Celebrations of joy as a cover for grievous harm
[ by Charles Cameron — the holidays are rough on those who are depressed, psychologically, and physically on women abused by men ]
It’s striking how the great celebrations of joy — here, and in India — are accompanied by some of the most heinous and grievous acts of violence against women, and depression accentuated by rejoicing:
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of innocence, in the form of the Christ child, into a corrupt world, and contains within it the seed of his crucifixion; Holi celebrates the young prince Prahlad, who worshiped God while his father, thinking himself Lord of the Universe, could not stand his son’s unwillingness to worship him and put him to the fire..
Two martyrs, therefore — and we rejoice in their faithfulness even unto death.
Guardian, Christmas offers no respite from domestic abuse Paper, How Holi Became the Festival of Assault in India</li>
Consider this story of Claire, a pseudonym, a real person, a woman:
Claire and her eight-year-old daughter are two of the more than 6,000 women and children being supported by domestic violence charity Refuge this Christmas. It will be the second Christmas they spend in a refuge while they wait for permanent accommodation.
When they fled to a women’s refuge 18 months ago, Claire left a note for the husband who’d abused her for 23 years: “I’m really, really sorry, please don’t be angry with me. I just can’t take any more of the control and abuse. We will be ok, we’re in a safe place – please don’t try and find me.”
Or this, from India, describing Holi festival, which is celebrated with the throwing of colored powders — and as we shall see, drinking %i(bhang), a cannabis drink properly associated with the %i(sadhus) or ascetics who worship Shiva:
A popular way of perpetuating assault is through drugging victims, often with %i(bhang), a milky cannabis infused concoction that’s widely circulated during the festival as a ‘party drink.’ The taste of the drink is so similar to other softer beverages — like %i(thandai) (a spicy milk-based cold drink) — that they’re often interchangeable. Victims unaware of this are often offered %i(bhang) and told it’s something else, or their drinks are laced with cannabis or other substances to make them more vulnerable to assault.
It’s a well-known problem that’s been discussed over the years, with local advertisements, publications and YouTube channels addressing its causes and effects with PSAs and think pieces. In many cases, stories of harassment have also sparked wide outrage on social media and led to protests. But who’s listening? The outcries are hardly taken seriously because in the end, it’ll ruin the ‘spirit of the holiday.’ The pain and violent assault of women is diminished and disguised in the spirit of the season and a range of bright colors.
As, in personal psychology, many people will cover depression with a facade of cheerfulness, so it appears that in social psychology, group celebrations may be used as covers for acts of frustrated or rage-filled violence, notably by men and against women.