When I started growing up as a Pakistani woman with non-Pakistani ways I realized that my fellow countrymen and even some family members had a great love for filling in the blanks. They supplied me with words when I didn’t ask. They finished my sentences for me. They told me what I was actually thinking and how to say it.
It was all wrong every single time but I put up with it because it happened so many times everyday that it was exhausting to tell people that I felt suffocated. I therefore continued to breathe through the muzzle and capitalized on the little air that people let in. It wasn’t enough but it was something and when your mind and brain are constantly supplemented by others’ minds and brains you don’t need a lot of air because what’s the point?
Can you imagine how easy it was for me to marry through an arranged marriage process, go into an extremely chauvinistic profession as my career and blend in the background? Mighty easy! I have never had to think for myself because a man is always thinking for me. He’s always telling me what’s best for me and he’s always guiding me to my success. It’s all peachy, I know, and I should be grateful except I CANNOT BREATHE.
I cannot breathe because people have been giving me stuff I don’t need while holding back stuff I do. This has created some resentment towards the helpers. This has created some anger towards patriarchy.
Men are saying they’re willing to learn from the statistics and data that’s swirling around on the internet about rape and rape culture. Why are men not listening? Why are men not muted? Why are men not giving up their privilege to be the talker for just one day to listen to their mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, colleague? Why are they still talking and supplying words and creating an activism out of rape?
I know the argument is that men get raped too. But can we have a moment to the denouncement of misogyny? Men can’t say they face misogyny. Men can also not deny that men are mostly raped by men.
When a victim speaks, and you call yourself an ally, let them speak. Let them speak their heart out. Don’t ask them questions. It’s not their job to educate you. It’s not women’s job to educate men on #notallmen. It’s exhausting when women are expected to engage in these debates from their birth.
Stop helping us with our trauma by being our sounding board or our vent. Stop telling us what you think we feel. That’s crass and unsophisticated.
Briefly, if you want to be an ally, Men! Mute yourselves.