Remember when F.R.I.E.N.D.S character Ross misinterprets his cousin Cassey’s actions? His cousin who had come for a few days’ stay in the city somehow emanated sexual vibes to Ross. While the cousin was behaving normally (opening a wine, watching a movie, eating popcorn or showing her freckles), Ross misunderstood them as her consent for sex. And what was next? Ross bent over to kiss his cousin!
Why are women always misinterpreted by men? In our society, women normally don’t have the freedom to speak or do what they want. They are expected to be shy, submissive and silent about their needs and desires. What aggravates this bias is men’s tendency to dub and misinterpret women’s actions. Since women do not speak their minds, men consider it their responsibility to understand what women want.
Often, in a bid to understand, men stop listening to women and go with their assumptions. But dear men, even if your attempt to understand women might be positive, it would be much better if you let women speak. Rather than making assumptions, wait, confirm and listen to women.
Misinterpreting Women’s Words: Here are a few things that women do that are often misinterpreted by men
“Maybe”, “I don’t know”, or” I need time” does not mean women have said yes
Whenever it comes to consent, it becomes very important to listen and confirm what the person wants to say. However, in our society, consent is often misunderstood. If men and women are in a romantic relationship, the sexual consent of women is often taken for granted. Sometimes, because of the conception that women are too shy to say what they want, their consent is assumed to be a yes. But dear men, please understand that only yes means yes. Anything else like maybe, I don’t know, not in the mood, means that your female partner is not interested in doing whatever you have in mind.
Come over to my house
Often, when women say this, men assume that it is the code word for having sex. But dear men, why don’t you understand that a woman can have a casual friendship with a man. She can invite a man to her house just to spend quality time as she does with her female friends. Why is it so difficult for us to imagine that women and men can be friends?
Suggested Reading: Just A Joke: How Men Normalise Sexism Under The Garb Of Jokes
Wearing jeans or shorts
From politicians to stalkers in our country, everyone believes that if a woman wears jeans or shorts, she is asking for it. Often women who are wronged are victims blamed for wearing short or inappropriate clothes and giving out signals and provoking men. In fact, women who wear inappropriate clothes are slut-shamed and labelled as characterless. But dear society, a woman doesn’t always dress up to attract men. A woman’s clothing is her choice and not a determiner of her sexual consent or character.
Hansi toh phansi
If you watch Bollywood movies, you must be aware of this trope. Many men use this to interpret the choice and consent of women, mostly their crushes. But I could never understand how can a smile alone tell whether a woman is interested in a man? Is it not possible that the smile was just casual because of any joke or ludicrous action? If men start believing in “hansi toh phansi”, then they will assume that every woman who smiles or laughs at what they say or does is interested in them. And this certainly is not a good sign.
Wearing tattoos or henna
Women’s fashion sense is often misinterpreted in our society. Apart from clothing (which we have already discussed), women’s ways of adorning themselves are also connected with statements of their character. If a woman wears a tattoo or bold make-up, she is assumed to be characterless and slut. And if a woman wears henna and ghoonghat, she is assumed to be sanskari or too old school. But dear society, please understand that women’s ways of adorning themselves have nothing to do with their character statement. Stop determining what women want by how they dress or behave. Try listening for once.
Drinking alcohol or smoking
I have often seen how men stare at a woman who is drinking or smoking. Their eyes tell a tale of how they have already made prejudices about the woman’s life and character. Just because a woman smokes or drinks, society assumes that her upbringing is wrong, her character has a fault or she is very rude and evil. But dear society, smoking or drinking doesn’t make a woman bad. Neither of these actions tells anything about a woman’s upbringing, her thoughts or character.
Views expressed are the author’s own.