#MeToo #iDidIt #iRegret #HowWillIChange #iHaveToo

#MeToo is perhaps one of the most powerful movements of this century to talk about an important problem that has mostly stayed under the wraps. The dialogue is witnessing an active participation from the “survivors”, but the perpetrators are largely missing. Even for the survivors the experiences on how to deal with the stress that follows, healing that continues for years and sometimes even decades, etc. need significantly more attention than it receives right now.

This article is an attempt by a group of friends to share their experiences of how they ended up promoting certain acts without awareness of their own actions. The stories aren’t completely anonymous but are shuffled in no particular order so that the reader can’t identify which story belongs to which one of them. The article has three parts — their reasons for sharing, their stories, and finally what they are doing now towards these issues or otherwise. Hope this gives courage to more voices to come out and share.

#iDidIt #iRegret

Abhishek

  • CEO — NavGurukul, IIT Delhi

It is incredibly hard for me to write this blog post. However, the importance of the post is more than the strength required to write it publicly.

I am thrilled to witness the#MeToo movement becoming stronger, and have been somewhat waiting for this. Since the time I started to become aware of such instances, I felt troubled by the fact that the conversation was happening under the wraps or not happening at all. Even today, I feel that there is a limitation in the movement where the perpetrators aren’t speaking up of how they were responsible for these instances even if it came from them not knowing any better. Them not coming out is understandably rarer than perhaps a survivor talking about it, due to the difficulty in accepting the demons that exist/existed in you. But them not coming out, in my opinion, makes the dialogue between the two harder.

I have decided to come out and share how I perpetrated some of these things. You can decide to judge me, hate me, or appreciate my honesty. Let me tell you — neither of it matters. What matters is if this post can help you to play your own part in making the dialogue more expansive. Thank you for reading. Please do not comment, offer any advice and suggestions if possible.

Rishabh

  • COO — NavGurukul

I was in a Vipassana retreat from 3rd to 14th October. Getting access to the internet after 10 days and having everyone in my network talk about #MeToo made me feel painfully contended. Painful to see 100s of women (and a few men) talk about their abuse stories, but contended to see how a safe space has been created for all of them to share their experience and call out the predators.

Contended and happy about the fact that finally, a conversation about sexual abuse has started to happen in the mainstream? It’s ironical how a majority chunk of the modern civilization (mostly women & few men) go through some form of sexual abuse in their lives and still, an open conversation about the same has not been happening.

But there’s a problem within the current conversation too. It’s a one-sided conversation. It’s mostly the women talking about how their consent wasn’t respected. Men, the trespassers of consent are quiet except for a few half-assed and half-hearted apologies from their side.

Shivam

  • Software Engineer — LetsEndorse, Alumnus student at NavGurukul

I was talking to a friend about #MeToo and had a very vague idea of the movement. After talking to her, I tried to think of instances where I felt uncomfortable or made someone uncomfortable with my own actions.

When I thought of any of those instances that I shared here, I was boiling from inside and felt guilty at my own past. I want to get this off my chest and work towards a better Shivam. Before doing that I think it was crucial to accept my past as it is.

Shubham

  • IIT Delhi

When a lot of discussions were taking place on the #metoo movement, I used to wonder how could those who have been accused do such things? What happened to their consciousness? Then after Abhishek shared this idea with me, the fact really hit me, that at times, I have in fact thought like them. Our actions are manifestations of our thought processes. Real change would begin by accepting what is. This is my attempt of doing that.

Nadeesh

  • IIT Delhi

I think a clear dialogue is important to solve most of the problems that we see today instead of putting it entirely on one gender. While I do agree that there is a systemic oppression, however, to really work on this oppression we need a more balanced dialogue empathetic to both sides.


Here are the stories shared by above in no particular order. Please do not try to guess or connect the dots to who shared the story.


I made out for the first time back in Class 10th. Being from a conservative school I was among the first few boys of my class to have done so. The memory of the make out sessions is very hazy in my mind now. But in the initial sessions I always tried to push her to go a step further. A step further than what she was comfortable with. Apart from just pushing her out of her comfort zone, I also talked about her among my boy gang like I would talk about a trophy I’d won in a debate. I talked about her as a victory and collectively called her names within our group.


When I was 8 or 9 years old, I used to play in a fun way with one of my female friends. I watched my first porn video at that age. After watching the video, I decided to have sex with that girl. I would asking her about it, and she would refuse every time. She stopped playing with me, and hesitated to even talk to me. At that time I was not aware of it but since I know better, I can understand how my action was absolutely wrong and how I hurt her feelings and made her uncomfortable.


I met a girl during my first year in my college. We instantly clicked and started hanging out. After a week or two me and her decide to go to my place to have a few beers. By this time there were hints of how both of us were interested in exploring something more than just a platonic friendship. Back at my house I tried to play a particular kind of music and while collectively watching some YouTube videos, I tried getting us to watch videos which had subtle undertones of sex & romance. I even asked her to dance with me. In spite of our mutual inclination to explore a non platonic side to our relationship, in retrospect my nudges were abso-fucking-lutely wrong.


When I was young, probably 11 or 12, a time and an age that I don’t even recall properly. I remember that I was playing in some setting where there a lot of people including children as young as 2 or 3. I have a very faint memory, which never came to me until recently (about 3–4 years ago) of how for a split second I really wanted to see the female genitals of a very young child (maybe 4 or 5 years old), but with the crowd being there, I couldn’t do it, and the better wisdom prevailed. But I do have a faint memory of feeling like doing it. When I revisited this memory a few years ago, I could only feel disgusted on myself, but used the remaining years to educate myself instead and only stressing the need of proper sex education in my head.


Being a young lad, just out of school, with a girlfriend, I was pretty happy and content. She was a wonderful companion. Probably still one of my favorite people ever. But she did not wish for physical intimacy. She clearly established boundaries, and I did not physically force her. However, at that time, I never realized that my repeated asking for it, nudging her in that direction, and just general expression of frustration for not having had physical intimacy would have been things that bothered her. I never forced her, but did emotionally manipulate her. (Not that I knew very consciously I was doing so)
Consider it akin to the behavior of a quintessential “Gold Digger” except it was for sex.

Many years later, I was in a live in with another person, who after the first couple of times probably lost sexual interest. I probably had a similar demeanor with her. By the end of that relationship, she did call that out, and now in retrospect I do see that a constant nag is harassing for another person, especially as it builds over many months.


When I was in 7th standard, I went to an office of one of the biggest religious right wing volunteer led organisation, for about 10 days to carry out some volunteering work. I used to make my own food over there. Once I was making tea for the whole office an employee came and asked me — “Why are you making the tea alone? Let me help you with that”. Then he started making tea with me and started touching my back, again and again. I felt repulsed at that time and I pushed him down and ran away from that place. After 3 or 4 days we both went to the market. When we were coming back from market, he asked me — “Why did you push me and ran away from me that day?”. I said I was feeling scared from a ghost. He proceeded to ask me — “I was there with you, then why were you afraid? Anyway, whatever we do with each other, you can’t tell it to anyone”. After hearing these things I was scared of him and totally blank. I just ran away from there and never went to that office or met him again. One of my friends recently asked me, were you ever harassed by someone in your life? At that time I was just laughing at her, but then I suddenly remembered this incident.


The first time I drank, I drank to make out with a girl. We never consented explicitly to it. It lies in the grey area as I think we drank to not talk about it in some way, which could have led to unhealthy outcomes. Also as far as I remember before even drinking, I had some idea where it was building up to. I can only wish I had a better judgment and understanding, but I didn’t have until a few years later. As you would read further, I made more such mistakes.

Next time, we were to watch a movie together. I picked up the cliched choice of a horror movie to create closeness between the two of us. While the consent was there this time, I feel that in my mind I was still capable to manipulate to satisfy my own self.


There was a friend of mine with whom I used to travel reasonably lot. We used to drink together and sometimes sleep in her room. We would sometimes cuddle each other and sleep. However, I clearly crossed my limits with my intentions of being closer to her, in the most inappropriate way with regards to the consent. I had no understanding of my own behavior, and thus little resistance that she had to offer was completely ignored by me. When we talked about these incidents a year or two later, it was the time I was developing my understanding of the consent. By this time I was heavily apologetic of my own behavior and took a lot of steps to amend and improve. We are on really good terms now where she understands the sincerity behind my admissions.


There was a very brief time when I tried to be with a girl while knowing very well that she was going through a rough patch in her own relationship. It took me a few months to realize this behavior of mine (to realize how her vulnerability should have made me stop right there), and that is when I reached out and apologized to her.


In my first year of college, I used to imagine having sex with my close friend’s girlfriend. Years passed by, I casually saw her WhatsApp pic one day. That night in my dreams, I was in bed with her. I remember thinking about the fact that I am betraying my own girlfriend by sleeping with her, but in that moment of little conscious control, I decided to fulfill my fantasies. Though this was just a dream, to me, it represented my mental processing at the sub-conscious level. And so, I felt really ashamed when I woke up next morning.


There was a time in a relationship of mine where my better half was going through a rough time. She wanted me to be around her, and I casually remarked — let’s be intimate with each other if she wants us to spend time together. That clearly was very manipulative of me, however, I wasn’t aware of this until a year ago when she mentioned this to me.


I watched porn for about two years of my life. I wasn’t comfortable, however, I feel the violence depicted in the porn isn’t appropriate and needs to be talked about.


A friend recently told me that while she was staying at my place, I moved from my bed to hers. However, I have no memory of this. I feel it may have been unintentional because I do jump bed sometimes when sleeping, more so when I was younger, and I had no particular attraction towards that friend at that point of time, and was merry in my own relationship. However, there is no way I can discredit her version.


Earlier in school, my friend, his girlfriend — all of us used to play and study together. One day I used a lot of bad words for his girlfriend. I said a lot of uncalled for statements including calling her a prostitute. I didn’t feel any shame for my words, even after she slapped me and never talked to me again. However after some time, I realized the mistake but never had the courage to apologize sincerely. She lives in the same area as I do, but even today ignores me.


About a year ago, I was doing a video call with my girlfriend. We were talking casually and suddenly my eyes went on her chest. I don’t know what happened to me and I immediately asked her to let me see it. She refused, but I kept on asking her again and again. Finally she agreed but didn’t talk to me for 4 to 5 days. During that time, I would regularly prompt her to do that again. I wasn’t even aware of my actions. I have done this mistake so many times in different forms.


#HowWillIChange

Abhishek

I wanted to write and publish this post in one go, and hence I may be missing out on a few things. I can in no words express, how these incidents and other incidents that came out in conversations really made me push my own comfort zone, understand the issues, and work on them.

Recently, I developed a small game technique to work on the consent. The rule is very simple — while being together one of the two persons say No to the other person, for anything small or big, eg. pass me the popcorn, while being photographed, while any contact happens, etc. The other person is to observe himself/herself and share how did he/she felt on being refused. If there is any unease that the person feels, then to work on it together. This makes both of the people comfortable in saying no, help them observe how do they respond when they are denied something, and also clearly establishes the onus of dealing with a NO on the person who was denied and not the one who refuses. It worked very well for me. Thank you, again. Love!

Rishabh

There have been times where I’ve personally trespassed the line of consent and done things which I shouldn’t have when I look back in the past. Talking about these incidents to my friends, thinking and re-thinking them over the past few years has helped me build a personal understanding about what consent is and what it isn’t. We barely have a functional sex education, the word consent probably entered my vocabulary only a few years ago. Talking about our own transgressions openly can help us start a dialogue about it openly. It can help us act responsibly and also help us start a dialogue within our male friends.

Shoutout: Instagram handle, metoo_in started posting a few stories under #iRegret. Check out their story highlights to see some of those stories.

Nadeesh

I am in no way saying that the issue is women, but I do feel many women do need to understand that men having been teenagers competing for sexual attention sometimes only see sex/intimacy as an admission of love. Unfortunate as it is, other expressions of love are sometimes lost on them. 
Men too need to understand that love is beyond sexual. Even a ‘friend-zone’ is a beautiful zone to be in if seen from the angle that the person of interest is giving you their time, if nothing else!

More than most things, to the guys, I will give you the one piece of advice a brilliant woman once gave me: “Things are always much better when they are given to you, than when you take them.”

And of course. Clear communication. Even about the sex. Without the fear of judgement.

Shivam

I need to have a more expansive dialogue to understand the feelings of the other gender to be able to take better and more informed decisions.

Shubham

I now make sure that I consciously observe my thought processes at places/ situations which I know are bound to subtly make me objectify women. Be that certain songs or casual remarks said in a funny way, etc. This list goes long. I fear that as long as such objectification exists in my mind, it’s possible for me to cross the line of consent in my moments of weakness.


Thank you all for reading through. You can now share your story by writing us at opencafeorg@gmail.com. If you don’t want to publish your story with your own identity, we will find you a suitable group to post your story as a part of that group — just like this story.

Apology

We have deleted one of the shared stories as there was no permission from the person who suffered in the story before sharing of the same. It resulted in further revival of her trauma which could have been avoided if we were conscious about it in the first place. In future stories, we will give due weight to this to ensure that such isn’t repeated again. We genuinely mean to introspect and create a meaningful dialogue. We are still learning and your inputs of any kind — good or bad would be helpful for us in this journey. Thank you.