Blank Noise Blogathon Part 1

It is usual to hear all those who feel moved by the deplorable condition of the Untouchables unburden themselves by uttering the cry "We must do something for the Untouchables". One seldom hears any of the persons interested in the problem saying 'Let us do something to change the Touchable Hindu'. It is invariably assumed that the object to be reclaimed is the Untouchables. If there is to be a Mission, it must be to the Untouchables and if the Untouchables can be cured, untouchability will vanish. Nothing requires to be done to the Touchable. He is sound in mind, manners and morals. He is whole, there is nothing wrong with him. Is this assumption correct? Whether correct or not, the Hindus like to cling to it. The assumption has the supreme merit of satisfying themselves that they are not responsible for the problem of the Untouchables.

That's Ambedkar, in a quote Black Mongoose discovered in a piece by S. Anand in the last issue of Seminar ('Dalit Perspectives'). Anand (in the Seminar article and in the similar Notes on my Brahmin Self), takes on his Brahminhood with self-flagellating excess of the same sort that BM is prone to. A commenter agrees:

From a very early age my family ensured that we were conscious about our brahmin roots and I think this actually helped fashion my own resistance. ... My socialisation however was not just as a brahmin, it had three other very important dimensions: masculinity, heterosexuality and middle class urbanity.

It was much the same for BM, though he supposes the second dimension ought to be heteronormativity [1], but the thesis stands. Raghu agonises over the question in his Blank Noise Blogathon post:

There is a deep-set paradox in trying to be an ally (and by an ally I mean the Swarthmore connotation, someone offering support and solidarity to the members of a group who face a kind of disadvantage that he or she does not), particularly in trying to be a straight male ally to women's fronts against sexism.

Into this socialization-questioning discourse does BM jump with the slightly unique perspective of the not-straight ally.

Here's Hedgehog with his harassment story (edited slightly):

...the bastard slid his hand over onto mine! And actually ran his finger over my thigh! Yuck! Yuck! I could have puked with all the disgust welling up inside me. Man! I think after that I handled the situation rather tactfully though, asked him to stop the car and after hitting him with the book I was holding, not the most manly thing to do I guess. I walked the rest of the way home in a sort of daze. I even looked behind a couple of times just to make sure he wasn't following me home.

Did you know that??!! These things really happen!! Aaaaaarrrrrrrggggghh! Horrible! I am a victim!

It might be worth spending a minute over Hedgehog's account. Hedgehog might be the nicest hedgehog there is, but there you have it. His all-too-male shock at being a 'victim' -- product of a socialization masculine, heteronormative, middle-class -- is instructive. Black Mongoose / Red Raccoon's own story is set in picturesque Cubbon Park, where on a reading expedition, he

suddenly ... turned around to find an old perv, who seemed to have followed him scampering through the grass, making offers of fellatio. RR has heard of such iniquity, but he had not expected it to strike on a sunny forenoon. He ran as far as his short legs could take him with not a glance behind and welcomed the sight of the imposing Vidhan Souda ahead.

Note the easy use of 'old perv', 'bastard', etc. BM sees, in himself at least, a touch of bewilderment that men can get harassed as well. A little voice points out that this relatively harmless thing you're being such a drama queen about is enacted a hundred times every day if you're a woman on public transport.

[To be continued, with apologies to Hedgehog for reducing him to a case study]
[1] A word so useful it ought not to exist. Just so one can complain about its non-existence.

Action Hero Black Mongoose