The Day after #MeToo- Let us address the "Elefant in the Room”

Aparna Gopan
Posted November 10, 2017 from India
Making peace with the elefants...
Some elefants we can make peace with, some need to be killed.

“It is okay to kill.” They taught me.

From kindergarten through schools to college, Nothing changed but the paint on those walls and faces.The lessons they taught me, were all, just the same.I was taught to be good. To always be the teacher’s pet Taught not to scream, not to shout, laugh or even be seen happy. They said it was for boys and that I wasn’t supposed to be seen with them.

I was asked to wear skirts that covered my knees and all those stains it hid. I was asked not to take names of certain body parts or scream as I bled with pain. I was taught to paint within lines and not to let my dreams walk out of their eyes.I was taught to keep my hair and tongue-tied. Everywhere and Every time.

I was taught not to get raped but my brother wasn’t taught not to rape.I was asked to be friendly and to be nice and that’s exactly what I did all my life.Once, I even let a white-robed man on the bus talk to me about god and sex and what I thought of both.I didn’t let him touch me, but I got screamed at for letting him sit next to me, When all that I was taught, my entire life, was to be nice and let boys and men be.

Another time, When my girlfriend pulled me behind the bush and showed me her blood stains, asking me whether my breasts had a funny growth on them, I was ashamed to reply. “We don’t talk about these.” That’s what mum told me and that’s all we did. Not talk about THESE. Things like menstruation and blood and why my breasts ached at all times or why I had to shave.

My sex education was a powerpoint presentation through flow charts which said NOTHING about sex. I remember how we laughed when we saw the word“MENSTRUATION” written on the first slide in tiny font. And how we got hushed by a room full of eyes and covered heads.

They taught me: I wasn’t supposed to let my dad or my brother see the pads with which I mopped the blood and the shame that my body was forced to live with and never talk about.That’s all I remember from all the conversations we NEVER had.

Now that leads me to another day when a smiling man followed us on his bike.He was steering the bike handle with a hand and pressing his own with the other.We saw it being pulled out and rubbed and that’s the first time I ever saw a man’s penis.But we did not talk about it as I have been taught my lessons well. That’s what good girls do.We obey all the rules that everybody makes and say sorry when these rules fail to protect us.

As I entered college, they asked me to wear a tag around my neck at all times. Said it will protect me. And I did as I was told like a lost puppy with a collar around her neck failing to understand how.They taught me to be proud of the collar and the name it carried and I tried. I did.As my safety expired at 6.30 and I was chased by whistling men and barking dogs who were free to roam.

They taught me what to eat and when not to, what to wear and how not to what to say and where not to, how to sleep and with whom to!

My first lessons on love were given to me by my friends sitting on a dirty kitchen counter.So I did and when it failed and it ached like never before, nobody taught me how to love myself.I was asked to move on and when it did take time and I couldn’t sleep in fear of touching hands,I couldn’t bring myself to go to a therapist or scream out all that pain cause I was taught not to.And as I did move on and kept moving on in trains and crowded buses and got junks pressed against my body that asked for it, It was suggested that I better feel good for all the attention I did get. And at other times, I was scolded for moving on too fast and too much.I was not supposed to, they said.

And that’s the story of how I grew up: seeing and feeling all that they failed to teach me.The night and the train.The Sea and my blood.The man and his lust.A strangers cock and my breasts.My vagina and how it felt.My dreams and where they rest.

This is not just my story. This is your story. A story beyond any gender. We live in tiny rooms with huge elephants right in the middle of all of us. I know that you can see it, hear its breath and feel its uncomfortable presence.But you act like you don’t.

And that is the reason why I will receive a call soon after this “ episode” of mine from my mumwho heard from the others who have got FB accounts and judging eyes of the shame I did and have to live with for talking about the elephants that keep killing me. And again, I get blamed.Not the unspeakable elephants, who fling young people off bridges or under trains.Because through all those lessons, that’s all that they taught us. That’s all that they taught me. “It is okay to kill.”

#metoo The Elefant in the Room

P.S: I have decided to kill. I have decided to provoke. I started "Elefant in the Room" as a provocative movement which runs theme-based campaigns around various uncomfortable conversations people tend to squirm away from.

P.S(2): Let's bellow... Let's trample.. Let's break the silence, one elefant at a time. Join the movement here or write to me:elefants@elefantintheroom.org

http://www.elefantintheroom.org/

This post was submitted in response to After #MeToo: Stories of Change.

Comments 9

Log in or register to post comments
Hina Bhagat
Nov 11, 2017
Nov 11, 2017

Beloved!! :)

Thanks for sharing it with us I appreciate your love with creation :)

keep it up just do what you like to do and stay away from the small thinkers!! :) :)

Be courage :)

Aparna Gopan
Nov 12, 2017
Nov 12, 2017

Thank You. :)

Hina Bhagat
Nov 12, 2017
Nov 12, 2017

YOU'RE WELCOME :)

jlanghus
Nov 11, 2017
Nov 11, 2017

Hi Aparna. Welcome to World Pulse:-) Thanks for sharing your important story!! I'm looking forward to seeing more from you.

Tamarack Verrall
Nov 13, 2017
Nov 13, 2017

Dear Aparna,

Your writing is powerful, and such a strong reminder of all of the elephants we constantly come up against in the room. As I read and took in your story I was so easily able to flash back over mine. Thousands of ways we make our way through life slowly learning to recognize the elephants and discover what we were not taught. "...how I grew up: seeing and feeling all that they failed to teach me". Eloquently stated. We emerge strong when we point to the elephants and challenge why they were placed to keep us from knowledge, and through knowledge, trust in ourselves. Thanks for such a great message.

In sisterhood,

Tam

Aparna Gopan
Nov 13, 2017
Nov 13, 2017

Thank You for sharing your thoughts, Tam. We do emerge stronger once we address the elefants. The sheer number of them in our lives, at every other corner should scare us. They breed uncomfortable silence and toxic systems. They do leave us ignorant and far away from knowledge as you rightly pointed out. I started "Elefant in the Room" as a provocative movement to challenge all this. Please feel free to be a part of the movement and help us break silence, one elefant at a time.

http://www.elefantintheroom.org/

mae me
Nov 14, 2017
Nov 14, 2017

Hello Aparna Gopan, thank you for sharing this story of reality but we can bring change. I hope the movement you will start will raise awareness.

Aparna Gopan
Dec 06, 2017
Dec 06, 2017
Hilaire Murhula
Nov 16, 2017
Nov 16, 2017