“Tu uss aanchal se ik parcham bana leti.. toh accha tha.” (If only you could have woven a flag out of the ends of your drape…it would have been good.)
I was 12. My cousin sneaked me into a room slyly and held me so tight, I couldn’t get away. He pushed me back onto the bed and lay on top of me until I was able to get away. It happened quite a few times. Until obviously, I realised I wasn’t the one who was wrong and I didn’t HAVE TO put up with it.
Years later, when I was a grown up girl while out on a friendly date, I was tried being kissed forcibly. Until I got away.
I wasn’t into drinking almost throughout my graduation years but it was our unofficial farewell party and I took the liberty of drinking fearlessly. On feeling uneasy, I rushed to the washroom. I got out, still tipsy and met a college “friend” right outside. I didn’t like his arm that was around my waist but I didn’t have much balance so I let it be. Minutes later he tried to sneak me away, his hands all over me, until I got away.
Years later now, I am a grown up girl and also a sensitized one. I have men around me, good and bad both. The good ones support me, give me strength in whatever I do, whereas the bad ones, call me names, attempt to grope me in crowded places, stare at my breast, letch at me, make pouty faces at me. But, I don’t try to get away anymore. I stare back at them, till they stare away.
Ok, before someone says this is only a woman’s point of view, I’ll say that maybe the reason you see more videos about women being the victims of sexual violence is because women are MOSTLY the victims?! The percentage of women to men in these circumstances is extremely different. This is not to say that men don’t face violence or don’t deserve to be advocated for- of course they do! However, I am writing this blog because as a response to the Bangalore incident, and many that have lead to it and have apparently also followed. It’s appalling, it really is.
I am a feminist and with all my heart want equality, for men and women both. It is not a one-sided feeling. I know patriarchal women and feminist men too. It is not against men but it is about the patriarchal mindset. Making this an issue of #NotAllMen bothers me a tad bit more because “reacting” to what happened this way and judging feminism becomes the easiest thing to do possible.
The other day I watched a video of two women doing a stand-up comedy, owning up to them having been molested; and the way people reacted was shameful. We didn’t give them power instead we pulled them down for being gutsy enough to speak up. And you know what is worse? That even if it was a video of a man AND a woman, or a man and another man, people will still complain. Because that is the easiest thing to do, isn’t it? I doubt there will ever be a time where people won’t complain.
I could also easily go out and say that most men only want to talk about how ‘men are the victim too!’ but do I? No. Because that is not the point. When it comes to derailing conversations of women and in discussions about women’s issues, it often becomes an argumentative scenario and hardly anything is achieved. Nowhere in the past few days regarding the incident has it been said that men can’t be abused, nowhere did it stereotype ‘all men’.
Why is it that you don’t see MEN talking about this subject unless it’s to show how bad they have it against women, as opposed to stepping up, talking about the issue, talking about how toxic masculinity and the society we live in makes it impossible for male victims to come forward, makes it seem like men can’t be victims of abuse? Have we ever thought why? Patriarchy is bad for all genders. It might just take us another generation and a few more toxic incidents to register this deep in our minds.
There are these 5 very small requests I want to make to the men and women of the society, if I may.
– Teach your children about consent, without fail.
– Understand feminism. It is deep-rooted and favors us all.
– Make public places as accessible and friendly as they are for you.
– What happened in Bangalore was not a security issue. It was a mindset issue. Start working on it.
– We know there are a lot of you who mean things only well for us. Start taking a stand for us and come out in solidarity.
Reaching out to the women across the country is also a very beautiful nationwide movement called #IWillGoOut. It is a movement for women to reclaim public spaces. We are mobilizing organizations, institutions and individuals to state that we, as women, will go out. We, as women, will claim the nights as our own.
#IWillGoOut is a nationwide march on 21st Jan in solidarity with the survivors of Mass Sexual Harassment that took place in Bangalore this New Year’s eve. We’re a collective of individuals and organisations across various cities in India. Bangalore, Pune, New Delhi, Lucknow, Puducherry, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, Hyderabad, Silchar are already on it!
National Event Page : https://www.facebook.com/events/1276189855784797/
For more information about the movement, write to us at : firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh and my fellow women, phenomenal women, the universe, the streets are just as much ours, as theirs. Don’t let anybody take that away from you.
More power, more love.