Front page rage

There was a knock on the door. A young man stood there assuring me, “Don’t worry, I am not selling anything”. Great. So, why was he here?

“I am a working professional.” He paused, waiting for the information to sink into what he might have perceived as the pyjama-clad brain. I played along with the “pressure-cooker is about to whistle” harried look, although the whistling part can be deemed misogynistic. He smiled. “Actually, a few of us are trying to do something.” I twiddled my thumb, just to underscore how important he was.

“You know there are so many senior citizens hanging around…”

The shock on my face had no impact on his terminology. The smile was still in place. “We want to do something.”

“Like what?” I finally broke my silence.

“Oh, we will collect funds.”

And he said he was not selling anything? Of course, I was not going to help his part-time activist and fulltime arrogance. Who the hell has given these people the right to land up at our houses, and assume that we are not aware and do not ‘do anything’? Only because he was dressed well, “cool” really, the watchman allowed him in and did not even alert me on the intercom. The youth movement has figured out that you send your smart men and women and they will be acceptable.

This was not the first time. What I was perturbed about is this fellow telling me about what happens in my locality (senior citizens don’t hang around, and they are not looking to be fed) without giving any information about himself and those “few people” who have decided to save others. I had no inclination for a conversation, pissed off as I am with this neo-activism everywhere. But, who are these people? What organisations back them? How do they disburse the funds, and who is accountable for all this? If at all they want to approach people, they ought to first provide this information in writing.

And, no, don’t come anywhere near my door. For, as far as I am concerned, you need to be saved from your delusions.


Speaking of which, The Times of India today had a front page story with the headline: “Bikers harass fashion stylist in auto at Malad”. The unnamed stylist did not go to the police to register a complaint against these men who passed lewd comments, but she allowed her friend to post the picture she took of these guys on her cellphone.

It is sad I even have to write a disclaimer to say that obviously I do not condone such acts by these louts. But here, I have said it, so can we move on to some questions?

How does this qualify as a front page story? If it bothered her – and it would – why did she not go to the cops? If they do trace these men after seeing the photograph, on what grounds can they take action based on some newspaper report by an anonymous person? It is also interesting that she noted that one of the guys was wearing a “BMC uniform”. Being a municipal worker as opposed to her stylist profession obviously makes the story more palatable to the urban youth.

The story continued on the inside page with snippets from the social media. One word leaped out: pepper spray. Women need to get out of the house with pepper sprays. Why this sudden interest? A few days ago, DNA carried a report about a social worker-socialite who wanted to donate pepper spray cans. Clearly the target was the slick urban young women who could fit it like a lipstick in their bags. The samaritan had decided to name it after herself, and added that having spoken to some people they were willing to pay for it. So, it could turn out into another business venture?

If women wish, they can just add some water to pepper powder and fill aerosol spray bottles with it. There is no need to market it. Women in Delhi two decades ago used to wear ‘porcupine’ clips in their hair to ward off men in public transport. In other cities too similar methods have been employed by women when they could. While women need legal protection and security, let us see it as a necessity and not buy into this culture of paranoia.

The lewd comment story must have gained enough mileage. The TOI, after giving it front page importance, had another report on Page 6: “Father strips, assaults 15-year-old girl, held”. It had about four short paras. No rage. The man is an alcoholic and unemployed. His wife does odd jobs. They do not figure in the elite concern. Whistling men on bikes get us more agitated.

Curiously, the same paper carried this on Page 12:

Same paper, same day, a senior woman editor wrote an Op-ed titled, “Don’t Make Her Lose Her Face”…the subhead: “Because the raped woman isn’t the one who has to be ashamed”. Oh, get over it already. You say don’t make her lose face, as though she cannot decide on her face and everything else, and then add this “ashamed” bit, like an afterthought. It just sounds horrible, because we are taking over and deciding not to shame her.


Shame is having a good time. Asaram Bapu has finally been arrested and here are the two bits that are highlighted:

  • He will be in the same cell as Salman Khan was in for hunting black bucks. 

In effect, the media is equating rape with such hunting and also giving this fraud godman celebrity status.

  • That he passed the potency test on the first round.

He agreed to it despite initial reservations and then did so because he said that the body is only mortal. There is more than meets the eye. He has a huge number of followers, including women, who took to the streets to support him. A man in his 70s who comes out flying with flying colours in potency gets validation. After all, he is also a healer of sorts, so this is an advertisement for his prowess. His superhuman qualities.

The only thing that is always impotent is rage.

©Farzana Versey


Also: Re-examining sexual violation - Asaram Bapu and five men