Background to those who’ve been living under a rock: A scholar named Dr. Rejith Kumar, as part of a series of “moral consciousness” lectures, made quite a few patronizing comments against women. Only one girl walked out. The media blew it up. People blew up. There was outrage against this guy, but more so against the media. Below are screenshots of some amazing comments on just one video of his speech. Look around Facebook for more. Or Twitter. Or other videos on Youtube. These activists are everywhere. Hey human beings with uteruses, hold on tight.
Disclaimer: I’m not witty, and wasn’t trying to be. Any accidental sarcasm is purely a shield for anger.
Dear lovely brothers of mine,
I was about to start with “I hope I meet you soon” but then I remembered I most likely have. You’re everywhere. In all sorts of relationships, in all kinds of costumes- wolves and lambs, and lions even. You are often educated and often not; your age too has no special pattern. I see you all the time. I hear you almost on a daily basis. When I wash my face in the mornings, I linger for an extra second in the mirror because I hear your voice in my ear. And I touch my lips and my nose and my eyes and make sure they’re still there, that they’re still mine, that you hadn’t “fixed” me in the middle of my sleep. Or at least, not yet.
You tell me I’m a baby making machine. I have a job and only one. My uterus is my hands, my brain, my heart, my lungs- it is all I am and everything I will ever be. Most days, I let it go but some days, I begin to argue. Or, I want to argue but, I don’t know how to place my words. It seems silly to have to convince you that I’m a real person, not very different from you; that my wants, my likes, my dislikes, my dreams and failures are pretty much the same as yours. I don’t want to fight for the smallest of things you take for granted. And yet, I have to. By birth, I must struggle to eat from the same plate as you (and if you’re the type that says we naturally have to eat from different plates, fine- as long as you acknowledge that you’re the only one who gets to choose the plates). To be honest, I don’t know how to convince you of this. Because even the slightest of my attempts at arguing marks me as the “other kind” of woman, an uncultured one who has lost her womanhood- even when that entire definition is based solely on your words and needs.
A man uses skewed descriptions of biology, a weird touch of genetics and physiology to tell me that I should not jump, I should not run like my brothers do. Silly uterus, you’re a delicate flower and I can’t bear to have you wilt. He goes on with extrapolations of religious texts and psychology, and uses statistics that he obviously cannot prove (ninety something girls lie to their parents; girls are worse children, etc etc). He tells the audience that the girl walked out in protest because of her DNA. He quotes the Quran, which has tons of quotations on how to respect a woman and treat her well but, he chooses one that says hell has more women than men. Fine. I’ll take it. All that’s fine. Even educated people are sometimes lunatics. And even lunatics can get considerable amount of time and attention on stage with a microphone and TV cameras at hand. It’s Kerala-2013; anything’s a valid possibility. But dearest brothers, where do you come from? A lot of what he said could at least be justified by his “education”, however misinformed it might be, but most of what you said… sucks.
You talk about how he was right in saying that it takes a male only 10 minutes to get a woman pregnant but it takes a woman 10 months to give birth. You berate the one girl who had the balls (oops) to leave by saying that her skinny jeans will probably prevent her from giving birth anyway. You ask if the media that is (surprisingly) on her side will be there during her pregnancy. And you use the vilest of words. And love, I AM CONFUSED. ANGERED. ASHAMED. Where do you come from? Where is this sheer hate from? Sex is not something a man does to a woman. Which culture does that definition come from? Which holy book- scientific definition-holy bearded saint-award winning journal-pharmaceutical company funded neutral research is on your side for that? The doer and the sheets he slept on; the picture you draw is simple. And I don’t even understand how something as beautiful as pregnancy could be twisted into an insult, a curse on the one girl who stood up for herself. Why would you even think of doing that? Why would her sexuality be the first thing you question? Even Dr. Rajith Kumar’s speech makes more sense than your choice of words!
But the funnier thing is who you are. You’re the crusader for my morality, the protector of my honor, my Indian womanhood, my samskaram at its best. You talk about how quickly your sperm can ruin me but if you had it your way, it wouldn’t be a future conditional you place that in. And note, only you can use those words outside a biological sciences textbook- sperm, uterus, vagina, sex. And you do them enough. You are the protector of my dignity while scouting around for “hot aunty”, “actress scandal scene” and the disturbing list of immature tags that fill the rest of your Youtube account, in the gaps between these kinds of inspirations upon which you unleash your most colorful vocabulary. Never mind that those women are your mothers. That their so called sexual acts are non-existent. You tell us that there are two kinds of uteruses, apples even- good ones and rotten ones. The latter make easy targets; they’re the natural prey and they chose to become one. So your predation is the most normal of responses, you say. But where do you draw your lines? Why, you even force your teachers to wear overcoats over the cultured, beaded and prided, national dress of India- the sari- in order to protect their muted honor. And I wonder if at home, you tell your sisters to do the same. The cell phone photography my generation’s brothers indulges in makes me wonder whether the Oedipus complex in itself is genetic (what do you think, Dr. Kumar? Or, do only women have awful genes they cannot control?) and it seems to be the same kind of people most proficient in both- the protecting and the exploring. So before you show me where to draw my lines, would you please decide yours?
Recently, I watched a Malayalam movie called “My Boss”, a pathetic attempt at comedy at the expense of quite a few dialogues you would certainly approve of. The “boss” in question is a female, who by definition needed to be put in her place. Educated girls are arrogant sluts, who ruin the traditional family and treat men as their mortal enemies. Oh, haven’t you heard? The movie was silly (and is definitely not good enough to be relevant) but most of its assumptions were very real. Sometimes, I think you’re afraid. It’s like those elementary-aged recess bullies who pick on others because of their own scary monsters. Perhaps you’re insecure, love, that when I jump, I might jump higher than you. And my uterus is the only scare tactic you know. Sorry about that- I can give you more.
When I jump, I’m afraid of where your eyes wander. I’m afraid of being harassed in ways I cannot lodge a complaint about. If I do utter my discomfort, you’ll point to the inches of fabric in my clothes, the way it was cut, and shrug. Those with eyes see. (Those with guns shoot? Those with penises rape?)
When I jump, I’m afraid of how hard I might have to scream before you hear me. You barely recognize my voice when I am nearby. If I say no, you convince yourself that I’m just too shy to say yes. And by the time I return to the ground, it might even be too late to consider using my voice.
When I jump, I’m afraid of how gravity will treat my clothes in the fall because each inch of skin is sexually charged. My entire existence is for you. If I wore lipstick this morning, if I have make up on, my intentions are clear- I am trying to charm you. Forget that, I’m trying to sleep with you.
I don’t think Dr. Rajath Kumar is a bad person. I don’t think he’s a stupid person either. And for all the times I called that part of his speech a lunacy, I don’t think he’s mad either. There were parts of his speech that called on people to believe in their dreams, to see themselves accomplish their goals, to be respectful, to be obedient, to be model citizens- all of it made sense. I’m sure he’s a fine educator. That’s why this letter is to you, loves, and not him. Your morality is evident in the manner in which you supported Dr. Kumar’s. While his words might have been ignorant, yours was simply hateful.
I hope you grow out of it, some of you at least. I hope your wives, sisters, mothers and daughters show you the most human side of them. For now though, it would be nice if you left me alone with my uterus. We’ll grow up too. If I jump and lose her along the way, we’ll figure it out together- it isn’t quite your place to be. I do hope with all my might that one day, you’ll see me as something more than a breeding mechanism. And this is to the uncles as well as the brothers- it’s never too late to start respecting other human beings.
With love and a hope for mutual respect,
a 21-year old girl in collaboration with her very own uterus
P.S: “Pidakozhi koovunna noottandu”- “The century where hens crow” – a lot of you used it as an insult. But, do hens really sound that bad? Can’t we choose to harmonize?