Lucknow girl incident: I just have too much to say about the Lucknow road rage incident and its aftermath, popularly known as the Lucknow ‘girl’ incident. It is a good thing though, that for once, social media virality has converged with a social issue that needs to be addressed. I won't get into the details, by now we all know what happened.
Before the pseudos step out of the shadows and call me out for defending the girl, allow me to say this- This is not a feminism issue. This is a violence issue. This is a class issue. This is an empowerment issue. This issue is furthest from feminism and the decades of academic and social work that has gone into it.
So rather than questioning the feminist value system in its entirety, let me try to lay out the things that might be wrong with this particular incident -
The lack of agency for the man who felt he was powerless in that situation.
The cab driver felt that he was powerless because the one beating him up was a woman. ‘Agar launda hota to main batata’, he kept saying. While this is possibly true, I feel it is also his class that had a role to play. He just wanted to get away from there and do his job. ‘Main gareeb aadmi hu, isne mere maalik ka 25000 ka phone bhi tod diya.’ And the lady was equally complicit in making it a class issue, by not letting it go after a point.
Absence of a gender aware response on part of the police ‘bystanders’
It is hardly ever that we use the terms police and bystander together, but like everything else in this case, the unexpected has happened again. The police allegedly did nothing to break up the fight, no form of first intervention whatsoever. Where is the accountability on their part? Are enough training programs being conducted with the UP police? If yes, who is doing them? What are their credentials? What is the monitoring framework for these workshops? These are the questions we should be asking. Because clearly, any efforts to make UP Police more gender aware haven't translated on ground.
A lack of sensitivity and empathy on part of the girl in question here.
As the girl in the video slaps the driver, she keeps reiterating, ‘gaadi chalayega ye’, as if the man was not worthy of his job. Assuming she felt violated by some of his words or the way he was driving, she did not let it go even after he had submitted to her completely. Not trying to defend the girl's behaviour here, in fact, it felt as if her anger had completely devoid her of any sensitivity or empathy.
Why must feminists have to walk a tightrope?
I mean, what is it with bringing up feminism every time a woman is involved in an incident? Feminists too have to deal with regular people issues. Like when there is a plumbing issue at my place, or when my boss yells at me for doing something stupid, it doesn't automatically become a feminist issue because I call myself a feminist. These are issues that happened to me, a woman; not because I am a woman.
Of course there are men who are allies, and of course there are women who do more harm than good to the movement of feminism. That’s because at the end of the day we are all people, gender may shape our upbringing and mindset, but as people, each one of us tend to have faults of our own, that we carry from homes, to cars, to road-crossings.
Views expressed are the author's own.