It's been almost a year since a gang rape in Delhi overtook the news cycle and sparked protests and discussion about women's safety, sexual violence and patriarchy in India and around the world. On the eve of that anniversary, when we start to ask if there have been any real changes in policing, education and everything else, Anurag Kashyap (Dev D, That Girl in Yellow Boots) releases a short film called, That Day After Everyday, that looks at sexual harassment, surveillance and violence in India.
Everyone agrees that there is more bullying these days and that it could be handled better. However, no one is asking why the incidence of bullying has increased so markedly. People used to think that bullies act the way they do because they suffer from low self-esteem. The truth turned out to be exactly the opposite.
As I read the reports, it is hard not to remember what it was like when I was in high school. I grew up in a typical small prairie town with good, honest hard-working people. Yet I'm sure that if we're being honest with ourselves, most of us know that what happened in Steubenville could have easily happened where we lived, in any city or town.
I will never forget how excited I was to be invited to watch a movie with the popular boy I liked. I primped for hours. (I was, after all, a teenager grappling with my own new sexuality.) When I got there, he did not put on the movie we agreed to watch, but a porn film. I had never seen one before. He unzipped his pants, pushed and pulled at me. I cried the whole walk home. We don't talk honestly enough about what it's like being a teen girl, or what it can be like. If we did talk about it, what it was like for us, perhaps we wouldn't be so harsh on them. Perhaps we'd see their lives for the small and large violations they're often made up of; and what those violations do.
In 2011, we are many years past the point where any of the blame for sexual assault or sexual harassment should be pinned on the victim. That victims are in any way responsible is not the kind of message that police should be sending to the community and is certainly not a lesson that should be taught in schools.