Raising a boy in times of rape

Last week, I was woken up one morning by a text from a friend in Dubai. It said, “Adi came and asked me, mamma, what is the meaning of gang rape?”

She has two boys; Adi, 8, is the older one. The child was obviously reacting to newsfeed from Mumbai, a city he lived in before they moved to Dubai. She told him it was an important question, but she wanted to think through the answer so that it would justify the question.

Owing to the time difference, she got restless waiting for my answer and hence told him, ten minutes later, “Rape is the worst form of bad touch that one person does to another, and gang rape means many people doing bad touch to one.”

Understandably, he looked disgusted. And then she told him that these things wouldn’t happen if boys stopped thinking that girls were silly and instead, treated them as smart.

She didn’t want to probe into the source of his questioning, but she wasn’t sure if she said the right thing, and so she reached out to me. She felt that as a mother to two boys, she should really start worrying about their attitude towards girls.

My son, Re is four. He hasn’t started asking such questions yet. But I think it’s about time I started thinking of the answers too.

Call me paranoid, but I can’t help notice that after he started school and began mingling with boys and girls I don’t know much about, Re has started sounding slightly divisive about gender. He has started saying things he never said. Things like, “You take the pink one, because you are a girl!” I can’t track the source of this, much as I can’t track the source of him telling me one day that boys don’t wear bangles.

A few days back, his school celebrated rakhi. Re (and other boys at school) were asked to bring a small gift. They were told that the girls would tie them a rakhi and the boys would have to give them a gift. A friend asked jokingly on Facebook if that meant that the girls in his class were now his sisters. I resisted explaining the significance of rakhi to him — that girls tied rakhi to boys, and the boys promised to protect them.

I didn’t like the word ‘protect’. I thought I’ll wait till I come up with a suitable alternative. May be I never will. It doesn’t matter, really. He doesn’t have a sister and never will. The word ‘protector’ screwed up rakhi for me, and I didn’t want to transfer the angst onto him.

When the Shakti Mills incident occurred, and once again the focus was on the brutes that raped and the mothers who raised them, it sent shivers down my spine. It scares me, this. It raises alarm bells of a kind that I never knew could. The questions are always, “What is their upbringing? Which mother has raised such a son?” It is never “What did their fathers say or do? To them, to their mothers, sisters, wives?”

But the fact remains that almost everyone is under the radar.

Every man or woman who makes a joke about rape is guilty of rape.

Every man who thinks his nobility comes from protecting women (sister, wife, lover, friend) is guilty.

Every parent who says, “Boys will be boys,” is guilty. Every time you use a bangle metaphor for a ‘weak’ man, you are guilty. Every parent who thinks that a daughter should be married off lest she falls into wayward ways, is guilty. Every parent who has different bars for sons and daughters is guilty of rape. Every time you are told you need a man to complete you, you are raped.

Every time you think a woman needs a man to protect her, whether it’s her father, husband, brother, the Khap Panchayat, the police, or the State Home Minister, you are guilty.

Because there is a very thin line between protector and perpetrator.

When I was 13, a tall boy in a white kurta-pyjama who was walking behind me, grabbed my breasts. This was at Teen Murti Bhavan. I was trailing behind my parents while looking at the exhibit, and the boy decided to take his chances. I was so shocked, I picked up the nearest thing I could to hit him. It was a stool. The security came charging (they were more worried that I might break the glass), nabbed him and made off. I was left trembling with fear as my parents found me. What happened, they asked? “He physically assaulted me,” I said, not realising how the words came out of my mouth. My parents didn’t pursue the case. “It’s Delhi, it’s notorious” my father said. I remember feeling very angry that day. I still remember the boy’s face.

I remember another incident from my youth. I was 16, and used to attend college, a two-hour commute from home. On days I had practicals, this meant leaving my home at 5.30 am. I used to walk to the station alone; a 20 minute walk. One November day, when it was darker than usual, I heard a bell ring behind me. I turned around and recognised our milkman. “Why are you walking alone in the dark? Can’t your father or brother drop you?” he asked. I was already on the verge of being a feminist, and brushed him off. “I can look after myself, and this is none of your business,” I said.

But that conversation spooked me out. I told my mother about it when I got home. She vented on my father. “How can you sleep when your young daughter is walking alone on the street early in the morning?” I remember feeling very angry that day too.

A few days back, my husband, who works in advertising, was on his way to Delhi to pitch for an account. The client ran a girls only boarding school. I don’t remember the exact words, but the campaign was positioned around female foeticide and how we needed to empower our girls; hence a girls-only boarding school. I don’t know why, but it made me angry.

But I still don’t know what I am going to tell my son. Perhaps I can tell him the story of the rape survivor, the girl who didn’t just stay angry, but did something about it. She continues her fight for justice, her fight to get her life back, to work, travel, and live free. Her parents continue to support her in her fight.

For all I know, Re may cry over something in school tomorrow and someone is likely to say, “Why are you crying? Are you a girl?” And then I’ll have to start all over again.

This piece originally appeared in the Mumbai Mirror on 3rd September, 2013

147 thoughts on “Raising a boy in times of rape

  1. Thats such an important question…but Lalita its not a question for the Mom’s of boys alone. Mom’s of girls also need to explain a lot, ensure their daughters grow up to be amazing people…not daughter, wives or sisters.

    • Totally totally agree. The need is not just to teach boys, but also girls to be independent. Sadly, women put other women down due to this screwed up bringing-up.

      • It’s about passing on the traditional stereotypes of what boys should and shouldn’t do and what girls should and shouldn’t do. It’s time we raise sensitive, responsible and respecting human beings rather than raising sons and daughters. And above all talking is very important in families, to raise individuals who are willing to express their feelings and thoughts in words so that discussions can lead the way to actions rather than the other way round.

        Well worded Lalita, I especially like how your write up ends in dilemma, just like your readers… Leaving each one to hunt for individual solutions.

    • Agree… it is about over smarting the cheap mentality men who wait to take “chance” with women… My mother has raised me up to sense their actions before hand so that they only get hurt when they execute their dirty plan of physical assault. Most of the times it just takes being hyper sensitive and alert about anyone and everything around you when you are out alone

  2. This is such a beautifully written article which echoes my thoughts. I hv 2 boys aged 8 n 6. I also agree with Priyanka Mitra there when she says that the task is not just for moms of boys but also for moms of girls. because this is the only way we can blur the lines of gender discrimination and make our sons and daughters to accept the other sex as a partner not an adversary who needs to be conquered..

  3. I had faced an awkward situation when 3rd it’s was released and there was a scene where the actors were making a joke out of chamatkaar and Balaatkaar and people were laughing on the joke and my daughter 6 yes old was also laughing not knowing what is it all about and later she asked me what it is all about.

  4. Everything you said is true but there are ground realities to be looked at. When someone eve teases you or you are certainly going to be alone in a dark patch of the road you wont be able to justify anything to yourself when something goes wrong, when you are violated in any way…especially physically. All theories aside and the fact remains that till the world out there has not really changed and i dont see evidence of it i will for myself and my daughter and son take protective measures no matter what one says. Ground realities… my friends … are hard facts of life to be lived with or around in order to protect ones own sanity to begin with.

    You may like to flip the Kalnirnay Calmanac calender behind Jan 2014 and read an article written by myself and an american psychoterapist Glen Martin on how to raise sons today.

    • The point Lalita is trying to make here is that the solution to these problems is not with men being protective about their daughters or sisters but with mothers who raise their sons and fathers in the way they behave and treat other women

      • Crime will take place, that is the hard reality. Unless a girl is confident of her abilities, I think she should take precaution. The world has not improved yet.
        Let me put it this way, parents teach their children not to steal, but people still put on locks on their door. Why do they do that? Are you getting the correlation?

      • the article is good, but the reality is not that simple, its not always fault of boys, there are both types good and bad, so is in case of a girl.while upbringing kids boy or a girl, correct knowledge must be provided to them and teach them respect each other.and regarding boy acting as a protector, its universal truth that boys are physically strong than girls, so if some one stands by the girl , than it should not be sensed as her weakness, also precautions must be taken while moving in areas of evil minded.changes should happen from both boys and girls in the approach,and should not see the other as guilty

  5. There seems to be hardly any difference between us and the animal kingdom. What is policing??? it is a state of affairs when ‘territory marking’ by animals in the human form becomes ramapant; there is no control on ‘carnal’ display of behaviour. The question here is …WHO is responsible ? WHY such an act? Is enough policing a lasting answer to all this…I think..NO.. it is a short term measure that will dilute with times. Is stringent punishment a way out? I think..NO. All such actions do not address the basic aspects of WHY…do they do it….?!! Respect for Woman needs to be inculcated by the parents. It also needs to be a part of education system at all levels …from schools to universities..
    May be more needs to be done….NOW..
    Thanx for a lovely article

    • i feel the comparison with animals is unfair to animals. animals are ruled by instincts which are bestowed on them by nature, not out of their own volition. in fact no animal kills unless hungry , like humans murder out of jealousy, spite, revenge, etc.No animals can rape another animal because nature has awarded equal defense mechanisms to both the genders- a tigress has claws as well as teeth to protect herself, and unless the female of the species permits no male can touch her. On the other hand , humans are granted a brain with discriminating( meaning here to know difference between right and wrong) powers and volitional control. so in a way they are behaving like animals, but i only want to say that animals behave like this because they are designed to, not because they choose to. whereas humans have the choice to do the right thing.

      • Completely agree Nivedita. No animal behaves the way humans do. Animals are NOT nasty. They hunt and kill when they’re hungry. They protect themselves and their young. They do NOT rape. They do NOT murder. They take however much they need. No more. They are not greedy. There is an integrity to the animal world that we completely lack.

  6. Hello Ms. Lalita. I;m a 19 year old boy who goes to college. I came across this link shared by my friend in fb. Though I was raised up in a society where Gender Divide was very frequent and visible, I am aware of the gender issues that has been going around the news channels frequently. However, I still dont understand one thing: When the Milkman in your story told you that your father should have accompanied you during that moment of time, he could have meant it as a general concern as well. Not only in your story but talking in a general context, if I had a female friend (or my own sister for example) who tells me that she is going to work or college early in the morning, I would advice her to go with another trusted person; it could be also one of her female colleague (or male also, provided that her parents allow her to go with him) ; need not be her ‘brother’ of ‘father’. The reason why I advice her in this context here is because of the genuine care and concern that I have for her – keeping in mind of the atrocities that are being committed upon women when they walk alone. The possibility is not only of Sexual assault- chain snatching, stealing valuables (such as purse, mobile phone, money) are other possibilities too. Its just that parents are too much concerned about their children that they do not want their children to be harmed by any means, by keeping in mind the horrible incidents that they watch in the news channels everyday. And Ma’am, there are also instances where teenage boys (and sometimes young men who go to college) are accompanied by their parents while going to schools/colleges during those early hours or accompanying them while returning home during those late hours. So here more than the issue of gender divide, the issue which prevails around is that of the insecured feeling of the parents towards their children. Its just that they love them unconditionally that they do not want anything to harm them. so here, the issue of gender divide diminishes. sometimes, it does’nt matter if you are a boy or a girl. What matters is that you are a child to your parents and your protection and security is their primary concern .This is what I felt after your article. Please correct me if I am wrong in my viewpoints. As i already mentioned, I’m just a college student and the only son of my widowed mother. Since you are a mother of two, I guess you will be more experienced when it comes to these issues. what do you feel about this ma’am? Kindly reply.
    Thank you.

    P.S. A wonderful article indeed..

    • hey, i guess here milkman was concerned bcoz she was a girl n walkin alone dis morning.. 1 should realize walkin alone on roads for girls is not harmful till some guys take advantage of this thing.. i guess dos guys shld b stopped.. n 1 thing more.. u
      r very true about parents feelings.. my parents were concerned for me as well as for my brother.. der was no gender discrimination in parents worries..

    • Agree. And the Ground Reality point is only fair. Today, the world is nasty enough for all genders- women, men and transgenders too.
      Having said that I do believe that the realistic solution to any problem lies in the idealistic understanding of it.
      As far as I can tell, Ms. Lalita is not claiming that the milkman was wrong. She is taking the prevalence of the idea of women being weaker as a point of contention. The fact that the statement assumed not only her vulnerability but that of every woman. Of course, the same could be said of men being slotted as sports freaks and bread winners and heaven help the man who wants to cook for his children and be the care-giver.
      The problem with rape is not the sexual intercourse, which is only the medium of violence, but the mindset of the perpetrator regarding the victim’s physical & social role. The same goes for moral policing and general chauvinistic sensibilities.
      So either we sit back and say, ‘It is what it is’ and ‘We have to take precautions’ and be defensive about it all or we be careful in general (I’m all for safety!) and attack the problem head-on by going to its roots and realise that a rape might’ve occurred because the perpetrator heard people telling women, ‘Be careful, you’re a girl.’

    • I agree with you and respect what u said..this kind of maturity I expect from my son too(I am a mother of a 5 yr old boy) and am already aware of the situations that you face in school/college when a boy is accompanied by his father or mother to school or college, they are made fun of…saying tht u r still “mamma’s boy blah blah..and unfortunately kids do not understand no matter what their age or gender is, parents will always be concerned. And regarding this article, I agree with Laita too. If I raise my son well, I think I can save at least 100 girls (not only from rape but from getting hurt, physical abuse etc) so I feel responsible…I am not a mother of a girl but can at least do my bit by teaching my son to respect every woman, the way he respects me.
      P.S thx Lalita for sharing this article with us..

    • Very well said, Preetish. As a father of two lovely children- one daughter and one son, and a senior citizen of 76+ , what I have always felt is all that matters is how the family stays together and discusses and shares together. Nothing is simple in life as it is in maths, but the upbringing and openness in the family will always make a difference in everything.

  7. Well written,
    Case in point – Karan Johar (I know he isn’t the benchmark for anything) asking the question on his talk show to many a glued audience – If you were made to have a gay encounter on gun point, who would you want it to be with? My jaw dropped to the ground thinking isn’t this what one would call rape? Gay or Not?

    And to think that’s acceptable to anyone as a joke is ridiculous!

  8. Wonderful write up! Being a mother of 2 young boys, I entirely accept what you have written. I think that once we start portraying girls as anything else other than just a symbol of sex, things would be a lot better. I am totally against people who say such things to my boys like ‘are you a girl’ at their weak points. I have to stop them right their and correct them that there is no difference and they all are one and the same!

  9. Liked your thoughts. But was just wondering- it’s again a ‘mother’ concerned about how to raise a ‘son’. I mean, of course you would write from your POV and experience, but maybe parenting needs to go beyond the boundaries of the mother-father binary. Just a thought. (And one of my pressing concerns.)

    • Aripita, I agree. But it’s a mother and father that worry most about their offspring, more than anyone else ever would. Today, even the second circle that surrounds the child, would say ‘leave be, it’s for the parents to handle’. So, close relatives, friends, teachers, the society that the child grows up in, would seem like light-years away in shaping believes & behaviour.
      That said, every child needs a hero to look up to and I’d rather it be his/her parents than someone else.

  10. loved each n every sentence that you phrased around “being guilty”.
    The times you felt angry were the one’s any woman should.
    .Its heart touching & true,the big question that still remain among us as to how to face and base the future generations so that when we say “women”…the common vocabulary goes beyond words like respect,protect,honour and others…let women be a women…and stop associating it with an object to woo-man !!

    • I guess there is ” male ego” which is something keeps in their minds… + in india all families even so called broad minded & educated discriminate between a male & female child..I have seen many educated families prefer the male kid. Also they teach their male kid that he is more special by preferring his wish over his Sis ..We need to check ourselves … Even I found myself guilty when I asked my niece to give chocolates to my nephew even I knew he already has many in his hands but just because he got stubborn; I filled his demand and I think here male ego started developing to some extent and males feel dominant later …

  11. ”Every man or woman who makes a joke about rape is guilty of rape.”

    I disagree. This attitude of equating misogyny and other ignorant behavior to rape eventually trivializes the trauma undergone by *actual* victims of rape. You see that with Tumblr radfems who use the ‘rape culture!’ rallying cry so much that it has seemingly lost all meaning.

    If you make a joke about rape, you are ignorant and contributing to rape culture but you are not guilty of rape.

    • When one encourages a certain culture or behavior, one becomes indirectly guilty of said behavior. So if jokes about rape trivialize the barbaric act and make the act less barbaric or more acceptable even in jest, the joke is tantamount to perpetrating the crime because there is a leniency implied when making fun of a ruthless and inhuman act such as rape.

    • Both genders must be treated equal but physically boys are stronger than girls. Believe it or not but my 14 year old son easily overpower my wife.

  12. My 11 year old cousin recently told me to be careful when we were crossing the road one day. His exact words were – Didi be careful. Rape ho jayega. I don’t know why but it jolted me. As a 26 year old woman, I was a shocked that only an 11 year old worry about me being raped but thinks it’s his duty to protect. It’s true. I don’t need a “man’s” protection. I would just like it very much if men didn’t rape me.

  13. Well written… i have been thinking about it for quite a while. my son is 4 years old and i am carrying 7 months now and again its gonna be a boy, when i realized i am gonna be a mom of two boys, i definitely have the responsibility to tell them the right thing. As u said they should see the girls equally and not as a object… i am sure most of the rapist had a phycological problem or a arrogant nature from the childhood, whereas the parents dint make a point to guide them rightly…

    but its still a question how to convey the kids, in a neat way . We goto really think smart being a mother of boys….

    I am so new to ur blog…. i really liked r words… well expressed …

  14. true . (However, I don’t like the title. There is a gender bias in that. I would prefer a title like “Raising a child at the time of dimishing respect to fellow human beings” )

  15. Actually its very basic. All you need to do is develop a strong set of principles in your son. And a belief. Make him understand the difference between right and wrong- without bringing religious bias or gender unequality into the equation.

    As for the other pressing point in your column, do you think Indian girls are safe in our own country? Girls are advised not to go out after dark. They have very less freedom. Who enforces these so called ‘rules’? Parents, husbands etc. Right? Are they doing it to assert their authority over a girl? Maybe not. Maybe a father is worried that if a girl goes out after dark, something might happen. Because while coming home, he might have noticed the hooligans around the street corner.

    I am not justifying the restrictions a father puts on his daughter. But we can’t turn our back on the fact that right now, India is just not safe for girls. We need to change this. The new India, the new generation needs to think differently.

    Is gender bias the source to these problems? Is gender bias the source of eve teasing? I think there are far more important sources. Like the skewed sex ratio in our society. Like the lack of basic education. And by basic education, i mean moral education. We have subjects like Moral science in our curriculum but few teachers actually see it through. Boring lectures aren’t the answer, schools should incorporate drives like cleaning drives, a poor fund drive etc. In this rat race, parents are so preoccupied in making their child an engineer or a doctor that a child’s moral development takes a back seat.

    This is what needs to be done first. Simple moral education. I think you are overthinking the whole situation. Let the child grow up. Right now, mould his innocent mind by simply making him see the difference between right and wrong. And when he is of the correct age, have the talk. Have a heart to heart. Let him ponder over the problems in our society. Make him think. Let him develop his own principles. And pray that they are good principles.

    Yes, a lot of influence goes into this. Peer pressure, manlihood etc can mess up his mind. Remember, you only have to guide him through that. I would recommend some film or TV show that makes you think long after you have watched it.

    Never tell him stuff like “Don’t ever eve-tease” or “Boys and girls are equal, respect all” and everything. Let him come to these conclusions himself. What i mean to say is that don’t hand out the conclusion to him on a silver platter. Let him come to that. For then, it will mean much more to him.

    Let him fall in love and watch him grow as a person. Let him be the good samaritan you want him to be.

    At the end of the day, it is someone’s principles that makes or breaks him. A strong set of principles is necessary. And maybe a belief.

    For example, i don’t believe in God. So what makes me go through the day? Its just that i believe in Karma. I believe bad things happen to bad people. What goes around comes back around. This stops me from from doing anything ‘bad’.

    If a simple belief can stop me from teasing a girl, a similar belief can do wonders. Find out what your son believes in. A spiritual being, or an idea, whatever tickles his fancy. (I do not believe in god but i never discourage others to do so like other atheists. I might have found my belief in Karma but few rarely do. For the rest, there’s ‘god’)

    • You have a point Debjit. But when perceptions are articulated, one has to put forth one’s point of view. For example, a statement like “Boys don’t wear purple crocs” should be addressed. The child is getting these ideas from somewhere and if the parent doesn’t interject (because the school/caregiver/friends won’t), then the child will take everything that comes as a diktat. Children have to learn to question.

  16. You are correct.. But the fact is nowadays social community has a greater impact on an individual than one’s parents and upbringing.. Once your child will grow up and will reside in hostel for further studies- It is not sure that he will stand by the morals inculcated in him by you . it is all about individual’s perspective to do the rights and wrong subject to a situation in given period of time. 🙂

  17. thts too inspiring …..really ……i read it at 4 am bcg this is too interesting to read and also knowledgeable…thnx…:p

  18. So many things to think about and figure out. How we raise boys…. is that only what determines what they think? I think a school needs to figure out how to change the small things to make it gender agnostic. And, I know… easier said than done!

    • Yes, school plays a very important part, and there are so many layers of information and influence involved. Even if the school is holistically the right kind, that focuses on equality, etc, there are students there or even parents who may not have been raised right, and all these contribute to shaping a child’s mind and behaviour. One has to keep a tight vigil, more is the pity.

  19. I really liked your article. I think in our country today, removing the gender tag from a lot of things which we do/say would go a long way into making it a better place to be in. So many of us are used to pink=girls, blue=boys, monster trucks v/s barbies and so on and so forth. Crying is still seen as a ‘weak, feminine’ activity unfortunately. Manning up, giving it back to people, taking charge/control, the entire ‘mard ban, be a man’ statement seems super shallow today.

    Thank you for writing this

  20. Very nicely written :). Just a point though. It’s natural for both genders to experience a phase particularly just before/during puberty where they do not wish to be associated with activities/hobbies/likes the opposite sex may engage in. That’s how banter like ‘you’ve got cooties’ (though that’s more of a western concept) began. It’s only a temporary period naturally. But most if not all go through it. During this phase they express disgust for intimacy, eg: between their own parents in the form of a peck on the lips, observing college goers hold hands in public, etc. This is something one can’t really do much about. It’ll happen. However, I agree that parents, right from birth, compound this through basic mistakes such as choosing pink clothes for a baby girl and blue for a boy, in addition to classifying the act of crying as a ‘girly thing to do’.

  21. I saw somebody’s comment about ground realities.. And that is what even I would like to say..

    What you are wishing for is a completely equal soceity.. boys and girls dress up alike, think alike, do things alike.. But do you think that’s the way we are designed?
    Don’t you see glaring differences in our capabilities whether it is physical, intellectual or emotional? I think that we cannot ignore that fact.

    We have basically evolved from animals and there is something called instincts. With our education & culture we are tuning ouselves to act based on sane thoughts rather than animal instincts. And this has to develop a lot more before everybody gets the required respect in this soceity.

    Raising boys in a way that they treat women with respect is a very important factor. But raising girls in a way that they respect themselves for what they really are is also equally important. Even a small girl worries about weight, skin colour, focuses on dressing up, loses her sleep over a pimple.. Why? And who inculcates that in them? They are considered as a thing of beauty to show off and there lies big trouble!

    So rather than focusing on equality of men and women, the focus has to be on growing up to be mature people who are in control of themselves.. whether a man or a woman.

    • I totally agree about the conditioning bit Anila. We have to raise our children to be self-assured and take the focus away from external beauty, which sadly the universe has inflicted upon them.

  22. A friend of mine who heads an NGO for girls mused about this over 10 years ago when ‘rape’ wasnt part of everyday headlines. Her son had just turned 13. What if he did something despite my efforts of raising him right?
    It’s the parents of the boys that need to worry about who & what their sons grow to become – not the girls, she said. It’s their birthright to feel safe.
    So true.
    One just wonders when this culture shift will happen… or worse, whether it ever will.

  23. This is the first time I am reading your blog and I am glad I did.
    What a beautifully written piece and such saddening realities!
    I have a 4 year old niece at home and everytime she’s around a grown man (an uncle, cousin, relative), I find myself getting very worried!! Such things have forever plagued our society but it’s only now that people are finding the courage to talk about them.

    Thanks for writing such a profound article and sharing it with all.

  24. Superb article!! Got me goosebumps. I could relate to each & every sentence of yours. We, Indian girls, are brought up in a way that leaves us very little or no choice to carry on our lives independently be it travelling or visits to a place where there is a possibility of a lot of males around. We are always accompanied by either our father / brother / boyfriend / husband; as a matter of habit (as one may say), we start believing that we are the weaker member. And that’s how this feeling is passed down through the generations.

    But that’s NOT how I would want to raise my kids. Thanks Lalita.. for helping me realize this through your article.. I hope each one reading this article will have some mindblowing take-aways for themselves…


  25. Hi Lalita – loved your article – it resonates with me as a young mother bringing up my only son. I would like you to read what I had written sometime early this year- few days after the brutal rape incident in Delhi ( https://www.facebook.com/notes/dhanya-issac/a-resolution-for-keeps/10151383828680941).
    I remembering having not slept for days as the very thought about that rape happening used to haunt me . It was mentally disturbing for me to imagine that I live in this world alongside cannibals.

    Men in our society have been brought up to think that they can get away with anything – and we unknowingly imbue that thought in them – so it starts at home.

    Regards and best wishes

    Dhanya Issac

  26. Ma’am, with all due respect, my mother has told me a lot of things (usual things like drinking, smoking etc, although i don’t completely obey all this), but my mom has never told me to behave around girls,(although i make fun of them in weird ways, putting it lightly) i have never ever felt the need to misbehave around them… i assure you when i say this, but i take my responsibilities as a male very seriously… I had my share of misfortunes, mistakes and wrongs, but that has made me who i am…

  27. Such a well written article. It is a hard world where we are shadowed by many evails…where the modernization is actully pinched out of our age old proud mythological culture. We have shown that a woman can be traded by her husbands. I personally feel apart from bringing up, education, and surroundings we have a hard job to come out of certain cliched thoughts which is so deep rooted in all of us. I remember myself saying- “hey look the guy is crying, such an effeminate character!”. It is a hard work, but we have to keep trying.

  28. Great read. I don’t agree, but great read nonetheless.
    Here are my thoughts- what we need to realize is that certain places, sadly Delhi being at the top, are places where you will get assaulted. Now before you start yelling at me, let me say that I am not saying anything to the effect that it’s your fault or mine or the government’s. Throwing blame is easy. All I am saying is that if you know a certain place is unsafe, whether for men or women, why do you tempt fate? Simple analogy- Central Park in New York is known for muggings. Is it smart for me to wear flashy gold watches and carry an expensive cell phone and walk through it at night? Probably not. It’s not my fault if I get mugged but it definitely is my stupidity. Of course the crime needs to be cleaned up. But till that happens, avoid getting yourself into those places! (I know if I said this out in a gathering, I would probably be stoned :p But that’s actually a good thing that we at least have that sentiment where rape is considered to be as serious an offense as can be. I hope this sentiment travels throughout the country!)

  29. A very important issue has been pointed out in this article -the issue of raising the next generation. The issue of moral education and its implimentation into lives. I agree with everything written here -about equality in all forms, however, I’m not sure if i understand ‘there is a very thin line between protector and perpetrator’ bit, I mean, there seems to be a huge difference.

    God I hope I’m not wrong, but I believe it is a duty of a person to protect another person (maybe/maybe not -a weaker person -not judging) whoever needs help/or saving. Not helping when you can is defying your moral obligation as a good human; this person could be a female, and if help is required, I shall step in irrespective of what you would say. I would also do the same for a male by the way. So I guess what I am saying is, if someone offers help to someone who need help, it is wise not to assume that he/she is looking down on you, just because you are a female -he could just be a good person willing to do the same to anyone irrespective of gender.

    I do not hesitate to teach my younger brother to offer seat to a female in the metro, for example, but I advice him to do the same for anyone in need, a male who seems tired, or is wounded or a senior person; but when I say ‘offer seat to female’, that is not because I believe they are weak, I ask them to do so to build character that men now a days are lacking, it is a mark of respect, of honor, that they have been raised well and not pity at all. I teach my younger brothers to value women above us, if not equal -please do not get us wrong.

    If you find anything I have written here as extremely wrong, I would like to know, and perhaps change if that is required.

  30. you do not understand the harsh reality we live in…..simply taking measures in the family and school environments won’t do any good in the long run……
    the whole system has to change…..

    it is not just india,every country suffers from gender inequality,yes even sophisticated countries like america,canada and britain….

    for example,look at the sport of football,the largest sport in the world played almost by every country out there……how many times do we see the names of female footballers and teams being mentioned in the newspapers??…..all we see is messi’s,the maradona’s,the ronaldo’s and players like that…female players and teams are treated like trash out there…..once the annual fifa awards commence,then only we know such a team even existed…

    similarly we see women being treated like trash in every sport like cricket,basketball,boxing,etc. the only exception to this is tennis……….

    then comes the movie industry,you think only indian movies and bollywood industry make light of women,lalitaji?….think again….

    even today,in the hollywood industry women are treated like sex symbols and nothing else ….i know this,because i watch a lot of hollywood movies,and with exception of a few movies here and there,hollywood industry downgrades women like any other film industry out there…..

    when it comes to comparing greats of the business only names like schwarzennegar,sylvester stallone,bruce willis,etc only come up…….women are treated like an afterthought…

    even modern day,games are treating women like trash……the grand theft auto series(gta) which is the biggest gaming franchise in the gaming industry realeased their fifith installment lately,and frankly,women are portrayed like whores in that game…..it was recently in the midst of controversy for all that….google it!

    the us-army still hasn’t given full-freedom women to take up arms and enter the battlefield,even though women activisits work their butt off in america….!

    the federal bureau of investigation(FBI) consists of 85% males and 15% females,of which 10% engage in administrative activities….only 5% are even allowed near field work…!

    when such apparent gender inequalities exist in the world,you think simply reforming your child’s attitude during childhood and school days will change anything?……it wont change a damn thing!

    even,if you manage to reform him,remember that after a certain age,this is the world he is going to be sent out to……and his attitude will change quickly once he sees the reality of the world we live in……..no matter what moral values about gender equality,you may instill in him,he will forget all that,once he gets a detailed look at the male-dominated world we all live in.

    • Agreed to all your points .. lets ban all of the male domination in every section of life will that do good ????? Common .. I guess everyone here are talking about what we can do about all of this – whatever stats you have put we all know and witness this everyday , its very easy you see blaming someone and your job is done. The problem with humans is they need one scapegoat to blame everything on them and cleanse yourself- first its caste/religion now its gender and being gay / les/ trans – I think its high time we realise that a man was made physically stronger than women thus the male domination exists –

      I would love to ask you one question – what if women were stronger physically than men what would the world be ??

  31. someone once told me that it actually takes a village to raise a child..and i think it is very true. what to teach, what not to, a child is and has always been a matter of debate and i guess one learns as one raises a child..but your point is very well taken

  32. your point of view is not absolutely wrong but the upbringing for both girls and boys should be done perfectly we ourselves set a example in front of them that it’s ok if we take women for granted when they just say anything or give out their opinion. in the same manner if a boy doesn’t drink or do not have any bad habits we call him chicken or girlish first this has to stop then everything else will stop. JUST AN OPINION DON’T FEEL OFFENDED

  33. I never really comment on such things, as I personally feel everyone who has such high opinions on what should be done and can’t do it is a hypocrite. Reading your post, however, has moved me quite a bit.

    This is something that’s been written straight from the heart rather than making a lofty issue about. I love the grounded writing, genuine in emotion, and honest in intention. More or less, there is finally someone who doesn’t play the blame game on minor short-term causes, and instead gently points out a long-term one: parenting (read keyword: gently). There are so many aggressive posts out there. Heck, even I’ve written one when utterly flabbergasted. But I’ve always known for a fact that parenting is a strong cause of the amount of misdeeds against women happening in India. Gender tilts in favour of the men, and when one eventually breaks the gender barrier and progressively parents each gender without any prior presumptions, the World will see a rosier future.

    Anyway, my idea was just to tell you how flawless your writing is.

  34. Have been thinking abt the same .. How to explain these things to my son who is 10 now .how to go abt it in a right way so as not to spook him n at the same time instil to have respect when all around u u see girls being degraded at every turn n main culprit the TV n the advertisements on them ..

  35. the very special thing about this article is the personal touch to it,… written in a very simple way, but questioning the very basics of societal norms and language… love it.

  36. Sucha butiful post there, would love to read more and share. bless you and you’re boy always…..

    ‘Be not arrogant just because you have it all. Think not I am envious of you just because I have none of it. I find blessings in the grains of my sands. You find flaws in your diamonds. I’ll always go to bed happier than you.’

  37. Few suggestions to parents on Never-Ending Questions asked by a child :

    * Postpone answering a question. Although children may want an immediate answer, you don’t have to supply one immediately. You can acknowledge the question and defer answering it until later.
    * Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.” However, rather than leaving the question unanswered, a parent can become their child’s learning partner. For example, when a child asks a question, you can answer something like, “That’s a great question. I don’t know exactly why. Maybe we can look up the answer together.”
    * A child may not really be interested enough to pursue the information, but by postponing rather than refusing to answer questions, you are encouraging rather than stifling your child’s curiosity. You also end up with a long list of potential subjects to explore with your child whenever time permits.

  38. This is so true…i have a four year old too…and the anecdotes shared are so similar to mine..!! i guess its the process of socialization that makes a boy or a girl say/do/react/think etc the way they do.Family has always been an institution…and its the best place to start off. But I’m always wondering what they do at school or what is he watching on television or playing with his friends at the park. A very interesting thing that my son Vivaan said while we were playing cooking..he has his cooking set and after cooking he said mom…u do the washing..I asked him why? he said bcoz the chefs are all boys.. and the ones who was are all girls just like krishna aunty who washes our utensils at home.
    Hmmm… i was put on a thought!! i watch a lot of cookery channels and more often than not they are men….often we dont realize but children pick up things and thats where they decide on gender roles….
    Its a tough place to raise up kids…and really im not sure of what im doing…but i think all mothers have this silent yet aggressive fear within us..!

  39. I understand your position, and completely agree with you, but there are two things. Firstly, calling everyone part of the current patriarchal setup guilty of rape comes across as highly polemical. Also, regardless of how we would like the world to be, the reality is that girls and women are unsafe on Indian roads. I cannot change everyone’s mentality overnight, so is it wrong or patriarchal for me to ensure my sister’s safety by not leaving her alone on the roads at night? I would like her to not need anyone’s help and people to respect her personal space regardless of her gender, but I’ll not risk reality based on my personal philosophy.

  40. Thanks God. its like you have spoken for every sensible ‘human’ being. I don’t like the cry about Girl, Mother, she-gang. Can people just live without setting aside nonsense(Bottomless) gender parities.May human sense prevail.

  41. Thought provoking…very inspiring…when you get some answers on how you explained it to your son finally..do share with us too!

  42. The topic you picked for your blog is appropriate. But i am not sure if you really are clear about what you thinking and what you saying. In coming 3-4 yrs i might have to explain the same to my kids irrespective of a boy or girl.. They both need to understand what is rape, and how my boy can be a protector and not a perpetrator. Its my duty to make him understand the importance of rakhi, of protecting a gal with or without rakhi.

    If we just remain angry about things and dont start teaching out kids the right values at the right age.. What is the difference we are making? Dont remain angry.. Tell him how disgusting the unwanted touch is (just like your friend did), may be then he will understand to respect an individual, a gal.

  43. Nice read. As a mother of a 3 year old boy, I understand what you say but disagree with the examples. Walking alone at 5:30am isn’t an act of feminist defiance. In the times that we live in, its plain and simple dangerous – no matter which city you live in. As recent cases have shown, having a male company is probably also not going to be enough (they were there during both of the horrific recent rape cases but couldn’t do much). But yes, it may ward off that guy looking to take a chance with you.

    Our boys are going to be exposed to a lot of gender distinctions from the outside world. (Note that this is different from gender bias) It is a learning to see that your boy came and told you that boys aren’t supposed to wear bangles… because as an accepted norm in the Indian society, men don’t wear bangles! It’s probably him taking a step towards his own gender awareness and am sure you realise what will happen if he grew up thinking otherwise. Will any mother in her right mind say it is ok for her boy to wear purple crocs and pink pants? These gender distinctions aren’t the reason for rapes – lack of moral education is.

    I completely agree with your point on the need for raising sons who respect the women in their lives (that is probably the rakhi word you are looking for instead of ‘protect’) and that will come out of (among other things) them seeing how the men closest to them treat women. And as mothers, we need to set the right examples – that we are smart, independent women who are happy to be both pretty in pink and the pants in the boardroom.

  44. Very thought provoking article… Makes me think and wonder.. Questions raise as we’ll being a father of 2 (boy and girl).. Stuff that I read and come across in various media forms does freak me out thinking about my kids.. Loved the point you made about upbringing and probably that is a great point.. Probably the most important point missed out by many.. Having said that how to embed certain things from childhood feels like a mystery.. Thanks for sharing your feelings in a beautiful way.. Makes me wanna be a better parent.. Mommygolightly..good stuff !!!!

  45. That’s an amazing collection of thoughts and points to reflect upon.

    In my little whatsapp group of male friends only, we were discussing the recent verdict in the Delhi murder case of Aarushi and Hemraj. One of the participant in the discussion stated and I quote, “What else would a father do when you open your daughter’s door to see her in a compromising position with a guy! I would be very angry and probably would have done the same thing.” My question to him was, “Would your reaction change if it was your son and not your daughter in the act?” Response was a meek, “Valid point! Reaction would probably have been different.”

  46. I have a 21/2 year old son and recently when I read about a 3 year old girl being abused in her play school.. I worried for him as much as I worried for the little girl who I am expecting to deliver very soon. Yet honestly I think I worried more for my little girl than my boy…that’s how we are conditioned right–girls will be victimised more than boys. Maybe statistically untrue or true but at the level of conceptions and ideas instilled in us it is what we grow up with. Before I answer my kids I have to resolve my own conflicts in this matter..that’s the hard part. I guess I will keep doing that and in the process find something sensible, fair and real to tell my kids. Thanks for your article!

  47. Truly thought provoking..hope things change soon before another generation flies by..
    Lalita…I especially admire you for writing about your personal experiences..that takes courage!

  48. Very well written dear…even i have a 4 yr old son and 7yr old daughter…the moment my son picks his sis dolls we say girl girl….so now he’s like dolls for girls,kitchen set for girls and pink colors for girls….dont know if we do the right thing by saying these things to him….

  49. Very well written. I am a mother of a 8 year old girl and would love to bring her up as an independent individual and not as a girl. She should be strong enough to fight her own battles and emerge as a stronger being. In my view it is important to teach a boy to respect a girl and not pity her or feel she is weak.

  50. beautifully and sensitively written…but as we grew up, for us Rakhi was about taking care of each other through life, maybe thats how our parents introduced it to us.,so thats what today’s kids can be told Rakhi is about.

  51. Excellent piece! Absolutely bang on! Unfortunately many (and it is MANY in India) fail to appreciate that “protection” is the beginning of the bias and the beginning of the culture of gender discrimnation

  52. Indeed an important topic which should be discussed with full seriousness.
    Please correct me where ever u find me wrong.
    My perspective is: Things have to change a different levels.
    1. More women in work; more power and independence to them. (Man ego to take a blow here and learn to accept women are equally competitive.) Currently it is restricted to office jobs mainly. This has to go deeper into all class and section of work and society.
    2. Respect for women. Its a big diverse society and I have no clue if it
    3. Parenting is the most important thing indeed. (disclaimer: I am a 25 yr old bachelor so learning about it) I try to understand the critical things about parenting and their impacts. You guys sharing your experience is super helpful! Thanks to all Indian moms and dads sharing these experiences.
    4. I get your point that guys being there to protect and emphasizing on the same are building a perception which is an issue. But yes guys also want to be protective that is a constructive thing; only that it should not be emphasized and stressed upon. We should not make them feel dependent on us (guys) for protection.

  53. Hi Lalitha,

    I don’t know you or your background, do not know your experiences or perhaps cannot understand the context with which you have made some statements. But your declaration, “Every man or woman who makes a joke about rape is guilty of rape.” seems in a way to trivialize the trauma undergone by those who have been assaulted.

    Jokes about rape are terrible. Statements. Even ways of treating girls and boys in homes. And I do not condone this.
    But to say that this is EQUAL to rape. To call those people rapists, is terrible.
    A person who jokes about murder is not a murderer (although admittedly has a terrible sense of humour)

    Secondly, you talk about walking alone on the streets. Walking alone at 4 30 am is not something that is advisable for men, women, children, anyone. We live in cities where there is a greater level of violence, more than there used to be. To be accompanied by someone is wise regardless of your gender and I urge you to stop seeing this as a girl vs boy issue but rather as a general safety one.

  54. These are thoughts which kept be occupied often lately. Rape is not a crime of one-day, it is slowly built upon several years of wrong teachings that culminates in a single-day outrage.

  55. Loved the article…. Every word was sooo true…. Especially the part – “Every parent who says, “Boys will be boys,” is guilty. Every time you use a bangle metaphor for a ‘weak’ man, you are guilty. Every parent who thinks that a daughter should be married off lest she falls into wayward ways, is guilty. Every parent who has different bars for sons and daughters is guilty of rape. Every time you are told you need a man to complete you, you are raped.”

  56. Exceedingly brilliant article. It just hits the mark.

    But I would like to tell you from psychoanalytic point of view that there is nothing to be worried about your child’s behavior when you say that, “Re has started sounding slightly divisive about gender”. They are very normal psychological changes that happen as we grow. Would request you to read more into Dr. Sigmund Freud essays on child psychology.

    Other than that I think every man and woman in this world should ponder over essence of this article. Just Bravo!

  57. Yes. She is rightfuly accurate in her assessment of real issue. To add to her point, we’ve long forgottan base principal of our society i.e. “Yatra Naryastu Pujyante, Ramnte Tatra Devta” which translates “Places is god’s own garden where women’s are being worshiped (With utmost respect and dignity)”

  58. Dear Lalitha,

    You make a lot of good points, but like most women who have now forgotten the essentials of emancipation, you’ve glorified this almost glamorous side to feminism. You may choose to live in a society that has no gender roles, but if you allow yourself to get flustered because your son doesn’t want to wear bangles, you’re living a society that doesn’t exist nor ever will because right here, you’re part of the culture that instills or wants to instill a certain set of ‘rules’ people should live by. By insisting that boys shouldn’t make a distinction between men and women, what they can wear and what they can’t, you have already set a set of roles you want people to live by. Natural existence is what it’s about. There’s nothing natural about rape, but there is something exceedingly unnatural- not to mention unattractive- about a man in colored bangles WHICH IS WHY THEY DON’T WEAR THEM, if it looked aesthetically appealing, which is the objective of the bangle might I add, men would wear them too. Does that annoy the feminist in you? Well the fact that you think that’s what gender equality is about infuriates me. Try something else like oh I don’t know… getting paid equally for a level of education equivalent to our male counterparts?!

    Exerting the right over your body by walking alone late at night, won’t stop rape. Neither will getting infuriated over a girls only boarding school. Want to teach your child how to respect a woman? dont. Because you’ve just made a woman an object that you have a set of terms and conditions for when dealing with. Teach him how to respect mankind and the whole blooming universe. Grow a tree, meditate, teach him about his divinity, about the divinity of women, teach him how to appreciate and exercise his sexuality and reprimand any ideas of animalistic sex. You don’t even have to go that far but please. PLEASE for the love of Indian women everywhere like myself who are tired of women like you glorifying feminism, stop believing that the only way to ‘unobjectify yourself sexually’, is to objectify yourself mentally and emotionally. Stop telling people to respect you just because you’re a woman, DEMAND that they should because you are their intellectual equal.

    It isn’t ‘cool’ to be a feminist, just because we come from a society of women who are married off at a certain age and killed at birth, you are not a ‘new age woman’, you’re just another very angry woman looking for an outlet to express that anger and I’ll be damned if another man is brought into this world respecting a woman ONLY BECAUSE SHE’S A WOMAN as opposed to a mind, body & soul.

    An equally angered woman who refuses to be called a feminist.

    • You are so right! What a beautifully written response. The movement of new age feminists have forgotten what the elements of feminism even are. I don’t know what all those elements are but I’m sure being angry all the time over issues we can’t change by being vulgar isn’t one of them.

  59. I may get a thousand beating for my comments…
    Boys will be boys, Girls will be girls and there is nothing wrong in that. Being distinct, having their own strenghts & weaknesses – should be ok.
    Rape is not about Men attacking women – its about ‘sick’ people irrespective of gender.
    As for learning to respect women – its not needed – each boy and girl should be taught to respect every other human being walking on earth.

  60. I am amazed reading this, these are exact thought going through my mind. When we tell a young boy that he is protect his sister because she is a girl, we somewhere tell him that girls are weak and need protection. We really need to instill the thought in childhood that both genders are important and should be respected equally.

  61. Parents and teachers have a duty of care , they must offer right attitude, structures and values of life to children regardless of their gender. If parents reprimand children when they are wrong and support them when they are right, half the problems could be nipped in bud.

  62. I loved reading it . I agree that from the early years of their lives they are made aware of their position – you are a girl so you have to follow certain protocols but your brother —-” he is a boy! such things create differences from tender ages .” l feel this concept should change . Our attitudes towards the gender differences should no more be a taboo.

  63. Hey, i hav and am goin thro phase wer a guy is stalking me. I had taken this matter to my parents who in turn spoke with his. But nothing worked. His mother called me and scolded me for telling my parents and threatened me not to tell myparents if he does anything to me in the fut ure. Where is this society going???? I felt really angry, she is also a lady and how could she talk to me like that????

  64. Yes. Really Nice. These girlish and boyish things which people say is what makes them more vulnerable. Your last line was really awesome. And one thing I feel is its not always parents who are responsible for their child’s deed as child is mostly away and get outside experiences which shapes his thoughts.

    Having said that it is really necessary to explain their child important things. Which you are planning.

  65. I do agree with the conditioned environment which our society has developed to construct our thoughts is totally changing the ways we analyze situations. Being a boy sometime fears me with the realization that should i allow my neurons with the thoughts thrown by society or should i save myself…if i save, I am an orthodox and unchanging and if i don’t, I end up hurting someone consciously or unconsciously.
    So, I think its more of a society which shapes up a child’s brain, hardly it gets a touch by parents! After certain age which makes him sufficiently intelligent to grasp things said by society, he is on his own as he was always.
    So, don’t worry…If u choosed a society which you don’t like to bring up your children, it hardly gives you the control to give you any chance to shape your child.
    I say it with respect…that unfortunately we don’t have controls.

  66. I like your article but was taken aback by this one line- “There is a very thin line between protector and perpetrator.” Really?? A thin line between protector and perpetrator?? According to me they are poles apart, complete opposites actually.
    So according to you every father, brother or friend who ensures the safety of their loved ones is contributing towards rape? I lived in Bangalore for a few years and one of my friends was nearly pulled into a van while walking home one night. She screamed for help but no one came forward. Luckily she was able to break free and save herself. After that I always make it a point to drop my lady friends home or wait with them till they got an auto etc. So I am doing something wrong? I should let my lady friends be because this will make stronger? I am totally against crass jokes and making light of the gender divide. But calling out people because they try to protect their loved ones is unacceptable.
    I understand where you are coming from.. I really do.. I wish we lived in a world where women were safe and nothing bad happened. Unfortunately reality is far more difficult to face than answering the questions of children.

  67. Loved your article… We still live in a society where there is immense gender discrimination… We should treat our selves as humans first and then discriminate oneself as a man or woman… I dream and I hope I can bring up my child in a society where humanity prevails

  68. Wonderful piece thank you so much! I do wish parents would stop sex-shaming and shame the rape culture instead and talk to children/teens/preteens about consent regarding friends, romantic relationships and even marriages.

    So, for that thank you!

  69. Every sentence aped an emotion, a fire, an anger, an anguish that I have been carrying for a while now. I too want a son when I get married and tell him what it is like to be a gentleman.
    Truly inspiring. 🙂

  70. My mom used to drop me to the station till the main road where I was joined by my other friends to catch the 5.55 am local train(Mumbai) to college. But my bro always went alone, This is not gender discrimination but care and concern on part of my mother.

  71. This piece is like awakening. Said it well, it’s time we Question, we answer , we talk and nurture souls in right spirits and pursuits. I was really touched and casually too will avoid gender remarks.

  72. I appreciate the way you are educating your son about rape and how to respect the other gender. I am a 21 year old and still there is a sense of awkwardness that lies in the air when ever there is a rape news in the Tv when I am with my parents,the only option is to immediately change the channel. The only way India can get out of this rape problem is talking more about it,be it father to a son,mother to a daughter or a brother to a sister,we need to take out the gap between people when speaking about rape and women suppression. Hope every one would think like you and at least the coming generations can see a rape less India.

  73. Very well written..unless the entrenched sterotypes about gender specific roles and behaviour remain women will continue to feel discriminated as patriarchy is the predominant value which is transferred from one generation to another..

  74. i endorse the urgency and the rational of this debate and the reactions to it, i hold the parents of a rapist as responsible to the crime as the criminal itself . The circumstances ( like the area being deserted or the attire etc are irrelevant.) . (We have enough differences in our society like religion sect race country etc) if we further divide the society on gender it will be a vertical split., which will be very bad.

  75. Before reading this blog i thought i was the only one who thinks like this but i am glad that i am not an exception. I am 21 and afraid of marriage and children. The reason behind my fear is not the type of husband or his family I will get but is the kind of mentality I will be facing. I don’t want a husband who will disrespect my thoughts, I don’t want in-laws who think I am insane and I don’t want to give my children this environment where we are living. I am more worried about my next generations future than mine. I don’t know when all these fear will go and I will be free.

  76. The idea is to raise a human being and not a boy or a girl…. respect a girl as a human being and teach a boy that there is nothing called ‘provoke’ – he is responsible for all his actions whatever be the source which made him act a way.

  77. I totally agree with you, even women, mothers, my own blood relatives, believe that girls are not bothered if there’s a guy with them.. but i don’t think this is totally based on sexism, it’s just what they’ve commonly observed… and they do this out of fear.. your brother will drop you, he’ll pick you up.. they’re channeling their fear in the wrong direction..
    there is a strong need for people to learn to protect themselves.. girls as well as boys. What people ignore is that in the most highlighted case of rape in india(nirbhaya), there was a guy with her, and he couldn’t do shit to protect her. So along with raising well adjusted boys and strong girls, it’s also the duty of the parents to teach their girls and boys to protect themselves, rather than sending bodyguards or putting up restrictions

  78. This article is so refreshingly opinionated, its almost perfect. You’ve done a really good job. I’ve just only visited your blog and you’ve made quite an impression on me with the first piece that I read. I’m a college student and have come across some of the issues you’ve mentioned a lot of times in light of all the horrible events that have occurred recently in India and otherwise as well. It feels really nice that there are people who think this way and you’ve made a great effort to propagate your ideas which are sincere and genuine. Glad to have come across your blog and I will try my best to follow it up.

  79. You totally makes sense.. I think It’s not just about parenting anymore.. In the current generation, it is the technology and accessibility which has more diverse effects on the upbringing of children. I tried to relate this article to myself – what my mom would have told me if I had asked this question 20 years ago.. However, I did not ask this question – because may be I do not know about girls being raped at all. but the current generation does have access to news, media, social network – to know what is happening around the world and around their own community – that’s both advantage and disadvantage.. Probably, knowing a possibility could be one the triggers..

    I mean if the boy knows that he can force and rape a girl and just get away with that, YES – he will try it.. unlike back in those times, no knowledge – so no attempts.

    Basically, my point is “Media” – which is kinda brainwashing the young generation with different options.. and the media being Movies/News/Magazines. Hope all this changes in INDIA..

  80. When your kids ask about rape, tell them exactly what is the meaning of rape, teach them that girls and boys are equal and should not be discriminated. Tell them that bangles came from the culture of Indian society but it doesn’t symbolizes weakness. It is the way of showing love. Even boys also wear bangles (kada).
    If proper attention is given on the upbringing of children then only they will understand and take guard against the wrongs of the society. Please open up and you will do a world of good for your own child and hence it will be a contribution to the society.
    Written for all those out there including me.

  81. Dear Ma’m

    I mostly agree to almost everything written in this blog of yours.
    Though i disagree with the title….
    “raising-a-boy-in-times-of-rape”…i guess all times were the “times of rape”….its the time of communication….
    never the less i think what you actually seek is a complete equality….

    for me “u” r guilty to seek equality…and so is everyone else who tries to compare the two in any way….be it “less than” or “equal”

    a male and a female are different…i m not saying one is better than other all i am saying is…one is different from other…

    its the presence of one that signifies the value of other…

    Therefore according to me one should respect individuals as they are…not compare them…

    and yes sometimes you need to “protect” some one…dosent make the other weak….just states that the other has a different and equally important skillsets, and hence u need to protect them as they protect u.

    A boy may protect his sister physically but so does the sister mentally…

    i dont feel embarrassed to accept that there were weak moments in my life when my sister protected me.

    i dont want to offend you or your thought…just sharing mine


    Ankur Khemuka

  82. I am a mom of 2 – a 9.5 year old boy and a 5.5 year old girl . Exactly one year ago (and we all know why) – my son too came and asked me “What is Rape”. I chose to answer – “Violating people “. I know it was an inadequate answer but I knew not what else to answer …
    My son was 4 when his sister was born. Why doesn’t she have a “peepee” – was my sons first question. Will she be okay? If she behaves nicely will god give her one again? First lesson that boys and girls are not the same. I had to sit him down and explain – that yes his sister is perfect. No she is not being punished by god for being naughty (goodness where did THAT come from ?). And yes no girl/woman has a “peepee”.
    As my daughter grew up my son tried playing her dolls (and she with his cars). The day I caught him trying to wear her bangles – was about to say something like “Boys dont wear bangles” – but my husband signaled me to hold my tongue. “Even I tried out bangles as a boy of 5 – its curiosity , just let him be I dont feel the urge to wear bangles now do I?” – my husband said and I held my tongue.
    That is the day i realized it is so easy to perpetuate gender stereotypes – you just have to be careless … As parents we need to be constantly on our toes

  83. A very important topic to touch upon… I ain’t married but it definitely is something I worry about- the upbringing of boys. That I am a woman is just a coincidence.. i really don’t mean that it is women alone who bear the responsibility of raising good children…. i am only worried of not being mother to a criminal!!!!

  84. Thanks a lot for such a straight-way right-up, i think there are some stories in all our girls’ lives as yours.. very true events .. and i also believe that the main question is how the child is bringing up; boy or girl doesn’t matter the environment, the parents’ attitude, their education, their way of day-to-day behaviour with the child -everything matters most.. how much i try to bring up my daughter to be a HUMAN BEING ; evrything fails when i don’t get that much support from the others.. so if anything happens we not only raise a question only to the mother but to the whole society ; i know its tough to change, but with all my heart and folded hands i REQUEST all to be a little more HUMAN, think of our martyrs who paid their lives for this INDIA ? just think .. PLEASE..

  85. First time I have read your writing and it left me with a lot of questions. I have a boy and two girls. My daughter (college going) told me recently that she hates the looks she gets from boys and I told her that is why she needs to dress appropriately. She turned around and said even if she walked half naked, it does not give anyone the right to look at her disrespectfully. I tried to explain it was not about rights but about my concern for her safety. Why invite trouble? The world is not a safe place and one bad apple can ruin it for any girl.
    I tell my son to keep an eye out for his younger sister, he tells me she can take care of herself in an annoyed voice. He does keep an eye out for her nevertheless.
    My advice to my daughter, my expectation from my son to “protect” his sisters, are they wrong? I am a feminist but as a mother, my children’s safety is paramount and while I agree in theory with what you have written, I have to admit I will continue asking my daughter to be careful with the way she dresses, to be cognizant of her surroundings because she is a girl and because there are bad guys around, and I will expect my son to watch out for his sisters – until there are no more rapists in the world.

  86. Nice article, points out the actual root flaw which i have felt is instillation of morality through education & upbringing. Although i don’t agree to the fact that it is not okay for any body to actually care and be concerned. I don’t think that it actually is any less empowering, it’s actually good that you instill a trait of compassion and care in a younger one, as most of the evils today are the byproduct of the chronic detachment in the social fabric.. “Who cares” is also a big part of the problem. It’s just that feminists sometimes get overpowered by their passion for the cause & behave irrationally.

  87. Pingback: Happiness = Trains+Buses+Sports. | Musings of a compulsive daydreamer.

  88. Excellent msg… But it feels bad & pity wile sharing .. That our country is n such a sake that we have to share these things to sve dignity of our WOMEN…. AT THIS POINT WE CAN ONLY HOPE FOR A CHANGE WHICH BEGINS FRM THE ROOTS OF OUR SOCIETY..

  89. The mistake is with Indian culture and our stupid caste system. We are not allowed to date and most indian marriages are arraigned.
    And our dumb previous generation have screwed up the male to female ratio. Many men end up being single till mid 30’s . Many Indian men that I know are virgins till late 20’s or even in 30’s.
    Our conservative system with stupid rules are the main reason for this, gay relationships are illegal and prosecuted in this crazy country, gay relationships exists even in animal species. Marrying to the same caste and religion is a must in this crazy country . The mistake is on both the sex and our narrow minded indian thinking.

    Indian men and women don’t date and dating is considered to be a tabu in our stupid culture.

    Case by case analysis will tell you he many women are sexually abused and also how many men are being falsely accused as well .
    The author of this article is a women and thinks one sided .
    Mistake is not with men but with the culture as a whole .
    Both women and men are responsible for this rape culture in our country.

    Well I imagine soon we will beat china in population , and still our generation is certainly narrow minded to prefer male child .If this situation doesn’t change , it will get worse than in it is now in future.

    Blaming men and taking out your frustration on men won’t help this situation .The culture has to change .
    Attitude of both women and men must change .

  90. Pingback: Enough of bad mothers. Is anyone talking about bad fathers? | mommygolightly

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s