“You’ll only have one glass one wine won’t you?” is the question that my mum usually asks before I leave for a night out. I’ve grown up with the idea that women shouldn’t drink, and if they do then one glass is more than enough. Many of my Indian friends drink and party till the early hours but most of their parents are not always aware of what they are up to.
So when I learnt about recent events in South India, where a right wing group of activists beat up a group of young girls drinking in pub I was shocked, but not surprised. It got me thinking about attitudes towards women in my culture, and why it is that despite being born and bred in Europe, many of my Indian friends still find it hard to be entirely open with their family. Despite the fact that more and more women are going out to work and becoming financially independent, it is still difficult to stray away from the “norm”. Elders of the family say they are just looking out for us, and I often find myself annoyed at the fact that my partner is not overprotective. It’s been the norm for me throughout my childhood, but do I and other women really need protecting?
The men who attacked the young women in the pub were angered by the fact that they were drinking alcohol, mingling with men and wearing clothes that they called “indecent”. The leader of the party, Pramod Muthalik said that his party were the “custodians of Indian culture” aimed at stopping women from “going astrayThe fast growing Facebook group, The Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women, is encouraging women to “walk to the nearest pub and buy a drink” on Valentine’s Day tomorrow. The group has nearly 30,000 members. Is this about protecting women’s rights or protecting women from negative influences of society?
A recent survey in Turkey found that 64% of women interviewed said they did not think it was a big deal for their husband to beat them.
This writer in Qatar feels that women should stop trying to be like men and just accept their position in society. “Given my privilege as a woman, I only degrade myself by trying to be something I’m not — and in all honesty — don’t want to be: a man. As women, we will never reach true liberation until we stop trying to mimic men, and value the beauty in our own God-given distinctiveness.”
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, made no secret of his views on women and rape earlier this year when he explained that he was planning to send 300,000 soldier’s onto Italy’s streets to protect them. He added that Italy needed many soldiers because Italian “women are so beautiful”.
In an age when women aspire and often gain equality, why do they need protecting?
Madeleine adds: I’m presenting tonight and just wanted to add a few more thoughts. As Nate in Oregon notes below, controlling can often be dressed up as protecting. It’s an interesting thought.
There are different levels of protection too: there’s the big stuff like protecting women from violence, or protecting women from discrimination. There’s the protection from so called ‘negative influences’ like drinking that Krupa explained so well. But there’s also the little stuff. For example when we’re walking on the pavement my husband generally walks on the side closest to the road, an old-fashioned habit I think designed to either stop me falling on the road, or stop something on the road from hitting me. I’ve never asked him to do it, in fact I’ve told him gently it’s not necessary, but he still does it because he wants to feel as though he’s protecting me. Do women need some degrees of protection but not others?
And while we’re at it, who does ‘protecting’ women actually benefit? The woman herself? Or the man who gets to feel as though he’s doing the right thing? And could it be just that vulnerable people deserve protecting, and that who is vulnerable changes depending on circumstance?