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Public Spaces Are Not Just For Men! The Sense Of Entitlement Must Go!

Posted: November 30, 2017

Public spaces are not just for men; they are for women too. Ladies! It is time for a revolution. It is time to reclaim our right to public spaces.

“Why do men tend to spread themselves all over the place when they are sitting in public transport?” asked a visibly irate friend of mine whom I was meeting for coffee. Frankly speaking, I was quite taken aback by the question, not knowing where it was coming from. I started prodding her on the incident that might have triggered this question. What she told me made me think.

To avoid the frustrating rush hour traffic on the roads, R had taken the metro. This man sitting next to her was reading a newspaper, with his hands resting on both the arm rests. My friend was finding it inconvenient, so she asked him if he could shift his hand a little so that she too could use the arm-rest. Legit request! Instead of obliging, as he should have given that he was on public transport, he threw an appalled look at R, you know that “how could you even think of making such a request” look, and went back to reading his newspaper. When asked again, he REFUSED outright! There was no point asking him again, so R decided to stay quiet for the rest of the journey.

The incident got me thinking — this man was in a public space, using public transport, yet the sense of entitlement he was having, just because he was a man, was to say the least, shocking! But having said that, don’t men always have that in India — like they OWN that place and if a woman is using it, then well — it is because they have taken pity on her and have ALLOWED her to do so! Oh men! You kind men! What would we do without your kindness!!

Last week, we had our weekly #Womenonthemove chat over at Twitter, where we discussed why men have this sense of entitlement to public spaces — be it a tea shop beside the road, or on the public transport and in fact even in board rooms. Why do men think the space BELONGS to them and women are just trespassing on their space. This is what they said.

(If you’re not yet following Women’s Web on Twitter, do now, and you can come over for the chat too, every Wednesday 6-7PM IST).

Things women face and hear when in a public space or about to step into one

Ogling — The nation’s favorite passtime!

Ladies’ compartment is for ladies! Why are you here, eh?

BHAI ko le ja!

Yes! Bhai bana superbhai!

You are married! You don’t look like!

Like as if looking married will ensure a woman’s safety! Duh!

Behave like a lady!

‘Good girls’ shouldn’t be heard lest they might attract attention! Then you cannot say that the men behaved in an inappropriate manner, okay! “You asked for it!”

Be back before dark, dress decently and more!

The concern might be genuine, sometimes, but most of the times they are driven by stereotypes. If men are unable to control their libido, why tell women not to go out? Tell the men, no!

But you see “men will be men”, they won’t listen. So police the woman!

And what do women do when they are handed out a whole list of “good girls do this” list? Do they rebel or just accept it as being said ‘for their own good’ and keep quiet? Let’s find out:

Safety is important

Yes, unfortunately, given the safety conditions in towns and cities!

To go or not to go — the choice is ours. Because eh! No one decides for me!

#WomenOnTheMove make a point!

Last but not the least, why do men have this sense of entitlement?

Image: Pixabay

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