This post was originally blogged on Tumblr, in 2013.
The cycle goes on: depravity, shock, anger, protests, resignation, apathy, [repeat].
When will it stop?
Today – a few days post the most recent ‘rape incident’ in India – my Facebook Newsfeed is still full of opinions and articles that condemn the act, express solidarity with the victim, and appeal for justice. Good on you, people; what some of you are doing is necessary, but it’s not enough. I’m telling myself the same thing, too.
Over the past few months I, like many of you, have spent many hours thinking about India’s women harassment and rape problem, and what I can do to help curb it. Of the many factors that are perpetuating this problem there are two that I consider most significant.
I. The breakdown of accountability
“Who are you to tell me what to do? I can do what I want! <enter obligatory expletive>”
We don’t like being questioned; we don’t like being told what to do; we don’t like hearing opposing thoughts and ideologies and, more importantly, the people they come from. We don’t like rules and laws; we don’t like the government; we don’t like the idea of being considerate and thoughtful; we fear no one because “we know someone” – someone who can get us out of trouble. We don’t like having to wait for the good things in life.
Selfishness is rampant. We like getting, taking. Everything has slowly begun to become about us, and satisfying our dreams and desires. We blatantly flout the rules, and then scoff at the stereotypical “tu jaanta nahin main kaun hoon?” (paraphrased: don’t you know who you’re talking to?) Delhi boys (who, actually, live in every corner of India). We’re short-tempered, needlessly violent, and always looking to get ahead and get what we want – at any cost.
Our friendships are superficial. We’re not as invested as we should be in surrounding ourselves with good friends who not only are fun to be around but also question and correct us when we need it.
With the recent rise in (reported) gang rapes, I’ve asked myself why there was not a single member of the group (of friends) who vociferously objected to the others’ plans? Was there not one person who was willing to stick his neck out and say that their thoughts and schemes were wrong?
We’re not talking about hardened criminals and repeat offenders here; many of the rapists in the news are first-time offenders.
It’s sad that our frail identities and need for acceptance makes us compromise and conform…and do things we most likely wouldn’t do if we were by ourselves. No one is accountable to us; we’re not accountable to anyone.
We need to bring accountability back!
“You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.”
II. The monumental failure of husbands/fathers
How will our youth and successive generations learn to respect women and uphold their rights if menfolk, especially husbands/fathers, continue to malign and demean them at home?
As fathers, most men in our country set a terrible example for their children, especially their sons – lording over their wife; expecting to be served; never helping with the running of the home; valuing what their mother says far more than their wife’s opinion; being unfaithful; arguing and talking rudely to their wife in front of their children; hardly ever demonstrating their love for their wife (if there’s any at all) at home – no kisses, hugs or time spent in conversation. Not enough is done to demonstrate to their family that they value their wife.
Several studies have concluded that one of the biggest keys to bringing up confident, secure, good children is having a healthy relationship with your spouse. By healthy, I don’t mean tolerating each other or doing everything you can to stay away from the D-word. I’m talking about being in love with your spouse, telling them how much you love them, doing things that show you do, and talking to others – especially your kids – about how much they mean to you.
Instead, most fathers (and mothers) beam with pride only when talking about their children. “My kids are the centre of my world,” they say, and then go on to tell their kids: “I love you more than anyone else!” Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to be expressive with your kids, and it’s natural to feel strongly about them and want the best for them. I’m only asking that we (again, especially husbands/fathers) question our relational priorities and how we articulate their importance. As ‘the head of the home,’ men, this is your responsibility!
The way forward
…is not capital punishment for the rapist you’re pointing your finger at and blaming.
it’s in making big changes in the way we run our homes. Fathers everywhere need to be more involved, not just a figurehead who earns brownie points for taking his children to the movies or buying them whatever they ask for.
Involved in the running of the home.
Invested in building strong relationships.
Intentionally working towards being a great example.
Parents need to be seen as being on the same team – unshakeable, loving, consistent, and firm. Good Cop vs Bad Cop has to go! Mothers need to stand their ground with their kids. Please, PLEASE don’t pamper your sons at your daughters’ expense and have different standards for them!
I talk to my young friends often about preparing for marriage and fatherhood – hoping they see how wonderful it is, and how much of themselves they should be prepared to invest to keep it that way. I also encourage them to build solid, real friendships – the “steel sharpens steel” kind.