Editor’s Note: This story is part of the 16 Days Of Activism campaign against sexual harassment. People are invited to share their experiences and shift the onus from the survivor to the perpetrator. To know more and take part in the campaign click here.
I had a school friend, a guy, who told me he used to see his mom’s ‘boobs’ (as he called them) when she used to sweep and clean house. It was really very disturbing for me to be his friend after this and I stopped meeting him. It bothered me about how someone can disrespect a relation like that. But after staying away from him, I forgot about the issue.
I was sleeping one night and in my dream I dreamt about someone touching my breasts. When I woke up, it was my brother touching me. When I looked at him, he lied to me that there was mosquito he was trying to shoo it away. He is a lot younger than me. I did not know what to do. I went to my dad who was in another room and complained. He scolded him. It was a horrible night. I did not sleep that night.
After that, for a year, I was never able to sleep anywhere peacefully. If there is a boy in the house, no matter what age, it was difficult for me to close my eyes. It was easier for me to be with girl children, to hug them and play with them. But if any male kid hugged me, I froze right there. It was difficult for me to get over it. It is difficult and painful to even think that when you have a motherly affection for someone, that person thinks sexually about you. But there were people who assumed that I did not get near to male kids as I was feminist, in their context – a Man-Hater. I did not hate male children, I was just scared of them.
From that day I have issues about trusting any guy. I feared of marrying a man thinking if he too is like this. I feared about having a male child (my own or adopting one), what if he had no respect for me? I spoke to my then boy friend and close friends (male). They told me that they considered their parents and sisters as god. They would never think of anything like that. It did not completely wipe out my fear of men as a whole, but it helped. Sharing things like this with people who love you, gives you strength.
Days passed. It is not easy to confront kids if they think they have done nothing wrong. This issue was too personal to me and I did not know how to speak to my brother about it. But I started pointing out other things and started speaking about gender stereotyping, objectification and women’s rights. He used to whistle seeing girls on roads. I started pointing it out. Parents too point out things, but I feel in a wrong way. They never tell about how a girl might feel about this. They comment on girls wearing western clothes saying they will rot in hell. They will suffer. They are bad. It is their fault. This gives the boys an assurance that girls like these can be teased, molested or raped.
I told him how the stereotyping is wrong. He was threatened at home by elders when he was afraid of going outside that he will be made to wear a frock. I explained him that dressing like a girl was not an insult but the society made us to think that way. I do not believe in only conveying the message and telling the child that what s/he did was wrong. It might work sometimes and sometimes not. What is extremely necessary is whether they understand what you say. They need to feel and understand about right and wrong. Enforcing rules will not work many times because kids might get back to the same thing when you are not around. I never scolded him. Pointing out every single time, in a polite way worked for me.
Three years passed, he has changed. I can be assured of this because I know his female friends and I know how he treats them. He starts talking against stereotyping at home. He talks about women’s rights to his friends and watches feminist movies with me. And as for me, I am able to open up to guys more than the past few years. I am able to hug male kids again. Thinking of a having male child still creeps me out. But I feel that if I take care of kids, they will grow up to be feminists. 🙂
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