A Recipe for "You"


· A spoonful of psychotic behaviour

· A dollop of an exposed lifestyle

· A heap of sympathetic feelings for the protagonist

· A sprinkle of racism and prejudice

· A pinch of misogynistic perspectives

· An ounce of domestic abuse

Procedure (how the story unfolds):

Ever since the dark thriller series came to Netflix, “You” has gained a lot of popularity due to its mind-boggling plot. The first season of the show revolves around a Manhattan bookstore manager, Joe Goldberg, who becomes unhealthily obsessed with a young woman, Guinevere Beck, who he stumbles upon when she stops by his store. From reading this simple summary it might occur to you that the show wouldn’t be too bad right, like how obsessive could he get? Well, you’re in for a spoonful of psychotic behaviour. The extreme lengths the protagonist Joe goes to, in order to win over Beck, is disturbing. From breaking and entering Beck’s home and stealing her personal items to committing vicious crimes like murdering her friends or even Beck herself, is what is concerning.

Before going into the more serious issues regarding the show, let’s address the issue of internet privacy. You would think that it is very obvious and almost a compulsion for people to secure their devices with at least a password but that doesn’t seem to be the case with Beck. She seems to have incorporated a dollop of an exposed lifestyle. When Joe sneaks into Beck’s home and goes through her stuff, we see him easily getting past her laptop’s lock screen without having to type in a password and hence, is able to browse through any and all of her files. Eventually, Joe gets a hold of her phone as well and we see the same situation here. Her foolishness doesn’t end here. Upon learning Beck’s name, Joe looks her up and finds all of her social media accounts which are seemingly set to public. Through her accounts, Joe learns everything he needs to know, who her friends are (whose accounts are also conveniently public), where she goes during the weekends, where she stays and more. On top of that, she has no curtains for her windows either.

Joe standing outside Beck's apartment

So, it is evident from these instances that we should give more attention to the devices we use often and ensure that they’re password-protected at all times and also, to think twice before revealing everything about ourselves on social media (and to remember to properly furnish our homes too). But we might find it unnecessary to always do such things considering that we feel nothing of the sort that happened to Beck, will happen to us. Yet to her, Joe is portrayed as any other human being but more charming and helpful, which is why Beck doesn’t suspect a thing, until the very end of course. For this reason, we should be extra cautious, especially to avoid guys like Joe prying into our lives. As the saying goes, “better to be safe than sorry.”

Having read the previous paragraph, you could say that it was Beck’s fault itself that led to her downfall. But that’s exactly what Joe wants you to believe. Joe is the kind of guy who messes with your head and plays with your emotions. We see him as a friendly neighbour, a caring friend, a helpful person and overall, the perfect person. Oh and also, he has the looks which is a plus point right? So, one could say that he is “the one.” Except that he isn’t and well, everyone knows that “nobody’s perfect.” Joe might seem all goody two shoes on the outside but, when he doesn’t get his way, he resorts to extreme methods of making sure he does get his way. Throughout the show, he kills various people in order to be with Beck. By the end of season 1, his total body count is at 8 people which includes Beck herself. Despite being a literal serial killer, we still have a heap of sympathetic feelings for the protagonist but why? People might say because it’s just a show and the main guy is charming but guess what, so was Ted Bundy. Called a ‘handsome devil’ by many, he committed more than 30 homicides yet charmed many women. In fact, that was his tactic; he lured women using his good looks and charm. While that might not have been Joe’s intention, he did commit vicious crimes in order to get Beck to fall right into his arms. Regardless, we give him the benefit of doubt and believe that he’s still a good person beneath it all.

Now let’s say instead of Joe, who’s a white privileged man, was played by a black man. The show would then receive a lot of backlash, that is for sure, and how do I know this you may ask? I know because this happens in the real world itself. I could name many incidents but one which I’ll mention is that of George Floyd’s which happened recently. A black man was killed in broad daylight by a police officer who had his knees pressed against his neck for a solid five minutes. Now mind you, the police are specifically told that too much pressure on the neck can cut off a person’s circulation which can lead to their death. Knowingly, the police officer went on to do so with arrogance and pride even while people witnessing this situation protested against it. The police officer didn’t even have a specific reason to murder Floyd. Yet when it is a white man who does something against the law, which this black man didn’t even do, they’re simply arrested. For example, Dylann Roof who committed 9 murders, was arrested peacefully while, George Floyd who was only ‘suspected’ of forgery, was murdered. This goes to show how a sprinkle of racism and prejudice against black people still exist in this day and age and how police brutality is still prevalent despite people’s efforts to make both disappear. For this reason, if Joe was played by a black man, a majority of people wouldn’t even think twice to sympathize with him.

Apart from Joe’s exterior, the fact that we see everything from his perspective as he narrates the whole story, also gives him an advantage over the others. But why is it that we only see Joe’s perspective of events and what he thinks, why do we never see Beck’s perspective and what she feels? Perhaps the directors wanted it that way and that was the whole point, for the audience to sympathize with Joe. For what joy would we want to see that though? We have heard enough of men’s perspectives on violence towards women. We want to hear the women, the victims, what their thought process is like because here’s the thing, women are stalked, raped, murdered and worse, every single day. Being an Indian especially, I’ve heard of such cases like it means nothing any more, that it’s become normal now. However, it is because of people like Joe, that we feel unsafe to even walk the streets alone. The show should have shown us what Beck was going through and let us decide for ourselves who to sympathize with. We don’t need a pinch of misogynistic perspectives anymore. Instead, the show portrayed Beck as helpless as a flightless bird when we don’t even know what she went through. All we know is that she probably tried her best to escape the sticky situation Joe put her in but obviously, she ended up being outsmarted by him. Still, Joe has the audacity to say that he killed her because he loved her so much and that he suffers from losing her, though he is the one who killed her! Like what? That is such an absurd logic.

Joe talking about Beck after her death

Yes, the show is a work of fiction but no, it doesn’t make it right for people to constantly make violence towards women a popular plotline. Aren’t there plenty of movies and shows already which have an ounce of domestic abuse?

While people rely on Netflix to take off their mind of off other things, it is important to understand the kind of shows you may be watching before gloating about how good it is. In a nutshell, “You” may be interesting for many to watch (myself included) but the underlying themes it revolves around is not very flattering.







Published on 30/05/20


Gender Based Violence: Femicide - Answering the 5 W's and 1 H

Women have faced discrimination, been prejudiced against and, oppressed by men ever since the dawn of time. The fact that nothing has changed since then is a shame. You would think that by now women would be seen as being in par with men but sadly, that is not the case. Sure, some old traditions such as Dowry related femicide, in the Indian Subcontinent, may not be as prevalent but femicide in many other forms still exist. Before digging deeper into these topics however, it is important to understand what femicide really is.


What is femicide? Who does it affect?

A homicide is designated as a femicide when a man kills a woman. It becomes a gender issue when misogyny is the main premise of the murder. There are various definitions given by individuals/organizations as to what femicide is but to simply put it; “the intentional killing of women because they are women.”(definition given by WHO)


When does it take place? Why?

To understand the reasons behind why femicide takes place, researchers have classified femicide into different types.

1) Intimate Femicide/Intimate Partner Femicide – refers to the killing of women by a current or former partner, usually those who are trapped in a relationship where intimate partner violence is common. Jacquelyn Campbell, known for her research and advocacy in the field of domestic and intimate partner violence (IPV), stated that, a common motive that causes men to kill their intimate partners is jealousy; a result of male efforts to control and possess women to display ownership and reinforce patriarchy. Risk factors that increase the likelihood of intimate partner femicide includes – if the male has threatened to commit suicide or kill the woman if she cheats on him or leaves him, excessive intake of alcohol or drugs by either partner, if he has severe mental health problems, if the male attempts to control the woman’s freedom, a male forcing sexual intercourse on the female, a male perpetrator in possession of a gun.

2) Non-Intimate Femicide – involves the killing of women by someone who they did not share an intimate relationship with; covers a broad range of people, from any family member like sons or fathers to any person who they may have come in contact with or, a complete stranger.

3) Racially Motivated/Racist Femicide - refers to killings that occur because of hate or rejection of a woman’s ethnic or racial origins, or her genetic features. It should be taken into account that both sexism and racism are a result of this type of femicide. Due to white supremacy, women from different races, especially black women, are murdered frequently and sadly, so little justice is often served to them.

4) Sexually Motivated and Gender Identity Related Femicide – refers to those lesbian, bisexual and, transgender women who are subject to high levels of violence which in some cases exceeds those present in other types of hate crimes. Sometimes blackmailers threaten these women by saying that they’ll reveal their sexual orientation or their identity as, being a part of the LGBT community is shunned or even condemned in many countries. This type of femicide occurs because perpetrators view these women as having violated traditional sexual or gender norms.

5) Culturally Framed Femicide –

i) Dowry Related Femicide – a cultural tradition most commonly found in India, Dowry refers to the money or gifts that is given by the bride’s family to the groom’s family. If the groom’s family is dissatisfied with the dowry given, or demands for more and the bride’s family is unable to do so, then the bride is considered to be an ‘unsuitable wife’. In such situations, the bride is often killed or forced to commit suicide, as a punishment.

ii) Honour Based Femicide – this basically refers to what honour killings are; the killing of a family member, especially females, who is perceived to have brought dishonour to the family name. What may seem normal in some cultures, may be looked down upon in other cultures, such as, dressing inappropriately, indulging in premarital sex, being involved in sex work/prostitution. Thus, women who do such stuff are shunned by society and are killed many a time as, society believes that in doing so the family name is restored.

iii) Female Foeticde/Female Infanticide Related Femicide – refers to sex selective abortion or killing of the girl child after she is born. This is still practiced in many places and is usually done because people view having daughters as a liability; they believe that females don’t have anything to bring to the table, not seen as being resourceful or useful, and that at the time of marriage they have to pay a hefty amount of money to the groom’s family.

iv) Female Genital Mutilation Related Femicide – female genital mutilation (FGM) is a destructive operation during which the female genitalia are partly or entirely closed/removed. Common reasons for FGM cited by women in surveys are social acceptance, religion, hygiene, preservation of virginity, marriageability and enhancement of male sexual pleasure. This practice is however harmful and life threatening in many cases as, infected wounds and unhygienic operations can lead to death. This practice is still present in Africa, Southeast Asia and some parts of the Middle East.

6) Armed Conflict Femicide – here, both state and non-state actors perpetrate physical, sexual, psychological violence against women and girls, as a weapon of war. Such actions are intended to punish and dehumanize them and persecute the community which they come from and also, used as a method to instill fear, domination and control.

7) Organized Crime Related Femicide - involves femicides associated with gangs, drug and/or human trafficking, and gun proliferation. This type of killing can involve abduction, torture and sexual assault, murder and mutilation, decapitation, and the public display and/or dumping of naked bodies and/or body parts in empty wastelands. Women are merely viewed as objects in drug culture who they can simply ‘use and throw’.


Where is femicide rate the highest?

Femicide is an issue that occurs in many countries but is most predominantly found in Central and Latin America. Official information for 15 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean shows that at least 3,287 women have been victims of femicide in 2018. If to these, are added data from ten countries in the region that only record femicides committed by the victim's partner or ex-partner, it can be stated that the number of femicides for the year 2018 has been of at least 3,529 women.

The Latin American countries with the highest rate of femicide per 100,000 women are:  El Salvador, Honduras, Bolivia, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.


So, how can femicide be reduced or prevented?

1) Spreading Awareness – first and foremost, as with any other issue, raising awareness is an important step. Before taking action, it is necessary for an individual to know about the issue that needs to be dealt with before proceeding further. Not only will it be hard to come up with solutions but, they will also lack motivation to do so, considering that they know nothing about the issue at hand, which here is, femicide.

2) Strengthening surveillance and screening of femicide and intimate partner violence – in relation with the previous point, “in countries where sparse evidence is available on femicide, awareness-raising and advocacy could encourage cooperation among police, medical staff and other relevant agencies to collect and report on the victim–offender relationship and the motivation for the homicide. Steps should also be taken to develop and strengthen research methods that improve understanding of the social context of femicide, including gender inequality.”

3) Training and sensitizing health staff and police - Training and sensitization of hospital and health workers, mortuary staff and medical examiners could enable personnel to improve the documentation of cases of femicide and of the circumstances surrounding them. Moreover, there is a need to improve health-care providers’ capacity to identify intimate partner violence and risk of femicide. Improving detection of severe partner violence within health systems, particularly during pregnancy, has been suggested as a means of reducing the risk of femicide. A number of assessment tools for detecting risks for intimate partner violence and femicide have been developed in the USA. One of the most well tested methods is the Danger Assessment Scale, which specifically assesses the risk that a woman who seeks health care for intimate partner violence has of being killed by her partner.

As with health-care providers, it would be beneficial for police and other members of the criminal justice system to receive training and sensitization to identify and document cases of femicide, including the reporting of victim–perpetrator relationships. It would also be helpful if the police could work in collaboration with child protection services in order to identify and support children affected by intimate partner violence and femicide and also, to implement stronger laws ensuring the appropriate prosecution of perpetrators.

4) Reducing gun ownership and strengthening gun laws – studies have found a correlation between ownership of guns and perpetration of intimate femicide. Research from the USA has shown that women are three times more likely to be murdered if there is a gun in their home. It is recommended by many that gun ownership be restricted for all. If nothing, at least if gun laws can be strengthened so that these weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands and the risk of femicide can be reduced.

So, it is a given that the most dangerous place for women is their own home. More than half of murdered women are killed at home, either by their partners or by their closest relatives. While more men are murdered than women, fact is, men are killed by strangers, whereas us women are usually killed by the people who love us the most. Now people sometimes ask, why don't victims of assault stop the violence in time? Could it be because they're masochists? Because they like to suffer? There's nothing further from the truth. Nobody likes to suffer. Suffering is not a life choice. The reality is that, many times, women ignore and even justify violence because we cling to the good side of the people we love. To their kisses, to their caresses. We ignore all the warning signs that make us realize that we are with a highly dangerous individual. When this happens, in victimology, it's called "boiled frog syndrome." The boiling frog is basically a fable describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. “The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.” So people then say that the victim is also at fault or to be blamed for not having noticed all the danger signs but why do people always spin it on the victim and not the perpetrator? It is the perpetrator, at whose hands the victims of femicide suffer and die. So let’s come together, all women and feminists, and once and for all end this. Use your voice, spread awareness, take a stand.



Published on 15/08/20