I remember this one time when I was in my early twenties and I was walking by the side of a road with my mom. A guy approached us, approached me rather, and asked for the time; I had a watch strapped to my wrist. And as I was looking at my watch to tell him the time my mom just pushed me forward, fastening the pace, urging me to just keep walking, quickly. And I was like, mom, what’s wrong with you. But she just kept pushing me forward saying you don’t know, you don’t know.
That’s how most of us girls are brought up here in India; be scared, run away. Even if it’s just a sad looking guy asking for the time. That was hilarious actually; I still laugh about it, teasing my mom. And that is one huge reason why a lot of crime against women happens today; women just don’t stand up against it, women take shit; it’s become a part of life, it is accepted, is acceptable. If it wasn’t accepted, it would not have happened at the scale at which it is happening currently. At the cost of it sounding like a filmy dialog, I would like to say this. You run away from a barking dog, he will come after you and maybe even bite. But if you firmly stand your ground and bark back loudly, the dog will leave you alone. It’s a trick a cousin of mine taught me when we were young, and it worked, though he had demonstrated it only with reference to dogs. He jumped high up in the air and stomped the ground hard coming down, roaring loudly going on his haunches. The dog sprang back and scooted off. I would like to caution you though not to try it on just any dog, some may just jump and tear you to pieces. If there’s a huge, nasty chained-up dog barking at you, quietly turn around and leave.
We all keep shouting equal rights but I am not sure if we all know what that means. It means feeling equal in your heart. It means standing up and giving your seat in the bus or train to that old man, or pregnant woman. It means knowing yourself, understanding your individuality and having the self-respect to stand up for it. It means having the said self-respect. It means to start living it, simple, and not ask for it. No “man” worth his salt will let you walk all over him; then why would you, why should you? You do because you have been brought up that way. To feel physically, mentally, emotionally inferior. And it’s only in you to change that. Wake up and start walking, even if it’s small steps initially, towards being self-sufficient, towards being an independent human-being and not just a woman, the female, child-bearing specimen of the species.
Of course it is difficult, impossible (or so it seems) for many of us. It’s not easy if you’ve lived your entire life till now being led. Start living it, slowly. Start getting conscious about it. Tell yourself, what would your father, or brother, or Salman Khan (in his capacity of simply being a man) do in a particular situation, and then act accordingly. It’s a very simple and time-tested strategy; one that has worked. Start acting like what you wish to be, and you will become that. You wish to become a smart, successful business person? Start acting like one, starting with how you look, and walk and talk. Adopt a successful business person’s habits and soon you will be doing most things that they do and you will get that much closer to success. Same goes for if you simply wish to live freely in this society, like a man does. Observe and understand how they behave, and try and become that. No, not pee standing up. When I say act and be a man, I do not mean that gender- or character- wise. I mean feeling how they feel. Independent, not-scared, feeling truly free and fearless. Free of all the emotional hassles of being a woman, of all the constraints that come along with having a pair of breasts and a vagina, of all the misgivings and apprehensions. For once, step out of the house, spread out your arms and breath-in deeply, like a man does.
What is that one thing that makes a man, a man? A pair of balls! So girls, go get a pair. And you know I do not mean sacks of wrinkled flesh hanging to you anatomically; even a donkey has those (with all due respect to the ever-gentle and very hard-working donkeys). I mean “real” balls, guts. The beautiful hindi words, Saahas and Dhairya, ‘Courage’ and ‘Patience’, what make a brave you. It takes balls to stand up for yourself, and what you believe in. It takes balls to live equally and not demand equal rights. It takes balls to stand up to mom and dad, to “bhaiya”, and to the ever-at-your-back society and say that stop, I need to do this, and then just go ahead and do it. And if there is a dog or two that comes barking at you, it takes balls to stand firm and bark back. Do that, bark back, roar aloud if you will. It will scare that lecherous a-hole coming at you in the dark alley, or the lonely road. Empower yourself with anger and learn to get pissed off. Load yourself not just with a pepper spray or a steel fist, but also a temper, an attitude that will warn and ward off any that comes at you thinking you can be played with.
It’s time to take a stand girls, a firm stand. Forget all what mom and dad taught you about being a nice girl, always polite, shying away from “danger” and “trouble”. Toughen up, go out, bindas, and rule the world (or at least work on developing that attitude). Equality is your right, just as breathing, or going out and living free; you don’t ask for it, you just do it, live it, naturally. And if it’s not being given to you, it is you who needs to go and snatch it. You don’t need permission for that. You just need to wake up, stand up, and go get a pair…