Women don’t need an instruction manual on how to behave in society. We have it memorized.
We were given that manual when we were mere children, not old enough or even mature enough to understand the sexual nuances of a simple touch.
The concern that people have for women’s safety in this country is justifiable, and yet it is so misplaced. Stop policing women on how they ought to dress in order to prevent rape. Stop telling them how they need to act in public, how they need to wear their hair and what kind of clothes they need to avoid wearing in order to avoid the attention of rapists. And most of all stop telling women that they need to learn martial arts to protect themselves. Why is the onus of someone else violating our bodies put upon us?
Why is this fear of us losing control over our bodies instilled in us since day 1?
Why do little 9 year olds know that jutting their elbows out while walking in crowded spaces will discourage strangers from touching them? Why are14 year old girls carrying chilli powder packets and pepper sprays in their bags? Why are grown women afraid of walking home alone late at night, desperately wedging keys between their fingers to use as a weapon against sexual predators?
I am all for stricter law enforcement, severe and capital punishments for the rapists, but what good are these if all they will do is simply establish a fear of authority but never create an understanding of why one person should respect another person’s choices and their body.
We cannot ignore the fact that along with all these measures, real change will only occur if we begin at the grassroot level. In our homes. Within our families. Amongst our friend circles. Within the system itself.
As people of sense, it’s our responsibility to spread awareness amongst ours and the next generation. Here’s what we can do at our level:
We can start by teaching our little cousins and nephews about consent. Tell them that when a woman or anyone else for that matter, says no, it’s not an invitation to pursue them, unlike what most of Bollywood movies and media tells us.
If they ask you questions about sex, do not cower away, answer them sincerely, create a safe space for them to ask doubts, have an open discussion about it. It’s important they know that sex is an extremely normal part of life.
We have to start calling out our friends, cousins, uncles, fathers on their rape jokes and sexist jokes. Open a conversation with them about how making light of these matters makes them sound trivial because, one person’s joke is another person’s validation.
Stop condoning content that perpetuates or glorifies sexism, misogyny, non-consensual activities. This one is difficult considering how everything has sexist undertones these days, but we can definitely try to steer clear of it.
But most of all, we have to start teaching our men that women are not their “property”, that this whole concept of “woh meri bandi hai”, “she’s mine”, “she belongs to me”, that media has perpetuated over the years is utter rubbish because every human is born free on this planet, every human is born as an equal on this planet.
And honestly, that’s all women want. To be treated not as sex objects, but as humans, as equals.
The blog is written by Ardra, a Youth Champion from India in the wake of increasing incidents of rape in India (The recent rape cases that shook India) and as a response to the idea of one-point justice, being demanded by angry citizens, but who fail to realize it as an outcome of consistent and in many cases, structured rape culture.