The moment I hit 'Publish' on my last post, I began to have second thoughts. "Was it okay to have written that?" "Will people perceive me as a lecher/disaster magnet?", "Was it alright to have mentioned the proper name for a part of my anatomy?" - all these raced through my mind. Couldn't help the effect of several centuries worth of conditioning that has been handed down among women across generations. I have seen the sort of inane comments that appear below completely innocent posts of female celebrities and felt relieved that I am not a celebrity and hoped that the few friends who read my posts would not take it wrong. It just felt good to have poured out the rant I had been harboring for a weekend.
After the day was done, I came back to Facebook where I share my posts and saw the first few comments - all of them encouraging and I even saw a few shares. Intrigued, I went to check the stats on the post and was flabbergasted... 5000 hits, in one day!!! To put it in perspective, the largest number of hits I have got so far is around 3000 on one post that I wrote about 5 years ago - ahem!
From then on, each day I checked the stats and it grew and grew till it has reached 15,000 as of today. But more heartening were the comments a few brave souls posted on my blog as well as on Facebook. All the women who commented said that they had to face the same and worse. Only one, ONE among my Malayali friends said that she has never had to face a harassing situation in Kerala even once - which reminds me, I must ask her to buy me a lottery ticket the next time I see her!
Was I saddened by the responses? Yes. Here, being a coddled homemaker who uses public transport perhaps once or twice a month and gets out of the house once a week, I have had to face this menace. To think of all the sisters and mothers who have to travel to work everyday, stay in rickety houses, in unsavory neighborhoods... it saddened me a lot.
Was I heartened by the responses? YES. Despite this menace, women do not hole themselves up in secure homes and don't go about with armed black cats bristling around them. Malayali women are so brave!!! I am proud of you all!
Yes, it is imperative that we go out. Yes, it is imperative that we do not suffer in silence, but at least roar out a protest when molested. Many molesters adopt the notorious mindset given utterance by the veteran actor Soman in Hitler, "If only she had screamed loudly at least once..." - that typically chauvinistic comment for not having had the self-control to not rape a woman. We shouldn't let lechers have that excuse any more. Because if one woman keeps quiet about being harassed in public today, it might lead the perpetrator to wilder/ more aggressive excesses tomorrow.
This post is dedicated to all the wonderful, decent men - Dads, brothers, husbands, sons and friends, who support and let the women in their lives live free. Please don't feel bad if women treat you with wariness and suspicion, because you see, the devils incarnate do not go around with the mark of Cain on their foreheads. They happen to look just like you...