I’m a woman; an identity formed based on my gender that is supposed to align with weakness and vulnerability. My age, my size, my clothes, my skin colour, my religion, my location – nothing matters except my gender.
Let’s start with blaming my long hair that I’ve left open today, blame my eyes that are dressed in kajal, my lips that wear lipstick sometimes, my low cut top, my bra strap that is showing, my boobs that you mistake for my eyes when you talk to me, my midriff curves, my ass that you don’t miss checking out when I walk ahead, my skin that shows from the ripped parts of my jeans, and my long legs.
Once we’re done with that, let’s blame my choice to live my life, my drinking, my partying, my late nights, my lone traveling, my expensive tastes, my right to post pictures with my guy friends and my casual attitude towards dating.
You can then blame me for using cuss words and not being the woman you think I should be.
Eventually you’ll run out of excuses to blame me for every time a man stared blatantly to make me uncomfortable in my own skin, passed comments while I walked minding my own business, groped me using crowd as a reason to justify his actions, texted me obscene comments about my body and femininity, forced himself on me because I said yes to someone else before, assumed my existence was solely for his benefit and entertainment.
It happened everywhere I went trains, buses and flights; bars and offices – from a young boy to an old man
But I’m not weak, I’ve stood up to each of them once I realized I can fight back, but along with Julius Caesar and the Archimedes Principle if I had been taught the lesson to be intolerant towards these creeps, if I was taught that my body is mine and I have every right to defend it when a mentally sick individual decides to violate that right; I wouldn’t have spent years of my life blaming myself. I wouldn’t have been crushed a little bit every time it happened, I wouldn’t have been left with guilt about someone else’s intentions and left wondering what I could’ve done differently to not have been harassed because somehow it was my fault.
Because it all started when I was 10, much before I hit puberty, much before I knew my own body, much before I knew it would be used without my permission.
Element of Words performed this at the Powai Poetry Slam, check the video here.