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An open letter to all the people who make light of sexual harassment! Put yourselves in an ordinary woman’s shoes – sexual harassment is not a joke!
Dear Clueless Person,
Have you ever woken up with a dream that assaulted and infringed your integrity? So haunting that it daunted you for an entire day? Or maybe even after that? Or have you ever had the same fear of exposure of your own self or of somebody close to you to such a situation in real life? Does it make you cringe and boil when somebody comes and intentionally rubs against or gropes your private parts? Does it infuriate you further, when you are not treated as anything more than a mere sexual object to satiate somebody else’s lust?
Well, these are some of those things which have become an inevitable part of an average woman’s existence. She wakes up with the baggage of such fears on her shoulders every day. She carries them relentlessly throughout the day, across the streets, and among the people that she mixes with. The cold, fearful feeling does not go away even while she goes off to sleep at night, thinking, subconsciously if not loudly, “Thank God! I made my way though another day!”
She would, at some point in time, dress up in an Indian way, wearing saree, salwar-kameez with a dupatta, a ghoonghat or a burqa, disbanding the western jeans, short skirts, crop-tops and bikini, so as to not incite the animal in the potential rapists around her.
She would self impose curfews, at times, to avoid the possibility of becoming a bait to the lurking dogs around her.
She would wear subtle makeup at crowded public places (like Delhi Metro), as against her favourite bright red or pink lipstick, so as to not come under the radar of any ogler.
She would maintain distance with her male colleagues and friends, by not talking late at night or avoiding any sexual advances, to avoid the possibility of being taken for granted for a slut.
She would sacrifice her carrier options, such as journalism, which would require her physical and mental labour at hours away from the day light’s and people’s safeguard. And all this she does in vain, oblivion to the source of the problem that lies not within her but with the patriarchal mindset of the society.
Now whether a bunch of male chauvinist or patriarchal junk might understand this or not, the sexuality of a woman, or for that matter any person, has become a very pertinent and prominent part of her integrity and dignity. And as the celebrated feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, rightly and on the point had put it- “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman”.
Thus, even if the woman would rather be considered a human being first, society will not let her be, looking at women through the gender lens for everything. Making it a daily battle for her to protect her identity, dignity, and integrity. Something which, ultimately, comes at the mercy of ‘the men’ who assume the role of either a ‘protector’ or a ‘violator’.
The purpose here is to not make out women as victims or men as culprits – it’s just to give a reality check on how things exist on ground for the women, whose progress as a human being is often limited by these matters.
P.S. – Bangalore at shame for mass molestation. The society further at shame for #NotAllMen.
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