3 Minute Stories

3 Minute Stories

on individuals, initiatives & institutions - by Amrit Vatsa

This short documentary will change the way you looked at rapes. Forever.

I know this is a little more than twice the the ‘3 minute’ timeline but I failed to bring out the message in anything shorter (I did try)! I hope you don’t mind the duration! You can check out http://nocountryforwomen.org/ (or their FB page) to read more about what they are trying to say!

Here’s a little something that you can do, when you share this video

Can you recall an innocent incident (or story or anything) where Gender Policing happened but no one realized it – including you, but now, after having seen this documentary, you can clearly see it was in fact Gender Policing? Where in some way a girl / woman was rewarded for ‘acting like’ a girl / woman or a boy / man was rewarded for ‘acting like’ a boy / man (or were punished for NOT ‘acting like’ their gender)? And then write about it when you share this video (on FB or twitter)? Because that will have so much more impact than sharing it simply because you think this is yet another video about ‘rape’ and therefore is a good thing to share!

Please use these two hash-tags when you share:

#genderpoliced #nocountryforwomen

Understood the point of this video and want to do something more about it (than just sharing it online)?

Please email contact@nocountryforwomen.org if:

  • you are interested in having No Country For Women conduct a workshop (be it your school, college, workplace, residential area – wherever)
  • you are an activist and would like to collaborate
  • you are an organization and would like to be a partner or sponsor
  • you would like them to give a talk (at your workplace, school, college, wherever)
  • you wish to discuss the content of the video and No Country For Women’s work in greater detail

Please email to me at amrit.vatsa@gmail.com if:

  • you are a theater owner or someone who can screen this short documentary where relevant audience can watch it
  • you are a blogger or a writer – and want to bring out the message of this video to your readers (just write to me at amrit.vatsa@gmail.com and I will add your site to the embed white-list and the video can then directly be played on your site; it might not play by default).

Background

When most of us in India discuss rape, we think of it merely as being caused by sexual frustration. However there is a lot more to the problem of rape (and other forms of unwanted sexual advances like cat-calling and groping) than just sex. It is important to understand this because unless we do, our solutions will be limited to combating sexual frustration. There is a lot of anger toward the issue, however without proper understanding, the solutions are limited to things like attending protests to “hang the rapists” and “bring in justice” etc. Yes such protests are important but there is so much more we can do. To fully tackle the problem of rape, we must understand its root causes. This short documentary highlights one of the root causes of rape, as well as how we can begin to tackle it.

Shreena and Ria (from India) are undergrads at Brown University (USA). They have been deeply affected by problems of gender-based discrimination and violence while growing up in India. They were frustrated at the ineffectiveness of current solutions and wanted to do something about the issue in a powerful, long-lasting way. They realized that to do this they first needed to fully understand the issue themselves. They began to conduct extensive research on the topic and took several related courses in university. They began to see how rape was about so much more than merely sexual frustration. They realized how something as simple as asking boys (or men) who cry, to ‘stop acting like girls’ or saying something like “boys will be boys” cultivates the same mindset that allows rapists to justify the crime. This might sound weird to understand and that’s why you need to watch this short documentary.

Shreena and Ria realized that unless there was universal understanding of this knowledge, practical long-lasting solutions could not be developed. Therefore they wanted to reach out to everyone in the country and help them understand what they had understood. And finally, they succeeded.

Shreena And Ria succeeded in getting a fellowship from Projects For Peace to run their campaign titled ‘No Country for Women‘, which they run with their Associate Director, Rishabh Singh (who is also an Indian undergrad at Brown University). They have been conducting workshops in schools, organizing a city-wide conference, giving talks and are currently developing a “workshop toolkit” – a developed curriculum to distribute across schools and colleges.

They broadly address the following key points (among many, many more):

  • Rape is not just about sexual frustration
  • Sex is biological, gender is socially constructed
  • Gender Policing can lead to rape
  • By definition, Gender Policing means forcing a man to ‘act like a man’ or forcing a woman to ‘act like a woman’ (and forcing need not be direct forcing; it could also be in the form of rewarding someone only because he / she behaves as per the societal norms)
  • The same mindset that feels like rewarding a person of a particular sex to act like their gender, is not very different from the mindset that feels like punishing one when one does not – and in its extreme form, this punishment takes the form of rape
  • Mild, innocent or even unintentional forms of gender policing happen all the time and everywhere. For example when a boy bullies a girl is school, the girl is often told ‘boys will be boys’ (which is gender policing because it passes on the signal to boys that for a boy to be a boy, he should be aggressive)
  • Just because we gender police with good intentions (like when we enroll a girl in a ballet class without asking her permission), does NOT mean it is okay to do so! Every time we do gender police, every time we ask a man to ‘stop acting like girl’, we actually perpetuate and validate the justification of so many rapists (‘she was dressed like that – she was asking for it’, ‘she was drunk and out late in the night, we were teaching her a lesson’ etc.)
  • Stopping Gender Policing will reduce rapes that happen due to social punishment alone. It might not stop all rapes completely, but it will definitely eliminate many scenarios that would have culminated in rape. It will also lead to less social pressure on individual identity and allow boys and girls to be whoever they choose to be.

Acknowledgement

  • Ria & Shreena for letting me bring out their core message through my short documentary (but most importantly, for making me see the nature of rapes in a new light)
  • Kumar Kislay – my cousin – for accompanying me for the first shoot (and for assisting in camera work himself)
  • My sister Arpita and brother in law Amit for not only letting me use their dining table in Bangalore as my workplace over last 8 days – but also for watching the work-in-progress as many times as I made them watch it, and also for all the valuable suggestions that poured in as a result
  • Arpita again for volunteering to do a small scripted piece in this documentary
  • My wife Princy for not making a big deal about me being away from her for 10 days so that I could work on this Project (and also for her feedback on the first cut)
  • Ankit & Neelabh for their feedback on the first cut (I hope I have been able to address most of their points)
  • NPS Bangalore for allowing me shoot in their premises when Ria & Shreena went there to conduct their workshop
  • Several others I might have missed

Credits

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