Is this all that I am?
While talking about TISSTalks to various people in campus, one reaction (which was shared by quite a number of people) was that they haven’t faced sexual harassment on campus. I wish I were among that privileged few, however I am unfortunately not and this was my experience here.
They say campus is a gender sensitive space. While I have always been conscious that I am studying with people of the opposite sex, I have never really worried about what they thought of me and whether I should dress a certain way only because I am going to be around them. I never knew then, that it was wrong of me to wear something ‘inappropriate’ to class. And so, stupid me, I decided one fine morning to wear a skirt to class.
There was a chorus of hoots and whoops which I did not really expect but accepted as run-of-the-mill. I had never worn a skirt before that, besides which, most of that choir was made of girls. However, later on, this guy from my class comes up to me and says – Well Sanjana, the other guys and myself were talking about you and we decided to buy you a longer skirt.
For a moment, I was speechless. Actually, I STILL am speechless. At that point of time, I laughed it but inside I was seething. How dare they imply that I was not supposed to wear something, which I am comfortable in, which I think I look good in? How dare they say that I (as a big person) could not be allowed to show off (my ugly?) legs? How dare I affect their delicate sensibilities by showing some skin?
It may have sounded like a mild statement to some. It may seem harmless to others. But to me, it spoke of complete disregard for a person’s, a woman’s free will to dress the way she feels like. Offering to buy something for someone out of friendship is something, but to do the same to cover up the person’s legs is something else altogether. I still cannot get over this and I am ashamed to admit this but now, whenever I open my cupboard and look at that particular skirt, I hesitate. Cause I don’t know who’s going to ask me to cover up this time.
I am glad that finally I can tell the whole campus about this. I am glad that people will now know that such statements are NOT ACCEPTABLE. I am more than my body, I am more than my legs. And don’t ask me to cover up…because I wont. Because it’s not about you…it’s about me.