Peeling Back The Male Psyche. Just A Teeny Bit.

For the last couple of days, some  friends and I have been going back and forth on Facebook about how India is now known as the rape capital of the world and how instead of highlighting crimes against women and children frequently, the media (including social media) should be publicizing the positive aspects of our country…True, newspapers and TV channels do report these horror stories to gain TRPs/readership, but they do us a service as well – they ‘force’ us to read/watch these reports and in turn ‘force’ us to think about these issues, and any kind of thinking can never be bad, can it? Positive things should be the norm, not the exception…

Rapid economic uplift and increased women’s liberation hides an ancient and pervasive culture of patriarchy and male dominance in large portions of society…As world-wide outrage emphasizes the need for change (yes, much of this outrage is due to sensationalized reportage but there wouldn’t be any sensationalism without the crimes, would there?)…Indians are rallying…Women from all demographics are starting to act and react (Gulaab Gang) but the good news is that MEN are also stepping up…Farhan Akhtar’s MARD campaign didn’t cause tsunamis but at least he used his celebrity to try to change things, which is a darn sight better than a 1000 Facebook conversations people like us (elites?), far removed from any action, might have… The ‘Bell Bajao’ campaign too is for and by men – modeling the right way to be a man, to break with tradition while staying in society and maintaining social propriety…

All this is well and good, but how do we change the mindsets of rural men? You can’t just go up and tell a macho Jat farmer “Sirji, stop beating the sh*t out of your wife…Respect her instead”…Now, I am no great thinker and I may be thinking out of my backside but wouldn’t it be more effective to remind the farmer that Indian dharma involves revering women? Many of these atrocious biases are inherited cultural stances which have never been inspected – my grandfather did it, my father does it, I will do it…We have to tell him WHY he needs to respect his wife, not just that he has to…We have to show him how the Gods in the Hindu pantheon did so…We have to remind him of cultural constructs like the Mother-figure…We have to give examples that have currency if we want his perspective to change otherwise he’ll remain as intolerant as ever and will continue beating the crap out of his wife…He will never look at her as a human being…

What I am trying to say is that we need to convince people with ideas that will resonate with them, not just tell them that they need to do X or Y…Instead of gunning for sea-change, we should look to start ripples that will add up to change…Religion is just one idea – do you have any other?

P.S. As regards caste based violence, I have no idea how to tackle this…Ignoring caste would mean defying centuries of heritage and since it’s working for the upper castes (the powerful), why strip society off it? No will, no change…