Why India’s #MeToo movement made me want to throw my phone away

[Pre Script(?): There will be a lot of gramatical and syntactical errors in the post because I wrote it in the flow and now I do not feel like going through it again. Please excuse it.]

 

Don’t get me wrong, I was not mad at people for calling out their abusers. In fact, I supported the movement wholeheartedly. More power to women who spoke up, who fought the good fight and whose persistence led to a Union minister and former editor having to resign.

I wanted to throw my phone away because that one week was traumatic for me. I came to office, scrolled through the experiences shared by other women, went through the names of people I knew who had been named, recalled the instances where I did not do enough to call out a man for his actions.

But, it also reminded me of all the things that I have been through. All the things that I had shoved deep inside my memory and had shut the lid so tight that I could keep working and talking to men who abused me, raped me.

But, the movement scratched the surface.

I was hurting and I realised, maybe, I had never stopped hurting. I had only pushed my feelings away. I had not once called out the men who were responsible. I had not dared to say out loud that I had been raped. I kept minimising everything that happened to me because I was too afraid to disturb the social order and tell someone to their face that what they did was not right. I minimised every instance so that I could go on. I minimised every instance so much that the line between consensual and non-consensual faded away in my mind.

You know how they say the victim remembers the best. It is true; when the memories come rushing in there are some things that you just cannot blur out.

Like, at age six when I went to the park on my bike with two supporting wheels. I was on the parallel bar when a guy (I just remember him being big) came up to me and said, “Would you like to take a look at my dick?” Of course, I did not know what a dick was, so he explained that he wanted me to see his boy parts and he wanted to see where I pee from. I said no and ran away. I never went to a park by myself.

I was twelve or thirteen, when a rickshaw puller slid his hand beneath the seat, lifted my skirt slightly and touched my vagina. I squirmed, but I did not know what to do, so he kept at it even after I changed my position multiple times. I was on my period. It grossed me out. My mother and grandmother were sitting on the seat in front of me, but could not see what was happening. They never came to know how much it hurt me when they paid the guy an extra ten bucks for dropping us home “safely” at night.

In college, I had sex with multiple people while in a relationship with a very sweet man. My excuse was that he did not like sex enough. But even my mind knew that it was a bullshit excuse and I should have broken up with him. The continued cheating and the guilt that came with it, made sex talks a taboo for me. Enough for me to not call it out when it was against my will.

Like in the hotel room, where a person I trusted ditched me with his friend and a bottle of whiskey, which he was pretty sure I would drink because I was an alcoholic. I have memories of what happened next, but was it consensual? I don’t know. But I was drunk and he had not touched the alcohol.

My college days are a haze because even though I had good grades I drank my way through it. There have been so many times that people touched me, and I touched them. Without full consent because both of us were drunk.

Maybe in my drunken state, I abused somebody. I do not know what the other person was feeling. #MeToo has me thinking about it. And, if someone says what I did was inappropriate, I will accept my responsibility, apologise and face consequences.

But, through this haze I remember the instance where a guy came on top of me and tried to take off my clothes after I had passed out at a party. I was too drunk to throw him off. My friend, who had passed out next to me, thankfully woke up and threw the person out.

Or the time, when anothe batchmate tried to shove his dick in my hand and then asked me to suck it. I said no and ran to my room. But, then two days later I did have sex with the same person at a party, so it has me all confused. (Again, I do not think it was consensual for either of us as we were drunk out of our minds.)

Then, the time after we graduated, another batchmate came to my house after a drunken night. He stripped and sat in front of me, expecting sex. I slept off.  Or the other time I decided to share a bed with a good friend and he tried to dry hump me.

The professional contact, who I had met outside of work, and who took me to his place against my will. And, again, tried to shove his dick in my hand; he asked me to “just try it once.” He dropped me home in the morning and I pretended nothing happened. Although, I kept coming up with excuses to never meet him outside work.

The person I met at a dance event who I invited home while I waited for my friend to come so that we could leave for another dance event scheduled that day. She did not turn up. He asked me to keep drinking and I did. I vaguely remember kissing him. And, then its just blank. My roommate told me that when he came home, this guy opened the door for him and rushed back to my room. This made him suspicious and he followed him back. He found me passed out and him trying to remove my clothes.

But, the incident that hurt the most was when I went out for a dancing event with a person who was at least 10 to 15 years older to me. I looked up to him as a father figure. And, as I was drunk he offered to drop me home to see that I reached home safely. The next thing I remember was him on top of me early next morning. I just let him finish whatever he had to and asked him what he would tell his wife. (Yes, I knew his wife.) He said he has had sex with other people before and that his wife probably knew. I made breakfast for him and let him leave. I did not complain. I felt that it was a secret that I had to keep.

And, when the #metoo movement happened and I was ready to spit it all out, I was afraid that I would be questioned time and again about my integrity.

I could hear people asking me, “why did you drink so much that you passed out? Why did you invite these men over? You keep sleeping around, surely it was one of those nights? You wanted it, didn’t you? If it was forced, why did you not speak out?”

I do not know the answers to any of these questions. For the longest time, I did feel that I was in the wrong. I blamed myself. I felt as if I had to protect my abusers from shame. And,  after a while, not speaking up became the norm of my life.

I have a long list of instances where I felt violated,  where the things that happened were not consensual. And now I cannot even say out loud that what my these men did was abuse and rape. I took away my own agency.

And, the longer the list grew, the more it made me wonder, “why me?” And, I know, the answer is that these men knew full well that with me they would not have to face the consequences.

So, I decided that I would call them out. And, I did. I tweeted one instance anonymously. And, when the person point-blank denied what happened, it made me so angry and frustrated. I also started wondering, if I tell everyone what happened, would anyone believe me. I mean, the list was long… would they think I concocted it.

Although I did not call out all the people who hurt me, the #metoo movement forced me to think what behaviour was right and what was wrong. That blurred-out line between consensual and non-consensual came to sharp focus again. And, I took a vow to confront each and every person who hurt me. And, I hope to God that they realise their mistake and promise, apologise, and promise to not do any such thing again.

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