“Is it me?”

My silence was not a sign of enjoyment. It was one of helplessness..jpg

I was at the tailor yesterday. He had to take measurements and yet again, his hands were where it shouldn’t be. They always were but with my mother not around, it was more obvious now. I walked out wondering why he felt like he could. Maybe I should’ve panicked. I should’ve screamed and said “What are you doing?” But I was silent. I had told myself it’s part of life as a woman. Maybe I look like someone he could take advantage of. Maybe it’s not his fault that he feels entitled. Maybe it’s.. me. Is it me?

I told my mother later that day, “If this man was bad at his job, he’d be in jail for molestation already.” She shrugged and told me it’s who he is. She asked me why I couldn’t find another tailor. That sounded like a normal question to which I responded that not everyone can stitch well for fat people with slender shoulders. This one does. So I have no choice. Maybe if my body was different, I could avoid this. Or maybe it’s because I’m fat and my boobs are too, he feels the need to. Is it me?

But this wasn’t the only man. If I had to list down  similar experiences, I could go on forever. Like the guy in the flower market who casually pressed himself to my back and I blamed myself for shopping when it’s crowded. The old man at a temple who casually touched my butt and I cursed myself for not knowing it’s a mistake and thinking bad of an aged person. The married man on my right running his hands along my legs when his wife is sitting to my left and I knew I shouldn’t have worn those shorts on a Saturday night. Oh! How could I forget the stinking man who pressed my boob flat while he walked past me making me shiver with disgust for days and I shouldn’t have worn that damned kurti when I knew it was a little tight. If so many felt so comfortable over a decade, it couldn’t have always been them. It is me, isn’t it?

But then I remembered the man who asked me to kiss him when he thought he’d gotten me alone.. at 12 years old! I wore a middle school uniform and ran for my life. That wasn’t me. I didn’t know men could behave like that. I didn’t have big boobs, I didn’t wear tight clothes and it wasn’t an accident.

I suddenly realised I was wrong. When I answered my mother’s question, I was wrong. I was focusing on the wrong part of what she’d said. When she’d asked me why I still went to this man when I knew he was like that, I shouldn’t have given her a reason. I should have asked her why he was forgiven.

Why have we accepted the fact that he is who he is and come to terms with it? Why are our questions always turned towards ourselves and not the other person?

Why did you wear that dress? Why did you go out that night? Why did you smile at him? Why didn’t you ask for help? Why didn’t you scream at him? Why did you?

Why did I what?

Wear a dress I’d loved and bought with money I worked hard for? Go out of my house to unwind after a day of chaos with friends who just wanted a laugh and a fun night out? Smile at a stranger who was older than my father out of courtesy because I was taught to be kind and never harsh? Scream at a man that was invading my private space in a very disturbing manner knowing he could kill me and my Government will tell you its my fault?

Why did you?

Why did you raise a son who thought he could have it all? Why did you tell him he can abuse me and walk away because it’s his birthright to be an asshole? Why did you shame the girl who talked about it instead of applauding her for being brave enough to relive that experience over and over again with every word she spoke? Why did you bring a nation’s culture and values into behaviour that should be punishable?

It’s not me. It’s you.

You are the reason I had to walk away silent. You are the reason his wandering hands and his filthy mind are forgiven. You are the reason I feel unsure writing about my experience.

Because what if they read? All those men who have grazed and touched like I belong to them just because I’m walking past. They’ve made me used and worthless. What if the man I will someday marry read this? Because YOU have taught and preached to him that a woman is only good if she is pure and untouched. But then you went and told him he could. Now what about me?

You don’t have to answer to me. I’m nobody to you. But your daughter, your wife, your best friend, your future family will need to know why you, in your need to make your son feel important and manly, have tarnished her safety and way of life. Will you tell her it’s her fault? Will you tell her she should’ve known better?

When she asks you, “Is it me?”

Will you still say “Yes?” Or hang your head in shame?

Because we both know, it’s not her.

It’s not me.

It’s You.

50 thoughts on ““Is it me?”

  1. SreejaAjay says:

    Oh well, so now you are a mind reader! You have described the plight of almost every woman I know. Like, verbatim. I teach college students and there are instances when I wonder where are we going as a society.. parents became friends when the current generation was growing up. Issues like gender equality, sex education et al were voraciously highlighted, mostly,in a positive manner. I mean, to observe this behavioural pattern as a societal norm in this era.. that too an accepted norm.. why doesn’t it bother us enough to react? Why have we passively accepted it?
    To know the answer, try reacting to it. Forget males,you will be surprised how quickly even your female acquintances will disappear into the backgrounds, especially at gruelling times, leaving you alone to fight it out. To the extent that at a gradual black moment, you may blurt out,” It is me.”
    Its wrong,but 99% of times this is the chain of events. I have been left alone likewise, in such situations. Thereafter, relations change.
    Yet, I try. I know, so will you. And I hope our group grows.
    Precisely penned, a good read. Keep writing. You rock.

  2. creatingkings says:

    Let me say this, the majority of men aren’t that way, at least not here where I live (midwest USA.) Unfortunately a lot still are and there’s not much we can do about it right now. What we CAN do is start with ourselves and the example we set to others both male and female.

    I have no idea of your interests beyond your blog bio but if I may….try a martial art or two. If there are any schools around you, most offer an intro class or two. I only say this because it will likely boost your self-confidence and help you learn to deal with dirt-bags who do things like that (especially if they go too far). Sure, accidents happen. I’ve touched a woman in inappropriate places by accident, in a crowded line, etc. As soon as I realize it I apologize and be sincere and everything’s fine but a lot of people do it ‘by accident’ where there’s no accident in sight. It was purposeful.

    This might come off as unmerciful and rude, or even flat out mean but I promise I don’t say it to be mean; I only say it because it is something I’ve seen as true and an ugly truth is better than the most beautiful affectation of love when falsities flow within it.

    Many women DO bring on those unwarranted grabs and gropes. Not intentionally and that IN NO WAY makes it right for ANYBODY to do such a thing, but the fact remains. Predators look for victims, they look for the person who they THINK they can take advantage of and get away with it. Most of such predators will NOT choose prey that looks like it might kick their ass or bite back. Even in nature, the mighty lion will take a weak wildebeest over the strongest bull any day.

    That is why I suggest martial arts of some sort. They are amazing confidence boosters especially if you find a good teacher. Not only will you appear more confident as you progress (and it WILL show in your eyes, everybody will know) you will also be actually ABLE to do something about it if you ever need to.

    Much love and I hope this helps. Feel free to message me or anything if it upsets you or if something isn’t understood.


    • LoudThoughtsVoicedOut says:

      I’ve thought this so many times and while it in no way makes what he did okay, it might have truth to it – The day after the incident when I went to take my clothes back from the above mentioned tailor, I remember thinking that maybe I need to stop looking afraid or on the fence. If I looked less vulnerable, it may have made me less of a prey.
      But with that being said, I think it’s still, again, on us. We need to look tough because it’s become an accepted fact that they can’t help themselves which, bluntly speaking, is absolutely unacceptable.
      I’ve been taught to fight my way out of difficult circumstances but when it comes to that, I’m always too afraid, too anxious and I always freeze. (Trying to work on that a little bit.)

      Thank you for taking the time to write to me. I do think it’s unfair, but it doesn’t hurt to know an extra skill and look a little tough.

      And Thank You for reading ❤

      • Quinn says:

        Definitely try to find a new tailor. Not only is his behaviour excused but you hand over your money to this creep and PAY him for the privilege? NOOOOOO. No.

        Having been to India I definitely felt (in some places *cough* DELHI *cough*) really, really intimidated. The culture is strangely accepting of bizarre behaviour from men, and I found it quite tough to accept coming from somewhere that doesn’t have that atmosphere…

        I agree that it needs to change from the guys’ perspective. The girls are doing nothing wrong.

    • Quinn says:

      I am currently looking into stuff like Krav Maga or whatever, but I have my doubts that even my knowing martial arts will make me look like less of a target… Despite some training, at the end of the day if one large asshole decides to come at me, realistically I’m not strong enough to hold my own. I hate that because it means I always feel like I’m on the back foot.

      Whatever about a weak wildebeest – I’m like a BABY wildebeest. I’m not weak for my size but I’m the runt of the litter and there’s not much I can do about it. Maybe if I start wearing stilts in public…?

  3. TheOriginalPhoenix says:

    Like you said, it’s on the men who do these things. I’m not saying all men are like that but they do exist. Don’t blame yourself. Our culture still has that disgusting notion “boys will be boys” and that women are “asking for it.” You can see it everywhere in case like girls being sent home from school because their clothes are “too revealing” and “distracting the boys.” We need to teach our kids accordingly. Nobody has any right to behave so indecently around anyone.

    • LoudThoughtsVoicedOut says:

      I know men who would never comment on a woman’s clothing or call it a reason for inappropriate behaviour. It’s definitely not all men. But the ones that are make us fear them all. I remember being sent home for wearing a sleeveless dress in sixth grade. I didn’t know then what I want to say now – If my arms are going to give him a reason to misbehave, perhaps he should’ve been put in his place and not me.

      Thank you for reading 🙂 ❤

  4. Letters to life says:

    Such a true post. Parents teach their daughters to behave well, but why don’t they do the same with their son! Why didn’t they give him a punch at the very first time when he looks at a girl weirdly or when he starts thinking that he can have it all!? It is a high time world starts understanding it. Women can live their life the way they want. And wearing a short dress or a tight one is not an indication for the men to come! Men must understand this.

    • LoudThoughtsVoicedOut says:

      Absolutely! I always try to explain this with – “Dear Man, I saw you wear a red t-shirt. Red angers me. And so I slapped you and pulled at it until you were on the streets with a torn shirt and a swollen face. Sounds unfair, doesn’t it? Think about it. Sincerely, It’s your mind, not my dress.”

      Until we put our hand out and utter the word, “Come,” it’s not an invitation.

      Thank you for reading ❤

  5. Letters to life says:

    Reblogged this on Letters to life and commented:
    Dear readers,
    It is my humble request to read this post fully. This is probably all a woman might want to say. Probably the best post I have ever read.
    We all are souls. Don’t do those things which makes you rethink about it.

  6. Artful Aspirations says:

    Wow! Very powerful read! I hope many women young and old will read this. So many of us have been in these types of situations and feel guilty afterwards like it was our fault. Keep your posts coming! Awesome blog, glad I found! Ash 🙂

  7. Idle Muser says:

    Loved the piece. ❤
    It depicted the mindset that many girls dwell into due to the kind of society we are living in. But then how to get rid of those negative thoughts, that is how you ended your write-up with.
    It has never been and will never be 'Me', but 'You'.

  8. the American Frau says:

    “Is it me” whats really unfortunate is that every woman has a their own personal story of a “inappropriate touch”, yet I have never met a man with such a complaint? Thanks for speaking out.

  9. TheThingsILearnt says:

    I can feel the anger and all the self doubts we have sometimes..

    A very powerful post. Thanks for sharing!

  10. themusingsofawandererblog says:

    Nicely written. This is a sad reality of our country today. Walking on the road, I don’t feel at ease at all. While taking a rickshaw I am constantly on the alert. My parents stay worried if I forget to call them during the day. I always wonder what is the right thing to do… To confront someone who is looking at like he wants to devour me or to walk away silently as fast as I can. Because if I walk away I am meek and if I confront him I am an attention seeker. And I completely agree with Quinn. No matter how well I am trained in martial arts, I will never be able to match a man’s strength as nature has made him physically stronger me. But anyways this article is nicely written. And I am reblogging it on my site https://themusingsofawandererblog.wordpress.com.

  11. Karan Abhilash Sharma says:

    Hi, now this is a experience I find several females have listed on the web. And I would like to inquire very submissively- What concrete steps have you taken to make sure that no body else has to go through your ordeal? (apart from this blog to spread awareness, which is a great step,)

  12. itsmayurremember says:

    Awhile back one of my best friend told me that she was molested on the bus ride. She never took any bus again.

    I think back on what I said after that to her “Why didn’t you do something?” and realize I shouldn’t have even thought of that let alone say it.

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