As I start typing Lady Gaga'a lyrics, I get goosebumps and chills running down my spine. It is that feeling when you get terrified at the bare mention of something. Something that makes you want to throw away everything you have been doing. Something that brings out the worst in you. Something that makes you want to retaliate in the best possible way for yourself and in the worst possible way for the person making it happen.
As a girl born and brought up in Delhi, I know exactly what “#Metoo” stands for. The fights we had with our parents for not letting us walk down the street after dawn make a lot of sense now. The fear of the unknown, but to an extent knowing what to expect if we are outside the college premises after 6 pm, still gives me shivers.
I have seen Delhi grow from the days of DTC and blue line buses, to the emergence of the Delhi metro pink line. Undoubtedly a lot has changed. The only constant is, "the stare". My peers and I are very familiar with "the stare".
That stare not only checks you out, but daunts you in the moment and haunts you later. And as almost everyone is familiar with the stare, many have been very unfortunate to have experienced worse and even the worse than the devil caught in act.
But why does it have to be this way? I am not a psychologist but I can pen down a few reasons that I think are responsible for the scenario, we are not proud of. The magazine "India today" calls them as "predators".
1. The problem is more fundamental
That dreadful night of 16.12.12 when Delhi played host to one of the most heinous crimes ever that left the nation numb. After watching the documentary “India’s daughter” a while ago, I had a nauseating Epiphany that the people who did it thought that it was indeed their right and moreover, the victim’s fault.
A person who has grown up in a family setup where domestic violence and crime against women was considered a norm, is incapable of thinking otherwise. And so, they do what they wish.
2. It’s an infectious disease that makes you look COOL
“Dude, I can't be alone forever. Everyone around me is seeing someone. I need someone too. And this imposition of mine, might actually become someone's obligation to say yes. And moreover, if one person is not interested, another will be. My stud friends do it all the time. And a couple looks cooler than being single. So never stop. Just keep switching targets.”
3. But it’s just healthy flirting
"Me too" has brought forward countless people to speak about the atrocious and immoral devil hovering over almost every workplace. Consent means nothing.
“There's no need to blow this out of proportion. I thought we were friends. Since when does friendship have limits?"
"These texts and comments are plain hilarious. We are friends. Aren't we? It’s totally platonic.”
4. Bollywood is life
“Stalking always gives positive results. If I am extremely persistent, you will become extremely interested. Pick any Hindi flick. Or even songs. Think of the Hindi item songs.”
5. Brand endorsements
From soda to chocolates, from toothpastes to deodorants, from fruit juices to creams, from air-conditioning to cars, almost every commercial is based on the fact that the particular product will either make you successful in finding or keeping your perfect match, sometimes by making you PRETTY or act like a magnet for, come on, you know what I'm talking about.
6. Dating is a taboo
“I think the feelings are mutual. However, we can’t go out because of the fear of getting a reputation in the neighborhood, I will just have to pick the other path.”
7. No open discussions or coaching
“Shhhhhhhh…..we don’t talk like that in our family. You are still in school and will learn when the time is right. Maybe during one of your science lessons. For now, just focus on your studies. You need to get those scores.”
As quoted from India today's "#metoo hits home"(22nd Oct issue), "Many sexual predators think that they are irresistible to women and that whatever they find desirable is automatically attracted to them. Even a friendly smile would indicate that they can proceed."
It makes me sick to my stomach to realize how true and relatable all this is. This is a code blue situation. The need of the hour is of changing the thought process of these "predators" and make them realise of their actions.
I think that a disrespectful stare or an appalling incident, and everything that lies between these two, counts as an entry ticket for the "me too" movement. Unfortunately, a lot of people have a lot of stories to tell. The stories, that were once reality. The stories that they want to get over and forget. The stories that could bring out such an enormous number of convicts that there will not be enough prisons to accumulate them.