Saturday, April 20, 2013

Date a girl who isn't afraid

**In case you don't know the format of "date a girl who...", Google it. It has some stellar (and corny) posts that went viral. I am writing this because I live in Delhi, India and am at a loss to articulate how I feel as a woman about safety.**

Date a girl who isn't afraid. Date a girl who isn't afraid of you, her parents, her entire extended family, teachers, the police, politicians, others' opinions and of embarrassing herself. She will probably be like a pot of boiling, molten substances. You might see her everywhere, all the time, more than any other girl you know. Her opinions maybe ridiculous and her bravado may seem foolish at times. Admit to yourself she is trouble.

Find a girl who doesn't seem to be afraid. Go closer and smile at her understandingly to tell her that you have a hint about how many people she makes unhappy as she steps out waving her bag and flailing her arms, walking with a careless hop in the most unsuspecting of places, at a time when no one seems to be around, doing nothing at all. Follow her as she loiters endlessly. If you are taller, match your steps silently and watch what a world takes away from her within an hour of joyful loitering.

Keep watching out for a girl who isn't afraid because there is a daily possibility that someone will want to squeeze her, pinch her and undress her in the middle of the crowded market. Step back as she continues to walk and ends up being slapped on the bottom. Her cheeks will turn a bright crimson and the molten substances may spill out from within. Look up at the sky of densely impossible clouds. You may see them form familiar faces who have no confidence in her ability to walk by herself and be left to her devices. That is when you should walk up to her.
Face the tearing girl who is on the verge of being afraid and don't offer her your critique of the society. Shake her hand and take a minute to admire her. Not her face, not her body, but the warm, stubborn extension of her wherever she walks. It's like her walk builds a little garden of not-so-afraid wherever she goes.

Propose to be around her, express your earnest desire to know her and in the same breath, admit your terror at the risks she chooses to take. In her enthusiasm, she might topple her bag full of books and biscuits and flowers and a knife, maybe. Avoid the urge to start sermonizing on self defense, Swiss knives and pepper sprays. Her mouth might be half open with no words coming out. You might get an inkling that she's been through this before. At least twenty times. If she hesitates, don't chase her until she relents.

It's painful to date a girl who isn't afraid. What can you offer? How much will she accept of your genuine, non-chauvinistic support? But, you should know it is an immense pang of relief for her when you say that rape isn't about the loss of dignity. She will be your statement to the world, your illustration of balanced feminisms and of honest changes by walking through the world day and night.

Plan long walks, to lanes, gardens, slums and the beach. Make sure you've seen them all with her in the morning, afternoon, evening and the winter night. Kiss her in public view, nibble at her ear to tell her you are equally unafraid of how you feel, where you are and what you do. Don't forget to sing. And whistle.

Find a girl who isn't afraid and soon enough you will know what scares her. Be with her and make sure, that a few years later you both know more girls who aren't afraid.

1 comment:

Ronin said...

I really didn't like the "date a girl who..." series at all, unless it was a "date a girl who you like". But I get the deeper message behind this one, and I can appreciate it. At the same time, it puts the onus back on women to brave this world rather than teach men that they have to change the way their gender treats women.