Category Archives: Women

Good Girls

It was around noon that I was dropped off at “that” bus stop in Munirka. I can never go past it without thinking of the poor girl there, just trying to get home after a movie using public transport. Cannot get simpler than that for a city can it? A capital city. But no, she was failed by all who should have done their job and ensured that she, and every girl like her can get home safe whenever they need to do so. I paused at that moment at the bus stop and wondered – was it even safe to stand here, even in broad daylight? (Those of you who just rolled their eyes, and thought -duh-yes, do ask the women around you if they are equally certain of safety)

This is how our lives have been blighted.

We wonder, each time we step out – “Can we? Shall we?” Then of course we do step out. We have things to do. Life will not stop because we know that there are terrible people out there – no, don’t call this a fear. This is acknowledging a truth, a risk, a danger. Fears are in the mind. This is on our streets.

I asked myself this too – should I step out? Or get back into the secure air conditioned cocoon of my car and go back home. We all do, you know. For a split second. That little pause, half a breath to check if it is safe. Men don’t even think of it. Most don’t even notice it. And for those of us who constrain ourselves to familiar markets and places, we forget that we had to constrain ourselves to claim that moment.

This time, in the same Munirka, I was taken to a basement. A few minutes away from the market. Deep. Underground. With no visibility from outside. Stacked full of cupboards, so much so that after the third one (there were over a hundred in that hall) even light did not seep through. Anything could have happened, could it not? If everyone was a monster like the Munirka man, anything certainly could have happened. Maybe the man showing me the cupboards in the basement also lived by the same rules as those Munirka monsters- how would I know? How does one know who the good ones are (there are many, most are good) and who is dangerous? How can one tell where where “Je Suis Mukesh Singh” is lurking?

This is how we have been stunted.

Many of us have always been ‘good girls’. We don’t step out alone at night, we don’t get drunk, we don’t wear short clothes, we don’t go to bars and discos. We do the right thing at the right time. Housework and all that he said. Being a ‘good girl’ keeps one safe by the rapist’s rules. ‘Good girls’ live by their rules.

Being a ‘good girl’ means to serve and conform. To be invisible and dutiful. To live on tenterhooks. And we have been conditioned, brainwashed into this service. To be modern for us was again to seek more masters, since these masters would give us permission to leave the house. The new masters would validate us. Money, the need for it allowed the masters to co-exist, so many of us remained slaves to both. Good girl slaves, slowly sinking under the weight of these expectations.

This is how we have been overwhelmed.

‘Good girls’ do not disrupt the rules. They maintain the order of the world, so that the locally available gods are taken care of, free of cost or effort. Of course the gods were self appointed, full of self belief. So much that everyone began to believe that was the right way. Disrupters were overpowered, in groups. Good girls now knew the dangers of disruption. Girls that disrupt the status quo are bad girls. Is this what they call the ‘patriarchy’? I don’t think the patriarchs have heard of patriarchy. They seem to call it right and wrong. They also call it ‘our’ culture, and ‘our’ way of life. Yea, right. Who wouldn’t want a life organised around getting freebies, fun and pleasure with someone else doing all the hard work.

This is how our lives have been overshadowed.

I wonder if we did womankind more harm by conforming to this evil norm. Did we perpetuate this by accepting the notion of ‘good girl’? Did we trap ourselves?

This is how we have been bound.

A doha on good/bhali