By Prabhu Swaminathan
Whenever we hear of a murder of a woman by a man, there are some among us who think ‘Kadhalichu Emathirupra’ (She would have cheated him after loving him) or ‘Love pannitu vera yarado vathu poi iruppa’ (She must have left him for someone else).
This is not restricted to just social media. Those who post such remarks on social media are also among our friends, colleagues and relatives in real life.
One such argument I have heard from people in my own social circle is: ‘Pathu siripalam, ketta love illanu solluvalam’ (She would smile at you but would say it’s not love).
There are three common scenarios which could possibly lead to ‘crimes of passion’ against women
1) Girl would have been in love with a guy but would have later changed her mind about it.
2) The girl would have been friendly, would have said ‘hi’ here and there, asked him about his health and smiled casually as she went around doing her work. If you have been brainwashed by the movies (‘pathu siricha love dan’ – if she smiles at you then it’s love), then immediately these are all signs of everlasting love and she is the woman of your dreams.
The guy would have misinterpreted this friendliness as signs of eternal love and when she says no, the guy would have got angry.
3) Girl would have committed for marriage, would have promised to stand by him throughout his life but later would have had second thoughts or found someone better.
In all these three scenarios, there is a tendency to blame the woman for leaving the man or for not accepting his love. This is where many men and even some women tend to think ‘Oh Kadhalichu Emathita’ (she cheated him after loving him)
‘Kadhalichu Emathita’ sentiment has two aspects:
-> Kadhlichu: She could have loved him genuinely or he would think so (or she didn’t even know someone like you existed.)
-> Emathita: She ‘cheated’.
Now, saying no to a love proposal is not cheating. Changing our mind about someone at a later stage is not cheating. Re-thinking decisions on commitment or marriage and choosing someone else is not cheating.
If you look at the proponents of ‘kadhalichu emathirupa’ sentiment, they argue that one girl should love only one guy throughout her lifetime. They don’t highlight the man who did the crime but rather the ‘character’ of the woman who is killed or attacked. It projects the silent message of approval of violence against women who say ‘no’.
We cannot expect a woman to love us just because we love her. It is not our ‘right’, no matter how divine, eternal or genuine we think of our love as.
What we need to understand is that women (or members of any gender, for that matter) have the right to say ‘no’ and say ‘yes’ and change their mind later.
Rejected lovers have thrown acid on the faces of women who refused their advances. Rejected lovers have released personal images of women who have said ‘no’, women have been killed for making a choice.
Male members of any civilised society would take ‘no’ for an answer and would leave the woman. As men of our society, what makes us respond in a violent way? The problem largely lies with the cinema culture and movie scenes that has brainwashed us since our childhood and made us believe that as men we have the right to look at any woman and decide that she is to be our lover and wife. If she refuses, all that it takes is a couple of love songs, action scenes and a little bit of harassment here and there and she is yours. Our cinema has made us believe that love is the universal goal of every man and we can do anything in our power and imagination to attain it, even if the girl says ‘no’.
A girl I loved also changed her mind about me. I couldn’t marry her but she is still my best friend. We should learn to let go and forget the ways of our cinema heroes. In case you didn’t notice, many of our cinema heroes didn’t marry out of love in their real lives. It’s their personal choice, but again understand that they didn’t follow what they show on the reel. I cried when she said ‘no’ and pleaded with her. But later I slowly learned to see that she didn’t hate me. She just couldn’t see me as a potential life partner, for which she couldn’t be blamed even though the fault is not mine.
The C-word we are using whenever such crimes against women happen is installation of CCTV cameras. The right C-word is ‘consent’. CCTV cameras can only catch the criminal. Educating the society about consent and the right to choose and leave will prevent the crime from happening in the first place.
We should have modern value-based education that would teach our kids about respecting the rights of women, the value of consent and the right to choose based on one’s personal preference. Our children need to be educated that the right to change one’s mind is also a part of right to choose.
This is what I want to say to everyone who has a cinematic view of love: Oru ponnu no-nu sollita vittudunga, Ava pinadi povathinga. If a girl says no to you, let her go and don’t go behind her.
Our heroes don’t show self-respect on screen. At least we can show it in our real lives.