All’s well that ends well? My take on the Shwetha Menon furor

Ranjini Haridas

Ranjini Haridas

So all’s well that ends well, or so they say. I think not!

The matter in question of course is the recent scandal of a top Malayali actress being  groped by a man in high power. We all saw the visuals, heard various debates, made our own judgements and some of us even voiced our thoughts on mainstream news channels, to find out moments later that the complainant has withdrawn her case. How did this come about?

Any sensible person would understand that this is a natural outcome expected out of something that turned from being a violation of a woman’s personal space to a political thamasha. I mean, c’mon, who in their right mind would want to take on our current political system. One must be stupid, since we’ve seen enough examples of how that works out!

We can all agree that our system is flawed, but I had no idea to what extent until this spectacle unfolded on my television set.

From a woman who voiced her displeasure of being touched unnecessarily at a public function, to the media turning it into a whirlwind scandal with non stop visuals of the incident in slow motion, with comments and statements of anyone and everyone who was available. At one point, we saw the entire incident shifting into a conspiracy theory with the usual mudslinging party politics leading to violent public protests and even effigies of both parties being burnt and pictures shredded. Every household was glued on to their TV, only to find out with dismay that the complaint was withdrawn with no external pressure. Really? After all that?

As a woman, my problem is not with how the incident shaped up or what happened, not even that two popular figures were involved. After all this, the larger issue has only become more poignant — a woman who is wronged and raises her voice against it, will not be given justice. Furthermore, she will be blamed, insulted, degraded and disrespected in every possible way to break her down. Such a load of crap.

In the last two days, as a woman, what I have come to realize is quite simple. For all the progress that our nation has made since independence, for all the laws written down to protect the modesty of women, for all the leaders who talk about how women empowerment is of utmost importance, for all the “vanitha commissions” and women’s liberation movements, a woman shall always remain, just a woman. Weaker than men, owned by men, live in the shadow of men. Nothing more than a daughter, wife or a mother, to be protected and provided for, with no voice of her own, no opportunity to grow or change. A result of centuries of cultural conditioning.

The very reason why any woman who defies that very cultural conditioning, who demands the right to make her own choices, voices her opinions, controls her own body and determines her own destiny will always be called “a bad girl” only because she doesn’t conform to the wishes and likings of her male counterparts.

So now what, you might ask? Well, nothing really. Everything shall continue as it was. Women of all ages will still be victimized sexually, emotionally, physically and there isn’t a damn thing our system can do to change that. So girls, get ready to be groped, slapped, pinched, abused, molested and raped because that apparently is our destiny. In the light of recent events, it is only going to increase, as even fools must have realized by now that nothing can be done. It’s a futile effort for women to want equality, to be treated with respect and not merely as sexual beings.

Unfortunately, with nobody else to protect us, we have to take matters into our own hands. For those, who do want to break free and be branded a bitch for life, I say your only way out is instant response. If you are being sexually harassed in any way, especially in public areas in broad daylight, react. Nothing is more effective than that. Malayalis are scared of confrontation, of being singled out in a crowd. So, gather attention to the situation and do the needful. It could be a stare, shove, push, slap or just a verbal reaction. And if all that is too much to ask out of a demure, well behaved Malayali girl, there is a protective device that women all over india have been carrying to protect their modesty — a safety pin. A tiny, sharp pin keeping us safe from the daily harassers. Use it!

6 comments

  1. Superb…This is definitely the way to go….I have my safety pin ready!..Thanks for speaking up

    1. “Well said Ranjini. There is a video circulating in YouTube where u been groped by a local lad during a public event in Kannur.. I didn’t see that u raised any police case or media wasted hours on that! How come! Can we agree that real ‘damage’ only happens only if the counterpart is someone with good media value. I second one of PC George’s comment, these emerging fame hunger women should be shaved and shamed in society !”
      Courtesy : a Facebook friend of mine

  2. Who Won? the news channel won, they (news media) delivered, what an over informed, over educated malayalee would be interested in. Until now it was some sarita and the chief minister, now this episode.
    C’mon we have so much serious issues to take the state forward, build better roads, improve govt hospital facilities, impose strict fines on reckless bus drivers.
    The keralites are looking next harthal, (the official holiday of kerala) ive heard tv channels charge special rates on advertisements, on harthal day special movies.

    Truly “gods own country” Devils Own People

  3. what message you are sending here?? All Indian girl to use safety pin or other means of self protection methods against these kind of shameless men?? This is just a temporary solution. Why don’t you ladies think about a permanent solution?? I am totally against Shwetha Menon’s withdrawal of the case, making it more weaker legally. She should have fight it out to restore her dignity. We are all with you ladies. We the people can change the system, there are lot of other people who will come and support to make our women feel secure and confident. I would expect ladies to come forward and try to change the system or mindset of the people, rather succumb to external pressure. W
    WE NEED A PERMANENT SOLUTION. PLEASE PLEASE FIGHT IT OUT.

  4. @Anand

    “Why don’t you ladies think of a permanent solution”
    “We are all with you ladies”

    Thank you for the empty words .. we’ve all heard them several times.

    The blame is on the woman again for something SHE is completely not at fault for. The man gropes and the woman has to find a solution for it? Here’s a thought… Why don’t the men STOP with the groping and molesting already?

    You blame the woman for withdrawing the case… do you blame EVERY SINGLE MAN IN HER FAMILY for ASKING her to withdraw the case? Do you have any idea how hard it is not only BE groped, but when you complain against it… have your entire world suddenly throw the spotlight at you and question every single choice you made in life till then that has NOTHING to do with being groped? Do you know how difficult it is to be a woman and make choices in life and then have your entire family not support you for it?

    Ever think about how differently you would live your life as a woman instead of a man?

    If you have to advise anyone, Anand, advise the MEN to STOP behaving like they do.
    If you REALLY want to support the women, stop blaming them, because blaming the victim is not really what “support” is.

  5. For me it is a tried and tested solutions. I was in a coach from Cochin to Bangalore going back to my college after a short vacation. I was comfortably seated and as I was dozing off I felt something creeping on my right arm and I immediately realised it was this guy who was seated behind me touching me. Most of my fellow passengers were sleeping and I got up and warned him. He was quiet for sometime. I always keep a safety pin with me and I was ready with my device for the next attempt which I was very sure about. I was not wrong, he again started touching my hand( that’s all he could reach from the gap between the arm rest and window) I let him touch me so that I would get a good grip of his hand. Once I got a firm grip on his arm I started pricking him with my safety pin. He couldn’t take his hands out and I felt so happy and it was a moment of triumph!! I don’t know whether pepper sprays are available in Kerala. I thinks we should keep them in our bags.

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