Another day, another city, another girl and another rape. Why does it not shock me? Or maybe it does, but I am beyond any sensation. It worries me that my child is growing up in a world that doesn’t learn from its mistakes.
It worries me to see that the world where my son is growing up is increasingly antagonistic towards women. It worries me to see the commodification of women. It worries that I may have to tell him that a man must protect a woman. I must tell him that the world is an unsafe and hostile place for women. I worry that I will have to make him a custodian for a woman’s honour and safety.
It worries me that I have a son. It worries me that I have the gigantic responsibility of answering the questions he may have about violence against women. As he grows up to songs like ‘Fevicol Se’, hear politicians say that his colleague is a ‘tunch maal’, or a society that judges a woman for what she wears and who she goes out with; I worry, that I have a lot of answering to do for him.
I worry that I will have to watch him closely, give him the right lessons, monitor his actions all his life. I worry that my son’s view of women is a reflection of how I have brought him up. The way my son behaves now and when he grows up will be a judgement of me.
This was the Rakshabandhan week. A prominent festival on the calendar, we had a very curious theory about it when we were in school. Some guys liked sporting a handful of rakhis. Some girls went about tying rakhis to a mass of boys. While some others joked that how so and so will not tie one to so and so; and sometimes it also became a matter of heart-break when someone approached you to tie a rakhi when you were hoping she would be a girlfriend! Were heart breaks so uncommon then? I don’t think so. But not every spurned lover turned murderous and landed up with an axe in class.
I shudder to think that someday my boy will be so unstable that he wouldn’t be able to handle something like a rejection. I make a small note of it in my mommy diary. I must remember to tell him about choices. I must tell him that love cannot be forced. I must tell him that it is okay to fail in love. I must tell him that it is not about honour if a girl says no. It means that there is someone better waiting for you.
That God did not create a woman so men can use physical force on her. There will come a time when he will go on dates. There will be a time when his hormones will rage wild. Will I hesitate to talk about sex? Would I brush the subject under the carpet? I want to tell him that there is no fun in forced sex. There is no fun in subjugation. There is no fun in rape. That you cannot date rape? That you cannot gang up with your friends, call a female friend over and rape her.
I believe that every boy should have a sister. My brother has one. My father has one. My husband has one. And I would love it if V grows up to have a gang of loving sisters. Siblings are the first and closest friends you have in the world. As someone who has grown up with a gang of naughty brothers, I know how much I love them. What kind of brother would I want V to be?
For one, I know I will not teach him to be the protector. I will not teach him that girls are meant to be protected. I will teach him that he has to create a world where girls don’t have to be afraid of anyone… especially men. And that begins with him. If his sister is not threatened by him in any way, then no woman will be. He must respect, love and honour his sister just as he would expect her to do.
The home is a curious learning centre. And with each passing day, I realise how important a home is to a child. If the home is the microcosm of the world then should we not create an ideal one? Is it right to assume, that the son of a wife beater will grow up to be one? Is it right to assume that a boy who has a neglected childhood will grow up disoriented and disturbed? Does it mean that he will be an anti-social? A boy who sees his mother cringe in fear and do his father’s bidding, will he also grow up to terrorise his wife? A boy who sees his parents’ marriage breakup, does he lose faith in the institution? A child who sees his parents fight, does he believe that one is right and the other not? A child who sees his parents, love, kiss and hug, does he believe that a woman is to be loved and adored?
There are no definite answers here. There is no easy recipe to see what a child and especially a male child imbibes. Will he live by the examples he has seen, or would he grow up with a rationale? Is it better to show him good behaviour, or is it better to tell him about good behaviour? I will say, both. Show and tell, doesn’t it work always?
But will it work in my case? How can I know that this is the correct recipe for a man who respects a woman and doesn’t look at her as an object?
To all parents, who read this… does it bother you too? It should. Because you have to tell him, Dear Son, Girls are not meant to be Raped!
The TV junkie is back into the idiot box. Besides pretending to be a superwoman between work and family, Rituparna also dreams of flying free as an entrepreneur! Her son’s student, she is learning the ropes of parenting every day. Rituparna blogs at http://onboardthemommyship.