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  • Writer's pictureNeha Joshi

Defining HER Dignity

Recently enough there have been too many incidents going around me that have again made me rethink the concept of Dignity of Women. Who really gets to define this? What is a woman’s dignity after all?

The dictionary meaning of Dignity is – the quality of being worthy of honour and respect. Largely in any scenario and circumstances, whether or not any person’s dignity needs to be maintained, shouldn’t be a question at all. We must take it as a given.

However for some good reason there are a lot of conditions that women need to follow to be respectable and expect people to maintain their dignity.

Do NOT wear clothes that are skimpy / short / fitted / of a certain fabric / of a certain type etc. Doesn’t matter if you are feeling hot like men do but if you wear short dresses then thighs will show and men will be forced to imagine other parts too and ogle at you.

Do NOT share your pictures with anyone because there are perverts with a mindset of only objectifying you. At least men are, since I have heard from a lot of men in my circles that all men think the same. Men meeting, working and staying friends with such ‘pervert’ men is fine. But women need to mind their behavior. After all women’s safety is in their own hands. Men are either ways wild bulls on the run.

Do NOT unnecessarily voice your opinions anywhere. You are supposed to be naïve and well behaved which essentially means staying mum.

I recently read a post by a very established woman from the broadcasting industry, who also is a saree enthusiast, about men deliberately DMing her trying to comment in a wrong way and trying to make it sound like they were complimenting. Now this is a regular with all women having public instagram accounts. Men from all ages think that they should start messaging such woman and tell her how beautiful she is, how they love her, how they wish they could meet and do several things with her and the shameless list just never ends. Even when they Do NOT know her at all. Only posting a picture on her insta handle is a reason enough to send signals that she probably wants male attention in a certain manner. The solution – keep your account Private! Why the fuss! Stay indoors, Stay Safe. I feel that women have been following a quarantine life in many ways for generations together. The list of “Do NOTs” doesn’t seem to end at all.

So does this mean that women need to constantly remind people that their Dignity needs to be maintained? That probably by behaving in an obscene manner the men are actually showing that THEY aren’t dignified? But then what am I even talking about. Of course its women who invite these things and hence they need to lock themselves up and shut up.

I was worried and terrified to the last level recently being a mother when my little daughter started taking her snaps. Frankly she amazed me with a few skills but then the fear took over and I took away all the means from her. “Shringaar” is supposed to be the ornament of women but I am forced to keep my child away from all kinds of shringaar for the fear that she might invite unnecessary attention. Even if she is being her own self by expressing these small desires she isn’t supposed to fulfill them because some perverts are probably waiting to grab her at the first opportunity they get. The woman is at fault, isn’t it? All women have heard these things from their parents. We all are warned not to look too pretty unless accompanied by the whole army of a family and guarded well.

The latest being the #BoysLockerRoom incident where a private chat group discussion was made public. The incident is pretty telling. In a world where we are still fighting to prove that a woman is not to be blamed in a rape case, but she is rather a victim; we have a group of boys who rampantly talk about their desires to rape their own classmates because they feel aroused looking at their pictures. They feel absolutely normal when they comment on their private parts and say sleazy things. WHY?

Precisely because they have seen these things happening around them very normally. They have seen it in their families, in their localities, in their very close circles where men make such remarks and do so freely. Yes, they do maintain some decency, by keeping these a part of private group discussions. Just like these boys did, in the Boys Locker Room incident.

Moral of the story? Any guesses? More restrictions on girls dressing, going out, making friends, sharing pictures, speaking out and maybe breathing too if that also qualifies as an act of seduction. Frankly I agree too because I don’t feel like taking risks nor do I have the courage to deal with the repercussions.

When such boys go out there and continue to think same things even if they don’t speak it out, they feel entitled to gaze at every other girl whether in a saree or a mini skirt. They are only thinking about one thing. Can I get close and personal with her? It’s as if every girl is their own property that can be used and abused. Even if they don’t do anything, they do think of it. Is this how mindsets are shaped? Is this how attitudes are defined in a very subtle manner? Is this how rapists are born?

The battle is still a long one, since we now know that even this generation has gone down the same road. Yes, all men are not the same nor are all women the same. But this is not the point of discussion here. It’s a long long way still, where we train our young boys, our sons to think differently. We need to act and behave differently to make this happen. We need to define a new normal.

We need to de normalize discussions that show women down, that make it normal to comment on women’s body parts, be it any woman. Be it any set up or place.

Most importantly MEN need to understand that women who are dressing up, sharing a picture with friends, putting on some good make-up and laughing out loud are having some moments of fun. They are completely entitled to these things. These are not any invitation cards to stare at them, to poke fun at them, to objectify them and not in the least to defy their modesty.

Women are still caged in many ways and are waiting to fly fearlessly. But it still seems a distant dream.

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