Writing by Manasvi Chauhan // Photograph by Chiara Cappetta
CW: violence against women, mention of rape.
“Not all men are that way!”
Your defensive voice carries the six words
-first three always exactly the same while the last three modify with context-
to my two tired ears.
I’m yet another Tumblr feminist,
indulging in my victimisation
and delving in my most favourite pastime-
The words bounce off my skull as I dare to take a stroll down my memory lane.
Another day of April.
I stood clenching my boyfriend’s shirt with all my might
-struggling to hold on, for it was half past midnight-
as he called me a bitch and kicked me right outside.
“I don’t have a place to sleep!”
My voice cracked as it reached its peak,
just as the teakwood door slammed shut in farewell.
“I don’t care, get raped or die, I don’t care!”
I only heard a distant retort as his footsteps retreated away from my pleas.
Not All Men.
The tyrannical triplet echoes within my grey.
Same date, ten minutes flown by
as I stood downstairs facing the deserted streets, graced only by elements I’d rather leave unnamed.
He was drunk.
I prayed for the damp walls to consume me to safety as I slinked forward,
preferring an abrupt death instead of what his inebriated mind wanted to subject me to.
He staggered closer and closer
-exuding the stench of unwashed clothes and cheap alcohol-
as I stood rooted that eerie night with my bare thighs not helping the matter and my limp limbs too frozen to fight.
It all seemed to take place in a flash excruciatingly slow
before my legs finally found the sense to go make a run for it.
The next morning,
I tried keeping my pleasant disposition up
but the giant bite mark right below my chin
and the crescent-shaped claw impressions encircling my neck
said much more than my words ever could.
Mainstream media tells me it wasn’t my fault
and the college counsellor confirms as well
but I have pledged never to go out after nine for a long time now.
That might make me a coward but at least, it wouldn’t make me dead.
Not all men.
Your exasperated syllables coupled with that eye-roll offer me no solace
as I recollect the second half of twelfth grade.
He was older than my father
and he stalked me for six whole months
-from the driver to my Principal-
simply assumed that by wearing a skirt with a hem resting above my knees,
I was somehow asking for the unsolicited attention.
I recollect the sprint I used to undertake every single day,
desperate to reach the confines of my car without getting groped on the way.
I recollect how he would never follow if I had a guy friend around
because he respected his gender much more than he could ever respect my consent.
I recollect my best friend, shrugging his shoulders
and pointing out indifferently,
“Not like he raped you or anything. Can you, like, chill?”
Not all men.
The words pelt at my flesh,
turning it into angry red welts,
as his bitterness rings in my ears after about three long years.
We had just broken up:
I was home alone,
sunk on the stone floor, crying into my dog’s fur
as he shouted over the phone.
Rape threats and abuses
fell from his mouth in a free flow
as my stoic facade
collapsed further with every single blow.
“Not all men!”
You keep repeating and I agree.
I agree that not all men are potential rapists ready to beat me black-and-blue
-no, those savages are probably only a few-
but even if not every single one of you
might be a danger to my existence,
enough of you are
for it to be an issue.[share]