Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Minnie Mouse? That's me!!

The Roar of the Mighty Mouse

When I read the absolutely thrilling account of how police officer Kimberley Denise Munley gunned down Major Nidal Malik Hasan during the infamous blood bath at Fort Hood, my hair stood on end. This was not just a demonstration of raw courage, but an exemplary display of ace professionalism. Munley’s presence of mind in the face of grave personal danger must be commended by people across the world. A diminutive (5’ 4”) mother of two, Sgt. Munley followed what is called the ‘active shooter protocol’, when she spotted the deranged, cold- blooded killer brandishing a pistol and chasing a wounded soldier outside the building. Responding to a police alert of gunfire at the centre where soldiers are screened before being sent overseas, Munley did not think twice before she rushed to the spot, even though she was off duty and just taking her car for repairs. Reacting modestly to the praise being heaped on her after the rampage, she said she had received specific training to handle this kind of a situation.
Well, it’s one thing to receive training, quite another to implement it during an emergency. Her grandmother confirmed Munley’s love for her work, and Munley’s record shows she joined the police force after years in the army. She ( like Sarah Palin!), is passionate about hunting and enjoys other outdoor sports. But through this single act of extraordinary bravery, Munley has inspired countless individuals to put their own lives on the line when faced with a dangerous enemy killing innocents.
Recently, in the Kashmir Valley, we witnessed similar outstanding guts shown by our own desi Mighty Mouse – the fearless woman who picked up an automatic weapon and gunned down militants, thereby saving not just her own life, but the lives of other members of her family. It is another matter that today, she has to live in dread of vendetta and the threat of revenge killing by sympathizers of those she shot. Even so, she remains unbowed and fearless as ever. One on level, I am filled with admiration for these female warriors, but on another something inside me says, “ Oh God!! There is enough violence in our world. Do we need women to add to it?”I know this is old- fashioned, gender- specific thinking. I realize I’m falling into the stereotyping trap. But seriously, there are times when I ask myself whether women’s lives today are being rewritten and redefined in ways that are not in the overall interests of humanity at large. Perhaps we are being forced to play or adopt fierce, aggressive roles that are reshaping our essential selves. I look around me, and see so many female gladiators in the corporate space clawing their way to the top. I read reports about women in their thirties dealing with premature menopause, or even younger women in their twenties who are finding it hard to conceive because their hormonal levels have gone berserk. Sure, some of them are super successful and leading lives their grandmoms could not have dreamed of. But they are also dealing with biological issues that did not touch their grandmoms’ wombs.
Chuck Medley, the director of emergency services at the base has described Mighty Mouse Munley as “absolutely a hero.” Well earned praise. But I can’t help looking at this grim scenario from a slightly different perspective. When Munley’s little girl( who is all of three years old now), grows up and hears about her mother’s incredible derring–do, will she perhaps wonder, “ What if mom had been killed? Did she not think of me at that moment?” I know this is silly. Children of great military heroes ( mainly men) , must feel the same way and ask themselves identical questions about fathers they’ve never known. But as a woman, much as I love my fellowmen, much as I care…. I get the feeling I would think of my children first, weigh the odds and only then pick up that gun. That is why I’ll never become a Mighty Mouse. My fate is to remain Minnie!
Spent a wonderful afternoon addressing the women ( and a few good men!) from Central Railways on the occasion of their 'Women's Empowerment' week. The function was held in the auditorium at the CST , Mumbai's heritage station, which has become world famous after the terror attacks of 26\11. Walking past the crowded platforms, my hair stood on end, especially while listening to repeated announcements about unattended parcels. Even though the announcer's voice was calm and matter of fact, the warnings were serious and deadly. Naturally. Given what innocents endured that fateful,dreadful night. I met the motorman who was on duty when the terrorists walked in. He is from Orissa and proud of it. I met four smart , young RPF ( Railway Police Force) constables - three of the young women were from West Bengal, the fourth one from U.P. This is Mumbai. A microcosm of India. Of course, it belongs to everyone. I am not a cricket fanatic.But thank you, Sachin. It needed to be said. Loud and strong.


Jyostna said...

I just read a news about women being inducted as combatant officers in Naval Aviation. That's absolutely wonderful..right? Their families should be commended for such an encouragement they have given. A week to be celebrated by all those aspirants.

चंद्रमौलेश्वर प्रसाद said...

"our own desi Mighty Mouse – the fearless woman who picked up an automatic weapon and gunned down militants, thereby saving not just her own life, but the lives of other members of her family"

And what about the press? They gave so much publicity that she was under threat from the militants. Hope she has got the desired post in the army.

Ketaki... said...

I understand what you say. When I read Kiran Bedi's I dare, this was exactly what I thought. They are different women who can compromise their family front to do something great.
And I realize that a man doesnt have to do that. So long he has a wife to stay back home and take care of his family he can go all around the world making history.

Yes, so I guess we are Anjali Tendulkar types.. :)

Shwetha said...

What is wrong with you? by saying you want to be Minnie, you are in effect influencing (yes, I say influencing because a strong well known personality as you in the world of women does hold a certain influence over aam junta as I who appreciate inspiration from folks as you) ...you are in effect influencing women to be lesser heroes and, in place be just mere mortals pausing to carry out that much needed act of courage in a scenario as this. Having been an avid reader of your blog for about a year now, of all the people I have come to look up, I least expect you to come up with this mousy lousy blog of a piece.

Its okay if you are not encouraging bravery as this, please don't discourage. I know that you will defend my accusation saying that you devoted 3 paragraphs to commend the act of bravado, but you do realize that the last two three lines perfectly undid everything you said.

Though I completely contradict part of your todays blog, I will remain a faithful reader of future blogs of yours!


Amulya Nagaraj said...

I hope that kid will grow up to be like her mom who has the confidence that she can handle both crazy gunmen and still be there for her family. And i hope she will never be a hypocrite and say pro-women, be strong things and end the day by saying "i will be minnie. the one who will stay home and just talk"

Do you really want women to make a choice, Ms. De? I thought of you as one of the icons who had managed to juggle it all successfully.

A Mahratta said...

That is such a sell-out. Sachin is obviously worried about his brand value. I am not sure what your concern is.

Alex Engwete said...

In your rightful praise of officer Munley and other "female warriors," you forgot to mention Mrs Indira Gandhi... Now, this lady conceptualized war at a strategic level and waged it on more than one occasion (if my recollection is correct). With all due respect to officer Munley, her action was at the insignificant tactical level of bringing down a madman who'd run amok... Moreover, Mrs Gandhi weathered high-levels of stress rising through the ranks of her party while having a family and raising children too. So, if the new female corporate-types don't literally have the guts to rise to that level of Gandhian stress tolerance without being hampered by "biological issues" then the issue should be whether a decay in the gene pool has intervened since the times of Mrs Gandhi; and not because the stress level they're experiencing today is something novel in the historical experience of the Indian woman...

Vee said...

Wonder why you started off with Munley and moved to Kashmiri; Could easily been other way round. This too was ok, but 'why not the other way' is my question...considering lot many things....

Anil Kumar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anil Kumar said...

Sachin's views may be driven by marketing forces. But he always avoid controversies if possible.

I came across various people from all over India both in India and abroad. And my experience is that the majority of people having this regional "keeda" in their buttock i.e. "Mumbai is for Maharashtrians" and "Hatred for Hindi" are either Maraathi or Tamils. Rest of Indian people are very humble and try their best even if they don't know Hindi and have no such hostility.

The primary reason for the way these two breeds behave is sown from childhood. This behaviour is exactly similar to Muslim Madrasa's who teach intolerance for other religion and do mass production of terrorists.

Arti said...

I loved the Munley story too. Unfortunately it's just that - a story. Turns out that it was her partner that shot Major Nidal.

The NY Times had a story about how the army made her out to be a hero when it was actually her partner's courage that prevented more lives from being lost.


Unknown said...

women holding guns, ain't no fun.
This is nothing but the need of time.
Women going nuts in their work can only be justified by their ambitions in life.
Its only about the perception which differs.
I don't know what is going to happen in the next 10 years, if women face such difficulties.
May be the time has come for MEN to conceive..
Great post madam..
Nipun (Nuts)

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Unknown said...

It is safety versus danger. It is not gender specific. For example, in shivsena mumbai, no one can say anything against their pet subject without inviting dangerous consequences of being attacked immediately. Rajanikant did it in Tamilnadu defending Tamilnadu's position on Cauvery against Karnataka's and immediately there was a backlash and he had to apologise. Sachin is too big to do apologise but in future he will never again say those sentences. Aamir Khan did not apologise to Modi inspite of ban on all his films in Gujarat. In this context, we must appreciate our freedom fighters like Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Tilak, Bose and many others who went to jail several times. But British rulers were relatively more civilised than some present day Indians in sending them to jail and not breaking their bones or spirit.

Theyoginme said...

Shobhaa we have had some great women fighters in our history for instance Jhansi ki Rani! Perhaps there will come a time not too far in the future when such gender roles will become more balanced, it would be normal for mothers to bear arms and fathers to hold and nurture their children as well as the other. We will then just be a mouse, not minnie or mighty!

Gajendra said...

I wonder how everybody would have reacted if whatever said by tendulkar was said by amar singh...tehe

Vinay. said...

we are waiting for your take on sachin-"Ball"Thackery issue. ofcourse Sachin is to be commended and more than that the senile old man is to be condemned-LOUD and CLEAR.we are proud of Sachin. same with you and MF, not because you guys are from mumbai or maharastra but 'coz you are Indians.

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Unknown said...

According to a research kids of successful moms are more confident and smart as compared to other kids. So Sgt. Munley's daughter too will be like her mother only.

I can see so much passion and fire in your eyes (ofcourse thru your pictures) even at this age. How come you are addressing yourself as a "Minnie Mouse"...i disagree

Hey i expected a separate blog post bout "SACHIN" from you but you just concluded it in one line only...this is not fair

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Unknown said...

Shobhaa, many of us feel the same helplessness like you. We feel like shooting the goons, the lawbreakers, the rapists, the smug establishment and when somebody does, we feel happy. Most of us are toothless paper tigers and thats why we are not counted. Our children and family make us weak from picking up that gun. Even if we are unshackled by that emotional thing, how many of us will go for it when the occasion needs us?

Unknown said...

"Hair standing on the end"! You used it twice Shobhaa! Seriously your hairdresser has a problem the next time you visit him!

Coming to the point, these two women have exhibited raw courage. For that matter, I think every woman is tougher than a guy any day. Ask a guy to juggle between looking after the home and work .... you will have a weak kneed response. That way most of the women are real life heroes (I am avoiding the word heroine,lest it be confused with the likes of Aarthi Chabbria or similar people)

Unknown said...

Had a male police officer done what officer Kimberley Denise Munley did, would you and I be aware even of the officer's name at this point in time? Would the news media have highlighted his actions as "not just a demonstration of raw courage, but an exemplary display of ace professionalism"? Would you and I have known about his height or his children or granparents?

I seriously believe none of that would have happened.

Isn't that blatant sexism?

Unknown said...

As rt5mrt has rightly pointed out, Munley hadn't even performed the act that she was credited for. The man who had, will never get to be a hero, simply because he is a man and not a woman.

Reflections said...

My guess is tht Kimberley Denise Munley's kid when she grows up is going to be totally in awe of her mom's bravery and so so proud.

It is something to do with as JK Rowling puts it in Harry Potter "....for the greater good"

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