Our concern might actually be perpetuating misogyny
What do you tell your daughter when she comes to you saying a group of men on the road leered at her and passed lewd comments?
What do you tell your sister when she complains that the way her manager tries to get cozy at work makes her feel unsafe and uncomfortable?
What do you tell your best friend when she confides in you that a man had touched her inappropriately on the bus ride back home?
If your answer to either of these is “Things like this happen. It is better to stay quiet and pretend as if everything is alright,” then you need to read this post.
Sometimes, It’s the Women Defending Patriarchy
Some days back, I wrote a post about how frustrating it was to be a woman. I shared my story of how a man had once cornered me in an empty street, groped at my boobs, then sped away on his bike, leering at me as if what he did deserved a Nobel prize.
I had written about how helpless the incident made me feel, that I stood rooted to the spot, unable to cry or shout, unable to retaliate, letting the stranger make me feel bad about my own body.
I wrote about how I never shared this with my parents about how I just went home and cried in the shower.
A man had commented on the post saying that because I was a woman, I should expect something like this every time I step out of my home. “Men will be men,” he added.
This was not only an insult to women but also to every man who would never touch a woman against her consent.
I lashed out at the injustice of this in another post. The response to my views was mostly positive, but what shook me, was another comment, made not by a man, but by a woman.
The person writing that comment is not good in English. Probably he didn’t convey his thoughts properly. You know how I got the gist of that comment? “There will be always men like that. So please don’t lose courage. Be brave; otherwise, you won’t be able to go out every day”
This sounds better, yes.
But doesn’t what she said translate to- “There’s no use fighting. Stay quiet and let the world bleed you”?
A Possible Alternative
Just because I am a woman, why should I stay quiet and let some pervert have his way with my body?
If it were a man telling you he was molested by another man, what would you have advised him?
“Are you insane? You should have whopped his ass,” or something similar, right?
Then, why would you advise a woman to turn a blind eye to this and stay quiet?
I think a better response to a situation like this could be -
Next time something like this happens, be strong and take some action
Scream, throw a stone, kick his balls, slap him in the face, take a photograph of his face, scold him — do something. Each time you stay silent, that asshole gets the courage to believe that it is OKAY to touch a woman against her consent. He feels he can do anything and get away with it. Do you really want to perpetuate something like that?”
In other words, “Are you insane? You should have whopped his ass!”
The coward’s way out
I feel being quiet and pretending nothing happened is a coward’s way out. It isn’t misogyny. It is settling. It is not having enough self-respect to believe that one is capable of bringing change in the world.
Asking someone to be brave is ok. Asking them to stay quiet is not.
And, if you keep telling the women around you to turn a blind eye to molestation, you are only encouraging the perverts in the society.
Change doesn’t come by remaining silent.
Change comes when more men and women come together and speak about how WRONG it is to catcall a woman or touch her without her consent.
Next time you feel the need to tell a woman to “Calm down,” pause for a moment and think: do you have her best interests in your heart or are you simply perpetuating misogyny because changing the status quo might make you lose your privilege?
Here is another story you might enjoy: