‘On the Misogyny of Indian Men’, a short essay and an addition.

Today, March 3rd, 2015, was another article about the rape and death of an Indian woman on a bus.    This interview was   with the bus driver, who has been charged as one of the rapists, and condemned to death for his participation. Though it is hard to understand his justification, this isn’t a surprise to those women in India who suffer the twisted and misogynistic philosophy of many  in Indian society.  In my own country, (USA) I have come across resistance in even discussing the violence towards Indian women from women who should know better. One woman in particular  said this topic was not to be spoken of at dinner.  She went on to endlessly discuss a holiday.  So runs the mentality of many people who refuse to see the suffering of women. She was an educated, professional woman.  Should we expect more of the men in Indian society?

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Indian Rapist Blames Victim for the Rape.

(from AFP News)

 

One of the men convicted of the gang-rape and murder of an Indian student that shocked the world has said he blames the victim for “roaming around at night”.

The comments are made in a documentary to be screened on International Women’s Day.

Mukesh Singh, who was sentenced to death for his crimes, said the victim should not have been out at night, and should not have resisted the attack on a moving bus in 2012.

“You can’t clap with one hand -– it takes two hands. A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night,” he said in an interview for “India’s Daughter”, a BBC documentary to be broadcast on Sunday.

“A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. About 20 per cent of girls are good.”

The 23-year-old physiotherapy student died from her injuries 13 days after she was savagely attacked on her way home from the cinema with a male friend on December 16, 2012.

Before her death she was able to speak to police about the crime, which caused outrage across the world and triggered mass protests in India.

The attack highlighted the frightening level of violence against women in the world’s second most populous country and led to a major reform of the rape laws, speeding up trials and increasing penalties.

But Singh, 28, said his execution would “make life more dangerous for future rape victims”.

“Now when they rape, they won’t leave the girl like we did. They will kill her,” he told Leslee Udwin, the award-winning British filmmaker behind the documentary.

(Note: these ‘men’  rammed her with an iron pole, rupturing her intestines)

He also criticised the victim for fighting back against her attackers.

“She should just be silent and allow the rape,” he said. “Then they’d have dropped her off after doing her.”

“India’s Daughter” will be televised in seven countries including India and Britain on Sunday, International Women’s Day.

Udwin will speak to media at a screening of her film later Tuesday alongside the victim’s parents, who have campaigned vocally for improvements in women’s safety since their daughter’s death.

She said she was inspired by seeing ordinary Indians take to the streets to protest “in unprecedented numbers” following the attack.

“In my lifetime, I can’t recall any other country standing up with such commitment and determination for women’s rights,” Udwin said.

The case sparked much soul-searching about India’s treatment of women, but women’s rights campaigners say little has changed in the deeply patriarchal country.

Singh, one of five people convicted over the attack, admitted driving the bus during the incident but denied taking part in the rape.

He is appealing the verdict against him.

 

On the Misogyny of Indian Men

Recently I have been reading about this issue of misogyny of men, and in particular, Indian Men.  In part I am pulled into this by some experience.  Misogyny is defined as ‘a hatred of women’Most people think of this in a sexual context.  However, I believe misogyny in some cultures is so prevalent that it defines much more than sexual attitudes, or to speak plainly, it is the total dismissal of women in that culture as second class, intellectually inferior, etc.  This of course, is not isolated to men from India, but is seen world-wide.

My direct experience with Indian men has been of a certain class, the upper class.  These are very well educated and placed men in literature, education, the sciences, etc.  They are not the people one would associate with this mentality and behavior, however, I think it is very hard for Indian men in general to avoid the psychological and social issues of misogyny.  It is so prevalent in Indian society at all levels that it stains all classes.  In most  conversations I have had with upper class Indian men, there is a total blackout of any acknowledgement of misogyny in male behavior.   In only one conversation did an Indian man come forth with what he thought was the problem, but then avoided any further discussion.  Perhaps because I am an American woman this was what was making him uncomfortable, embarrassed,  but I think it is more to the issue that Indians are not comfortable talking about these things in general.  They are a very prudish and traditional society, regardless the level of education.

We read of the horrible prevalence of child and women rape in India.  According to statistics, there are over 100 REPORTED rapes of women daily.  This is just the reported rapes.  The amount of rapes unreported is much more.  Why is this so?

First, the usual men who are charged are lower middle and working class men. (of course, there is the case of  Tarun Tejpal, owner and editor of Tehelka in India, decidedly not a working class man, posturing as a left-leaning liberal) There are social and economic issues that make this obvious.  In the major cities  (and especially Delhi)  it is almost dangerous for women, unaccompanied by male relatives, to walk the sidewalks without what is called “eve-teasing”, which is groping and attempts of molestation, besides just wolf-whistles and obnoxious comments about women’s physical characteristics. (The name of this, “eve-teasing” is interesting: Eve being the temptress  of Adam?).  In the countryside, it is as dangerous and perhaps even more so. Gangs of men lie in wait for women walking home from work or on errands. However, what is even more troubling is the role and position of educated woman, women of privilege and class and caste, some who openly attack through media these women who are raped. (And hold that these crimes are those of “little brown men”, who just happen to be their own countrymen.) This is another form of misogyny, female hatred for themselves.  These women align themselves with male oppressors, thinking they will escape all the treatment of male misogynists, at least in the intellectual sphere.  But this is not the behavior of only upper class women.  It is also seen with working class women.  Blaming the rape victims is only part of this hatred.  In one village reported, a rape victim was set upon and threatened with burning alive if she didn’t leave the village of her home.

The intellectual class, the upper classes, like to blame the officials, the lawyers, the courts, and the police in particular for the lack of bringing these rapists to justice, but the base is set within Indian culture and society.  Of course, a high percentage of Indian police are corrupt, and in villages, in the countryside, bribes are standard procedure.  Having full knowledge of rapes and not reporting them is another practice by police.  The police tried to buy off two parents from their legitimate and horrifying complaint when their 5 year old daughter was kidnapped (by three local men) and raped and sodomized for three days.  The parents courageously resisted this.

Tour groups (some from here in the States and Europe, and most from India)  tell  tourists to immediately contact the police when they are molested on the street by Indian men.  But others say that this is rarely help. In fact, it can be even more obstructive to any justice.   One group of women who were staying in a hostel in some Indian city  found out fast that every morning, like clockwork, police would show up banging on their door demanding bribes.  What to do?  It’s a difficult situation and only traveling in groups and not certain cities can you attempt at least a semblance of safety.

Where do these attitudes and behaviors of misogyny come from?

The answer to this question is not the place of this short article.  It would take a lot more research and study to answer this fully.  This article is just to raise awareness amongst women thinking about travelling to India and to pose some facts and warnings.

Recently I have been reading some literature that these attitudes are ‘post-Colonial influences’, left over from the period when the British were more than involved with the Indian continent.  Of course, the influence of the British imperialists certainly impacted on just about everything in Indian culture, but the problem of misogyny in India is far older than that.

It goes back to feudalism, and probably farther back.  The approach of man to woman relationship was built upon three things:  1) the availability of sexual release for men, 2) the issue of domestic  servitude and 3) reproduction.    Only where women are educated is some of this lessened.  However, this is also showing to be a double-edged sword. There is resentment from men of all classes where women are educated.  And as one Indian woman said to me recently, the very thing that should liberate women from the backwardness of society doesn’t.  “We are educated to not bring shame to our upper class and professional parents and relatives, but we are stopped from real liberation because of tradition. We can only go just so far with education.  We must not step on toes.”

Religion is of course part of the mix.  There are female goddesses in Hindu religion and they are devotedly worshiped.  But the culture of misogyny is so deep within the Indian mindset that even this has little effect in abating the behaviors of rape, molestation, etc. Goddesses are one thing, women are another.

Female Infanticide and the Sex Trade of Children

 

There is a long history of female infanticide in India history.   Girls are killed at birth, or aborted or abandoned to die because their ‘worth’ is so much less than boys. ( In some families, the girls are only allowed to eat the leftovers of the boys after they have eaten.) This is part of the cultural behavior within India and is very old.  This is very much the base of this Indian misogyny.  It starts at the birth.  IF a female child is allowed to grow in the womb.  Recently I read that there are over 750,000 abortions of FEMALE fetus per year in India.  And, in many cases, if a woman delivers a girl child, the husband, the male of the family will tell her to  ‘get rid of it’.  In other words, many women face the situation of killing their own daughters shortly after birth.  Interestingly enough, there is now a shortage of women in India, and this fact is given for the rape and molestation by Indian men.  One man I know speaks of the necessity of sexual revolution in Indian culture, and this might be so, but I believe the situation goes beyond this.  It has everything to do with the cultural attitudes of Indians towards women, and yes, the attitudes of Indian mothers, also.

Women are just dismissed, demeaned, and denied within the broader Indian culture. They area truly second class citizens.  They are seen with little value by men.   It isn’t always sexual, but the fear that women live with is constant, and many times it is sexual.  The truncated intellectual progress that is denied because a woman is born a woman in India is one of the greatest wastes of humanity.

Statistically over 100,000 children are kidnapped or disappear from their parents and villages every year. This feeds into the sex trade and is generated also by the blinding poverty of the masses of Indians in rural villages and urban slums.  Parents sell their own children into this trade, or children are driven by hunger.

We in the West certainly have these same things, but definitely not to the extent that Indian women feel today.  Our laws are strong when applied and our police of course have the same ability to be as corrupt as the Indian police, but when our laws work, they abate some of this. But we don’t have one billion citizens and we don’t have quite the corruption of Indian lawmakers. Indian  courts are, at best, chaotic.  Rape and abuse cases can be ignored, or drag on for years.  And the feminist movement in India is little older than a decade.

I believe that generally good Indian men don’t understand how they can easily slip into the mind thought and behavior of misogyny.  Unfortunately, Indian men, many men in my experience take it as their right to demand that women do things they themselves don’t want to do.  It is because we, as women…our work, our creativity, are of a lesser standard in their eyes. Surely we can put aside our work, our propulsion towards our success for what is more ‘important’ in their belief.  This is an intellectual form of servitude.  We must see this behavior for what it is and bring it sharply to their attention.  Further, we must not be cajoled with praise to do things that put us off our road of progress.  This is a dead end for women and puts us further back in our successes in life.

 

Is India too dangerous to visit today?

 

Finally, is India too dangerous a country to visit?  I have had numerous friends, professional women and other poets who have gone to India in the past year to bring home their daughters studying there.  I would say that yes, India is in too much turmoil socially and politically for foreign women to visit, especially single women.  Even couples have been attacked, the woman gang raped and the man beaten. We have heard of many gang rapes of European women in the past few years  and this doesn’t even begin to amount to the terror and fear that Indian women and girls must live with daily.

What is the solution?  One Indian woman friend said that “all Indian men are misogynist. It’s in their DNA.”  I am hoping that those sane and good Indians, men and woman, realize how their country women (and men) are suffering and how the rest of the world sees India in all its tattered glory.

Lady Nyo

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels who is also Lady Nyo

Copyrighted, 2015

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17 Responses to “‘On the Misogyny of Indian Men’, a short essay and an addition.”

  1. ladynyo Says:
  2. Caliban's Sister Says:

    Jane–I think you should send this essay to Truthout.org, the blog. Honestly, it’s well-written, succinct, and couldn’t be more timely. You could leave out the final paragraph of self-disclosure; but I’m wondering was the psychologist of Indian background? If not, maybe it should be it’s own post? great article, and I’m glad (given your current editorial situation) that you wrote it and put it up. love CS

    Like

  3. ladynyo Says:

    Hi CS! First, thank you for reading this and your comment. I believe it is hard for readers to comment upon, because it seems that people don’t have much information about what is happening in India besides the rapes that make the international news. I didn’t have much to go on, until I started to research more deeply, and then? I felt compelled to write something about the situation because it is shocking in so many areas. In a way, it’s a bit like North Korea. It demands international attention, but will the international community attend to these things? I just don’t know. And….a lot of people, readers of this blog have ‘liked’ this essay, but again…I don’t think that people really know what to say. Perhaps it is really unknown ground to many.

    You always give good advice …and as to where this essay could belong? I’ll check out Truthout.org today. Thank you, CS. This issue should be close to our hearts, and not only by women.

    The psychologist of the sexual violation? He was Jewish, but so were the lawyers who brought the charges against him. He was serial and other women suffered, unfortunately then,…in silence until I brought charges against him. To me, the greatest violation was the behavior of the Georgia Psychological Association. It was beyond belief then. Now? I have no idea.

    Love, Jane

    Like

  4. TR Says:

    Hi Jane,
    This is a well-written article and like CS, could be brought to a wider audience to help bring awareness.

    It is interesting what Steve writes about how he has not noticed this with Indian men. This is true for several reasons, he is right, he is a man plus the majority of Indian people will not discuss their Indian ways with anyone that is not Indian.

    India, the country and the Hindu religion believe in the ‘worth at birth’. For educated Indian people (men or woman) it would be hard to face this belief – even with the education. Men do not want to give up their worth, who would? If you are told from birth you are worthy because you are male then you define worth as being male. Education the ‘Indian’ way does not usually involve psychology and emotions and as we know, learning this from FOO does NOT happen. Worth = male. Worth = caste system. My father even with his terminal illness and on/off dementia still holds on to this belief. He will not greet me when I enter the room but he will stand up (mind you, this is difficult for him to do because of the illness) and shake hands with DH. He won’t touch me or greet me. He is educated and nice and generous but his definition of worth is being male and to take it away from them is a kind of death.

    The eve-teasing – man, I really don’t like that word. Grabbing women’s vaginas is not teasing! Even the word down plays it.

    Oh, btw, an indicator of misogyny in countries/cultures is seen through the public transport system. The women have a separate ‘car’ to ride in. So if a woman is alone she can ride in that car. Only an indicator b/c I don’t think they have successfully implemented the separate car in India.

    I found this validating to read and I am so glad you have brought awareness of this issue. You are courageous for sharing your thoughts and feelings and your personal experiences.

    Love, TR

    Like

  5. ladynyo Says:

    Dear TR, any woman (or man for that ) is courageous for bringing what they see are injustices. Especially people from India. They go against a powerful tide. They suffer for their open eyes, sort of like North Korea I think. They are marginalized and hounded by relatives and associates..so they tend to keep quiet where they can. But regardless, it takes courage. It is so much easier for me to write about these things. I am not of that culture, but do know the narcissism that ties into these issues.

    That a father can not, or will not show a natural pride and affection to his female children goes against nature. But we do know the same thing with mothers who are narcissists. To me, it is all and the same thing: a way to demean and humiliate fully one half of the population. This ‘worth at birth’ issue, tradition surely stinks.

    Eve-teasing…yes, a rather ‘sweet’ and befuddling name for something that is just horrible. And the usual response from men who are caught? They back up and throw up their hands, like they are innocent. This has been told to me over and over by women who have been molested on the street. Men as cowards.

    Yes, I read about the separate railroad cars for women. What an indictment of this country that that has to happen? But the same thing happens in Japan.

    Thank you, TR. Our hearts fly to the women and children of India, but we have our own struggles to bear regardless where we are and this is why we can emphatize.

    Love, Jane

    Like

  6. czbz Says:

    From Man’yoshu to this article…..well, you can’t be accused of hating men, Jane. That’s the first accusation “the guilty” make when a woman writes about misogyny.

    I always appreciate a “realistic” article about a topic nobody wants to think about, much less examine. I hope this is published because most people ARE unfamiliar with foreign policies enforcing female abuse/subordination and as you mentioned: elimination.

    I recently watched a video called “It’s a Girl”. It’s a bit controversial but it brings to American’s attention, the cruel practices of infanticide when birth control is unavailable, or the country enforces policies and practices favoring males.

    I did not realize female visiters were at risk of being raped. You won’t read that on a glossy travel brochure, now will ya?

    love
    CZ

    Like

  7. ladynyo Says:

    CZ…I think you are right! We always tred that path and even if we don’t…we certainly ruffle some feathers even mentioning this. LOL!

    About publishing this? Oh…I looked at the submissions guidelines and immediately my lazy bones came into play. Ugh. I would have to rewrite the whole damn article and I rewrote the first two chapters and then my head hit the desk. LOL!

    However, there are many better and stronger voices that have written about these things….in India, Pakistan, Bangledesh, China, etc. It’s just that we don’t come across them without a load of research on the internet. And…it’s much worse up close than I wrote about. How can we ever write in words the suffering of 1/2 the population? Suffer the little children indeed.

    It’s such a deeply ingrained practice in India…all this female-as-non human behavior by men who don’t even give their own behavior a second thought….that it is just mindblowing. Researching it out, I just couldn’t believe what I was reading. talking to women from India gave me a better idea that this stuff actually happens. The anger and fury behind their experiences would set fire to India if it could. It should set fire to the arrogant behinds of Indian men….and men who do these same inhuman practices.

    “It’s a Girl”…I’ve heard of this video, but haven’t seen it. I’ll definitely look it up. China is a prime example of abortions done if the fetus is a girl….and still, they allow the child to die from exposure, etc…in the couontrysides.

    Oh Yes. I have had a number of women friends who last year went to India to get their girls out of schools there. I supported their decisions and it was the only safe measure to take. The rapes and killings of European women get our attention, but these are commonplace for Indian women daily. Over 100 rapes are reported daily in India…but this is just the ‘reported’ rapes. Until the eyes of Indians are turned to this abomination, and the rapes and kidnapping of young children , boys and girls for sex trafficing…I think India is a very unsafe place for any one. Nope, you won’t read that on the travel brochure. You are damn right about that.

    Love, Jane

    Like

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  10. Versie Merner Says:

    Extremely insightful post, I am sharing this!

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  11. Elton Dung Says:

    Thank You for posting this, it is much appreciated.

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  12. Yasmin Says:

    There is a deep, deep vein of misogyny in Indian society that is being laid bare. The world’s is a stage (to quote the great English bard). We are currently witnessing an epidemic of this violence towards women. I think this is Indian men are growing up without sisters. Millions of girl babies (let us not de-humanize them by calling them foetuses have been aborted). This is abuse of scientific technology to serve a patriarchcial society. The little Indian “God” (they usually have some self-agrandising name) has imbibed misogyny with his mother’s milk. Raised to expect women to serve his whims and caprices. Ask yourself has somebody been forcing women to abort girl babies. These men are sown by one women and reaped by another. Indian girls need to be raised to first submit to the one real God and serve him only. Abortion is what men want. Life is what God wills.

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  13. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Yasmin. There are so many issues or reasons for the misogyny of Indian men. The abortion of female babies is one aspect. The class/caste issues certainly don’t help the situation. India is like China in this issue of aborting female babies.

    I absolutely agree that scientific technology is being used to continue and serve a patriarchal society. You raise so many important aspects of the condition of women in India. And more women around the world should address this particular issue in India. More women should use their blogs because we do have that freedom.

    Please read my article of last week on my blog: Violence against Indian Women…again. This situation must be exposed and taken up in the larger world. I don’t know that this is currently an epidemic of violence towards women: I think this situation has ALWAYS been the standard in India, especially in the villages and small towns.

    Frankly, I am shocked at the behavior of Indian men in this country. A number have said to me with a smirk: ‘anything, any life, can be brought with a bribe.”

    If this is so in India, the level of civilization comes greatly into question. This isn’t the Dark Ages, nor Medieval Ages…..and India needs to know that the rest of the ‘civilized’ world is watching what they are moved to do.

    Thank you, Yasmin.

    Lady Nyo

    Like

  14. Tharaka Abi Says:

    Very true the article. Well written. I am an Indian male. I have lived in Europe, Germany for 4 years. This has definitely changed my sexist thoughts and behavior. From when I used to involve in Eve-teasing those days in India (which we thought were harmless), I changed to consider even opening a door for women very sexist. But, even I sometimes, am sexist to my western girlfriend without my knowledge. It does slip into our mind sometimes. Even the most liberated and educated Indians are prone to this. It is in our DNA. The first step for us is to accept that we, the indian males, are a bunch of sexists, misogynists and rapists a**holes. No excuses. Only then we can look for a solution and move forward.

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  15. ladynyo Says:

    Dear Tharaka Abi, I applaud you. It is very difficult for all of us to admit our shortcomings and work hard for change. I am shocked, distressed by the behavior of not only Indian men, but also by Pakistani and others in the general region. It is deep seated: that women are not considered ‘human’ entitled to the rights and protections that are assured and given to men, is inhumane. Children also suffer enormously: girls killed at birth, or starved at home, etc. The amount of abandoned and starving children, both male and female is horrendous. Caste and religion and religion are the fundamental pillars of this abuse. Corruption, also. It is so heartbreaking to read of the rapes and hangings of girls, women all over India and Pakistan, etc. Only men like you, who have courageously stepped out of the usual culture of abuse towards these defenseless others can change these barbaric practices. We all stumble over our weaknesses, but the ‘cure’ is to be mindful…to consider the life and misfortune of others, and to apply the standard of compassion and empathy.

    Thank you, Tharaka Abi, for reading and understanding and your comment. I deeply appreciate it.

    Lady Nyo

    Like

  16. Babyblue Says:

    it will be their karma when no more women live in India. Maybe the women should abort every single female baby until only men exist, then see how they like that. Sounds horrid but maybe the only way they learn. Either that or women need to start learning kong fu!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. ladynyo Says:

    It’s a horrible situation in that general area. Pakistan, etc are just as corrupted. But I understand what you mean. Indian men are so damn spoiled. But the women (mothers) don’t help the situation in many ways….they feed their daughters after the men folk and reinstitute that they are second class human beings. I have no sympathy for India any more….it is a situation that some Indian writers tried to blame the British for….but this is pure bullshit. This has been their culture for over 5000 years. The Brits had nothing to do with this or the caste system. Don’t get me started. I pulled out of advising a very prominent Indian publication because of the misogyny of the male writers there. To Hell with them. May their dicks rot and fall off.

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