Indian men on women: In their own words – Delhi

‘I saw Dabangg 2 and thought it was an abomination. Entertainment caters to the lowest common denominator, which means sleaze’
Sukalyan Roy, 27, Delhi
Marketing, Titan Industries
Why do you think the Delhi bus gangrape garnered so much attention and outrage?
It was the gruesome nature of the incident. Delhi is inured to cases of rape. But this happened right here in south Delhi, not in the outskirts like Gurgaon.  That is what caught so many people’s attention, despite the fact that we have become desensitised to such crimes. Of course the media coverage also plays a huge role here.
What are the reasons for so many rape cases in India?
We are a pretty traditional patriarchal society with a skewed sex ratio. There is limited interaction between men and women. What men cannot have they want to claim. It is primal. Women have historically been subjugated. Therefore the thought process is one of putting them in there place.
Do you think “modern culture” is responsible for this?
Maybe cases of sexual assault are more pronounced in villages and towns because they go unreported. In cities there are more chances to talk about it. You get to hear more cases. But smaller town victims suffer in silence. Very few will come out in the open because of the shame and stigma. There has to be a threshold of shock value attached to the incident to get people talking.
Many people feel women’s freedom is responsible for the rise in sexual crime. Do you agree?
Not at all. Women don’t dress provocatively in rural India, yet rapes happen. It is more of a show of strength on the part of men. Proving that they are still in charge. Independence and empowerment is seen as a threat.
Are you comfortable with women getting freedom?
I am all for it. I also, think that women are in many ways the stronger sex, with a deeper strength that men are incapable of. It is man who has to steadily change.
Do you think Indian women have enough freedom?
They don’t have freedom yet. If half of the population is scared of going out at night, what kind of freedom does it have?
Where do you think that this mindset against women is emerging from?
Women are objectified and abused across the world. Men in India are no different. But perhaps in our case, there are just not enough deterrents. Stronger action needs to be taken. And the change has to come from the grassroots level. Women have been traditionally assigned roles, and they are punished for transgression. In many places women don’t even know they can break out of these roles.
What were you taught to think about women in your own family? Do you think women should have equal freedom as men?
I grew up in a very progressive household where the women were actively involved in decision-making. But I also think that is a Bengali women thing. Yet the rules were a bit different for my sister than they were for me.
Lots of women today like to enjoy their bodies — wear nice clothes, many of them are comfortable with having relationships before marriage or outside of marriage. Do you think this is good or bad for society?
Learning to enjoy and assert sexuality is a global phenomenon. It is a natural progression. Maybe, we are on the threshold of being a more evolved society.
If any woman/girl in your family told you she had been molested by someone within the family or outside, how would you react?
I would be pretty shocked. But I would take it up, instead of keeping quiet about it. I would take it up with the family.
Do you think pop culture has any role to play in the way society behaves?
A personal example. I saw Dabangg 2 and thought it was an abomination. Look at the way women are represented in that movie. Entertainment caters to the lowest common denominator, which means sleaze. Look at the item number culture. It is such a voyeuristic concept. It is disturbing and people imbibe it subconsciously. It shapes popular perception of gender equations to quite a degree.
Do you agree that there are a lot of molesting / rapes / forced sex within families that girls are asked to be quiet about to preserve honour?
What is your concept of a modern successful woman?
One who is truly independent. She can be staying at home, with family, on her own, but is independent enough to make her own decisions, to dress the way she wants, to go where she wants, to have as many sexual partners as she chooses.
What is your concept of an ideal man — in terms of how he deals with women?
One who lets her be comfortable in her own skin.
How do you think this problem of violence against women can be addressed?
It can be fixed. But there is no overnight solution. Attitude of punishment has to be checked and broken down. Men need to stand up for women as fellow human beings, not just their mothers, sisters, wives. Deterrents need to be put in place through the system of law. Also I think there is sensitisation needed in the way we talk about sex crimes. Being bombarded by each gory detail from the media is overkill.