Last week a piece circulated the internet written by a young woman about the three months she spent in India. She'd travelled there as part of the University of Chicago Indian Civilizations Program. That in itself isn't the part that made the story viral – it was her description of the sexual harassment and physical abuse she suffered at the hands of Indian men that got everyone's attention.
The young lady in question recounted frightening tales of having her breasts and crotch clawed at by total strangers, having her butt felt up in crowds, being followed by strange men for almost an hour, having men masturbate in front of her, and film and take photos of her body without permission.
Though she says she completely followed the University's suggestions for women: “dress conservatively, to not smile in the streets” she was still not prepared for the onslaught of male entitlement to her body.
The author of the piece was so affected by her experience in India that once back home, she fell into a deep depression, She reports feeling that she “wanted to die.” She shared: “After a public breakdown I ended up in a psych ward for two days held against my will, and was released on the condition that I took a "mental leave of absence" from school and went to live with my mother. I thought I had lost my mind; I didn't connect any of it to India-- I had moved on. But then a therapist diagnosed me with PTSD and I realized I hadn't moved a single inch. I had frozen in time. And I’d fallen. And I’d shattered. ...And I am not the only woman who is on a mental leave of absence from the University of Chicago for reasons of sexual assault and is unable to take classes.”
What Bothers Me Most About This Story...
Though this story was certainly horrific, and her experiences something that no one should have to go through, I felt an interesting mixture of emotions. I took some time to ponder what I was feeling and why I was feeling so conflicted about an obviously traumatizing experience.
Then I realized that what bothered me her shock... her unquestioned expectation that because she was white and had blue eyes that she would be treated like a normal human being.
Bam! There it is.
Cause see, her story is not unique if you are a brown-skinned woman living in Pakistan, or Egypt, or Bangladesh, or Yemen. It is certainly not unique if you are Latino or Black and living in a large city in the U.S. If you are female here, you've experienced sexual harassment on the streets by men. Black and brown women all over the United States and the world are treated in these tawdry, animalistic ways by men EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE WEEK.
Yet, their stories do not make it to CNN ireports ... well frankly, because no one gives a damn. It's not NEWS. Reporting on what men do to black and brown women doesn't serve a GOP agenda. But since this story covers a WAP being mistreated by brown skinned men, it makes her special and unique?
I believe the reason this Caucasian student had a meltdown and white women like her are running around shocked that this could happen to one of them is because they were stunned to realize that outside the U.S., white skin provides them with with no favors or extraordinary privileges. I suppose it's a real surprise to most white women when they travel to other countries discover they will get treated like they are nothing special. Outside of the U.S., no one cares about their whiteness. Outside of the U.S. white women are on the same level as black and brown women - the bottom.