By Deeandra Bulner
Do you cringe every time you have to step out on to the road? Do you prepare yourself mentally as soon as you reach the yellow crossing lines? I know that you know that even though you’re clad in perfectly decent attire and in no way act as a distraction to any other human being, you are aware and ready for what is about to take place simply because you are a woman. You only need to take about three steps and thus begins the show. The four wheelers, three wheelers and two wheelers are definitely taking advantage of that horn… or the bikes will toy with speed and pretend to want to run you over but stop right at the tip of your toes making you shriek and leaving you feeling like an idiot standing in the middle of the road. When you’ve reached the other side you’ll hear, words from what I can only assume is the latest edition of a dictionary for perverts, ‘ssss ssss’ or a noise that sounds like rat calls mixed with a hint of kissy-ish noises, an occasional invite, ‘koththu kamudha?’ or a grotesquely vulgar question like “Nangi, dhiva dhannada?” It’s infuriating, isn’t it? ‘nangi’ = Little sister! This innocent term is constantly misused. This is why a lot of us have permanently pissed off faces. We often hear the condescending ‘you shouldn’t have worn that noh’ and more often than not we hear it from women.
I’m in no way implying that it’s ok to walk around with your buttocks protruding out of your jeans (of course it’s ok when a male does it) but for ****ssake! Maybe men should cover their eyes instead. I’m not even going to mention a topic so gravely violent as rape, or domestic sexual/mental abuse. I’m merely displaying the situation that women have to go through every single day. The perpetrators are the common passersby and sometimes even higher authorities. How many times have you been stopped whilst travelling alone and been unnecessarily told to step out of your vehicle or been asked completely inappropriate questions? I remember been in school and just roaming around with a friend. She was in shorts. (See how I feel the need to mention that? It happens. After years of my mind been conditioned by this patriarchal environment although no one should be penalized for what they wear) we were stopped by the police, taken down a narrow road and questioned by four male policeman. To date we are left unaware as to what we did. We were asked to present our ID Cards and were told that those were not us and that we were in fact wearing ‘wes muhunas’. Upon realizing that that we were been harassed for no reason we decided to call our parents it was then implied that we were calling our ‘clients’ This was just one out of many other inappropriate cases. It doesn’t beat what we have to hear, feel or face every single day. It’s a common notion that our culture is such that it frowns upon women who don’t cover themselves up from head to toe. The irony of this really cracks me up. Only during the late 19th century and the early 20th century was the puritanical Victorian morality of 19th century Britain imposed on Sri Lankan society. Ever since that time a lot of us have been thoroughly confused, believing that it is in our culture for women to dress ‘appropriately’ when in fact it was exactly the opposite from 5th century B.C. to 19th century A.D. Get a glimpse of the ‘rodi’ women or the maidens in the ‘cobra hood caves’ To be completely honest, it seems rather out of the ordinary when we aren’t challenged with these situations.
I’ve often heard Sri Lankan males talk about how uptight women here can be because wechoose to not respond to smiles or a friendly ‘Hi’. I think, we’ve earned a divine right to be uptight and pissed off all the time after years of having the opposite sex looking for your tits instead of your eyes, shaking their penises instead of shaking your hand and grabbing your arse whenever they’ve felt like it. And they call us the ‘weaker sex’.
Deeandra is a twenty something uber talented young women. You may find more of her work here. Her opinions are her own.