Mumbai Mirror reads this site for its sex and relationship columns.
There are 5 step guides to attracting women, 10 step guides to making a woman fall in love with you and a zillion other easy to do step-wise guides to everything from getting laid to getting paid while doing it. Let us look at a slightly more important thing this time – Respecting Women.
The foremost thing to being Fuck Awesome! is garnering respect of the opposite gender as well as your own. From the films you must have watched and the real life heroes & heroines you must have had in life, you would have realised that people worth imitating and looking up to are always popular, respected, self-confident and determined. Give me an example of a publicly loved figure that does not have these qualities – whether it is Anna Hazare, Sachin Tendulkar, APJ Abdul Kalam, a fictional Singham or anyone else you can think of.
While there are personal struggles to become self-confident, popularity and respect have to be earned. And the first step towards doing that is respecting others. Time and again, in school and college and at the workplace, we have been told to respect others. Yet, we find instances of disrespect occurring with an alarming rate, especially by men against women.
Cases of eve-teasing, gang rapes, marital rapes, sanctions against women by communities throughout the country have become very common place. Hardly a day goes by when the newspapers do not report of a sexual crime against women. Women are voicing out their opinion against purposeful and indecent staring and touching by strangers in public places. As a man, it angers me that fellow men are indulging in such acts. As a son, brother, nephew and the so many other relationships I have, I feel scared for the women in my life.
The catch is, the men who indulge in these acts against women are not orphaned, anti-social creatures with no sense of norms and morals. Often, these are regular guys who were never taught the correct way of behaving with the opposite gender. Let us face it, the way a man behaves with a man, if he would behave with a woman, it would be considered indecent and in some instances, even abuse. Yet, in Indian society, we never have taught our sons and brothers the correct way to behave with women. The only reference point of behaviour that the Indian man has are the women in the family. But in a sexual context, this behaviour doesn’t translate to women outside of home.
So what do we do when our own fathers, brothers, sons are behaving indecently with women they don’t know, masked in anonymity in crowds or dominating the women in their own lives because they were never taught better? As with everything else, proper education is the first tool of change. The first step of change though, is acceptance. And as a society we should accept that we never taught our men how to behave with women. The media might have taught us how not to disrespect women. Let me tell you today, how to respect them and that respecting women is not as difficult as some of us may think.
#1 – Corporate Cavemen
Like I said, the first step of change is acceptance. Before acceptance, comes knowledge and understanding. Let us understand how nature has shaped men.
A very brief synopsis of evolution is that, since women needed to put in 9-20 months of their life into raising a child to pass on their genes, a time when they were vulnerable and unable to fend for themselves, they looked for commitment in their male partners – partners who would protect and provide for them. Males on the other hand, benefited from being as promiscuous as possible – searching for willing females and sleeping around as much as possible, thus spreading the chances of survival of their genes over multiple partners. It was beneficial for a man to be quickly attracted to a female so as to be able to impregnate her. While women had to look for emotional investment and means to provide for her and the child (which is translated today to looking for men with stable incomes and households), men only needed to make sure that the female partner was young & healthy enough to be able to procreate. This could be seen through visual cues like good hair, good skin, a good child-bearing figure – what we now know as beauty.
Thus, men are hard-wired to respond to visual cues of female child-bearing health. Knowing this, understanding this and accepting this is the first step towards teaching men to be able to not act at all or act positively on this hard-wiring, rather than negatively. Like controlling the terribly strong urge to show off your motor driving skills when you suddenly spot an attractive woman across the road – although she doesn’t know you, hasn’t noticed you and if you zoom away fast, is never going to have seen you – and you know this – and you still show off your motoring skills. Everytime.
#2 Fantasies, Films, Porn
Our films, music, literature portray certain behaviours with gender stereotypes. That the woman is supposed to deny romantic and sexual feelings and the man has to be the one who keeps pursuing her till she finally says yes and they live happily ever after is a story played out a zillion times on screen, on TV and in our books.
Yet, translated into real life, such antics turn into serious crimes of eve-teasing, stalking, sexual abuse and intimidation. While cola ads and bike ads come with disclaimers of “Do not try this at home,” Hindi films seldom do. So, while a Salman Khan may ask the heroine to love him because her Mama says she loves him and her Aapa says she loves him as well, in real life, to pursue a woman when she has said no, has very quick chances of turning into a legal crime.
#3 Understanding a No
Taking on from the earlier point, we are part of a culture that EXPECTS a woman to always say “No!” to romantic and sexual advances…and not mean it too. Which means, that men are taught to keep on pushing, whether during courtship to get a date or in bed to continue further, even when a woman is saying a no.
Let us get something very clear here. When it comes to romantic and sexual advances by men, women often do say no when they do not mean it. This is true even in lesbian relationships, but to a lesser extent. Of course, not EVERY woman would do this, but it is a prevalent behaviour we find. Since our society expects women to say no to such advances, women are taught to say no to such advances. It is considered too forward a behaviour if a woman DOESN’T say no, even if she doesn’t mean it. At the same time, since women are saying no but they do not mean it, they expect the man to pursue as well.
And it is in such circumstances in well meaning courtships, when the signals are read wrong by either party, there arise scenarios of forced sexual contact. Which is not only a crime if reported to the police, but also creates unnecessary emotional trauma for both parties.
So what do we do in such cases? Expecting men to completely back off might lead to a lot of social complications where men do not initiate or maintain any romantic or sexual pursuit at all. Would we like to live in such a society? At the same time, it is also true that there are unpleasant instances taking place all around us, where especially women and in certain cases, men, are undergoing forced contact.
For all men out there, the secret to avoiding any such unpleasant instance, in romance or sex is two pronged. One is to ASK and to not take a woman’s silence as approval for your pursuit. Two is to IMMEDIATELY back off when a woman says a no. If she says no to you having asked her out, back off. If she says no to anything beyond kissing, back off. If she says no to penetration, back off. The trick is to immediately BACK OFF. I can’t stress this enough. BACK OFF!
Now, don’t worry that you will lose out on the woman if you do back off. If the woman is interested in you, she will give you more chances to pursue her, to take your romantic and sexual relationship forward. Look out for cues and hints she drops, but do not attribute unnecessary meaning to her actions. If you are unclear, ASK whether she means to continue something that had been left half done. Which brings me to, not taking a woman’s silence as approval.
Read this very carefully – whenever you are doing something and you find the woman not saying no, it is still NOT a cue for you to continue forward without EXPLICIT approval from the woman. Always ASK for explicit approval from a woman – “Do you like what I am doing?” “Would you like me to go ahead?” If the woman doesn’t respond with a clear verbal yes or a nod of head, immediately STOP doing whatever you are doing. If the woman liked it, she would get you to continue even if you did stop.
To summarise, always err on the side of safety rather than the side of a probable rape or stalking. If the woman is interested she will make what she wants very clear. Till then, play it cool!
#4 When she is asking for it
So what happens when she is dressed in really tight minies and super deep necks, is seen with a different (rich) guy every time, is pouty lipped and made up always? You know she wants it, right? And is ready to give it too? You know she is sleeping with men not because she loves them, but because she likes their money/car/political power? She goes to bars, dances for the whole night and lets others grope her while she is drunk and doesn’t mind it? Surely, she can’t say a no to you!
Psst! Come here, I will tell you a secret! She is probably asking for it. Only thing is, she isn’t asking for it from YOU. Who she asks it from, and what she is doing with others, is her thing, not yours. She is probably wearing the short dress to titillate, but not to titillate you. She probably likes getting drunk and making out with the people she goes to clubs with, but if it isn’t you she is going with, she doesn’t want it from you. And sometimes she doesn’t want it from you even if she is going with you.
Just because she wants it, doesn’t mean she wants it from YOU! And you don’t have to be generous to give it to her. If she wanted it from you, she would tell you so. Read point #3 as a reiteration on this.
To make the point clearer, let me give you an analogy. What if one day you walked by a vada-pav stall when you weren’t hungry but the vada-pav wala still force fed you with vada-pavs? Well, if you walked by the stall, you were probably asking for it, no?
Or to put in another way. If you walk by a restaurant while you are feeling hungry and have no money, do you steal the food because it was smelling so nice and ASKING to be eaten? If you answer yes to this question, you belong in jail. No matter how you spin the argument on poverty and access to food.
#5 Respecting women you do not know – Shedding the mask of anonymity
But you always respect the women you know and who know you, right? What is the harm in letting your hands roam a little in public? If she didn’t see who did it, why will she feel bad? She may even imagine a tall, dark, handsome man who groped her in the crowd!
The one problem with our culture is, we like to be in denial and not talk about sensitive subjects rather than be in the open with them. What this does is, through silence it actually gives approval to not very cool behaviours like using the anonymity afforded by a crowd to do things that otherwise would be condemned publicly. In local trains and buses, in markets, the number of women getting groped and disrespectfully touched, is appalling. The recent decision to not let women below 40 years of age into their local market by a Khap Panchayat in UP is a misplaced attempt to curb such incidences against women. Again, it is not the women who are encouraging any such behaviour, but it is the lack of training given to them to shout out and bring such an incidence immediately to the attention of the public, that hurts them.
There are instances of women groping women, women groping men, men groping men and men groping women that happen in the crowds and very regularly. The second best panacea against this is conditioning and training ourselves to shout out in public whenever such an incidence happens to us or in our presence. The best panacea is to shed our masks of anonymity and to not use our invisibility in crowds to do things that you wouldn’t do if you knew people were watching.
Know and understand that every single person has a personality, has emotional issues, has people he/she loves and is loved by, is cared for and who cares about others, has political and social opinions, has dreams and ambitions and aspirations and obstacles in life – just like you and your parents and your siblings and your friends and your spouse. Just because the situation you and the other person came together was one in which both of you didn’t know each other, doesn’t give you a right to behave indecently with the person. Neither does it shield the other person from the PAIN you are inflicting on them. Neither should it insulate you from the guilt you should feel for having raped the sanctity of the other person.
#6 The Bro-Code
The first 5 points dealt with what one needs to understand and do personally. And they are the easiest to do. In this one, let’s get to the hard part. Respecting women while in the company of other men.
At a bar, in your building or mohalla, at the cricket ground or your gym, when there are no women who are part of the conversation but are the content of conversation, especially ones that encourage ‘manly’ behaviour by describing women as something to be sexually won or admired in a way that you wouldn’t want your mother to be admired, do you have the balls to exit the conversation or to put an end to it? If you don’t, please develop them. Let me tell you this man to man, one on one – if you think that you having whistled at a woman, called her indecent things in public or otherwise, physically abused a woman, having chance maaroed on a woman in a crowd or made a woman feel uncomfortable around you in any way is a measure of your courage and manhood, it isn’t. It just means that you are too cowardly to have real manly things to do in life and feel good about, so you go around making women feel uncomfortable.
And if you know anyone who keeps telling such tales about and doing things that are demeaning women, the bro-code dictates that you need to correct the poor fellow by telling him that what he is doing is uncool. Maybe you can tell him personally, if not in public. You can do that for a friend, can’t you?
#7 – The Human Anatomy
Sex is in the mind. Great sex is in the mind. Fantasies are in the mind. The brain is the most sexual organ. It isn’t the body. The human body is pretty boring. There is nothing about it that stands out. If you look at more than one naked person at once, you will understand that all human bodies are the same. Much like all cats are the same, all sparrows are the same, all pumpkins are the same, all banyan trees are the same.
But the human body is not just a sexual entity. It is one of the miracles of nature. Wrought in the furnace of evolution over millions of years. We started out as micro-organisms which took on different shapes and functions, slowly growing into fish, reptiles, birds, mammals, us. That is where the human body comes from. Not from porn magazines and raunchy item songs. Sex is a function of the human mind. It doesn’t require a woman to be provocatively dressed nor does it require anything human. People jerk off to mannequins, dogs, sheep, pictures, cartoons, things shaped like anatomy and even unrelated things. I say this especially for people who look at another person and feel an overpowering need to act on their arousal. The sexiness of the human body is with a willing partner. Outside, trying to squeeze a breast, make your hand brush against someone’s ass is just an act of desperate pick pocketing.
Taking things seriously
If you have noticed, this post doesn’t use the usual level of humour associated with Fuck Awesome! that you have come to love. Our point this time was to keep things serious. Too many women today, in cities and suburbs and hinterlands are afraid to go out by themselves. Working women have developed strategies to shield themselves from the ubiquitous groper. Holi is being avoided. Traveling in packs seems to work but is impractical. We no longer live in caves. Although we do sometimes behave like that. It isn’t that society is totally fair towards men. But that the crimes against women seem to be more acute. It is stupid to live in a society that doesn’t respect the rights, privacy and personal space of half its population. You and me can change that. I am doing my bit. Are you?
Go make someone proud.
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