Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gender imbalance of a different kind

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!


Akanksha Pandey said...

I definitely couldn't agree more. This is the situation most women face here and when they voice their opinion get pulled down with no reasonable backing whatsoever.

The best excuse they can come up with is blaming it on the women,for daring to look good. What they completely fail to see is how, all perverts need, is for it to be a woman.Looks or dressing irrespective.Shame on them for defending wrong on their part with so much chauvinism.

Kamini said...

I don't know how you watched this program without flinging something at the TV in sheer frustration! The guy who said that he was decent because he did not make his daughter his wife - that is beyond disgusting and just unbelievable. I only hope that those who watched this program (especially the men) came away with the same impression as you did.

kallu said...

Anjali, always appreicate the clarity with which you see things, the boldness and absolute honesty of you r posts,.Keep going.

Sreedevii said...

Love your blog. Great post! De-lurking for the first time. :-) Keep writing!

Jellybeans said...

Mallu men are famous hypocrites, among all the others in the world. Brave move, Silverine. Great going...

Lloyd said...

Hi anjali...i came across your writing very accidently...When i read the article something similar came to my mind, it was a radio program i listened a couple of days back. the RJ(a guy) was asking a question which grabbed my attention- why girls don't let guys sit near them in a bus ,the question is a bit twisted here, he added some more facts to the question-there are no seats left for the guy and no women standing in the bus. He finished the question and played a song and after dat a guy called(no girls called when i was listening probably becs it was a mid night prgrm,which very less people listen), and he said his experiance.
It was during his school days, he need to travel 30 minutes to reach school once in bus, he asked a middle aged lady can i sit beside you??(added facts in question stands).Now after 8 years he says he still can't forget her answer, "No nothing doing, you cant sit".

So my point is it's people and attitude not men or women. We surely see lot of men and women traveling together in other places outside kerala. And i do think there are mishaps happening there also, there are perverts everywhere.Don't blame all men for a few peoples deeds....
No hurting intended..just felt liking scribbling something dats why i wrote this...

silverine said...

infernal-tranquility: Thank you for your comment. I think blaming women is part of maintaining the status quo of male dominance. Aslo perhaps insecurity as Kerala women are single handedly looking after entire families with their hard working and enterprising nature.

Kamini: I was not only frustrated but totally appalled that most member of the audience thought nothing of it. Which means such attitudes are so prevalent that it doesn't raise eyebrows!

Kallu: Thank you :)

Sreedevii: Thank you for delurking :)

Jellybeans: Thank you :)

Lloyd: I think the latent mistrust Kerala women have about men made the lady refuse the seat. The guy who wanted the seat probably had no intention of groping or any other such acts or he would have preferred a crowded bus and standing to sitting. You cannot blame the lady for taking precautions due to the fact that women are generally mistrustful of men due to their experiences in buses. In Blr women have no problems sitting next to men in buses as the guys are generally well behaved. Thank you for your comment :)

Meera's World said...

I agree with you totally on the reaction of men in that show. Our people, most of the time in such programs shows no basic decency .

Jolly said...

You must watch similar programs on Kairali and Sun. It just gets worse and worse. Malayalee men have no sense of decency.

Ganja Turtle said...

tch tch tch... why involve poor folk from Bihar and UP in an intra-Mallu affair, AP? Leave them be ;)

Good Life said...

Totally agree...but somewhere cant help blaming the women in Kerala, why do they succumb to these men?
I have seen so many well educated females, who agree to dowry concept...during wedding, they give their husband car and cash, and then get dominated by them!They talk in hush notes in front of their husbands, because their husbands do not like wives talking in loud note and later its that women segment who crib saying they are not happy! Have never understood this variety...Trust me such ladies are a dhabba to the society!!!