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Angry women seem to scare everyone, even when we clearly have a reason to be extremely angry. Stop telling women who face harassment to “CALM DOWN.”
Saturday nights, usually for me are a way to get together with friends and unwind. After a merciless week, and gruelling writing sessions, I really do look forward to some ridiculous humour, and uncontrollable laughter. It is de-stressing and rejuvenates me for the week to come.
And last Saturday evening, we went to our regular pub in downtown Bangalore for just that. With a drink in hand, eight of us (three women and five men) sat on stools in a comfortable circle and jibed, laughed, bitched until we heard a woman shout at someone over and over again.
It took me a while to realize that she was screaming at this middle aged man who had conveniently rubbed his hand against her buttocks, while she stood there talking to two friends, smoking and having a drink. I don’t know what possess a guy to violate any woman like this. I was mighty proud that she fought back, and she was handling it fabulously; hence I didn’t feel the need to intervene either.
Until, I realized all the men with her, her friends, her husband, kept telling her to CALM DOWN! And the molester, aggressively kept advancing at the woman, using words like, “aaayyyy!” pointing at her in a derogatory manner. A bouncer escorted him to a corner near the entrance of the pub, barely five feet away from her. He had an animated conversation with the bouncer, constantly pointing fingers at the woman, and the bouncer (surprise, surprise) nodded understandingly.
I sat there, contemplating, wondering if I should intervene? Support her? After all wasn’t it harassment already that she had been violated? Did she really have to go through having to witness her violator pass obvious comments on her standing among a fleet of curious men? Was she expected to remain quiet and pretend that she has already forgotten it?
Of course she wasn’t, and she didn’t. She again protested and demanded why that man was still in the establishment. Why wasn’t the bouncer kicking him out?
Amidst all this, her husband kept trying to hold her back. I guess that was when I reached my tipping point? It felt unreal watching one woman, fighting for her right to be heard and respected, and being held back by none other than her own husband and friends. Being told, over and over again to CALM THE FUCK DOWN!
Another female friend and I intervened, joining her in the shouting match. Demanding to have the man, who dared to touch her, thrown out. And somewhere in the whole fiasco, I realized that her husband even started shouting at us to CALM DOWN.
He kept saying that he had spoken to the guy. And we needed to CALM DOWN. And all we had to say to him was, “Allow your wife to speak. Allow her to vent out. Allow her to vet the justice he deserved.”
There is unity in numbers, I guess. With the inclusion of a few more women, suddenly the scenario changed and we saw the man being unceremoniously thrown out of the establishment.
We were pulled back by our friends and had the woman come and thank us for our support. And she spent a while defending that she knew it was no mistake. She knew when a man touched her unknowingly and when he did it knowingly. It was sad, because none of us asked her to justify herself.
I told her that it has happened to all of us, and she was great; fabulous, in fact.
We continued our drinks, and gossip; however, post that somewhere in my head, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that perhaps it is not just men like the violator who encroach our fundamental rights. Maybe it is our own male friends or relatives who also unknowingly treat us like fragile beings incapable of sound decisions. Especially at times like these.
This is a message for those men, who love us, who really want to protect us and who don’t get us. We have been exposed to different forms of molestation since we hit puberty or sometimes even before that. We have spent hours crying in our bath, scrubbing our body parts where we have been touched until they turn tomato red. We have come from a state where we feared men to a state where we know exactly what we will do to make sure those monsters don’t get away.
Give us respect by allowing us to speak. And don’t you tell us to CALM DOWN!
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Top image credits Christopher Dombres, used under a Creative Commons license
Writer. Artist. Dreamer...and a Coach.
Hi, I am Lakshmi Priya, but I respond better
Wonderful!!!! Women need to support each other like how you did, awesome!!!
Thank you Chitra.
Three cheers to you for your excellent narration of this incident in your post! Three times three cheers to you and your friend for throwing your weight behind this woman against the “predator” !! Many cheers for the last paragraph and the last line of your post -it couldn’t have been said any better-it’s just so spot on!! It conveys exactly why this issue is a volcano that has stayed dormant… yet seething… for long enough…far too long…!! So we will not and cannot stop its eruption! We will “calm down” NO LONGER!!! May the Force be with you!!
Thank you much Sonia.Your words mean a lot, and I really hope for that change where we stand up and fight for not just ourselves but for other women who are going through what have been through.
Nice one, Completely agree with you points. but some questions
what happened after the fight ? did the moron followed them till their house with a bunch of Goons and started harassing ? Was she secure when she was alone ? What will happen if the moron and their set of goons see the same person again when the female is alone? will the person who supported be always there ? (Provided the person is still here where the Judiciary and police cannot be trusted)
We always see only at that point, and never visualise the overall consequences and circumstances.
Thank you Gary for your feedback. As for the questions you have asked, I can understand where you are coming from. I also have a few male friends who have similar apprehensions.
And perhaps, this is the reason why eve teasing is such a blatant offence in our nation, executed in broad daylight. Let me tell why I feel we need to try and rise above such fears.
1. I have been subjected to eve teasing since I was a preteen. Having grown up in North India, it was pretty traumatic. Even though at times I fought back, it was never that I was followed back home and harassed for days. Once I moved to Mumbai, I realised my friends would react a lot differently. They would fight back every single time, and as compared to Delhi, eve teasing and molestation in Mumbai was much lesser. Maybe it was the culture, or maybe it was the fact that women there are bold enough to turn around, slap the guy and make a huge ruckus. How often do you hear cases of men following them back and acid attacks in Maharastra, as compared to a UP or Bihar?
2. Since we are talking about repercussions, road rage has repercussions too. I have often heard of cases where a nick on a bike or car has led to massive arguments, fights and even someone stabbing someone else in pure rage. However, I have never seen a man hold back from a fight on the road when his car gets a slight bump.
I hope this sheds some light on what I am trying to bring about through this write up.
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