Posted by Dua Subzwari
Ever came across a woman who had an expression of fear on her face while crossing the road? Do you remember that girl in college who never talked to anyone? There was also a girl in the workplace who felt extremely conscious while giving presentations…
While you were reading the above-mentioned lines, a name or two must have struck your mind. A few names came into my mind too. I wonder why women feel so uncomfortable in public transports that their expressions say it all. Why are women so scared of openly expressing their thoughts? Why do some young girls prefer to stay alone in college and schools? And why do women feel conscious while walking on the road?
There can be varying answers to these questions. And various factors determine the ‘paranoid’ behaviour of women, especially in public places. Many of these factors are ingrained in our society for ages. Women in all the societies have been given a secondary place, the history depicts how they were always subjected to inferiority. Certain practices were prevalent in ancient India like women couldn’t eat before their husbands, they couldn’t go out alone, they were not allowed to remarry, education for women was a Utopian dream, etc. These practices shaped how women should behave and this led to a personality crisis that is still seen in the majority of women.
There can be varying answers to these questions. And various factors determine the ‘paranoid’ behaviour of women, especially in public places. Many of these factors are ingrained in our society for ages. Women in all the societies have been given a secondary place, the history depicts how they were always subjected to inferiority.
We feel ‘Paranoid’ in public places
One can not deny the fact that women in India are not safe. Rape cases still top the news headlines and very few rapists are punished. It is shocking to know that even this lockdown could not hold these perverts. A girl in Jharkhand was gang-raped after she approached her friend for help during the lockdown. The friend along with 8 others raped her. And not just rapes, eve-teasing, following women, and making slur comments are very common. We can’t even express our thoughts on social media. The moment we offend someone, abusive comments with rape threats flood in.
This makes women feel like they are continuously being watched. We walk on the road and we feel like every man out there is looking at us, even if no one is. That’s how paranoia has become a part of our personality, and this part no longer feels strange. It now feels normal to be paranoid.
Women feel paranoid because they know how society has treated them for a long time. The fact that rapists are everywhere and women are not safe has ingrained paranoia in them. I still feel scared to take elevators alone, I prefer taking stairs rather than the lift when I am the only girl over there. Mall parking feels like a nightmare to women who travel alone. All this happens because women very well know that they are not safe.
Not forgetting about domestic violence, marital rapes, and molestation cases where the accused person is the victim’s own relative. That’s when we start to feel paranoid in our own houses. Women’s safety is a huge issue. One after the other governments came and went but no solid solution has been put forward till now.
WOMEN FEEL PARANOID BECAUSE THEY KNOW HOW SOCIETY HAS TREATED THEM FOR A LONG TIME. THE FACT THAT RAPISTS ARE EVERYWHERE AND WOMEN ARE NOT SAFE HAS INGRAINED PARANOIA IN THEM. I STILL FEEL SCARED TO TAKE ELEVATORS ALONE, I PREFER TAKING STAIRS RATHER THAN THE LIFT WHEN I AM THE ONLY GIRL OVER THERE. MALL PARKING FEELS LIKE A NIGHTMARE TO WOMEN WHO TRAVEL ALONE. ALL THIS HAPPENS BECAUSE WOMEN VERY WELL KNOW THAT THEY ARE NOT SAFE.
I came to Delhi for my graduation five years back. Everything was new to me, the busy roads, lots of traffic and so many people rushing. I thought I would never survive it. Why? Because my confidence level was very low. I could not cross the road, I could not say even a simple ‘Hi’ to people. I hail from a small town in UP. You don’t see many girls on roads there, patriarchy rules many Indian towns. Except for school and tuitions, I rarely stepped out of my house. Coming to Delhi was more like a cultural shock to me. People here were already accustomed to real life and I was a small-town girl with no idea of a metro-city life.
What happened to me happens to many girls out there. Due to social barriers, they do not get accustomed to the real world. Some have to struggle for basic education while some are still married off at an early age. Because of this, we fail to prepare them for a broader world. The same happens with many girls and women who never get an opportunity to leave their familiar places and when they finally step into the real world, it’s a complete cultural shock.
The 2014 movie Queen, puts forward a very strong point. The protagonist, Rani is dumped by her fiance a day before her marriage. She then decides to go for her honeymoon, alone! The problems faced by this girl relate to those faced by many young girls. A girl who barely stepped out of Rajouri now goes to Paris all alone. During her whole journey, she learns many things and in the end, realises her worth and gains self-confidence.
The movie is not about a girl being dumped, it has a deeper lesson to offer. Caging women will be of no good. They should be given the freedom to accomplish their goals. Rani goes to Europe and realises that she can do things on her own. I wonder how many women have that level of confidence to manage things all by themselves. After so many waves of feminism and feminist movements, women still struggle for basic rights. Education and safety are part of the same list.
Also read: How Psychology Wronged Women
We can only inculcate confidence in them by providing an appropriate environment and that’s going to take a while. By the time society changes, we must teach people around us to respect women and care for them. This shouldn’t be done out of pity, women should be respected because it’s their right. Let’s make the world a better place for women where they can live freely.
Dua Subzwari is a Mass Communication student in Jamia Millia Islamia. She loves to write on issues concerning women, minorities and LGBTQ+ community. Apart from writing, she loves to paint. She believes in being happily chaotic. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.
Featured Image Source: Signal v. Noise