“Either talk to me as I want or else I’ll ruin your image in a split second”, she threatened me with this intimidating message at the most unexpected time, in the most unexpected way.
As usual, I was working in my room, late in the night, around 1.30 AM, writing an article on a social taboo issue.
I am fond of dedicating the quite, peaceful late-night timings, to these sorts of articles, since I can think calmly, and express my thoughts in a Google Document. Suddenly, my phone beeped, signalling the arrival of a new LinkedIn message.
“Who must have messaged me so late?”, I wondered as I searched through my messy work table to find the mobile.
“Hey Hardik, thank you for connecting. I’ve been following your work for the last month, and intrigued by how you express yourself and your thoughts”, the message said.
My eyes sparkled as I felt delighted to receive such a beautiful message late at night.
However, I never realised that it would soon turn into the most dreadful experience for me, enough to take away my tense-free sleep for the next few days.
For the next half an hour, we spoke over the messages, as she described her ‘craziness’ for my writings. She mentioned how she had read almost every article that I had published, on any online platform.
Not only this, but she also read the love quote, ‘shayaris’ (poem), and one-liners which I published on Nojoto, YourQuote or even Instagram.
I was happy to e-meet her. Who wouldn’t be? When someone appreciates your work and even your smallest contributions to the online plethora of content, you’re bound to be on cloud nine.
But, I soon discovered her growing dominance over the messages. She told me that she checked out my Facebook profile, knew about my friends, saved my phone number already, and probably identified my likings and dislikings.
I bid her “Good Night” and tried to disconnect the conversation, at least for the time being. I sensed she was stalking (or creeping up on) me. As I said goodnight, her message tone changed.
“Why can’t you talk to me till 4 AM?”
“I want to know more about you, Hardik. Just keep typing these messages.”
What followed these messages was irritating and horrifying.
She called me and said, “I want to listen to your voice badly. Just narrate these articles to me in your voice.”
When I cut the call without speaking and later told her on the message to stay within her limits, she replied, “Either talk to me or else I’ll ruin your image through fake screenshots. You know how much bad #MeToo can do to you.”
When I showed these messages to my friends and told a few close LinkedIn connections about this incident, they believed me instantly, but also mentioned a few words of caution, ‘Hardik, no one else will believe you, because we live in a world of imperfect gender equality.’
Weren’t they right? I believe we live in a world of perfect feminism and imperfect gender equality. In my opinion, a girl posting about these issues is appreciated for her courage; a boy posting about such issue is said to glorify his charm. We lose our tempers over female rape but consider male rape as a moment of enjoyment for the victim.
There are some instances when a girl reports a dowry case against her husband and in-laws, and they’re arrested. When this happens, we proudly justify our true spirit towards gender equality. However, in my opinion, at times, society fails to understand that gender includes both females and males.
While we continue to raise our voices to support gender equality, let’s begin speaking about male equality as well, so another Hardik doesn’t hesitate to speak up about this issue.
For a moment, let’s realise men also get harassed. Harassment, rape, sexual remarks are not gender-specific. An assailant sees a victim and uses tools to ruin his or her life.
Let’s raise our voices collectively to put an end to these tools altogether, instead of segregating matters on gender basis.
This article was originally published on Opined.