How do we …. ?

I read ‘The Life of Pi’ a few years ago and recommended the book to everyone I knew. So, one can imagine how I felt when I asked the husband to accompany me to watch the movie. Excited is the word. We drank tea, bought the nachos and the coke. All set for a good cry in other words. Before I proceed, I want to disclose that I am not the ideal audience for a tear-jerker rookie director. That is: if a director is testing to see whether he has appealed to the cry- factor enough, he would do really badly to use me as a test.I cried for Finding Nemo. That fish, Marlin, cried less at being reunited with his son Nemo, than I did.

So, when I say I was prepared for the movie, I mean the tea, nachos, coke and a small tissue packet with me for just this occasion. I was ready. What I did not know was that I am complete wuss! While I never imagined myself striding into a battlefield and bravely fighting the troops single-handedly, I did not think I would run from the theatre gasping for air in less than an hour. I lasted 45 minutes in the theatre.

Deep thinking afterward made me realise that it was the feeling of helplessness that crushed me. In the story, the protagonist is stuck on a boat with a vicious tiger for company. Not knowing when the tiger would pounce, not knowing whether sleep would overcome him, not being at peace for even a moment. The constant fear throbbing in the movie was too much for me. I had read the book, and yet the visual medium affected me very badly.

I thought of how people live in these circumstances. I thought of battered women whose life is about fear. Then, I read something that made my blood boil. That made me shout in outrage.

How is one supposed to change the fabric of society if women who have the capacity to influence and empower other women advocate this? This is coming from RSS women’s wing and I quote (I am cringing even while pasting this):

The reporter quotes twenty-something Sharda from Jabalpur:

I turn to Sharda from Jabalpur. In her late twenties, Sharda has been a whole timer for five years. She tells me that apart from the shakhas, the Samiti also counsels women in their respective areas. There is a manual that is followed. When I ask her, “What advice would you give to a victim of wife beating?” she answers, “Don’t parents admonish their children for misbehaviour? Just as a child must adjust to his/her parents, so must a wife act keeping in mind her husband’s moods and must avoid irritating him. Only this can keep the family together.” Similarly, divorce is also a non option for women. She says, “Our task is to keep the family together, not break it. We tell the women to adjust. Sometimes, we try counsel the husband too.”

How does one stop this?

How do we empower girls to feel that this nonsense is unacceptable?
How do we educate the boys that equality leads to happiness?

How do we … ?

25 thoughts on “How do we …. ?”

  1. Aargh! What’s probably even more frustrating is that there are people who are going to follow it. Instead of this RSS nonsense (or any nonsense that advocates victims to put up with it), they would be better of learning something like martial arts. A swift kick to the b***s will create more awareness among bullies, than any education can hope to 🙂

    1. I agree. A swift kick during the initial attack will most likely take care of the wife beater but if the society doesn’t support the victim.. it is worse for the victim 😦

  2. While educating women is usually discussed in this context, educating our boys/men to treat women as equal is something worth practicing.

  3. OK ! I need to know the truth here. Did you really walk out after 45 minutes because you felt helpless. I think you got terrified of the 3D tiger. 🙂 I never liked the book much, so did not even think of watching the movie.
    Sri.. four including facebook and here…and still counting.. you know what 🙂

    On a serious note, about the ladies, my blood boils whenever I hear about these things and enough said, I guess. Since I am really helpless other than helping in some small way for certain abused people, I would leave it at that.

    1. Actually it was that. I loved the tigers looks – it looked majestic and real.
      Every small bit helps Shoba – just talking to the girls and boys who will grow up into fine women and men about these things can make big differences

  4. Haven’t read the book or seen the movie. Husband doesn’t like what he calls ‘arty movies! 😦 He likes the dishoom-dishoom types or comedies!! 😀

  5. Fear.

    The primal feeling of them all. The one feeling that truly great directors exploit.

    Hitchcock, Scorcese, Tarantino, Nolan.

    The less talented ones try to do pretty crude over the top things to induce it. Yes, Tarantino is way over the top, but when he does it, it’s ridiculously comical that you actually LOL when the Katana meets the neck.

    When you watch a movie like Cafe Fear, as the viewer you are in fear. When played by a true master like De Niro, you feel the fear.

    When Marion checks into the Bates motel and the music builds to the crescendo, the knot in your stomach thickens in anticipation and fear.

    When the Joker escalates his violence stage by stage in “The Dark Knight”, he is escalating YOUR fear. We, as the audience, are involved.

    I am not a fan of 3D, so I watched the Life of Pi in 2D, and I regretted the decision not to watch it in 3D. Since it was a movie, named “Life of Pi”, you kinda know that Pi isn’t going to be eaten by the tiger, but you had the fear anyway. (I have not read the book).

    When Leo’s character is suddenly killed in “The departed”, it’s fear you feel. The three ladies in the seats next to me wouldn’t stop saying “OMG,OMG,OMG” with palpitation.

    The great directors build fear through silence, through dialogs. Tarantino did that in two wonderful scenes in the Basterds. There’s a 40 minute sequence in Django where Leo, Jackson, Waltz and Foxx are in a dining table. Before that we know very well how effectively Leo can use a hammer. There is a hammer in the dining room, which has been placed for instilling the fear in the viewers mind (it’s not obvious, but clues). You, as the audience is waiting for the hammer to meet it’s target. For 20 odd minutes. In the midst of some insanely benign, but trouble brewing dialog, waiting to see who snaps first. And that’s why I now think Tarantino is better than all of them, if only he backs off gore a bit.

    And yet, these are all just movies. You see it and you move on.

    And then there is the real life fear. No drama, no background music from Hans Zimmer, nothing. But you feel it. You do it anyway. I have felt it. Done it anyway.

    And then there are people who live in fear. When fear is their normal life. When they forget what normal life without fear is. How you can live without fear. When it is the normal, you don’t know what it is without it.

    I always believed in this: “You don’t miss it which you haven’t experienced”. If you haven’t seen the milky way, you don’t know how beautiful it is and how small you are.

    But fear is the exception to the rule. When you live in a world of fear, you forget what life without fear is. You condition yourself to that knot in your stomach. You drink 15 cups of coffee to overcome it.

    And if you are brave and lucky and you catch a break, you get another chance in life, you snap out of the cycle. You relax. You realize what life without fear is. And then when you are afraid of something, you realize that it is not the norm to be fearful. Something is awry. And when you realize that, is when you start to take action. When you take baby steps to get of fear.

    The mind is a powerful but terrible thing. Of all the tools it has in its disposal, fear is the most powerful, primal thing of them all.

    I can’t quite explain it yet, but I think it will be clear to me at a later stage in my life, true love is the antidote to fear. But I need to experience it first hand a lot more to conclude.

    1. Adada Anand… What a write up.. Very well written. This gives me an idea for a toastmaster speech. I think, among the directors, Tarantino is the master in working with gripping fear , despite all that gore.

      “But fear is the exception to the rule. When you live in a world of fear, you forget what life without fear is. You condition yourself to that knot in your stomach” – Well said

      true love is the antidote to fear – Your assumption is right – coming from someone with experience.

      1. Thanks Shoba. I blame it on a combination of hypnagogic state (google Edison ball bearings) Andy keyboard diarrhea (TM) :).

        Tarantino is backing off gore a bit. But I wish he just stays at the top and not go overboard much. More people will appreciate him then.

      2. Of all the things you said Anand – I will have to take one shining phrase: “True love is the antidote to fear”

        In that one sentence, there is the healing process and the hope for what can be.

  6. While reading about pi and the feeling of constant fear, my mind drifted towards fear and decided not to entertain my wish to see the movie ever. As the post continues to battered women and abuse, more so living in India I am exposed a lot these days day in and out to people of all walks of life. Constant pity, rage, and whatnot has been bothering me ever since. I bet the ones who make such statements are not really battered themselves. If they go thru, they will know.

    1. It is a mindset change that is required Charu. In a place rife with dowry, abuse – it is all down to one thing. The woman is seen as an object – a material possession. That needs to change. I used to think we are making small baby steps towards change, but it doesn’t look like it. A hundred years from now, I don’t know whether things will be vastly different.

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