By Debapriya Chanda
On most days, women choose to take passing comments on their appearance and whereabouts with a pinch of salt, in order to avoid confrontation, because the same arguments with strangers and familiar faces end up getting exhausting, to say the least, after a certain point.
On other days, the limits of their patience falls apart.
And this is exactly what happened recently, when a video of a middle-aged lady policing a group of young women over their choice of clothing, went viral on the internet.
The incident, which took place in the Delhi-NCR region, has shocked netizens, primarily because of the brash victim-blaming opinions of the woman, who not only shames the girls in a public place for wearing ‘revealing’ clothes but also claims that as the reason why incidences of rape are on the rise.
She goes on to address the men around them and attempts to instigate them to rape the girls.
Things would have hushed up right there had the girls done what most of us choose to do in such situations- ignore the negativity in conspicuous silence.
For once, that behavioural pattern was broken as these young women confronted the lady and demanded an apology on camera.
After a war of words that went on for a few minutes, the lady refused to budge from her statement, and made some more explosive ones on camera, asserting the need for parents to ‘control’ their daughters, and plainly refused to apologise, even under immense pressure from the girls and another lady who had come to defend them.
The vehemence with which the perpetrator stood by her regressive and problematic comments, and the complete lack of remorse in her words and actions, goes on to show just how deep the roots of rape culture go in our society.
And that is precisely why seeing fellow women stand up for themselves and for every woman out there when most of us wouldn’t or couldn’t have done the same, is refreshing.
The fact that another middle-aged lady, a mother herself, came to their defence, and articulated and upheld the concept of freedom of choice for every individual, makes one hopeful.
While the exhaustion and complacency is justified, incidents like these speak of collective rage and determination that do bring about a shift in the paradigm, and it is of utmost importance to take note of the same.
We are living in 2019, and it is high time this narrative of sanskaari aunties and their self-imposed moral policing stops.
Indian traditions cannot be used as an excuse to curb individual freedom, and the onus lies on women standing up for one another to make this society more tolerant and respectful, for the generations of young women to follow.
Image credits: Google