Commentary on Sita Returns by Charu Walikhanna – Part 1

Charu Walikhanna’s Sita Returns: Modern India Through Her Eyes was a book that I read and reviewed for a newspaper recently. There were so many issues pointed out and so many references given that it just boiled my blood to see that the idiots who make such disgusting remarks still walk around unpunished. It took me all my strength to not shout and scream and chuck the book. Because to be fair to the book, it was only narrating reality.

So instead of taking my ire out on the book, I decided to write a blog post, listing out all the incidents narrated in this book that I found completely, horribly offensive, and adding my rant, my commentary alongside it.

1) “In India, while people prayed to female deities and looked up to them as embodiments of strength, courage, wealth and education, yet a deep-rooted preference for a male child still prevailed, leading to a skewed sex ratio.”

I don’t really have to say anything about this point because it is so true! People worship a female goddess, be it Parvati, Lakshmi, or Kali, and then they inflict horror upon horror upon the humans of the same gender as the deities they worship. How hypocritical can society get! They pray to the goddess of wealth for more money. They call their daughters and daughters-in-law the manifestation of goddess Lakshmi. But they have the audacity to mistreat, abuse, rape, kill, murder that very goddess. Pah!

2) “If the woman has only daughters she is cursed for it and the husband’s family even goes to the extent of threatening remarriage, not taking into account that the husband is solely responsible for the sex of the child.”

YES! It’s the man’s genes that determine the sex of the child, but it is the woman who is tortured and threatened, even by her own mother-in-law, a woman herself. And all because she is responsible for carrying the child! Not that I condone it, but imagine what would happen if men were punished for this! There would be such a huge outcry that this practice of condemning the father would have been stopped a long time ago. Why hasn’t it stopped? Because the rules are made by men. And women are the victims. So why should it stop if men aren’t affected, right?

3) “When questioned about the dismal sex ratios at birth, more than 80 private hospitals in New Delhi cited divine intervention, blaming God and luck for delivering mostly boys.”

I think even the people who uttered this garbage knew how ridiculous it sounds, but they gave it out anyway because we’ve seen worse shit than this. And if you only want boys and are so hung up over forwarding your generation, how do you think you’ll go ahead? Will your boy be able to carry your grandson in his stomach? Will there be “divine intervention” to make that happen? Try that, why don’t you? And save a girl this bullcrap!

4) “Claiming the right to choose the sex of a child which has come into existence cannot be called a right. The right to personal liberty cannot expand, by any stretch of imagination, to the liberty to prohibit the coming into existence of a female or male foetus, as that was for nature to decide. The right to bring into existence a life in the future with a choice to determine the sex of that life cannot in itself be a right.”

Pro-lifers will jump at this quote because they will say “that is for nature to decide”. Because if that is so, I don’t think they understand the basic concept of pregnancy and why sex determination is wrong. At least in places where female foeticide is rampant. The right to bring a life into the world is a right but not if you only want a single gender and if you are prepared to kill off the foetus if it is of the other gender. So basically, abortion based on sex determination is WRONG. As simple as that.

5) “In a patriarchal society can a woman be in the spotlight instead of her husband? No; she has to play the femininity game and give her husband all the glory.”

I can say this doesn’t apply everywhere but this still exists! This still happens! There’s nothing more fragile than the male ego, so in many, many homes across the country, the woman is asked to give up her spotlight or potential spotlight so that she doesn’t take away from her husband’s glory. “What need have you to do all this? Your husband is working! Be content in your husband’s successes!” And that, I think, sums it all up perfectly.

6) “Jyoti’s father argued that if they as parents allowed her to box, then after her marriage she would get into the habit of hitting her husband and the panchayat would have to intervene to resolve their fights.”

This is the messed up kind of thinking that has stuck since ancient times. THAT is the hypothetical reasoning that this boxer’s father is giving? “Assuming” that his daughter will start hitting her husband if she boxes? What of all those jerk-face husbands who don’t need a reason to hit their wives? Why doesn’t the blasted panchayat intervene then? Why are those husbands not castrated and condemned in front of society? So you mean to say that a husband hitting a woman is completely alright and a way of the world and there’s no need for the panchayat to intervene?

Are these idiots supposed to be a test of patience to all of us? Oh dear God!

7) “When the gold medal came with a cash prize of Rs. 20 lakh, their fellow villagers became supportive.”

Because they are greedy pigs. Money talks – and this has been proven over and over and over again!

8) “Behind every independent girl there is an open-minded father who trusted her.”

Such a sentence is never used for guys. It is said that behind every independent boy there is an open-minded father who trusted him. Because guys being independent is normal, but girls becoming independent needs and open mind and the trust of their parents. Why does a boy automatically gain the trust of his parents while a girl has to work to gain that very trust? This is such a subtle problem that I don’t think anyone would pay attention to it. But we need to. And this is why we need feminism, and to everyone crying foul – just rethink your arguments.

9) “Our girls still have a long way to go on the road to fairness and equality.”

We’ve come a long way but we still have a long, long way to go before equality happens.

10) “A retired lieutenant general and a former chairman of the Haryana Public Service Commission, sought to intervene on behalf of ‘khap’ panchayats, contending that ‘khaps’ were often misunderstood.”

Yes because these are the kind of idiots that the world could do without. What is there to misunderstand in “we will kill you if you do what you like” said to a girl? There’s no justification when these imbeciles talk like this! Such misogyny! And justifying honour killings?

11) “A girl aged twenty-four years is weak and vulnerable, capable of being exploited in many ways. This Court exercising parens patriae jurisdiction is concerned with the welfare of a girl of her age. The duty cast on this court to ensure the safety of at least the girls who are brought before it can be discharged only by ensuring that Ms. Akhila is in safe hands.”

Okay, first of all, WHAT THE HELL?

This is coming from the KERALA HIGH COURT. This is the kind of bullcrappers that are sitting in our houses of justice. Maybe we can make them understand, even if this is going to be just another shout into the void.

A female 24-year-old human is not a GIRL. And if you say that she is “capable” of being exploited, you are putting the blame on her shoulders and NOT on the man who is exploiting her! Another example of how victim blaming is so rampant even in today’s society! And explain to me arranged marriages. You think there’s no possibility of the guy and the family being a complete misogynist and a bloody rapist? That’s okay, is it?

And concerned with welfare? Really? If you were concerned with her welfare, you would try to give her her fundamental right as a human being. She’s an ADULT. If you are okay with her being married off at the age of 14, then you have no right to come moralize and act concerned when she is 24. She needs justice. NOT PATRONIZATION! How are we supposed to believe in justice when a house of justice itself behaves like a complete arse?

If you want to ensure our safety, take a good look at what you just said and at your morals and CHANGE THEM. Because there’s absolutely no way you’re SAVING us women and ensuring our safety by passing judgments like this. Statements like these give criminals the impetus to go ahead and commit the crimes we are fighting against! How narrow-minded, blind, cowardly, and patriarchal do you have to be to NOT see this?

12) “Marriage is an important stage in the life cycle of a woman.”

If the book had said “Marriage is an important stage in the life cycle of a human”, I wouldn’t have gotten as annoyed as I am now. You say that a marriage is between two individuals. DON’T PUT THE ONUS OF CARRYING ITS IMPORTANCE ON THE SHOULDERS OF JUST ONE OF THEM. Decide what you want to believe! Also, it doesn’t have to be important if she doesn’t think it is! It’s her choice.

13) “Just as Sita left her natal home, it is taken for granted even today that a girl will leave her father’s house to go to her matrimonial home after she is married. The Supreme Court, reiterating this orthodox view, has held that a wife is expected to be with the family of the husband after marriage. If she makes an attempt to deviate from the normal practice and constrains her husband to be separated from his family, it constitutes an act of ‘cruelty’, and is sufficient grounds for divorce.”

Yes, because it’s fair to separate a girl from her parents in the name of tradition while the guy gets to live with his parents all his life. A guy, if he fancies marriage, can separate the girl from her parents for life, but that’s not cruel. If a girl wants to live just with her husband, then it’s cruel because she is “separating her husband from his parents”. Hellooowww? Hypocritical much? Even the Supreme Court taking this view is such a disheartening thing to see! How fair is it to women? Can’t we all live as one big, happy family? That would be so amazing, wouldn’t it?

*          *          *          *          *

I have 13 more points that I would like to rant on and will be putting them up soon. Do let me know what you think of this blog post and your thoughts on these points that I have mentioned in this article. I’d love to hear from you!

Picture Courtesy: Niyogi Books

If you’d like to buy this book after reading this article, please do so by clicking my Amazon Affiliate link given below. The price remains the same for you but I get a small commission off of every purchase you make.

Here’s the link: Sita Returns: Modern India Through Her Eyes

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