It was a regular Saturday morning, and I was passionately hating Mumbai University for making us attend lectures on a day that was meant for lazing in bed. But we were going to study mental disorders and I looked forward to the fascinating case studies. My world revolves around the DSM-5 and there is nothing in it I don’t feel curious about.
A friend and I were walking down the railway station and towards our college, talking and laughing like college students do. We were happy in our own world, in our own little bubble. Until a man decided to creep inches close to my ears and whisper “condoms”. Condoms. Furious, I turned back and saw the man staring us down. I took a few steps and gave him my middle finger, mostly because I didn’t know how to react. A few moments later, I turned back and saw him stare us down from the same place we had been in. I gave him two middle fingers, and he climbed inside a train.
No, it wasn’t a big deal. Why am I making a fuss about it, right? He didn’t touch me. He didn’t physically harm me. He didn’t even escalate the situation when I countered back. And yes, I shouldn’t have been so crude to him, right? After all, it’s just a little fun asking random girls for condoms.
And here is the problem. We, as girls, face men like him on a daily basis. Someone will stare at our legs as we walk or at our cleavage when we sit down and read a book and they will try to grab our ass when we stand to grab a sandwich from a hawker and it virtually never stops. From the moment I have company, I am very aware of the dangers of this world. I become aware of my surroundings and have a radar to spot any threats.
The society that we live in is profoundly more hostile for us than for men, and it is a pity to see half the world’s population think twice about their clothes and make up before they step out into the world. I should have the right to walk down the street with the same amount of assurance and safety that any other person enjoys. I should not have to be self-conscious about my choice of clothing or my hair being open or my eyeliner being too winged.
I don’t want your unwarranted and unasked for opinions. I don’t want you to “appreciate” my beauty. It makes me feel insecure and threatened and I am on the verge of calling the cops every time you smirk. I want to be able to go from my home to college without being stared at, whistled at, commented at, followed or groped. It cannot be that impossible to not act, not act at all.
But then why would you not act? The world belongs to you, and we are just your slaves.