When I was younger, I was taught that deception came in the form of lecherous men offering chocolates. It took me a while to realise that it can also be the pretty aunts in the family who ask you to get involved with other men.
I don’t see how the world, so easily, moulds us into this stereotypical divide of right and wrong and how easily we swear by the divide as if it were written in stone. It took me a while to realise that the lines between right and wrong are heavily blurred. It’s not because we don’t know what’s right. It’s because we fear to stand for what’s right.
It was only yesterday when I was walking back from the departmental store on campus when these two guys on a bike zipped past me and threw a bottle full of water at me. I had to walk back to the hostel totally drenched in God knows what water. It could have been acid, it could have been water from the gutter. The people on the street were sniggering amongst themselves when they saw those two boys. I had never felt more humiliated in life. I can’t even tell my family about it because they’d obviously say, ‘exactly why we don’t want you going out alone’.
That’s when I realised how pre-holi pranks are so gender-specific and what was more appalling was that the other men on the street found it hilarious. Truly, why do stand up comedians put in so much of effort? They should go about unloading trucks full of water on mankind. That’d be so amusing, isn’t it? I was enraged. But I realised that it won’t make a great difference.
This isn’t all of it.Try stepping into a debate tournament to look at the cultural cliches that the circuit comes up with. They call themselves-“Legends.” Oh,and guess what? Most of them are tall, heavy-voiced men who apparently have carved a niche for themselves in the temple of fame. Funny how the women are seen as tiny little specks of dust there. It doesn’t matter if you’re good or bad, the first thing that most men in the circuit feel when they go up against a woman is, “okay, she’s pretty. So dressed up for a debate? It’ll be an easy win for us then.”
I realise that it’s not a man vs woman world anymore. It’s a reason vs established realities. It’s an unequal world that we live in. In a world sharply divided by rules and sexist norms, it’s sad that we as women have to embrace a reality that’s ordained for us. It’s ridiculous that universities across India, where essentially you should inculcate the right values in students are further deepening these cleavages in society. My only submission to this reality where women are subjected to discriminatory rules and norms is that, if you seek to create a safe world, you must first allow women to engage with the world.
Women face issues everywhere. Job interviews are one of the worst places for this, with female candidates quizzed about their personal lives and plans for a family. Women are often asked if they want kids and then what they would do if the kids fell sick? As if men are divorced from familial affairs. Men on the other hand, also bear the brunt of sexism. If a man wants to be a nurse or look after children, for example, he is seen as less masculine. It hurts me to see how divisive politics has become and how our society, encompassing our familial and other human relationships constantly perpetuate these differences.
We’ve been waging this war for way too long now. We need to each turn witnesses to each other’s strife in order to win this one. We need to step out of our echo-chambers and start knocking these walls down with reason and prudence.
Dear diary,I’ve been writing you for way too long. I think it’s time that I set fire to the paper and took my ideas beyond these pages.
A woman, a student and above all a human being.
Note: Valentine’s day 2017 saw Miranda House Women’s Development Cell strike, dance and rise with the One Billion Rising movement. Women from WDC, in the spirit of OBR, decided to write letters to patriarchy who had been their constant lover: it was time to breakup.
Breakthrough India joins hands with MH-WDC’s One Billion Rising campaign in University of Delhi and brings to you a glimpse of some of these letters, some of the stories that women from Miranda House have been writing to patriarchy.
Beware, you might soon find them in your nearest bookstores as well!