One Friday, PINK was a movie that released at the box office. Today, Today,#PINK is a mass movement and through the blog, I am narrating the stories of women who choose to hit back. Mayura Amarkant who blogs here shares her #IAMPINK story. It’s a daredevil act when she valiantly fought for human dignity is not something we should take for granted. No! Means! No.
Mayura lives in Mumbai with her husband and two kids. She is a successful mompreneur, blogger and a proponent of equality for women. She is a Consultant & Lead Connector with www.AGENCY09.in
#IAMPINK: Say I am no Fatakari with a punch
On several occasions, I have been angry with the patriarchal system. Right from the time when we girls faced restrictions such as not being allowed to answer the phone after 7 pm or the time, I was asked not wear shorts. Reason: I became ‘Big’. Rules have always been different for girls. My Cinderella timing was 8 pm at night. Beyond this deadline, decent girls never stay outside home.
It worked differently for me. I never became a subdued or feminine girl. To the contrary, I turned out to be a brash, aggressive teenager painted with the label, ‘tom-boy.’ I hated this label to the core but never expressed it. Some mocked, scorned at me with the label, ‘Bhavani’ and others called me, ‘Fatakri’, as if they owned my identity and felt it was their birthright to judge me for my behavior. I often asked myself why I deserved such discriminatory behavior simply because I am a girl.
Ever dark lining has a silver cloud. Such tags have their own advantages. One of them is the perception that ‘Mayura is fearless and a solver of all problems on earth’. Many of my classmates and peers often ran to me seeking advice and took refuge in my care.
I have had several #PINK moments in life and in most of the cases I didn’t retaliate. I really don’t why I chose not to lash out or hit back at the perpetrator. My friend stopped talking to me when I was 11. She acted upon the ‘advice’ of her mom to stay away from me because I speak to boys. There was another instance when I was helping a friend to pass a message to her boyfriend. I was waiting outside the shop with the dude. Dad’s friend saw me and asking him why as his daughter, I was looking for love outside the family when there was an abundance of it at home. I don’t need to tell you the saga that later followed.
I still remember an incident at work when I wore a sari and red lipstick. As a 25-year-old, I made a joke with a female colleague telling that I was scared because I would be alone at home that night. A male colleague in the same bay strode up to me and said, “Madam, on one hand, you are wearing a sexy sari and red lipstick and on the other hand, you are proclaiming loud that you are alone at home tonight. Are you hinting something?” I stared back at him. I was aghast. It was the last time in my life that I ever sported red lipstick.
There have been several such incidents in my life and one of them was when I was fully clad in a sari and a senior colleague walked up to me. He simply remarked, “Madam, tumhi prakshobhaksh kapde ghalta, baghun kahitari hota.” (You dress provocatively and whenever I see, I get turned on). It was much later that I came to know about the complicated Marathi words. I complained to my boss. However, the senior colleague got away with a subtle warning and, of course, four-day paid leave. So much for the respect of female colleagues!
All my life I have heard statements like,
Life is not like the movies, stay within your limits.
Stop flying, you don’t know what will happen after your marriage.
I pray you get a man who will allow you to work.
You are always hinting to men – it is never their fault.
Why are you so talkative? Women need to be quiet.
Such statements and several other incidents formed the building blocks of my personality. It made me stronger as a woman and never feared to take charge of situations. The one time when I surprised myself was when a friend was learning how to drive and tagged me along with her for ‘protection.’ We were out at a turning point when a truck came out of nowhere and the driver started to hurl abuses at us.
It was upsetting when he started to make sexist remarks about women and driving. The feeling of frustrating bottled up during all those years of being seen as an object of lust and desire whole at the same time being looked down upon by the same people. I never realized that I was feeding a volcano of emotions by staying quiet and which would erupt at any time.
I lost time. There was a voice inside me that snapped.
I got out of the car, shouted loudly and moved towards the truck. The truck driver kept the door open and was hollering away. I stretched out my left hand, grabbed his collar and pulled him down. He fell down with a thud. I caught hold of his collar again and punched him several times with my right hand. A bevy of crowd cheered and clapped. I didn’t realize how violent I became on the spur of the moment. Every single punch and a blow was directed at the same society that never fell short of shaming women.
When he closed his eyes and stopped retaliating, I stopped in my track. Adjusting my jeans and t-shirt, I walked away as if nothing happened. As I got back inside the car, my friend zoomed in another direction. We swore not to tell anyone about this incident.
It’s been 20 years. Today, in this #IAMPINK post, the whole world knows about it.
I have a message for everyone:
We are not objects of desire nor are we dumb fucks!
Don’t call me Bechari. I am not Bhavani
Nor I am a tomboy.
I don’t want to be a man.
I am a woman.
I am proud to be who I am.
Let me be.
To celebrate my individuality as a human.
I love being a woman.
Don’t label us.
Don’t give us special privileges.
What we want is equality.
Is it too much to ask for?
Treat us the way you treat your boys.