Rape culture – a narrative
Updated: Nov 15
October 30, 2020
The first time my mother learned what it was like to be a woman in this country, she was 12.
The first time my sister learnt what it was like to be a woman in this country, she was 14.
The first time I learned what it was like to be a woman in this country, I was 16.
My mother knew what it was like to have a lingering hand lie on her body, if only for a moment.
My sister drowned in her racing heartbeat as she kept an eye on the shadowed figure behind her.
I felt the oily leers on my skin for hours after the momentary incident.
The first time my mother and sister fought over her clothes, my sister had left her shoulder bare and a strip of her stomach exposed. She began to step out of the house as my mother threw a jacket over her and zipped it close, as if this would protect her.
I was 15 and walking down the street to my dentist when I noticed it so clearly this time. In the afternoon, my loose, sleeveless top flew in the wind, occasionally giving away what was underneath. In less than ten minutes, I was acutely aware of my every pore. I couldn’t walk two steps without feeling the hooked gaze on my skin; my heart raced every single time I felt a motorcycle that stalled just a little too close to me. I walked down a few more steps before I was confronted with a group of men unrelentingly leering. There was nothing that grabbed their attention like this did. With every step I took, another man joined the group. It took less than a few short steps for me to prioritize my safety and turn. I spun back the way I came and didn’t look back as I sprinted, back to change into demure clothing. As I hung a jacket over my
shoulder and slipped into a sweater, my breathing eased. Those 10 excruciating minutes I had experienced moments ago were a stranger to me.
All of a sudden, my covered arms lay a film of security over me, my downturned gaze became my friend. The skin didn’t prickle with words flung at me and so easily, I nearly forgot what I felt minutes ago.
Edited by Shreya Gupta and Aditya Das