As a man I've been ignorant all these days unable to see the magnitude of sexual harassment that women face today in society. I've kind of shut myself down whenever I heard of an incident because I found the whole thing negative. In reality, I didn't have the balls to actually listen to whatever it was that happened or stand up against it. Well ignorance is bliss right? Okay, Not anymore. I've been jolted out of the safe space I've been living in all this time, thanks to a recent conversation. So if you think Mumma raised you right, take time and listen to what I have to say and act upon it.
Women usually don't speak openly about sexual assaults. It's actually way more common than you imagine. Ask your sister or your female friends who've used public transport or just roamed the streets how many times they've been groped, cat-called and molested. They'll tell you how frequent this happens. All the things that uncouth men do to women leaves them with a very embarrassing and a humiliating experience. Actually I can't even describe what goes in their head. But it is seriously very disturbing. Everyone in society deserves to feel safe and secure. No one should feel vulnerable, especially women and children. A majority of women usually keep quiet when they are sexually abused or harassed because speaking up will make them the object of ridicule. Children out there are being molested and they are too scared to speak. This is so wrong. How did we even allow this to happen?
A man flashes his junk and proceeds to jerk off, all this while young school girls are walking on their way back home. Some pervert gropes a teen in a crowded bus and before she reacts disappears into the crowd. The asshole boss thinks it's okay to ask for sexual favours in order for the female colleague to get a promotion. What else? How many of you know that uncle who your parents trusted, turned out to be a pedophile and at some point has molested innocent kids. Hell, it could have happened to you. Do I need to say more?
Sexual harassment can happen in public spaces, offices, during job interviews, clubs, pubs, online or even in your own house. Have you heard shit men say when they look at other women? "I'd love to tap that ass. She's so hot I'd fuck her all night. I'd totally bang her. Look at her tits. Why is she dressed like a slut? She's just asking for it. Grab them by the pussy". People you know well might have said this. Even in a casual conversation. Have you laughed this off? Have you remained silent? If your answer is yes, you need serious help.
The Harvey Weinstein episode isn't shocking at all to many women. There are many more powerful people like him out there and other insignificant ones who have helped him get what he wanted. How many of us men stood up against this barbarian? Forget him, did we act against people we know in real life? I didn't. I thought it wouldn't do any good. I also didn't know what to do.
But I do know now. I want to speak up against other misogynists out there and stop them from talking shit. As men we should have a moral obligation to stand up against these misinformed assholes and make an effort to talk sense into them. We have to understand the gravity of the problem. You might feel it's not a big deal, but it is. Understand this, for a woman, every man is a Schrodinger's Rapist.
Now all you good men out there who want to help and make a difference, here's what you can do:
1. UNDERSTAND WHAT'S GOING ON
Listen to your female friends or family members about their experience. Understand what sexual harassment is. Things you are prone to brush off as 'Nah, that wouldn't have been the intention' is actually the act in itself. Stop living in denial and open your eyes and ears. Be an ally and stand up against discrimination. The world is a cruel place.
Don't turn a blind eye towards the incident. It is still sexual harassment if the person is being verbal. So if you hear someone talking trash, respond and let them know that they are wrong. They need to know that their actions are wrong and that it is totally unacceptable. Ask them to stop it. Show them your disgust, if possible bring others on who will support your notions. Make the abuser look like he's the minority. If you come across someone sexist and find yourself in an argument, don't back down. Put your strong valid points in front of him. Don't take no for an answer.
In the event of a physical harassment, take your stance and protect the victim. Man up when you know it's safe to. You'll know when not to be a filmy hero. Take the harasser to the cops. Call the press and shame him.
3. DON'T MAKE IT ABOUT YOU
When you hear from your female friend or family member about their traumatic experience, feel terrible about it because you should. Don't tell them about how it makes you feel, how angry you are and how you would like to see the person punished and other unrealistic things. It's not about you. I learned this the hard way. Instead tell them that you are sorry that it happened. Tell them that you will be a more responsible person in the society and stand up against such violence. In a sense be an activist and raise your voice and condemn these atrocities, make your voice heard. Put your strong views ahead and tell those idiots out there to stop with their bullshit. Make sure it wont happen to someone else. That's how you can help.
4. STOP BEING DEFENSIVE
When a woman is talking about her frustrations with the patriarchy, it is not a personal attack against you. You actually don't have to respond. Instead acknowledge the problem. Stop dominating and saying things like 'not all men are like that'. They know that very well. You don't need to defend the male species.
You are a responsible adult. Teach young kids who look up to you by instilling in them good virtues on how to respect and value women. Don't stop with young kids. There are many silent mis-informed people out there who are either very naive or ignorant. Take the time and educate them. Your own father can have sexist views. 'Oh look at the short skirt she wore at the party'. Tell them that that the length of the skirt has nothing to do with the character of a person.
Sexual abuse and harassment needs to stop. Confront yourself if you haven't yet. Self reflect and look into your actions, beliefs, and thoughts. Your attitude towards this may have been influenced. Find out what is right and what is wrong. Together, I believe we can end this oppression. And let's not stop with violence against women. May we fight against all kinds of prejudices be it blatant discrimination, racism, casteism, homophobia etc. Everyone's equal.