Thursday, April 27, 2006

Tie That Binds

An WSJ opinion piece written by an woman just a few days ago, brought memories of home (India) and grandmotherly advise. Naomi Schaffer Riley argues that feminism endangers women and defies common sense. Drinking alone at bar at 3:00 a.m. is inviting trouble and rapists alike.

Growing up I had heard grandma say "She should have known better" while talking of women who had been sexually assaulted. To ask why it should be acceptable to have rapists at large was never questioned. Presumably there are all kinds of sick people in the world and you had to look out for yourself.

I find myself sitting on the fence like I did in my growing up years wondering if Riley is right or wrong. I am already teaching J about "bad people" with bad intent and how they may try to snare her. I don't feel any qualms about outraging her innocence in describing what a "bad guy" might do to her. I am being a typical paranoid mother. Not once am I questioning why these lessons should be necessary in a free and equal society.

As women we learn to "know better" very young, it gets baked into our gene. We pass those lessons to our daughters in an infinite chain. Our survival instincts are as keen and strong as animals in the wild who know to protect themselves and their young from predators. Like them we do not question the divine order of things. In the mix there will be vultures and hyenas as there will be rapists and serial killers.

How little is different between the wild and the civilized, between generations, countries and colors. How little is different between Ms. Riley of WSJ and my illiterate grandmother who never saw beyond the backwaters of her mofussil town.The more things change, the more they remain the same.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are saying there is no difference. I see a huge difference. Ms Riley is saying drinking in a bar at 3:00 is unsafe, stripping before 40 men is unsafe, drinking at college parties is unsafe. Nobody in India does that. Are they any safer? No? There they are still asking for it by wearing western outfits, going to the pubs during the day or by simply taking up employment in a married actor's house. So common sense suggests they stop doing far and how long should this go on. I will also teach my daughter to use common sense. I am a super paranoid mom who is uncomfortable trusting even relatives. Yet I want to hold Ms Riley by the shoulders and shake her and ask 'we ask for it, is that what u are saying'?. Yes it might not happen in this life time, but can people like her please stop slowing the reeducation of men even more.