I salute all the women who have shown tremendous courage and spoken out against harassment they have faced in the workplace, schools, colleges, and other places.
The time is up and in retrospect, we should all look into our behaviours; because we were are born and brought up in a patriarchal society. We have been in the habit of looking at many things as ‘normal’, which is generally not the case.
We have learned “boys do not cry or behave like girls”. We have failed to understand the boundaries of intimacy, consent, and other important aspects of a relationship. I heard about consent when I was pursuing my masters, and it’s not funny, it’s a terrible reality. It’s disgusting to learn about such an important concept after so many years of my life.
I don’t remember debating or discussing such issues when I was in college. It doesn’t mean that all of us never valued a “no” from our partners back then, but this issue of respecting the ‘consent’ has been taken seriously after a very long time in our society. But, let’s be clear, not understanding consent can’t be an excuse to harass someone.
‘Sorry’ has been one of the words we have avoided to use in our lives. We never looked at things carefully, our choice of words for women and ways of touching them; we often crossed the thin line of acceptable behaviour.
Every one of us is different, and our behaviour should reflect this difference. Our ignorance might have made the person on the receiving end uncomfortable, but their silence should not be confused as their approval of our actions; there could be many reasons why the didn’t speak up. But enough is enough, better late than never. Let us analyse the things we learnt while growing up. We learnt that men should talk about what they have been explicitly taught, and not about things that aren’t “manly” enough. Men should evaluate their behaviour at home, workplace, public places etc. Men should learn about the nuances of sex, and unlearn the cliched ideas of getting pleasure using their partner.
Before we make some much-needed changes in our behaviour, which we thought was impossible, let’s have a small class on vocabulary. Here is a list of some words; which all men should have learnt much earlier in their lives:
a) Noun- Permission for something to happen or agreement to do something
b) Verb- Permit something to happen.
Let’s be clear, in this context, “something” is primarily sex and related activities. Every sexual act starting from a kiss, demands consent. You cannot make any move without your partner’s permission, and this consent is an ongoing process and can be revoked at any given time during the ‘act’.
a) Noun: A negative answer or decision.
b) Expressing disagreement
You might have heard it in 18 different languages in the movie “Pink”, where the central character went to great lengths to emphasise – that no means no. But, real life and reel life are different, in every aspect. We have failed to respect this word, yes and we still do, but it’s high time we start respecting a ‘no’.
a) Behaviour that annoys or upsets someone.
b) Illegal behaviour towards a person that causes mental or emotional suffering, which includes repeated unwanted contacts without a reasonable purpose, insults, threats, touching, or offensive language.
Harassment is not always violent. Sexual harassment has different levels and types. A word, touch, picture, gesture, posture can amount to harassment if the person opposite to you feels offended.
a) A remark that expresses approval, admiration, or respect.
Sexy, hot, bomb, pataka, patola: These are not compliments these are lewd comments.
a) To put your hand or another part of your body lightly onto and off something or someone.
Why do you feel the need to touch a woman without her permission in the first place? Brushing your hand, poking, tickling or groping does not count as ‘touch’, it amounts to harassment.
So, learn these simple words – before you make the same mistakes again.