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Women need to be wary of whom they trust, simply because society, even family members, think nothing of riding roughshod over their trust.
“Trust”- it’s a big word for everyone, and even bigger for a woman. We are socialized to not trust others- strangers- men- of all ages. But our trust can be broken by anyone; human perversion exists in every inch of the realm we exist in. But as women whom can we trust?
It has happened with me and surely it has happened with most women. As women we are harassed on the streets- ‘eve teased’. We are groped in crowded buses or trains; in a moment of your vulnerability, perhaps when you are drunk, a male friend might try to touch you without your consent. It might also happen that someone you meet online can harass and threaten you. You might be sent unwanted pictures. Shockingly even the person you choose to open yourself to might break your trust at some point- and yet you might choose to overlook the episode because you consider him too close to be capable of violating you.
My personal encounters with trust breakers started from a young age- male teachers of my school. Male teachers would often hit on female students back in the school I studied in. At that time it didn’t stand out. But thinking of it retrospectively- I believe those were the first moments when I felt the unease at the actions of people of the opposite gender.
I remember as a child being groped in a train as I lay half asleep on the train bunk. I was too young to understand why men would try to touch me in certain places. I remember one instance at the age of 10, as I walked on a crowded platform, my mother by my side holding my hand, a man with a baby on his arm touching me several times. As I grew so did my share of stories of trust breakers- strangers, friends.
Then came the #metoo movement. Countless women posted #metoo on their Facebook timelines. But how much is too much?
I remember being asked in an interview once, “Why are you opting for this, why not marriage instead?” I felt mute rage, but I could only manage to answer cockily, “I have no plans to get married this young”. Would the same interviewer ask a male applicant the same question? Funny part is, it wasn’t a job interview; my plans for marriage wouldn’t in any way matter to the organization I was applying to for a short term engagement. But why should a woman be asked such a question and not something more relevant like, “Why are you not pursuing MBA or research instead applying here?”
I remember one time when I walked into a doctor’s chamber and told him that I found it difficult to swallow pills and so I would prefer liquids instead of pills, the doctor upon hearing me, exclaimed angrily, “You can’t swallow pills! Don’t you realize at your age women get married?”
Every time I was unable to do something, I’m reminded by not only strangers but also people close to me, that at my age many women get married and that they are managing whole households. Why can’t I be given some examples of women of my age who are successful in their careers or in any other field? Often times I would be reminded that my own grandmother got married at the age of 14 and already had children at my age. In no way do I disregard the value added by women to their household after marriage but I don’t believe success at household management post marriage to be the ultimate test of a woman’s capabilities.
I remember one time, when a classmate from school whom I haven’t talked to for a long time, harassed me online- unprovoked. I remember times when I have been similarly harassed online by strangers- which wasn’t as bad as being harassed by someone you know from childhood. So whom can I trust?
We women inhabit a dangerous place- we are surrounded by potential harassers. At all times we have to navigate our way warily, avoiding these harassers. In our lives we encounter countless trust breakers- and we must learn not only to evade them but also to fight them when need be.
Published here earlier.
Image source: shutterstock
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