I've been home now for almost a month, but India remains nearly constantly on my mind. There are little things and big things I am asked about or want to talk about when the subject of my trip comes up. Like, how were my tattoos received? How was the food? Being there, what was the misogyny really like? It's that question that preys on my mind.
I am reminded again and again of the night in Jodhpur when I got surrounded by a pack of men - touched, leered at, and made to feel truly frightened. I was not attacked, the way that poor woman who recently died from the injuries given to her due to gang rape/torture in Delhi. Even though according to the way things work there I was doing everything wrong and she had been doing everything right. I was alone, in a not particularly well lit train station, at night. I was wearing clothes that left my arms and shoulders bare. She was in a good area, dressed "properly", with a male friend... and look at what happened to her. It has made me sick, reading about what those six men did to her. And it forces the memory of that night in Jodhpur back into my mind, and how that experience could have gone so much worse.
Despite how much I loved India, I still can't get over how much (in general) I hated Indian men. I didn't write a lot about it here, but it got said in the emails I sent to a smaller group of people. Often accompanied by tears of stress and frustration. Women are treated horribly, there. Particularly us foreign women, although their own women don't have it a whole lot better. You don't see women working in shops or restaurants. In three months I think the only times I saw women working in public they were selling jewelry or sweeping the streets or beaches. Okay, so I did stay in a couple of hotels that had women working, but those two hotels were both in Goa. Goa seemed to be much more relaxed than any of the other places I visited.
Oh... Again in Jodhpur, walking around and having little boys (they probably couldn't be much older than seven or eight!) chasing behind me to pinch my ass... Or hanging out in groups and making kissing sounds calling out "hey baby!" as I would walk by. All I could think was, "look at their role models... Those men who surrounded me and frightened me at the train station."
There are exceptions, of course, to my hatred of Indian men. I met some throughout my trip who actually treated me like a person and not just a walking vagina. Amusingly enough, or not, most of those exceptions happened to be Kashmiri men. I don't know what it is about Kashmir that the men from there treated women so much better than the rest of Indian men. But I was grateful of it.
One of the next locations I want to visit is Morocco. And I am told by many to be careful going there by myself. That Arabic men are awful. I just say, I just spent three months in India. I'm prepared now. I have a better idea of what to expect when it comes to being a woman traveling in such a world where women are treated so badly. I'm stronger because of it. It still makes me angry. It still makes me want to cry when the fear overcomes the anger. But I'm never going to be so scared that I won't go.