On some days, I feel hopeful. I believe that there’s going to be change, the world can become a better place. Recently, I saw a very cute little kid questioning the patriarchy in language, speaking of how it is ‘not nice’ to have a world of letters organised and powered by men, how it needs a restructuring, and I felt so warm and happy. I thought, here is a little girl, thinking of making the world a better place. That was beautiful.
The very next day came in a verdict from the Bombay High Court, declaring that groping is not groping citing specific sartorial details, which is always a matter of debate in every sexual assault. The usual questions of what the woman was wearing, if it was too short, too revealing and sometimes even questions on whether the particular attire was sleeveless, aah, the beauty of Indian politicians and lawyers.
Now, here’s the best part. I’m not shocked. Earlier, I would have been. I would have probably joined the bandwagon of the wonderful women in my class who are always dissecting patriarchy and I would have shared my opinion on this matter in a WhatsApp status that perhaps even Zuckerberg would watch considering the new terms of privacy.
Please do not mistake my non-reaction to conformity. I am terribly upset, but this is not the only reason. I have been listening to countless incidents of assaults and injustices in my whole life. Now, I am in a state of thinking in my mind, ‘So, what’s next?’.
I remember an incident of how an entire fight broke out on the University campus on a particularly joyous night because a woman was groped. Nothing happened thereafter, except that the very few men and woman (yes, a woman) who stood up for her were beaten up, turning the entire issue to a matter of cultural differences. Returning to my hostel, I felt terrible that day. Why? Because I was helpless. This same sense of helplessness clutches my heart every time I see or listen to a new case of sexual assault, because I am seeing it every single day, in WhatsApp statuses, newspapers and the mockery of media that capitalises on the sensational news report that they have found.
I am even more helpless as I see privileged men in my contact list defining what feminism is, creating their own ideas of who a real feminist is and making assumptions about my own privileges and probably gossiping to their friend nearby about my status in the society based on my class, caste and gender identities. I am also tired of seeing men appropriate the feminist movement and put up a #feminist in their Instagram bio and think they are doing a favour towards the oppressed women. Aww.
Now kindly, let me be. Let the women be.