For a country which records around 25000 rape cases every year, the lack of awareness about rape culture and its triggering forces in India is quite alarming. As is the case in most states, Indians find it difficult to accept the presence of a deep-rooted rape culture prevalent in the nooks and corners of the country. Catalysts of rape culture constitutes the lack of awareness as well. The most clichéd arguments one gets to hear is:
Not all men are rapists – Obviously, they aren’t; I can’t even think of committing such a heinous crime – Of course, you can’t – But that doesn’t change the most essential facet of rape culture – The presence of it.
How often after being subjected to a Physics paper of extreme difficulty or after India defeats Pakistan in a cricket match, do we come across comments like – I got raped by the Physics paper or India ne Pakistan ko balatkar diya? Very often – almost every week – almost every other day in various walks of life – the word ‘rape’ is used casually in order to convey a sense of domination.
Now before I start a rant against the entire world – both real and virtual – for having a limited vocabulary to express domination in other words, let me tell you what this unstudied use of the word “rape” does – These act as the catalysts of rape culture, and further emboldens it.
Yes, rape culture is not confined to blaming the victims or assuming that only promiscuous women get raped. It exists on a much broader scale and what’s even more worrying is, it’s spreading its wings.
The casual usage of the word ‘rape’ dwarfs the severity of the word. Ideally, the word ‘rape’ should make people shudder in disgust. As it is seen, when people start to use the word in celebratory tones, it spreads a wrong message. Besides, such casual use of the word does mortify victims of rape or similar deeds. Linguists might argue the linguistic transition the word ‘rape’ has undergone over the years, but it definitely isn’t a sanguine change.
“Pakistan team ka to pura rape kar diya humne!”
Next up – Rape jokes. The internet is filled with pages and blogs which take up the challenge of creating “dank”(as they prefer to call it) memes. These pages intend to create memes using the artistry of dark humour. The subjects of these memes deal with a vast number of things ranging from death to the corpse of an infant to necrophilia to pedophilia to rape and abuse. The amount of popularity these memes attain on social media is extremely worrying.
Furthermore, if one digs down and even manages to conduct an ephemeral study on gallows humour, one would find the steady growth of such hideous form of humour over the past hundred years. Renowned Italian comedian, Daniele Luttazi was of the opinion that gallows humour gives rise to nothing but grotesque satire; but needless to say, human psychology acts in such a way that – and I quote Freud here – the ego refuses to be distressed by the provocations of reality, to let itself be compelled to suffer.
It insists that it cannot be affected by the traumas of the external world; it shows, in fact, that such traumas are no more than occasions for it to gain pleasure. So, it is psychologically justified for a human-being to find such jokes funny, but, perhaps, it’s time we address the most critical issue here – Sociologists have pointed this out time and again, irrespective of how amusing you might find it, rape jokes do stimulate rape culture and even if ” it’s only a joke”, its practice should be discouraged. Rape jokes not only enhances but acts as the catalysts of rape culture.
Also read :- Sexualisation on the Silver Screen
What I am about to inveigh against next, might go down as an unpopular opinion, but it does fuel rape culture – Pornography is not alien to any of us. Most of us, at a certain point of time in their lives, have expressed curiosity to watch porn. India doesn’t have a legalised porn industry of its own; the adult content produced on consent in India are the B or C grade adult movies, which do not show frontal nudity.
So, for the average Indian, the only source of frontal nudity is the porn produced in the western countries and made available on the internet across various websites. Mainstream pornography like mainstream cinema also has a narrative which shows copulation among other things, but if one were to scrutinise the plots of these films, you’d see the plots are far-fetched from reality and it deprives the mind of a young viewer from actuality.
If one visits any porn website, he or she would notice that there exists no porn under the category ‘rape’ but, if one searches words and phrases like ‘force’, ‘gangbang’, ‘brutal’, ‘humiliate’, ‘torture‘ etc, a plethora of videos manifesting incredible sexual iniquity would come into sight. And as it goes without saying, the influence that such graphics cause to the mind – of both young and adults alike – deserves condemnation.
The other catalysts of the rape culture which come to my mind might sound exceedingly funny to some, but it isn’t. – The friend-zone. The bosom of friend-zone is a figmental zone where most men would hate to be, but even for a second, if I keep aside my contradictory perspective about the whole concept, there are thousands of men who are befriended by women without active participation in a romantic relationship.
Believe me or not, psychologists have pointed this out that a friendship between two opposite sexes, where a man is eager to get involved with a woman in a romantic relationship but isn’t able to because of her disapproval, does invigorate the man’s feelings for her – not only romantically but also sexually – and the latter does lend more weight to an already omnipresent rape culture.
I for one do not believe the perception of friend-zone. No man or even women for the matter of fact has a manifest destiny to have their romantic feelings reciprocated. The Indian society is patriarchal and in such a society men grow up believing that they are the dominant force and when one gets “friend-zoned”, they start feeling unassertive and feeble and in order to get even, a number of crimes are committed. It’s high time the society does away with this phantasmic zone.
And at last – Popular Culture. The depiction of women and their treatment on occasions add fuel to rape culture. Objectifying the female anatomy and glamourisation of sexual violence is quite common in films and television. It is quite a common trend to make use of rape and other forms of sexual savagery to make an otherwise ordinary plot appear serious and captivating. And it’s extremely disturbing when a popular public figure like Kareena Kapoor Khan dances to lyrics which read:
‘Main to tanduri murgi hoon yaar.Gatkale saiyan alcohol se’.
Public figures need to me more responsible as their works have repeatedly promoted rape culture. Rape is prevalent in society and if a work of art requires its depiction to portray the grim reality, it’s justified, but plot makers must put an end to the deliberate usage of rape to add ‘masala’ to the plot; it promotes rape culture.
It has been seen that the English newspapers are immensely responsible for the coverage of news related to rape and spreading its awareness. Statistically, an improvement has been noted since the infamous rape in Delhi on the 16th of December 2012, as the following years have witnessed more articles associated with rape and its awareness. However, Indian women are still vulnerable to rape and its high time the citizens of the country come forward and discern to the causes of rape culture and make a difference.
On the 29th of January, a renowned theatre troupe from Pune is travelling all the way across to Kolkata, as a part of Mad About Drama’s National Theatre Exchange Chapter-2. Their play ‘ITEM’ is about the objectification of female actors in Indian Cinema. Following the life of a B-grade Hindi film heroine, the film is about the male chauvinism, and patriarchy operating in our movie industry. Mad About Drama‘s popular show ‘A History of Butchers’ is returning on the 3rd of February, as the final act of this event.
Venue – Gyan Manch. Contact 9851716039 for the tickets.