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31 October, 2017

To speak or not to speak

Most of the times we woman are told to "be quiet", "avoid getting into conflict, confrontation or politics". "Be nice to everyone".  The only way to completely be nice to everyone and have no conflict ever is to live in a bubble. Because if you come in human contact or express any strong opinion or call spade a spade, some confrontation or conflict will come up. More so if you are a woman who is strong in her opinions or does not take things lying low. Art of living says, " Do not be a football of other people's opinions". Kuch to log kahenge. Logon ka kaam hai kehna (people will say something. Their job is to say something.)
Teaching tango in India has never been easy. Tango, is a dance, done in close embrace with the opposite gender who is not necessarily your spouse. It is an antithesis to Indian philosophy where it is a taboo. Naturally, it is embroiled in controversies. People assume that you are having an affair (sleeping with) your partner. If people of same gender dance with each other then they are labelled gay.
People who do not dance tango, would of course not understand it. But people who do dance tango (some of them my students) and come to my classes with different intents- networking, having an affair, holding a woman in their arms- find me rude. For me it a pure dance. My background is of Indian classical dance where I have learnt it under Guru Shishya parampara (teacher and disciple culture).
Some of my friends ask me to relax. But I cannot. To quote an example- I heard one of the creepy guys in tango community (who pretends to be very respectful to women) say, "rub your tits against me". This was said to refer to the close embrace of the dance. What should my response to such cheap statement be:
1. Keep quiet and not make an issue of it. Because most of the people would blame the closeness of tango embrace. Once the woman has agreed to dance in such a close embrace, she is bound to hear such cheap comments.
2. Quit doing tango because of such cheap comments and hide myself.
3. Ask this person to shut up and forewarn other girls about his intentions. (At the cost of confrontation and starting yet another controversy.)
I chose option 3. End result- Some of my friends say- "why do you fight with everyone?"
This is just one of the many examples. Yes, I do fight (with everyone and anyone) because I refuse to take Sh**  I just do not tolerate nonsense.

I read this post on Instagram by sareesandstories and it resonates. "There are plenty of other conversations I can initiate, that will affect social change. 
But what about when it hits a little closer to home... let’s say right in my solar plexus?
I would like to tell you now that I HATE confrontation. 
Having to deal with personal stuff stresses me out, and my flight response always triumphs the fight.
And yet, time and time again I find myself having to speak up, despite the fact, that all I want to do is, pour myself a large whiskey and forget. 
What I’m trying to say is that I don’t enjoy calling out bad behaviour, and neither does it come easily to me. My stomach churns, I worry about my safety and there are repercussions that I must consider. Just because I speak up, doesn’t mean that I want to.
But I HAVE TO.
What would make my journey easier, and less nauseating, is, if you choose to speak up too. 
Ignore the voices that whisper ‘what if???’ and ignore the pounding in your chest. It is hard, it is uncomfortable and it is exposing. And yet, in spite of all of this difficulty, you MUST speak up. 
Because there is a woman out there, unseen and unheard, who is suffering. 
Because of your voice, even if it is just a tentative squeak, to begin with, your voice, is what will make a difference to her."

To speak or not to speak is the question. To take nonsense lying low or to give it back. To give it back politely or rudely.

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