The following post is for the Insecure Writers Support Group hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh.
I’ve spent most of the last month of 2012 being angry. It is the January of a new year and I’m angry still. It simmers right beneath the surface, ready to lash out at an unsuspecting victim. I keep it in check, but it seems like it’s waiting in ambush.
In case you’re wondering what this is all about, you might have heard of the gang rape in Delhi (yes, it unfortunately has its own wiki entry), where a woman was raped and sodomized using an iron rod in a moving bus by 6 men, so much so that her intestines fell out and she succumbed to her injuries after a battle lasting almost two weeks. Warning: I suggest you do not read the details if you intend to have a peaceful morning, afternoon, evening, depending on where in the world you are when you’re reading this.
Other people have written about it, some in moving words I myself would’ve chosen to express my very personal feelings on the subject, so I won’t go into the other ramifications here. Since this is an insecure writer’s group — I’ll march straight on, selfishly, myopically, towards my own individual anger.
(As I write this, India still protests against the crime that has left people grasping for words, and made the government and its police beat up its own people. People are angry with the establishment, some of which has been accused of crimes against women, others who advice women that it is their own fault they get molested or raped, and yet others whose commentary on the protesters will make the blood of any sane human being boil.)
Since the incident first came to light, I’ve been wanting to bash something, somebody, getting migraines — my peace of mind poisoned, like a scorpion stinging itself.
Everyday I see the girls and women (and some menfolk) protest in New Delhi’s freezing winters, (initially braving brutality from the very police that’s supposed to protect them), I remember the number of times men have tried to grope me or my friends in buses, passed humiliating remarks, hit me on the road, once causing me a sprain and at another time, a concussion.
I watch the protests become politicized, and I want to drink the blood of those who want to exploit the death of this girl. A girl whose name I do not know, who did not want to be a hero. She only wanted to watch a movie with her fiance’ and go home, and get married this February. That girl could be me, my friends, my sibling. (Yes, it is always the one that resonates with you that makes you angry — hundreds of women get raped in India on a daily basis, but the one I identify with most fuels my anger. I admit the hypocrisy — a writer has to be honest, or give up the pen.)
I want to fly out to New Delhi and get somebody, bash in a few heads. If this is hate speech, so be it.
Meanwhile, the rapes continue, even as we discuss them. Even in New Delhi, even as women protest on its streets. To 3-year olds, 16-year olds, 65-year olds. The protestors themselves are groped and molested.
I’m an angry writer, and after a few days of drought, I’m on a flood of fire. My dialogs spit venom, the guilty are tortured, not merely punished. I fight men on twitter (flouting my own vow of internet hiatus), who blame rape on women’s immorality. I chide friends who make sexist remarks. I debate with people who call it India’s “rape culture”. I even defend India’s men against a mass epithet of “rapists.”
I need to get a handle on this, calm down not only for my own sanity, or validity as a writer, but also because anger needs to be directed to be effective, or it is so much impotent rage. If I want to make a difference, boiling blood won’t help.
Or, perhaps, as an author I respect suggested to me on Facebook, perhaps it is the only thing that would. A writer needs to stay angry.
Have you ever been this angry about something that has happened outside your own personal acquaintance? Has it affected your writing? What have you done about it?
If you are angry about anything blame it on Patriarchal society, Narendra Modi, RSS, Ramayana, Mahabharatha or the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad. You will feel much better. Lots of intellectuals in india have been using this as theraphy and it works.
Oh my, I had to stop reading. What a horrific thing to happen.
Sometimes anger brings about needed change.
Let anger transform… into meaningful action.
Words have ceased to be powerful. Look at Hazare, for instance.
Kejriwal is acting. I like that action.
Let there be action. Let there be AK-47s if need be. But only IF NEED BE.
I am touched by this honest, transparent writing. Yes…many are boiling in anger and many dont know what to do with it. As you wrote so well: “I need to get a handle on this, calm down not only for my own sanity, or validity as a writer, but also because anger needs to be directed to be effective, or it is so much impotent rage. If I want to make a difference, boiling blood won’t help.” Yes, anger does not give us clarity of vision and does not allow us to see the larger picture and work for solutions from a place of love and compassion and inclusion. But yes, as you wrote again so beautifully, we need to stay in that anger and allow it to become an energy to move futures. My anger made me a writer…
Bhavna, I find no beauty in my writing — what I’ve written about here is mostly ugly : violence and anger outside of myself, and a black anger within, that is willing to do violence to get justice. I need to get a handle on it — find ways to channel it. Meeting aggression with aggression would only lead to negativity and loss — I need to learn to fight from a place of peace and compassion.
You reflect my thoughts… these days I have been secretly ashamed of myself for not doing anything while this happens outside. This helplessness is very humiliating.
Puru, not doing anything is no longer an option, we’ve reached a tipping point. Misogyny, corruption, and apathy in India stem from a lot of causes and that there is no immediate one-pill solution is no reason to keep the status-quo. We’re not helpless. The very least we can do is discuss the issues frankly with colleagues, friends and family, and help build a situation where change is inevitable. Join hands with someone who is doing something about it– living outside India, that’s all I can do, and I’m looking for ways to do it.
i hate the helplessness! of the girl, of women there, of the good people who want change! i applaud those brave protestors, making a public sacrifice, risking their very lives for the protection and validation they deserve!
i pray for their safety and success. and for the punishment of evil. and for good to fill more hearts. i wish i could do more.
thank you for bringing light to this, you have a strong voice that needs to be heard by more!
This is the kind of justice the girl would get — the most brutal of her rapists, a teenager, might get away with a few months of rehab. This has to change. Has to.
As long as we have this anger in us and we dont forget this anger , there is a hope for a change ..
and lets hope that the change comes sooner
Bikram, some of that anger needs to become a force for change, and the more I read about what’s happening in the aftermath of this heinous crime, the more I want to slap someone who deserves it.
Somebody needs to pay for this whole situation women find themselves in, in India, a country that literally ‘worships’ its women, and then tortures them this way.
I’ve been thinking about this tragic story for many days, trying to get my head around it. And I can’t, because it’s just too awful. Too awful that these men saw this woman not has a human being, but as a thing to abuse and kill. Like you said, it’s happening all the time to females of all ages – all over the world. I hope this tragic story makes people more aware about how wrong rape is.
No sane human being can get his or her head around it –which is why I think the protests took off in India — because this was so insanely brutal. But the truth is, every few minutes a woman is raped somewhere around this world, and we can’t do much about it — it is always the woman’s fault, the woman’s shame, the woman’s problem. Everyone is aware how wrong rape is — but sadly, few people blame the rapist for it .
I’m sad more than angry (I’m pregnant, I can’t help it!). The situation makes me cry, because I can’t believe someone could do these terrible things. It knots me up on the inside.
Your anger, I think, is more useful. When I’m angry, I achieve things. When I’m angry, it doesn’t hurt so much. Hold on to your anger.
I’m angry, Ciara, yet it hurts. I can’t make it go away, and somehow, I don’t want to. I’m angry with people who’re asking me to get over it already.
I think that if anger spurs us into action that makes a difference, then getting angry can be a good thing. However, I think if we get so angry we can’t get anything done . . . then it’s consuming us. (I say we and us because I’ve been there.) It is horrific that rape and child prostitution are a part of our world, horrific and disgusting and awful. I haven’t done enough with my writing to change that. I’ve prayed about it, thrown money at a few organizations that help young women in crisis situations, but I think that writing about it, keeping it in dialogue, and acting in a way that makes a difference is important.
Thank you for taking time to write about this today.
I sometimes end up feeling supporting women’s organizations is a better way of doing something constructive, especially when I live away from my country. But you’re right, it is important to keep these issues in public discourse, because outrage at such incidents is short-lived — and does not bring about any change unless we keep it in public memory.
There’s a lot of subjects like this that, particularly looking in from far away, it’s easy to be shocked by the initial story andthen move on.
It’s definitely a good thing to stay angry – if enough people stay both angry and calm enough to think rationally, that’s the first step in change being made.
I want to be part of that first step. I hope change comes to India.
Awful whats been going on *shakes head*
My writing tutor said we should ask ourselves, do we have something to say? And if we do, write about it!
I think you should definitely channel the way you are feeling honey! The best fiction (IMO) comes from truth.
I’m too affected right now to write about it, but some day this anger will trickle into my writing. Of that I’m sure.
Anger is fuel for change. Sometimes even peaceful people (women) need to rise up and say “ENOUGH!” we got rid of Todd Akin in US over his comments on rape. Women need to be heard, or we’ll keep being raped (and not just physcially). I think we women been lulled into complacency in this modern age, accepting what our moms burned their bras for as our birthright, and overlooking all the ways we’re still unrepresented, unheard, unpaid, unknown…and, we are still victimized, bought and overworked by many roles, even in America.
I wrote about sex trafficking in my latest mystery Black Jasmine as a way to bring attention–its a terrible thing, and at least I got to kill my imaginary traffickers in the end. I’m angry too, but I comfort myself that I’m never going to “lie back and enjoy it.”
You go girl. The pen is still mightier than the sword.
I’m laughed at for my sound bytes. Dunno if the pen is mightier than the sword, if I had a gun or a sword, I’d be using it now, and not very wisely, I’m afraid. Thanks for doing your bit, Toby — human trafficking is the worst form of slavery in the history of mankind.
Great, powerful post. We need anger. It’s horrible that we do, but we do.
I’m hoping to channel this anger, but not sure I’ll have any luck doing it.
I agree with Alex. Use your anger. Honestly, it makes me feel kind of numb.
I was numb for a bit, but it has been replaced by this red haze.
If you are that angry, then you are motivated to do something. So it’s not a bad thing. Apathy never changed the world.
I never thought of myself as a world changer, but yes, I’m that angry. It doesn’t go away.
Stay angry, stay focused. Personally, I think we need to not just have tougher laws and punishments but a change in society.
As for fighting idiots who call it a problem because of a woman’s dress or her beaviour, I would say those idiots wont really change too much.
Thanks for defending the good guys though but we would rather have you manning the guns this time. That is not to say we don’t support the movement but someone has to help you reload the guns :).
Staying angry doesn’t seem to be a problem, Sriram. Turning it into something constructive is the challenge.