When I wrote out the last post, I waited three days before hitting the 'publish' button.
When I titled it 'provocation', I cringed at the ominous irony of it. I guessed that somebody was going to fail to understand and think- 'this amounts to defending rapists'.
That is not a nice thing for anyone to think, so I hesitated.
For the first time, since I started this blog, I stopped to think of how a post would be received and whether this was really what I wanted to say. Four times, I edited it - just to make sure I wasn't saying something I didn't mean to say.
And yet, a lot of people ended up mixing up everything I was trying to say.
I really, totally, am not justifying violation of any sort.
Right now, I am only justifying my having thought and said what I did think and say.
I agree - castrate rapists by all means.
Punch those who pinch you; make mince of those who touch you, by all means.
If you face the threat of pummelling, scalping, torching, then pummel, scalp, torch. By all means.
But where do you draw the line of justified pummelling and scalping?
What is your justification?
Where is the line?
Is rape the line?
Is touching without permission the line?
Is making lewd gestures the line?
Is whistling and singing a silly cinema song the line?
Is staring the line?
When is it okay to turn around and slap a guy?
I know my line: if I am physically threatened, I will react in self-defence. If I am touched, I will slap.
But I also believe that I have the right to retaliate in kind.... measure for measure. No more.
Even in the harshest form of judgement, you are granted an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. No more.
If someone says lewd things, I have the right to hurl abuse back at him.
If someones leches, I have the right to, perhaps, glare back. Or to lech back. Or to ignore.... but even if I think that he wants to insult me, I do not have the right to hit him. Or get him arrested, unless I have reason to believe that he is going to physically harm me.
If someone whistles, I do not have the right to hit him. Or even verbally abuse him. It is not fair.
And no, whadeheg, whistling is not the same thing as squeezing/pinching someone's butt.
A man, or woman, does have the right to say or do anything he/she likes as long as he/she is not physically harming you. Or touching you when you do not want it.
Your body is your fiefdom. The mohalla is not.
I understand that different people have different ideas of violation and of personal space. But hey, there have to be some basic rules that everyone recognizes. Every individual cannot go about setting their own rules, wrt 'doses and amounts' of admiration that are acceptable or not.
Some women get upset if someone enters a three-foot radius of space around them... When in public, they'll just have to live with their fears, and sense of violation. It's nobody's fault.
You may get very upset when a drunk stranger leans close, barely six inches away from your face... But you still do NOT have the right to slap him.
I may get very upset when I am followed home. But I do NOT have the right to hit the men concerned. I may get upset in crowded buses, but I do not have the right to hit the men standing next to me. If a man standing next to me tries to touch me, I do have the right to slap him, scream, ask him to get off the bus.
As far as expression of admiration is concerned, I know of women who follow men they find attractive. I know enough women who check out men in public places - pubs, malls, cinema complexes. They comment, they ogle, they giggle, they make blank calls, they say lewd things on the phone and send nasty emails....
I don't like to think of what would happen if the men slapped the women concerned... How do I know they don't feel harrassed? (I do know definitely of two different men who have felt harrassed by women who chased them all over town in cars.... I laughed, when I heard. But the men were not amused.)
Try and put yourself on the other side.
How would you (as a woman) feel if you're in a public space, and you're leching at a man/woman who is dressed to kill, and this person turns around and thrashes you to make you stop leching.
What do you think your reaction will be? Will you say - 'Oh, but he's right... I was insulting him.'
(I'd probably just thrash the person right back, be it man or woman.)
And, for the last time, I am not saying - 'dress like this; don't dress like that'.
I dress like both, this and that. I DON'T care how you dress.
But I do think it is a bit much when you want to control not only the way you dress, but also the ways in which people react to your dressing.
That, IMHO, is not fair.