Ever since the Bengaluru incident, molestation, eve teasing and other sexual offences have taken center stage. People across the country have vehemently spoken out for women’s safety. However, simultaneously, there have been protests by men who have asked not to be judged for the actions of a select few who share nothing but their gender. We’ve even got our own hashtag, #NotAllMen.
It’s true that the actions of a few must never be representative of the rest of us. However, before be decide to package ourselves as divine beings who can do no wrong, a little introspection is necessary, don’t you think?
This stand-up comic, Kalpak, recently penned down a post which acts as a sort of filter. It’s a sort of reality check for those who confidently assert that they are not a part of the problem.
I hear you. I am one of you. Yes, it feels bad to be generalised and blamed for the wrongdoings of someone else when the only common thing between you and them is gender.
But let’s give our #NotAllMen war-cry another introspection.
Have you ever raped or attempted to rape someone? Have you ever forced yourself sexually on anyone?
Yes? Then you obviously don’t fall under #NotAllMen.
Have you ever groped someone in a crowd? Or even intentionally brushed your elbow against a boob to feel it?
Yes? You too do not qualify for #NotAllMen.
Have you been witness to an act of sexual violence against someone, and done nothing about it? It could be rape, molestation, or eve teasing.Yes? Then kindly step out of that holy circle of #NotAllMen.
Safe so far? Checked everything ‘no’? Well good for you then. You are a decent fellow.
Let’s dig further, shall we?
Have you ever had a female friend of yours come up to you and share with you a dark secret from her past about when she was wrongly touched or worse? Did you, then, just act as a sympathetic listener? Did you just console her and never encouraged her to talk to her elders about it?
Yes? I am sorry but you do not fall under #NotAllMen.
Are you a father or an elder relative of someone who never ensured that s/he learns self-defense, and never taught them good touch–bad touch only because it would get awkward?
Or are you a father or an elder relative of a boy who never discussed such news with him so as to make him understand that these acts are unacceptable and should never ever be committed under any circumstance?
Yes? Then sir, kindly step out of that #NotAllMen circle.
Moving on, have you ever feasted your eyes on a random girl in a public place? No, I don’t mean ‘checking-out’. We all do that. People of all genders do that. We are sexual beings and hence checking someone out is natural. What I am referring to here is ensnaring someone with hungry eyes, especially focusing on their sexual parts, making them uncomfortable. Have you?
Yes? Then you know what I am going to say.
Have you been with a friend who has done this and not stopped or corrected him?
Yes? You too sir, kindly join your friend who just stepped out of the #NotAllMen cover.
Have you ever judged a girl to be easy because she wore a short dress? Or because she was holding a cigarette, or drinking too much?
Yes? I am afraid, you too sir. Kindly step out.
Are you still inside that circle?
Are you Steve Rogers?!
No? Well, that is awesome! Go ahead, get a t-shirt that says #NotAllMen. You deserve it pal.
(P.S. — I myself came out of that circle sometime during the filtering.)
While most of us (I am hoping), confidently stayed within the pious circle of #NotAllMen until the first few questions, some of us surely started to fall out towards the end. I personally did. While this filter may seem too idealistic, it does warrant the question, can we really absolve ourselves from all responsibility?
While we may not be the obvious culprits, by not being a part of the solution, we do bear a proportion of the burden of responsibility. It’s time we accept it.