I am part of the problem – Part 2

Continuing more of my contributions towards misogyny from  https://ashwinkumar1989.in/2017/10/18/i-am-part-of-the-problem-part-1/ , I also had another female friend from my undergraduation; whom I didn’t give space – I sent her many Facebook messages (seeking reassurance from work stress) without giving her enough time to reply. I also posted on her wall quite a few times; without bothering to think about the embarrassment in store for her. When she didn’t reply to all this, I then shamed her publicly in a FB post, including calling her a “feminazi” , because of her feminist views; which I was averse to then. She rightly unfriended me. I don’t deserve her as a friend,  as I simply did not bother to give her space – so essential in a friendship.

I also had a friend who used to be a colleague when I worked in Chennai. Again, I didn’t give her enough space – by now it is easy to guess that there was a recurring pattern in my behaviour; which was completely unacceptable. I texted her too often; often asking for reassurance from whatever issues I was facing. After she got married, she conveyed through her friend that I was not to text her any longer; as her conservative husband didn’t like it. Even then, I shamelessly continued to text her for a while.

Apart from these incidents, I have also made sexist/misogynistic posts on FB and shared sexist/misogynistic memes in Whatsapp groups. I have also made misogynistic rants at home; including complaining many times about women being shown partiality in society; including having extra seats reserved for them in buses etc. At that time, I thought I was merely taking out frustration for my failed relationships with women; or for my being misunderstood due to having Asperger’s Syndrome. However, off late; I have realized that it was due to patriarchy being deeply ingrained in me – such that I never bothered to think from the perspective of the women; instead defending myself and seeing with blind eyes – not allowing myself to feel uncomfortable about my own behaviour – which is always dangerous, as it exposes you to sexist propaganda on social media; which I have often fallen for.

Having close female friends always helps; especially friends who stay with you through thick and thin; no matter what! As can be seen with this girl who became a family friend https://ashwinkumar1989.in/2017/05/12/my-experiences-as-an-aspie-part-three/ . She has stood by my side throughout; and so has her family. In turn; I have dropped and picked her up whenever we went to office (when we were colleagues). My grandmother has also packed lunch for her many times; and she has come to my home in Chennai quite often. In fact, our close relationship was sadly targeted by office politics as people accused her of making me lose focus on my work. This is sadly the sexist mindset that prevails in the workplace in India.

In another example of sexism and office politics; I had another close female friend in my first job in Mumbai – our relationship was again targeted by idiots who gossiped away as the winds blew https://ashwinkumar1989.in/2017/07/30/my-experiences-as-an-aspie-part-six/ . In this case, we had an authoritarian MD who used her privilege as an owner to mistreat employees especially girls. She reduced many of them to tears with her vindictive rage; not showing pity even for my friend who had a shoe bite ; and still ran through all her pain to office in an effort to come on time.

Counselling has changed me in many ways. I have become more empathetic; and have been able to see the situation from women’s perspective. However, there was one incident which was singularly responsible for me turning to feminism. It was when Gurmehar Kaur was harassed and bullied online, and given rape threats; merely for speaking out for peace. More than the rape threats which she received; it was the endless trolling she received on social media; including from celebrities like Virender Sehwag, Randeep Hooda, the Phogat sisters etc; that really made my blood boil.

Have we as a nation become so insensitive to the plight of women? I have seen so much of online vitriol against women on social media (too much to explain in this post). Sexism is so internalized in this society; that anyone who tries to change things or point out our faults is insulted left, right and centre. I urge every man to own up for his mistakes. It is time to enlighten others as to the ways in which we have contributed to misogyny. It is never too late to learn. Owning up helps more men to introspect as to what ways they could have been better to women. Kindly do not fall into the #notallmen trap; as it diverts the attention away from the real issues that women have been facing for years. I urge more men to be feminists, as feminism seeks to uproot patriarchy and establish a more egalitarian society which is equally fair to men and women. Please repeat it – feminism is NOT about domination of women; it is about women being treated the same way as men!

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