After being stereotyped and cat-called in a very unexpected place, our intern Aditi calls out for a change in how women are treated.
I was on my way to Baltimore with a friend in an eerie taxi. The cab driver asked us for directions and we were a little lost because our geography does not really extend beyond Seneca in the Commons. He instantly shot us a biting retort,
“I have had my experience with women and directions. When my wife starts giving me directions, I just ask her to spare me the horror.”
My friend and I were enraged and wanted to shoot back a snide remark on masochism in Egypt (he was from Egypt). I am not myopic and I do understand that all stereotypes do have a basis, but forming prejudices on stereotypical premises is a true mark of an imbecile.
I am not an angry feminist, I am not a women’s studies major, I am just someone begging for some basic sensibility in the minds of the men of the world. It is not a far-fetched statement when I say that more than half of the problems which plague our world today will disappear if men start treating women with some amount of respect. Moreover, the degree of respect we lobby for is not something that needs to be begged for- treating a woman like a regular human being is not doing anyone a favor. It is not something extraordinary and virtuous to accept the fact that you do not rule the world just because you wear the pants.
This is not a rambling rant because I have run out of things to write about. I have reason enough to be furious Ladies & Gentlemen- I attended a conference on the Status of Women in New York earlier this month and on my way to the commission, I got cat-called. I got cat-called not in a dingy alley in downtown Manhattan. This happened by the UN headquarters where people are ostensibly civilized.
Most ministers and delegates at this conference talked about economic liberation and education as the overarching solution to elimination of gender biases and sexual harassment across the world. However, what then, must be the solution to the grotesque sleaziness that women deal with in the educated pockets of the world? Sexual abuse is not something which happens only in Latin American countries, West African nations and the Middle East. It happens every single day in the subways of New York cities. It happens to women who work on Wall Street. It happens in the best schools in the USA. It happens at Cornell University.
The problem is more than uneducated ruffians allowed to run around loose in the streets of backward nations. It is entrenched in a way of thinking. The fact that we let the way fraternities rank or rate sororities affect our perspectives, is disturbing on several levels. It is a draconian world where you cannot be “ugly” because you must conform to the fascist ideals of beauty prescribed by men and you cannot even be “attractive” because that places you in peril when you walk back home from the libraries late at night. This way of thinking is simply absurd and cannot be justified by any stretch of imagination. There is and cannot be no such thing as legitimate rape and the legislators (who are incidentally mostly men) need to comprehend that.
As a woman, I do not want affirmative action, legislative sub-quotas or protective curfews. All I am advocating for is for the men of the world to expand the measure of their sensitivity beyond that of a teaspoon. I ask them to see women as more than the subject of male fantasies because they are more than that. We all know that is not too much to ask for at all and no one needs to ask for it in the first place.
Article written by ISV Blogger Aditi Bhowmick
View these statistics about sexual violence in the United States provided by RAINN