On Men and Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentines’ Day (or as I like to say it, “Walyentine’s Day”), and today, I have been reminded over and over again about how much I hate men. “Hate” is a strong word, but I felt the need to use it as opposed to just saying, “I strongly dislike men right now”.

This morning, instead of getting to see The Man, I ended up feeling objectified for the better half of my day. I found myself trekking about an unknown part of the city trying to find an office for an interview. Although the details are irrelevant, let me just say that I had to visit a government office and the topic of my current story is gender related.

Gender related. Male. Female. Which means, things like sexism and gender bias, and specific to my story, sexual harassment should have been on the minds of the men I was speaking with. In a roomful of men in their 40’s (and above) I was the only woman and I was significantly younger. I anticipated that being the case and so in choosing my wardrobe this morning, I opted for something trendy but semi-professional with acute attention paid to modesty.

In Nepal, I am very aware of how I dress. I have my own sense of style which seems to draw a lot of attention for reasons that I simply cannot understand. Were I one of the girls with my rack on exhibition wearing “shorts” smaller than some underwear I own, I would understand the stares… but given how I am uber conscious of the length of my skirt, the scoop of my neckline and the percentage of exposed skin, I don’t know why men feel the need to look at me like they’re watching porn.

I may sound vain in saying this, but I derive no pleasure from the men I notice staring at me. Even if I avoid their eyes and suggestive lip licking, it’s more difficult to ignore the lewd comments they feel the need to lean in and whisper. I hate the way they look at me as if they’re taking a mental photo with which to pleasure themselves later that night. It makes me want to rip their “manhood” off but I’m assuming they’re too small to be grabbed.

Today I was surrounded by 5 men of whom I was only interviewing ONE, a second just made himself part of the interview while the remaining three plopped themselves down to watch the exchange of information, they might as well have brought buckets of popcorn. Sitting adjacent to the man I needed to speak with, it was impossible for me not to notice his eyes drag over my legs and further up… then down… then up.

It made my stomach turn. Thank goodness Nepal has also taught me patience because I was ready to slap a comment that could have easily gotten me kicked out of the office for good. But I maintained my posture, I asked my questions then re-asked my questions when they dodged my queries (does working for the government make everyone think they’re a high profile politician?), I put up with them ballooning their egos and display their evidently large wealth of knowledge for me.

But the thing that drove me up the wall, that made me want to tell them people like them are the reason this country doesn’t run is when I asked questions for another article I’m working on (but need to speak with the same department and same people) and I was so kindly told, “Please only ask questions regarding one article. We’ve already given you enough time, make an appointment for another day.”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!  They’ve given ME enough time? When I arrived at the office, more than eight men were sitting in a room chitchatting about their mistresses for all I know. And yet, they had the audacity to tell me that I was taking up too much of their time?! How does that make any sense??! Especially since now I have to go back to the same place to see the same people tomorrow morning. Great way to save us all time. So freaking efficient.

I have to wonder, were I man would they have treated me the same way? Something tells me not.

Leaving the office, I was already mad and then having more oogling eyes and crude comments thrown my way made me wish I was the hulk and could turn 16 times my size and squish all the effing perverts between my toes.

In my anger, I texted The Man informing him of how much I hated his gender, but his patient and humorous replies made me realize not all men are like that. I am so lucky to have found one who doesn’t see me just for my gender. As for all the other Nepali men tonight, I know there will be swarms of them flocking to events like “The Scent of Romance” in Durbar Marg hoping to elbow a feel of some woman, which simultaneously angers and saddens me.

I’m going to meet The Man  in a few, he and I aren’t really celebrating “Walyentine’s Day” in fact, I’m pretty sure he won’t bother with the flowers and chocolate bullshit (which is awesome!) but today, I will make a point of showing him how much I appreciate him.


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