Many people believe that women create a fuss out of everything, that women overreact to every little thing in life. In fact, we are often asked to not react boldly, lest it cause an unpleasant situation that might trigger a reaction.
For example, when a woman walks on the road and a group of men whistle and pass lewd comments on her, she is asked to keep her head down and walk off – as if she heard nothing. A woman who scolds her colleague, when he keeps staring at her, is considered to be overreacting to the situation.
Surprisingly, this is the kind of advice I’ve heard from young people as well.
A girl is brought up with ideas that she should not be seen or heard, wherever she goes. And as she grows up, a girl is asked to avoid situations that may call attention to her. These teachings make her choose to walk away from situations that question her dignity. Instead of standing up for herself, she is taught that being unafraid will only invite more trouble in the future.
I would like to say one thing to all those who think that standing up for oneself will only bring more harm – you think it may bring more harm, but you know what? When she doesn’t stand up to him, she falls deeper into danger.
The first few days, he stares at her and she walks away without reacting. The next few days, he passes some sexual comments at her, and she walks off this time too – with a haste. After that, he starts following her, she runs off.
She goes to her friends and tells them about this guy. Many of her friends give suggestions like, “Take another route”, “Tell your brother. But no! He might do something harsh and you don’t want to worsen the situation, do you?” or, “Take an auto through that route.”
No one gives sensible advice, except for a few friends who tell her to complain to the police, or at the least to her parents. But mostly, it gets drowned in fear – the fear which was instilled in her mind from her younger years.
She might take some precautions for a few days, but she isn’t going to change her usual schedule permanently. She prays that he has forgotten all about her and starts with her routine. If she is lucky, he has. If not,the guy sees her walking around without reacting or making a fuss and gets empowered to do more.
One day he follows her to a dark alley when she was returning home after her night shift and did what he had wanted to do from the first day he laid eyes on her.
That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We have read it in newspapers, heard about these cases in hushed whispers across college corridors, and some have even come close to experiencing such situations.
So, the next time you see a woman shout at a guy for staring at her continuously, don’t smirk at her, and comment that, she always overreacts. She is taking measures to keep herself safe. Instead of mocking her, encourage others to speak up as well and to stand up for themselves, no matter how small the magnitude of the problem.