Sunday, December 23, 2012

Posters and campaigns against sexual assault

Over the last few months, I've seen a number of posters for campaigns against sexual assault. No surprisingly, these are all in other countries than India. Every time I see a post, I intend to save it and then forget.

Now that there's some kind of critical mass surrounding rape, rape culture, sexual assault and so on, I thought it was time to go looking for those posters.

1. How To Prevent Rape/Sexual Assault

2. Don't Be That Guy

These are not culturally specific to India in a number of ways beyond the obvious ones. But the Don't Be That Guy campaigns have apparently been effective elsewhere. And guess what? They acknowledge that men also get raped and sexually assaulted. It would be fantastic if we could have variations of these, no?

Posters and posters.

3. Statement by Women's and Progressive Groups and Individuals.

Here is a fairly comprehensive statement with a list of demands that does not include the death penalty, chemical castration and other absurdities. What is does include is demands for police reform, more, and more effective gender sensitisation of not just the police or other government functionaries, but from the primary school and up.

No, sorry, this statement doesn't ask that action should include gender sensitisation from a very young age, but duh! That is clearly necessary. Also, by the time kids are old enough to protest, they might know better than to wave bangles at the cops to taunt them in order to get them to do their jobs better.

At any rate, though it's possible that the statement doesn't cover everything, if you agree with it, do consider signing it (email given in that post). And do pass it on.

4. Solidarity and PLUs

This is also a good time to remember that it's not just People Like Us who get assaulted: not just urban, middle-class, mostly higher-caste women and men who get assaulted and raped.

It's fantastic that people are out and protesting, but let's not expect solidarity for ourselves and be less ready to give it when it is dalit women, rural women, people in Kashmir or Manipur, women and men in custody.

Anu Ramdas has a great post on Round Table.


km said...

I'd be interested in knowing why you think this particular tragedy has succeeded in capturing the nation's attention. Was it the heinousness of the attack combined with the zeitgeist and presence of social media?

(Since I'm old enough to remember Bhagalpur, I wonder - why didn't the country rise up then?)

AKM said...

WTF has this gent got away with it ? Ever since I read this a couple of months ago, I feel nauseated on hearing his songs blare out.And he is this town's staple diet. Am putting it on as many sites as possible.

Space Bar said...

km: The nature of the attack, yes; but the sad fact is that brutal attacks like this take place everyday in less visible places.

While I'm happy that such large-scale protests are taking place, I'm less sanguine that this anger is sustainable or will be in evidence for people who are not PLUs.

What can I say? It's the middle class seizing the moment, like with Anna Hazare.

akm: I had never heard of this guy, but I've just read the lyrics and I can't *believe* them.

km said...

@AKM: Misogyny in rap is hardly news in 2012 but yes, I do understand that it is new to Indian ears and sensibilities.

But aren't there a million shitty Bollywood songs that involve a hero "charming" the heck out of a "reluctant" heroine and eventually "winning" her over? Like we don't know what that is a code for.

Why is that cultural trope acceptable but not Honey Singh's misguided (and pathetic) attempt at aping American rappers?

Right now, the problem isn't profanity or misogyny in song lyrics. Not at all.

AKM said...

km : I wouldn't know how the misogyny of Eminem in the American context plays out there. I distrust the automatic comparison of American circs with ours in any case. I know that here, the Bollywood tropes of 'wooing' have now crossed over to this guy boasting about bloodying her. And in Delhi, I hear this gent blasting over the airwaves all the time. The message it sends is definitely a contributor. Not the only or even major perhaps, but I wouldn't agree with the 'not at all'.

km said...


That argument has been used against depictions of sex and violence in literature, painting, films, video games and popular music. (Just google the phrase "heavy metal suicides" and you will know what I am talking about.) It's also been shown to be a false alarm. After all, humans have acted like idiots even before the invention of rap and violent video games.

IMO, we should be asking a different question: how do you make a young male see that those rap lyrics are just an artifice and bear no resemblance to reality? That needs education, not censorship and is an entirely different challenge.

Space Bar said...

km: I don't think AKM is calling for censorship. If Honey Singh can make and distribute his kind of music and people are offended by it, they can call him out on it in whatever ways occur to them. That is not censorship; that's the way people respond. If he can't take criticism, he shouldn't put his work out there.

As for Hindi (and other mainstream) cinema, sure - they're on different places on the spectrum of misogyny and they should also be called out.

In fact, recently watched Santosh Sivan's Urumi and the facepalming was so continuous I may have repetitive stress injury.

I am feeling major nostalgia for my media studies classes now.

km said...

You're right. I am reading too much into AKM's comment. I think it came from reading too many tweets (and re-tweets) last week about this particular song lyric.