This one goes to all the men who think women are obliged to dignify their lustful, disrespectful gestures and comments.
As women, when we see a male figure, instinctively we see a symbol of protection and security. Our interactions with men can sometimes be seen to denote a fatherly, brotherly or uncle-niece kind of relationship. But this is not to mean I (or any other woman out there) go around looking for a father, brother or uncle…it is because I give respect to any male person I see deserving.
I did not mention husband because I am (happily) married. Go ahead roll your eyes all you want. When I was single I responded accordingly to a look that suggested “I want to court you”.
Now here is the issue
First of all I wish to make it clear that women (those you are going to meet at work, in the streets and other public places) have no control over how you behave towards them, [but they can send you to jail for inappropriate behaviour]. The female figures in your family had the responsibility, to teach you this very important aspect of human relations while you were a child. Now that you are an adult your mother and aunt have relinquished this power and you are responsible for your actions.
So when you look at us with lust, we have no business responding, especially not with a smile. Some women might be intimidated and amid the confusion may act like they owe you a kind gesture or acknowledge your ill conceived interaction. I forgive them. They might be genuinely trying to conform to the entrenched norms and expectations of the patriarchal society, which deepen gender inequality and breed fertile grounds for abuse.
Other women will look back with disgust…and turn away to continue with their important tasks. When they do, you have no right demanding their attention. You cannot even play the silly game of someone who was just being friendly. Women are not retards. We know when a man is friendly and when he is lustful. We also know when a man is interested in us and wants to try his luck. He might come up with the weirdest pickup line and that is okay.
I was doing groceries some years back and this man came to me. He told me I have nice boobs. I looked at him from head to toe and back and continued picking items from the shelf. What came next was adding injury to insult. He told me I was so ghetto I could not acknowledge a compliment. I decided not to lose my cool and calmly asked “how is your undressing me with your eyes a compliment?”
I know some women have seen worse.
Happy women’s month to all the women out there! May we continue to stand firm in our attempts to negotiate dignified treatment and relationships in our daily encounters with men.
Thumbs up to all the decent men who want to make this world a beautiful place by loving, supporting and caring for all the women they cross paths with.
PS. This post should have come at the beginning of the month. But hey, there is still three more days before the end of Women’s month.