Men Have Hurled Rape Threats At Me, But They Can’t Stop Me From Speaking Up Or Living My Life!

Every day is a new battle against patriarchy. Some battles are tough, some battles push me to the brink of despair, but the only thing that is constant is my voice of resistance.

Trigger Warning: This has descriptions of child sexual abuse and violence against women, and may be triggering for survivors.

As a low-key, extremely private person, I seldom write anything about myself, but on days when I do, my writing emerges from a place of tremendous grief.

The past 5 months have been nothing short of a nightmare and every day, I am astounded by the magnitude of the suffering women endure just for being women.

I’m glad that I studied among peers who not only believed in equality but also fought for the rights of women, and most of them were men. Yes, my peers were men who respected women and asked me to never put up with the hostility of other men. Hence it’s a little too hard to process that most men that I’ve encountered outside the educational space have scrutinised my identity as a woman and a feminist to the finest detail.

Let me speak about the prejudice I’ve faced over the last 5 months.

Rape threats aren’t funny!

No bro, rape threats aren’t funny and it only displays your sick mentality!

Rape culture is so ingrained in our society that it permeates every aspect of our lives – Look at mainstream films delivering rape jokes in the name of entertainment, insensitive news anchors shaming the victims to push the TRPs, sexist TV ads, comedy shows denouncing women I mean at what point does one not get it that these are not humour? What kind of sick mentality does one possess to crack rape jokes and laugh at it?

I remember one such nightmarish instance while presenting a seminar in a room full of men who were gawking, passing vile comments, humiliating me, and belittling me and my work. After the seminar, I walked out fearlessly and managed to not break down in front of them. Oh dear lord, how did I manage to stand that toxicity?

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One of them said “Arrey ye feminist hai, aise ladkiyon ki waje se samaaj bigad raha hai,’ (She is a feminist; it’s because of such girls that society is getting spoiled). Another one slut shamed me, and someone else belittled my work and hurled rape threats while rest of them laughed at it.

What was so funny about a rape threat? I mean, a group of men staring at me, laughing at me while envisioning me being raped is not funny; it’s terrifying.

I did not deserve that humiliation

My best friend said if they don’t consider you worthy enough to offer a seat, make your own table.

I question the norms that have been fed to me since birth labeled in bold “Ladki ho: tumse ye nahi hoga,” (You are a girl, you cannot do this).

The minute I stepped out of the room, I realised how brave I was to stand up in front of that toxicity, for someone who suffers from imposter syndrome, who is often anxious around people. At that moment I felt multitude of emotions and what I do know is that I did not deserve that humiliation.

I constantly wonder if I will ever be respected for my work or for the knowledge I possess. I wonder when will this kind of abuse end and how much longer do I have to put up with this? Would people look at me past the surface of just a pretty face? The question seethes through my teeth, but the patriarchy’s iron fist only grows stronger and stronger.

I anxiously called up my best friend who was miles away and her one little sentence comforted my soul. She referred to a little quote by Meghan Markle: “It’s a man’s world sweetheart, if they don’t offer you a seat, make your own fabulous table.”

And that’s when I decided, I will not tolerate even one bit of such prejudice. So I ran from that place in goddamn fucking heels until I got home around 8:30 p.m. I didn’t run because I was afraid; I ran because I wanted to be free, a run towards liberation.

I’ve faced more than this at 16

Every day is a new battle against patriarchy. Some battles are tough, some battles push me to the brink of despair, but the only thing that is constant is my voice of resistance.

This isn’t the first time a man hurled a rape threat at me.

I was 16 when a man threatened to throw acid at me, if I did not reciprocate his love. I was 16 when I was slut shamed. I was 16 when a 45-year-old man tried to touch me inappropriately. I was 16 when the same 45-year-old man called up my mother and said your daughter is a distraction and you women are the destruction of the human race. I was 16 when I was nearly beaten to death for calling out abuse. Even after 8 years, nothing much has changed; most days, it’s the same thing with different faces.

Every day is a new battle against patriarchy and these angry old men know how to suppress the fighters. But they don’t how to stop me from writing, reading, laughing, and speaking up. They’ve nothing in their box to counter this; and this is my strength, and I have it in endless amounts.

But I won’t give up!

I write as a mere act of resistance, resistance against hopelessness, suppression, patriarchy.

Men often question why I read so much, and they ridicule me by stating, “Do you want to be a revolutionary?”

So now whenever a man asks me that question, I recite a poem by Kamla Bhasin (transliterated and translated from Hindi)

Muje apne pao chalna hai so padhna hai,
Muje apne darr se ladna hai so padhna hai, 
Kahi zor zulm ko samajhna hai so padhna hai, 
Kahi kanoon ko parakhna hai so padhna hai 
Muje sab kuch hi toh badalna hai so padhna hai 
Kyunki mein ladki hu muje padhna hai. 

I want to stand on my own feet and hence I want to read
I want to fight my fears, and hence I want to read
I want to understand several prejudices and abuses, and hence I want to read
I want to understand several laws, and hence I want to read
I want to change everything around me, and hence I want to read
Because I am a woman, I want to read!

This article was not written to elucidate sympathy or to draw attention to my plight. On days when I cannot speak, I write as a mere act of resistance; resistance against hopelessness, suppression, patriarchy.

Image source: shutterstock

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