OF HARASSMENT, SHAMING AND THE VICTIM
Speaking out in the face of harassment, especially when it concerns women has always been a part of what I stand for. I am editing this post in the hope that it won’t see the light of the day. This whole post was first written in May, 2015. At the time, it was packed with loads of emotions. Knowing as I am one who writes on impulse and never goes back to reading what I write before hitting ‘publish’, I saved the first draft, then came back to it later in the year, twice. This is its third edit, bereft of many personal details and as of now, I don’t know that I’ll publish it. It’s a topic that I used to be passionate, yet ignorant about until May, 2015. This blog is an archive of sorts and I beg my inner demon to grant me permission to publish this.
During the week, I heard news about friends of mine who have faced sexual harassment but have been unable to voice out their feelings for fear of being shamed. I dug a little and found out a lot about the the one man responsible for harassing these ladies, the man whose own cup of atrocities got filled up. This isn’t about the accused man or the ladies who accused him, it’s about the exhumation of a topic I’d managed to bury and consciously forget about.
Digging into this matter revealed a lot to me that bothered me. The fact that it is now a trend among older folks in various industries. They portray the fatherly image and have young people look up to them. They pretend to care about the welfare of their ‘daughters’, especially those who aren’t exactly privileged financially. They win trust and when they strike, the daughters are caught unawares. The daughters even blame themselves for thinking they were sexually harassed. Afterall, daddy loves them. They can’t speak out because, then, they’d have to admit that daddy had been doling out cash to them even when they didn’t ask for it. What were they doing collecting money from older men who they looked up to and called ‘father’? The public would ask. ‘It’s your fault he touched you’, the public would say, ‘no man will give you money without having an ulterior motive and you would be a fool to trust him enough to collect money from him without suspecting he wants to taste your cookies’, the public would conclude.
It is not a new topic- sexual harassment- but, like every other dangerous disease, this is one we must continue to fight till it is history. Comments flying here and there blame the women (in this case), for letting themselves trust a man enough to let him kiss them forcefully or touch them without consent. It’s a shame. It’s also a shame that women haven’t come to realise that they are the ones who need to fight this filth. How would you explain confiding in your friend and telling her about your plans to bring a sexual molester to face the law only to have her divulge your plans to same accused man? Where’s the sense in that?
If women can’t trust each other to fight this menace, how will it stop? Should loyalty between friends even be tested? People question why these harassed girls wait for so long before speaking out, why some don’t even say anything, why they keep quiet and suffer in silence. The answer is very simple: Shame, the fear of being judged. And considering as certain ladies use the whole ‘he raped me’ excuse to bring down a man who did nothing to them, it gets really hard to believe women who are real victims.
Do you understand how shameful it feels to admit that I was actually in his room when it happened but I never permitted him to touch me? Knowing that the next question that would be asked is: ‘what were you doing in his room?’ No one really wants to know whether he was my friend or a father figure to me. No one wants to believe that I trusted him and that was why I was with him when it happened. No one! All the majority of people care about is what you were wearing when it happened. Was it something that would tempt his penis to start to think for itself and not listen to the voice of reason of its owner? Did you seduce him, knowingly or not?
All these and the stupid ‘prove-that-he-raped-you’ tests where the victim has to recount sordid details of the whole incidence, as if the trauma of being forcefully touched isn’t enough, just sickens me. This is why a lot of victims lie to themselves, it is easier to believe that you were the reason he touched you. Keep telling yourself this lie, and you’d soon believe it true, so true, you even smile when you think about it.
Your childhood friend rapes you and you just tell yourself that it wasn’t rape, that you actually let it happen, that it was your fault. And you say this over and over again till it becomes your truth. This is how the wicked perpetrators make it out into the world and lure other unsuspecting ladies under the guise of ‘brother’, ‘father’ and ‘best friend’.
Much as I’d like to present an epic conclusion that would suggest brilliant ways to stop this evil, I can’t. I can only, when I dream, dream of teaching my child(ren) to be strong enough to kick a man in strategic places if he dares harass them, to be wise enough to know not to trust EVERYONE, to be cautious enough to smell lies from afar and to be kind enough to always confide in me.
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