Silencing is a technique that social scientists say exists as a means of controlling the communication of any marginalized person addressing privilege. Naturally, it’s a common technique used by society to shut women up when they complain or call out sexism — violent, nonviolent, endemic or peripheral. This technique includes, but is not limited to intimidation, harassment, shaming veiled as joking or teasing, humiliation, dismissive-ness or simply denying the legitimacy of a complaint. Silencing becomes an even more serious problem when it comes to issues like rape, sexual harassment/abuse or violence, for obvious reasons. But it’s also important to be aware of it in our everyday life.
In your daily experiences, especially if you are from South Asia, do any of the following sound familiar?
“The line between what is harassment/assault and what isn’t is so thin. How can you say someone looking at you is threatening?” (ermm…because, context. no?)
“You are just saying this to ruin my reputation”
“Focusing on sexism is inhibiting your progress as a gender. How long will you play victim?”
“Free speech, free country”.
“You are saying this/behaving like this to get attention.”
“I asked my female friend/mother/sister/spouse and she didn’t think this is chauvinism”
“I am feminist, but…”
“This is just an isolated incident. Not a trend.”
“This is a ploy to hurt men”
“Boys will be boys”.
“You should be flattered”
And countless more well documented shitsprays from “she asked for it” to my personal favorite, the male experience trump card, also known as “mansplaining”. In this, a man explains to me my own experience and adds the exact manner in which I ought to behave within the context of that experience so as to not be perceived as a bitch.
If you identify to one or all of the above techniques, let me just quote the Queen of Rap, Nicki Minaj and say to all the amazing, intelligent and beautiful women out there: “Stop feeling like you shouldn’t speak your mind cause somebody’s gonna call you a bitch.
Speak your motherfucking mind.”