Do you realize what this fear is?
It’s the creak of the bedroom door when you know the house is empty
it’s being the last woman bound for the bus terminus knowing you’ll be alone in
what seems like then a tin and rubber trap.
It’s not being allowed to go on a trip with your friends because you’re a girl and
your parents are worried for the worst.
We never realize in how many ways fear has us in its clutches or how it
manifests itself in the various ways I mentioned. From text book horror movie
scene to actual real life gut wrenching fear staring you in the face, palpable. Fact,
sometimes it’s baseless. Sometimes it’s just the apprehension of what could be
and what has happened that makes you anxious. It is the child that is asked
never to accept sweets from strangers for the wary parent knows what it could
But then how did we come to this? Innocent everyday gestures turning us into
inherently suspicious characters? Inquisitiveness is a trait to hone but this?
Constant doubt is a rather bitter bill to swallow. In regular situations like being
the last person on a public vehicle should not become a panic filled ride because
of one’s gender, or getting on a crowded bus for that matter should not invite the
same emotions one encounters while watching a horror movie just because you
are not a man.
Public spaces are public for a reason, the fact that you are unable to enjoy the
festival of Durga Puja freely walking the streets maneuvering not only the crowd
but also grabby hands or arms trying to get physically close to you should not be
acceptable. Yet we have grown accustomed to this sadly, to the truth that if you
sit in the front seat of an auto the driver is bound to poke his elbow into your
chest so you guard yourself with your bag. The threat may or may not be real,
you feel sad for doubting the man IF the ride remains uneventful but then that’s
not the point is it? The point is every time you step out of the house it’s a war
zone out there. The exhaustion of coming back from the battlefield is twice as
much not to mention the pathetic relief at the fact that “Hey! Made it through
without getting molested today”
Molestation or sexual assault somehow, because of the way society has shaped
us, makes the receiver feel dirty, unclean and downright disgusted. You can read
up on as many books and articles as you possibly can and want to but
somewhere the thought of it remains, you feel tainted because someone violated
you and derived pleasure from your pain. Seeing you cower and rush through
the stretch of a road gives someone confidence to go ahead and call you a few
more names till you disappear around the bend or outrun him in crazy panic and
fear again of what could happen. This fear is legitimate and instilled in us and
even if it isn’t we are made aware of it in vague terms by our parents until we
actually face it ourselves and we always do and those vague words materialize
into a very solid heart thumping scare.
Then why am I writing this article? To tell you that this fear you feel is something
that not natural, it is not natural to feel like every man you meet will turn out to
be an encounter that destroys you or that sexual harassment is an everyday thing
that women are BOUND to face or that there exists an alternative worse than
death. And it is not just women who face this burden alone, there are men and
transgendered people who face the same risks every day. Patriarchy has
everyone under this cold blanket of fear, hopelessness and loathing for those
who do not conform to its hard set ways. Anyone a slight deviation from the
norm is immediately made to know who drives the iron fist. We shiver yet we
move on to make it work, adjust ourselves, because it happens all the time to
everyone, and they all suffer maybe we shouldn’t whine and get through it.
I’d like to throw in my two cents here and tell you why just because everyone is
suffering you NEED to whine and shout and rage about it. Rage about not just
you and how insecure you feel, but for everyone else who thinks they should just
get along with it. No, do NOT get along with it, instead walk tall and upright and
raise your head, be confident in your existence, that you belong there same as
any other person.
Dispel this chain of fear mongering by not bowing down to it, refuse to be ruled
by it, do things in spite of it, and if and when it comes to face you stand up to it
and don’t be afraid to seek help. You are not at fault here, they are.
“It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing
WRITTEN BY- Madhumati Chowdhury