Disclaimer: This letter was anonymously submitted to The Blue Pencil. The writer’s views are personal and shall be respected. The Blue Pencil does not take any responsibility for the same.
To the men of AIL
This letter is about all anyone can talk about in college nowadays- the fences. The fence around the women’s hostel, the lock on the gate on that fence and now most recently, the proposed fence around the men’s hostel. This latest development has caused a lot of panic and for some reason (probably the need to find someone to blame/hate coupled with a lack of information about what actually happened) it has resulted in a wave of hatred directed towards the female population of the college in general and two especially vocal females in particular. We don’t mind the hate; loud women who have caused even the slightest discomfort to men have been shamed and hated since forever. We don’t mind being called, and I quote, ‘feminazis’. All we ask is that this anger and hatred that we’re receiving rise for the right reasons and not as a result of poorly communicated and misunderstood accounts of what actually happened.
A slightly lesser known fact amongst the inhabitants of the men’s hostel is that the now-infamous session with a senior member of the college administration was preceded by a meeting between the women and another slightly less senior member. No-one from the men’s hostel was present at that meeting but most of the women were and so whatever I tell you about what happened at that meeting can be cross-checked and verified by any of those many women.
All we asked for at that meeting was a reason why we couldn’t be allowed the same treatment and liberties as the men in the college. As far as we could tell, there were two possible reasons why we must be locked in a cage every night while the men are not- firstly, to protect us and/or secondly, to prevent us from indulging in ‘unsavoury’ (read sexual) activities. We were assured that it was definitely not the latter and that the college administration had the utmost faith in us. We then asked why our safety could not be guaranteed within a college campus as small as ours and questioned whether or not that is symptomatic of a much larger issue. For all our efforts at reasoning and logically discussing our problem, we were rewarded with repeatedly and condescendingly being asked to ‘sit down’ (read shut up) and were told that the issue could not be decided immediately and would be pondered over by the people with the authority to make such decisions. This next part is important- we were then asked if all we wanted was equality, to which we immediately and unequivocally responded that yes, we would love a bit of equality (because honestly, who doesn’t) but also that we prioritised our humble request for liberty far above any wishes for equality. Again, we were asked to sit down (read shut up) in a manner that implied that we must not get so overly dramatic and hysterical about such abstract concepts that apparently are just taught to us for fun because they don’t actually mean anything in the real world. What is the real use of liberty anyway? This meeting was the first nail in the coffin of our now long-dead street cred in the men’s hostel.
Nail No. 2 was very cunningly hammered in just a few days later, when at one of the monthly Prefectorial Meetings, one of the members of the college administration informed the male prefects that the women had, at the earlier mentioned meeting, ‘agreed’ to a fence possibly being constructed around the men’s hostel. The use of the word ‘agreed’ implies that we had the option of disagreeing, which I assure you we did not. We were not asked for an opinion on such a fence but merely informed of the fact that it was one of the possible solutions. It should be fairly evident to everyone by now that ours is not a college where decisions are made based on the agreement or opinions of students and that we are only afforded the courtesy, if it can be called that, of being informed once a decision has been made. Anyone who understands this would also automatically understand how the women of the college could not possibly have contributed to or played a key role in getting a fence constructed around the men’s hostel.
The final nail was unknowingly and possibly unwittingly hammered into this tragic coffin by the men of the college themselves and I’ll tell you how. During the session with the senior member of the administration, when we were informed that the college ‘believed in equality but only to a certain extent’ (another gem of a direct quote), one of our brave Feminazis tried to spend a few minutes reasoning with the senior member. Everyone who cares knows how that went but it ended with a very vague and ambiguous assurance of equality. Feminazi No. 2 then stepped in to ask, straight out, whether the meaning of that answer was that a fence was to be constructed around the men’s hostel and this got the senior member to have no option but to say it- YES.
Now let me explain to you the reason behind that question- it was not asked to rub salt in your wounds or to give the women sitting there sadistic pleasure, it was asked to make it absolutely clear to all the men sitting there that your liberty was in danger. It was asked so that it could elicit a response, hopefully, a fierce response that you would not allow that to happen and that your liberty was dear to you too. What it got instead was widespread laughter.
How nice it must be to live in a world where being told in no uncertain terms that you would be put in a cage causes you to laugh at the idea and not rage against the person telling you that he will cage you. We really do live in two completely different worlds and on that day, I stood at the edge of mine and wondered what that other world must feel like, where even the idea of being restricted or told what to do is humorous because you truly and genuinely believe that it can’t be done to you.
We do not want you to be caged; we have lived like this and we know that the dignity of choice is extremely valuable. However if the only reason that the college administration can give to us is that all other hostels have such timings as restrictions and that since the members of the administration are almost twice our age, we should blindly trust in their wisdom when they tell us that students must not be allowed to roam the campus unchecked after a certain hour at night, can you really blame us for wanting this wisdom to be equally applicable?
We did not accept this reasoning and tried to offer counters but ended up beating our fists to a bloody pulp against a wall that refused to listen, while you sat across the same room and laughed. If you choose to fight against your fence, we will not watch and laugh but join and help you but we won’t accept the double standard that has prevailed in this college just because it has existed since forever.
This is why we apologise for any misunderstanding that may have arisen but not for the discomfort we have caused you.