When I heard about the Chandigarh Hostel MMS leak, the first question that came to my mind was who did this shameful act? Somewhere, I expected that a man might be behind this MMS leak. But to my shock, the culprit was a woman along with two male acquaintances. At that moment, I realised that misogyny is not a problem rooted in gender but in mindset.
For those who do not know, on September 18, news emerged that objectionable videos of as many as 60 students had been leaked from the girls’ hostel at Chandigarh University. The videos allegedly show residents of the hostel bathing in the common bathrooms. As soon as the news broke, protests erupted on the university campus. Following an investigation, a female student residing at the hostel was arrested for reportedly shooting and sending these objectionable videos to her Shimla-based boyfriend. Soon after, two more arrests were made in connection with the case. Read more about it here.
The fact that a girl was involved in the recording and leak of these objectionable videos of female students tells us a lot of things about misogyny and how the hierarchy in our patriarchal society works. It proves that the problem lies in our gaze that reduces women to sex objects and this mindset can belong to any gender. A particular gender is not at fault when it comes to sexual crimes.
This is not the first time a woman has acted as an agent of patriarchy and enabled or endorsed the abuse of women at hands of predatory men. Last year, after the alleged gangrape of a 50-year-old woman in the Badaun district in Uttar Pradesh, National Commission for Women member Chandramukhi Devi said that the incident could have been avoided had the deceased woman not stepped out alone in the evening. Instead of holding the culprits accountable, Devi victim-blamed a deceased woman who was brutally gangraped. What kind of example does it set for survivors of sexual crimes, when their own sisterhood doesn’t empathise with them?
Moreover, just recently, a three-and-a-half-year-old kindergarten girl at a private school in Bhopal was allegedly raped by a bus driver in the presence of a woman attendant who reportedly didn’t try to stop the driver or save the girl.
Similarly, in the case of the Chandigarh Hostel MMS leak, if the mindset of objectification of women as sex objects was a man’s fault alone, a woman wouldn’t have been a part of this crime that out the modesty of so many women at risk. Allegations have also surfaced against hostel warden Rajvinder Kaur, with students accusing her of misbehaving with them and trying to suppress the incident, while scolding the girls for protesting. The two accused women had no empathy towards survivors of the incident.
The problem is that we all have been conditioned to believe that it is men who are enablers of misogyny. We rarely bring women into the picture as perpetrators. But that is just not true. Many women believe in the idea that men hail from a superior gender and enjoy certain social perks. They can get away with predatory behaviour and it is women who must safeguard their honour. And even when their modesty is tarnished, they must suffer in silence and move on. Misogynist women believe that our gender has no right to seek justice and that some sexual crimes are not grave enough to incur legal action.
Haven’t we seen women shaming other women for their choices in life? Aren’t we aware that many aunties police women for their clothes, lifestyles and career choices? Aren’t women equally involved in raising misogynistic men in our society? Mind you, I am not turning the tables towards trying to save men. I am just saying that both men and women can be at fault when it comes to nurturing patriarchal mindsets. Both men and women can oppress others based on their patriarchal conditioning.
How do we prevent men and women from falling prey to such mindsets? The only answer to this question is feminism. Inculcating feminist beliefs among men and women is the only way in which we can fight off the patriarchal mindset and enables misogyny. Feminism is a fight to change people’s mindsets and not prioritise one gender over another. It is a belief system that retaliates against the patriarchal mindset and not genders. Its fight is with patriarchal mindsets that corrupt the thoughts and actions of people and not with their genders.
Views expressed are the author’s own.