I was reading Tina Fey’s memoir, Bossy Pants and in one of the first chapters she speaks of discussing with a group of women the question, “When did you first know you were a woman?”
She writes, “The group of women was racially and economically diverse, but the answers had a very similar theme. Almost everyone first realized they were becoming a grown woman when some dude did something nasty to them. “I was walking home from ballet and a guy in a car yelled, ‘Lick me!’” “I was babysitting my younger cousins when a guy drove by and yelled, ‘Nice ass.’” There were pretty much zero examples like “I first knew I was a woman when my mother and father took me out to dinner to celebrate my success on the debate team.” It was mostly men yelling shit from cars. Are they a patrol sent out to let girls know they’ve crossed into puberty? If so, it’s working.””
The reason I bring this up is because a few days back when I was traveling by bus, an elderly man on an adjacent seat asked me, “So, what brand of perfume are you wearing today?” I wasn’t as mad as I was appalled, saddened and almost silenced by the most random statement that could ever be made by an absolute stranger.
I feel sorry for the fact that at times, instead of celebrating womanhood, we end up feeling quite dejected by it. By that racer-back top or the bright pink lipstick and the dark-kohl which we can’t do without quite often.
And to that bright, balding man I must ask, “What were you thinking really?” and do you really have to say something nonsensical to someone less than half your age because you simply can?
When a successful actress like Deepika Padukone can be objectified by the “largest selling newspaper in the world” or when Jennifer Lawrence’s nude photos are splashed across the web -to the perpetrators I ask, what were you thinking?
What is that hedonistic pleasure that you get by invading someone’s privacy, traumatising them or even questioning them on their choice of attire because really, it’s none of your business? And when, we as consumers allow this to happen, when we click the mouse on that link, we play the much-required part to make these people or organizations feel that this is the content we are asking for and THIS is what we deserve.
And this is perhaps why when a pervert pinches your buttocks and vanishes in the crowd at a railway station it dismantles you but what he probably feels is a brazen euphoria. I mean, if Honey Singh can swoon over Sunny Leone singing Char Botal Vodka, you could very well molest or letch at an unknown person. Totally doable.
And to you, I wouldn’t even bother reminding of your mother and sister because clearly you care zilch about them. Or even hope for you to have a conscience, because then I’ll be trying to invest in the prospect of you being a decent human being. Which lets face it, you never are, and never will be.
But hear this, for the umpteenth time, ITS NOT OKAY. To ask unpleasant questions, to make an unsavoury remark, to dismiss a person because it makes you feel invincible. Its not okay that you decided to grope me, when I was barely in my teens and shatter my self-confidence and sense of being.
To make women feel safe or even to pretend that you care, you have to understand that are not they are not commodities which come with an expiration date. They have hearts, minds and YES, bodies which will open up to another person ONLY when they want to. By trespassing, passing comments you will only be alienated by the prospect of being truly admired by a beautiful person, who could be self-doubting but does not need you to make it worse.
And to those who want to make it count, instead of opening the door for her next time, fight for her, fight for her opinions and love her for it. Fight for her happiness, fight for your happiness and the next time someone circles a woman’s cleavage on a national daily (because how else could you have spotted it!), make a choice, and subscribe to a different paper. And when a friend spams you with “hot photos” of Oscar-winning actresses, realise the fact that the photos didn’t reach you with her consent. Un-friend the friend and move on.
Let’s hope that we all manage to love kindly, with discretion and the possibility of imbibing the fact that we are nothing without an open mind, and of course a fabulous dressing sense, both of which can never be compromised with.