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A Woman, A Prey

I refuse to be someone who can be shoved and stomped upon. My silence should not be mistaken for my weakness, but merely the quietness before a storm.
I will go straight to the point. Today I went out with my mother and was waiting for her to pay the rickshaw puller. While waiting, a man in his mid 20’s passes me by, intentionally bumping into me. I clearly saw him lean in towards me and brush me by, when the rest of the road was completely empty waiting to be walked on. I have faced these sorts of situations numerous times before in buses, and markets where it is crowded and bumping into someone is understandable. I always tried to give any action a reasonable explanation, because that for me made life that much easier. I always have on my headphones while walking, to avoid demeaning comments that would only upset me if I hear them. I have given those rascals their chance.
But today, I have no idea why, but I pushed him back demanded a reason behind his action. What he did next left me flabbergasted. He asked me what MY problem was, and blamed ME for pushing him! He even said, ‘did you look at yourself? Why would I push you?’ he also advised me to learn manners, since I had no idea how to talk to decent people, blamed me for a false accusation and lastly, demanded an apology. After trying to retort, to his train of allegations, he finally came towards me, because he thought I needed to be ‘taught’, my manners. But eventually the pedestrians intervened and my mom, pulled me away asking me to let it go. ‘Come on’ she said, ‘ there is no point shouting, you cannot do anything. He will perish in Hell.’ Thanks mom, that’s a relief!
I thought I was doing something brave, standing up for myself, and raising my voice to a bad deed. But the way he counter attacked me, totally took me by surprise. I know it was a simple bump, but I am just tired of all this. I know this is nothing compared to all the things that my sisters around the world have been facing for so long, but today I saw a new side of me that I have never seen before. I have surprised and impressed myself. I know things did not go as it should have, and I did not win in the end, but I have to say, somewhere inside I am a bit proud of myself because for the first time in my life I have given


sallyf's picture

An empowering role model

Finding a voice online and in the safe space of World Pulse forums is one thing, but in person, in the face of an aggressor... I think you are right to feel proud!
I realise that it didn't go as smoothly as you hoped, and in fact you exposed yourself to more (and more hurtful) abuse, but my take on it is that the man in question needed a way of keeping face and justifying the situation to himself. Maybe he wasn't even very consciously aware of his actions and motivations, so if nothing else you'll have made him think about that. He might be less inclined to violate a woman's personal space or try to assert 'dominance' over her in future.
But more importantly to my mind, you never know the impact your actions might have had on the onlookers that day. I've read many PulseWire journal entries talking of how culturally accepted norms of behaviour often include women's silence in the face of violation, and how this perpetuates oppression and inequality. By acting outside those norms, you have showed everyone who witnessed the event that another behaviour is possible, that a woman can respond and be strong when she feels uncomfortable. I personally believe that it is acts like this; mindfulness, strength and honesty in everyday actions, that hold the most power to influence and inspire.
One word of caution, though, especially where physical force is involved and when there is a lifetime's pent up emotion behind you: I've found it's easy to react in a way that might be perceived by others as disproportionate to the provocation. This can undermine your message. I certainly encourage you to continue to express yourself and assert your and other women's rights as much as possible, but - whenever you can - seeking peaceful means of doing so can be just as satisfying (and usually much safer!).
That said, I'm not sure I've ever been as brave as to confront others so assertively when I've been in similar situations. You are now my role model ;)
Here's to your VOICE! Let no-one silence the truth in you!

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