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  • Technorati: graph / links

    Are the women to blame?


    by Sunny on 19th January, 2006 at 1:32 am    

    Ten days ago Rohin wrote about India’s 10 million missing girls, a result of India’s problem with female infanticide and foeticide. Talk of educating them is not enough, as the stats pointed out, because the problem was most prevalent amongst India’s relatively wealthy states and a problem with the global Indian diaspora. Who were the women in the pictures protesting against? Themselves maybe?

    Shravan from Lucknow had an interesting take on the issue, saying:

    I do not even believe that female foeticide is a problem. I believe that it is just a symptom. A symptom of a deeper mindset. A symptom of Dowry. A symptom of under-development to an extent that a child means two hands, and not one good brain. A symptom of the fact that the women always leaves home after marriage and goes to her husbands.

    So what could be a way forward? As Rohin also pointed out, the problem is that the women themselves have persuaded themselves that they are less important and should follow the whims of the men. Shravan himself suggests:

    Therefore, dear lady-with-the-banner, if you want to make a difference, do not try to fight female foeticide, because its only a symptom. Fight the issues that cause female foeticide. It will take time, but begin at home.

    Stop celebrating lavish weddings where the bride’s family pays for all of it. Why, stop attending them. Stop having a silly “bidhai” ceremony where the bride is tearfully sent off to her husbands. Lobby hard for nuclear families. The older generation holds these mindsets, they should be effectively cut off from decisions of which gender of a child to be had.

    Do Indian women need to be saved from themselves? And if yes, by who? Feminist men? Or maybe a million versions of Nisha Sharma?



      |     |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: Culture, India, South Asia




    40 Comments below   |  

    1. Mirax — on 19th January, 2006 at 7:42 am  

      Funny how this massive social problem is being turned around such that it is all the women’s fault and it is they who should do something! I am not at all denying that women, especially the women with more education, wealth and hence, more choice, are culpable and need to face up to the consequences of their actions but wtf, Indian males and the rather rotten culture they dominate are off the hook , are they? Nice one guys.

    2. Jay Singh — on 19th January, 2006 at 9:46 am  

      Mirax - you are parodying what Sunny and the other people say. In fact your characterisation of what they say is so wide of the mark that you totally misunderstand it.

    3. Jay Singh — on 19th January, 2006 at 10:03 am  

      The Indian (and regional) governments could make a start by doing a couple of things which may just be gestures in the interim of the attitudinal changes that have to be made and promoted in order for the problem to be tackled at root, because some urgent things have to be done to lay down markers and lines in the sand:

      (1) Financial rewards and benefits for female babies - tax breaks, educational scholarships, whatever means there are to promote in simple monetary terms the advantage of girls over boys.

      (2) Quotas set for police forces for arrests to be made of those carrying out, encouraging and supporting gender-selective ultrasounds and abortions. This is a brutal option - but if there is one thing that concentrates the minds of lazy ass Indian police it is the prospect of being rewarded for bringing in a certain amount of people on charges for a crime - give the coppers incentives to do this, implement it and watch the deterrent effect kick in when they see it is being taken seriously.

      ++++

      Of course, it will take generations for the patriarchal roots of this problem to be challenged at ground level - but until then, there are some things that can be done.

    4. Siddharth — on 19th January, 2006 at 10:14 am  

      Sure its a no-brainer to say that foeticide is the symptom of endemic fucked up social values. But its a bit of a cop out to, after a short hop skip and philosophical jump, to lay the blame of foeticide on women alone. Is the phenomenon of dowry killings the fault of women as well? Are acid attacks on women the fault to women as well? Violence against women in general also women’s fault?

    5. Jay Singh — on 19th January, 2006 at 10:23 am  

      I dont understand how you extrapolate that Sunny is saying that from what he says here.

    6. Harps — on 19th January, 2006 at 10:24 am  

      You reap what you sow. There is already a shortage of marrigeable women in certain states and it is only likely to get worse with the figures so skewed by selective abortions.

      It is already the case that men are having to pay dowrys to a wamans family simply bacause they cant find a “suitable girl”.

      Things will come full circle - can anybody tell me of any motherinalw who desnt want to be a grandparent ??

      - Back on topic “the blame game” its poiintless to sit there and point fingers and say its one particular factor or one particular part of society that is to blame for a social problem such as this.

      Aportioning fault is a pointless excercise, the only thing that might make any differnce is trying to change the mindset of the indian/asian populace - this is a long and hard process going against centuries of tradition and so will take time.

    7. Sunny — on 19th January, 2006 at 12:15 pm  

      It was a rhetorical question Miraxx, of course I’m not blaming women for everything. Entrenched society and cultural rules have lead to the screwed up situation we are currently in…. I’m just saying that both sexes have to work hard at resolving the situation.

    8. Rohin — on 19th January, 2006 at 1:55 pm  

      Mirax, Sid, neither Sunny nor I said anything as daft as women are solely to blame. And it’s somewhat childish to somehow relate this to acid attacks, rape or violence. Have we ever said anything remotely along those lines?

      What Sunny’s saying, and what I said, was that whilst one might expect that women have no voice, as is so often the case in India, this is a problem where they play a key role.

      Surely you’ve seen the mentality yourself? Some Indian women are determined to keep the place of women in society beneath that of men.

      Killing a child because of their gender is barbaric. Which is why it’s surprising that women are party to the whole thing. We never said they’re the sole cause nor the reason that sons are valued more than daughters.

    9. Mirax — on 19th January, 2006 at 1:56 pm  

      Sunny you quoted shravan’s blog which I took the trouble to read and it was rather pathetic blameshifting, as even one of the commenters on that blog pointed out.

      It is asinine to point to a few concerned women protesting female foeticide and say fucking patronisingly, these them ‘dear ladies’ had best be getting back home to start to sort out their own affairs. Huge sexist assumptions being made about a few women activists but what the hell ya?
      Meanwhile the gentlemen sit back and pontificate pointlessly about the simple ‘logic’ that rules a poor farmer’s decision to kill his daughters(notice how his wife is not a part of the decision-making process).

      You also fall into the trap, Sunny, when you write :
      the problem is that the women themselves have persuaded themselves that they are less important and should follow the whims of the men.

      Not quite. MEN and WOMEN have both internalised the highly prejudiced values of their society. The indian social set up is extremely rigid and highly coercive- I doubt that those women whom we assume to be such free agents of thought and action are indeed all that.

      For myself, I think that Indian culture needs to be ripped apart and large chunks of it have to be discarded.No sentimentality as regards hoary traditions, the sanctity of the family (you gotta be rude to your damn parents when they spout harmful nonsense), no sacred cows really.

    10. Rohin — on 19th January, 2006 at 2:06 pm  

      “For myself, I think that Indian culture needs to be ripped apart and large chunks of it have to be discarded.No sentimentality as regards hoary traditions, the sanctity of the family (you gotta be rude to your damn parents when they spout harmful nonsense), no sacred cows really. “

      We’re in total agreement here.

    11. Mirax — on 19th January, 2006 at 2:08 pm  

      Some Indian women are determined to keep the place of women in society beneath that of men.

      I was brought up by one such indian woman. My mother is as sexist as they come, despite being a smart, strong woman and indeed, despite her own considerable suffering as a result of sexism. However her sexism is thoroughly grounded in her culture and community (which she believes she cannot ditch) that I see her as the worst type of victim rather than perpetrator.

    12. Col. Mustafa — on 19th January, 2006 at 2:30 pm  

      “Some Indian women are determined to keep the place of women in society beneath that of men.”

      Very true.
      Change as many have already said, will take time.
      As in different generations changing the way women and men think.
      You can already see change in places like Indian, Bangladesh, Pakistan with our generation today; its not the same as it was for our parents generation.

      I don’t think it will be a slow change as its looks to me things are moving quite quick; especially with so much western influence and access to it as well.

      Hopefully things in that department can only get better with the middle class getting in there early and trying to then help the rest of the country.

      But time will tell.

    13. Siddharth — on 19th January, 2006 at 2:34 pm  

      Rohin, I didn’t say that you and Sunny had made the claim that Women are solely to blame. But just as Sunny used a sensationalist title (”Women”, “Blame” etc) to galvanise this thread, I thought it would be necessary to throw in a few other mainstays that women in South Asia have to deal wit, for the same reason. And you might think it perverse but women are very much made to believe that they are to blame for the brutishness of men - by some some very quirky social conditioning. The very same conditioning, in fact, that forces a woman to commit foeticide.

    14. Col. Mustafa — on 19th January, 2006 at 2:37 pm  

      My mums pretty sexist too, but ive seen her change and ive helped her change as my sister has.

      Ive also grown up seeing and hearing my dad’s sexist views of the world, but i didn’t learn it cos i just didn’t feel as though it was right.
      Hes not too bad now as time and i would say kids change peoples perceptions.
      Obviously depends on the kids, but you get what im saying.

      My mum sometimes says how different my sister is to how she was when she was growing up.
      But thats not a bad thing, which ive told her.

    15. Rohin — on 19th January, 2006 at 2:40 pm  

      Absolutely Sid, it is society-at-large that makes women think these stupid things. As a guy, I’m lucky that my Mum is such a force to be reckoned with, I grew up under no delusions that women were inferior to men! No one is implying that women willingly want to be below men, but they are told from day 1 that they are and becomes second nature. It’s not the MAIN problem, but it’s a very annoying hurdle for anyone who wants to instigate change.

      Men don’t want things to change, life suits them fine. So if the women don’t want things to change, who will push for reform? Luckily India has plenty of motivated and determined women, like Nisha Sharma mentioned above. But more often than not, women tut these workers for being ‘meddling’ or ‘uppity’.

      About sensationalist headlines - hey, I’ve got a tabloid background. I don’t know about Sunny’s. But sensationalist headlines are something I shall never abandon! Kismet hardy and Shihab know!

    16. Col. Mustafa — on 19th January, 2006 at 2:46 pm  

      Change has to come from both parties, men and women.

      I know plenty of idiots that still don’t treat thier sisters equally, as in they can go out till whatever time they want, drink, smoke, do drugs, get laid but when it comes to their sister doing it, they can’t accept it.

      Now most women in those cases do it anyway.

      But its the double standards thing, alot of men just can’t accept it.
      That has to change and it has with many families or communities but on the whole it hasn’t.

    17. Siddharth — on 19th January, 2006 at 2:48 pm  

      I’ve got a background in copywriting. Much more subtle that the tabloids, bhai.

    18. Sunny — on 19th January, 2006 at 2:51 pm  

      Yes it was a sensationalist rhetorical question Mirax, I make no apologies for that. I also come with a journalist mentality, and therefore that’s reflected in my work.

      Shravan sounds a bit patronising in his piece, but I don’t believe his sentiments are entirely mis-guided. The biggest carriers and enforcers of cultural traditions are usually women. I know this for a fact because in my family also the men just go to to a party to get drunk while the women know all the words to the songs and ceremonies and usually demand that things (during weddings and other events) go according to tradition.

      All I’m saying is, looking at women in this context as helpless victims who are wronged is not entirely correct. I’ll be also the first to admit that Indian culture is abhorrently sexist and large swathes needs to be discarded or at least revised (as the original meaning has been lost).

      But I do believe the answer comes more from empowering women to change their own ways of thinking and asking them to resist the temptation to engage in such practices than constantly cussing men. The latter strategy will get the liberals on your side (like me and Rohin) but evoke a backlash from the vast majority of conservative thinking close-minded Asian males. The former strategy leads men with little choice but to follow the women.

    19. coruja — on 19th January, 2006 at 2:55 pm  

      Ah, “This be the Verse”
      They f*ck you up, your mum and dad.
      They may not mean to, but they do.
      They fill you with the faults they had
      And add some extra, just for you.

    20. Jai — on 19th January, 2006 at 2:55 pm  

      Perhaps “Are women ALSO to blame” would have made a better title.

      Col. Mustafa is spot on about double standards — that’s the key point. You know all the controversy in some sections of Indian society and the media about certain female tennis stars and movie actresses “going too far” in either their attire and/or their sexual behaviour — yet comparatively little fuss is made about men who may behave in the same way.

      Rohin, you may have seen this on some of the Indian news channels last week — the actress Mallika Sherawat was visiting a city in Madhya Pradesh in India (Nagpur ?) and there was a mini-riot there, with men (yep, no women as far as I know) burning effiges of her, defaces large billboards/posters of Mallika, and so on. Yet, no similar protests about the MEN that Ms Sherawat indulges in her on-screen antics with — as if there aren’t actually 2 people involved in kissing (or any other physical romantic activities).

      It’s all about controlling women and forcing them to conform to some kind of mental picture that the men concerned have of them — as though men have authority over all women in general. And yes many women also collaborate in this — due to conditioning and, in some cases I guess, some kind of displaced revenge because they didn’t/don’t have the same degree of freedom themselves.

      Both men and women do sometimes make excuses about all this being for “women’s safety”; although we all know that desi guys can be quite lascivious when it comes to women they perceive as “asking for it”, I think that this rationalisation may well be just an excuse on the part of many of the orthodox/conservative people concerned.

    21. Old Pickler — on 19th January, 2006 at 4:03 pm  

      The silliest example of the blame the women game was was the idiot - may be more than one idiot - who said that FGM was OK really, because it is the women who carry it out not the men. This ignores the deeply patriarchal and misogynist nature of those societies where this practice is carried out.

      In these kind of societies, the strong desire for sons comes from value that society places on men compared with women, and cannot be seen in isolation. Not that this excuses those women who abort their female foetuses - they have bought into the prevailing value system but it does explain it.

    22. NorahJones — on 19th January, 2006 at 4:05 pm  

      Women are also to blame. So many are from the old mindset where having a girl spelt an extra mouth to feed and were considered a bad omen because a daughter has the potential to bring shame to the family name (not my opinion).

      Mr grandmother, when she asked why she was not allowed to learn to read and write, was told by her MOTHER that an education spelt trouble. She was denied an education because they feared she would be able to write love letters (bizzare, I know).

      My gran was pretty much the same until one of her daughters went through a divorce. She then spent the rest of her years drumming it into her daughters and granddaughters alike that without an education we were nothing. In fact, I’m pretty proud of the fact that the women wear the trousers in this family.

      Women need to change.

    23. Don — on 19th January, 2006 at 6:20 pm  

      OP,

      What idiot? On PP?

      I hope you are not referring to me (#57, thread 235).

    24. Kiran — on 19th January, 2006 at 9:00 pm  

      Was just reading this dicussion and have been tempted to put in my thoughts, I think both parties need to change big time and this will take time as many of you have already said. I come from a family where we are all girls and have no brother and my gran pushed my mum to a limit to keep trying for a son coz it is what society see’s in one’s family a “SON”. this applies to many indian families where the in- laws force you to have an abortion coz they know it’s a girl. And a woman will do it just because she know’s her husband is not happy or he will get married to someone else who will give him a son!!

      the men in my family this includes my mordern cousins still think a woman’s place is in the kitchen and all because their fathers and granfathers thought so. It is this mentality that is forcing women to do as they are told which includes having an abortion.

      My sisters and I have shown the men in my family that “SONS” are not everything. My mum who was suppressed by her mother-in law today is proud to say that she has “DAUGHTERS” and not sons. This is an example of the fact women do change even though it takes time and honestly men need to be put in their place coz they are the root cause of women taking extrme steps like aborting a female fetus.

    25. Old Pickler — on 19th January, 2006 at 11:52 pm  

      What idiot? On PP?

      No, some dopey twat in the Guardian or somewhere.

    26. douglas — on 20th January, 2006 at 12:37 am  

      Old Pickler,

      I believe it was the blessed Germaine Greere. She of the Female Eunoch who is now alleged to be someone who would see FGM is an acceptable cultural thing.

      I hope she is being mis-quoted, and she doesn’t in fact read the Express, or African Mutilation Monthly, if the former title truly exists..

      If these are in fact not her views, repulsive as they seem to be, she might like to take up my challenge that she appears on TV with you.

      Probably not going to happen.

      douglas

    27. Bikhair — on 20th January, 2006 at 3:32 am  

      Norah Jones,

      Poor yo grand mama. Aisha (radiyallahu anhu) was a literate woman, with unparalled knowledge of the Shariat, Arab hsitory and poerty. Not even her husband (sallalahu alaihi wa salam) could read. Now had your corrupt family followed the ways of the noble sahabiyat (female companions) they would not have remained ignorate illiterate jahils. Until then continue to blame Islam and the hell fire on all your problems. Ha Ha Ha!

    28. Bikhair — on 20th January, 2006 at 3:36 am  

      Kiran,

      “the men in my family this includes my mordern cousins still think a woman’s place is in the kitchen and all because their fathers and granfathers thought so. It is this mentality that is forcing women to do as they are told which includes having an abortion.”

      It is a womans place to be in the kitchen. Who else is supposed to tend to the family while the men are out making a living- a better and more lucrative living? Children and husbands are supposed to go hungry while the woman is out being a career girl? Dont be immature and reactionary. Youre family and husband will love you if he comes home to well behaved children, a clean house, good food, and a nice looking physically fit and put together wife. Either that or you children will resent you, your husband will divorce or find some other women to do those things, and you will live the life of a spinster, or as Auntie Kiran.

    29. NorahJones — on 20th January, 2006 at 4:06 am  

      Tut tut tut Bikhair.

      You silly little sod. Still thinking I gives a shit?

    30. NorahJones — on 20th January, 2006 at 4:08 am  

      Oh wait… no… hang on.. it couldn’t be Bikhair’s evil twin
      could it?? hehehehe.

    31. douglas — on 20th January, 2006 at 5:44 am  

      Bikhair,

      Kurche. Kinder, Kuchen - very Nazi. Do you really subscribe to that ideology?Sad if you do.

    32. Rohin — on 20th January, 2006 at 8:52 am  

      It’s the real bint, not her imposter. See why I have trouble telling them apart?

    33. Don — on 20th January, 2006 at 9:10 am  

      We’ll just have to develop bikki-dar.

    34. NorahJones — on 20th January, 2006 at 9:57 am  

      Well, what a silly bitch.

      Sorry.. no, I’m not.. Grr.. sorry.. oh, fook it.

      Is it not possible to just ban it?

    35. Mirax — on 20th January, 2006 at 11:34 am  

      “Do you really subscribe to that ideology?”

      Ha ha ha! (trying on Bikki’s maniacal laugh for size)

      Bikhair’s ideas would goosestep Nazis into quivering submission. Fee Amanillah!

    36. Sunny — on 20th January, 2006 at 2:16 pm  

      Is it impossible for people to ignore Bikhair’s sillyness and not concentrate on actually having a decent conversation? As long as she doesn’t say anything bannable, she is tolerated, but that doesn’t mean the rest of you have to take the rest of the thread into a stupid cussing match does it? It spoils so many frikking threads! Learn to ignore trolls dammit!

    37. Mirax — on 20th January, 2006 at 5:13 pm  

      but .. but it is so fun to bait Bikki, Sunny!

    38. Bikhair — on 20th January, 2006 at 6:06 pm  

      Mirax,

      “Bikhair’s ideas would goosestep Nazis into quivering submission. Fee Amanillah!”

      In what way, specifically?

      Douglas,

      “Kurche. Kinder, Kuchen - very Nazi. Do you really subscribe to that ideology?Sad if you do.”

      Sunny,

      “Is it impossible for people to ignore Bikhair’s sillyness and not concentrate on actually having a decent conversation?”

      When ouberty ends and manhood begins for you Sunny you will understand exactly what I am saying. Or are you one of those men who are completely dominated by thier progressive and liberated woman? I hope those panties fit. Dont worry after a while you will get sick of it and tell her to shut up and cook something.

    39. Bikhair — on 20th January, 2006 at 6:07 pm  

      Norah Jones,

      “Well, what a silly bitch.

      Sorry.. no, I’m not.. Grr.. sorry.. oh, fook it.

      Is it not possible to just ban it?”

      How progressive of you.

    40. NorahJones — on 20th January, 2006 at 6:15 pm  

      Totally agree with you there Sunny.

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