WOMEN | Akshit Batra’s speech at The St. George’s College, Mussoorie and The Scindia School, Gwalior

So just the other day I was sitting and wondering about
what to talk to the boys at St. George’s about. So then I thought, why don’t we talk to them
about women? I love his look, he’s like, “Yes! Let’s talk
about women.” But not that way, not that way. But in the
the way we could, in the way we should. In the way, we would, had our society not been as myopic as it unfortunately is. And please don’t get me wrong, I’m not some
wise old man with grey hair who’s going to burst into a tirade about how to respect women
and all of that. I’m just another guy, just like you, slightly older. Please pardon the
receding hairline, I am only slightly older. And therefore with just a little bit more
experience than you about this, I thought it might be a good idea to share my learnings
and experiences with you so that you could potentially avoid making some of the mistakes
that I made. Women was not the mistake. How I interacted
with women at times has been Suboptimal. So you want me to talk about this for five to
seven minutes, because we need not, we can just carry on. May I take five, ten minutes
of yours? Yeah? Okay. Thank you! Thank you very much. So let me tell you a
little story from my life to set the context here. I am exactly like you. I studied in
an all-boys school, I was at the Doon school in Dehradun.
Doon starts from class seven, I was at Welham’s Boys’ School for classes four, five and six.
I don’t have a sister in my immediate family, I have a brother. The point being that a large
part of my formative life was spent in a predominantly all boys environment. And therefore when I
graduated from school at the age of 17-18, I had this fancy education on paper, but my
understanding of women was zilch. Let me not be foolish enough to claim that I understand
women even now, but slightly better, given the fact that I’ve had a little bit more experience
interacting with them over the last few years. But back then, it was absolutely in the negative. And one week after I graduated from school, I got into a relationship. I started dating
a girl. Disclaimer. Disclaimer. Fantastic girl, absolutely nothing wrong with her or
anything that she did, but if you were to take my brotherly advice, this is my personal
opinion that you can regard or disregard, I think now or anytime soon after, is too
soon to get into a relationship. Nothing conceptually wrong with it, but I just believe that it’s
too early in the day, and you’ve got your entire life ahead of you, to get into romantic
involvements. In my very limited experience of life, they’re are certainly cases where
it works really well, more often than not, I’ve seen that getting into a relationship
at this age or anytime soon after causes unnecessary complications that you really want to avoid.
This is my little personal opinion. You can completely like I said, regard or disregard this. Nobody really gave me this advice in time enough, so I got into a relationship immediately after
school. And I messed it up, and how. Because I did not understand her, at all. I did not
understand where she was coming from, why she was doing the things that she was doing,
I didn’t understand her thought process, I had a problem with everything. I had a problem
with the clothes she wore, I had a problem with the boys she met, I had a problem with
who she spoke to, where she travelled, who she travelled with, what time she slept , what
time she woke up, I had a problem with everything. I could not understand her, to the extent
that I could not even understand some of my girl friends. I could not understand some
of my female cousins, to a great extent after a point I could not even understand my mother,
which was extremely frustrating. I used to fight with my girlfriend all the time. And
there was this one day when I got super frustrated, I was like, “What is this?”
And then I actually went to this wise old man with grey hair and I exclaimed to him,
“I just cannot understand women. At all!” He was like, “high five!”
He said to me, “Don’t try to understand women, many a wise man has tried and failed. But
love them. Healthily. And respect them. Respect the fact that women add this beautiful, loving,
caring, nurturing, maternal element to the world, without which we would be barren in
ways more than one. Respect the fact, and this is very important, that the woman of
today, has accepted that when she gets married, she must leave her family, and start to live
with her husband wherever he is. Guys, you and I take this for granted, you know. But
put yourself in the shoes of the woman, 20, 25, 30, or however many years of her life
she lives with her family, and one fine day she’s told that she can’t live with them anymore.
Why? Because she’s getting married. So? Why can’t the boy leave his family and start to
live with the girl? Or, in our Indian culture they say that boys don’t marry girls, but
families may each other, so why can’t both the families start to live together, so that
neither the boy nor the girl has to live away from the families. You know, as we speak here
today, there are tribes in the northeastern part of our country where after marriage the
boy leaves his family and lives with the girl’s family. It happens today, in the northeastern
part of our country. So why is that not the larger societal norm? Have you ever wondered
about that? This is such a huge sacrifice, that just by
virtue of this one very, very immense sacrifice, we must really endeavour to extend our greatest
respect and love to the woman. Your mother, your sister, your wife, your girlfriend, your
cousin, your daughter, everyone. And if you really think about this, this is one of the
most profound sacrifices that one can make. Respect that.
Super duper important for people at this age, respect their space. Their independence, and
their freedom. I see a lot of boys trying to control and contain the woman. You know
the more you try to control and own the woman, the more she will emotionally disconnect from
you, subconsciously if not consciously. And ultimately it’ll have an effect on her, on
you, and the relationship, whatever the relationship might be, whether it is girlfriend or
it is mother or sister or anyone, it will have an effect on the relationship. So, please don’t
try to control and contain anybody. Respect their space. Respect their strength.
I see so many of these stud boys trying to get overly protective about the girl. This
whole scene of this damsel in distress waiting for her knight in shining armour to come and
protect her- trust me, the woman of today is strong and powerful enough to protect herself.
She does not need your protection, she needs you to treat her as an equal and you must
treat her as an equal. I cannot scientifically confirm this, because I’m not qualified to
do this, but I’ve spoken to a lot of psychologists and doctors and teachers and I’m told unanimously,
again unconfirmed, but unanimously, that women, guys you want to know this, women are
biologically stronger than men. Their capacity to bear pain, both physical and mental, is
way more than that of men. So the next time you try to exert your overly inflated male
egos on them, you might be the one needing protection, I can guarantee you that. Respect their strength, respect their power, and lastly, please respect their bodies. I
know this is basic and fundamental and it’s slightly embarrassing to say this on stage,
and I’m 100% sure that given the fact that you’re students of St. George’s College you
will never indulge in anything like this, but I’m sure you’ll agree with me that I
must mention this, because sadly in our society there are elements where there’s a lot of
eve teasing, there’s a lot of molesting, there’s a lot of rape still here, and we must really
make our best attempt to try to prevent them and stop this to the best of our capacity.
And the adults in the auditorium will agree with me when I say that lack of proper discourses
to this effect at the right age, at the formative age, have led to grave problems at the individual,
societal and national levels, where for too long has our country ignored and wasted the
potential of half its population. For too long have we disrespected the dreams and desires
of our women to breathe free and to live an equal and unrestrained life. For too long
have we been insensitive to the ruthless murder of these dreams at the hands of adulterated
tradition. For too long have we objectified our women as possessions of carnal pleasure
rather than treating them as meaningful pursuits. For too long have we suffocated our women
with the mephitic fumes of our inflated male egos, ladies and gentlemen, for too long has
our country celebrated its mediocrity of thought, action, and being.
We were called the Golden Bird, and we will once more become that.
India as a society has historically been golden in its wealth, in its knowledge, in its values
and in its culture. But somewhere down the line, the gold got sullied.
But rest assured, that if a golden coin falls into mud, it doesn’t lose any of its qualities,
it’s still as pure as it used to be. We just need to clean the mud off of it, and we’ll
have to do this together. And that is why I’m talking to you here today,
because by God’s grace, by virtue of our background, by virtue of our education, by virtue of the
fact that we’re the youth of the nation today, poised to be the future leaders of our country
tomorrow, it is our ethical and moral responsibility that as we go out leading organisations, we
must permeate down these organisations a culture of honour, respect and equality, because that
is the only way in which our great nation is going to reach the pinnacle of success
that it so truly deserves. Thank you very much, St. George’s, for being an absolutely
brilliant audience, and please, please respect women.

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