By Chimata Shriya and Kamalika Gunasekaran
The kind of society that we are living in has primarily been a male dominant one, despite the argument that times are changing and equality is present everywhere, all women around you would have experienced male dominance at least once in some sphere of their lives. Women have almost always been treated unequally or even inferior to men in many cases. Now that, things have changed for the better, and women have become passionate than ever before, when we still identify some cases which reveal these disturbing acts of cruelty by men, the agenda of equality is severely questioned again.
Women know that “Not All Men Are Rapists” and that “Not All Men might have harassed a woman”. But it is nearly impossible to distinguish a stranger and decipher whether he is good or bad. You can’t judge a person from his behavior. He may seem nice and wanting to help but in the process may stalk/follow you. So, as a woman, we feel it is better to always be aware of our surroundings and to take all necessary precautions. You see women never willingly carry pepper spray or a pocket knife. We are forced to. Most of the time when we are walking alone on an empty street a constant fear grips our mind. We want to go on the streets freely, go on solo trips, wear our choice of clothes, and live life to the fullest. But is it possible anymore? India is the Most Dangerous country for women with one rape case reported every 15 minutes. This constant fear of being groped in public transportation, getting abducted on streets, being sexually assaulted while on a solo trip are what curbs our desires and our freedom.
“I may speak politely with you, but it does not mean that I like you”.
Consent and Choice are the two most important words a man should know. If people are discussing rape culture in India or sexual assault statistics or women empowerment issues and you jump in between and declare that “I have not sexually assaulted/raped/hurt/hit/groped any woman. So did my friends. So thus, not all men have done. Do not generalize.” In simple words, you interrupted a conversation which was aimed at structural and institutional reforms to be brought to help save millions of women around the world. You made the entire conversation centered around yourself just because you never did it. If you did not then what was the need to clarify, why the conversation made you uncomfortable and why you did feel you were more important than all those millions of women?
A very important issue that has to be kept in mind is that women or men who discuss such issues are not talking about the male community as a whole. They are talking of much bigger problems like patriarchy and toxic masculinity whose brunt men have also born. We discuss structural and institutional reforms that need to be brought to help women. You being a male, will be more privileged than a female in India. When you are removing or distancing yourself from a discussion on patriarchy, it means you might not consider yourself a part of that fraction of society who propagates patriarchy but for you that distancing is the most important point rather than helping women to abolish patriarchy. So in the view of distancing from the conversation and silencing women you have promoted patriarchy because you claim that how you feel or think is more important than that of the countless women who are fighting for justice. So in reality you are no different from the men guilty for propagating patriarchy.
Being a man who didn’t harass women does not negate the fact that a lot of men do harass women in one form or the other. So, if you say “Not All Men”, that will not remove you from being a part of a patriarchal society. Do not interrupt conversations or mansplain.
Have these discussions with women you know and get to know their perspective as well.
Support Women and be a part of the change.