A day after Bangalore’s mass molestation incident, Rameez Shaikh, a freelance writer, was discussing #NotAllMen and it’s trending status on Twitter with a friend. Frustrated with the initial silence on the matter, he took to facebook to discuss how yet again, (some) men had found a way to make (all) women’s oppression about themselves. On asking what compelled him to write a status pointing out the lunacy behind the trend of #NotAllMen, he told us, “What discomforted them? Being questioned? Is there no form of collective responsibility where we sit down and go, OK, there is an issue, and let’s try and fix it? No. Instead, we try and deflect the blame, off of us, onto the women. What was she wearing? Why was she out at 2 am? Was she drunk? Whom was she with?” This is the same rhetoric that follows every time, with the glorified stamp and seal of our politicians in front of the public eye.
What’s worse is that not only has this reaction proved the fragile nature of (some) men’s egos but that it has entirely taken away from the incident and conversation we should (ALL) be having. When will Indian men understand what consent means? When does molestation stop being a joke shared between two (or three or four or five) men, but instead taken for what it is – blatant sexual harassment. Rameez’s status effectively articulates these thoughts on the matter – an opinion we hope we will one day share with people at large. Here is Shaikh’s post as seen on Facebook, published here with his permission.
“So, let’s get this straight: a bunch of men grope, pinch, catcall, and molest women amidst police protection, and the best you can do is say “BUT HEY NOT ALL MEN!”? Really?
There’s this hullaballoo about the things Indian men are taught about women, and while that is problematic, my biggest concern lies with the things we’re not taught about women. More specifically, my biggest concern lies with the fact that we’re never taught to respect a woman’s consent. As an Indian man, I can vouch for the fact that not once — not in school, not in college, not at home, or anywhere else — has anyone educated me about consent. If anything, incidentally, it was quite the opposite. Being in an all boys’ school, I know that most boys in their teens view women as objects with tits that exist solely for their sexual gratification. And anyone who disagrees with me can head straight to the boys’ washroom in any school and gawk at the graffitied walls, full of naked teachers and the things these boys would love to do to them.
In college, I watched my seniors pour water down a girl’s cleavage. “It’s Holi, she won’t mind, plus her tits are fucking sexy lol,” I heard them chuckle after. I remember being nervous about a date in my teens, when a senior walked up to me and nonchalantly said, “If you get a chance, just stick your fingers into her cunt. Trust me, she’ll resist at first, but once it starts feeling good she’ll give in eventually.”
That’s the sickening mentality we grow up with. And if you’re sitting there thinking, “But hey not all men because I don’t think like that”, then fuck you, get your ignorant ass off your moral low pony, because this is the reality of every single man out there, which, unfortunately, makes it hell for every single woman out there too. I concede that we’re all victims of patriarchy, but as you sit shirtless, scratch your balls, and shout “NOT ALL MEN” from behind a screen, you fail to realise that women are the only ones who bear the brunt of it all.
And if you still can’t wrap your head around it, here’s what you can do: pick female friends at random — anyone from your friend list, really — and ask them if they’ve ever been groped, molested, or sexually abused. After you’re done hearing their multiple horrific stories, ask yourself a simple question: do all of them dress in the same manner? Speak in the same manner? Smoke, drink, have tats, piercings, or do whatever is deemed against our ‘culture’?
As a man, you can walk shirtless in a street thronged with 50 women without the fear of as much as being touched. Can a woman do that in a street full of men? As the Bangalore incident proved, they clearly can’t — and they don’t even need to be topless for it to happen.
There needs to be a change in mentality, and that can only come with accepting that there is a problem. Choosing to prevaricate instead, guys, isn’t the solution at all.”
Words: Tansha Vohra