Screw #NotAllMen, #YesAllWomen Is the Conversation We Need to Be Having

For those who still don't know, on December 31, a mob of men in Bengaluru assaulted and groped women who were out on MG Road and Brigade Road, to celebrate the new year. Bangalore Mirror was present, and the pictures they took horrified everyone who saw them. Women were shown running towards female police officers, looking for respite, while their male friends and relatives struggled to create some semblance of order. Around 1,500 policemen were deployed in the area to maintain order and decorum, but even they could not do anything about it. Witnesses said that women were groped, pawed at, and lewd comments were passed when they tried to seek help.

As the news broke, and more news portals started picking up on it, women on social media started to voice their concerns. They spoke about the kind of culture that allowed this to happen, when a group of women cannot happily bring in the new year, because a bunch of men decided that their idea of fun was to molest women. At first, people expressed shock that this happened in Bengaluru, and not India's supposed rape capital Delhi, and they began to share stories of how women were safe in no city. They shared stories of how they have all been victims of sexual assault, no matter what city they grew up in. It's tough to see ourselves in the woman who got raped by her husband in a small village, to empathise with her. But when you see a girl who dresses the way you do, speaks the way you do, does the same kind of things you do being the victim of such horrifying behaviour, you see yourself. The reason Jyoti Singh rallied the country together the way she did, was because every young urban girl saw herself in her, so it didn't come as a surprise that urban Indian women banded together this time to talk about how vulnerable they feel in India.

While #NotAllMen has never been a thing in India, this time, men came out in droves in support of their gender. Men literally inserted themselves into a conversation they had no business in. We know #NotAllMen rape, we know #NotAllMen molest women, we know #NotAllMen think women are second class citizens—so what? It is not our concern that #NotAllMen will try to rape us. However, it is our concern that some will, and they do not have 'rapist' tattooed on their foreheads. Therefore, since the onus of our protection lies on us, we are wary of all men. #YesAllMen.

It is clear to us that the State does not care about our protection. Jyoti Singh's brutal rape did nothing, there was no #JusticeforJisha, Suzette Jordan's only identity remained the Park Street rape victim till the day she died. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has access to the same news coverage we do, so why is he silent? His concern over honest citizens' black money was so great, so why does that concern not stretch to half the population of the country he is supposed to serve? Bhakts physically assault women, troll them on social media, say and do the most heinous things in the name of his political party, and he has never, not once, denounced them. It is surprising how quick he is to denounce his opposing party when they criticise him though. Clearly, Indian women and their safety are not as important to our prime minister as making appearances at music festivals and making demonetisation jokes.

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It is clear that primetime media does not care about our protection. The fact that scores of women were brazenly molested while cops looked on helplessly did not matter, because what suddenly became the topic for discussion were the comments of the Karnataka Home Minister who blamed “Western dressing” and Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi, who said that women deserved to be groped if they didn't behave according to “Indian culture.” This is not the first time Azmi has said similar regressive and sexist things, and he is a party leader in Maharashtra with no stake in Karnataka—so why devote so much screen time and news coverage to him, when the concern here is still women's safety?

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It is clear that the justice system does not care about our protection. Even with clear photographs and video footage of what happened, the police crowed about how they hadn't received any complaints. Did no one stop to think that maybe women didn't file complaints because they had no faith in the police who failed them that night? That maybe the women didn't file the complaint because they knew they would be asked intrusive, insulting, and unnecessary questions about what they were wearing, why they were out at night, and whether they were drunk. Once again, the topic of concern was not women's safety, because that's secondary.

It is clear that society does not care about our protection. Because even as women tried to come together to console each other, men decided to hijack the movement to make it about them, because it was too much to let women have a safe space to vent. It became too much that women asked for a place where they could walk down a street without being touched, without being groped, without being leered at. It became too much that women asked the State, the justice system, the media, and society to justify their neglect and abuse of women.

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SheSays founder Trisha Shetty wrote, “The time to ask nicely is gone. Scream, shout, take to the streets. Fuck politeness, fuck restraint. And be angry. Every day.” It is time we did just that, because no one else will. Remind people all the time that #NotAllMen will rape women, but #YesAllWomen face sexual violence. 

#YesAllWomen know what it's like to be touched where you don't want to be, when you don't want to be.

#YesAllWomen have been told to calm down, like their feelings aren't valid.

 #YesAllWomen know how to defend themselves using anything they can see and touch.

 #YesAllWomen look into the mirror every morning wondering if they'll get home safe and unraped.

#YesAllWomen have to fight twice as hard to be taken seriously. 

#YesAllWomen think every year about signing up for self defence classes instead of the gym. 

#YesAllWomen are scared and fighting every moment of their lives.

So fuck you with your hurt feelings, men. Women have been dealing with a lot more hurt for centuries. Shut up and listen. This is not your time, this is not your narrative. Let the women speak. #YesAllWomen





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