First of all, congratulations to Wisetongue on completing a century of posts on this blog. That’s simply phenomenal, and all your pieces have been an absolute pleasure to read. Keep ’em coming, bro!
Which is why it is a little ironic that for the second time in succession, I have felt compelled to pick up the pen myself because I sensed unfinished business in one of Wisetongue’s articles. If you haven’t read his last one, sparked by the comments on the sensitive issue of rape by a DIG of police, please do here. It contains plenty of valid points, beautifully expressed as well, which is no less than you would expect from the centurion.
Yet I was forced to disagree with the starting premise of the article itself. I’m going to explain why. Now, anyone who wades into these choppy waters has a very great chance of being misinterpreted, a fate which I believe has befallen the unfortunate police officer. So I’ll do everything in my power to avoid that. As the cliche goes, I don’t mind being hated, but I hate being misunderstood.
Here are the DIG’s comments, in essence (I couldn’t find the exact words):
“Incidence of rape has increased with women becoming more fashionable. Wealth and corporate culture has entered villages and modern women seem to be more vulnerable to rape.”
Let me say this to begin with – I’m not sure whether what he said would stand up to closer analysis. That is, whether the victim was dressed in a ‘modern’ or ‘attractive’ manner in a statistically significant number of cases. If he was talking out of his ass, he deserves all the flak he’s getting, and we could all go home. But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now, and assume he was factually correct.
Also, let me get this out of the way, right now – the act of sexually assaulting a woman is a terrible, terrible crime. And the degree of its heinousness is not even a tiny bit related to what clothes she was wearing. Whether she’s in a burqa or a bikini, you have no right to lay a finger on her without her permission. If you do, you are on the same level of guilt in both cases, and you deserve the same punishment. I’m going over something Wisetongue has already laid down, but it’s worth repeating.
That’s why I have so far steered clear of the term ‘provocatively dressed’. It seems to insinuate that the woman asked for it. Nothing of the sort.
But now, I’ll come to what’s troubling me. It appears that no matter how carefully you tread, people will blindly lash out at you if you make any sort of correlation between a woman’s attire and the likelihood of rape.
Take the poor DIG’s words, for instance. There’s NOTHING wrong with what he said. To drive the point home, let me try to give you a parallel.
Supposing he were to say, “Robberies are more likely to occur in homes if people leave the front door unlocked when they go out.”
Do you find anything offensive there? The man just stated a fact. A useful fact, too, even if it’s slightly obvious. So would you march over to the police station, grab him by the collar and spell out that it’s your fundamental right to leave your door open as and when you please? If you would, the argument is over and we agree to disagree. (Brotip: Do not try the above unless you’re Rajnikanth.)
I understand I’ve been a bit extreme there. Leaving the front door open is somewhat like walking around naked with a sign reading “I’m all yours”. Let’s tone it down a bit, and say he claimed robberies were improbable if the owner had a burglar alarm system. Again, he isn’t compelling you or even implying that you should get one. It’s just a piece of information which you should find easy to digest, and use at your own discretion.
I also realise there’s a glaring asymmetry between rape and robbery – the former applies to women, almost exclusively. This is why it’s so sensitive. And I totally understand why girls are ready to jump at anyone. What with the pressure to look good on the one hand, and fussy parents trying to control what you wear on the other. No wonder the officer’s comments didn’t go down well – it’s another quote, another bargaining chip, that parents could possibly use to dissuade a girl from wearing her favourite dress (“Look what the inspector just said!”).
Ladies, my deepest sympathies are with you in that regard. I can imagine how frustrating, how annoying such situations must be. But ultimately, take it from me – it comes down to this. It’s YOUR decision. And we won’t judge you for it.
If you value your liberty, and are prepared to come out and flaunt it, we’ll respect your decision. We won’t think you’re slutty or crazy. If you choose to go safe instead, that’s totally cool. We won’t think you’re paranoid or cowardly.
Hell, it isn’t such a desperate scenario anyway. You can safely dress any which way you want in most places. It’s just when you know you’re going to pass through shady, secluded areas that you need to be careful. And by be careful, I mean make an informed decision. That’s all.
Your only enemies are the rapists, and the real moral police – the dumbasses who claim that women “shouldn’t dress provocatively” and that they’re partly responsible in case they’re assaulted. Such comments deserve to be condemned and attacked.
You see, in an ideal world, the inspector should be able to say, “Dress any way you want and go out anywhere you like; nothing will happen to you.” But he can’t guarantee that, and so he won’t say it. And rightly so. Of course, that’s a goal he should be working towards.
But we’re not quite there yet. So I’d appreciate it if someone could give an honest assessment of the state of affairs without having his head bitten off. In the meanwhile, take care and thank you.
Postscript: After a short discussion with a friend who said she found the article extremely frustrating, I realised that my analogy of the door being left open is open to misinterpretation as my implying that women are equivalent to property. That is most certainly NOT the case.
I also found that the inequality in the amount of freedom rankles women even more than I had thought. I can only offer a sincere apology, on behalf of all men, for the behaviour of a few psychopathic cases.
And finally, there is the whole question of whether the police and judiciary are doing enough to crack down on rapists. That is an altogether different issue, and it does not have a simple answer. My friend said by telling women to dress safely, the police are showing their “laziness” to protect women; I disagree, for that would mean asking you to secure your house indicates laziness too. Again, it boils down to the inequality – the former hurts more because girls are targeted.
All I’m saying is, you have every right to express your pain. Just try not to alienate the people who are genuinely on your side and concerned for your safety, having your best interests as well as freedom in mind.