No means No. But what are we thinking?

My grandmother had these bunch of homelies that she used constantly to curtail my childish rebellion. One when I wanted to go out and play after dusk – the Gandharva will kidnap you. Or when I did not want to part my hair –  You will not get a handsome husband. But the one that really irritated me no end was the one about being safe – Does not matter if the flower falls on the thorn, or the thorn on the flower, the flower will always get hurt.

Growing up in an extremely close-knit family, where every thought (let alone word or action!) was scrutinized and whetted against an unwritten “Moral Code for behavior set by our ancestors”, I would relegate all these aphorisms as orthodox and behind-the-times. In my mind, my grandmother and my parents lived in an old-fashioned time where a girl could not venture out without her morals questioned.

Such aphorisms are not relevant any more (I would counter in my mind). Men are modern now, more educated and sensitive, and respect a woman for who she is and what she does. The modern man really understands that “No means no”.

Looks like I am wrong. Totally. Especially when when I read newspapers nowadays. While my grandmother, if she was alive, would have been troubled and saddened,  she also would not be surprised – this is bound to happen to girls who cross the line.

Looks like it does not matter how developed we become as a nation. Or educated. Or liberated. Our mind continues to dwell in pre-historic times where men can do as they want, and women need to toe the line.

So here are the top 5 homelies that I am going to drill into my daughters as they grow up in “Modern” India, amidst educated and modern men.

  • Do not step out without a proper escort – ideally 3-4 male and female members of your family – or else the gandharva will kidnap and rape you
  • It does not matter if you part your hair or not – men will always look at you as a piece of meat they can eat any time, any how
  • No dates, no bars or discos, no going to the movies or to shop after 6 PM, no malls, no restaurants, no beaches, no colleges, no education, no career, no nothing. Forget women’s lib – those fairy stories exist only in the farthest recesses of a paleolithic woman’s mind
  • To heck with good touch and bad touch. From now on, NO TOUCH rules. This rule extends to all male members of the family. Including the uncle who loves to pinch cheeks. Instead of asking my girls to behave nicely with strangers and guests, I will insist that they treat everyone with suspicion.
  • Whether the thorn falls on the flower, or the flower on the thorn, you will get hurt. So listen to me.

And grandma, you were right. I wish every girl had a grandmother like you.

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