“But as the years went on, I realised that what I really want to be, all told, is a human. Just a productive, honest, courteously treated human.”~ Caitlin Moran,
Around 6.pm, two girls were sitting on the side way of a busy road in Dhanmondi. They were crunching potato chips and simply talking. This is supposed be a very typical scene, right? Wrong, because every man who was crossing that road by rickshaw or car or by foot or those who were sitting on the footpath were looking at them like they are from outer space. Not only that, they manage to throw some comment at the girls. Some commented how cheap those girls were, how ugly and dirty characters they have, some said they’d love to sleep with both of them and some came up with brilliant scientific ideas like how their body fat can be used to produce electricity. I, sitting with my friend was taking those words with the coke and the chips we so foolishly had chosen to take on the side of a busy highway. Something kept crawling inside of me as long as we sat there.
Some days ago while “Innocence of Muslim” was released I found some random interesting comments on Facebook like – “why people waste their time on silly things like “eve teasing” rather than protesting against the religious insults westerns are shoving upon our throats.” I do not understand how these two things are related. Of course, he who came up with that comment never walked on street with two breast, thighs and vagina. Had he done that, he wouldn’t have call eve teasing a “silly thing “or the “silly thing” eve teasing. To be honest, I resent the fact that except rape and murder, whatever happens to women is pushed into a category called eve teasing.
A friend of mine once told me that what are all the girls worried about, all they need to do is to find a way to be safe. To be honest, that would be nowhere. Twenty first century is grinding on but sadly in Bangladesh there are teenage girls who commit suicide because of such silly cause like “eve teasing”. We all hate this problem, we all want this to stop, but how can you blame a guy if the girl is wearing jeans and shirt? But what about those who wear traditional dresses with utmost modesty and still hear demeaning comments? Is this just about dresses? Or is it because they are outside without a male companion? Or, is it simply because our society has created so many misconceptions about women that the aftermath has become so distortedly discriminatory?
I’ll not flood this writing with statistic and prove that women are victim. I know many people have a lot of issue with this whole “victim” thing. “Nobody is raping you; you are not killed-than how come you are a victim? Just do what you want, say what you want to say, dude! Stop all these whining. We don’t like talking about gender issues because we would rather talk about the weather. What a negative, bitter topic to spoil the mood!” But do we really have the freedom to do whatever we want? Our parents can’t sit in comfort if we are not back home before its dark –because it’s a jungle out there. What should we do if we feel like taking a ride on rickshaw at night? Or want to go out in pouring rain without being an eye-candy of voyeurs? Even things that should not be called “vanity” like taking a music course at evening, or a night shift job are impossible to those who don’t have their own ride. So those who are living with this for them this is not whining. This is the calling for make some change.
When Wasfia and Nishat climbed Everest everyone clapped but not everyone is strong and lucky like them. Their main strength came from their family and their education. For most of the girls of our country these are the two things that hold them back. For most parents the girls (their honor to be exact) are like precious diamond, always at risk of being robbed. They try to protect them at any cost even if the protection suffocates their daughter. And even with all the protection the girls are humiliated whenever they step outside of the home.
May be this is the reason we don’t have that many women role model who have managed to break the shell of being a “woman” and have contributed to society as a human being. May be that’s why the concept of being a woman is stuck with looking good, being a daughter, mother, wife and angel in the house. Even after being good at so many things the moment a woman steps outside she becomes an easy target of humiliations.
At the end I want to ask the question Eve Ensler asked in her essay “Over it”,
“I am over the passivity of good men. Where the hell are you?
You live with us, make love with us, father us, befriend us, brother us, get nurtured and mothered and eternally supported by us, so why aren’t you standing with us? Why aren’t you driven to the point of madness and action by the rape and humiliation of us?”