‘Misogyny’ and 'sexism'- two different but powerful terms against women. Most of the time, we think that men and women are equal. Men who are chauvinists or who despise women still exist in modern society. Women are still being objectified as property of men in some urban and rural communities today. Objectification of women is not a new concept; it has deep roots in our Indian culture. In our epics, we have examples like Yudhishthira gambling with Draupadi, objectifying her as property, or the way lord Ram judged Sita.
The youth dare to speak up and demand equality. They are also capable of expressing themselves on social media. Furthermore, both men and women join forces for legislative reform and urge a shift in social discernment. But, what about our forefathers and mothers? Do their ideas evolve, do they promote equality, and do women take a position for themselves? Yet, such questions remain unanswered because people of the older generation force-feed ideas like women should never make themselves attractive, women should always tolerate men, men can only dominate society, etc. They have normalized gendered hate speech to the point where we no longer find anything wrong with it. However, they should be aware that it is a criminal offense, for which they may face prosecution under section 153A of the Indian Penal Code.
Misogynist discourse takes the form of hate speech through slut-shaming, rape, violation, humiliation, and sexualized death threats. Why is it that the character of a woman is constantly called into question, degraded, and slut-shamed in rape and sexual harassment cases? Why can't the men do it? Why are men not held accountable for such crimes? They always blame women for squandering their honor. The victim's honor is unblemished; it is the criminal who should be degraded. Unfortunately, the majority of the victims are murdered by the perpetrator or commit suicide. It is unusual for a criminal to pass away. In most cases, the victims do not speak up because their families are afraid of the consequences. Also, in some parts of the country, they marry the rape victim to their rapist because they see them as a used product, and no other men will be marrying her. At this point, do they even consider a woman as a human or just possession of men?
Another example of dehumanizing women is the practice of dowry. Dowry has caused problems for women in most sections of the country. As a result, crimes against women such as emotional abuse, physical torture, and even death are common. Previously, the bride's family saw dowry as a symbol of love and care, but the situation has only deteriorated since then. Dowry determines the status of a woman in the groom's family. The dispute over dowry almost ends in dowry deaths, being strangled to death by the husband or his family, or hanging herself without being able to bear the torture. This system creates inequality and paves the way to treat women as property or commodities.
When a woman deviates from the traditional definition of womanhood or engages in a sensual relation with numerous men, she is labeled as a 'slut.' We have normalized slut-shaming as a mild insult in a society when it should be viewed as comparable to ragging. Our society has come a long way in masculinizing everything, from labeling a woman easy-lay take-away because of her options and open-mindedness to whoring her character only because of her dark red lip shade.
Our uneducated society pierces the conversation on gender justice and the criticism of our misogynist system. Misogyny and sexism, other means of harassing, demeaning, and shaming women, have mostly gone unnoticed as a severe menace to women. But the truth is it is the most intense and shameful brutality. In India, sexual abuse is committed only by men at many levels. Are men not responsible for their actions, or do they not have a responsibility to safeguard their mothers, sisters, and daughters in such a society? Women, on the other hand, are complicit in the predicament since they believe they were created solely for marriage and childbearing. They also doubt the women who dress up to seem attractive or choose something indifferent. So somewhere or the other women are also responsible for these kinds of situations. Social changes do not take place immediately. Change should begin from our mentality, and then only it will translate into reality.
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