The Devil’s Dictionary of Gender and Law

In this version of the Devil’s Dictionary, the author guides the reader through the alphabet by bringing out some subtle nuances in the ordinary meaning of words which are often erroneously defined.

THROUGH this article, I do not wish to make an attempt at breaking stereotypes or to flesh out the concept of marital rape.

This is not another article highlighting the unpaid labour of a homemaker or the vulnerability of men who desire to express emotions.

I do not long to preach the importance of celebrating our heroes and ‘she-roes’ equally; or the gender neutrality of the words ‘sensitivity’ and ‘strength’.

I do not intend to distinguish transphobia from trans-misogyny on the pretext of remarks like “men dressed as women”.

This article is not at all aimed to be a warning alarm to bring out gender inequality as the core challenge of this century, as was slavery in the nineteenth century and totalitarianism in the twentieth century.

I repeat that this article is not an attempt to elaborate upon any of these concepts of ‘gender and law’ but is rather my hard work staged as a dictionary of silliness, sensitivity, satire, sentiments, sarcasm, sweet wines and slang, meant only for those who have a taste for these ‘esses’.

The dictionary also includes some quotations from eminent writers and poets and any resemblance of the words used in the definitions to any person or gender or class of persons is wholly intended. No, wait— what I meant is ‘unintended.’

An answer is mostly a foot in the trap disguised as a question.

So, transcending all questions and answers, let me offer to you, “The Devil’s Dictionary (of Gender and Law)”, inspired by the OG (original gangster) Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary, followed by advocate Bharat Chugh in The Devil’s Dictionary (of Law) and Mr Anish Shahapurkar in The Devil’s Dictionary of Technology and Law.



Abuser: An emotionally needy person whose needs are the responsibility of the victim until she drains down to nullity.

Acid attack: A general response to a ‘no’ by people suffering from rejection-sensitive dysphoria (RSD).

Adultery: A recurring phenomenon where couples spend their entire lives in the futile exercise of proving and disproving the compounds of desirability and truthfulness; also a by-product of easily available access to online pornography and sex work.

In the present era of artificial intelligence, chatbots are the new paramours.

John Steinbeck once said, “We value virtue but do not discuss it. The honest bookkeeper, the faithful wife, the earnest scholar get little of our attention compared to the embezzler, the tramp, the cheat.” 


Battered Women Syndrome: A psychological trauma found in spurned-lovers-turned-killers, where the strife is between the will to deny dreadful events and the will to proclaim them aloud. (See ‘Domestic violence’.)


Commercial sexual exploitation:  The commerce which makes a fast buck by buying and selling of women and children involving wear and tear of one’s conscience, realised later in life.

Consent:  The ‘con’ in you can be ‘sent’ behind bars if permission is not on your checklist before engaging in sexual activity.

Customary law: The dichotomy between the human race and its regressive practices in a progressive world. 


Discrimination: A mockery of civil rights as inherent in society as is the skill of persuasion in lawyers.

Displaced women: From nowhere to nothing.

Domestic work: A corollary to the saying: ‘Women belong in the kitchen’.

Domestic violence: A popular entertainment for innocent bystanders. It mostly stems from the aggressor’s fear of losing his identity and results in the victim trying to fill a bottomless pit.

Dowry: The term has become obsolete. The old concept has been wrapped into a new packaging known as a ‘gift’.

Contrary to the definition under the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, this gift is not voluntary but is disguised as a social obligation. 


Empowerment: A mirage of women’s ability to make strategic life choices; the societal scrutiny of her appearance works well as a distraction from the real focus— power.

Epistemology: A state of mind that the voice of science is a masculine one and that history is written exclusively from the point of view of those with a moustache (or the dominant class and race).

Amusingly, it excludes the possibility that women can be ‘knowers’ or agents of knowledge. Perhaps, as long as a woman thinks of her man, people do not object to a woman thinking.


Femicide: An outcome of the government’s refusal to deal with the problems of poverty, gender inequality and discrimination.

Feminism: A notion that both men and women are equal human beings; often taken as an affront to men’s sense of masculinity, making it the most misunderstood concept around the globe.

Also a concept often referred to whenever a woman tries to differentiate herself from a doormat.

As a popular opinion, it is nothing more than a tool used by women to fetch seats in the Delhi Metro.


Gender: The blue balloon represents a boy and the pink balloon represents a girl in all the gender revelation parties.

However, even spiritually, as per the mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik  Gender is fluid—god is goddess and goddess is god”.

Gender equality: A journey from where it is too tiresome to be to where it is futile to go.

And finally, in our time a beard is the one thing that a woman cannot do better than a man, or if she can her success is assured only in a circus.”― John Steinbeck 

Genital mutilation: An act of being put under the knife, practised as it is easier to slay the ‘source of sin’ of the young than to slay a tradition.


Hegemonic masculinity: The notion “mard ko dard nahi hota” (men don’t feel pain) inscribed in our minds by the Indian cinema. Oh men, don’t you ever shed tears. 

Heterosexual: One of the ways to be so as to not bring dishonour to your family.

Homophobia: An irrational fear that consumes people when their kids become friends with people whose sexual orientation is exclusively or predominantly not directed to people of the other sex.

Homosexual: A disorder or disability often shifted to the shoulders of god, fate, fortune, luck, the black cat or one’s neighbour; a relationship where it is hard to decide who is to be blamed for domestic violence. (See ‘Domestic violence’)

Honour killing: Retaliation by society to self-arranged marriages.

Human rights: A fancy term cooked up by lawyers to stuff their pockets.


Infanticide: Killing a child so that she does not expect people to believe the harm she would have experienced when they would have hardly considered her existence. 


Live-in relationship: A household-living-arrangement of two patients suffering from a fatal ailment curable only by marriage; prevalent mostly among privileged races living in an artificial environment by choice.


Man: A provider— good, bad or ugly.

Marital rape: A man is certainly wrong if he believes that he has complete control over his wife’s sexual autonomy or a road trip. (Also see ‘Rape’)

Misogyny: A floating school of thought with predominant constructions against women justifying gender inequalities, in an endeavour to maintain social roles of patriarchy.

For example:

Courage of a man lies in commanding, a woman’s lies in obeying; that matter yearns for form, as the female for the male and the ugly for the beautiful; that women have fewer teeth than men; that a female is an incomplete male or as it were, a deformity’.” Aristotle


Patriarchy: The giant boulder on our social system which neither the men nor the women wish to lift, yet are burdened by the weight of it; where women are weighed down by prohibitions and men by demands. 


Rape: An unwelcomed sexual intercourse which ironically, brings disgrace to not the accused but the victim.


Sexual harassment: A naive behaviour to attract sexual attention by a man whose ability to self-delusion is limitless.

Sex work: The drudgery that pays back sweat, tears, blood and some bucks in lieu of selling superficial intimacy; a sport not of the privileged.

Stalking: An unwanted behaviour glorified by cinema, making some to believe it to be a way to woo a new partner or ward off other potential suitors.

For some others, the motivation could be ideological agreement or disagreement, pursuing a celebrity or cases of murder for hire.


Trafficking: The unlawful commerce of that, which neither belongs to the supplier, nor to the purchaser.

Transgender: Normal species on the planet who wish to be treated by their gender identity and not their sex at birth. They want you to believe in cross-dressing more than their birth certificate.

Tracing the concept in terms of Egyptian history, the Sphinx of Hatshepsut (the first recorded transgender) had round ears representing lioness and female features. The nemes headcloth and royal beard, however, define male Pharaoh characteristics. 


Voyeurism: An offence under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, punishing a peeping tom who enjoys watching or clicking pictures of sexual nature of strangers.

The spy aunties leaning over their balconies to collect content for their kitty parties are excluded from the ambit of the offence.

Victim: Whoever is better at playing the role.


Woman: An evil thing for mankind’s delight whose existence is equated to how desirable she appears to be, alternatively:

If you can dress to make yourself attractive,

Yet not make puffs and curls your chief delight;

If you can swim and row, be strong and active,

But of the gentler graces lose not sight;

If you can dance without a craze for dancing,

Play without giving play too strong a hold,

Enjoy the love of friends without romancing,

Care for the weak, the friendless and the old;


If you can master French and Greek and Latin,

And not acquire, as well, a priggish mien,

If you can feel the touch of silk and satin

Without despising calico and jean;

If you can ply a saw and use a hammer,

Can do a man’s work when the need occurs,

Can sing when asked, without excuse or stammer,

Can rise above unfriendly snubs and slurs;

If you can make good bread as well as fudges,

Can sew with skill and have an eye for dust,

If you can be a friend and hold no grudges,

A girl whom all will love because they must;


If sometime you should meet and love another

And make a home with faith and peace enshrined,

And you its soul— a loyal wife and mother—

You’ll work out pretty nearly to my mind

The plan that’s been developed through the ages,

And win the best that life can have in store,

You’ll be, my girl, the model for the sages—

A woman whom the world will bow before.” — Elizabeth Lincoln Otis

Witch hunting: Witch is a term synonymous to a woman owning a cat or a woman for whom an imprudent man has grown a certain level of disliking or a woman who is an easy prey to blame for a misfortune. Hunting for such a witch in an Indian village is less tedious an exercise than job hunting!

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