Gender Bias -The reason for crimes against women

Posted by Kshipra (College Student)
on July 30, 2013

Jokes of the genre like the ones above aren’t and weren’t ever uncommon. These ‘jokes’ do not exist in a vacuum outside of the society. They are very much a part of it, a true reflection of the people’s thought process.

Even in today’s supposedly advanced and developed world the status of females still remains subordinate to that of males. Females are a victim of prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping.They are branded as inferior and incompetent. There is a plethora of atrocities they are subjected to which include gendercide; harassment,abuse and assault -

sexual, physical and mental; coercion. Females have not been granted equal status as that of men. This unequal status breeds prejudice, which is used to rationalize the inequality. Subordinates are viewed as incompetent inorder to justify the unequal status granted to them. Discrimination breeds prejudice and prejudice legitimizes discrimination.

At this point a question regarding the reason and origin arises. The most general response to this question is focussed on threat, material or symbolic, to a valued in-group. Based on a cross-cultural study of 186 different societies, it is said that the more important loyalty toward our in-group is, the greater

the support there is for prejudice toward out-groups. Discrimination between in-group and out-groups is a matter of relative favoritism toward out-groups.

Within this framework, out-groups can be viewed with

indifference, sympathy and even admiration, as long as intergroup distinctiveness is maintained. This could be due to various reasons, a threat to self-esteem being one of the most important. How this works is that an individuals want to see their own group positively, which in practice means more positively than some other group. When an event threatens the perceptions of a particular group's value, they may retaliate by derogating the source of the threat. It is also the case that perceiving a threat to one’s group can lead an individual to identify more with their ingroup. Today, when women are starting to slowly come up and excel in all fields of life, it is only natural for the male of the species to feel insecure due to the increasing levels of successful females in all walks of life-academics, sports and business, to name a few.

It is a universal fact that resources are limited. Be it good jobs, houses, food or fuel; supply is limited and mostly short of the demand. This increased competition for resources is another contributing factor for the discrimination females face today. As competition escalates, the members of the groups

involved come to view each other in increasingly negative terms. They label each other enemies, view their own group morally superior, draw the boundaries between themselves and their opponents more firmly.

The problem of this discrimination against females isn’t a recent one. It has been present in the society right from the day of it’s conception. Attitudes change and develop as a result of learning produced by reinforcement. One way in which this can be done is through persuasive communication, defined as a compound stimulus that raises a question and suggests an answer. One prominent source of it is the entertainment industry. The extremely popular movies and daily soaps of today reach a very wide audience, sometimes crossing even linguistic borders. They carry forward all the discriminatory practices against women by broadcasting them through celebrities who are looked up to and idolized.

To take a few examples, the movie ‘COCKTAIL’ starring Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone and Diana Penty, reiterated how a man (how much ever promiscuous, adulterous, alcohol consuming)

in the end, will always take home the meek, innocent and traditional girl as opposed to his outgoing, bold and outspoken ex-girlfriend.

‘ROWDY RATHORE’, the hindi remake of the Telugu movie ‘VIKRAMARKUDU’ tells us that it is absolutely okay to stalk a girl who expresses no interest in you. After a while, she will give in and accept your advances.

‘ISHAQZAADE’ tells us that if a man ever commits

fraud, elopes with you, marries you, consummates the marriage and then rubs it in your face that it was all in revenge for having publicly humiliating

him for having made lewd remarks about you and your family, DO NOT try to kill him. Instead, be the good wife you are supposed to be and ‘change’ him- lovingly.

Even in the one of a kind Rekha starrer ‘KHOON BHARI MAANG’, in the end, the strong willed revenge seeking heroine needs the hero to come save her life. All this is done in accordance with audience demand, and it is a sad

reflection of our society that this is supposed to be our way of life. These movies keep on reinforcing archaic ideologies, leaving no room for a fresh start. As a result,these ideas are being passed on from one generation to another. In the same manner, the daily soaps aired on television constantly portray women to be meant to take care of the house and please her husband. She is expected to be ‘selfless’ and live inorder to nurse her husbands ego.

In the same manner, the daily soaps aired on television constantly portray women to be meant to take care of the house and please her husband. She is expected to be ‘selfless’ and live inorder to nurse her husbands ego.There is a clear demarcation between an ideal woman- traditional, religious, meek and obedient, fit to be married and the evil vamps-pretty much the opposite, to be rehabilitated.

Today, females are victims of every type of atrocity possible. They are constantly pushed down and marginalized. The declining sex ratio is also an issue of utmost concern. According to the U.N., this

will lead to an increase in the crime rates against women in the subsequent years to come. A situation worse than the present one, though hard to imagine, is on it’s way. Female foeticide and infanticide is rampant. Parents do not want to deal with all the problems and liabilities the female child has to bear on her shoulders. It is a vicious circle with seemingly no way out in the present state of affairs.

Crime rates against women are extremely high. Be it sexual harassment, abuse, assault or trafficking, women have a slice of everything on their platters. Coupled with this is the stigma of being born in a society which blames the victim for all the evils

committed against her. When one learns about the harmful and prejudicial actions of the members of one’s own group, there are a number of protective strategies that the individual uses when exposed to information that implies his/her group has perpetuated injustice. One way is to blame the victims for it’s occurrence by suggesting that they deserved the outcomes they received. Derogation of the victims helps perpetrators to be less burdened when faced with their harm doing. This is even

due to an ineffective legal system.A person would commit a crime iff he/she feels that they can get away with it. Also, repeated depiction of violence and crime against women by mass media has led to desensitization by repeated viewing.

Females are inadequately represented in legal bodies and for that matter in all fields. Tokenism, a situation in which only a few members of a previously excluded group are admitted, can be a highly effective strategy for deterring collective protest in disadvantaged groups. For instance, allowing even a small percentage of low status income group members to advance into a higher status group deters collective resistance and leads a disadvantaged group members to favor individual attempts to overcome barriers. Right from the attire they are expected to wear to the cartoons they grow up watching, women are socialized to be feminine according to the society’s expectations. The duppatta or saree are effective tools to restrict movement and in the process oppress women. Further,traditional fairy tales like Cinderella, Snow White and the seven dwarfs and numerous

others implant in young and vulnerable minds falsely ideal body images and notions of beauty. They emphasize on finding a male partner who would protect and provide for them. This is further put into practice when she is handed her first doll to dress up and play pretend games with.

This gender bias existing today has it’s roots deeply entrenched in our minds. To do away with it we need a completely new, fresh and open-minded outlook towards life.

We need to stop taking centuries old ideologies for granted. Why should a woman be oppressed and taken advantage of just because she belongs to a particular sex?

Why should she be asked not to dress ‘provocatively’ instead of her potential molestor being told not to molest her? Why should she be ‘careful’ of everybody on the face of this Earth? Why should she be scared of the man standing beside, behind and in front of her? We need to stop and question ourselves at every step, because that is where the answer lies.

Women's Self Defense Chennai: In any violent situation, deterence is a significant factor in increasing the possibility escape from any extreme violent situation which would require practise. Survival Instincts Chennai based non profit organization conducts EVADE (Extreme violence & Aggression-Defense & Escape) program, which is the only program in India with simulated crime attacks that would prepare women to respond to dangerous situations to defend and escape.

About the Author

Kshipra is a college student. A dreamer by nature, she manages to draw inspiration from almost everything that falls in her line of sight.

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