I watched a program on Asianet recently. The subject was very interesting and I wanted to see what the modern Malayalee thought of the same. The subject in question was that women felt unsafe in buses in Kerala.
The panel consisted of a few educated, articulate young ladies one of whom was a very well spoken actress. On the opposite side were not people who held a contrary view, but men, mostly middle aged (and a few young guys too) who I observed were present only to oppose the view. Instead of this show being a discussion that concerns the entire society, it turned out to be a man vs women kind of a fight with the men opposing the view only for the sake of opposing. They had no concrete facts to support their argument and instead tried to dismiss the whole issue by trivializing it. It was almost as if, they opposed the ladies having a view point and more importantly a platform for airing it.
Not a single man sitting in the chairs behind the panel of men spoke up for their sisters, mothers, daughter, wives etc.
The debate started with the women articulating very eloquently and with a lot of clarity the experiences they had in Kerala buses. But if you think the men let them have their say, think again. The men merely shouted down the women, wouldn’t let them talk and when they expressed their opinion, it was so stupid that you wondered if they knew anything about the subject let alone any other subject worth discussing.
Then I remembered my posts on Kerala here and at other places like DOC where people landed up to defend anything written about Kerala that they did not like. They had no clue to what we were talking about but considered it their right to shout down anyone who says anything they do not endorse. It was almost as if they were afraid and angered by people having a voice.
What was surprising about this show was that there wasn’t a single man in the audience or panel who talked with some understanding of the subject or who knew how to participate or behave in a debate. Most of the men were only interested in opposing anything the women had to say and if possible making noises so that the ladies did not get to speak.
The moderator of the program can easily put Arnab Goswami to shame. Just when a lady was making a point in a clear and concise manner he would interrupt or pose another question to the men. Then the whole program would descend into pandemonium. It was the most frustrating thing to watch.
After a time I stopped watching because I just could not believe that grown up men could behave like this. One man went on to say that Kerala is the safest place in India for women. Another said that Kerala men were very decent and the fact that he wasn’t keeping his daughter as his wife was proof that he was a decent guy (believe it or not).
Then they went on to allege that women enjoyed the attention of men and that they invited it either by showing interest or by dressing provocatively. The discussion was not worth airing on a channel like Asianet. Even illiterate people from Bihar and UP know how to behave themselves better than the men from the 100% literate state that appeared in this debate!
What struck me most about this program was that the ladies participants in the program were way ahead of the men in etiquette, decorum, articulation abilities and knowledge. They took part in the discussion with dignity, stating their experiences in a matter of fact manner while the men just misbehaved as they had no point to counter the ladies and most importantly did not want the ladies to have a say.
And that is when it struck me that this was a very good spectacle of what women in Kerala go through, not only in buses but in life in general. The debate was an eye opener to the kind of people the ladies have to put up with daily.
All I got to say in conclusion is that the Kerala society seems skewed. On one hand we have the women, who are educated, progressive and intelligent, on the other hand they are dominated by men who are completely opposite to them in every aspect. A very sad situation indeed! No wonder the state is leading in divorces. How can women in such a society find partners who are their equals in every aspect!