Indian Culture: Boys and Girls must not 'mix'.
Western Culture: It's their life.
Now what is wrong with men and women socializing, going out, holding hands, even dating, *drinking*, dancing, eating and having some fun together ? (Leave a comment. I really wish to know!)
Maybe meet their future life partners.
Maybe have a few heart breaks.
If they meet their future life partners, then there are chances that the partner will be from a different caste, religion or region.
Is that the problem?
Our Hindu-Talibanis think it is.
We might find out that just because somebody worships a different God and celebrates some different festivals does not mean they are weird or bad.
I know a huge number of such marriages and have seen them perfectly happy. But then if we stop hating each other who will vote for these Right Wing Extremists?
One fear we have is the girls will get cheated or get pregnant. (UGH at the logic) OR MUCH WORSE BE FLICKED BY ONE OF ANOTHER RELIGION! (not linking!)
And if they convert then who will vote for the saffron molesters?
(Although personally I don't see any logic in converting to your partners religion or name, simply because you shouldn't need to. Many of my friends are married to women and men from different faiths and they follow TWO religions in the family. Great for our National Integration I would say.)
If they are matured and well guided they will not get pregnant, and if they are 'cheated' or heart broken once they will be careful next time. They will learn life isn't easy and that there IS life after a heart break. (In fact there is life after an unwanted pregnancy and abortion too.)
I had this (male) cousin who had studied in boys schools throughout and he said, "We have had an education that gives us the intelligence to see it's illogical that we should marry someone we don't know and an upbringing that says we must marry a total stranger, chosen by our parents."
I know many Indians go through this.
I have studied in coed institutes all my life and found that those who have not been allowed to mix may (sometimes) have stereotyped image of what the 'opposite sex' is like. There is also curiosity.
Some boys would tell us (We were three best friends and called ourselves 'The Three Witches of Macbeth') they could joke, sing or have coffee (in the college canteen) with us without having to worry that we'd assume they were line maroing (trying to patao/wooing/courting/flirting etc).
We felt the same way.
Some boys who had never interacted with girls before thought if you as much as laughed at their jokes you probably were in love with them. It wasn't their fault. They had absolutely no concept that girls could have normal conversations with boys, or that girls were just like any other people.
Why this ridiculous segregation of young adults?
I have seen many parents dread that the boy might find a girl who will take him away from them.
If he is bold enough to choose a life partner today, tomorrow he might wish to live in his own house. In traditional families any wish to marry a girl he likes is equal to being irresponsible.
And always, always the parents know better.
So he is considered wise enough to run a company but not wise enough to marry the girl he likes.
Sometimes the loss of dowry might also be (sad but true) a concern.
So the boys parents prefer that boys don't meet girls who might trap them, and the girls parents fear that girls will meet boys who might exploit them. Keep them segregated. Save the culture.
In our times, we could talk to boys without ever fearing any violent attacks. Those were pre-hindutva days. We could even ask the boys the much valued boys point of view, like, "Do you think boys prefer girls who are lady like/thin/fat/dark/fair?" or "Does red colour really look hot?" We were not thinking of dating every single boy we met. And the boys had no such goals either.
There were some in the college who stayed on the campus only (I guess) for the Student Bus Passes which allowed you free rides in all DTC (Delhi Transport Corporation) buses for Rs 17.50/- a month.
We used to hear of how they assumed that any boy talking to any girl could either be her boy friend or had to be her brother! We also heard they made guesses at which boy was going out with which girl because they could not imagine any normal interaction between two adults of the 'opposite sexes'. It was sad but this is what segregation does to young minds.
At that age they appeared villainous to us because they were also the ones who invariably asked us. "Will you do fraindhseep with me?" I am sure they grew up hating the 'modern and westernized' girls and boys who they saw having so much fun from which they were excluded. Excluded because we could sense they didn't see us as individuals.
It is assumed by those who do not 'mix', that men and women cannot meet, talk, interact for anything but sex. The (stupid) idea is deeply entrenched.
They also can't imagine a girl in so called 'skimpy' or 'nude' clothes could have any goal but to attract male attention. Just like they can't imagine any man can have anything intelligent to talk to a woman specially if she seems 'skimpily dressed' to them. It is also assumed that her family must disapprove of such clothes, and even if she is an adult, she must be 'kept in control'.
What she wants does not count?
No. In Indian culture, a girl could be an MBA or a Doctor, a teacher a mother, or she could be just another adult citizen. A girl's wishes don't count. It just doesn't make sense .... and you see semi literate neighbours and elders and now even the local criminals, deciding how she dresses, who she socializes with and what she eats or *drinks*?
And this rule applies across religions all over India.
Why do we make excuses for our culture? Let's be honest. It needs to see major reforms.
In typical arranged marriages the two people who are to spend a lifetime together are not encouraged to meet alone, and definitely not away from home.
And why? Because if they after such a meeting decide that they do not wish to marry, the girl's reputation is ruined. WHY? Didn't she meet men at work place, in buses, in the shops and restaurants? Why is it such a big deal if she met just one more person she does not wish to marry? She is choosing a life-partner ... what's the whole taboo-this and taboo-that about??
I think many Indian parents are genuinely worried that their daughters will come to harm if allowed to 'mix' with men - it basically leads to the all important reputation (The famous HONOR again!) if they meet the wrong kind of men. So instead of helping them learn to survive ...millions of Indian adult citizens are not allowed to the 'opposite sex'. They are told their parents always know best! If the parents always knew best then would there be wife-burning cases? I personally know many unhappy decisions made by parents who believed they always know better.
Parents blindly follow 'safety procedures' created centuries ago, by getting the children married within their communities or in relying on the false security of matched horoscopes - today we know these do not make marriages unhappiness-proof, violence-proof, burn-proof or divorce-proof. Parents mean well, but I would rather we stop assuming we always know what is best for our adult children.
Once the parents accept that they must respect their children and their (specially girls') individual rights, the society will follow.
And our Hindutva saviours will stop exploiting these parents fears. One of the Mangalore molesters claimed that if the girls' parents say they don't mind the girls coming to the pubs they would leave them alone!
The attackers come from families where they can't even imagine that any girl can have so much freedom.
Let alone not requiring to seek permission, they can't imagine her ever being granted such a permission. There are men who would kill their sisters if they even dreamt of having 'so much freedom'. And they say this with pride! (This is why I say, India respects women. Conditions apply.)
And how does this freedom hurt the culture or society?
When we got engaged my husband met my friends (including *male* friends), I met his - (including *female* friends). It was understood that it was impossible for any normal human to have reached their twenties without ever having had any crushes.
He came from a different region, but we were fond of Indianised Chinese (food) and western music. We danced at the drop of a hat, we read the same authors, wore the same blue jeans and although I preferred sports shoes and some in his family preferred high heels, and although some of them bowed their heads at the sight of anyplace where (they thought) Gods resided, I never felt our cultures were different. They spoke another language but English bound us.
If our language was English, our culture was modern Indian 'Westernised' culture - it is this culture that binds us, all Indians, our Cosmopolitan Culture. This culture that was born with our Constitution and made us all equal.
This modern culture of freedom, of trendily dressed independent boys and girls walking in and out of pubs, this culture that is our right, is Saffron Taliban's nightmare culture.
[Usha Pisharody, I did the tag :) All of us bloggers protesting, holding hands against this infringement of our right to hold hands and walk in and out of pubs or anywhere else without being beaten up or molested for it ...]
EDITED TO ADD: ONE OF THE AIMS OF THIS POST IS TO SHOW SOME GLIMPSES OF THE INDIA THAT THE MANGALORE ATTACKERS AND NIRMALA VENKATESH SEEM TO BE TOTALLY UNAWARE OF.