The following was submitted by SMIW contributor Shilpa Sebastian to our campaign #HaveShortsWillSmoke.
I live in a progressive and mixed-bag locality of Bangalore with lots of foreign students and expats. It is an area I have lived in on and off for about 6-7 years. I love it here!
I can wear shorts ‘safely’ around this area!
It was about 6 p.m. on a Saturday evening and I had friends coming over. As usual, I hopped on to my bike to go get snacks and drinks. I wore what I normally do around the house, which was a Tshirt and a pair of shorts. As I hit the main road, from my house, I could hear a bike pull up behind me.
I knew this potential mate was “checking me out” since he was enthusiastically announcing his interest in me by using the universal signal for men on loud bikes – repeated loud revving!
But, being the lady that I am (and having been ‘well-conditioned’ by society in general), I ignored and blocked this annoying gnat of the male species and his mating call out. Obviously, that was not acceptable to him and he thought he had to let me know verbally about his interest in me. So, he pulls up beside me and loudly displayed his inherent male privilege by yelling “Nice knockers”.
Wow. What women wouldn’t want to hear that? Please note the sarcasm.
He was swift enough to take off before I could let him know that his interest was wasted on me and I had some choice responses to give! But then, Karma did my nameless admirer a bad turn. He got caught in slow moving traffic, one car ahead of me and now, it was my turn to let the terms of endearment flow.
By now, I was sick and tired of being objectified, harassed, molested, abused and constantly let down by the sense of male entitlement that society thrusts upon its women; tired of being told how to sit, stand, travel, dress and even breath. Tired of living a life where my safety was primary and ruled every aspect of it – Tired of having no autonomy over what to wear, where to go, who to go with, what to eat, what to drink and where to live!
So, this one was not going to get away with it this time. All those years of ignoring, hiding and generally being thick skinned could not be contained any longer. I pulled up next to the admirer and let him know what I thought of him – very loudly and unabashedly. I hounded him and wouldn’t let him get away from me till I let him know how big a fan I was of his admiration and eloquence. More sarcasm. Suffice to say, he couldn’t wait to get away from me.
Why you no like me now that I have a voice???
Though it was a very satisfying conclusion to the encounter, I was extremely disappointed that I had not done this every time I was disrespected and taken for granted. I wish I had found my voice years ago – when I was groped and molested. I wish I had found it when I saw and heard other women being treating the same way. I wish I had found it when I was oppressed and subjugated.
I wish I had found my voice much earlier, just for the satisfaction of having attempted to defend my right to exist as I am. But, having found it, finally, I plan on keeping it and, putting it to good use.
Have shorts. Will smoke.
*Image for representation purpose only. This article or campaign does not endorse riding a two wheeler without a helmet or violating traffic laws in any other way. We encourage all our readers to follow traffic safety guidelines at all times.
About the Author:
Shilpa is a content writer and artist. She is a true feminist in the sense that everyone regardless of gender, sexuality or choices, should have equal rights and opportunities.