A while ago, a friend of mine, doing her Masters in an apparently premier institution, was rather excited because her boyfriend was coming to visit for a weekend- however, the thrill soon dissipated when she realized getting out of hostel for a weekend, that too to meet a boy (!) would be rather difficult.

“Why don’t you just say you’re going to stay with a friend?” I suggested.

“No, no. The warden will know it’s a guy. I don’t want any trouble.”

Fortunately, she found a way- convincing the warden that she was going to an aunt’s house for a weekend of platonic family fun, obviously.

Here’s what really gets to me- the hypocrisy of our so- called liberal, feminist universities that teach us feminist theory by day, and police our bodies and mobility by night.

“Fight for equal rights”- but only if you’re back in hostel by 9 PM!

“Sexual liberation”- but not before marriage!

“Reclaim public space”- but not around the boys’ hostel!

Aah, the boys’ hostel- a land of the unknown -who knows the kind of pleasures (?) that lie there!

I wonder where this anxiety stems from- what’s the worst thing that could happen if a girl went in? She’d have fun? She’d meet guys? She’d have sex? (A woman having sex and not just to make babies? Where is her sanskaar?)
University administrations should be in on a little secret- we aren’t dying to jump every male student in sight, and even if we are, where’s the harm as long as it’s consensual? (Decent sex ed classes in school would’ve been useful, but I guess that’s un-sanskaari too)

The same universities that talk to us about independence and autonomy over our bodies will have wardens call us frantically after dark, threatening to complain to “Sir” in admin- because girls these days are going out too much!

The same wardens, who harass us when we come back at 12 am after ladies night, are completely okay with us coming back at 3 am after midnight mass- because didn’t you know, that’s what good Christian girls do?

Coming back to my friend, her troubles didn’t end there – once at the hotel, they had to take separate rooms, because they weren’t married- you know, lest an unmarried couple defile the hotel by having consensual sex- but of course a husband possibly raping his wife would be perfectly OK.

We shouldn’t have to pretend to be married just to be with our boyfriends (or any man for that matter)-so no, we’re not actually going to “spend time” with our aunts, our uncles, our grandparents. We’re going out, to eat, to drink, to have sex, to meet men, to meet women, to dance, to live.

We’re tired of this- tired of having no say in our own lives, tired of patriarchal curfews, tired of being made to be “good girls”- you are not doing this “for our own good”- we don’t want to be “kept safe”, we don’t want to be controlled- all we want is the right to just be, to explore our opportunities, our bodies, our cities- the right to have fun, the right to take risks.

 

 

(Image source: Pinjra Tod)