“So.” Vinnie said firmly. “So, you want to talk less about statistics and associated emotions. Fine. Let’s play it your way then.”
An excited murmur spread through the audience.
“It is tiring to constantly rely on personal experiences and recollect relevant research, only to be met with a condescending Why do you stress out so much? and half baked arguments like yours.” Vinnie said and paused.
Prathik gave a scornful expression as a reply.
“In order for your pighead to understand the gravity of the situation, let me make this discussion easier and quicker.” Vinnie said in a stronger voice.
“Around 70% of all the human trafficking comprises of women and children. Every walk from her office back home is no less than hell considering the fact that a woman is raped every 13 minutes in India.”
Prathik opened his mouth to retort, but Vinnie went on.
“This is obviously a sign of violation, a sign of fear and clear evidences of inequality. Even though research has found that men and women are very much alike in terms of leadership potential, there is still a second thought in giving them responsibilities that are conventionally restricted to men. And even if she’s given preference, statements based on her clothing or even her character is occassionally made with no restraints whatsoever.”
“You’re talking about very specific examples, Yeshaswini.” Prathik said. “You cannot generalize every company setting to suite your argument. There have been many workplace modifications in the last decade or so to benefit women. But what about men? Absolutely nothing.”
“Agreed. But what about the fact that despite these changes, around 70% women in the field of research, for instance have received inappropriate sexual remarks?”
“Really? Are women so weak that they blame their entire career trajectories on an external remark?”
“Remark?” Vinnie said, turning to him. “We wish it just stopped at that. More than 30% of them have been subjected to sexual assaults. These are the barriers that stop women from trying to go forward in their careers.”
“Your statements suggest that women are the only beings who face assaults. There have been many instances where women have abused men. What about that? Do you not want equal laws to govern their well being? This is the setback of reservations all over. Stop trying to give preference to one community just because you felt they are vulnerable and try to work towards the betterment of everyone instead.” Prathik countered.
“Felt?” Vinnie questioned. “It’s not about me feeling that women are vulnerable. They are. And as for your statement about injustice towards men, I absolutely agree there must be rules governing their rights. It should be made sure that nobody irrespective of which gender you are, should get away after committing such an atrocious act. But the problem with your approach is that, you refrain from providing justice to a comparatively more suppressed section of the society by wording it off as a problem faced by all sections. That’s like watering your house when the neighbours’ building has been burning.”
“Again.” Prathik chuckled. “You’re talking very lightly about the problems men face. What about false rape charges, for example?”
“You love playing the devil’s advocate, don’t you?” Vinnie said with a smirk as she took a step forward towards Prathik, who stepped back with a surprised expression on his face.
“Then let me remind you that false rape accusations are only 2% to 5% of all sexual assault accusations.”
It was Prathik’s turn to take a step now.
“Really? Haven’t you watched the news channels go around judging the character of a man even before he has substantial proof against him?”
“And, the same media, the very same, goes dead silent when he’s proven not guilty. They defame him using all sorts of methods possible and don’t offer any corrections. I mean, I get that the statistics show very less numbers, but justice that’s denied anywhere to whomever it is at the end of the day still counts against the working of the society.”
Vinnie grinned. She turned to him and said:
“Don’t get me wrong. Anytime any person has been accused of committing this heinous act, it should be looked into properly before concluding that he’s a sinner and giving out your final statements judging his character based on the social media hype. I’ve watched news channels talk rubbish about men who were initially accused and then proven not guilty. But as unfortunate and illegal the cases of false charges may be, it is a very different fight from the ones that women face everyday.”
Another step forward.
“You need to remember that, although there are cases of false accusations done, almost 98% of the other remaining accusations are more often true. What about the justice that’s denied to them? Cause these are the accusations that rot away in dust laden files found in courts awaiting justice while the accused roams around free, having forever broken the woman’s will to live and hopes on setting things right.”
Two steps ahead.
“The existence of false accusations is not a reasonable explanation to get feminists to drop the fight for equality” she continued.
Prathik now stood at the very edge of the dias, his feet holding on to the cliff, ready to fall off. That’s when Vinnie extended an arm and held his hand.
“Don’t worry, I won’t let you fall.” Then she gave him her classic victory grin before turning serious again and saying “I was just trying to metaphorically depict that when one side takes up too much space, the other was bound to fall and get hurt.”
Some of the teachers clapped to that and there were few whistles in approval from the students at the back.
“You maybe right Vinnie, but egalitarianism is a much broader view of the fight for equality. It is defined on the basis that all human beings are fundamentally equal and that they should have every right to all resources.You cannot deny that.”
Nathan looked at me and I knew what he was thinking. Prathik had hit Vinnie with his last arrow- the grey area, the region of truce.
But Vinnie would not surrender nor would she let Prathik succeed in hoisting the white flag.
She returned his argument with a smile before continuing.
“Your ideas of trying to achieve this wonderful feat of equal opportunities have been dormant in textbook definitions, the same textbooks that talk about women stereotypes with no moderation.”
She turned to the audience.
“Egalitarian practices have not achieved to better the state of women in this country. This is why we need feminism, cause that is what will help us tackle the problems we’re currently facing. This is the movement that will allow us to talk about the wide ranging discrimination in day to day life.
“And now, for my conclusion-” she turned around and looked at the cricket team that had just come back from the field to join the audience.
She got down from the dias and borrowed a bat and climbed up again to join Prathik, whose face had suddenly lost all its colour at the sight of a weapon.
“A lack in initiative or reduced management of resources and viewership towards the Women in Blue does not stem from a lack in ability from the said cricket team. It’s rather a need for a change in the mindset from the audience, just like yourself.”
That earned a few claps scattered across the audi.
But before others could join in, Vinnie had lifted up the cricket bat in her hands and in the next fraction of a second, swung it across Prathik’s abdomen, almost hitting him in the stomach, which brought in a loud gasp as a reaction from the crowd.
A grim silence followed after that which was only broken by Prathik’s shocked curses of having been almost attacked.
“And that’s how one- tenth of dysmenorrhoea would have felt like.” Vinnie replied to his cuss words, as she dropped the bat next to him and walked down the dias to be recieved by a hoard of noisy team members celebrating their victory, whilst the rest of the audience had gone insane from what they had beheld. There were a lot of arguments regarding what had just happened and not all were in Vinnie’s favour considering the fact she’d almost injured a fellow student. Nathan kept screaming “He deserved it!” and “He had it coming, that jerkface!” in the crowd to anybody who dared speak ill of Vinnie.
Vinnie on the other hand was escorted away by Mrs Sehgal for a talk about her behaviour, which I’m guessing didn’t go too badly.
My speculation was confirmed when Mrs Sehgal didn’t utter a single remark at Vinnie’s behaviour the next day in class, even when Vinnie had thrown around 17 paper balls at Guleri’s giant head.
But that was years ago. And Vinnie’s recent behaviour was surprisingly triggered from a very minor conversation. Whatever the reason maybe, a part of me believed she did owe Millie an apology.
To be continued->