Saturday, March 14, 2015

On 'India's Daughter'... and mine

I simply had to weigh in. There does come a time when pop-cultural forces beyond one's control form the ideal set of conditions for a perfect storm of collective global mania to descend upon an ill-defined and amorphous categorization of a group of male people who have nothing in common except a shared ethnicity and a befuddlement that they are indeed being grouped together by the rest of the world, as they are contemporaneously living with, loving, and sharing time and space with the women in their lives.

I am not a rapist.

I don't know what being a rapist feels like. I do not know that I would want to know what a rapist feels while he is being rapist or while he is going about his day and night not being rapist. I do want to know that my daughter is being protected by society from the genus of people collectively called rapist. I abhor rape in all its forms and manifestations. I'd like to believe this statement and the reality behind it puts me among 99.9999999.... % of the world's population, please.
I am an Indian male. While being an Indian male does not mean that I presently live in India or preclude the circumstance of me ever going back to the country, I identify with the commonality of traits and the shared cultural markers that are perceived as indicative of being an Indian male of a certain age. I believe that we are all ultimately where we are originally from, how much ever we might live our lives trying to undo our heritage, and I am completely comfortable with that. What I will not abide, however, is this idea that I must somehow be apologetic because someone else committed a crime that had nothing to do with me.
Have I ever acted to perpetuate misogyny or actively participated in an act of misogyny? I don't remember the exact circumstances when I did, but I'm sure that I must have done so sometime in my life. Just as I'm sure that I must have hit someone at sometime in my life with the intent to cause bodily harm, and been actively insensitive to someone at sometime in my life with the intent to humiliate. For these I am truly, deeply, unreservedly sorry to whomsoever I may have injured as a result and I would pay reparations in whatever form the victim(s) so wishes if I had the time or money to do so. In the current circumstances of my life, I would be hard pressed to take time off my daily schedule at work to even answer a summons at the risk of losing a desperately needed shift wage.
I represent myself. I am the sum of my experiences and desires and needs and fantasies, that are wholly, uniquely mine. I do not accept that others, except those I have so appointed and have a responsibility towards, have a say in the decisions I take to fulfil my expectations of life. I grant that everyone else in the world has the exact same right, as long as they are of sound mind and body and of a greater than commonly accepted age threshold.
I do not believe we have the right, as a society, to kill another human being as a penalty for a crime. I believe anyone can be rehabilitated and should be granted every chance to do so of their own volition.
I can only imagine what Jyoti Singh Pandey's parents, friends and associates go through every single day of their lives after what was done to her. I do not envy them that fate.
I don't believe that what happened to Jyoti Singh Pandey is representative of Indian society or its cultural values any more than is the belief that Indian society is a largely homogeneous, predominantly heterosexual, chauvinistically Vaishnavite entity.

There are worlds within worlds, both within India and myself.

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