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On Sexual Assaults and the Dress Code

The ever growing hysteria on dress code and its relevance or irrelevance on the sexual assault on women is something that nobody would have missed in our country. Almost every month, we read or see news on assault on women or molestation in public places, and the usual reactions from the general public and moral guardians of the society have become so regular that it doesn’t evoke any more emotions now, as it used to do. Anger and frustration have been thoroughly replaced by apathy.

Two sides to this entire “masala show” on televisions are two sets of mindless idiots – The Women Activists and the Moral Guardians, and neither of them really care to listen to the other party. There is a downright disregard for the other’s point of view. Any point made by the other is ridiculed or vociferously argued against, with the sole intention of proving it wrong. Listening is a virtue nobody seems to have. With the most media houses playing politically correct host, by downplaying the issue and overplaying the emotions, sanity is lost somewhere.

I look at a single statement that polarizes people even further and makes people shout more than their war cry for justice when a girl is assaulted. And the two sides to this entire conundrum – one each from either side of the argument, which is often overshadowed by the battle of egos and self–righteousness, and my take on what could be a possible solution or atleast path to a possible solution. And I also ramble a bit more.

The Moral Guardian’s Statement: The girl dressed inappropriately and that provoked the assault or rape attempt or molestation etc.

What is wrong with the above statement or assertion? What could be right about the same? Why such an extreme reaction?

What is wrong about the statement?
It is possibly the lamest excuse one could search for, and arguably the most ugly and disgusting reason to hide behind one’s weakness. The weakness is the inability to control one’s urge – sexual or otherwise. This excuse easily ignores the fundamental quality that lies between a provocation and an action. The point called “will”. Whatever happed to that “will” to stay straight, honest and in line? Whatever happened to that “Will” to realize the “responsibility” of not overstepping into somebody’s life and private space? A person who lacks that “will” and dissolute enough to hide behind such an excuse, is unfit to live. He is morally bankrupt and he has no place among people. He should be condemned to live among man eating animals and he will experience the dark side of lawlessness which he was sub–consciously aspiring for.

Sadly, the “will” behaves pretty weirdly. It forces you to be a mute spectator in some places, when you are supposed to act, and makes you react, when you are supposed to be silent. At some level, the “will” concedes its defeat to the “urge”, when the person senses that he may go scot free, and looks at the girl as an easy prey; more so when he looks at her as an object to be dominated and bullied, not just an object of desire.

A man who cannot control his hands or dick, whatever be the provocation, should be relieved of the same. Chop his arms. Castrate him. Castigate him. Incarcerate him. There are no two ways about this. Any form of bodily abuse on others, should be dealt with same degree of intensity. It doesn’t matter one bit that he or she has later realized his / her fault and therefore deserves mercy doesn’t wash. You cause pain, you deserve pain. Sense of guilt is hogwash. And apologies of such people count no more than monkey piss.

What is right about that statement?
Ah! Now I know I am into dangerous territory. But then, it is my blog, my post. If not here, where else?

The first thing that is “right” about that statement is that it “warrants serious consideration” due to various reasons. You may refuse to accept that line of argument on the “pretext” or “misunderstanding” that the blame is shifted to the girl, when the man should be punished. Let’s punish him. He deserves it. No two ways about that. But the statement does warrant some very serious consideration. And I am not invoking any culture-shit here, but something about first impressions.

At some level, the human mind definitely gives lot of weightage to the dress one wears while judging the moral and ethical compass of a person. What would one equate a person with a white shirt, white dhoti with coloured ends, a gold bracelet, a gold plated watch, a sizeable ring, and a thick voice with? A politician or some powerful man, or somebody you are not supposed to mess with. A man to be feared or a man you hate. It can be anything. The same person with a different set of attire would evoke different reaction on our part.

How you dress and what you dress definitely sends some signals to other people. That signals are decoded into some assertions about the person and results in some judgement being made. I personally would hesitate giving any designing work to a person who has a very poor sense of dressing (poor as in a very bad colour combination, badly managed, more than the type or brand of attire he or she is wearing). I feel such a person has no taste at all. Now whether I give the work to that person will definitely depend on further interaction, but the first impression was negative, and that’s the point.

What would be the initial assessment of a person on, lets say, a group of girls? The one with the most sober and completely covered dressing would be judged differently from the girl with the skimpiest clothes, and revealing more than fair amount of her skin. The initial judgement could be that the completely clothed girl may not be as “open to further flirtatious engagement” as the skimpily or provocatively dressed girl. If the mind of viewer or the person judging closely resembles the one found in various machines to bolt different things together, the conclusion might be even more extreme; that the girl is easily approachable for sex, and therefore wouldn’t resist. This judgement could be a definitive factor. Again, let me emphasis this again, this judgement is no excuse for the action that follows.

Am reasonably sure that with a set of say 10 men with various cultural backgrounds and 10 women with various degrees of covered dressing, wide majority of the men would draw the above judgement, and if they sense an opportunity without any control, they would definitely go for the girl with most exposure. (I have no empirical evidence to prove this theory, however stupid it may seem, but am reasonably confident of my conclusion)

The bottomline: The dressing or behavior or conduct, could be a factor, though never an acceptable excuse, and hence warrants serious consideration.

Possible Solution?
Though not the object of this post, couldn’t help rambling about the possible solutions for tackling sexual harassment menace.

An opportunity without control or accountability corrupts the mind and creates a monster. And am quoting a very valid and proven management idea in a very similar context. Blame the “system” which created the monster, and while taking action against that “monster” for acting without ethics or the “will to stay clean and straight”.

Let us also remember that every “will” will operate only within certain framework. If the framework is not defined, there is no use for that “will”.

What could be that “control” or “accountability” in this context? A quick justice system to punish the offenders, and relatively more vigilant police system and help groups to prevent such happenings in the first place.

Sex Education
Sex is such a taboo in our world that there are no proper teachings on the same. Sex education, active and passive, is often equated to “how” rather than “what”. The real education that is probably required is that it is something that it involves two people, and that means there are two participants, both of them should be there out of their own free will. It happens naturally between two individuals, and force has no role to play here. At a subconscious level, people should be made to realize that it is pretty disgusting to use force and violate somebody.

Though, the extent of such an education having an impact on the behavior of those smackheads which indulge in all these abuses and molestations can be doubted, I do feel it would, at some level, bring out some positive change in these men.

Self Defense
When I find girls spending a bomb on cosmetics and costumes without lot of thought, I don’t find any justification in not equipping themselves with some or the other self–defence tools which cost a fraction of what body lotion of an International Brand would cost, and would be worth load more than what you pay for. From a pepper spray to shrapnel attached to their watches or push type needle on their rings, definitely something could be done. Heck, reportedly there are some chemical needles which would paralyze the man for a few hours if injected or exposed to.

Considering that by nature, women are physically weaker than their principal assaulters, men, it is imperative that they equip themselves. They should also remember that it is among those inherent bad quality in human (men and women included), to bully and harass people who are perceived to be weak, physically or mentally.

The ever shouting National Commission of Women, whose Directors or members spend considerable amount of time to talk of justice to women, should actually do something productive instead of answering people like Arnab or Barkha or Raj Kunwal, or shouting at some stupid moral guardian’s statements. They should be organizing camps and workshops across the country to train women on basics of self defence and also promote tools of self-defence.

It is entirely possible that the reasons for all the menace is systemic, and its solution  basic. These are just a few thoughts that ran through my mind as I type this blog. Neither do I need to be reminded that there are countless cases of sexual assaults even on women dressed conservatively. And therefore, the so called dress code may not be relevant in all cases. But then, what could be the other relevant factor is not the subject matter of this blog post.

And let us also remember that sexual assault is not something which is an exclusive suffering of women. A lot of men are also affected by it. Being groped by the opposite sex is something which many, if not most, men have experienced. And contrary to popular and convenient belief, not every man finds it pleasurable. Instead, it does send shivers down his spine and makes him repel in disgust. Before, you start concluding that I am confusing child sex abuse with sexual assault on men, do note that men, right from their boyhood days into their teens and even into their twenties are experiencing such not so pleasurable experiences.

Admittedly, the number of such incidences would be just a fraction of sexual assaults on girls and women. But, that wouldn’t be any justification to conclude any remarks made on sexual assault on women as “reeks of male chauvinism”. That is pretty much a sweeping and stupid statement as the “dress code” for women.


Anonymous said…
Caveat:1. I have had a very biased view on the topic. 2. I respect the civil line of morality but know not all do.

The problem is systemic and it had always been. The trend to note here Is that not so many cases were reported about forty years back. There is an steep increase each year.what has changed? ¤ an education system that beds disrespect and ¤ the dressing of the modern indian woman.

The proportion of perverts to the population had always been the same. It will always be . So the problem with harassers is not a variable. The harassee and the system are the variables which can practically be addressed to bring a reasonable solution.

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