Bengaluru molestation: Thank you Abu Azmi for reinforcing that #NotAllMen is a sham

Did it ever occur to you that when you woke up on 1 January, 2017, the most frustrating thing about two women being molested and assaulted by a mob of drunken men in one of the busiest streets of Bengaluru, would be Samajwadi Party MLA Abu Azmi? And despite the fact that there's already enough to be angry and be frustrated about. Sample this:

The fact that there was enough police presence in Bengaluru's Brigade Road and MG Road where the incident occurred. The fact that Karnataka's Home Minister G Parmeshwara, said this about the mob molestation: "Such incidents happen on New Year and Christmas." The fact that when people asked the police to help a woman being assaulted by a group of people, the cops only chased them and went back to their spots soon after. The fact that many Indian news publications have referred to what can only be described as an unruly, disgusting, drunken mob as "new year's eve revellers" — in affect normalising the crime.


Abu Azmi. Image courtesy: Twitter

However, Abu Azmi takes the cake, again (it is with immense shame that one has to use the word again. Some people just don't learn).

Azmi, who is known for his remarks on women, and his idea of morality modesty, had said that the attire of women at the time was to be blamed for the Bengaluru molestation.

"Aaj modern zamane mein jitni aurat nangi nazar aati hai utna usey fashionable kaha jata hai (In today's world, the less a woman wears, it's considered fashionable)," he said, adding, "Shakkar giri hogi to cheeti wahan zarur aaegi. Isse bahut log mujhse naraz honge lekin chalega kyuki ye sachai hai (If there is sugar, ants will appear. People are angry at me on my statements, but it is the truth.)"

Also read: Abu Azmi's comment on Bengaluru molestation case is not his first sexist rant

Earlier, Azmi has been quoted saying that women, who have sex, should be hanged. This was his response to the issue of rape in India: "Any woman if, whether married or unmarried, goes along with a man, with or without her consent, should be hanged. Both should be hanged. It shouldn’t be allowed even if a woman goes by consent."

It is around this time, in April 2014, when Azmi's daughter-in-law, former actress Ayesha Takia (who is married to his son Farhan Azmi) had tweeted about Abu Azmi's comments, condemning them.

Farhan, too, had immediately denounced his father's comments. "I don't agree with my father's views on rape. Rape is a heinous crime and a rapist should be hanged. I offer myself to be jallad (executioner) without a fee to hang rapists. I have five sisters, my wife and mother in my family and I have always valued the rights of women," he told The Times of India, back then.

This is important, because before Azmi's anger-inducing comments surfaced, the hashtag #NotAllMen started trending on Twitter on Tuesday, almost like the acid reflux you get after a night of too many packets of Lays Magic Masala.

If you take a step back and think objectively, of course this hashtag exists. Which self-respecting human being would want to associate themselves with men who molest, men who rape, men who use their masculinity as a ticket for crime, and men like Azmi, who are so painfully regressive, it hurts you in places you didn't know existed. Possibly why Azmi's own son and daughter-in-law were so quick to dismiss his statements.

Here's the thing, Abu Azmi. When you give precedence to patriarchy instead of the crime (by blaming the women for her attire instead of men for their actions), you are indirectly normalising something that should not be normalised. This is 2017. We are talking about becoming a cashless economy, but we're justifying acts like sexual assualt by shifting the conversation to the length of the victim's skirt. Still.

How many more acts of violence against women is it going to take for you to understand that this is not about clothes, or even gender? This is a heinous act of asserting power, and the thrill of getting away with something as lowly as molestation, because you know that someone is sitting in a comfortable chair — drinking chai probably made by his wife because he's never set foot into a kitchen — ready to justify a crime by blaming it on the victim's clothes, and her gender. Sorry for the stereotype, but I'm only trying to speak in a language you understand.

As long as there's a Mulayam Singh Yadav saying, "boys will be boys, they make mistakes", these crimes will continue to happen, much to our horror. We will outrage, we will opine, rant, share, converse and yet again somebody will casually throw their patriarchy into the conversation and take us back a few mean decades in the fight for gender equality, and crime against women.

It's immensely tiring saying the same things again and again. As an educated woman, it baffles me how every time a crime of this nature occurs, we have to reiterate the same points, talk about the same issues, and attempt to deconstruct the complexity surrounding crimes against women.

What Azmi doesn't realise is that by saying such things, he's ruining situations for men across the world.

Yes, #NotAllMen are rapists, #NotAllMen are molesters, but men like Abu Azmi exist — who openly voice out their misogyny, deep-rooted patriarchy and misplaced sense of masculinity and power — and that's a bigger problem.

And soon enough, #YesAllWomen started to trend on Twitter, leading to another twitter war between the sexes.

This war may be repetitive, it may be annoying, it may be passe or cliché, but it's an important one. Conversations around gender, no matter how many times over, are so important because men like Azmi exist. And so, due to above stated pain and frustration, here are a few memes explaining why #NotAllMen is a redundant movement to begin with (because why rant when you can meme):

PSA: By tweeting a scantily-clad image of Ayesha Takia on the news about Abu Azmi's comments, you are only proving him right. Slut-shaming is never an answer. 

Published Date: Jan 03, 2017 17:40 PM | Updated Date: Jan 04, 2017 09:31 AM

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