Where do all the men disappear to when women are attacked? The attacker is there and the woman or women, but the others who inhabit this earth – where do they all go off to? Has anyone heard of men who have got really angry with the current scenario of violence against women and have got together and said enough is enough – men say no to violence?
Violence has been part of my life in many different ways and public spaces are often the playing field of the violent. The occasional touch; the stare that could be appreciative or threatening depending on who is interpreting it; the following of the female pedestrian or the stopping by at bus stops where a lone woman stands; the passing of random comments which apparently is not targeting the woman passing by but is indicative of the Asperger syndrome that the man is occasionally afflicted by when women pass him by. And each time, the reaction of the woman is more or less the same – ignore the irritant as one does often with mosquitoes, if you cannot kill it, you move away from the spot that is mosquito infected. Or it could be defiance – a change in stance and aggressiveness pours out or else it is the age old mantra – we will not suffer violence anymore! I am a bit tired of the latter since I seem to have been saying this for over three decades now and the violence has continued unabated.
Obviously as a society we have not taught our men that they have to move beyond the roles of perpetrator, passer by, joiner in of protests and adopt a whole new radical stance. One of intolerance. Intolerance of violence that is meted out to women and anyone who does not pass. It does not matter what clothes you wear, what class you belong to, what city or village you come from, whether you are biological woman or not. The fact that you have a vagina or else you look like a woman and are dressed as one is reason enough for many men to be violent. They could desire you, they could revile you, they could feel that you needed to be taught a lesson or that you arouse passion in them – all of this results in violence and they get away scot free. We do not teach our women to stand up and fight. We do not tell them that they can and should retaliate wherever it is possible and that is not their lot in life to have to accept and move on.
So when do men get up and say that they do not believe in violence? When do they think their time will come to aggressively demand that killing someone in the street because they did not return your love, or did not serve you that drink post closing hours, or did not feel that they needed to go with you when you “innocently” offered them a lift, is not okay by them. When do we women get to join in protests organized by men as bystanders and supporters.
Not all men are violent and not all men want to grope women. Then why are those men not saying to violence against women? They can say no and get others to do so, but that means challenging what masculinity means to each one of them. It means that they need to understand and explain to others that violence is not their birthright, and they need to exercise and control their emotions and not aggressively covet everything. They need to grow up and take responsibility for themselves as well as for the others around them, so that when women do say no to violence, they understand that no means no and does not in any way include a loophole for them to wedge themselves in and wreak havoc.