The “juvenile” and the culture of misogyny

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What chance do I have in this world?

A rapist-murderer who was one of a gang of 6 to have brutalized Jyoti Singh  -a 23 year old, ambitious paramedical student who made the mistake of going out of her home on the evening of December 16, 2012, with her boyfriend in India’s rape capital– in a horrific manner, was released after a “sentence” of 3 years of imprisonment, afforded to him by India’s Juvenile Justice Act yesterday. The reason? He was a few months short of completing his 18th birthday. The others, who were judged to be capable of taking responsibility for their crimes, were sentenced to death. So, in pampering a violent and dangerous “juvenile”, who at seventeen years and six months old was apparently as good at differentiating rape from larceny as he was at telling shit from Shinola, the Indian judiciary has overcompensated for sending the-poor-thing’s comrades to the gallows. If ever there was an instance of complete travesty of justice in a highly publicized case, this was one. There are already voices out there calling for a more considerate treatment of the issue at hand. So let’s hear what this one has to say:

We must take cognisance of the fact that the environment the children are growing up in now is vastly different from a decade ago. We are living in a ‘super sexualised world’ and the access that a common person has to the amount of depraved information available has grown multifold. It is the adversely sexual aspects of popular culture that are problematic.

If by “access” the author means “access to the Internet”, then by the same logic, one also has access to information on gender sensitivity and human rights on the Internet. Besides, correlation does not become causation. And there is no evidence that the “juvenile” (whose identity, by the way, is protected by Indian law on the excuse of being a juvenile) was influenced by “the adversely sexual aspects of popular culture” in being led to participating in the crime. One might argue that he felt encouraged to take part in the crime because he had adult friends doing it, but that does not in any way absolve him of any guilt or responsibility. The first thing that people need to understand is that brains do not commit heinous crimes. And that is the first step in reformation of any criminal, juvenile or not. The author admits as much:

Any punishment has to have a reparative effect, one that prevents an individual from repeating the crime — this cannot and should not come at the cost of fear, but should stem from a place of understanding in the individual, who takes cognisance of why what he/she had done was wrong, and, therefore, must not do again. If it is not reparative, it is vengeful and the purpose of the law is not to be vengeful.

Is there any evidence that the boy can, after all, tell shit from Shinola? Well, by some accounts, he was getting radicalized while in captivity by a “juvenile” terrorist. So, the simple answer to our question is no. The “punishment” has evidently had no “reparative” effect, and it cannot either. A 3-year pseudo-rehabilitation programme isn’t likely to teach the perpetrator of such a gruesome offence the value of human life and dignity. It takes even adults, whose brains are expected to be more developed, a lot more than that to learn that lesson. It has been postulated that the “juvenile” (whose name is rumoured to be “Mohammed Afroze”, though it’s apparently illegal to know what he looks like) might have been led to becoming a criminal because of his background, one of extreme poverty and loneliness in a big city. The irony is, his victim was a person from whom he could have learned a thing or two about struggling against the same odds. It’s an insult to people who are placed low on the socioeconomic ladder to consider that poverty is the sole reason behind crime. No amount of rationalizing can make one see reason in such legalized softness on barbarism. Who knows, next time we will probably be compelled to have bleeding hearts for child terrorists.

In Japan, there has been a rather interesting development.

Anti-Christmas protesters calling themselves “Losers with Women” marched through Tokyo’s streets Saturday, bashing the upcoming holiday as a capitalist ploy that also discriminates against singletons.

The group of about 20 people — part of the communist-inspired group that routinely protests Western holidays — marched under angry banners that read “Smash Christmas!” in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, where couples and families were engaged in holiday shopping.

The participants — mostly single men — said they were against capitalism and were opposed to the commercialization of Christmas.

Now, I am not fond of Christmas myself, but for different reasons. And private ones. Which stay private. I don’t like the concept of a festival that perpetuates a religious myth, much less the commercial exploitation of it. But my dislike for Christmas isn’t something I demonstrate in public, nor do I gather a mob to threaten disrupting the celebrations of Christmas, because it doesn’t violate any of my rights, or anyone else’s for that matter. I am pretty sure there are many like me who do the same for similar reasons. And as is evident from this bizarre incident, not many support it either, not openly, any way. The excuse of “capitalism” being the offender is a pathetic attempt to add a philosophical tinge to the premise that “losers with women” are somehow deprived of their rights. This is not the first time they have paraded against expression of love. Their previous victim was the Valentine’s Day:

The group will hold a “Smash Valentine’s Day” demonstration next Saturday in Shibuya.

Wielding bullhorns and hoisting flags with slogans to denounce the annual tradition and the “passion-based capitalism” it sows, participants will take to the streets around JR Shibuya Station.

Kakuhido first took up its anti-Valentine’s Day crusade the year after its founding in 2006. It has since set up a number of similar demonstrations that even the staunchest of Grinches would blush about.

At Christmas, Kakuhido, which more literally means “the revolutionary grouping of men that women are not attracted to,” marched against the festivities to demand “couples self-criticize,” as was reported in weekly Aera(Dec. 22).

There were some very, let’s say, original claims made by this group:

“That housewives stay at home is unforgivable,” he said. “They control Japan’s direction from their homes! Salarymen who struggle with women pay a premium for these women who stay at home. The special rights afforded housewives are unforgivable.”

Also:

“flirting in public is terrorism.”

The whole business is, among other things, amusing. However, I can’t help but be faintly reminded of the Taliban in Afghanistan and its (mal)treatment of women. And of course the censorship regarding everything “Western” or “capitalist”. There is always a pronounced zeal among such sexually frustrated people to protect conservative “values” of their societies. My concern is, that such “protests” are always prone to become violent. Sometimes these “revolutionaries” even go solo, and very, very violent. Let’s take a very brief tour of the “manifesto” of one Elliot Rodger:

Humanity… All of my suffering on this world has been at the hands of humanity, particularly women. It has made me realize just how brutal and twisted humanity is as a species. All I ever wanted was to fit in and live a happy life amongst humanity, but I was cast out and rejected, forced to endure an existence of loneliness and insignificance, all because the females of the human species were incapable of seeing the value in me.

Cruel treatment from women is ten times worse than from men.

It’s filled with inconsistencies like the following:

I was so immersed in the game that I no longer cared about what people thought of me. I only saw school as something that took time away from WoW. I became very bored at school, mainly due to the fact that I was still the invisible quiet kid. To alleviate this boredom, I started to act weird and annoying to people just to gain attention.

And:

The only time I did care was when a group of popular Seventh Grade girls started teasing me, which hurt a lot. One of these girls was Monette Moio, a pretty blonde girl who was Ashton’s younger sister. She must have thought I was an ultimate loser….The teasing I received was bittersweet. It felt horrible to be teased and bullied… it caused me a lot of pain and anger… but at the same time I got a kick out of getting so much attention……..My experience during Middle School really darkened my view of the world, and it would only get darker from then on, as I suffered more and more. The way I was treated by girls at this time, especially by that evil bitch Monette Moio, sparked an intense fear of girls. The funny part of this is that I had a secret crush on Monette. She was the first girl I ever had a crush on, and I never admitted it to anyone. To be teased and ridiculed by the girl I had a crush on wounded me deeply.

He was obsessed with the idea of other boys having sex with girls, especially the kind of girls he fancied:

The boys in my grade talked about sex a lot. Some of them even told me that they had sex with their girlfriends. This was the most devastating and traumatizing thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Boys having sex at my age of Fourteen? I couldn’t fathom it. How is it that they were able to have such intimate and pleasurable experiences with girls while I could only fantasize about it? I frequently started asking myself. This was an all-boys school… How in the hell were those boys even able to meet girls to have sex with? I wondered. I hoped they were lying. I hoped against all hope. Hearing that really shook me to the core. Words cannot describe how much hatred and envy I felt for those boys. That hatred would only fester the more I suffer from my sexual starvation. I was too scared to tell anyone about it, and I hid it well… for a time.

And on it goes with its sexual jealousy, hatred and confused mix of fanatic narcissism and depressed self-loathing. This obsession became so all-consuming that not only did he hate women for it:

Women don’t care about me at all. They won’t even deign to tell my why they’ve mistreated me. This just shows how evil and sadistic they are. Oh well, they will realize the gravity of their crimes when I slaughter them all on the Day of Retribution. How dare they reject a magnificent gentleman like me!

But he hated all sexually active humans and wanted to expose them to gruesome torture:

I concluded that it wasn’t fair that other people were able to experience sex while I have been denied it all my life. I started to have the desire to create a world where no one is allowed to have sex or relationships. I again saw that as the perfect, fair world. Reproduction can be accomplished without sex, through artificial insemination. Sex is evil, as it gives too much pleasure to those who don’t deserve it…..I wanted to do horrible things to that couple. I wanted to inflict pain on all young couples. It was around this point in my life that I realized I was capable of doing such things. I would happily do such things. I was capable of killing them, and I wanted to. I wanted to kill them slowly, to strip the skins off their flesh. They deserve it. The males deserve it for taking the females away from me, and the females deserve it for choosing those males instead of me.

The “manifesto” finally turns into rabid misogynistic ranting:

Women should not have the right to choose who to mate and breed with. That decision should be made for them by rational men of intelligence. If women continue to have rights, they will only hinder the advancement of the human race by breeding with degenerate men and creating stupid, degenerate offspring. This will cause humanity to become even more depraved with each generation. Women have more power in human society than they deserve, all because of sex. There is no creature more evil and depraved than the human female. Women are like a plague. They don’t deserve to have any rights. Their wickedness must be contained in order prevent future generations from falling to degeneracy. Women are vicious, evil, barbaric animals, and they need to be treated as such.

And then comes Rodger’s Final Solution:

In order to completely abolish sex, women themselves would have to be abolished. All women must be quarantined like the plague they are, so that they can be used in a manner that actually benefits a civilized society. In order carry this out, there must exist a new and powerful type of government, under the control of one divine ruler, such as myself. The ruler that establishes this new order would have complete control over every aspect of society, in order to direct it towards a good and pure place. At the disposal of this government, there needs to be a highly trained army of fanatically loyal troops, in order to enforce such revolutionary laws. The first strike against women will be to quarantine all of them in concentration camps. At these camps, the vast majority of the female population will be deliberately starved to death. That would be an efficient and fitting way to kill them all off. I would take great pleasure and satisfaction in condemning every single woman on earth to starve to death. I would have an enormous tower built just for myself, where I can oversee the entire concentration camp and gleefully watch them all die. If I can’t have them, no one will, I’d imagine thinking to myself as I oversee this.

The reason why I bothered with Rodger for so long is because this presents us with a good idea -an archetype of the raging sexually frustrated male- of how the delusion that women are things that men deserve and ought to control by some absolutist or divine right can lead to terrible mass murder . This kind of thinking is disturbingly common among men, young and old alike. And yes, even “juveniles”. And this idea can influence rich, spoiled brats like Rodger as much as they can the “juvenile” who savaged Jyoti Singh. Note how both these individuals were particularly zealous about foisting the burden of their ideas of human welfare/conservative “culture” on women. Note how the “Losers with Women” revolutionaries of Japan do the same. It’s eerie.

Coming back to Japan, misogyny and sexism seems to be as much a problem there as it is in other parts of the world. As is corroborated by this report:

Japan has one of the lowest rates of female workforce participation in the developed world and most economists agree it badly needs to boost the number of working women to grow its economy as the population rapidly ages.

But a lack of childcare facilities, poor career support and deeply entrenched sexism are blamed for keeping women at home, and for one of the lowest birthrates among the developed world as young women see having children as obstacles to their careers.

And also coming from someone who has experienced it herself:

I do think, however, that there is too much of a focus on being courteous and maintaining wa (social harmony). Following traditions is important when you’re a foreigner, but when the customs reinforce misogyny and you find yourself in physical or emotional danger, you have to fight. It’s something I wish they told us more in our JET orientations.

When it came to smaller things like the way I sat (cross-legged, which is how the men sit), I was very unapologetic about my tomboyish ways. My co-workers knew that I crossplayed and liked motorcycles, and I’ve always kind of wondered if that spared me from being told to help serve tea to male teachers. Of course, it could just be another incident where they had overlooked the gaijin (foreigner). I also wonder what would have happened if I acted upon my desire to join the soccer club, which only consisted of boys.

This is no different from the kind of anxiety and unease many other women, belonging to different cultures and societies, have confessed in their blogs to feeling while attempting to live their lives on their own terms . All the world over, customs expect women to “behave” and conform to rules that are set for them by men. The majority of women are forced to follow them, or else they are threatened with the worst kinds of punishment. I have written before how women are treated in general in India. The same pretty much applies anywhere, especially more so in deeply religious and conservative societies. Women are still treated little better than chattel and breeding machines. That women were finally allowed to vote and to be voted to political representation in Saudi Arabia was considered a major “progressive” step. Does this mean that justice will be done to the little girls who are raped and mutilated by their own fathers? Unlikely, in a country that is run by fundamentalist interpretation of Shari’a (the “fundamentalist interpretation” myth is promoted by many apologists of Islam, claiming that it allows for “better” treatment of people after all).

Misogyny/sexism doesn’t come with a socioeconomic tag. It comes from the false, unscientific belief that women are for some reason inferior to men. It is true that we must try to understand those who violate the rights of human females, as mentioned here:

It is important to understand the heart of the Juvenile Justice Act which believes that children are malleable and with the right treatment and help, the juveniles could become reformed individuals.

But that must not amount to condoning violence against them. We must not forget to heed what psychologists tell us about sexual abuse, especially rape – that it is a desire to have power over the victim, and not lust or mere sexual depravity, that is more likely to lead to rape. Also, if a “juvenile” is not given a balanced combination of appropriate punishment and education, the society gets very wrong signals. 3 years of imprisonment is a very light sentence when compared to the enormity of the crime committed. The same sentence usually applies to an adult individual convicted of theft in India. Since an individual does not magically develop a sense of responsibility on his/her eighteenth birthday, especially if they had little to none earlier, this problem should be approached with better designed legal tools and sufficient research findings regarding juvenile delinquency, taking all complex social and cultural factors into account. The other imperative, a rather global one, is to educate people to help them accept the idea that women are actually human beings who are as capable overall as men, irrespective of certain biological differences that do exist. The whole thing, variously referred to as “sex” or “gender”, evolved very recently anyway. And since the two predominant sexes in the Homo sapiens evolved at the same time, both males and females are equally evolved. So it’s biological, ontological and intellectual nonsense to talk about one gender (the whole of it, no less) being “superior” or “inferior” to the other. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary, in fact. This realization will take much longer than we might expect, and will be a very complicated process. But it’s time we ensured that half of the human population didn’t engage in a gendercidal mission to wipe out the other half due to ignorance and stupidity. I hate to sound this comically apocalyptic, but if we fail to do that, flirting might indeed turn out to be a lot worse than terrorism, and we won’t be able to laugh at the “Kakuhidos” anymore.

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