Consider that video of a Japanese woman being beaten and harassed by men celebrating Holi. Consider what the response to this incident suggested that Chad overrides an individual’s right to protest: “Believe it or not, it’s Holi“. Consider how easily people blame the victim for being harassed: “If women don’t want to play Holi, they shouldn’t come out”. Also consider how she later apologized on social media for “hurting people’s sentiments”, her own Reducing victimization.
It’s no wonder couples fight consensually in the bedroom; There is no outside. Because what we think is a sex-life problem is actually a whole-life problem. No one is taught to set boundaries, let alone respect others.
Older acquaintances immediately come out and ask someone how much they earn, why they are single, why they haven’t had a child since marriage, or a second child after their first. All this is full of anxiety. Your business is almost everyone’s business.
Family does too. Photos are circulated, unsolicited, among well-meaning matchmakers. Relatives’ phone numbers are added to WhatsApp groups they didn’t ask to join. Husbands demand to know their wives’ ATM PINs and phone unlock codes (but keep their own private). The in-laws call the employer to find out if the new bride got a bonus this year, because “she never told us at home”. Employers also pass on private information.
Friends think nothing of violating your privacy, sending your details to a stranger with business interests without checking with you first. Some will take pictures of you or your children without asking, and post them online. Others will expect personal details: medical diagnosis, sexual habits, spending budget and why the pregnancy is being terminated.
India has never been big on consensus. How can we be when Bollywood movies portray men as hunters, women as prey and love as a constant pursuit. When the exasperated heroines confess before intermission. It’s not what the movies have shown us. It means try harder, add pressure, be flexible. Those grown women of sound mind don’t know what they want.
So women protesting unwanted sex, or even attention, are heard. Most of India didn’t even discuss consent publicly until 2017, when #MeToo stories broke out in every professional field, indicating how widespread and deep the willful ignorance of the personal is. The boundaries are stretched. Victims of sexual assault who do not come forward out of fear appear to be complicit in the crime. Marital rape is not a crime only in 32 countries of the world. India is one of them.
So expect more events before the next Holi rolls around. Because we haven’t even begun to ask for permission, to respect refusal, to respect one’s boundaries, to allow one’s privacy. Most of us still don’t understand that consent is not a good thing we should ask for or offer in the bedroom. It’s a good thing we should learn to exercise in all aspects of life, with everyone we interact with.
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From HT Brunch, March 18, 2023
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