“Do not tell your girls not to go out. Tell your boys to behave well”-15 July 2015.

This is a great message that I saw on Face-book. Girls are coining such slogans and making posters out of them to spread awareness about their sense of identity. This is a wonderfully progressive and positive way to expressing themselves. We earlier had slogans like ‘down with dowry’ or ‘down with eve teasing’ and things like that. Those messages just condemned the discrimination and the injustice meted out to women. The focus was to stop victimisation of women. This message is different and positively worded. This is a direct message to the boys to behave well. This is also a direct message to mothers to teach boys to learn to behave with girls and not to take things for granted.

‘Not take things for granted’ is what we need to teach men and their male dominated world. Men think the world belongs to them and women should follow the line laid out by them. Girls should toe the line of their culture and follow blindly the rules set by them through the centuries. They have had it for centuries and continue to believe that they will keep ruling the world with their own norms. Their confidence is amazing and condemnation fell on deaf ears. For nothing changed so far. The status of women report shows that blatantly. The sex ratio is declining and the crimes shoot up. Dowry deaths are as they were earlier and eve teasing is still rampant. Men have not changed. Girls want to change all that. Now they will not just condemn and ask for their rights they will lay down the rules as well.

The onus is not on the girls to behave and follow the dictates but on the boys to behave well and know their boundaries. It’s a question of expanding boundaries and occupying more space. Women have little space to themselves. They may occupy just the kitchen at home, as the other rooms are dominated by the man. His bedroom, his TV, his programs and even the newspaper belongs to him. In property matters we know women hardly own any land or buildings. The percentage of women’s ownership is meagre indeed. Even though women are almost half of the population they do not own half the world. In India women are less than fifty percent as the numbers dwindle down to forty seven percent. We no longer pride ourselves to be half the world as men usurp it. The ‘beti bachao’ campaign by the Prime Minister is a concerted effort in that direction to save their daughters and treat them with love and respect.
When a young girl hears about female infanticide she is shocked that a mother or a father can do that to his own child only because she is a girl. What sort of feelings would drive a parent to kill, murder his own conception. It speaks of disrespect and deep rooted hatred for the girl child. But the girls today are not going to cry and take it lying down any more. They are going to fight for their survival and for making their own lives comfortable. Tell the boys to behave is a damn good piece of warning to the men.
During my social experiments which I do quite often I judge men on their natural responses to a woman. How a man behaves in a lift is one example. One hefty fellow entered after me and instead of occupying the corner of the lift like I was doing he stood in the centre and occupied the whole area. I had to brace myself to protect myself from his body. He looked through me as if I did not exist or was an invisible thing. Every woman would have experienced this about lift manners. When the lift stops courtesy demands that he allow the women to go out first holding the door for her but no he storms out first and leaves her behind. The body language is very important give away of your attitude towards women and the emotions that you communicate to them. I am quick to judge such men and banish them from my mind as not worth considering. It is obvious that such men do not want to make room for a woman. So hence she will fight for it herself for she can no longer expect him to be sensitive and change.

So do not tell girls what to do and what not to do- instead tell the boys to behave! Tell them to keep within their limits and their own boundaries. Set a ‘lakshman rekha’ for the boys too!


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