Much to my dismay I conclude that subtle gender violence happens ,is taught, propagated and supported or at best ignored even at ages as young as four or five.
The world is talking about rapes after the horrific rape and killing of a young girl in Delhi in December 2012 and a few other equally violent rapes of young girls as young as five in Delhi and other towns in India.We talk about domestic violence, economic inequality based on gender and so many other discriminatory practices which unfortunately still prevail in India.I wonder why there is so little talk about how we bring up our boys.
Scene in a neighborhood park
My four year old little daughter and another girl are making sand castles, a boy slightly older knocks off their castle twice.His mother sits on the bench across and just smiles.The girls for some strange reason or inbuilt "don't get hurt/molested/raped" syndrome walk away from the scene of confrontation and move to play on a slide.The bully follows them and prevents their play even there.Now as I get up to intervene the mother rushes and sheepishly pulls him away saying," oh! you know how it is ,boys will be boys"
Scene at a family reunion
A few cousins playing together and the boys pulling the girls' hair or throwing toys.The girls go crying to their moms and the mother of the boys or the grandmother say,"Oh ladke to aise hi hote hain,zyada a shararti hote hain"( boys are like this,they are more naughty.)
Have you ever noticed how Johnny in the popular nursery rhyme Johnny Johnny yes papa ,just laughs ha ha ha when his lie is caught by his father,do we have the same standards for our girls?
When our children sing
Peter Peter pumpkin eater
Had a wife and couldn't keep her
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well!
Imagine the kind of husband -wife equation we are putting forth,where the husband can or cannot"keep" a wife and then lock her at his will.What kind of an ideal is this for young boys,kiss the girls and make them cry?
Georgie Porgie pudding and pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry
Hindi rhymes are no better ,sample a few here.This one is called BANDAR KI SASURAL
Lathi lekar been bajata,
Bandar ja pahuncha sasural.
Mein aaya bandari ko lene,
Kaun banaye roti-daal.
or this one often taught in several variations
Titli udi , ud n saki,
bus me chadi, sit na mili,
sit na mili, rone lagi,
conductor ne kaha, chal mere saath,
Titli boli chal hatt badmaash.
or lessons like this one in Hindi books
Look at the cartoon shows we so happily let our kids watch where girls play the cooperative games and boys are always confrontational.Where pushing,killing,harassing is allowed and made to appear funny.There is no denying that games,rhymes,cartoons all are fun,but we have to be careful about what kind of images and messages are being given to our kids there.
So when I think of Gender violence now and seeking some kind of equality I think I should pledge to ring a bell in fact ring all my alarm bells every time a parent ,grandparent or a teacher reinforces the stereotypes by saying Oh boys will be boys !
This is not harmful just for our girls but our boys are also getting trapped in stereotypical images of macho men who are crude,violent and destructive,and those who do not fit in again get derogatory labels.
Lets start to tackle gender violence from where it actually starts from the clean slates of our kids' minds,from the roots of the people they grow up to become.
This post is a part of the Indiblogger initiative for Bell Bajao.