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Wed Jan 9, 2013, 11:13 PM

being female in india-a hate story


Being Female in India: A Hate Story

Her epitaph should read, simply, without any personal reference: India hates women. For I can think of no greater way to do her honor, the 23-year-old victim of a particularly grisly gang rape who died, after a battle for life that lasted nearly two weeks, in a Singapore hospital in the early hours of December 29. Jyoti Singh Pandey was attacked with her male companion while traveling on a public bus in India’s capital, New Delhi. Both were savagely beaten, the woman raped and then, together with her companion, thrown from the moving vehicle. Her intestines had been ruptured by an iron rod that her attackers inserted into her vagina; her brain and internal organs had suffered massive damage. I can only honor the supreme horror that she faced in the dead of her night by speaking the supreme truth in the light of our day, by laying it, a funeral wreath, at her feet and the feet of millions of her sisters raped in India. Like the teenager allegedly raped and set on fire by her attackers to ensure her lasting silence, like the 10-year-old raped and her body thrown in a garbage dump, like the woman raped in one city and dumped in another.

India hates women. That is the ugly, unvarnished truth.

It is also what Indians lie about the most, except perhaps our other self-told fairy tale–rather similar to the lies Euro-American society tells itself about “post-racial” America–that caste discrimination is a thing of the past. I can think of no brace of lies more ubiquitously told by Indians to ourselves, and they are often connected, as when the rape of this urban young woman galvanizes national and even international attention, but the rape of a tribal woman, Soni Sori, whose attackers’ tender attentions included the thrusting of stones into her vagina and rectum, is almost totally obliterated from public scrutiny because of Sori’s disadvantaged status as a tribal woman and the fact that her rape occurred in police custody. But both rapes speak to a pervasive, deeply entrenched misogyny whose roots run bedrock-deep in our society and are directly proportional to the extent of our denial of this very misogyny.

. . . . .
The hatred of women starts in the womb, when we abort hundreds of millions of female fetuses each year. For Indians, girls are a burden; the desire for male progeny is as natural to us as breathing. Even before conception, we utter prayers, make vows, observe fasts, bow before this or that divinity, all so we might not remain childless or burdened with the debit side of the account–the girl child. For burden she is; practically every Indian, barring a few communities where matrilineal systems still exist, must be familiar with the idea that a girl is “paraya dhan,” the treasure of another’s home. The word “treasure” should not fool us. We are commodities, chattel, goods. Why else would we have to pay the groom’s family a dowry for the favor of taking the girl-child off our sinful hands?

. . . . .

Some feminists in India have clearly had enough. Witness the young women out on the streets protesting peacefully against the climate of hatred for women of which this rape and murder, and millions of other assaults, are the inevitable and bloody fruit. It is also heartening to see so many young men with them, who reportedly rushed forward to take upon their own bodies the blows rained on their sisters by baton-wielding police. But the real battle against misogyny in India has to be fought in our homes and hearths, our hearts and minds. It has to be fought in our own families, with our fathers and mothers, our uncles and aunts, our cousins, friends, colleagues. Misogyny–the idea that makes it OK to pray for male children, to save for a daughter’s dowry, to make sexist jokes and pass them off as “humor,” to watch avidly innumerable television sitcoms and movies where courting is essentially coercion and where women are routinely portrayed as “lesser”–is always with us. It sits across the breakfast table from us in the morning. It works alongside our desk in the office. It meets us after work for drinks, goes shopping, clubbing and to the movies with us. Misogyny stares out at us from the mirror. India hates women. We need to face this fact in order to change it.
It is the highest tribute we can pay to the young woman who died a few days ago today. Admitting we have a problem is the first step towards change, towards healing, towards hope.

http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2013/01/07/being-female-in-india-a-hate-story/

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Arrow 35 replies Author Time Post
Reply being female in india-a hate story (Original post)
niyad Jan 2013 OP
ProgressiveProfessor Jan 2013 #1
niyad Jan 2013 #3
JI7 Jan 2013 #8
niyad Jan 2013 #17
randome Jan 2013 #20
niyad Jan 2013 #22
randome Jan 2013 #23
SummerSnow Jan 2013 #26
Hekate Jan 2013 #2
niyad Jan 2013 #5
freshwest Jan 2013 #14
Liberal_in_LA Jan 2013 #4
Tigress DEM Jan 2013 #6
niyad Jan 2013 #7
Tigress DEM Jan 2013 #11
randome Jan 2013 #21
Tigress DEM Jan 2013 #24
riderinthestorm Jan 2013 #25
Tigress DEM Jan 2013 #27
randome Jan 2013 #28
riderinthestorm Jan 2013 #30
Tigress DEM Jan 2013 #32
niyad Jan 2013 #35
Mister Ed Jan 2013 #9
niyad Jan 2013 #10
freshwest Jan 2013 #15
BlancheSplanchnik Jan 2013 #12
fujiyama Jan 2013 #13
PDJane Jan 2013 #16
niyad Jan 2013 #18
niyad Jan 2013 #19
niyad Jan 2013 #29
niyad Jan 2013 #31
niyad Jan 2013 #33
niyad Jan 2013 #34

Response to niyad (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 11:17 PM

1. Arguably its worse in the middle east except for Israel.........eom

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 11:25 PM

3. cite stats, please.

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 12:13 AM

8. that's not really saying much

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 10:48 AM

17. shall we talk about the misogyny and woman-hatred that is being displayed more and more in

Last edited Thu Jan 10, 2013, 11:41 AM - Edit history (1)

this country every single day? shall we talk about the 1100 laws against women's autonomy that have been passed or promulgated in the last two years? shall we talk about the reactions to the steubenville gang-rape? shall we talk about the lack of difference between sharia law and some of the crap coming out of the reichwingnuts in this country? israel is not the shining example you seem to think (check out the responses below), and try to remember that, in iraq under saddam, women had some decent rights.

we might also discuss the failure to reauthorize VAWA and the failure to ratify CEDAW. misogyny and woman-hatred is not limited to middle eastern countries.

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Response to niyad (Reply #17)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:42 PM

20. It's still nothing compared to what goes on in India and the Middle East.

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Response to randome (Reply #20)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:46 PM

22. and what is your point, exactly? are we supposed to ignore it because "it's still nothing"?

at what point does it stop being "still nothing", and what the **** difference does it make what goes on in other countries? this is not some sort of game where the prize goes to whoever is slightly less misogynistic than someone else. this is women's lives. I feel sorry for the females in your world.

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Response to niyad (Reply #22)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:49 PM

23. Women's lives being taken for the 'crime' of being women is, I think, a more pressing concern.

But yeah, we have a lot of problems here, as well.

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Response to randome (Reply #20)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 10:31 PM

26. In Africa too

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Response to niyad (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 11:21 PM

2. Chilling, and so important

"Hatred (of women) starts in the womb." It is a terrible, terrible stain on a great culture.

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Response to Hekate (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 11:54 PM

5. you are correct about that. I had no idea of the absolute depth of woman-hatred there.

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Response to Hekate (Reply #2)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 01:16 AM

14. K & R right here. Thanks Hekate and Nyad.

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Response to niyad (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 11:42 PM

4. k&r

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Response to niyad (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 12:01 AM

6. I hear your truth, but it conceals as many lies as it outs.

There is SO much farther to go before Indian women will have the equality and justice they deserve, but while what is said MUST be said, there is a kinder portion of India that is moving forward toward change, healing and hope.

I think this type of change happens on a continuum, where the worst offenses offend us all except those who would use any excuse for their behavior. To know that this still exists is a slap in the face of all progress made, but it does not erase tireless hours and years of advancement and changes in mindset that are happening however slowly.

On the next level of the continuum are those offenses you mention that demean rather than outright injure but are deeply rooted in society and take time and effort and constant vigilance as well as education to improve. As with our racial divide, there is MUCH progress and yet it is still a daily struggle.

On the higher level of the continuum are those who are evolving and leading the way. The young men who march with the feminist women because they value their mothers, sisters and friends.

In a country, there are so many different people and so many levels of advancement toward enlightenment or entanglement with changing social norms and fear of a future with strong women who can be valued as much as their male counterparts.

India is a country and in this time of growth and change, some reach toward the future and some step back into the past and cling to old ways out of fear of the unknown or nostalgia for how wonderful it used to be. There IS a place for the hard truth that much of the treatment of Indian women is hateful and many people are still consumed with that attitude. But there is also a place for the gentle truth that if the opposite of hate is love, then there is plenty of that to be found in India as well.

Here in America, women have risen up and taken our rights and gotten some better laws, but we still fight for equality. Many of our men fight as hard for us as we do and more importantly they have been educated about those kinds of issues you faced and how demeaning they are for a woman. Lots of progress has been made, but you can still find backwards thinkers and pockets of unabashed misogyny here too.

Our feminists were very virulent in the '60's and we were lucky enough that our creative industries began to see the profit in showing stronger women characters and portraying more positive roles for them. To calm those who fear what the future might bring, it's helpful to have people with vision that can show many positive outcomes as well as likely problems and solutions.

I hope this tragedy ignites a passion for change that seems to be needed and will turn a page in your history that puts so much of these difficulties further and further in the past.

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Response to Tigress DEM (Reply #6)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 12:08 AM

7. you do realize this was from someone in india, not me? you can reach the author at the link.

while there is much in your post with which to agree, I object to the characterization of second wave feminists as "virulent"--that word certainly never fit any of the women (and men) with whom I stood as we fought for the ERA, for all the advances that have been made for women's rights in this country.

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Response to niyad (Reply #7)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 12:33 AM

11. Sorry, someone was talking at me while I did that long post.

I think compared to the original struggles for women's rights (the women's suffrage movement) the 60's groups were a LOT more outspoken. Probably true of the generation in general, though.

Maybe MOST were not full of malice, but feminism spread as it needed to and took over leaving us forever changed. Some were really, really angry and tired of waiting for change, maybe that is what came off as virulent. Dunno. But it was necessary to counteract the 50's.

I come from a place of being called a FemiNazi and a Female Chauvinist Piglet during the 70's because of some overboard rhetoric that came out of that time, even though my personal views have always been fairly moderate. STILL the extremes were needed to come to a point of moderate discussion that really addresses women's concerns.

IF no woman had voiced the thought, "What if all male children were aborted as useless?" Then feminists might not be considered "harpy" by some, but without that comparison how would men understand what it was like to hear equally outrageous statements as a matter of course prior to the 60's when women were mad as hell and not going to take it any more?




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Response to Tigress DEM (Reply #6)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:45 PM

21. I see a lot of talk about 'continuums' but little concrete changes.

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Response to randome (Reply #21)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 09:22 PM

24. The thing is it's a WHOLE Country so people are at different places on this issue.

I just think that anyone in India should heed the article, but not lose heart. Start from wherever one is at and move forward.

There are still many things to do, but these kind of changes evolved here over years and years and we've fought just as hard and been just as angry at times. It's a good article and reflects a deep truth. I just think there is more truth that allows for hope as well.

I've met mostly people from India in US work environments, but I also had a neighbor and her Mother lived down the street. What I saw of their family was probably non-traditional but it was pretty healthy. Honest and the Mother really was close to her daughter and I never got the idea that the daughter was some 2nd class kind of citizen to her Mom. She was a treasure to both families that she bonded together.

Indian men I've met don't treat me or their wives disrespectfully, and maybe because they are more progressive in general they came here. But still they prove these things can be done and families evolve in understanding when some of their members step out and get more information.

I would say if you spoke to Indian feminists, they would have areas where progress seems very stagnant, but that within more local groups there is more change and more friction. Like we have to keep revisiting the equal pay for equal work and it gets only marginally better.

Like how in the 50's women had to tolerate all kinds of discrimination and husbands felt it wasn't rape because it was only getting what was their woman's duty.

It was a terrible thing that happened, but I don't think it means the whole country is caught up in hating women. They are just now understanding how hateful their behavior is, whether the intent behind it is hateful or not.

IF a tragedy like this can be a catalyst for real change, it is truly an honor to the memory of the victims who endured the horror.

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Response to Tigress DEM (Reply #24)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 09:46 PM

25. Jyoti and her partner's rapes occurred in New Delhi, India's capital.

This wasn't some peasant backwater - this was the nation's capital. You can talk about continuum's til the cows come home but the fact remains that the heart of India's international "face", is an ugly misogyny.

If it can happen there, its everywhere in India imho. If New Delhi represents the "best" of the continuum in terms of an international awareness of women's rights, and yet rapes and murders of Jyoti's persist, its not hard to assume that woman-hating in India is a national stain.



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Response to riderinthestorm (Reply #25)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 08:27 PM

27. I'm sure there are a good portion of women hating people there and the crime was heinous.

But there are bad elements in every society. My only problem is throwing the entire country under the bus and saying they are ALL like that because this happened there.

I get the fact that it is a problem, a big problem and a challenge they have been struggling with and honestly losing ground on but I highly doubt that ALL the people of India have been idle for hundreds of years and simply not growing or evolving toward a solution through every generation that has faced this and lost family to this type of insanity.

I can't believe anyone doesn't understand how ridiculous it is to ASS - U - ME that an entire county of people are 100% misogynistic. Sounds like a hardening of the attitudes that happens to people who live on talking points too long.

WE have our struggles here too, but you wouldn't say that all men in America are women haters. There are certainly groups that make it their goal to be as repressive as possible and we have rape, abduction and even children being sexually abused but it isn't "everyone" who feels that there is any justification for these actions, only people with defective morals. Even so our own society has our pockets of attitudes that make these crimes and others hard to eradicate.

My thought is that those who commit the crimes and those who support those people in whatever delusion they are living in that makes it all right to attack a woman in this way are the ones who should be held accountable, not an entire country. It just seems like prejudice to me. It seems like a way to stereotype the problem rather than deal with it as a complex issue with many levels.

But the article is good because it hits hard and things are out of hand there. Those who support or condone the behavior need to really take a serious look at themselves, even if it's been a passive acceptance. I think the article helps point out that NOT actively opposing this crime and behaviors that encourage treating women as inferior is a form of tacit acceptance that can no longer be tolerated.

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Response to Tigress DEM (Reply #27)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 09:18 PM

28. I get your point.

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Response to Tigress DEM (Reply #27)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 07:18 PM

30. Its probably more similar to "most Americans believe we are a Christian country".

In its entirety its fallacious but of course its about 65% of the country that believes this so its a very widespread cultural fallacy which permeates our entire society on many levels and in many different ways.

India has a problem with how they treat their women. The US has a problem with Americans erroneously believing we are a Christian nation.

I don't believe that stating either of those things is prejudicial or ASSumes too much about either country.

But I appreciate your thoughtful reply.




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Response to riderinthestorm (Reply #30)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 08:51 PM

32. It's kind of funny the way these posts turned out.

In a million years, I'd never defend a rapist. Having been sexually molested as a child and in some fearful situations myself where it could have been me dealing with this issue - American style - I don't think perps should get away with rape and I think there needs to be a solid response.

However, identifying an issue that is particular to a country or other large population, I always try to not throw people who are making active progress into the same blender with those who can't be bothered to think about it.

I think the underpinnings of all the problems of the world can be summed up in 3 words.


THEM vs US.


Isolate behavior that is wrong and people who behave that way, but don't bring their 2nd cousins and people 100 miles away into it just because they look like the person who committed the offense. Don't talk about their Mama unless it's really germane to the discussion.


Man's early beginnings created a need to know that those different from us could be dangerous to the clan or tribe because people tended to kill first and ask questions later.

Evolution of society has created laws and moral guidelines to help us get past the past, but it lingers and can grow to huge ugliness quickly. So I tend to throw a bit out there when I see the potential for it going that way. When there is a lot of "they" are like this - "they are ALL like that".

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Response to Tigress DEM (Reply #32)

Wed Jan 16, 2013, 06:47 PM

35. I am just going to remind you that this was written by an Indian woman, who probably has some

idea whereof she speaks. we, as outsiders, do not know.

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Response to niyad (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 12:22 AM

9. "young men...who reportedly rushed forward to take upon their own bodies the blows...

rained on their sisters by baton-wielding police".

Thank god for at least that tiny glimmer of hope in this dark and grim state of affairs. Perhaps the fire that burned in the breast of Ghandi has been rekindled in the hearts of these brave young women and men.

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Response to Mister Ed (Reply #9)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 12:25 AM

10. you are correct, that is a tiny glimmer of hope. it was encouraging seeing how many men were

shown as being part of the protests and demonstrations all around the country.

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Response to niyad (Reply #10)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 01:19 AM

15. +1. I've met many young people from India, both sexes. Very loving people.

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Response to niyad (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 12:40 AM

12. let's not forget it's also the country of acid attacks on women

Usually by men angry because their advances were spurned. How dare a woman not give him what he wants.

Excellent article, thanks

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Response to niyad (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 01:06 AM

13. It is still a highly patriarchal society and like all such societies

the state of women will not significantly improve until they are seen as equals.

The sad thing is, as bad as it is for women now, the country has made progress (sounds almost laughable but compared to decades ago.... among the middle classes, you have many fairly well educated women, which certainly indicates there is hope).

But their lives are still heavily constrained by their families and society in terms of how they dress, who they hang out with, and where they travel. After all what if someone the family knows sees the girl - that too maybe with some boy? What will they think of the family? Of the family honor? The girl will be bringing shame and dishonor to the family. How will they ever marry "off" the daughter then? And the word "off" is deliberate, because even among the most enlightened middle class families, the girl will almost definitely (typically in an arranged marriage) join the groom's household and the father of the bride will be expected to throw an expensive and extravagant wedding.

And that's among the so called educated and enlightened middle class. In rural areas, it's worse. Dowries and the associated murders, sex selective abortions, and other horrors still do occur.

Case in point for what the country is dealing with: the defense lawyer for the rape suspects - one had the audacity to claim that "no RESPECTABLE woman is ever raped". After all, she wore jeans or was out with a male companion. That's the mentality you're dealing with - and the scary thing is that might sway some judges.

The only good thing is that this rape case is a fash point of sorts. Women, and many men as well seem absolutely disgusted - at least with regards to public safety of women. My hope though is that Indians will ask other tougher questions about patriarchy, supposed honor, respectability, and the ultimate state of women in Indian society.


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Response to niyad (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 02:00 AM

16. India isn't the only country in the world that has a number of misogynists.

And Israel is not the only state in the middle east that doesn't discriminate against women; quite the contrary. As in most middle east countries, divorce and property settlements are under religious law. That means it tends to favour masculine claims to property. In fact, ultra-orthodox religious misogyny is on the rise in Israel, including the shaming of young girls going to school for the lack of 'proper, modest, clothing.' Women are at the back of the bus, too, in these communities. Women's faces are disappearing from advertising billboards; the ultra-orthodox find the images offensive. Women are forbidden to sing in religious ceremonies; their voices are considered to engender lust in the male. (If a bit of skin or a voice promote lust in your heart, you have a bigger problem than you're willing to admit.)

The religious codifications lead to this kind of behaviour in all kinds of places. That includes some in the US and Canada. The mormons come to mind.

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Response to PDJane (Reply #16)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 10:49 AM

18. thank you for pointing out what is going on in israel

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Response to niyad (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:38 PM

19. . . .

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Response to niyad (Original post)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 11:48 AM

29. in view of yet another bus gang-rape, and other information, seems most relevant

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Response to niyad (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 10:45 AM

31. kick after the newest bus gang rape in india

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Response to niyad (Original post)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 11:01 AM

33. in view of the latest (yes, ANOTHER ONE) bus gang rape in india

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Response to niyad (Original post)

Wed Jan 16, 2013, 06:46 PM

34. . . . .

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