I was seething inside. But I stayed away. Till today.
I went to a friends place a couple of weeks back. He cracked a joke, giving a disclaimer that it's distasteful. "After the Delhi gangrape Mayawati and Sushma Swaraj board buses in Delhi every night, feeling hopeful." It twisted my gut. And yet I was quiet. Then yesterday as I sat in the car waiting for my sister to come out of a shop, my doors locked to be safe I heard some asshole on the radio say "veera aur uska saathi khoon mein latpath road pe nange pade rahe"...the tone of voice, sensationalising it all...it just broke something within.
I am struck by this blinding red rage. I feel like calling out to every man passing by and saying How Dare You??? How dare you crack a joke like that? It's not distasteful, it's as good as you being on that bus, being one of them. How dare you sensationalise something that you can't even begin to imagine? How dare you say you respect women when you tell your wife she doesn't need to work because your career is more important and then tell her she doesn't deserve your money because all she is doing is washing clothes, cooking and keeping home!
For every woman, at least every Indian woman, the fact that she may at any time at any place and by anyone be touched, molested or raped is a hard reality. I know that I have always carried it in me. There is always a part of the brain, no matter how big or small, that knows you are never completely safe. Within the home or outside.
I remember being told as a young girl to be "careful" every time we had male relatives visiting. I never understood what it meant. These were my uncles, brothers. They were fun people. What was I supposed to be careful about? No one told me that. They just said you'll know when to be careful. A shroud of mystery around the whispered words.
As I grew and started understanding, too early, what the words rape and molestation meant I always wondered how I would react in the situation. I would sit and imagine it in detail, in my innocence thinking it would be better if I gave in just so that I could come out alive. And maybe if I gave in I could ask HIM to put on a condom, maybe clean up and being pleased at my acquiescence not hit me. Then once I was out I would report him. Never in all those thoughts did iron rods and sharp knives up the vagina feature. Never did I think another human being could be so barbaric.
It fills me with anger and frustration that I had to think that, plan it out in such minute detail. It makes me livid that no man has ever had to think that. He's never had to wonder when he steps out whether today that man rubbing up against him in a DTC bus will stop with a stony stare or will attack him and violate him, his body, his spirit, in the most violent way. Maybe that's why you'll hear a man crack rape jokes and never a woman.
I'm not usually the ball-buster type. But today I am. I am filled with an all consuming anger. Outrage which is pouring out of my molecules. And it runs deep as it always does when bottled up over time.
I want to tell all women, let's march out naked. Let's ask them to bring on their worst. How many of us will they rape, how many of us will they murder? How long will we sit quiet and do what our father, brother and husband say?
I've gone for enough talks on feminism, patriarchy, the male gaze and all of that. I want to know why we sit on our ass and intellectually masturbate. I want to ask men...WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? What entitles you to be this way? Why don't you have the balls to respect a woman, a strong, intelligent woman? Why do your mothers, girlfriends and wives always have to be subservient? If you're such a "Man" come on out. Hit the streets and tell us what you think, what words like patriarchy and the male gaze mean to you. I want to know and I have a right to know!
I'm mothering a son, and I know it is my responsibility to make sure he grows into a sensitive, respectful adult who sees men and women as equals. I call out to all mothers and say, do the same for your sons.
Till then, all you idiots with your heads shoved up your backside, NO we won't disappear, we will wear short skirts, we'll go out with whichever guy we want and very well have sex before during and after our marriage when and with whom we please, we will study and work, we will party late and hard, we will say no to whomever and whatever we want. You cannot not stop us. Not now, not ever.
And if you're so terrified for our safety and so respectful of us, don't stop us from going out after dark, make sure every male who goes out after dark is accompanied by a woman. You'll be surprised at the sudden drop in crimes against women.
Get your men in control. Cos we women have had enough.