As a teenager, I remember being told that I needed to be cautious of the world, of men. I grew up learning that I need to keep myself in check around men because as a woman, it’s my responsibility to help men restrain themselves, or stop themselves from hurting me or violating me. I know, sad, right? Well, most women grow up learning this. We’re told that if a man violates us, it’s probably our fault, we must’ve done something to draw attention in such a way.
Well, that’s why it matters when women speak up about how they’ve been conditioned to shrink themselves or be constantly conscious of themselves. For instance, in this Instagram post, Dolly Singh expressed the discomfort and difficulty in navigating conversations with men with more power than her.
Singh has articulated something hundreds of women feel. As women, we’re so careful of how we’re perceived by the men around us, and even more so by the men around us who are in power. We’re careful not to send out the wrong cues or any kind of unsaid communication that may say we’re interested in something we’re not.
We’ve found a few comments about this post of hers online. Perhaps you’d like to read through these:
1. “When I used to live in Hyderabad I kept getting hounded by small producers and directors to act in movies even though I’m not an actor or a model. I would refuse but just once out of curiosity and peer pressure I agreed to one director who was being sweet at first and what followed was horrific. He would call me to his office which was in his house all the time to discuss everything but the script or pay and waste my time. Everything he did was creepy, he would touch me inappropriately and he kept trying to get me drunk or do drugs all of which I refused. None of the conversations would happen over text and he would call from some random number each time.
He did not directly hint at sexual favours at first but after a few meetings he straight up told me that after this dinner we’re heading up to a hotel to have sex. He called another old producer to that dinner to get me into another project and when that producer realised I’m not going to sleep with him he left. This director told me that this is the norm – all actresses have to sleep around to get roles initially. All this for a 5 MINUTE role in a movie btw. I got into an argument with him and left. This industry is especially fucked up. “
2. “That is so sad and true. Every girl can relate to this feeling. We truly deserve better society. More power to each of the girls.”
3. “It’s insane to me that all the women on this thread are like ‘I RELATE, THIS IS HOW I FEEL TOO’ and all the men are like ‘Ya but what am I supposed to do? Be a human being to women? To WOMEN? Hashtag not all men.'”
4. “My friend is talented AF. She recently debuted in a movie. The casting director tried to hit on her on multiple occasions, and she’s trying so hard to sign another project the honest way. Hope she becomes a big star one day.”
5. “Men should stop abusing their power for sexual favours and rewarding women who comply with their demands while punishing those who don’t.”
As this last comment says, the truth is that women are conditioned, they’re often punished for not giving into men’s advances. There is a lot of microaggression (and then sometimes even aggression) that women face for not entertaining men who are trying to pursue them.