Tuesday, December 6, 2011

That thing they call modesty

"She had it coming."

Those are by far the four most disgusting words I've heard come out of a person's mouth.

Mostly used in the context of sexual violence, it makes these words all the more vile. A sort of moral commentary on a woman's body, that is uncalled for and completely unnecessary. Choices I make, or any woman makes, are not subject to the scrutiny of a man's moral and social compass.

These videos online about someone commenting on the morality of a bikini, on the morality of showing a woman's eyes/face/body are repulsive to say the very least. The very, very, least.

As a man, there are certain things one feels entitled to. The freedom to do and say just about anything is one of these things. And this freedom, as is the case with most things freely given, is exploited everyday. Take for instance, the random dude standing near a tea shop, smoking a cigarette, drinking a cup of tea. For starters, that tea shop is an illegal structure, built on a footpath that is supposed to serve pedestrians, however, legality notwithstanding, the corner tea shop is the scene of the seemingly innocuous scene of violence - commentary. [Carol Ann Duffy explains her response to this quite beautifully in a poem whose text I simply cannot find online or remember the title of. When I do, I will edit this post and link to that poem.]

Walking past a tea shop does not mean, I am game for some asshole's thoughts on my appearence, or any other woman's appearance for that matter. It only means the tea shop is an incidental location on my way to some place, not that every man standing there can, while drinking tea, wonder aloud at my breasts, ass, face, clothes. The fact that I choose not to confront them is a sign of assent, to let them talk freely and not allow myself the frustration of being a woman.

But assent brings with it a host of other problems, assent means I am giving a strange man the freedom to access my body in any way he should choose, whether it is by words, touch, or in any other way. Assent, however given, makes me a willing and consensual party in the process that is sexual crime. That knowledge is the most difficult thing to live with everyday. It colours just about everything I do. When I get into a bus, especially one that is crowded, I know that I will silently deal with some faceless, spineless, bastard who chooses to rub an erect penis across my back. Yes, it's true, it happens, and there are scores of women who silently deal with this everyday.

My question is - why is it a given that men are allowed to rub their crotches on women's backs and these same men go ahead and talk about the ownership and possession of their wives/girlfriends? Their bodies seem to be forcibly thrust onto silently unwilling women, so why do they feel the need for monogamy? Why do they get the freedom to access bodies other than those they have supposedly tied themselves to, and us women are expected to be virgins/monogamous and untouched/unsullied by other men.

To be perfectly honest, the two years on the local trains when I was studying at Madras University, were by far the best years of my life, public transport wise. I left early, 8.45am-9am, the trains were running mostly empty and I could sit anywhere, read a book, relax until my stop. The buses ran empty too, just feeling the sea breeze hit you while you made your commute helped me deal with the bullshittery that was travelling back home by bus after classes were over. The funny thing is, my toe rings, a supposed sign of "wedded bliss" seemed to not have an effect on these faceless, spineless, bastards. Apparently violating some other nameless, faceless man's "property" was an even bigger high.

[And another series begins.]


  1. Brilliantly written, Shruthi. So so true. Those same faceless, spineless bastards should be arrested and locked in a room with the husbands and fathers of the women they assaulted. If I was a woman I would attack those scumbags and humiliate them in public, but I know it´s easier said than done.

  2. Is it "Big Sue and Now, Voyager"?

  3. I had once such an experience. Such a spineless dickhead bastard rubbing his member against me when i was SITTING in a not so crowded bus.. I kept moving away towards the other passenger but he kept thrusting on to me.. I shouted out, " Uncle, please move away and stand elsewhere" To his chagrin, all the passengers started looking at him. He asked the conductor to stop midway and got out.

    I do really have the mind to thrust his dick with a safety pin if such a thing happens again. Bastards!!

  4. Shruthi, I had been catching up on ur old posts. Congratulations on ur new job! I guess every urban gal's story about parent driven match making is eerily similar.

    P.S. Can u please change the font colour of your blog writing in the mobile version. I'm finding it swalpa difficult to read and find the words. Strainful on the eyes.Or maybe I'm getting old.

  5. Vrinda -
    i don't know. I remember it from college, but not the title. GAH!
    Runaway - sure, let me see what I can do. I might even change the colour of the template :P
    Joe - thanks a lot.

    As for this reality, yes, it happens everyday and yes we have to deal with it, but for this one instance I don't want to "deal with it"