Movies entertain us. They make us sad, happy. But, only a few would shake us and scare the crap out of us. Pink did that to me. I watched it yesterday, almost a year after the release. I could relate to it because I am an independent girl living alone in the city.
Amitabh Bachan-starer movie tells the story about three girls who went to a rock concert and befriended three boys. They went ahead for dinner together to a resort where the three boys try to molest the girls. One of them hit the boy with an empty beer bottle leaving a grave injury to him. The movie, without much beating around the bush, reveals the attitude of the boys about the girls who go for the parties. How do the boys decide if the girl is okay with a sexual act with them? Through signs. The girl talks friendly, smiles while having the conversation and passes sexual jokes. Above all, the girl drinks. Those signs are invites for the boys to do anything to a girl. He thinks it is fine to proceed his dirty acts on her despite she saying ‘No’ multiple times. According to him, she is fine with it. The movie thankfully ends with the note ‘No means No’.
I walk every day from hostel to office and back. It is one of the busiest roads in the city. People struggle to drive through the traffic. Among the hassles, there are always men who find time to stare at the chest of the girls walking on the road and pass comments on them. In a fraction of the second, they say the comment and disappear in the crowd. What do the girls (including me) do? We ignore. We walk ahead as if nothing happened. That silence is not an invite for anything. It doesn’t mean we are okay with hearing the comments.
My friend commented to me once that I walk with an angry face on the road and it looks like I am going to hit someone. I do that. I refuse to smile because I am scared that someone would take that as an invite. I am scared to help even an old man on the road. I don’t know what he thinks about me if I help him?
I go for walks in the morning. Ideally, the area is peaceful at six in the morning and I would like to take the stroll at that time. But, I don’t dare to do because the road is empty. There could be a boy who takes that as an invite. A girl who walks at a lonely time on the road could be a whore inviting men for sexual pleasure in his eyes. I choose to walk on the road when it is busier. Still, most of the time go for observing if someone is following me or some vehicle is approaching me. I even ponder carrying a pepper spray at times. Similar is the case when I go to the market. I jump out as early as possible. I am scared if some will grope me.
How long are we going to tolerate this? I don’t know. But, I do know that I am fed up of this scenario. Compromising the freedom of girls is not the solution for this. We should bring up our boys right. We must teach them what is an invite and what is not.
Thank you, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury for the movie Pink. I remembered instances from my life when there were violations of my space. I remembered the dialogues and actions from the men in my life that made me question their assumptions about girls. I wish to tell you now, No is a No. It is not a word rather it is a sentence. No signs are an invite for anything. We know to talk to men when we want sexual favors from you.