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Have you ever wondered why women who are jogging in a slightly deserted park only have their headphones on in one ear?
I am tired. Tired, not of what we are subject to everyday, but tired of listening to you calling us “toxic feminists” who keep “cribbing about men”. I am tired of listening to your unsolicited advice about how we should “take care and be responsible” for our own safety. Tired of how our very presence as a “feminist” triggers you.
So let me tell you what it is like to be a woman.
Do you know we never step out of home without something with which to defend ourselves in case we are attacked? It could be pepper spray, a Swiss Army knife, or a key held as a knuckle duster; we are always prepared.
If someone taps on your shoulder, we’ve seen you turn around to with a smile to greet a friend. Never do that to a woman- her nerves are so taut in public spaces, she may just swing around and punch you.
While using public transport, a woman is constantly on guard. If a man is making her feel uncomfortable, she often strikes up a conversation with a random woman so it appears neither is alone and vulnerable. She is also constantly looking out for other women- for that slight change in body language that tells her that the other person is uncomfortable with the attention she is receiving from a man.
Before getting into a cab at night, a woman almost always makes a call to a friend and passes on the license number. Sometimes she even conducts a one-sided conversation so the cab driver doesn’t try any fancy tricks with her.
You might have seen those “independent women” enjoying a night out together. The last thing they tell each other before leaving is not “tonight was fun, we should get together again”, but “message me after you reach home”. None of them relaxes till all the others confirm they reached home safely.
Before using an empty public washroom, a woman checks that the outer door cannot be locked from inside (in case a man traps her in alone with him), that there are no open windows (from which someone can come in) and that the cubicle door bolts securely. If she doesn’t feel safe, she doesn’t use the washroom- she holds it she finds another one.
When she is traveling alone (whether on work or pleasure), a woman checks out reviews from other single women travellers before making hotel reservations. However wonderful the hotel, she doesn’t make bookings unless it is certified “safe” by others of her gender.
Do you know how many otherwise independent women have NEVER dined alone at a restaurant because of how uncomfortable it gets. You know many restaurants have a separate “family room”, ever wondered why?
Do you know women sometimes book two tickets at the theatre only to ensure that someone obnoxious doesn’t sit in the next seat. Do you know how often a woman in the middle seat on the plane has men leaning into her from both sides?
Do you know almost every woman pushes the desk against the door when she is staying alone in a hotel?
Do you know there isn’t a single woman who doesn’t have an SOS number on speed dial on her phone?
Do you know we have escape plans in place whenever we are alone in an unknown place?
These are just some of the things you do not know, dear Men.
But now that you do know, instead of accusing us of cribbing, do you think you could do something to make things a teeny bit safer for us?
An Extremely Tired Women
Image source: a still from short Hindi film Detour
Natasha works in the development sector, where most of her experience has been in Education and Livelihoods. She is passionate about working towards gender equity, sustainability and positive climate action. And avid reader and occasional read more...
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