I travelled by metro rail after a month or so this weekend. And you know what? There is a Ladies’ coach in Hyderabad metro now. My first thought was “Why do we need a Ladies’ coach in a metro train that is so small?” Then I thought of all the times that men complain about how women keep saying that they want equality, but are not ready to give up the privilege of having reserved seats in public transport. Food for thought? Yes!
I spent the rest of my trip and the rest of the day thinking about all the times some asshole grabbed my breasts, pinched my butt, rubbed his ‘stick’ against me, whispered slutty stuff in my ears and what not. You know why such graphic details are needed? Because all you men asking how reserved seats and gender equality can go hand in hand need to know what exactly we go through – not once, not twice, but all our lives. In that sense, I don’t think there is any woman in India who hasn’t been molested, at least in the lowest degree, ever in her life. If there is, she is one lucky woman!
I started travelling alone by public transport when I was 15 years old. From then, I started my fight with sexually starved jackasses who would literally try to “jack off” against any woman they find on any mode of public transport, most preferably crowded buses and trains. I have even seen some men whose full time job is this. Any time of the day I get into a bus in a particular route, I spot these jerks. It’s like they get into the first bus from one town to another and spend the rest of the day travelling back and forth, until they have received their necessary level of satisfaction for the day and wind up. :-/
I have lost count of the number of times I have shouted at such jerks and raised my hand at them, only to have half of the crowd around me look away as if they are in some other world and haven’t seen or heard anything, and the other half start making comments like “Girls these days are shameless and have no modesty.” Of course, most of these would be women who are supposed to embrace sisterhood and stand up for one of them, but find it easier to slut-shame another woman for some kind of petty satisfaction. Even my own friends who had been with me in such instances or were the ones who were harassed and for whom I was fighting have chosen to look away and keep mum as if they didn’t even know me. That is how I understood that in your fight against molesters, you are almost always alone. In the middle of all this, the culprit would have left too anyway.
I have gotten into the Ladies’ compartment or Ladies Only seats only because I don’t want to waste my energy on trying to shame a shameless guy and getting shamed in the process. I have also gotten out of Ladies’ compartments when they become more or less empty, and gotten into general compartment (Note – general, not men’s compartment/seat – for those who still hold on to a wrong idea), because being raped and murdered in an empty Ladies’ compartment is any day a greater fear than being inappropriately touched in the general compartment. That is the sad truth for women who resort to public transport.
So people who question the sincerity of feminists who go for Ladies Only seats – I will happily ditch the Ladies’ seats and welcome equality in seats the day I can be sure there isn’t a rather huge number of pathetic psychopaths who get into buses and trains with the mentality of getting into their porno fantasy world. And that day is nowhere near. So please keep your judgments to yourself and let me be a feminist who strives for equality while at the same time saves herself from sexual predators.
P.S. Like always, this blog does not mean that all men are assholes. All the wonderful men in the world, I love you – as a friend. 😛
Also published on Medium.