No, I’m not under siege yet. Maybe.
Right, I started writing this, and I’m already losing my nerve. Yeah, well, I’m not known for being the bravest man under the sun anyway.
I read the article a little late. Personally, I think it was a brilliant piece of link bait. 7 out of 10 paragraphs were completely about the man. That got lost completely, because at the start he says, this article is not about the man. Yeah, whatever. Now, the other three are:
The new legal regime, put in place after the December 16 gangrape, though well-intentioned, certainly seems draconian, and full of grey areas. The police are duty-bound to register a case as soon as they receive information, even if the complainant hasn’t come forward. The definition of sexual harassment has been widened to include ‘sexual overtures’ (like sending an email or a text message), demanding ‘sexual favours’ and ‘forcible disrobing.’
Frighteningly, the new law makes it clear that consent given under intoxication does not translate into informed consent. This means that a drunken consensual tumble with a woman can come back to haunt the man the next day, or even ten years later. This seems grossly unfair. And what about demanding sexual favours? Clinton, for example, was clearly demanding a sexual favour of Monica Lewinsky. But if a man offers to ‘go down’ on a woman – is he offering a submissive sexual favour or demanding one? Many Indian men admit privately that they feel they are under a state of siege. The bedroom has been criminalised. Is it going to be impossible to form relationships from now on? Have we as a society, yet again, swung from one extreme to another?
Let’s not forget that iconic feminists themselves have criticised hysterical feminism in the West. Doris Lessing once said, and I quote, “I find myself increasingly shocked at the unthinking and automatic rubbishing of men which is now so part of our culture that it is hardly even noticed. The most ill-educated and nasty woman can rubbish the nicest, kindest and most intelligent man and no one protests. What is happening to men?… Why did this have to be at the cost of men?”
The first paragraph ended on a stupid note. And was promptly and thoroughly dismembered in this article. No issues about that. The bit about hysterical feminism, that really was an “Aa bail mujhe maar” right? Forget.
Now, from a personal point of view, I kinda sorta understood where he was coming from, and before you all shout at me and thoroughly disown me, please remember I’m a good boy who wants nothing more than equal orgasms for men and women and that I’d be more than happy to be disabused yes? Also, mind you, this is more of a stream-of-consciousness chattering rather than any structured discourse.
Also, in the spirit of disclaimers, may I also say that yes, I do kind of understand the stuff an average girl/woman goes to the limits that a man can without actually being a woman. At least I think I do. And I hope that what I’ve written and tweeted earlier substantiates this.
Right, coming to why I am actually writing this, attempting to justify the injustifiable is because I think, I THINK that I got what the male author was trying to point out.
Let me start with a small anecdote. This is from my personal experience, although its been a while, more than a year back and before the Nirbhaya episode. I was traveling in a crowded bus and soon found myself behind this comely young(ish) woman. Unfortunately, there was very little room to maneuver and I soon found myself pressed against her in a very uncomfortable position. I tried pushing back etc. etc. Nothing doing. I was squashed. Usually in such situations, I turn around so that at least its just butt-to-butt contact and not crotch-to-asscrack. This time I couldn’t. And then the driver braked. The rest you can imagine. What I’ll never, ever forget is the cold, accusing stare the woman gave me as soon as we got our bearings straight. Her eyes were clear: You touched me sexually, inappropriately. And if the facts were laid in front of anyone, I guess I had. What was I supposed to do? I suppose I could’ve got down from the bus, taken another one and all sorts of other theoretical solutions. If it hadn’t been me, maybe it would have been another innocent male passenger.
My point being, if (a) the incident had occurred post-Nirbhaya and (b) the lady decided to make an issue out of it, I was cooked. Dead and buried. The crowd wouldn’t have wasted a second before beating me up soundly. I know, maybe the crowd would have asked the lady to not make an issue of it, to keep quiet. But in the charged atmosphere we live in nowadays, I don’t feel comfortable giving myself a more than 50% chance of survival in that situation. These are not calm-the-fuck-down-let’s-talk situations.
I felt ashamed that day, I really did. Why, I don’t know. I still feel bad for her. All of that lady’s experiences in the past were telling her, here’s another piece of shit making daily life hell for you. I think I know where she was coming from. And in this case, she was completely, utterly, wrong.
I don’t think men are under siege. But I definitely feel that in the battle for women’s rights, men are in the firing line for the first time. And while this is bad news for bad men, its even worse for the non-bad ones. There will be civilian casualties in this war. I can only hope I don’t become one of them. And what happens when the war is won?
Right, where was I before grandiloquenting?
Right, ‘sexual overtures’. I have problems with this. Technically, if a man sexts with a woman, and she deletes all the messages/emails which she sent to him, and keeps only the ones he sent and reports it to the police, do we really think the Indian police is technically qualified to find out the deception quickly enough to not charge the guy? Or are they bound to register a complaint, arrest him and then jail and procedure, procedure, procedure? I don’t know.
Also, when he says that men feel under siege, what he means is that men now have to be much more careful while looking for affairs and/or one night stands. Before, during and after an existing relationship. When he says the bedroom is being criminalized, he means to say that men now have a smaller bandwidth in terms of how they can invite women into their bed. Which is a good thing when I put it like this. Why was I confused earlier then? Right, because any woman with malicious intent can easily, easily ruin a man. For what, who knows? But this law gives them the power, yes? I don’t know, please let me know. This law asks men to maintain what are conventionally called “higher” morals, albeit in a roundabout way. Should a man be ruined because of his weakness for the flesh? Not fondness, mind you, but a weakness. I am no man to judge. But the new laws give every jilted woman lover with a few pieces of electronic or physical evidence to utterly destroy a man. Is that fair? I don’t think so.
What happens, if say an extremely social-conscious aunty gets tipsy at a party and decides to finally get it on with the new hunk in the neighbourhood and she’s caught coming out of the house next morning and cries I was drunk, I couldn’t take an informed decision, he took advantage of me. I don’t know.
What happens to checking women out? There are several rather lovely ladies at my organization. What happens if one of them decides a male colleague (or me for that matter) has been “behaving inappropriately by way of intimidatory eye contact”? Long ago, The Ranee told me women have the radar. I laughed and agreed. Now, I can only hope that the radar is bang-on accurate too, or else who knows, I may be screwed next.
(Before I forget, can anyone send me/link me to a copy of ‘The New Rape Law’? I’d really like to be aware, thanks.) (That sounded better in my head.) (Writing about it without reading is stupid, yes? But I wanted to write down my feelings now, as what a normal guy on the street who lusts after women would.)
Hmm, writing this down has helped a bit. If males are feeling under siege, maybe this gives us an idea of what the average woman goes through on a nearly daily basis. Maybe this will help us fight more for a normal women’s rights, just so that an average man’s rights are kept safe too. Its time we got careful.
(P.S.: This is what happens when I get idle weekends. Tcha. I’ll make sure I come up with something inane soon.)
(P.P.S. I really should’ve read the entire female POV article before I wrote my shit. She puts it much better than I could. Basically, En Garde men. Now I just feel stupid. So publishing without editing.)