“We have began to raise our daughters more like sons… (But how is it equality if) few have courage to raise our sons more like daughters!” – Gjoria Steinam
In this issue we would like to take a look at more delicate issues of gender. Important issues of gender and sexual liberty are often comfortably brushed aside as “not so important” or “elitist struggles” by conservationalists. However this is just a way of saying, “You cannot ask for so much equality”. But we stand for complete liberation of humanity. So every aspect of gender equality is equally important to us.
We would like to talk about:
- How patriarchy stabilizes caste system
- My Husband My Rapist – Marital Rape in India
- The transgender question
- Section 377 – An Imperial law policing minds
- Media as a pillar of patriarchy
- The need for Gender Sensitization and the Role of CASH-GSU
How patriarchy stabilizes caste system:
Status of women in India cannot be studied unless we understand the social process that shapes them. There have always been extremely rich and powerful women in India. But what women can never win in India is the control over their body – their sexuality. When a woman’s sexuality is controlled and policed, she get into eternal subjugation. Thus it is important to move beyond the economic question and look at the causes and effects of such sexual control. This can be done by looking into our supposedly early literatures. Because they have shaped the society in one’s favour and other’s pain and it still continues to. Mahabharatha says, “There is nothing else that is more sinful than women. Verily, women, are the root of all faults. Women, even when possessed of husbands having fame and wealth, of handsome features and completely obedient to them, are prepared to disregard them if they get the opportunity. They never take into consideration the age of the person they are prepared to favour. Ugly or handsome, if only the person happens to belong to the opposite sex, women are ready to enjoy his companionship. The destroyer, the deity of wind, death, the nether legions (the vast army of lower world), the sharpness of the razor, virulent poison, the snake, and Fire–all these exist in a state of union in women.” (The Mahabharatha, Book 13: Anusasana Parva (Book of instructions): Section XXXVIII translated by K. M. Ganguli). It further says, “All men, in this world, are seen to attach themselves to women, overcome by the illusion that is created by the divine being. Similarly, women too are seen to attach themselves to men. While men take pleasure in women and sport with them, women, it seems, are engaged in deceiving men.” (Book 13: Section XXXIX) At the time of creation the original Manu allocated to women the habit of lying, sitting around and an indiscriminate love of ornaments, anger, meanness, treachery, and bad conduct [Manu, IX 17]. Why do these scripts fear women and their sexuality this much? Nothing would explain this better than Bhagavad Gita, where Arjuna presents his real worry about the war. “With the destruction of dynasty, the eternal family tradition is vanquished and thus the rest of the family becomes involved in irreligion. When irreligion is prominent in the family, O Krsna, the women of the family become polluted, and form the degradation of womanhood, comes unwanted progeny. By the evil deeds of those who destroy the family tradition and thus give rise to unwanted children, all kinds of community projects and family welfare activities are devastated.” (Chapter 1: 39-44, Bhagavad Gita, translated by Prabhupada) So, why they want to control women’s sexuality is to preserve the true religion – the varna dharma – the caste system. Because women, just by being themselves, can demolish the caste structure and make it meaningless. But, just to quote and interpret religious texts will not be enough. What is more important is to study the present structure. Still, Hindu fundamentalists attack beauty contests, propagate ‘the love jihad’ campaign, get furious at valentine’s day or simplistic events like Kiss of love, Why can’t religious fundamentalists accept love? Why religious forces oppose beauty contests are entirely different from the reasons why feminists oppose them. Feminists oppose beauty contests as they commodify a woman’s body – her skin, her thighs, her nails, her hair – everything is marketed. Why upper caste Hindu fundamentalists attack beauty contests is because, ‘a woman’s body is their community’s honour and they wont allow them to expose it’. Thus, still the community sees a caste’s honour in the “purity” of their women’s sexuality. When the right wing terms a day of expression and celebration of love as a ‘cultural war on India’, there is little left for us to interpret. A woman who exercises her emotional right to love is seen as a disgrace to their caste pride. They fear the subversive potential of love to shatter the social structure. Thus it is very obvious that, irrespective of the historic basis, weakening one institution of caste or patriarchy definitely shakes the other. To preserve the artificial structure of varna and caste, things as natural as love and desire are demonized by the super-artificial ‘GODS’ and scriptures. We request the readers to challenge both patriarchy and caste system at the same time by winning your control over your desire and sexuality.
DO YOU KNOW WHY WOMEN MENSTRUATE?
No, do not turn to your text books. Real Hindus do not believe in pseudoscience. The real answer is in Srimad Bhagavatham (6.9.4 – 6.9.9). Indira killed Vishwarupa for cheating the demigods by offering oblations on behalf of the demons. Thus he beheaded (the three heads of) Vishwarupa. He later regretted it knowing that Vishwarupa was a Brahmana – Brahma hatya (Killing a Brahmin) being the most sinful crime. Though Indra was powerful enough to neutralize the sins for killing a Brahmin, he accepted the burden of the sins with folded hands and later distributed it (!) among Earth, water, trees and women. For each 1/4th of the sin of killing a Brahmin, we find deserts on the surface of earth, visible sap flowing from trees, bubbles and foam in water. In return for Lord Indira’s benediction that they would be able to enjoy lusty desires continuously, even during pregnancy for as long as sex is not injurious to the embryo, women accepted one fourth of the sinful reactions because women as a class are highly lusty and their lust are never satisfied. As a result of those reactions, women manifest the signs of menstruation every month. Because of bearing these sins, women are considered untouchables during their menstrual period and are forbidden from taking part in rituals as they would get polluted. These descriptions are as quoted in Srimad Bhagavatham, translated by Prabhupada. This is why we say we have to question beliefs, faiths and rituals before accepting them, because they have an innate background of sexism and discrimination in them.
“IS CASTE MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR DAUGHTER?” – “YES!”
One of the biggest shames of Tamil Nadu, the land of Periyar and the Dravidian movement, is honour killings. If you wonder what actually is honour killing, it is best explained by the facebook post of TS Arunkumar Villupuram, self-proclaimed advocate in Tamil Nadu. “Don’t worry if you have committed an honour killing. Come to me and see that you are saved. There is no crime called honour killing. The killing is a punishment for having violated honour. Parents have the right to punish the killing of honour.” Yes, Parents killing their sons and daughters for marrying outside caste and disturbing their caste honour, is honour killing. Does this even happen? 81 honour killings have been reported in Tamil Nadu in the last three years with zero cases ending up with conviction. But Arunkumar was only one of the hundreds of accounts which congratulated the killers of Sankar, a Dalit man who married Kausalya from ‘upper-caste’. “Is caste more important than your daughter’s life, I asked a father whose daughter had been killed”, says Kathir, founder of Evidence, an NGO documenting atrocities against Dalits. “Yes, he replied. Caste is more important than God, because caste is what makes God.” That is exactly what we say (without G caps). Ramdoss, leader of the Pattali Makkal Katchi, a Vanniyar-based political party, walked out of a press conference when asked to respond to Sankar’s killing. PMK activists are known to have mobilized against Dalits in the wake of love affairs between Vanniyars and Dalits. The AIADMK and DMK, both dominant parties, are silent on the issue. But in spite of overwhelming evidence, the state government remains in denial. In 2012, Tamil Nadu was one of a handful of states who didn’t send details of honour killing cases to the Supreme Court. “The dominant political (vote-bank) and social status of the castes concerned – usually Vanniyars, Gounders and Thevars – is the main reason for the persistence and the official denial of these deaths,” says Prabhakar, an activist. Youngsters of TN known to step up during times of crisis, have remained disturbingly silent regarding this insane trend.