Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Rape Culture in Canada and India

Been thinking about the huge national trauma presently going on in India and how it compares to Canada. I've written before about how Canada really doesn't have any claim to advertise itself as a feminist paradise, but I've some thoughts on the matter.

India is a far more puritanical society than Canada is. Watch a few Bollywood movies and see if you ever see a kissing scene. I'm going to do some empty speculating here now. Patriarchal societies (and Canada and India are both patriarchal) that are also puritanical are going to be anti-female. Because the moral code is controlled by males and most males are heterosexual and therefore both attracted to women and resentful of them for this.

The thing that I don't like about puritanism is that it is a sickness based on delusion.While I don't believe that sex is a cost-free endeavour (providing nothing but happiness and pleasure in all circumstances) I do believe that a decent level of sex is required for emotional and physical well-being. It's a natural human need. And while I think that capitalism oversells sex to encourage consumption ("sex sells") I'm also leery of regulating the discussion or depiction of sex through censorship. Puritanism, being a delusion, leads to unhealthy ideas about sex and unhealthy and unrealistic codes of conduct for people. Puritanism deforms, distorts and dehumanizes.

And that's where we get stuff like this:

"Eve teasing." Here's the thing; I'm sure this "Eve-teasing" has been a problem for decades, if not centuries, but that in India it was mainly the problem of poorer women who had to go out to work. Wealthier women would have male relatives to escort them when they went out, which wouldn't be everyday or outside of their own neighbourhood. Now, however, "respectable" middle-class women are going out to work, and they can't be escorted all the time, and they're prey to these twisted young men themselves. (I know that the young woman who was raped and murdered recently was with her boyfriend. The campaign against "Eve-teasing" is about a problem that has only become thought of as a real problem because now it's become a widespread ordeal for women of all social classes.)

But check out that video. Notice anything? Of course! The "hero" of the story is the old man. The patriarch setting things right.

Last speculative outburst. India is becoming wealthier. That means more women being out and about buying things. That has meant more women going out to work. Digital communication means far more access to foreign media, which is going to mean much more access to the hyper-sexualized consumer culture of western capitalism. Combine all of this with India's puritanism and you will have a toxic stew of hatred and rape. Whether Indian feminism will be able to transform the country's culture in time to stem the tide is the big question.

No comments: