by Action hero citizen Lijya
While compiling the responses to the #IFeelSafe which Blank Noise facilitated, here is the unconscious ramble of thoughts which flooded my mind whilst I was at it.
I thought about the time when I have felt most safe.
I remember that is was the time when I went out with my brother and a couple of his friends in the night for ice-cream. I was 17. My brother and his friends about five to six years older to me. It was 12.00 am and I stood near the car along with the others- joking and enjoying my ice cream, feeling as safe as I can feel: protected by all of the nice men around me. I describe them as nice because- of all my interactions with them, they have at every instance, made me feel like trusting them. And I do. They’re well-behaved and its great fun to be with them. They are brother-like and take care of me. It certainly feels good to be taken care of. But when I brought to memory this experience of the moment when I had felt most safe and mull over it now at 21, I’m thinking… Can I not take care of myself? And hypothetically, had the men tribe around me been women- would I have felt as safe?
The honest answer is No.
… Do I need Men to take care of me and make me feel safe? What is the relationship between men and safety? Do men ever feel unsafe? Or threatened? Or vulnerable? Can they cry? Feel pain? Would I ever reach out to help a man under threat in the same manner in which I would have leaped over to help a woman? What is this social construct about the Men tribes’ overbearing DUTY to protect women and look after them? In looking for prospective marriage proposals for bridegrooms too, why is it that parents are usually looking for someone who is “well-settled”? What defines well-settled? Is it somebody who has a well- paying job who can provide for your material needs? Or someone who is taller, stronger and sharper than you? Can you not fend for tending to your own material needs? Can men and women not take care of each other?
Can I strike a conversation with a stranger on the street as a 21 year old woman? Ask him/her how they might be feeling today? Ask if they have been well? What’s their favourite food? Would the two minute conversation build trust? Would I have the courage to initiate this conversation? How would the reactions be?
Is home really safe?
Why does the personal Car make me feel safe? Why do trains make me feel safe? Do I feel safe in the bus?
Can I wear what I want to wear and walk on the streets without being stared at? Can I meet people who look at me in the eye rather than parts of my body, whilst conversing with me?
Will I see more women on the street where I am walking?
Will I see more women in Police stations?
What does “not taking it anymore” really mean? Does it mean taking yourself till the edge? Does it mean a deliberate encounter with the unsafe to try making it safe- May be with a smile, a handshake, a gesture of trust, a slap if required but most importantly by facing it/dealing with it? Does it mean defying all convention- No, not for the sake of giving it back; but to feel strength and power?
What does it really mean to “not take it anymore”?