#Women – We Have All Been Abused At Least Once

 

Walk a mile in a woman’s shoes and then tell me that the tales of abuse and molestation are not true, are rare or are mere overreactions.

 

I take an Uber home every evening from M’s crèche. Now some context here. Since I travel with M alone carrying at least 2 bags, the security guards at my apartment always let my cab pass without making me get down at the gate. Normal human decency, you see. But this Monday, when I reached the gate of my apartment, one of the security guards slammed it shut. When I pulled the windows down to ask him why he did that when he had clearly seen me in the cab, he started yelling at me. He then flung open the gates and howled at the driver to make an entry all the while staring fiercely at me. Yes, he not only kept yelling but he didn’t care that I would probably complain about him to the association.

 

What gave him the courage to do that? Probably because he saw I was a woman. What harm could I do to him?

 

He didn’t stop in spite of the intervention by other security guards. They let the cab pass, apologised to me but not him. I, of course, didn’t say anything more to him. Not that I didn’t want to or that I couldn’t. I just thought that maybe I shouldn’t because he could harm me later. And now that I have a daughter, I needed to be more careful. (Papa if you are reading this, don’t worry, I’m fine.)

 

Walk a mile in a woman's shoes and then tell me that the tales of abuse and molestation are not… Click To Tweet

 

It’s very demeaning when someone behaves the way the security guard behaved with me that day. It is a kind of abuse because now I’m worried and anxious every time I go home in the evening. I hate confrontations (in spite of what S and my sister think) and the thought of him being there makes me uneasy.

 

He had the audacity to yell at me. He didn’t care that I was one of the owners in the apartment complex that employed him. He was rude, uncouth and even managed to scare me. He wouldn’t dare do that to a man. I can vouch on that.

 

Every woman faces one form of abuse or the other every other day. #Women Click To Tweet

 

I don’t usually admit that I get scared. I tend to put on a brave face. And most of the times, I do that in spite of the fear. The fear that the man I argue with might end up hurting me physically. This is a kind of passive exploitation that we women learn to live with. Sometimes we don’t even realise that we do.

 

I remember my friend telling me how an auto rickshaw driver almost came to slap her when she asked him about charging too much. Would he have dared to do that if she was a man? At least, he would have thought ten times before doing it if that were the case, I think.

 

Being yelled at by the security guard at your own apartment complex is not only demeaning but scary,… Click To Tweet

 

In every step we take, we need to be careful. We need to do so many calculations before taking that cab or going somewhere. Sometimes even wearing a particular dress. Sometimes these things happen consciously but most of the times it’s so ingrained in us that we do it subconsciously. I don’t think a man ever has to face this. And so it angers me when the incidents of abuse or molestation are brushed under the hashtag #NotAllMen or ignored as a feminist conspiracy to bash men.

 

Some years back, I was in a queue at Gorakhpur Railway station with my friends. We had gone to book tickets for going home. After an hour of standing in the queue, it would finally be our turn. But just then a burly man came up with all authority and started to put his reservation slip through the window. Do you know how much I had to calculate and contemplate before asking him to go at the end of the queue? Do you know how scared I was on the inside till I reached my hostel? That is what we live with.

 

I think every man, every woman should be a feminist to ensure that our human experiences are not… Click To Tweet

 

So, you know what, as much as it is a systematic issue, men are a part of that issue, even if not all men. As much as it is an issue fanned by the apathy of law and order establishments and this society’s thinking (which includes women), the ones making life difficult for women on the streets are also men. You cannot deny that. Some men but still men. So you cannot separate the cause, the enabler and the enforcer from the effect.

 

It is a gender issue. People dare to mistreat us women because we are women, because of our gender which they consider weak and for their enjoyment.

 

I don’t want my daughter to inherit such a society where men can’t keep it in their pants. I want her to talk and mix with people as uninhibitedly as she does now. And that’s why the feminist movement has become all the more important. I think every man, every woman should be a feminist to ensure that our human experiences are not hindered because of our gender.

 

The incidents like the ones which happened in Bangalore this New Years Eve go on to show that for a woman the fight is still on for safety, for respect and an equal and rightful place in society. That is what feminism is for. And it is a gender issue. People dare to mistreat us women because we are women, because of our gender which they consider weak and for their enjoyment.

 

It angers me when the incidents of abuse or molestation are brushed under the hashtag #NotAllMen or ignored as a feminist conspiracy to bash men.

 

Please do not mock these cases of abuse and molestation of women. Every woman faces one form of it or the other at least once in her life. And it is almost always more than once. If being yelled at by a security guard can make me feel so disturbed, imagine what happens to women who go through far more.

 

Think about it.

 

15 thoughts on “#Women – We Have All Been Abused At Least Once

  1. Absolutely with you on this Nabanita. I have been there myself…and as the years go, I feel more and more apprehensive about what all we women might have to contend with, if this is the way things continue unabated. I totally understand how you feel when someone who is supposed to look after your safety, ends up making you feel so unsafe. Quite a shocker reading about it. Reminded me of what I faced years ago…. of being groped and pinched by a group of men while boarding a train, even while accompanied by my dad. To my teen mind, the minute-long horror felt like an eternity. It also left a lasting impact on my psyche. I’ve never ever got over it, to be honest. For someone who has never been scared of traveling alone, the thought of boarding a crowded train still gives me jitters.

  2. Hey, I agree with you, we all have gone through moments of abuse and we do so much calculations before reverting. But we have to stay strong and not let this fear grow inside us. Sad to know abt the security guard incidence.

  3. One of the most sensible, sensitive thoughtful and thought provoking posts I have read in a long time, Naba.
    What saddens me is that we women take it all in our stride and go on with life, till some incident happens and refreshes our memories.

  4. I completely agree with what you are saying. We are scared of confrontation. We get glared at. We ignore casual brushes, leery glances. It is just terrible. And then instead of addressing the issue we see people branching out to non-issues. Just such a tragedy.

  5. It is so sad that we’ve nurtured a culture that supports total gender bias. While there has been change over the years, the forward thinkers are few and far between. Even the “feminists” sometimes lead double lives — one at home and one in public. When I had a corporate job, I was the only woman on the sales team and had to put up with a lot of *#&@

    Hugs, Naba. Sorry you had to go through that scene with the guard.

  6. Every single day….just because I am a woman, I need to face something that my male counterpart does not. Be it the roads, the shopkeepers and sometimes, even co-workers. I deal with it in different ways…sometimes silence, sometimes escalation….it irks me that my daughter might face the same too. Just getting her aware of how to stay strong when it happens.

  7. I agree with you.
    I’ve been there. It’s not restricted to a place or people, it’s the same everywhere.
    Women have been restrained and dominated for a reason, our sensitivity is taking us back .

  8. Our culture of the coy, controlled woman makes it really difficult to speak up in such times. Like you said, we need to think not twice, but a hundred times before we open our mouths. There are so many risks that face us, simply because we are women. It’s everywhere – at school, at the workplace, on the roads, at weddings – everywhere, and it’s simply sickening.

  9. Things are going from bad to worse. I feel educating the men is the only solution. And when I mean education, its not school education. Its at home where the parents don’t spare the rod when their “boy child” misbehaves. Teaching the right values at the right time is the key word.

  10. if putting an end to this means feminism, let us all be feminists, I so agree with you Naba.. From Allahabad to Tiruchirapalli, having grown up in 8 states, I have faced it everywhere. Sometimes I did give a fight back but as a school or college girl who stayed in a hostel, it was truly painful. I did not even tell my parents.
    Having said that, I would also really like to highlight that this was not the scenario wherever I worked abroad…Why is the Indian mentality so crippled, we are Women outside India too.

  11. Yes, they won’t dare to abuse men in this matter … they know that women don’t fight back, that women think a thousand times before confronting and that’s why men dare to disrespect women in all disgusting ways possible. I hate these hashtags … If men were to face abuse like this, experience such fear, probably they would have been more sensitive. I am sorry you have to confront that security guard everyday 🙁

  12. I cringe each time I remember all the times I was misbehaved with, or abused (in childhood). It sends shivers down my spine just thinking about the situation women find themselves in, like the one at Bengaluru. Try as I might, I am unable to fathom why men behave the way they do! Would they molest their sisters/mothers? On second thoughts, I shouldn’t be wondering it at all; they might be doing it, in fact! And, the way the world is going on and on about how it’s we who are responsible for everything that’s happening with us, I really have no hopes for our future,. They say we ought to be alert and brave and all that. But, why can’t they teach their boys to behave better? Do they have any inkling how terrifying it can be when in such a situation? I do feel stupid when I think about the times I didn’t protest/fight back. I was scared, petrified. And, now, after reading about all that goes on out there, I feel I am better off at home. Safe and secure.

  13. Every tweet, status and blog post I read on the subject affirms the fact that our gender is at a disadvantage. Men are getting more empowered as you say and when we say/do nothing, it emboldens them further. As I mentioned on Rachna’s post, we need stricter action, more punitive laws and consequences that will strike fear in the hearts of would-be perpetrators. Till then, we’re basically hanging on to hope and the decent men in our lives for our own safety.

  14. The thing is even though all of us have faced exploitation in one way or the other, we do not talk or write about it. That is why I loved this post since you echoed everything I had to say. I am currently reading Simone Beauvoir’s book ‘Second Sex’ and it deals with women’s oppression towards history. We have to stand up and finally say #nomore.

  15. A friend and I were talking on this topic recently and I agree with what she said. She said if a woman can pepper spray on someone’s face, prick safety pins, punch and run, shout and alert – men would start fearing. We need to make them feel that even women can attack. For men, women are easy targets and we can’t be the easy ones. I do agree there. While laws will come in, I think there is a need to fight back. I don’t know how would have I reacted to the security guard but in hindsight, may be getting off the cab, asking his name, calling the association president then and there and hence, teaching him the lesson that he can’t be rude would have been a way. Thinking aloud and I know even I may not have been able but we need to try Naba and fight for ourselves.

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