There are a couple of words I hope you never hear; words like Ethnic cleansing, words like hate crimes, like caste-violence and racism. I hope you never see #blacklivesmatter, #arabuprising and #bringbackourgirls except in history. I hope you don’t live in a society where the muslim guy is avoided or the man with the collar is scorned and called a pedophile. I hope you live in a society that doesn’t stare at you strangely because of the kink of your hair. I hope your society genuinely embraces diversity and doesn’t stare at foreigners in disgust. I hope your society is void of that woman on the train who suddenly gets up and screams, “Go home” to the exhausted Tamil man miles from home in search of better opportunities.
Those are my hopes for the society. For you, I hope you read this letter often enough. I hope you are a person who doesn’t crumble under societal pressures, i hope you aren’t a victim, better yet, I hope you don’t allow yourself to be a victim. I hope if they call you names, they just slide right off. I hope you are able to conduct yourself in a manner that is able to model who we are.
For you, i have these hopes but also i have some words.
First, ensure that you understand your environment and the society in which you live in, Charly. Why? Because your society is constantly trying to understand you. Crazy and inpalpable as it might sound, your society (which is made up of people) is aware of your presence and is constantly evaluating your significance in the grand scheme of things.
When people look at you, they will make a mental judgement in less than 30 seconds.
They judge you, and not through any fault of their own,really, but because of the natural God-given ability to make deductionsfrom limited information provided by your apparent persona. The human brain is able to process on average, 40 thoughts per minute; in 30 seconds, a stranger will have at least 15 thoughts about you, even if he doesn’t consciously register your face.
Yes, that’s what the human brain does, it judges.
Imagine you are standing at a pedestrian crossing and a lone man looks up in your direction from his seat at an outdoor cafe. His eyes rest on you for less than a minute. He is deep in thought and notices you but his gaze doesn’t linger. He has on a subconscious polite smile as his eyes go back to his newspaper.
Words like “black” would pop into his brain. Whatever he associates black with, will quickly be indexed beside your face in his head. Words like "happy". Words like “cleavage” (your cleavage better not be out, young lady, lol. seriously *straight face*), there aren’t too many words that can be associated with cleavage and we all know the first one. Right next to your face. Words like "slouch" would probably trigger the words "lazy" and "lethargic".You want to make a good impression always; every single waking moment. As a woman, the world probably takes you less seriously than they would care to admit, before you accept defeat and curl up into the mould they already set for you as tepid, inadequate and inept. Understand this -
Never ever settle for less than you can be.
Here are the words you want them to think in that space of 30 seconds:
You want his brain to re-echo them. You want to command respect in all situations, in all languages and in every geographic location. You want them to spend their 30 seconds meaningfully. Give them something to write home about. Literally, let the man outside the cafe say, "I saw a young woman today and she held my attention and my respect and she didn’t even have to say a word or bare a thigh to do it!" In your own way and style, be awesome and remarkable in 30 seconds.
I wish we didn’t have to try so hard. However, history preceded us and ultimately left us with an opportunity (not a disadvantage but an opportunity) to rebrand ourselves the best way we know how and now everyday with our exquisite mien and dignified aura we will rewrite history, one man-outside-the-cafe at a time.