Women Through Strangers’ Eyes

This post touches upon the way society perceives women; through the eyes of a neighbour, through the eyes of colleagues and strangers to prove that women are in fact looked at differently at a micro level. When you look at something differently, you treat it differently.

I have male friends who believe that women are now equal to men and that Women’s Day and Feminism are just cards women use to oppress men. As an answer to this, I have made a video talking about the areas in which inequality is very much prevalent in this day and age. I have only touched upon the basics here. You can watch the video here:

Now that we have established inequality, I wanted to clarify some more basics:

  • Feminism is not anti-men. Feminists don’t hate men. If you know women who hate men and make jokes on men, understand that they are not feminists. They just call themselves that and we do not associate with them. They are a bane for us as well.
  • Feminism is against patriarchy. While patriarchy has given only strife and struggles for women, it has given struggles and benefits for men. This is why you see a resistance against feminism. The men who understand how patriarchy benefits them and turn a blind eye towards its banes, try their best to defame feminism so that patriarchy remains intact, benefitting men. Before boys understand what feminism stands for and why it is needed, they are injected with a wrong idea of feminism and their hatred towards feminists begin. There are only two types of anti-feminists in men – The ones who know that feminism will take away the power that patriarchy gave them, and the ones that have been brainwashed.
  • We also acknowledge that men face problems because of patriarchy and when men are willing to come out with their stories, we will support them. But whataboutery beneath posts that discuss women’s issues are only attempts to invalidate women’s issues. Whataboutery will not be encouraged.

In our society, beyond the prevalent women’s issues such as lack of education and safety, rapes, domestic violence and dowry deaths, there is a secondary treatment faced by women in their daily lives. These lurk in the shadows of the society, in the minds of both men and women and come out when you least expect them. Let me tell you a few that happened with/around me:

I was 27 years old and preparing for my CA exams. My neighbours upstairs had 2 children and it used to be extremely noisy. It wasn’t the noise of children playing or crying that bothered us. It was of course, the incessant running. But beyond that, there was a gas cylinder (which I later found out) which the youngest child would rock throughout the day. So we would have to bear with 10 minutes of heavy metal on our ceiling, then some break and then it would continue. This went on for days until my 85 year old grandmother started getting constant headaches. In addition to this, they had a pipe that roared when they opened it. As it was a kitchen pipe, its lined passed through the walls of my room and I had to bear with these roars throughout the day. Not to mention, the woman used to hit the children and scream at them at the top of her voice.

I kept telling this to my parents and though my mother wanted to talk to them about it, my father kept saying we couldn’t do anything. Finally, I decided to confront them. So I went up to their house one evening and told them about these issues. The woman, instead of responding to any of these, told me, ‘You are a grown woman. What are you doing in someone else’s house at night? It is almost 8 PM. I don’t let my sister go to others houses during the night. You leave right now, and ask your parents to come and meet us.’ I was 27 years old. Had it been a 27 year old man at their doorstep, things would have been different. I refused to leave and told them that these issues had to be resolved. Things escalated soon as they blamed me for walking up to their house and mocking them (which was me explaining the problem) and soon her husband started abusing me. I raised my voice as well and I am proud of myself for that because I have cowered in the past when men raised their voices.

But there are two things that stuck with me;

  1. Men are taken more seriously than women, no matter how old you are.
  2. Women get taken seriously if they are married, and have a male support. If they are married and divorced, the story takes an ugly turn.
  3. The mockery and shaming here, was done by the woman first.

While at work, we were having our tea break and I noticed a friend capturing a photo of someone else in the group. I didn’t think too much into it. But after some time I got to know that he was capturing the picture of the girl behind her on the pretext of capturing our friend’s picture. As I am infamous for calling people out for their sexist and racist jokes, I was the last one to know. But what baffled me was that, even the women in our group laughed with him, looking at the girl in the picture and commenting on her. Not one of them thought of calling him out or calling any of the people in the group out for clicking a strangers picture. Their response would be that it was not a big deal. That he would delete the picture later. But will he? How much do you know your male friends? Even if he would, it is fundamentally wrong to click a person’s picture without their permission. It is even worse clicking a woman’s picture with the purpose of ogling at her and commenting on her.

For every time I called out my friends for passing sexist jokes, for talking about women only in terms of breasts and asses, for restricting their wives from wearing the clothes they liked, for telling their female friends that they got eve teased because of the clothes they wore, for yelling at women drivers because they drive slowly, I get mocked too. I get sent sexist videos and when I respond with my comments on them, they chuckle and tell me they were just sending these videos to get me triggered, while they don’t understand how these trouble my already troubled mind. For, all the trouble that women go through are mere joke for them.

When I join in conversations with my colleagues, and if the group comprises of men, it automatically brings women into it:

A couple of them go for tea at 11 AM because that is when the girls from the college nearby come for tea. A friend goes out for walk everyday at 8 AM. The best part about it is that there are some beautiful girls who go for their run during the time. A friend runs out of our office when he sees two girls from the adjacent office steps out. He is trying to strike a conversation with them. Simply. Just for the heck of it. He is married. He doesn’t let his wife wear jeans. There is this girl who wears short dresses, another that wears shorts and yet another that wears bodycon dresses. (I know because the men talk about this) A friend was saying how this ex colleague of his, hugged him when they met at a party. He was embarrassed as his wife was watching. While this made perfect sense, this anecdote was in response to another friend saying that he liked that particular girl. The response simply was an excuse to flaunt the fact that she hugged him. I made a mental note to not hug my male colleagues anymore.

It is good fun, watching people. But many men, have women in their minds for an unhealthy amount of time, and yet they refuse to acknowledge that in a country where men think about women, and objectify them, an awful lot of times and ways, some also act on their thoughts. While these men don’t explicitly harm women, they are part of the problem as long as they don’t acknowledge that these actions of theirs impact women negatively. I shouldn’t have to live with a fear of someone taking my pictures or staring at me or groping me.

I have taken it upon myself to do an extremely difficult task, which is spreading word about issues that women face. I will continue to do it because of the above experiences. The injustice has seeped into our daily lives so much that people don’t even realise their thought process are malignant. Their simple acts have shades of sexism in them which they pass on to their friends. Men come at us with their ‘Not all men’ excuse but they never call out their friends when they are wrong, which makes them a part of the problem too. Instead of focusing on the macro problems, I decided to address the micro problems because I wanted to bring your attention to how they start at such minute levels.

Through this post, I want to pay tribute to all the women and men who understand women’s struggles, who understand that it is an unequal world out there. That the answer is not in whataboutery, but in spreading word about issues faced by women, calling out sexism and patriarchy and solving each other’s problem by having healthy conversations around them.

Happy Women’s Day!

This blog post is part of the Women’s Day Blog Hop, themed on She: A Tribute to Her, hosted by Swarnali Nath

Featured Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

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  1. Geethica Mehra

    This is a sad state for women even today. One woman doesn’t respect another woman let alone be men.

  2. Cindy D'Silva

    This is so true! Gosh! I also felt the difference of behaviour towards me after I got married. The general feeling is like that I guess. Hard to change unless you make an effort.

  3. Alpana Deo

    Well, I would say its everybody’s individual experiences. I have never faced any such issues. I have a daughter and as a mother I keep telling her the importance of strong character and self confidence. Women do not have to change themselves or live under fear just because a class of men cannot control their habits. But on the same note, the challenges you have mentioned can take a bad turn and unfortunately girls/women face it at multiple occasions.

  4. Anita Sabat

    Totally agree with your points. We actually have a choice- whether to join the crowd despite their terrible attitude for women or to walk our way & do the right thing & call them out.
    Sadly, all this has seeped into our collective “culture” and many laugh at those silly “husband and wife” jokes and mindlessly share all that shows women in poor light. It is NOT okay. This has to change.
    Liked the way you are making an attempt to address issues instead of keeping mum and being a silent watcher. So happy that you have the guts to confront and share and to learn and make mental notes. More power to us.
    A start has to be made by all women. We have a long way to go.

  5. Swarnali Nath

    Some of the parts resemble with me. I have moved to an extremely noisy locality where there is a noise will be always. Be it noisy neighbors, be it microphones with loud Kirtan songs, be it loud microphones with wedding celebrations, be it the noise of manufacturing of a building, or be it the extra decibel of a DJ night for the wedding reception or other occasions as we have two banquet halls nearby, be it anything else. There is always a noise and it disturbed my attention extremely. Previously it interrupted my study for PSU jobs and now it’s disturbing my writing. But no matter if we women protest then we will be blamed. The same thing happened to me for my relatives. Hope the future changes soon. Thanks for joining the blog hop. Gratitude

  6. Manali Desai

    There’s so much in this post that I absolutely loved.
    The minute everyday things are the root cause of the way women are looked at and treated, which most people have a ‘chalta hai hota hai’ attitude towards . Thanks for addressing these and here’s hoping more women (and men) call these things out for what they are i.e. sexist and crass.

    1. Chinmayee Gayatree sahu

      I loved, loved and so loved to hear the video and every single point you made is so valid ! And this is surely true that men of any age are taken seriously and not women ! I have faced it myself and it is infuriating. I appreciate that you raised the point that women too take part in such sexist jokes and this happens at my work place also and when I confront them, you become the bad one. Kudos for writing this ! I loved it.

  7. harshita

    I applaud you Ranjini for taking on such difficult topics. I myself have used my words and actions to raise awareness and call out misogynist behaviour. Your anecdote about a man taking picture of a girl without consent is so triggering. It has happened to me and you will be surprised to know that person taking the picture was a husband of a friend. Needless to say I called it out then and there.
    Kudos, for writing this post.

  8. Dashy

    I am still struggling to figure out how to deal with casual sexism, especially when they’re someone I interact with on a regular basis. I had made a male friend from office who used to often comment about how since I had a boyfriend I didn’t have to worry about anything. I brushed off these comments until one day he asked why I was handling my own finances instead of letting my boyfriend do it. What followed was a few hours of heated discussion about financial independence and gender stereotypes. He was laughing throughout the talk, as if we were just having a fun conversation over coffee, and nothing I said seemed to get to him. I could never look at him as a friend I could freely talk to again, so I try and avoid him at work. It frustrates me to think I could not change someone else’s mindset. Sorry for ranting in here. Here’s hoping that talking about this creates awareness at least to some, so we women can have a safer environment to live in. Thank you for writing about this, Ranjini. Much appreciated. 🙂

  9. Harjeet Kaur

    You are so right. A widow at 40 and the vultures were always hovering around me.I had a tough job of keeping my self respect intact. I wish men at the office realise that other men can bait even their wives the way they are. I think it would take another 100 years for this thinking to change.

  10. Surbhi Prapanna

    The incidences you have shared are here are normal part of women’s day and sadly, most of us have faced these things once or more during their lifetime. it is irony of our system who treated women differently . hope this thing change in future and we have a better system for women to live in.

  11. Deepika Sharma

    Wow such a deep read it made. All the examples you gave are true. Women face these and many more everyday and worst is from women too as most women don’t even realise what they are giving into. Kudos to you for calling out such behaviour, it can be very tough to stand your ground

  12. MeenalSonal

    I agree with you that it is very important to understand the true sense of feminism. It’s a hard reality of the society that women have to fight every single day to stand for herself. Though the thoughts are changing but still there is a long way to go.

  13. Suhasini I.P.

    I so totally agree with you on this. It’s really important to understand and support our fellow women rather than trying to bitch about them so that we can get closer to our male counterparts or look cool in front of them. Thanks a lot for calling out the real-life incidents that happen to most of us.

  14. Sreeparna Sen

    Feminism – a coinage so often misunderstood and misinterpreted. Patriarchy harms men and women both only the realisation is far from understood. It is an uphill task indeed.

  15. Roshan Radhakrishnan

    I’m glad you’re calling out the whataboutery and attempts to deflect the conversation from the starting point whenever criticism of patriarchy is debated.

  16. Janaki

    It’s so true that sometimes many women support and keep quiet when their colleagues and friends are joked at in the wrong light by their male friends. And I’m glad that you adrress these men and women,. It is a need of the hour.

  17. Varsh

    Your examples are bang on and faced by women on a regular basis even now. We as a society need to learn a lot still. I’m not against feminism but fake feminists who make it about hating men or even judging other women for their choices are the ones I cannot stand or support.

  18. Sinjana Ghosh

    I love what you have written and thanks for doing what you are by sharing ordeals of women in the most honest way. And then someone will pop up to say “I know a woman who does this”.. well may be, one. But it’s so common to see married men engaging in such obnoxious “boy-talk” over women’s bodies and extremely rare to see women do so. Another inequality that stings me all the time personally, is that, after marriage if a man works so hard at office that he hardly has time for home, he is showered with ” aha uhu, poor little man, working so hard and still taking his baby in his arms for like 5 minutes”, and if a woman works hard at office for couple of days, “aha , uhu, poor child, his mother doesn’t have time for him, only spending the evenings with him after work”… huh I could go on …

  19. Ritu Bindra

    Absolutely. People will always have issues with vocal woman who does not stand nonsense. It is not necessary to fit in at the cost of our principles and self respect. As a single woman, I do ruffle a few feathers but it is important to stand our ground.

  20. Dipika Singh

    I have become fan of your thought, you got me hooked with this line – ‘If you know women who hate men and make jokes on men, understand that they are not feminists.’
    I have been very vocal about this and truly believe that somewhere feminism’s definitions is tweaked over the years to make it anti-men or against men.

  21. Archana

    All the instances you have shared as a woman we all have seen or experienced at some point of time in our surroundings. the sad reality is that majority of the people are fail to understand the real meaning of Feminism.

  22. Abha Mondal

    I agree with all the points you mentioned in this post. I loved your video too. Many people don’t even understand the real meaning of Feminism.

  23. Daisy

    Kudos to you for bringing out the minor issues at workplace or elsewhere and link them to the bigger problems of inequality and patriarchy. It’s true that we face biases and prejudices at different levels and women are often the first ones who mistreat each other. We should empower and empathize with each other to promote feminism and womanhood! That would make world a better place!

  24. Sameeksha

    I can relate to this blog I have seen and experienced many of these scenarios. The mockery and shaming here, was done by the woman first this line has stuck in my head. You have a great writing style. Thank you so much for such a beautiful blog!

  25. Sameeksha

    I can relate to this blog I have seen and experienced many of these scenarios. The mockery and shaming here, was done by the woman first this line has stuck in my head. You have a great writing style. Thank you so much for such a beautiful blog! Loved it!

  26. Sakshi

    First off- hats off to you. Loved how to brought out the macro as well as the micro issues surrounding feminism, how you provided personal accounts of these issues and not just rant off stuff that the internet already has and packaged it as your own. Like how you set forth that feminism is misunderstood by most men and women. Loved this line from your post – ‘The ones who know that feminism will take away the power that patriarchy gave them, and the ones that have been brainwashed.’
    Lastly, Loved your video.

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