-by Aashna Jha, Batch of 2022
You scare me. You scare me when I walk, talk and breathe. You scare me in the place I call my home. You don’t let me be the woman I am because you need me to be the woman you want. A pretty robot expected to smile through your unwelcome touches, stares and DMs. Your unsolicited advances should be treated as just a compliment and I should feel privileged to receive your attention in the form of your dick pics. And to those of you who count themselves ‘safe’ in this era of #MeToo because your advances aren’t textbook harassment like the others, don’t. Your ‘Hi’s’ and ‘Hello’s, they make me feel unsafe. Your comments so “respectful” in your eyes are unwanted in mine. You assume authority over me just because you are a man and I am not. You claim me as if I am an object to be possessed and if I already have an owner you apologize to him and not to me. You feel entitled to be a part of my life even when I so clearly never invited you.
Then why do you enter? Why do you enter my account, my DMs, my mouth, my vagina? Why do you feel so entitled to my thoughts, my space and my body? Why do you threaten me with acid, rape and murder when I call you out? I feel scared of standing up for myself. I feel scared of telling you to go away because of what you may do. After all, a few dick pics are better than acid on my face. You call me a slut, a whore, a randi because I chose him and not you. You call me a bitch because I speak out. So, I stay silent lest I be a victim to your male ego. I stay silent to save my body but you keep killing my soul.
To the men who consider themselves above all these monsters, don’t. You are a part of the problem if you refuse to recognize your privilege. You are a part of the problem if you call women ‘Feminazis’ because they don’t fit into your box of women empowerment. You ‘woke’ men preaching equality want my feminism to be wrapped in a pretty little box that doesn’t threaten you. You refuse to listen because you are too busy defending your kind. I am not attacking you, I never have. I just want you to listen. I just want you to acknowledge my struggle without comparing it with yours. I just want you on my side and not the neutral moral high ground you choose to maintain.
I am done being scared. I am done with thinking about the length of my shorts or the colour of my lipstick. I am done with feeling vulnerable in my own city, college and classroom. You vile, disgusting creatures have entered my space for far too long. You have made me feel ashamed of my body and my voice for far too long. This is my college as much as yours and I have the right to feel safe in its campus as much as you do. You cannot claim me, own me or possess me. You are not entitled to my smiles, replies or body. I cannot make the world a safer place for myself but maybe, just maybe, I can make my college a safe space for all women who are a part of it.
A place where I don’t have to watch how I sit.
A place where I don’t have to watch how I dress.
A place where I don’t have to watch how I speak.
A place where I don’t have to watch how I breathe.
A place where I can be free because that’s all I have ever wanted.