother, all of these are very common even in the most modern Indian households. Growing up while listening to the news every other day about the horrendous crimes that happened against girls my age in India definitely left a mark on me and every girl who was watching. All I thought at that time was, “That could’ve been me.” And, I can’t even begin to imagine what those girls must have felt. They were all so young and definitely did not deserve to go through what they did. But, somehow Indian men and politicians found ways to blame it on them. 

The same still goes on today. Recently, I saw a post by a desi feminist page that highlighted incidents about sexual violence against women in India and explained why we needed feminism. It highlighted the most unthinkable events that I can’t even mention here. I knew that if I checked the comments, it was going to be bombarded with men saying things like “Not all men” and “Why don’t you post about men’s issues” and I was absolutely right. Although I was aware that replying to them just meant wasting my own time because they’ve already proved how ignorant they are, I was too furious not to. Also, I really wanted to understand their mental process because I’m sure they’ve got to be really insecure to make this all about themselves. And, spoiler alert: they were. After multiple comments by me trying to get to the root of this issue, I discovered two things :

1) They think that they’re the oppressed gender because of laws that were set to protect women, and the isolated cases of false rape allegations that are made against men. Although this might be the most misinformed and deluded argument ever, it seemed to be their one and only argument.

2) Deep down inside they know that they have some how personally contributed to making women feel unsafe, have discriminated against them or have sexist beliefs and so they feel guilty and try hide it by being defensive. This was a more implicit conclusion but it’s pretty obvious that these men believe that their issues are more important, simply because they're men. Additionally, if you look at a statement that says "men are trash" in response to a woman talking about her experiences with certain men and you take the statement personally, then maybe a part of you can actually see yourself being that man in question.

Obviously, every woman knows it's not all men, but why is there even a need to clarify, especially when their are more important topics to be addressed? Why do men appear to try to change the topic when talking about men who committed crimes against women and at the same time they make it all about themselves by playing the victim? Another woman in the comments section pointed out how these are the same men who say things like “Women are bad drivers” and make sexist jokes but then complain when women call them out for saying “Not all men.” These are the men who cannot fathom women being equal to men. They have no respect for us and a lot of them treat us like objects. Whenever I would go to India, I always felt like I had to be on a look out for creepy men who would always stare at me, no matter how young I was. This happens to every girl in India, all of my friends and I share the same stories, whether it be this or something worse. 

Girls who live in India have it much harder than Indian girls like me who live abroad. I wasn’t born or brought up in India but legally I’m still Indian and I hate being recognized as one. I have no patriotism because how can I be proud of a country that has one of the highest rates of crimes against women and girls? But, this generation of Indian women are no longer tolerant to these behaviors of Indian men. For every ignorant comment I see made by a man, there are at least five comments of women my age or younger calling them out. And, no matter how normalized harassment against women is in India, we are slowly starting to open our eyes and validate our own experiences. We need men to start taking these issues as seriously as we do and actively educate other men. They need to understand that standing up for and respecting women doesn't make them any less 'masculine'. Their silence is also harmful.

And, to the men who support women and have never said "Not all men", congratulations. You're a decent human being.

I can go on and on about this topic because there is so much that I didn’t address (I’ll probably write a few more articles about this). I'm sure that women all around the world have experienced a lot of the things I've mentioned. At the end of the day, we as women are tired of always being on the lookout or having to take precautions to be safe. And, when something does happen, we are tired of having to explain ourselves or being the ones to be held accountable. I hope the generation of girls to come do not have to do the same.

(This is not the same Instagram post that is being referred to in this article)