The world isn’t a safe place for women. Assault has been a part of our lives – something we have just accepted subconsciously. We do things on a daily basis that could save us another day – we avoid walking alone after dark, we don’t dare doze off in cabs, we carry pepper sprays, we cover up if we think we are passing a shady neighborhood, we are always alert about proximity of strangers…. innumerable things that men would not even think about! And this experiment is testimony to that https://www.stylist.co.uk/life/sexual-assault-precuations-women-men-social-experiment-jackson-katz-book-facebook/229868
The ability of men to blindside the issue has always amazed me. And these are men we know – our own kin and friends. Every time we talk about eve-teasing or attitudes of men towards women as objects – they respond with disbelief. And then we have to cite instances to prove how it’s all right there in bright daylight… and no one wants to see it!
I’m glad finally women are talking and naming people who assaulted them. I’m glad finally there is a discussion. I am glad finally people are sitting up and acknowledging the problem.
Of course like almost every other woman out there I have my #metoo story too. I wrote about it here a while ago https://www.womensweb.in/2015/04/violence-against-women-in-india/ of course this is by no means an exhaustive list – but who can document every violation of their person (*except men)… All those gropings, lewd comments, sleazy looks… they are just too many to keep track of.
There are some major instances also that I haven’t listed in this article – maybe I wasn’t brave enough then, or maybe that was too close to home – and I didn’t want to hurt some people. This is another thing we women do – keep quiet coz we don’t want to hurt our people – and we realize too late that maybe by keeping quiet we are doing more damage. So this instance – and it’s still fresh in my mind and I can recall almost every detail – happened when I was around 10 years old. My parents had divorced by then, and we lived with our mom. She was seeing this guy for a short while, and he was quite good to her – and generally well behaved and well mannered. But I guess one can never judge a person – period. So one day we came back after a drive – mom, me, my sis and this guy. We were tired and sleepy. In fact my sis was fast asleep. He parked the car near our house and said he’ll walk mom in and help her put us to bed. So mom carried my sis, and he carried me on his shoulder. I was sleepy, but I could hear them talking as they walked home. And suddenly, without a break in the conversation, I could feel his hand slide up my frock and inside my panties. I didn’t know what he was doing. I just knew it was wrong. I squirmed, so he took his hand away to hoist me back up and then his fingers were back. He kept fingering me till we got home – which wasn’t fast enough for me. And I was too clueless and too mortified to tell my mom. I didn’t know what to tell her – there were literally no words that I knew of that could explain what happened. And so I kept quiet. And i’ve never told her – because she would feel terrible that she wasn’t able to protect us. But it isn’t her fault. She was a single mom too – dealing with tons of shit people heaped on her. She was doing her best and she raised us well. The only person to blame was that guy – who thought fingering a sleeping 10 year old was acceptable.
The trouble is that these ‘normal’ guys are everywhere – and they are the monsters in the nightmares of so many girls! And they are not going away till we make them. Till we take ownership from the day our sons are born and bring them up the right way. Till we stop with the casual sexism and teach our boys to respect women as people.
I have a boy now. And I think my biggest responsibility is to make sure that he doesn’t turn out to be the cause of anyone’s #metoo story. Don’t let me down Adi!