I was reading this article on Huffpost about how women who are friendly and seem genuinely interested in knowing about someone (from the opposite gender) are more often than not taken for being “too forward” and “seductress”. It hit me hard. I could feel myself nodding to every point and by the time the article ended I began to feel that it was written about me.
It’s a prevalent notion in pretty much every society and culture that a woman should not be too interested or she may across as a “slut”. A happy single woman can not afford to be friendly and kind to every man she meets because being friendly apparently means that you are seducing the other person. The whole idea that if you are single and friendly to someone of the opposite sex means that you want to sleep with them never made any sense to me.
In the last six months, I have had several such encounters where a man has taken my open and friendly nature to be signal of my interest in them romantically and sexually. I have been baffled by their reaction, their suggestive behavior and have been forced to back out immediately. What could have been a healthy friendship, became a horrible experience for me.
This idea that a man and a woman can never be friends troubles me. I have heard people call women sluts because they had more male friends than female friends. The internet is full of memes about how a woman can never have a male best friend. In India particularly, women are not supposed to have many male friends (if they can do without any then it’s considered better) lest there might be questions raised on their character. In a country where Krishna’s friendship with Sudama is as famous as Krishna’s friendship with Draupadi, women can’t be friends with men.
In Professional world too, if a woman climbs the success ladder, her success is often attributed to her being a woman and sleeping around with the bosses than her being genuinely worthy of the success. The situation is much worse for single women. If you are single and happy and successful then you must be sleeping around with someone. If you are married, well there’s a whole new dimension.
It’s a difficult world for women. If you don’t talk to everyone, you are arrogant and impolite. If you are nice to everyone, you got to be a slut. There’s no middle ground, where a woman can be allowed to be nice to men without being judged as being too flirty.