There are men who believe that women are inferior. We obviously cannot stand people like these. We either argue with them or just chuck them out of our lives. There are men who say that they totally understand the reality that women are not treated equally. They will write poetry on women’s day. They will post about how disgusting rapists are. They will like status updates dedicated to the free spirited women. But if you keep your eyes and ears open, you will notice the deep rooted belief about the male superiority expressing itself subtly. They show their true colors eventually (like “She accomplished XYZ despite being a woman” remark by India’s Prime Minster). They are not ‘bad’ people, they are mostly unaware of their own prejudices. Here are some signs that I have personally observed:
1. They use the word ‘slut’ as an insult.
If you truly respect women, you will understand that shaming prostitutes is patriarchal. Ask yourself this question before using it as an insult: Why are men, who go to prostitutes not blamed? What’s amazing is that those who are outraged about Nirbhaya rape case are the same ones who tweet with the hashtag ‘Pressitutes.’
2. They obsessively try to ‘protect’ you
We obviously need men who are serious about women’s protection but some men think about protection in a typical Bollywood fashion where the ‘heroine’ always needs the ‘hero’ to be safe. Moreover, it also says that women’s rights are just limited to fighting the rapists. The reality is that the eve teasers and the rapists are a product of a culture that promotes misogyny in every aspect of our mundane lives. Crime against women cannot be reduced by ‘accompanying’ your girlfriend/daughter/ mother everywhere she goes .When you do that, you are only contributing to a culture that says that it’s the women who are responsible for rape. Having said that, I’m not saying that those who do are wrong. I understand that sometimes, things are not so easy.
3. They say that a woman is ‘theirs’
It is flattering and romantic when someone says, “You are mine” to you. People clap when a guy beats up a villain and says, “How dare you stare at my sister?” But it sort of makes women a ‘property’..something you ‘own.’ Some people even bring in patriotism. “How dare you touch a woman from my country?” is very popular. When you bring in these ideologies, you are actually perpetuating the very mindset you are fighting against. Are you saying that it is less important if the woman who was eve teased belonged to some other country?
4. They think that the enemy is outside:
If a man OR a woman thinks that ‘evil’ is only outside him/her, he/she is just boosting his/her ego by ‘fighting’ against evil. He/she secretly feels superior to the sinners and his/her outrage is just a mask to hide his/her own flaws. Beware when someone thinks that he/she is ‘clean’ and its the rest of the world that is corrupt, mean or impure.
5. They are homophobic or they harbor a deep prejudice against certain section of society
You cannot say that you are for women’s equality if you are homophobic or a bigot. The reason being that at the end of the day, it’s about freedom and oppression. If you believe in policing someone for something that isn’t even your business, your ‘respect for women’ is most probably a facade. If you think that all Muslims are terrorists or that homosexuality is sin, you are uncomfortable with anything that doesn’t fit into conventions. Most probably, you will have a problem with anything that is not ‘conventional’ like say women not waxing.