I am highly thankful for the #MeToo movement, as it has opened our eyes (men as well as women) to the magnitude and extent of sexual assault and harassment that has happened for years together. I was at first shocked at seeing the sheer number of women posting it as their status, and some men joining as well! It reflects the seriousness of the situation with respect to sexual harassment in today’s world, whether it be face-to-face or online. Worst of all things is the fact that men have been largely silent on it, or at best condemned it in a merely perfunctory manner. This silence has rather encouraged the perpetrators, by giving credence to the dangerous notion that women are to be taken for granted. It is time for me to own up – I too have been part of the problem.
You all may think I have never been sexist or bad to women; because my profile indicates that I am a feminist. But was I raised as a feminist? No. I am one of those men who have recently “woken up” to the dangers of our patriarchal society – the dangers they pose to women as well as men. I was anti-feminist in the not-so-distant past, and sexist as well. My case has been like that of Jekyll and Hyde, the Dr.Jekyll part being known as a decent guy to almost everyone; the Mr.Hyde part behaving like a complete arse on quite a few occasions – including exhibiting misogyny. Thus, I am part of the problem.
Since my childhood, I have fought a lot with my sister. Granted, she did tease me and make fun of me a lot. But my often physical reactions to the teasing were completely unacceptable, and unbecoming of any decent person. I also can’t excuse myself by saying that I did it as a kid or teenager; as the last such instance of physical abuse towards her was in 2010, when I was 20; a proper adult. Yes, I have always bought her gifts for her birthday and Raksha Bandhan since I started getting pocket money; but those materialistic favours don’t really count. I have also apologized many times, but the very fact that I haven’t been able to control my anger; is shameful and pathetic.
I have changed since the last 6-7 years; have supported my sister usually whenever my mother has scolded her – but even then my patriarchal dominance has shown on occasions; I have sent sexist texts to her while venting my anger on some events that had affected me. I have also unjustly accused my mother of showing partiality towards my sister because of her gender on quite a few occasions. I have behaved like a typical patriarch and I hate myself for that; but I have to say that her support towards me has been unwavering – it’s like me being given a second chance – to make amends. I need it but I didn’t deserve it. We have resolved this issue between us but I need to make it public; so that other men can have an idea as to “how not to be a brother”.Apart from being a bad brother; I have also been sexist in my relationships with some former female friends of mine.
I may be having Asperger’s Syndrome and hence not understanding how friendships/relationships outside family work; but that doesn’t excuse me of doing some things which ARE WRONG. As with this former friend of mine https://ashwinkumar1989.in/2017/05/25/my-experiences-as-an-aspie-part-four/ ; she may not have been a good friend to me – but perhaps it was also because I didn’t understand the concept of ‘space’ in relationships too well. After our friendship ended, I was going through a turbulent phase in my life – as far as my job was concerned. I occasionally vented my anger by troubling her with some annoying and sexist texts – some thing I had no right to do; given we were no longer friends. In fact, by this behaviour of mine; I had almost perpetrated harassment!
The reason why I am sharing this with you all is not to relieve myself of any guilt or shame; it is a lesson for other men to learn “how not to behave with women”. I will be sharing more such of my behaviour; as well as what motivated me to change myself – in Part 2. Please read – for all men; to learn how not to behave with women; and for all women who think I am a nice guy – to learn about my dark side.