Palak a journalism graduate believes in simplifying the complicated and writing about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. She calls herself a " hodophile" or in layman words- a person who loves to travel.
Perhaps it all starts with our interactions with men. Because almost every man we turn to for our first romantic or sexual advances turns out to be deceitful in terms of viewing us with respect.
Never mind strangers on the internet we happen to flirt with and detect the red flags later. And eventually, stop with the communication yet stay passive and allow their onslaught of derogatory thoughts pop up on our feeds.
Moreover, the first time we resist, we get to see their true nasty selves capable of inflicting actual damage. The damage is not just restricted to the physical self. One feels equally violated through virtual verbal abuse. Especially if that language objectified you and diminishes you to some sort of sex object.
Slowly you see, as you point it out to them, how their way of viewing women is the very cause of atrocious cases of violence inflicted on them we come to hear of every day, they start revealing even uglier dimensions. And if you dare compare them to rapists, for rape, isn't an isolated event but is committed by men bred in an atmosphere of utter misogyny, who have learnt the derogatory script of patriarchy too well, they actually take to wishing rape on you.
And then it becomes your fault, for inviting slander upon yourself. By defaming them first. And how did you defame them? You lost your sanity at seeing yourself objectified enough to make you feel extremely unsafe. To make you apprehensive about their capacity to commit actual violence on language, truly, is a market of inner feelings. And if one's inner feelings can be to unabashedly heap verbal abuse on a woman for hurting their ego on social media by coming after them on a separate platform, then physical violence might be just a step or two far away.
It gets nastier. The only way for you to somehow mitigate your feeling of being violated seems to resort to letting the world know, through the same social media, only outlet possible, of how disgusting human beings can become.
And defenceless yet aggressive, they post screenshots of conversations you had with them from years back. To prove what? To prove that the only mistake you committed in your whole act of resistance was flirting with them with clear sexual undertones several years ago. Although they indulged as willingly and consensually, a woman giving free reigns to her sexuality is always unacceptable.
How dare she flirt with a man and then call him out? Of course, she was asking for it. Your private conversations are paraded out to the whole world, your privacy stripped off without your consent. Of course, that is justified. It is retaliation in the eyes of law, my friends and acquaintances tell me.
You let the world know of the verbal abuse you faced is similar to the guy letting the world know how provocatively you flirted with him. Which, by the way, definitely implied that you wanted to have sex with him. Because flirting is simply an act of asking for sex.
Who cares if you have mentioned clearly in unambiguous English? A woman can't flirt to feel good about herself. She cannot indulge in witty repartees of a sexual nature because it is pleasurable at the moment. Men's idea about women's sexuality is narrower even than the breadth of an atom to the naked eye. Everything we say or do automatically amounts to asking for sex. Consent is a farce and character shaming a weapon for abusers.
The terror doesn't end there. On a post that publicly shames you as a 'desperate' flirty woman, there are hundreds and the count isn't exaggerated, hundreds of trolls shaming you, calling you names, insulting your character, further shaming you and publicly asking for your screenshots, asking for you to be further shamed and using the filthiest terms for you.
What is even more horrific is the large proportion of women engaging in pulling you down. Even worse, women and men come thronging to your post to chastise you and advise you on your reaction. Passively condemning the use of violent language. Because no matter how unsafe you feel, unless your vagina is really penetrated you can't apprehend a man's innate capacity for evil. Even if he says " that p**** must be stretched as much as your grey matter*.
Even if he called you a ' low IQ f**** retard' with who he would not have otherwise engaged but for the fact that she was 'pretty'. This is a simple attack on your intelligence and doesn't allow you to examine how different this individual is from the ones who come on the news with allegations of brutalising and maiming.
It hasn't been many days since I stood the first-hand witness to being publicly shamed, trolled, objectified and insulted. Something I was familiar with only distantly. But when it happens to you, and when you lose nights of sleep feeling violated and stripped of power and dignity, you realise that shock isn't the right register for evil.
For there is far too many of this kind for all the shock we are capable of to exit from our bodies. When you have rape wished on you the first time, since that is the new normal of our country at present, what you do is accept that rape is no longer an act of 'abnormalcy'.
It is the new normal. No matter how unacceptable that sounds. Shock is taking away accountability from the action. Rendering ourselves passive. The only way out is fighting it tooth and nail. And that, I realised from experience is when we let the fact settle in that the count of allies for women in the world is too few. And we have no time to be shocked.
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