This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Rubina Mulchandani. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

To The #NotAllMen Tribe Who Say We’re ‘Asking For It’, Here’s One For You: #YesAllMen

It happened when I was 10 or maybe 12. If I knew the day and year would have to be consistently recalled for the rest of my life, I might have kept a note somewhere.

Mom had sent me to the market to buy some stuff for home. It is a 3-4 minute walk from my place and I have lived in that area all my life. I bought what I needed, and left for home, with the shopping bag in my right hand and the wallet in my left. I used to go to the market using the main road and come back via the inner lane, much like completing a square. The street was familiar, and it was 6 pm on a summer evening. A bike passed by, the boys on it said something that I did not catch and before I could react, they smacked my butt, laughed in unison and sped away. I stood there, stunned.

It was the early 2000s and I was rather alien to the concept of sexual harassment (unlike kids these days who are way more aware of these realities of life). I did not expect this to happen to me even in the wildest of my dreams. I remember feeling violated, disgusted, angry, ashamed, scared and more. I remember breaking down, crying profusely and running all the way home. I remember narrating the incident to my mother. I remember her comforting arms consoling me, and gradually getting prepared for life as a woman, from that day onward.

Image used for representation purpose.

Now, I am sure you have questions. And even though I am not obligated to answer any of them or explain myself, I will. You want to ask me why I chose to go back via the inner lane. That is because my school was on the way. As a kid, it was a weird yet fun feeling to pass by my school in the evening. There was a school on that road. There were eateries on that road. There were so many houses on both sides of that road. People were walking their dogs, children were out playing on that very street, friends were taking a stroll, and some were enjoying hanging out at local food joints. It was a normal, busy road on a summer evening.

I was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, I guess. My clothes were not revealing. I was not asking for it. In spite of all this, it happened. It is like there is a check-list of things that have to be in place for a girl, to lower the risk of getting harassed in public. I fulfilled all the criteria in that checklist and was still treated like flesh by two males on a bike in broad daylight. What do you have to say about this? Who will you blame this on? More importantly, why do these questions matter in the first place? Why are girls/women appraised and assessed if they actually qualify as a victim of abuse or if they deserved the inevitable?

This was my first experience of sexual harassment and since then, I have had many more. I am amazed at my inability to express shock at what I write. Maybe because this is what women have to just deal with, in their own ways, if they have to survive. Some retaliate (and usually face dangerous consequences), some ignore and let it go, some others share it with their mothers/sisters/friends and realize they are not alone, while some struggle all by themselves because they are not fortunate enough to live among people who’d understand.

Why Women Have No Option But To ‘Accept It As A Part Of Our Lives’

Women worry that their freedom might be snatched, their daily activities curtailed or their independence capped. We all have our own apprehensions and challenges to manage, while we devise mechanisms to live a life where crimes against women are normalized. And honestly, we are complicit in this process. But can you hold us responsible? If we don’t accept it as a part of our lives, some girls will lose out on basic education, some will be married off and transferred to a man as a liability, some may not get a chance to take up their dream job.

In extreme cases, some will be quietened through acid attacks, rapes, social boycott and more. We know we cannot depend on the law for justice. We know our society harbour perpetrates and reinstates regressive stereotypes that label us as the weaker gender. We know patriarchy, sexism, misogyny are not just fancy words but foundation stones of our rather imperfect worlds. Would you expect every single one of us to put our lives, our bodies, our careers at stake by objecting to this normalization? Is this entitlement justified on your part? From a very tender age, girls are taught to “learn to live with it”. We have to learn to live with whatever happens with us every single day.

From eve-teasing and inappropriate gestures in schools, colleges and public spaces, to sexual harassment at the workplace, to sexist jokes by male friends, to beating marks by the husband, to acid burns, to rapes by men who couldn’t handle rejection, to dowry deaths, we are asked to learn to live with it all. Because this is how society is. Because our mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers also lived with it. Because you know what? Boys will be boys.

Yesterday, I came across a tweet by an apparently highly educated PhD from a university of repute (going by his Twitter and LinkedIn bios) that said that while men should not objectify women, women should also not objectify themselves and provoke men by being half-naked or dressing provocatively, and women need to stop complaining about crimes they actually cause.

Let’s call this guy Dr D. With one toxic tweet, he represented the very society we live in. I considered having an argument with him, hoping that he might understand. But when I called him out on his deplorable views, Dr D compared me to Shurpnakha and Tadka, and lamented over the fact that I wasn’t more like Sita, Mandodari or Kunti, clarifying how there are both good and bad women and since I fell in the latter category, he had to point it out.

He then went on to tell me how I am a disgrace to my culture while justifying his stance of men having no choice but to get seduced if women wear inappropriate clothing or post revealing pictures on the internet. I couldn’t believe I was having this conversation with a man of his credentials, in 2020. It is men like him who enable crimes against women and get away with it. Our society has for ages, coddled such ideologies and nurtured the concept of victim-blaming, telling us that we won’t be protected if we “ask for it”.

Stop Placing Accountability In The Wrong Hands

You cannot ask for accountability from a woman who did not report a gang rape years ago when the first person you blame for being harassed at school for the length of her skirt is the girl herself. You cannot accuse a #MeTooSurvivor for not speaking out at the right time when all you do after hearing her story is look for reasons to ridicule her and question her integrity. How do you expect women to trust society when you have miserably failed to provide them with a safe space to even speak, share, express? This is what rape culture is. This is how it begins.

When you objectify women in your jokes, discuss their physical attributes under the garb of humour and call it harmless fun, you encourage those young boys observing you, to follow suit. You tell them it is alright to treat women as entities born to serve humankind. Those boys go on to pass lewd remarks at girls in their class, indulge in body shaming and exhibit toxic masculinity disguising it all as harmless fun. This is what leads to discussions about female bodies, sharing of pictures without consent, and formation of communities like the “boys locker room”.

The locker room talk and culture you often dismiss as “harmless fun” is rape culture. You promote it when you question a girl’s attire and not a guy’s lustful glare. You promote it when you question a girl’s choice of being at a particular place but not the guy’s shameless behaviour. You promote it when you teach your daughters to ignore it while telling your sons to be a man. You promote it when you reinforce gender inequalities in the name of discipline, in educational institutions. You promote it when you blame girls for having male friends but encourage boys to pursue the girls they like till they give in. You promote the rape culture is everywhere, in homes, schools and colleges or workplaces.

However, you cannot use ignorance as an excuse anymore. If you don’t understand this, go read. Demand for reforms in the archaic education system. Unlearn what you have been taught all these years. And no, please do not do it because you have a mother, a wife, a sister or a daughter. Women do not deserve dignity and respect because of their identities and the roles they play in your life. That is insane, pathetic and a gross human rights violation. Women deserve dignity and respect because they are human beings.

Why is this so tough to understand? Why do you need reasons to think about this? Why am I expected to bombard you with statistics on crimes against women and the unfortunate state of affairs we are in, to convince you that we need feminism? Feminism demands equality across genders. It is a movement for all those who identify as women, for the sole reason that men have been given a position of privilege in society since the beginning of time. They are considered to be superior beings and enjoy the advantage of being the preferred gender. Feminism is a movement aimed at reclaiming the gender space and shifting the narrative towards equity. Since it is women who largely face discrimination of all kinds, the movement is women-centric. Why does this bother you? Do you have the guts to ask yourself these questions?

Dear #NotAllMen Tribe, Here’s One For You: #YesAllMen

as example to my text
A poem by Ansab Amir answering the notion #notallmen

Every time we come across violence against women, we have men singing the “#NotAllMen” song. This one hashtag immediately invalidates the ordeal faced by those women, belittles their experience and takes away their agency. It is critical to understand that what women live with, is about them, and not the men. It is their story not that of men who were directly or indirectly complicit in the act, or of men who were innocent but served no other purpose except being bystanders, watching things unfold from a safe distance.

And it is not like the “NotAllMen” brigade can walk out of the conversation, scot-free. You are quick to defend your innocence and brag about your inherent goodness without realizing that decent behaviour is not worthy of appreciation. It is something that should come naturally to everyone, even though it doesn’t. Civility does not make you a hero. And this certainly doesn’t absolve you of your general disregard for the plight of women in our society. You may not be an attacker, a predator, a harasser, an abuser or a rapist. But you go about your daily life without so much as batting an eyelid to what happens around you.

Stories of crimes against women are just current affair issues you can read about while munching on your favourite cookies while you sip your morning tea or scroll through news channels or surf the internet. You are okay with it as long as the women in your life are an embodiment of selflessness, sacrifice and femininity. Your nonchalance makes you a part of the problem. So, to break your bubble here, #YesAllMen.

You may not have indulged in a crime, but you have indulged in casual sexism. You have expected your daughters and wives to be “good”. You have perpetually doubted the veracity of almost every harrowing experience a woman has spoken against. You have drooled over women on TV and insulted them for their professions. You have enjoyed using cuss words that are created for the sole purpose of degrading women and sexualizing their very existence. You have rubbished even the mere idea of consent, choice and autonomy in the name of love. Sit back and recall every aspect of the belief system you have grown up with and values you have held on to at the expense of making this society unsafe for 50% of its population.

You know what? We were taught to learn to live with it but not anymore. It is time to change. It is time to call a spade a spade and acknowledge the hypocrisy in the system. It is time to recognize the biases and make amends. It is time to stand with women and demand for a world that thrives on equity. It is time to embrace feminism. This is a test of your actual strength, one that lies in mindsets and not the biceps. Boys will be boys unless you do something about it! And it’s time you do.

You must be to comment.
  1. Sagar Galani

    “You are quick to defend your innocence and brag about your inherent goodness without realizing that decent behaviour is not worthy of appreciation. It is something that should come naturally to everyone, even though it doesn’t. Civility does not make you a hero.”

    So well written and articulate and such an important message to get out there. We’ve grown up in a patriarchal society and therefore, we all possess some gender biases. We’ve got to start calling ourselves out. #YesAllMen

    Also see: https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2020/05/capitalism-toxic-masculinity-its-impact-during-a-pandemic/

    1. Rubina Mulchandani

      Hi Sagar! Thank you so much for reading the piece and responding as well. 🙂 And I completely agree, we all possess some gender biases and feed in to stereotypes, even if inadvertently. The fight is against patriarchy which has harmed not just women but even men. It is about time we acknowledge the elephant in the room! I will read the article you shared! Thanks!

More from Rubina Mulchandani

Similar Posts

By AgentsofIshq

By Room to Read

By S N

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below