Feminism Fodder

You asked for it

 

She made her way down to the river early that morning, all the time thinking about her grandchildren and anticipating their arrival. She stripped off her sari and got into the river to bathe. She enjoyed the stillness of the morning and the chirping of the birds. Moments later, her peace was shattered by a group of boys in their twenties. Even younger than her grandchildren. And that’s when it happened. They took turns with her and left her lying there battered and bruised. As she slowly wrapped her sari around her, she thought of telling someone. But who would believe her? A grandmother of 70 raped by twenty year old boys. She decided against it. She was the one bathing in the river at 5 in the morning. Surely, she had asked for it.

**********

She managed to get into the first class compartment on the train. It was a rainy day and most trains were delayed. Her sari was soaking wet but she figured she could dry it upon reaching work. The compartment was crowded but things could be worse she thought…she could have been in the second class compartment! As the train went through a tunnel, she felt it. Hands squeezing her breasts and rubbing against her bare stomach. She felt violated. As the train got out of the tunnel she looked around her. There were men but they all looked educated. She thought of speaking out. But then decided against it. She was wearing a sari that was soaking wet. Surely, she had asked for it.

**********

She was standing in the crowded bus on her way to college. She hated travelling this way and the only reason she was doing so was because the trains had broken down. As always. It was the same story every monsoon. Somewhere along the journey, she felt it. A squeeze on her buttocks. She glanced around her but couldn’t pick which man it was. She thought of making a scene but decided against it. She was wearing jeans and a tee-shirt. Surely, she had asked for it.

**********

She was checking out her text messages as she walked down to the shops. It was a lovely evening and she wasn’t due back at school until next week. In the mean time, she had been spending time with her friends at the local mall. She passed by a group of boys sitting on a wall. And that was when she heard it. Wolf whistles and cat calls and lewd remarks about her body. She thought of showing them the finger or yelling at them. But then decided against it. She was wearing a skirt and a singlet. Surely, she had asked for it.

**********

She was walking home from school excited. She couldn’t wait to tell her parents about the results from the maths test last week. She was the only student in the whole of Year 3 that achieved full marks. As she took the short cut that led up to her street she saw him. The shop keeper that was always friendly and gave her a sweet. She smiled and waved to him and he beckoned her inside as he had a surprise. He showed her a pup at the back of the shop and gave her permission to play with it. He took her on his lap as she played with the pup and he put his hand under her school uniform. She felt his hands on places that no one should touch as she learnt at school. He let her go sometime later and invited her back to play with the pup. She thought about telling her parents what the shop keeper had done. But she thought they would scold her for taking sweets from a stranger and decided against it. Surely, she had asked for it.

**********

It’s the same old story. Girls and women are made to think they are to blame for any form of sexual harassment, sexual abuse or rape. Particularly in certain cultures and countries. In India, this is particularly common. I remember while growing up reading about women being raped or sexually harassed and “asking for it” because they were wearing jeans! And I remember reading about 11 year old girls in their school uniform being raped and wondering…did they ask for it too? Recently in Australia, a muslim cleric talked about girls being meat and apparently, if you place meat in front of a cat, the cat is not going to resist. Politicians in India talk about how a woman was “asking for it” This only reinforces the mentality of some men in these cultures that as long as a woman is present in front of them and if the man is aroused, he has every right to have sex with her. Based on this, some women are trained to think that they are at fault…that they asked for it. It affects their self-esteem, their self-confidence and their self-worth.

I am guilty of not speaking out during some of my travels on public transport in Bombay during my college days. But I know better now and had decided when I returned to India last year that I would speak up should anyone touch me without my permission or pass any lewd comments. (Nothing happened though to give me that opportunity given that I didn’t travel by public transport much!)

Remember, it is never your fault if a man cannot keep his penis under control or his hands to himself. Whether you are 7 or 70, every woman must speak up and speak out loud against any form of sexual abuse or harassment. Only then are people going to listen. Because you NEVER ask for it.

**********

This has been written as part of Indus Ladies International Women’s Day Contest under the category of Sexual Crimes after I was tagged by Nu and Saya. I in turn, tag Richa, the Legal Alien and Rachna.

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

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No Comments

  • Reply
    Varsh
    February 25, 2010 at 3:43 am

    True…whenever a girl is raped, sexually harassed or abused, she’s blamed for being the one who asked for it. Its a free world and everyone has the right to behave, wear and roam as per his/her wishes. If anyone feels that he has earned the right to get lucky with the girl then he should f*** off!

    I wrote a similar post a few days back PB…and I did raise my voice when a guy tried to touch me in a local train. No one else helped me, but then we don’t need anyone else to safeguard ourselves right??

  • Reply
    miesoul
    February 25, 2010 at 3:49 am

    Even here in our country Philippines men and even some women tend to say “you asked for it” if someone is sexually harrassed. But its not also about just sexual harassment that some women can just say “you asked for it”.
    I told my close friend that my ex-boyfriend yelled at me for no reason inside a mall and she answered me “i think you asked for it” coz she had ask my ex-bf too why he yelled at me(they’re also friends) and he told her he was thinking of something and I disturbed him that time so he “didnt mean it when he yelled at me”. So it became my fault why I was yelled at because ” I asked for it” when I didn’t even do anything.
    Battered women here to are being told “you asked for it”.
    I think men who act this way to women proliferates because some men and even women who you expect to listen and understand you are the ones condemning. So sexually harrassed and emotionally and physically battered women just tend to keep to themselves what happened to them….

  • Reply
    Makk
    February 25, 2010 at 5:04 am

    thankfully at least one girl has her mind working….and not mind washed by her surroundings

    Happy Living.

  • Reply
    Gyanban
    February 25, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Well articulated. it happens to men/boys too. A sexual harrasment to either sex is to be condemned,punished,and reported. Sadly, ironically, lot of these perpetrators are protected by the same women.

    Imagine a mother reporting his son’s offence to the cops?
    Money,Ignorance and Law or lack of accountability are the 3 main culprits really for most such crimes.

  • Reply
    Gyanban
    February 25, 2010 at 9:10 am

    edit to add – this is not an exclusive India centric phenomena…It’s as much prevalent in India as it is across the world.

  • Reply
    Harini
    February 25, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Hmmm.. well thinks have kinda changed atleast few girls. I dont say people have stopped doing all the crap you just mentioned. I went through all that since i was kid. But now i stand up. I dont have groping in public transport or crowded places any more. I yell. Some times others support me and sometimes they keep quite. But i dont anymore.

  • Reply
    Legal Alien
    February 25, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    I so agree with your point of view Psych. This is something which bothers me a lot and I have had N number of arguments with people who say “women ask for it”. I cannot tell you how angry it makes me. In my first semester at uni I wrote a mini novel where the central topic was sexual harassment. If I can find it, I might publish it on the blog.. even though it might be too long for a blog post. Thanks for tagging me. If i decide not to post the novella, I will definitely write something else.

  • Reply
    Magali
    February 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I found this all terribly chilling, & yet, familiar (at least some of it)
    Very well written.

  • Reply
    Titaxy
    February 25, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Keeping it to ourselves won’t help. We need to speak up when atrocities like this happen. Otherwise these idiot men think they can get away with anything…they wll only continue.

    And yes, I so agree. It’s not the women’s fault that she’s wearing the clothes she likes or is comfortable in. They are not to be blamed. They need t understand that.

  • Reply
    bookslifenmore
    February 26, 2010 at 4:22 am

    So very true dear!! Girls are always conditioned that whatever bad happens to them is a result of their own doings. So sad na? But the way you have presented is spine chilling!!! Haven’t we all faced some or the other incident in a public place & remained silent because we never knew how to react otherwise.

  • Reply
    Legal Alien
    February 27, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Unfortunately I couldn’t enter the competition. 🙁 But I will definitely write about this soon. I feel very passionately about the “you asked for it” mentality. aaarrggh

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    February 28, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Exactly…we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for what we wear. And in any case, how does that argument stand when young school girls are raped??? Good on you for raising your voice! Let’s hope more and more women do the same…

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    February 28, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Oh, I’m so aware about how the ‘you asked for it’ exists even more so with physical abuse and DV. And unfortunately many women end up believing this. I’m glad that in your case, it’s become your ex….

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    February 28, 2010 at 9:01 am

    I think there’s others like me too given the level of participation in this contest… 🙂

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    February 28, 2010 at 9:03 am

    I agree. Women want to stand up against this but there are other women pulling them down and not just with sexual crimes but also physical abuse and DV and emotional abuse…the punishment for these crimes needs to be harsher…unless there are consequences and as you said, someone being held accountable, it will not end.

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    February 28, 2010 at 9:04 am

    I understand that it’s prevalent in other countries but I could only speak for India

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    February 28, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Well that;s good that things are starting to change. It is up to us to speak out. Without that, I really doubt any change can occur…

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    February 28, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Thanks Mags…and yes, if you have read the papers or even travelled by public transport, you would know these stories….

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    February 28, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Looking forward to reading your novella….I’m sure it will be interesting!

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    February 28, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Yes…even if we are not going to get enough support, we have to speak up….and I got so sick and tired of reading or arguing with people who thought that the clothes a woman wore resulted in her being abused/raped….it’s so messed up!!

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    February 28, 2010 at 9:12 am

    You’re so right Smita…we have all probably faced something like this every now and then and have never known how to react. And thanks for the compliment…I take spine chilling as a compliment! 🙂

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    February 28, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Aw shucks! That’s a shame…but looking forward to reading your take on issues like this…

  • Reply
    ani_aset
    March 2, 2010 at 10:01 am

    this is a very relevant post PB just loved the examples you have put up here, its about time you guys started kicking, and giving it back to these guys. I have been doing my bit to educate women around me about “you asked for it” campaign.

  • Reply
    tikuli
    March 4, 2010 at 2:34 am

    This post desrves to win the first place. I came here following a trail of blogs and I am impressed. Rape is an issue many people have written about but I find the clarity of the subject very powerful here. Do visit my blog and read Blame the rapist not the victim. Good wishes for the contest. Sad I could not participate. More power to those who are sesitive enough to raise their voices. A very good and well written article. Best.

  • Reply
    tikuli
    March 4, 2010 at 2:35 am

    I write at tikulicious.wordpress.com did not know how to log in with WP id.

  • Reply
    Reema
    March 12, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Once during student life, I and my roomies had gone for a movie which was running houseful. 2 of my friends had got groped by some men in the crowd. It was so hard consoling and convincing them that it was not their fault! This wrong mentality is so ingrained in many women and girls!

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    March 12, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Yes it is and it’s such a shame….we really need to take a stand and stand up to men that do this…

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    March 12, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Thanks Tikuli! I’m honoured that you think this about my post! Will look at your blog….

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    March 13, 2010 at 1:03 am

    Thanks Ani. And good on you for doing the same…we need more men to spread the message as well.

  • Reply
    Unruly Rebel
    August 12, 2010 at 2:03 am

    nice post…though a bit long but liked it alot…

    namit
    http://www.indiblogger.in/indipost.php?post=28218
    do visit my post and do promote it if you like it.. 🙂

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    August 12, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Welcome Namit. Thanks for the comment… =)

  • Reply
    Harishmurali
    August 12, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Of all I have known, those who get molested are ugly ducklings who try to show skin and be ‘presentable’ for an act. These uglies try to psychologically compensate by wearing dress and applying make up that looks better on their chest rather than their face. They dress up like wannabe prostitutes and then start crying when taken for granted. They don’t dress up for the weather. I see women in skimpy clothes in winter – WTH. They show skin when the man’s dick is upward and they try to get a nicer class of people who’ll awe at their thighs, speak about them, appreciate and crave for their exposed parts, but not ask for what they showcase. An advertisement-inspired buyer is coming for a deal. If they don’t like it, Women should stop being trailers of sexual material.

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    August 13, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Firstly, welcome to my blog Harish. Now, in response to your comment….a woman can walk around in a bikini if she wants to and it still does not give a man the right to touch her, to rape her, to molest her or to sexually harrass her. She may not be able to stop the stares but men DO NOT have the right to do anything else. Just because a man gets an erection on seeing a woman in skimpy clothes, it is NOT an invitation for sex or rape. It doesn’t matter if the woman is hot or as you say, ugly, it still doesn’t give anyone the right to say what she should and shouldn’t wear. You may be surprised to find out that women do dress up for themselves. And while some women will dress up to catch the eyes of men, it is still NOT an invitation for rape or molestation or harrassment. And how do you justify your comments when school girls in school uniforms get molested or raped? When women in salwar kameezes get molested or raped? When women in saris get molested or raped? When women in jeans and baggy t-shirts get molested or raped? You have spoken like the typical male chauvinist…like the politicians that blame the woman. But I will say it again: A woman can walk naked if she wants to and it STILL DOES NOT give anyone the right to touch her, to molest her, or to rape her.

  • Reply
    Magali
    September 16, 2010 at 2:03 am

    I found this all terribly chilling, & yet, familiar (at least some of it)
    Very well written.

  • Reply
    Magali
    December 13, 2010 at 8:12 am

    I found this all terribly chilling, & yet, familiar (at least some of it)
    Very well written.

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    January 20, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    I absolutely loved this. Thank you for writing this.

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