Just a few days after I proudly announced to a few visiting relatives that Delhi isn't as bad as it is portrayed to be when it comes to women's safety, I was rudely made aware that I was so wrong. A casual trip to a bank with a friend followed by a man's casual but very deliberate brushing against my breast made me realise that I was just being naïve when I made that statement. What I should have said is that all cities in India are bad. Hell, I'm pretty certain the entire world is bad when it comes to how women are treated. Nothing has changed, and I'm afraid nothing will change for a long time to come. (Some) men will always be pigs (I use the word "some" because of all that #NotAllMen bullshit).
When I was studying in Lucknow, many light years ago, I cannot count the number of times I was sexually harassed, groped or stalked, and each time an "incident" happened, I quickly tried to get away from the situation and proceeded to pretend that nothing had happened. I wish I had the gumption to "make a scene" and haul the perpetrators to the police station but I never did. I neatly packed the frustration in a small compartment in my head, hoping I would never have to open the box again.
And today, even when I'm so much older and so much wiser (this one is up for contention), I still run away and pretend nothing happened. This spinelessness makes me want to hurl. Perhaps the reason I've not been groped in a while is because I have subconsciously altered my lifestyle to a more sheltered one. I do not go to crowded areas, I avoid going out at night alone, I avoid using public transport, I guess I avoid anything that involves unknown men in close proximity. And for that too I am ashamed. Why should I change the way I live for others?
I'm ashamed because no one told me to "not create a scene". In fact, if anything, my mother used to yell at me for not yelling at my tormenters. I'm ashamed because I am scared. I'm ashamed that every time anything happens I am the one who feels embarrassed. Why is it that I feel ashamed when a man abuses me, I know not, but it happens and I just can't change that—God knows I've tried.
Sadly, I bet there is not one woman out there who has not gone through this hell so why am I writing this post, you ask? Well, I write this just to thank the numerous women who do stand up for themselves. I write this to tell them that every time I read or hear of a woman who beats the crap out of a man for abusing her, I'm filled with pride. Perhaps one day I too will stand up for myself and not cower in the corner, but till that day arrives I would like to tell these women how much I look up to them and how much I want to be like them. I want to tell them that they are an inspiration to us wusses.
May the force be with them!