Preach me Not!

IMG_8792

December 5th, Mumbai 2014. The city looks the same. The sea from my hotel room at Taj Lands End looked calm. It’s been more than two years and i was looking forward to meet my besties. Three of us friends were going to meet over drinks at a popular bandra bar. We decided to drive ourselves to the said destination and cap our evening by 9 pm. I took stock of the city’s situation post the recent numerous assaults, and considered activating the rape safety valve. There were new rules this time that i needed to be aware of. ”Don’t take a cab, drink less, do not doze off, and drive home at an hour that is positively ‘rape-free’.”  Words of wisdom from a friends mom. Noted.

”Rape free” hour!! That was new to ears. I asked my friends out of curiosity how to calculate a ”rape free” hour and here is what the messiahs of women had to say, pay very close attention.

You don’t get stuck in dingy alleyways, you minus all the time you desire to loiter in the city post sunset, you don’t order an LIT (Long-Island Ice Tea), you keep a father, brother, boyfriend, any reliable, preferably familial, male entity at close proximity, you negotiate with your boss to let you off early everyday of your work week, you set a curfew hour that is acceptable by your parents, your landlord or your husband, you always address the ‘other male’ as bhaiyya (brother) — even if it is your assailant. In short you just keep a very low profile, invisible to be precise. Finally my friends tells me to always ”always” wear anti rape undergarments.

Yes, that’s how you escape rape. Utter bollocks. I have been a vocal contributor at Worlpulse that aims to help women protect themselves against violence with the help of personal safety products, information & awareness. I am always looking for innovative ways related to women’s safety but I won’t put my vagina under a lock or follow some obnoxious ”rape free” hour.  While I am all for women’s protections and preventive measures, wearing a panty that looks like a chastity belt is not my idea of protecting myself.

Today it is underwear. Tomorrow are we going to start promoting anti-rape clothes that no one can tear, rip, or pull out? I don’t want to be walking around town feeling like I am carrying a safe deposit box full of prized possessions and only I have the key to unlock the treasure. My personal views aside, here are some practical questions that popped up when I first read about
the anti-rape underwear.
1. If a rapist can’t easily take off the anti-rape underwear, how long will it personally take me to undo all the secret locks every time I want to use the bathroom or even have sex? #Inconvenient
2. How comfortable will I feel wearing that anti-rape garment constantly worrying about whether or not it will protect me from sexual assaults when needed? #Stress
3. If the rapist is unsuccessful in removing the victim’s underwear, will it lead to greater anger and frustration to the point of hurting the victim in other ways? #Aggression
What we really need to address is the cause of rape. Do rapes happen because of what a woman is wearing (or not wearing)? Are panties with thigh locks really going to make women safer? For most part, these handy tips have been tried and tested by some of the most emancipated women I know, my friends included. But we have never been able to arrive at the so-called rape-free hour or garments to escape rape. Women still get assaulted. They still get preached to. And it is usually regarded as the women’ problem. All these questions and more make me think this is yet another way to make money off a grave social problem. With women being raped every 20 minutes in India what we really need is not for us to lock our vaginas and hope that the rapist gets tired of trying to rip our underwear. Instead, we need campaigns that can change the society’s attitude towards women. And guess what! There is no excuse for the city drawing its shutters on us. The city cannot be off limits for women. It is yours. And mine. And will always be so.

On that note, the three of us met again, another evening, and we stood put till the time we wanted to. Misogyny and stupidity be damned.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Preach me Not!

    • Every time we tell women that they should take another precaution to keep themselves safe — wear more clothing, stop drinking as much
      alcohol, watch their drink carefully, and don some anti-rape underwear we’re furthering the fundamental premise upon which rape culture
      rests. The magnitude of the danger cannot be discounted, its obvious to feel scared and confused. Awareness and constant vigilance is the key, circumspection is required in the day-to-day exercise.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s