It hurts

I am Snehal Gholap, a guest author on my Dada’s blog.

Reading the title, you must be feeling, this is gonna be some grim article. (Spoiler alert: It is.) It might seem too much feminist also. It might just seem to be exaggerated or made up. But lemme tell you, these incidents I’m gonna tell you are very much real and not in the least spiced up. The sole purpose of this is to humbly clear the minds of those people who blame it on ‘not knowing that it could hurt’. Okay, so having you warned, let’s just see what I want to tell you…

It was 11 pm and we were at marine drive. By we, I mean our drama team. We had cleared second round of a well reputed drama competition and celebrating our success at marine drive. After sitting on that platform curving around the seashore and singing songs and chit-chatting for about two hours, people started to get up and arrange for returning to their respective hostels. One of our friends who is a boy( this sounds silly, right? But can’t say ‘boyfriend’, just like that) inquired us(girls) about how we were getting to hostel at that hour. Sensing ‘you are girls, you can’t handle it’ kind of conversation coming up; I reflexively said, “we’ll manage”. He said it was not as easy as I made it sound. He had a point, I had to admit. So, we, some 2–3 boys and 4–5 girls, just went to college and sat there talking, idling here and there and dozing until morning and went to our hostel when the sun was out.

The next day, I couldn’t stop but thinking what he had said- ‘It’s not that easy’. I just wondered, what exactly did I want? Here was this friend of mine, caring about us, our safety. And I was like, ‘we’ll manage’. What was wrong with me? Why was I feeling so frustrated?

I know what it is. It is my ego. Self respect is a better word, I guess. I wanted him to hand over some chilly/pepper powder packets or some other things useful in self defense and tell us to go on our own. I wanted him to make us stronger and not show us how weak we were. May be this is asking too much; but this self respect of mine, it just won’t shut up…

This is what I’m trying to tell, this (induced) feeling of being weak and vulnerable, depending on someone else…it hurts.
 …

This is when I was in 10th standard. Aai-Pappa had bought me a scooty to cope up with the hectic schedule. One day, I noticed that one boy, my classmate, would pass real fast by my side, every day. And from his body language, it was almost clear that he was challenging me for a race. Initially, I was not interested and knew these people who mistake recklessness for bravery and carefulness for weakness. But over some days, I got really annoyed. One day, I saw him coming in my rear-view mirror and sped up my scooty. It was a tough fight and I won barely by 1 or 2 seconds. I forgot that incident after a few days. Coincidentally, the same boy became my good friend in college. Once, we were talking about our school days and he recalled our little race. He started explaining how his bike was actually his Papa’s and really old and didn’t have fast pick-up. I just wondered why was he giving so much explanation?! It was not like I was teasing him or something. But somewhere, I knew the answer. He didn’t want to accept that he had lost to a ‘girl’. I bet it would have been much easier for him to digest it if he had lost to some other ‘guy’.

I don’t know what is the bravado in driving fast (you turn the accelerator and it speeds up. Simple!) But that’s not my concern. The prospect of losing race to a girl being so unacceptable, so unbearable to him is my real concern. This belittling, this underestimating…it hurts.


We were sitting in our demo room. Teacher was not yet arrived, so we were talking about random stuff. A group of boys decided to have a stroll outside until the teacher came. One of my friends(again, boy) didn’t go with them. Instead he stayed behind with us girls, continuing our discussion. One of the boys who had gone outside came back and asked him to come with them. When he said no, that boy said, “ abbe ladkiyon me kya baith raha hai? Tu bhiladki hain kya?” and much to my disappointment, my friend instantly obliged and went outside with him.

I was dumbstruck. Not that this was something new for me. But this guy, who said it, was one of the cleverest students I knew. I never expected him speaking something like that! You will say what’s the big deal? Using ‘ladki’ word as some insult is the big deal! It’s like being ladki is something ‘low class’, something inferior. Like it’s the worst swear word you can imagine.

My Dada says, ‘most of the times, these people don’t know that they are doing/saying something wrong or hurtful. No one has ever pointed it out to them. Not their mistake. They are just a bit ignorant.’ So, this is to tell those people (so that they don’t have that ‘I didn’t know it could hurt’ excuse), when you say, ‘darta kyun hain? ladkihain kya?’; when you say ‘ladki jaise ro mat’…it hurts.

And now the last incident. It was the time when people were enraged about Dehli rape case and there were rallies and candle marches all around India. I had also participated in such candle march in Latur. We were quietly walking, with lit candles in our hands. There was traffic jam and we were walking along the footpath. There was an auto-rikshaw waiting for the traffic to clear. One boy was sitting on the backseat and watching our march passing by. You know what did he do? When a particularly beautiful girl was passing by his rikshaw (not even glancing at him); he whistled at her. He patted beside him and asked ‘aati kya?’ It was the most insensitive thing I had ever seen! Literally nauseating! And at that moment I realized, these candle marches and anshans demanding justice, were not going to help. They were useless. It was like trying to treat the entire polluted ocean with a few drops of anti-pollutant chemical; when the actual remedy is to stop the pollution!

You might wonder, why am I being so aggressive? What is the reason behind this outburst of emotions. This is precisely what I want to point out. Why do we need some cases of molestation or rape to start this conversation? After such incidents, we write and speak on this matter and conveniently forget about these things after a few days. This reluctance, this ignorance, this mindset associating feminism with male hatred, this not-taking-these-’it hurts’-too-seriously…it hurts.

And at some point, I think, may be this is just me over thinking. May be I should just stop thinking and go on with my life as if nothing is wrong. Laugh, party and live happily. But then I realize, it would be accepting defeat. Giving up. Writing this might fetch me some sympathy, which is the last thing I want. If this article pictures me as some male-hating girl, I must say, you can not misunderstand me more.

I just don’t know what to think, what to do. This feeling of utter hopelessness…it hurts.

4 comments :

  1. I can identify with you when you talk about not wanting to appear afraid or dependent. I myself pride myself on the same qualities...don't want to be someone who always needs to be taken care of. I want all my male friends to treat me as one of them. Even I am guilty of using the term "girlish behaviour" like it was something bad, something to be looked down upon.

    What I've gradually come to see is that we are get trapped by labels...the ones we/others apply to us and the ones we apply to others. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, their way of doing things. Protective behaviour of your friends, might be just that...not them trying to belittle you. The guy whistling in the auto, is just that...not necessarily indicative of how the entire male population perceives you. Deal with one person at a time, don't make the mistake of generalizing, because that is where we'll end up doing the maximum damage. Its one of the reasons we are suffering. Treat every person as unique, and figure out how he/she needs to be treated. Lay down the limits for how you want that particular person to treat you.

    I know it sounds weird. But accepting a label is just as bad as living a life proving a label wrong. So just live the way you want, make sure you get treated the way you want to get treated and hopefully empower others to do the same for themselves. It may not bring about social change...but I feel it'll bring you more peace of mind!

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    1. I definitely agree with most of your points.
      Their protective behavior is totally understandable. But it's like going out on my own at night is almost impractical and taking help everytime hurts my self-respect. This 'situation' where they 'need' to protect you is wrong. And I don't know how to change it. But as you said, dealing with one person at a time is easier and will surely help in most of the conditions.
      And generalizing is definitely not what I wanted to do here. If it is picturing all male population as 'bad', it must be because all the incidences I've mentioned show how they are ignorant and how their behavior is directly/indirectly offensive to us. And that's because that's what I wanted to write in this post. If I had wanted to write about male-female relationship in general, I would have definitely written some good points as well. I might write about women holding back women, someday.It's just that I won't ever generalize since growing up with Dada has taught me one thing for sure...'not all boys are same'. :)
      While bringing about social change is almost unreachable, even one person thinking before using 'ladki hai kya' as an insult after reading this post will bring much peace to my mind.
      By the way, thanks for replying in such detail. This being my first post, someone reading and replying means a lot to me.
      And yeah, loved that line- 'accepting a label is just as bad as living a life proving a label wrong'. :D

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  2. Ho golya it really hurts...'aga itka hasu nako..baichya jatila asala vagana shobhun disat nahi'..'asla bedhund dance karu naye'..'mulini (in a group of girls and BOYS) nonveg maru naye..ani boys ni marlyavar lajlyasarke chale karave...arey hi sanskruti nai apli tar mag ti boys ni ka nai palaychi...ani mulini ti palavi asa hatta ka mag..but within my circle of influence...me n my mom ask my younger bro to help us doing household chores...unlike his friends he never speaks disrespectful n awful about his girl-classmates...this is of little help for me in hell lot of social frustration and feeling of hopelessness...

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  3. Yes, starting the change from your home...now that's something everyone should do!

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