As I watched this video, I had several reactions – anger, frustration, repulsion, gut wrenching pain and a complete sense of helplessness. I found myself asking, what should we do? How can we change this? Will this ever change?
I was tempted to give into the powerless feeling that was sweeping over me. It is the bane of my generation, this feeling that we can’t do much to change anything. We carve our lives with ambition, hard work and success, insulating ourselves from things that we have no power over. Most days the insulation works, keeping us away from the realities that surround us. On some days like this one, something manages to slice through that insulation and hit us at our soft spot.
But the answers I was seeking, were yet to come to me. Conversations with friends and sharing the link on Facebook wasn’t going to cut it this time around. This wasn’t one of those Social Media activations that make a dent in the shape of the problem. Something had to be done in real life, in our everyday, in our homes, offices and on the streets.
Then my friend Mou shared this video about the History of Wooing Women made by cdza and also this article written by Sarah Hepola. The comments section is particularly illuminating. All this was symptomatic of where our very ‘global’ culture has moved.
Today I read my friend Sonal’s post about this. And she has given me the answer. The first thing to do is to stop being helpless. There is no way we can allow ourselves to shrug our shoulders, draw the dupattas/jackets/stoles closer and promise ourselves that we wouldn’t be in such situations. Because every woman I know has been in this situation where men have behaved in a way that disrespected womankind.
I have been there too, and am guilty of doing nothing more but looking away in disgust. And thinking later, if only I had said something. But pacifying my conscience by thinking that there was no way they would have heard you anyway. Sometimes I’ve been so angry, that I haven’t been able to say or do anything.
Only once have I physically reacted by slapping the first face I saw when a mob tried to grope me on a local train. I was 19 and my mom was travelling with me. The courage of the young and the fact that my mom can smack the daylights out of anyone probably made me actually take action. We travelled the rest of our journey with a imaginary body bubble that no one dared to cross.
From personal experience, I have seen that there are two things that hold us back – Fear and a feeling of Helplessness. Which is why, we must be brave, there is no other way. By pledging that I will Not be Helpless, I am making a choice, to think, speak up and do something.
If you’re a woman, I urge you to do the same, irrespective of where you live. Take control and do something, anything. Don’t risk your lives, but don’t be passive. Sonal’s action points are a good place to start. Write about it, talk about it and, most importantly, when faced with a situation that calls for you to be brave, be.
If you’re a man who believes that women have be disrespected long enough, help spread the message too.
Feel free to use the graphic above, if you’d like to use it somewhere to spread the message. No attribution needed.
P.S.: You may wonder, what a post like this is doing on a blog about travel, design and spreading cheer. But this blog is all about sharing with you everything that inspires me. All creative pieces shared above urged me to voice my thoughts to you. And I also believe that life just shouldn’t be compartmentalized like that!