Police reform, judicial reform, system reform are all fine.... But what about self reform?
So, we’ve entered yet another ‘New Year’...eh? Young kids have been duly taught that they are supposed to write 13 after the second dot in the date on their assignments. The Gods on the 2012 wall calendars have been packed away respectfully and the same deities, but with new datelines, have been hung on the walls. Couriers have started arriving in offices, carrying new desk calendars and diaries with best compliments from business associates.
Somewhere in the midst of all this, I hope, there are some people who, like me, are unsure about what’s new in this year. People who could sense the dates passing by, but felt that 2012 killed a part of them as it ended. People who are struggling to act all normal on the outside for the fear of being called morose — wishing each other, going about their daily lives — but the moment they are alone with their thoughts, wondering how it’s possible to move on in this atmosphere of sheer hopelessness, grief and anguish. As someone proud of being fiercely patriotic all my life, the mere thought of being ashamed as an Indian after whatever’s unfolded following the horrific gangrape of a young girl, is enough to snap something deep inside. But then isn’t it always the easiest thing in the world to shake your head, make some sympathetic noise sitting in the comfort of your own world and crib about the system? 90% of us are doing that right now. Maybe the rest 10% are the ‘system’. I’ve been thinking about what we can do, and listening to a whole lot of experts on TV, who keep mentioning the need for reforms.
I’m not very intelligent. But I’m glad they are, and that they know what needs to be done. All I’ve decided to do, in this new year, is to reform myself. Because I’ve realised that even while mouthing clichéd cribs about how women are not respected in our country, there’s so much I’ve subconsciously done or put up with, that has contributed to the rotten mindset we are now crying hoarse about.
So 2013, I’ll acknowledge you’ve arrived, hope you acknowledge my resolve to not ignore these 13 things. Ever.
1 If I hear about a case of violence against women, I will not utter a vague phrase like ‘we should do something’, unless I’m able to complete that sentence with what that ’something’ is, or what I’ve actually done. We’ve done enough lip service to breed
a perennial culture of ‘kuchh karna chahiye’. Till we make the effort of applying our minds to what that ‘kuchh’ is, we better shut up. At least let the voices of those who know, be heard.
2 I will not be a mute spectator to statements
that stereotype genders, even if made casually. Say to a guy ‘why are you crying like a girl’ and I might smack you, just to remind you that girls perhaps started crying because of people like you.
3I will find the courage to tell the colleague who recently praised me saying ‘your brain works like a man’s’ that it would indeed have been a compliment had it ended at ‘your brain works.’
4I will not entertain or encourage sexist jokes. No, I’m not giving up on humour, I’m just giving up on easy humour generated at the expense of a woman’s dignity or abilities. Not funny anymore.
5I will try to tell all parents, including my own, that if their daughter achieves something or does something for them, don’t bless her by saying, ‘you’ve been like a son to us’.
Just bless her.
6I will not simply smile and nod at educated people who wish for a son in the garb of statements like ‘family complete ho jayegi’. I will tell them that a family is complete only with people who hold the values of respecting others, irrespective of what gender they are born into.
7 I will choose to not vote at all if the choice is only between parties that shed tears of sympathy on television and then go on to harbour and field politicians who make the most inane, disrespectful
statements about women.
8I will tell all men in my family, and others’, that rather than becoming experts at cracking jokes on women drivers, it would do them well to become experts at looking at the road ahead, and helping a woman — or a man — in distress instead of shaking their heads and speeding away.
9I will tell the young girls around me to never be apologetic about wanting to look good. If a man uses the excuse of how a girl looks or dresses, to justify the filth in his head, he deserves pity, not attention. Maybe not even pity.
10I will teach the young boys in my family that
no matter which film they saw it in, it is just never cool to pursue a girl who is saying ‘no’ to something.
11I will continue to argue and disagree with anyone who, under the banner of feminism, tries to make totally unacceptable, sweeping generalisations like ‘all men are lechers.’
12I will not hop TV news channels like mad every evening, watching endless debates and shouting panellists at a time when an option such as having a chat on values over a quiet and peaceful dinner with my family is available.
13Finally, I will proudly remain dented and painted, for as long as I feel like it.
Sonal Kalra has finally decided to move on, from a defeatist, apologetic mindset. Maybe it is time to say Happy New Year. Mail her at email@example.com or facebook.com/sonalkalra13. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra