Edited to add: Disqus swallowed all the comments on this post when I was transferring to a self hosted blog. Therefore, you missed the clarification from Mr Bhagwad and other comments including the one from the editor of Women’s Web, Aparna Vedapuri Singh. My apologies!
When asked about his views on abortion in the case of rape here is what US Republican Senate candidate Todd Akins said very recently: “From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Stop Raping With Your Words
Earlier this month, I read with distaste this article published by a site called Women’s Web: Perversion, Possession, Or Just Normal? written by a retired Indian male bureaucrat who goes by the pen name of Sunilias. It was brought to the notice of a group of Indian women bloggers I am a part of. Many of us were very upset and asked Women’s Web to take it down, but they said they found nothing wrong with it! It was supposed to be breaking taboos, they said!!
What made me fume about the post? After a recent spate of attacks on women in India, not in the least the Guwahati incident, Mr Sunilias decided with the approval of a “women’s forum” to discuss the issue of rape fantasies of women. According to him, women fantasize about being raped and it is normal. Did his post contain anything based on his research or studies? NO. It was based on a cursory search on the internet which resulted in him finding an article on Psychology Today and quoting from it! Of course, the article he chose to quote had to be written by another man. When I think about Sunilias’ article, inadequate research, badly timed and terribly insensitive are just three phrases that come to mind.
I don’t pretend to be a psychologist or a researcher, but one thing I am that Mr Sunilias is not is a woman. This puts me in a much better position to ‘break the taboo’ than a male American politician or a male Indian bureaucrat.
So do women have sexual fantasies? Yes.
Do these fantasies include being raped? Some do. There are loads of romance books out there written by women tell of women being pursued by dominant men and finally falling in love with them. Do these stories reflect what women really feel – almost never? They are just that – fantasies. I don’t think these fantasies include the actual fear, terror, disgust and violence that women actually go through when they are abused. I will leave the intricacies of how the human mind works to the psychologists. However, in my opinion, the women who might fantasize about being raped are probably who suffer from poor self-esteem. Such a woman might subconsciously believe that in order to be attractive to a man she must be submissive.
However, my problem is with the likes of Mr Sunilias. In a country where there are so many other taboos like child abuse and incest to be broken, what made him choose this particular one? When he decided to include a some facts and figures to do so, he surfed the internet and came up with a link that substantiated the point he was making. There are other studies available on the subject that he chose not to include.
My fear is that when badly informed people go around talking about things they don’t know about and substantiate them with “statistics”, they could be dong a whole lot of harm. I know there will be men out there who will lap this up as a justification for rape. You’ll argue, that rapists don’t need any justification. But it’s not the rapists I’m talking about, it’s the millions of men who keep silent in the buses, the trains, on the roads and in the offices, we Indian women travel in, walk on and work in. It’s the millions of Indian men who don’t stand up and do something when a woman is molested. Instead, they might, like Mr Bhagwad, confess to jealousy and hope that we’ll applaud them for their honesty (please read the comment Bhagwad has made here below as an explanation of his post). I’m worried about Mr Sunilias ‘breaking of taboos’ becoming a justification for the stereotype that already exists in the minds of most Indian men and women – the woman who is raped or sexually assaulted must have been asking for it – by the way she dressed, the way she behaved and by wanting to be so ‘independent’.
So Women’s Web if you want to break taboos, I suggest you invite people who are qualified to talk about the subjects they write about – not some retired bureaucrat with good internet access and lots of time on his hands!
I just want to say to men like Todd Akins and Sunilias, “You don’t know a d*** thing about what you are talking, so shut up, already! Stop raping with your words!”