Of late, adamant protests against the infamous gang rape and assault case have found company in hundreds of Facebook display pictures being replaced by a black sphere on a white background and a barrage of messages on my wall asking me to ‘sign the petition against this act of cruelty.’
But of course, since not everyone did, the tiny black dots on chat helped me navigate through friend lists better. Funnier still, you do not see as many black dots and as many vehement pleas, because everyone has a new display picture. Maybe Christmas. Or the new year celebrations, or mirror poses.
I’m now back from home and the air was unmistakably… careful. Cautious might be the word. In Bhubaneshwar, I seldom have the opportunity to read a good newspaper unlike back home and for exams’ sake, I’d been largely off the internet, save for a few times; catharsis.
Word got out that a girl had been gangraped and she was fighting for her life. But when and by the time I flew back home, the gravity of what four lecherous perverts had done hit me in the face.
Four drunk men raped a woman and plunged wild metal things into her, a young woman going home with a friend after a night show of Life of Pi (one of the many movies I haven’t watched. I don’t think I will, now.), who had done nothing to provoke them. The friend was assaulted and the two were thrown off a moving public bus in some godforsaken corner of the city.
Silent protests and symbolism have long shared an intimate relationship. Think British Raj, Mahatma Gandhi and Khadi.
You know our old man made a statement about the country’s self dependence in textiles and such, in the face of foreign produced clothes which many self-proclaimed intellectuals and I fear some real ones, took great pleasure in wearing. Heck, I recall seeing pictures dating back to pre-independence days, of men wearing a formal blazer with a dhoti and a turban.
Think of the Dandi march. No one had to scream they were marching all the way to the sea to make their own salt ‘because…’. People knew. People coalesced for a cause they believed should be stood up for and that was that.
Anyway, on Facebook I saw waves of notifications following each other as the news began to spread; there were status updates that expostulated that the accused should be shot in the gonads or hung by their willies or raped right back.
Sitting in your chair and changing pictures ‘in support of…’ is plain stupid. Support is not sharing ‘your state of mind’ with your virtual friends, that I know. The strongest form of support is to act. The strongest form of support will be when you don’t teach your girlfriend to ignore obscene comments being passed at her. When you don’t ask your daughter to move away if someone has been staring lewdly at her while waiting at the bus stop. When you do not expect your mother to deal with it when an autorickshaw driver misbehaves with her.
The strongest form of support will be when you join them in kicking the perverts’ asses who expect nothing to be done in response to their abhorrent behavior. It will be when you condition the young in your family to respect both men and women for their worth; border neither on feminism nor on male chauvinism.
It is gladdening, if such a word may be employed for an issue like this, to see nationwide protests against this act and to see people not give a damn and weather the cold and demand justice for Nirbhaya, Damini, whatever you choose to call her.
Political agenda is seeping in and I hope people have the courage to stand up to all figures of impotence who have failed the country and failed its citizenry.
Let’s get one thing out of our way- the government works for the well being and security of the country. It only follows that they are public servants. Servants who are making a half assed attempt at the duty they are tolerated for fulfilling.
The middle class is rooting for chemical castration, even for the juvenile who played party to the act. Sure, gory would set a deterrent for any man planning to think with his tumescence, for a long time [and it would be thoroughly satisfying]: but for how long?
Public outcry is absolutely essential to hammer sense into the block headed Delhi CM and the government at the top; set deterrents for the government instead of just the rapists.
I feel it in my gut and spleen that men here don’t need a bus or midnight to feast on you. They don’t need you to wear short clothes. Have a look at the clothes she had worn that night. Provocative? It is a hollow excuse for bastards to hide behind, so that they can continue thinking with their penises and acting like one. It can be anywhere.
The terror of knowing all of this is not small. But this is the terror we cannot allow to rule us, especially women. But terror also births from uncertainty; what will women do?
How will they behave?
Where on one hand we females are asked to ‘watch what we wear’, not because you may get raped, people are quick to add, but because you should be prudent.
One the other, the raging sentiment to stand up for ourselves and bite back binds women across countries at this moment.
Will it change?
I don’t know.
I avoid short clothes when I go out. A pepper spray sits inside my bag when I venture out. My parents are spooked to let me go anywhere that is not my dormitory. The late night flights back to Bhubaneshwar don’t do anything to soothe their fears.
[edit: And then a woman was gangraped and murdered around my sector after a few weeks this was written.]
When do things change?
Do they change?
Do they change for girls like you and me?
It has begun unfolding at the Parliament and people are braving the tear gas and water cannons to tell the babus that it’s time. [As you read this, I hope it hasn't come to a halt.]
Stop being stupid. That stupidity knows no rank was promptly illustrated by president Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhirup and then Sanjay Nirupam who should go back to whichever slum of the country is responsible for these jokers for men. In a slap right back at the latter’s face, Smriti Zubin Irani has filed a defamation case against him for objecting to her thumkas and thinking rather loudly that women were weird like that. If he had it his way, they would be scrubbing the nation’s toilets clean of poop browner than him.
If you wish to protest, stop being pretentious about giving a duck. If you’re really bothered, stop clicking on buttons and menus and make yourself heard. You don’t need slogans for it. Get some anarchy along, though.
Think clearly if you don’t want your mother next in line. Or your sister. Or your best friend. Or me. It could be anyone.
Sheila Dikshit can please get herself castrated now. A brilliant job done, ma’am.
So how effective is cyber activism?
As effective as you’re willing to make outside the internet.
Do digital signatures have much worth?
Like any other tool, digital signatures are known to and have made a difference when people who agreed to sign petitions stepped up to the cause and made their voices known. They are devices to express your stance, not act.
How serious are you when you sign things like these? Is it because everyone’s doing it and you probably have a couple of requests asking you to?
Sign but don’t forget.
All the men you see are rapists waiting to happen- to a woman who fears the animal that tames itself into civilization, only to come off at zipper at the sight of her.
All the men you see are rapists waiting to happen. Prove me wrong.