Being Women

Men and ‘Innocence’: An Inseparable Bond

The latest incident of a passenger peeing on his co-passenger has raised many questions. Writer Subhra Mukherjee delves into the layers of the incident and peels them one by one.

Isn’t it funny? Be it domestic violence, rape or urinating on a co-passenger in a flight, whether the accused is fifteen years old or forty years old, parents of male children always rush to their rescue using the following same old logic,

He is just an innocent child, incapable of doing any bad behaviour.”

Oh, an innocent child! It is completely natural for that innocent ‘child’ to get married, become a father, earn a living, drink alcohol, and roam around at night, but when the moment of bearing the consequences of their actions comes calling at the door, the ‘innocent child’ suddenly seems an infant.

The statement of the father of the accused in the recent ‘peeing on a co-passenger‘ incident doesn’t surprise me at all. Hasn’t the same set a trend in this country for years? Hope you haven’t forgotten the statements of the parents of the accused in the Nirbhaya case.

Let’s treat this extreme example with complicated layers as a stray incident for a moment and focus on something from our everyday life.  

Have you ever noticed societal hypocrisy around gender-based power equations? Have you ever noticed how the girl’s parents will automatically take the blame or apologize even when she isn’t wrong or at least they are expected to behave in this way? On the contrary, the boy’s parents will always defend them even if he is guilty.

In the case of domestic violence, the usual reaction of girls’ parents is, “Why? What did you do?” Similarly, in most cases, the boy’s parent’s reaction is, “Our boy is not like this. She must have done something to provoke him.”

Not only that, there is so much hypocrisy around the definition of ‘Maturity’ too. When it comes to sharing household responsibilities or handling emotional conflicts or taking a stand against the abuse of a wife in the hands of relatives or friends, these boys are claimed to be ‘innocent children’ who can’t handle these kinds of mature issues. However, when it comes to being the leader of the household and taking decisions that will have an impact on their wife, suddenly men are trusted to be mature enough.

On the other hand, when it comes to girls, no matter how much super achievers they are, no matter if they are married and have children, they are always considered to be not mature enough, not to be an adult who can make their own decisions. Women who are parents, despite being a guardian to their kids are considered to be children themselves who need the guardianship of their husbands, not only in domestic aspects but in official capacity too. Don’t believe me? Just go to any government office to make a voter card or passport and you will know.

So how is it surprising to many of you that this time also, parents and people will come to rescue their precious boy using the same logic? He can be a VP in an MNC, and can be responsible for hundreds of employees, but don’t expect this innocent child to be responsible with alcohol. After all, this is India, free ka maal mil raha hai to pi lo. And who can be held responsible for what he does after having a booze overdose? We have normalised this kind of behaviour so much that even the airline didn’t take any proper steps against him until the victim informed his employer. At least they were responsible enough to sack him.

This takes me to a discussion that my husband and I had many years back. I come from a family where no one drinks alcohol and it is totally looked down upon. When I came to know that my husband drinks on ‘occasions’, I had a problem accepting it. My husband precisely pointed out that alcohol doesn’t make anyone ‘characterless’, it rather loosens the nerves and heightens the inner traits of a person, which people are able to hide when they have better control of their nerves. I observed people around me and found this statement to be true. Later in my life, this helped me to overcome my taboo and give drinking a go. 

The key is knowing when to stop. If you consider yourself mature enough to drink, then you should be mature enough to know how much you can handle.

People who are trying to justify this incident by saying “If you serve alcohol, these kinds of issues are meant to happen,” here goes your argument to drain.



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