I stared at my open laptop for two hours until I started writing this sentence. I did not know where to start and where to end, the same way my mind cannot single out the exact moment when men started having a right over women’s bodies. Neither do I know how this will reach its end, which leads me to the quintessential question – is it ever going to end?
Being a girl, I was always told to cover up my body by society, teachers, family, newspapers, media, and friends, and soon it felt like even the walls around me wanted my body buried. It made me feel that the Tk1 coin stuck in the bottom of my wallet had more freedom than my own body. I was expected to keep my body locked away in a closet and only keep the key for that one man who I was “destined” to be with. As if I was only “given” this body to give it to a man, wrapped like a present.
As I grew older and stronger, I fought for my body’s rights. This battle of my body against men, or should I say the battle of men against my body, is still going on. I fight every time I decide to wear my orna on my neck instead of my chest, when I wear the tightly fitted t-shirt instead of the loose-fitting kameez, when I decide to not wear a tank-top with a dress that perfectly complements my form, and when I wear red lipstick because it matches my dress and not because I want to give out a sexual invitation. I fight till I go to sleep at night, and start again when I wake up every day.
On a particular Sunday, I woke up and found out about how a celebrity’s naked photos are now all over the internet. Even before reading about the incident, I knew that the celebrity was going to be a woman. How did I know? I knew this because only a woman’s body can make such big news which spreads like wildfire overnight.
Was it because our bodies are given a huge amount of respect and such a violation of privacy was a crime? No. It spread like wildfire only because she is a woman, and pictures of her body, particularly the parts she did not want on the internet, were on the internet.
We have come to a point where a war breaking out in two countries makes less news than a woman’s naked pictures uploaded without her knowledge. She gets blamed, humiliated, and is expected to agree that she committed a “crime” by taking pictures of her own body, in her own house, and with her own camera.
Does anyone blame that 14-year-old who recently realised he likes breasts and downloaded that celebrity’s photos? Or that 26-year-old who found the naked pictures and decided to share it with his friends, and later masturbated behind a locked door?
No. No one gets blamed, except the girl whose pictures are now saved in these men’s computers, and whose photos were spread without her consent. Why? Because she is a woman, and those men have more rights over her body than she does. Before I knew it, I found men – men that I knew – sharing her photos on social networking sites. Their entire conversation will leave you contemplating whether they own that celebrity’s body.
They are sharing her photos as if it is a new game or some new gaming equipment. They do not think even for a moment that what was done to her is wrong, and it should not be encouraged. They did not show the respect that this woman and her body deserve, and has rights over. Want to know what’s the worst part? These men and every other man all around the world who shared her pictures think what they did is acceptable.
It took me a day to decide whether I should fight for what’s right and what’s wrong – mostly because I did not know how to fight this battle. At first, I thought this was not my battle to fight. But, then I realised it was always going to be another woman’s battle in this country or other, and her pictures will be treated worse than a doormat by men.
Then it dawned on me, and I thought that one day it might even be me. And will there be someone out there who will fight for me, and at times without even knowing me? The answer should be yes, we have to fight for each other and change the way our bodies are perceived and treated.
The answer to the question that I asked myself at the beginning of this had was within me all along. I am the end to men thinking they have a right over my body. I am the big “no” that says no to rape, molestation, and sexual harassment. I am a woman, my body is mine, and it is always going to be that way. No matter how many pictures you leak, steal, and share, I will always be a woman who knows how to fight for herself, and her body, every day when she wakes up, and every night when she goes to bed.