To Men Who Don’t Believe That Most Women Are Groped or Molested.
Every woman has faced molestation at least once in her life but some men think that incidents like these are just stories made up by some vengeful women or that they happen to someone else’s women. How many men reading this have, even for a moment, wondered if their mothers, sisters or friends have been molested? How many have cared enough to talk about it?
During the past few years, I have found the energy to open up to some of my male friends about the problems we face as women. I narrated one of the incidents to a close friend.
“I was walking through a street with my friends when I was twenty-one. A man came from the opposite direction and tried to grope my friend. She noticed him and immediately placed a bag where his hands might have been. I was right behind her and oblivious to any of this, and he pinched my thigh as he passed by. I was shocked, embarrassed, and terrified, but I kept walking as though nothing happened. I felt violated and didn’t want to catch unwanted attention. She immediately turned around and asked me, ‘Did he touch you?’,
I said ‘Yes.’
‘Why didn’t you say anything? Why didn’t you shout or tell us?’
we looked around for him. He had gained a lot of distance between us and at Ernakulam South Railway Station Junction, he was standing, looking at us, laughing with a sense of accomplishment. To this day, I get furious thinking of how I let him go. He would have carried that high he felt, the sense of accomplishment he had, with him to touch, grope and molest other women.”
My friend looking at me wide eyed after I narrated this. I could see the effort he took to digest this. I saw the shift in his thoughts as I narrated the experiences of other women I knew; of random men who touched, groped, followed, abused, or unzipped their pants on deserted roads and showed women their dick.
“Are you telling me that there are so many men out there who find joy in touching and scarring random women?”
“Because Men are NEVER told to control their urges as much as women are told to control their clothes, character and timings. Because porn is easily accessible and sex education isn’t.”
In porn, women are sex objects and that’s the only in-depth exposure into a woman that they get. In India, even before they realise that a woman is her own individual and has a mind of her own, schools seat boys and girls separately as though they are untouchables, and frown upon any sort of intermingling. Now that the school and society has taken away the boys’ chance to see that women are humans with feelings and dreams and intelligence, they are introduced to the woman’s body and what it is ‘used for’ through porn and cheap magazines that their peers bring to school. This is garnished with ‘Women going out at night, wearing scanty clothes and talking their minds, are asking for it’. And Voila! You have the recipe for the current Indian mentality.
He thought for a while and told me,
“I never believed all those stories on the internet because I didn’t think this issue was actually so prevalent. I believed that these were just lame accusations against men. As far as I am concerned, I never did such a thing. So, I couldn’t understand the motive behind it or the satisfaction anyone would get. I don’t know any friends who have groped women or spoken of women in this manner. Whenever I heard news of molestation and people saying that these were publicity stunts or attempts to become viral. I either believed that or I didn’t care. But now that I am listening to these stories first hand, I realize the bubble I was in all the while!”
That’s when it dawned on me. There is a large number of men who grope, molest and get away with it. There is another set of men who have never thought of touching a random woman unnecessarily; and that makes them believe that most men including their male friends, like them, are innocent. These are the two categories of men on social media who blame the victims. The former category is trying to justify their own deeds of molestation, finding validity online to molest further and the latter category JUST CANNOT BELIEVE that a man would simply walk to a random woman and grope her. This was my first insight into the second category Man. I was relieved as this category of men can be reasoned with; they only need someone close to them, narrating their own experiences.
“Ask every woman you know – your mother, friends, partner, sisters; ask them and they will tell you at least one incident where they have been groped or molested; if they are lucky, it stops with one time but most women aren’t lucky! If this is the experience of every woman, imagine the number of men out there who are doing the groping and molesting. And by that sheer logic, there is at least one man in your friends’ or relatives’ circle who has groped or molested or catcalled a woman at least once in his lifetime.”, and again he looked at me wide-eyed at the possibility of it. I know it is a tad bit uncomfortable for the men reading this; the possibility of a male friend being a molester. But not the possibility of a female friend being the molested since that’s always normalised right?
Amidst a conversation with another male friend, I told him, “Men believe that women get groped because of their own fault.”
He looked at me with a lot of conviction and replied, “I know right? Why would anyone just go and touch or grab people unnecessarily? The women must be doing something to spite them.”
It took me a moment to grasp this. From my first friend, I had learnt that male privilege has induced this widespread ignorance in men. It isn’t their fault to a certain extent. But there is always a point wherein men could try to understand why there’s this hue and cry from so many women from across the world. We are definitely not trying to conquer the world, to create an empire of our own. All we have been screaming for is a safe environment with equal voice. When we say that we don’t have either of those, there are lots of men who don’t care enough to understand if that is true. Because if they did pay a little attention, they would hear muffled voices and stories of unknown hands grabbing breasts, touching thighs, of women in their houses, schools, colleges, offices and streets.
I narrated a few incidents to this friend as well and much like the earlier one, he was flabbergasted. ‘Never in the wildest of my dreams did I consider the possibility of a man walking up to an unknown woman and touching her’, he said.
You see a pattern here, don’t you?
What You Can Do As Men:
- Read this again and this time think about it. Try to get hold of one woman you are close to and try asking her if she has had a bad experience with men. You should be mentally prepared to listen to the worst. She may not tell you at first. Assure her that you won’t judge her for what someone else did to her, that you’ll support her and that you want to understand what women go through so that you can be more considerate.
- Be wary of the comments you post on social media beneath similar issues. You don’t have the right to deny a person of their struggles. When a woman says that she was molested, you don’t have the right to say that she wasn’t, that it is a publicity stunt, that she deserved it, that it was her dress, thoughts or make-up. If you are ratifying his act because of her dress, you’re granting yourself permission to molest a woman because of her dress. You become one of ‘them’.
I hope this post helps men take a close look at the lives of the women around them, to realise that women haven’t been screaming and fighting for nothing, to fight with them if needed and to shut other men and women when they blame the victims. You stop blaming someone when you understand their struggles. To know what oppression is, you should either be oppressed or you should be constantly privy to the struggles of the oppressed closely. Have you been in any of these places with respect to molestation? You can scream the slogan #NotAllMen, but the moment you blame a victim or refuse to acknowledge or refuse to understand their struggles, you become part of the problem.
There are beasts among you. There are victims among you. Based on whom you support, you become one of them, you give them strength and fight on their side.
Note – Dear Men who understand the horrors women go through, who support us, and speak for us, thank you for listening, understanding and making a difference.
This post is a part of Blogchatter’s #CauseAChatter, a wonderful campaign for causes.