Men with power don’t impress me. Men who Empower do.

As someone who often speaks about gender issues, I’m reminded of a workshop I conducted a day before Independence Day two years ago. The topic was Domestic Violence and I was addressing young women from low-income backgrounds. During the Q&A part I was asked

“Where are the men? We believe you when you are telling us about our rights, but why is there never a man here telling us the same thing?” 

This year, a few days before Independence Day I had the pleasure of meeting a very senior security advisor to the Indian Government who asked us to support his plan for conducting self-defence camps for women across India. A noble cause. But all this got me thinking.

Mahavir Senior Model School, Delhi on August 14th for a Domestic Violence Workshop a few years ago

 

The problem isn’t just about the physical & sexual abuse women face but the attitude towards women in general. How do we change that? My answer is to involve the men in the process. We can have self-defence camps for women & domestic violence & sexual abuse awareness campaigns but these issues get neatly boxed away as “women’s issues” and thus largely only involve women.  Yes, as women we need to be aware of our rights and feel empowered to speak up but how about we work on the root cause of the problem? Men need to learn how to respect women from a very young age.

Why is it that we have thousands of IIT entrance exam coaching institutes, even in the most remote cities but we have 0 camps where we’re teaching men what it means to respect a woman? We have civics class teaching students about patriotic duty, but what about our duty to respect one another as equals, as fellow humans?

We don’t teach kids that staring, commenting, whistling, singing perverse song lyrics & doing anything to make the other person uncomfortable (even when there’s no physical interaction involved) is WRONG. It’s not just hitting, or raping or touching but treating someone in a way that makes them feel less than a human being. It’s disgusting.

We don’t have to wait until a crime occurs; let’s try to change the thought that leads to the crime. A bit ambitious? Maybe. But until we involve men in the solution, I don’t think we’re going to get very far.

I know I’m a few days late, but Happy Independence Day & Happy Rakshabandhan – I”m hopeful for a day when I feel free enough that I won’t need the protection.

Disclaimer: Invariably someone will comment that not “all men are bad” or things are “changing.” I am well aware of this and if you’re one of the great ones, kudos. But I can only write about my reality. As a woman, living in the nation’s capital in a safe sheltered neighbourhood with a lot of privilege and access that most women in India don’t have (for example living in a gated house with a guard), I still feel uncomfortable when I go out on a daily basis. And this is not just around “certain people” or “certain areas” but also around very educated individuals in supposedly safe areas. If you’ve never been stared at in a way that makes you want to crawl in a hole and hide, please feel free not to comment about the reality that women face in India. Or do. We can have a conversation 🙂

3 thoughts on “Men with power don’t impress me. Men who Empower do.”

  1. Sonal, I am very happy to see that you are making an impact on an important situation like this. As a religious person, I know from the Bible that God made men and women alike, and God is aware of the existence of each person, and he treats all of us the same. Nowhere did God permit people to treat women in this manner. Culturally, societies have evolved in a disgusting pattern of treating women badly. I am so sad when I see the things that women have to go through. In addition to this, women often go unappreciated, all the work that they do in society. A woman in this day and age is five times more busy than an ancient woman. This is because women in ancient times did not really have super tasking jobs, they were house wives for the most part. Women in this day and age do not only have complex jobs, they need to go to school for many years to learn to do the job. In addition to this, they still have to fulfill the roles that a woman must play. Hard to do indeed.

    I like your quote “Men with power don’t impress me. Men who Empower do”. A lot of men these days simply have power, they do not empower. The ultimate man who empowered was Jesus himself. He gave his life to empower others, and through him we are able to reach the Father.

    You have a beautiful cause here sister, keep working hard at it, and pray about it too. I am sure that God is happy with what you are doing here, and he will be willing to help you. God loves it when we are positive additions to the world. God is real and prayers work, and he would be happy to hear from you, just pray to him. If you are interested, a relationship with the Lord begins with faith in the Lord, prayers to God, an obedience to the Bible, and a passion for Christ.

    Here are some uplifting Bible verses to encourage you:

    The Bible says in Philippians 4:6
    “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done”.

    The Bible says in Matthew 7: 7-8
    “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened”.

    God says in Isaiah 41:10
    “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you and help you.
    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand”.

    God says in Jeremiah 29:11
    “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”.

    If you do not yet have a relationship with the Lord, I would strongly suggest that you begin one. There are a lot of blessings that comes from knowing the Lord, and being in fellowship with him. If you already have a relationship with the Lord, that is good, keep believing and working to deepen your relationship with him, and I am sure that he would come through for you somehow.

    If you want to know about God in more detail, you can find further information here https://christcenteredruminations.wordpress.com/2018/10/23/a-few-things-that-i-have-learned-about-god/ And Here https://christcenteredruminations.wordpress.com/2018/08/29/how-to-build-a-relationship-with-god/

    May God’s blessings be with you, Amen. ❤ ❤

    Like

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