The Reality of Being Safe
Note: This subject is a bit touchy, and has been a topic of many a "lively" discussions between my son and I on several occasions. Read on if you can handle a disagreement.
David my son, is a really good kid on most counts. Like 9/10. (He loses 1 point for the state of his room. A different argument, for a different post :D.)
He has a few close friends who are also similarly good boys/men.
The guys you can depend on to bring your daughter home after a party. You know? The sweet, respectful and safe buddies.
The downside to being nice, and this is true of all nice people, is that they are sometimes naive about how bad others can be. The reason being that the yardstick is their mindset which is be nice, do nice.
And so, often the bone of contention is how girls are treated differently. The argument these boys bring is that girls are supported, looked out for, given the benefit of the doubt and generally get away with blaming guys for everything.
Well as the boys, on the other hand, cannot really complain, are asked various questions and treated with the belief that if the girl has complained, you've done something.
Now, the problem is not that their argument is invalid. The problem is that these good boys are a minority.
The even bigger problem is that even the good guys can end up making a girl uncomfortable merely because she doesn't know any better. The girls have had too many weird instances to take a chance.
This happened a few days ago, and I'm changing the characters only for the sake of not offending anyone. The point of the story remains addressed.
2 GFs of mine had gone out for dinner with the husband of one and a friend of the other.
Let's call them Mrs & Mr. Steele, Ms.GF and Friendly Friendman.
They had a nice meal, joked and shared stories and Friendly Friendman was to drop them all back to their respective drop off points.
Now Ms.GF has clearly set boundaries with all her guy friends. No exceptions. She is not dating or planning to date for the foreseeable future. Very clear to all who know her. Part of these boundaries is that she obviously wants to be dropped off to her destination first. To not be alone with any guy for that matter.
Friendly Friendman is a good guy for all purposes. And this is not a judgement of him.
But he decided to drop the Steeles off first despite being asked otherwise.
This makes the 2 women uncomfortable. They exchange a quick look and Mrs. Steele loudly announces in the car that she might "as well pick up the thing" from Ms. GF's home thus making sure that despite the detour it cost Friendly Friendman, he is forced to drop Ms. GF and Mrs. Steele off together and couldn't get that short drive with Ms.GF alone.
Now, did Friendly Friendman have nefarious plans? I don't think so.
Could it have gone bad? Who knows.
Did Ms. GF have a bad experience with FF before and was hence wary? No.
Did Ms. GF have a bad experience with men in general? YES.
These are 2 women in their 40s like me. They're not the general demographic of who you would assume need to be "protected".
But this is what I've been trying to explain to David and the good guys like him out there.
This is our reality as women!
At any age, we need a universal secret distress signal and cues that other women could pick on and help us out.
The situation does not have to be dire.
We're not talking molestation and assault.
But we cannot chance it.
If we're uncomfortable, it's because we have been made to feel so at any age.
The women and geographic location of my story is not India.
What I mean is, it's not limited to any one culture.
I really hope that a day comes when my son's arguments are justified and that we can judge the girls and the guys equally.
I really hope to see the day when enough men have stood up and made the world a safer place for women.
I really hope to see a world where we can hold women accountable too and not just blindly believe them because of gender.
I really hope that we achieve the Utopian where we have met the target on "teach your boys better".
In fact, for my part I do hold accountable my husband, my son, their friends, my ex-husband. My daughter and I are very vocal about how we would like to be treated better.
We keep having conversations and I know that they in turn hold their circles accountable and stand up for being better men.
I know and read about other families and other mums doing their bit to raise the good ones.
I thank God that there is a generational awareness for toxic masculinity to be tempered and all the goodness that will bring.
But until then, we're adding to cart that pepper spray.
Cover Art by Johanna Hashmi🤍