The streets were lit under the lights of the moon and the headlights of vehicles. Amid the stagnant traffic and the bustling crowd were men staring at women without blinking. Throttling the accelerator of their bikes, flaunting their smartphone devices, passing lewd remarks and making women uncomfortable, these men are found on roads and near bus stops.
Ask any woman, they will tell you their experiences with eve teasing and their repercussions. Eve teasing (cat calling) and sexual assault in the public is commonplace in many countries, including India. For being a predator, age is no bar; from delinquent teenagers to adolescents to aged people, these men perpetuate and invade the lives of woman.
What gives these men the guts to catcall and pass sexual remarks in a public space? Before that, let’s look into the misconceptions hold or have been told about sexual harassment against women.
- A woman is not harassed in a broad daylight
- A woman moving in a group can never be harassed
- A woman’s dress decides whether she will get harassed or not
Irony is that victims are always placed under scrutiny by society, which ends up justifying the crime; for instance, people comment on the dressing of the victim, their work timings, and whatnot. These comments reflect the shallowness of our thoughts as a society. A woman’s dress has nothing to do with these incidents. Moreover, girls are eve-teased even when they travel together, and timing has nothing to do with the abuse they are subjected to in public.
Some Movies Sugarcoat Harassment
Remember, some of us enjoy movies where the male protagonist eve teases, stalks, and harasses women to make them fall in “love” with them. Misogynistic and objectifying remarks are glorified in some movies because the doer is a “hero.” As an audience, we take inspiration from such movies, and subconsciously make up our minds that there is nothing wrong in harassing women.
These movies are indirectly telling you that there is nothing wrong in harassing women. And, if this is our idea of entertainment, then I can only say that we have a very poor taste.
A potential predator may take a cue from the unlikeliest of things. I was under this notion that education alone can solve the problem, but the position of the offenders who make themselves known on social platforms made me rethink my notion. Well-educated, established men from the windows of their desktops send unsettling messages to women. Thanks to technology, we can block these people.
Social media trolling is another level where no one, famed or obscure, can escape. Especially, women are targeted and trolled under the curb of these social platforms.
You may feel that I am being pessimistic on International Women’s Day; when everyone is celebrating the achievements of women, I am talking about the hardships and ranting about harassment. On a side note, yes, 2018 was a year where women issues came to the fore. Men, too, allied with women in finding their voices. Gender issues were talked about to such an extent that the word “feminism” was named Merriam-Webster’s word of the year.
Women running for politics and disrupting technology, science, sports, and social entrepreneurship is certainly worth celebrating. However, regular women, girls, or even celebrated women face sexual misconduct, which drains their energy and interferes with their lives. In the light of recent incidents, strict measures have been taken against sexual assault against women, and on the ground level, the most celebrated day would be when a women/girl can walk on a busy road without getting abused. Happy women’s day! The beauty is that men are coming forward to support women. And, together, we can make a better society.