An open letter to all the people who think sexual harassment is a joke.
Have you ever woken up with a dream that assaulted and infringed your integrity? So haunting, that it daunted you for an entire day? Or maybe even after that? Or have you felt the fear of your exposure of yourself or somebody close to you? Does it make you cringe and boil when somebody comes and intentionally rubs against you or gropes your private parts? Does it infuriate you further, when you are not treated anything more than a mere sexual object to satiate somebody else’s lust?
Well, these are some of the questions which have become an inevitable part of a woman’s existence. She wakes up with the baggage of such fears on her shoulders every day, without a miss. She carries them relentlessly throughout the day, across the streets, the institutions and the places and with the people that she meets. Even as she goes off to sleep at night, she is thinking, subconsciously if not loudly, ‘Thank God! I made my way though another day’.
A baby, a girl, a woman, or a granny- no matter the age hierarchy, has to carry this bundle of fears and do whatever it takes to escape any possibility of becoming a potential victim. She would, at some point in time, dress up in traditional Indian attires, wearing saree, salwar-kameez with a dupatta (a long piece of cloth worn as a stole with salwar-kameez), a ghoonghat (veil to cover the woman’s face) or a burqa, disbanding the western jeans, short skirts, cropped tops and bikini, so as to not “incite” the animal in the potential rapists around her. She would self impose curfews, at times, to avoid the possibility of becoming bait to the lurking perpetrators around her. She would wear subtle makeup at crushed public-places (like Delhi Metro), as against her favourite bright red or pink lipstick, so as to not come under the radar of any ogler. She would maintain distance with her male colleagues and friends, by not talking late at night or avoiding any voluntary sexual advances, to avoid the possibility of being taken for granted for a “slut”. She would sacrifice her career options, such as journalism, which would require her physical and mental labour at hours away from the daylight and the “safety” of other people.
And all this she does in vain, because the source of the problem lies not with her but with the patriarchal mindset of the society.
Now whether a bunch of male chauvinist or patriarchal junk might understand this or not, the sexuality of a woman, or for that matter any person, has become a very pertinent and prominent part of their integrity and dignity. All credits to the society. As the celebrated feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, rightly and on point had said – “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” Thus, even if the woman would attempt to disregard this identity, by trying to be a human first, the society relentlessly pushes her into those rudimentary genderized shoes. Thus, paving way for an unending battle to not always to protect the izzat (the concept of dignity of the family that falls on the shoulder of the women to maintain) of the family but to, exercise the sexual, physical and emotional integrity and dignity that she owns.Something which, ultimately, comes at disposal to mercy of ‘the men’ who assume the role of either a ‘protector’ or a ‘violator’.
The purpose here is to not victimize women and culpritise men, it’s just to give a reality check on how things exist on ground for the women, whose progress, upon the incidences of their sights of going out for work, schools and colleges in the morning, has been taken for granted by the society, veiled by an oblivion to the dark side of the coin.
P.S. – Bangalore at shame for mass molestation. The society further at shame for #NotAllMen.