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Priyanka Gupta
Saturday , March 09, 2013 at 18 : 36

The new calendar: looking back at International Women's Day


Day after, the many declarations and the many speeches, the many self-congratulatory concessions and earnest prayers of hope, the pink balloons, pink t-shirts and pink ribbons. It's the day after the many rolls of films and wads of paper and a bulk of thought were poured at the altar of equality.

Day after we were sisters, mothers, wives and daughters to be congratulated for being a woman first, at birth, by our organs, for society.

Day after, we were told of our indomitable spirit and undying courage and all things human in hyperbole. We were told how we have been wronged, subjugated and humbled by the penetrating powers of patriarchy that dominates us through force, through sex and through language.

It's the day after the invented time and the convenient calendar created for the exonerating bubble of the deeply gendered hierarchies of government, politics, business and media which congratulated itself for taking one day out for half the world's population.

Speeches after speeches, articles after articles, shows after shows - we were told it was a day to introspect, it was a day to think and consider and feel for our mothers, sisters, daughters, wives and of course victims of rape and sexual harassment. Victims who were consecrated as survivors, a kind concession that our thinking and feeling liberals generously gave.

I say what happens today, what happens day after and the days that fold like bricks marking our threshold as the citizens of this world. Days when our leaders in the cabinet discuss and debate the Criminal Law Amendment bill and pore over the contours of the impenetrable superstructures of patriarchy of our country that dare not be disturbed- the Indian family and the Indian Army. Their limiting perceptions and definitions guided by the ideas of masculinity have persecuted women the most. Can one hope that our leaders will unshackle those powers to be free of what has eroded its very spirit and its humanity, to give the women of this free country the right to its greatness by being an equal citizen and an equal person.

An equal in every measure before law, before god, before society and before love?

Nothing, no family, no promise of martyrdom or supreme sacrifice for one's country can give people the liberty to corrode the very spirit of our great nation which not just produced the Gandhi-Nehru-Patel triumvarite, the legacy of Bose but its brilliance magnified and grown richer manifold by the likes of Kamaldevi Chattaopadhyay, Matongini Hazra, Sarojini Naidu and the nine women members who sat on the first day of the Constituent Assembly when the idea of India emerged as an equal concept for its citizens.

No idea of marriage or family can rob a union between two people, their right to equality and sexual autonomy. No goverment can be free and fair if it seeks to construct and perpetuate a unidimensional idea of masculinity as a power that can occupy bodies and subjugate mind at will by brute force between the bedsteads if it has the halo of religion, scriptures and law which can call it a marriage. This is the most inhuman understanding of what a marriage is and what a family constitutes that leaves a woman no tongue, no dignity, no self-respect and no pride.

She is a woman, the opposite of man, the one without power.

Can that day come when our lawmakers have the imagination to believe that marriage is a union between equals? Can the idea be conceived for it to be real someday? Can freedom before law mean freedom on the bed, in the kitchen, at the boardrooms, at barricades, in the barracks, in heart and mind and in spirit in India?

Can the Indian Army be seen just like any other establishment a conglomerate of human beings disparate and fallible at times and must therefore be guided by the same principles of law that govern the country and its people? Can it be conceived without its presumed legitimacy and infallibility. Can those men who masquerade as our protectors not have women licking their boots with a glint of patriotism shining on them? Can those men be seen as men not as jawans, men who don't deserve to serve our country, men who the Indian Army must purge.

Rape is an instrument of power, it throws an indelible mark on a woman's body marking its territory as an exhibit of its force.

It's time we remap the body, rethink our days, reimagine our calender and restructure our thoughts and think of the day after.


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