As I s et out on the street on my way to college, the carefree complacent attitude that I carry like a piece of jewellery that adorns my personality instead of the quintessential 'sharam' which is commonly accepted as a woman's 'gehna' is questioned by passersby.
They do not question me in the literal sense of the word. They question everything about me through the demeaning glances that they cast on me, through their eyes which are the most eloquent of their senses. The eloquence that I speak of does not have any positive connotation whatsoever. This silent eloquence of their eyes speaks louder than words.
It is this eloquence that me brings me crashing down to the depths of reality that it wasn't my confident stride that these passersby question and stare at, in wonder, at least I thought so; but it's actually the clothes that I have worn.
Mind you, that these passersby are not merely men, they are women too who stare at me, dumbstruck as if I do not belong to this planet!
Women look at me with the expression that "you shouldn't wear such clothes, you might attract unwanted attention". Men look at me showering me with that unwanted attention that those women warned me of...
Thanks to this vociferous ‘silent eloquence’, the secret of the underlying subjugation that women are subjected to apart from the perceptible forms of rape, sexual abuse, domestic violence began to unravel . This underlying subjugation I realised is in the form of representation of women in media, advertisements, television shows, the language that we use. This form of subjugation is omnipresent. And I discovered that I am a victim to this kind of subjugation. All of us are, the only difference being that some of us are aware of it and some of us like to live in the bubble of oblivion. However, there are some women who break away from the shackles of oblivion and raise their voice against this form of subjugation.
In the recent past ,the loudest voice in this context has been that of Bollywood actress, Deepika Padukone who exposed the nadir of insensitivity of a leading news daily when it tweeted a photo with a link to a photo gallery with the caption, ‘OMG: Deepika Padukone’s cleavage show’. Deepika’s apt response to such fiendish, utterly unjustified behaviour on the part of one of India’s well established media houses was applauded by a plethora of Bollywood celebrities and an overwhelming majority of Indian youth who condemned such an act on various social media platforms. As would be inevitable in such a case, it attracted great media attention. However, what captured my undivided attention was the following question-“Had it be me and not Deepika Padukone to have raised my voice against say, an act of eave teasing, would my interview have flooded Facebook newsfeeds and statuses.” Don’t worry; this is not a trick question. The answer is pretty simple, I am not Deepika Padukone. So what would I have to do to make my voice heard? Become a film actress? The question that I have raised here might seem absolutely absurd to some, but in my eyes it is a perfectly legitimate concern to express. Firstly, I have a name to call these people by. These people belong to a ‘highly glorified’ creed of ‘word warriors.’ They know how to fight, but mind you, only with the valour of their tongues or perhaps, their keyboards.
I would like to address these word warriors and tell them that the next time they caste one of their glaring stares or become a woman’s worst nightmare, they must remember that:
“Steel is sometimes covered in velvet and...Courage doesn’t always roar”
- Paula Fox