In succession to the grand marches being held across the world, New Delhi will host India’s very own Slutwalk. The idea of Slutwalk focuses on the belief that women have the right to wear what they want. As this Hindustan Times news piece says, women must claim their right to be sexy without being subjected to being called ‘sluts calling for being raped’. It is entirely understandable that the use of the word ‘slut’ is in poor taste. There is no doubting that.
Rape is one of the world’s most despicable crimes. So unfortunate are man’s urges, that they stand to ruin (in many cases) the life of those women who subjected to rape. Societies, the world over, must focus on providing maximum assistance to women subjected to heinous crimes like rape or torture. Instead, we pull the same old rabbit out of our magic hat of potential solutions – symbolism. Again, I must make a point here that women have the right to wear what they want, and irrespective – nobody has a call there, as it borders on subjugation of individual freedom. Moreover, it goes with the thought stream that people don’t know what’s good for them.
So, evidently, liberation is a great thing. Standing up for liberal values in a democracy, equally important. However, the problem lies with symbolism. The phenomenon of symbolism makes news once in a while, largely tends to create a lot of inconsequential hype and mostly ends up in the graveyard of public memory. The usual routine is followed – Twitter activism and retweets, Facebook pages and the Like button, TV studio coverage that creates the typical feel-good surrounding such events and email forwards coming from all directions, asking people to come out, take a walk and ‘be heard’.
The problem is the lack of solutions that such events bring out. It is classic Indian symbolism, that is becoming all too typical now. We ‘feel’ we have done a lot, but in reality we haven’t done anything significant. Symbolism, as we have seen with the Pink Chaddi and Pink Condom campaigns in the past (remember them?), does not solve the problems surrounding the oppression of women, crimes like rape and murder (a crime which follows rape in so many occasions). The need for better policing, rejection of ‘ultras’ and action against those engaging in these crimes is the need of the hour. And SlutWalk cannot bring these to the table, can it?
There is a strong need for understanding liberalism at it’s core. Mere raising of sound levels and generation of massive hype across civil society creates one more event that comes along and will be forgotten. What about working at the ground level? Are we doing that? What is the point of distant symbolism that may bring a smile to the face of a woman who has been subjected to rape, but does not improve her condition in any way whatsoever? Let us ask ourselves. What is the point of our activism? The point is action, followed by results. And why are we engaging in such symbolism? Simply, because it’s easy. And it’s fun, too.
It is the ability to research and implement solutions, that is difficult. And precisely that, is what is the need of the hour.