Feminism has not arrived yet.
It pains me to say this, but an entire legion of men descended upon us, pointing out how us ‘crying foul’ was not justified because we had generalised the behaviour of a few men and made it about the whole male population instead.
You win, man. You rant about how you’ve never misbehaved around a woman, never bestowed attention without her consent, never used her drunken daze to your own ends – all of it stands tall. You win. But you’ve lost a bigger fight while puffing up your chest in indignation over the “unrighteous” claims of how every man is not an animal. I agree that #NotAllMen rape, but #YesAllWomen have had to give up the rights over their body at some point in their life.
There’s no place we call ‘safe’. There’s no dearth of horror stories in hospital emergency rooms that rush in little 6-month-olds, bleeding from the vagina, because some perverted 40-year-old needed a sexual release, and what better than a toddler you can smother with a hand and defile with your ‘gun’ and then get away with it? We’re not safe at home, we’re not safe in workplaces, we’re not safe on the street, we’re not even safe with our own families. We’re NEVER safe. Can you even begin to imagine how it feels when there’s nowhere to go to?
I was four when it happened to me first, and it was my uncle.
Like I said, no exaggerations here. When your favourite uncle, at four, offers a chocolate in return to see how pretty you are, you let him. I told my mother when I was 16, and she said, “But you weren’t raped, worse things happen to people.” When the hon’ble Home Minister of Karnataka points out that such instances happen, my mother’s response rang clear in my ears. This would not have been said had there been a terror attack, or had the (God forbid) Prime Minister of the nation been shot. But when an entire mob of men attacked, groped, touched and molested women at a New Year’s gathering, the man responsible for the safety of the people shrugged it off with an insensitive comment. And once again, we had nowhere to go.
Because every time you’ve seethed in outrage and screamed at us saying, “Not all men are that way!” you have perpetuated and supported rape culture to flourish, like my mother did when I was four, like the Home Minister did after the mass mob attack on New Year’s eve, and like Mulayam Singh Yadav did when he said that “Boys will be boys”. When you deviated from the issue of women’s safety and made it about your personal ego, you trivialised the struggles of an entire section of the population. You made it very clear that whether we’re grabbed on the street, raped and grabbed by a whole town, or murdered and dumped on the side of the road, the issue needs lesser attention than your injured ego. Right up to the the belief that you have been falsely accused.
The state refused to help, the police refused that there was enough ‘evidence’, even with 1500 policemen on the prowl, and then we have you, who tsk-tsk and shut us up because you didn’t do it. Rape leads to questions about what we were wearing, how drunk we were, what we do for a living, where we live, if we live alone and everything else that’s irrelevant, other than the fact that somebody thought it convenient enough to touch us without our consent. You took the internet by storm ‘reclaiming’ your dignity, but is there none for us? Because they wouldn’t have believed me at four, and they still don’t listen when I am 25. Is nobody listening?
Accept it’s an issue. Only then can we find the means to resolve it.
Because all you’re doing is running away from owning up to the fact that women are unsafe. Sure you don’t do it, but not all the women in the world are always around you. Every time you have laughed at a rape joke, or shrugged off comments bystanders have made on women, or cracked a sexist joke with your buds and called it ‘locker room talk’, you’ve propagated the silence we’ve been met with every time we’ve screamed at non-consensual attention. You’ve actually shown a green flag when you silently watched a woman tackle a molester on her own, or when you laughed at a crude joke your friend made on the female body.
Your ‘just kidding’ makes the whole issue of respect trivial. Add on the fact that you find it funny when a person’s right to their body is taken away, just what does it make you then?
So let’s come back to issues that need attention. Let’s talk about women’s safety than find people to blame, let’s understand that when you’re told that you perpetuate rape culture, we are not calling you rapists, we’re calling out a set of social norms that have made the issue of respect for women trivial. We’re just asking for a little more sensitivity towards things that are making life so miserable.
Because every woman has been molested at some point in her life, whether she knows it, accepts it, or not. It needs to stop being something that ‘just happens’. There’s been negligence on all our parts, ain’t it high time we do something about it?