Photo courtesy : Richard Avedon
There’s a guy walking towards me.
Do I look straight and walk? Do I look down and walk? Is my dress too tight? Is my dress too loose? Am I revealing too much? Am I covered enough? If I look up at him and walk, will he take that to be an advance? Is my facial expression impassive enough? How does he see me as? What does he see me as?
There’s a guy in the train who is standing next to me.
Do I look at him? Do I look elsewhere and conspicuously not look at him? Am I standing properly? Am I sitting properly? Is there enough distance between us as demanded by “society”?
There’s a guy I just got introduced to.
If I am friendly, will he think I am interested in him? If I am aloof will he think I am spurning him? Is he okay with my opinion on the topic that we are discussing? Is that a sore point if I don’t agree with him? If I do agree with him, will he think I am easy? If I am liberal with my opinions does that make him look at me as open-minded about everything? If I am too reserved with my opinions does that make me a pushover? If I hang out with a lot of guys, does that make me a slut? If I hang out with a lot of girls, does that make me homely? If I use a lot of swear words, is that too much against his “image-of-a-well-bred-woman”? Will these anger him? Will he react adversely?
There’s a crowded place.
Things to keep in mind – Keep hands folded across my front. Cover all possible skin that shows. Hold firmly to the male family member accompanying me. Don’t look up at anyone. Keep the gaze lowered. Don’t smile. Keep expression deadpan.
I am 28 years old. I have been this way ever since I turned 13.
Outwardly I may be confident, uber-smart and even fearless.
Inside I am sceptical, confused and scared thinking any one of my actions may go against me anytime for no fault of mine except for the biggest one.
I am a GIRL.
And you say we ask for equality?!!?!?!
I pooh-pooh my mom every time she asks me to be careful and inform her where I am every single time I am out, with whom I am with and how many of us are there. This, when I am living in a country where it is deemed safe for anyone to be out at any time of the day or night!!
To be fair, I see where her fear stems from. After all she is still living in a country where if even if you are fully covered all the time, you are still at threat of being abused. In fact anything you say or do or wear can be used against you, anytime, anywhere, for it may well be a signal for someone to advance. Irrespective of anything.
Because I am a GIRL.
And I am tired of fighting.
I am tired of fighting against groping hands, hot breath down my neck, slimy fingers, brushing of the elbow, pushing against the crowd, random pinches, dashes against my breasts, provocative stares, lewd comments and rough force.
And no this is not just about me. This is about every single one of my sex.
Treat us with a little respect. Treat us with a little dignity. Treat us as humans.
That’s all we ask!
“Woman was taken out of man; not out of his head to top him, nor out of his feet to be trampled underfoot; but out of his side to be equal to him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved” – Author Unknown!!
And with all due sarcasm, a great job is being done of it!!!