Saturday, September 30, 2006

You cannot touch but you can look?

"This blogger" makes his point about why BNP is not being helpful to either men or women with it's stand on "looking". The truth is, several aspects of "eve-teasing" are extremely intangible. So it seems like while a grope or a physical act warrants reaction, and can also be condemned lawfully, one cannot complain against "looking" because that is the fundamental right of the man. We have several rights. We also have responsibilities. And have to follow certain social norms and basics of respecting fellow human beings in a society. It's just sad that the issue of respecting a woman seems to have no bearing in the average street-life in India. Everyone who's been "looked at" in a perverted way knows what "looking" BNP refers to when they say "no looking". It is not the ordinary harmless "looking" that all the pious saints will claim to do, and hence feel uncomfortable by this campaign. Who's to decide or differentiate what "look" is okay and what's not? I don't know, indeed , the lines blur there, and perhaps that's why there' s no law against "looking". But the way I see it, BNP is protesting against the kind of "looking" that is derogatory, offensive and I stand by the fact that "looks" alone can harass or demean. There's no other way for me to explain that, unfortunately.

Why let the look offend you, you say? "Are you that weak?" I don't see why a woman's self-esteem is being blamed for her reaction to eve-teasing to start with. An individual's self-esteem is not the business of a complete stranger who has nothing to do with the individual. So a self-assured woman may walk away unaffected by it, but that doesn't stop the pervert. He is still continuing to be a nuisance, if not to this woman, to the next. Oftentimes, the harassment doesn't end there either. So every woman should be as self-assured and as capable of being unaffected by these perverts? While that would be ideal, yes, is every man self-assured and self-confident? (No, staring at girls walking down the street does not make a confident man). Then WHY do women- self-assured or not, have to struggle or put up with this, or have to invest effort in bearing / ignoring/giving it back to eve-teasers??

While I agree with several points jyothsnay made in her comments @ retributions, women have to take on assault confidently. assertively, and humiliate the pervert the best they can, my question is WHY do we have to deal with this to start with? Because it is there? So lets just deal with it? NO. When are men going to learn not to objectify women? "Eve-teasing" has been going on for eons, yes. That doesn't make it excusable in any way. Which is why BNP's attempt to make the public realise that they cannot get away with misbehaving is commendable. Are they being extreme? Are some of their points a little overboard? Perhaps yes. I don't blindly agree with all that they profess either. I am not an advocate of blind "militant feminism" myself and I don't think the BNP is about that. And no, I don't think this is a "them" versus "us" fight, nor do I interpret that from BNP's campaign. But I am not going to harp on what I find objectionable about BNP. Because I choose to reserve my outrage for the fact that in this day and age, it is still thought that "men will tease, we have to deal with it smartly".

BNP's campaign against "looking" is not all they have to their credit. They are making resources available, actually discussing and taking to the streets an issue that has for long been put away as "hota hai" and so I find BNP an empowering initiative. It's an effort to revolt against men who think eve-teasing is their birthright. Please realise, they are fighting an attitude, a culture, deeply ingrained in the psyche of the common man on the street in India. From what I see, I don't think they are advocating a weak stance either. Stare back, fight back, and then also educate, make people aware. This fight has arisen out of a lot of frustration at having to expend energy to deal with sexual harassment, in whatever way each one might have chosen to deal with it. When no external source of help- the law, the police, or even the general public has come to the rescue of a victim of sexual harassment. I sure hope that BNP doesn't die down and fade away.

Yes, women must stand up to the lechers and fight back. But that is not enough. Uncivilized behaviour has got to stop. It is unacceptable. If men turned their backs and went back to doing it when they were told before, they need to be told again. and again. in every way possible. Until they get it.

23 comments:

Sayesha said...

Love the post. You echo my thoughts abt BNP. I'm not a feminist either, but I'm glad someone's bringing the age-old issue of eve-teasing to the public eye.

Sayesha said...

And oh, gold.

*looks coyly at nails*

Prashanth said...

Don't get me wrong, you'll be hard pressed to get a bigger supporter of women's rights among men than me, but some of those "looks" are involuntary. It's like a reflex action. Since it can be rather hard to differentiate between an involuntary look from a decent guy and a lecherous look from an indecent guy, I really do think women should ease up on this "looking" thing.

qsg said...

I am tired of the lecherous looks - they make me sick to the stomach. If you have to look, look admiringly, not like you are going to devour the person!!!

I don't agree with the whole concept of posting pictures - a wrong action shouldn't be reciprocated with a wrong answer!

@prashanth: but some of those "looks" are involuntary. It's like a reflex action.

I don't buy the "boys will be boys" and they cannot "control" the way they look, or their urges! That's hardly an argument!

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

sash,
oh no, i'm every bit a feminist. i was just trying to clarify that this is not a "blind, man-hating" movement which is what i meant by "militant".
good job on your gold. :-)


prashanth,
I really do think women should ease up on this "looking" thing

sorry, care to elaborate? what do you mean by "ease up"? fyi, most of the times, women can differentiate between a lecherous and not lecherous look. we have enough to deal with to be jumping down the throats of every guy that looks at us, anyway. the problem is with the lecherous looks. like i admitted, the area is subjective, yes.

qsg,
I don't agree with the whole concept of posting pictures - a wrong action shouldn't be reciprocated with a wrong answer!

agreed. here's what i have to say. all the times i have been mauled or felt up on a crowded bus in bombay, being stern, being indifferent, moving away, never helped. what did stop the a!@hole is raising my voice, screaming out loud, and perhaps even throwing in a few crass cuss words. public shaming is an effective tool against the eve-teasers, when most other methods don't work.
(now don't ask me if i went and registered an FIR against the bugger, every time i experienced it. no police station sprung up on the bus mysteriously).

Prashanth said...

@QSG, TGFI: Er... we can control our urges and all... I'm just saying sometimes we stare without meaning to. Thankfully, I haven't yet been told off for staring inappropriately, so I guess I must have looked "admiring" rather than "lecherous". But frankly, I wouldn't know to tell the difference when I see other people doing the staring.

I'm not quite sure how to elaborate on "ease up"... I just don't want women to go around ranting about a look which may or may not have been lecherous when there are bigger and more important battles to fight. For example, I currently feel like a cornered rat looking up at a pair of tigresses and it hasn't helped the cause of women in the world one bit!

Tachyoson said...

interesting that you should write on this ! ... i wrote something frivolous in the comment and deleted it because this issue IS a serious one... and frivolity and 'laughing it off' is NOT to be condoned.

the 'look' would be the 'undress with eyes' type ... and not the
'quick peek, oh she's pretty but i shouldnt look any further' type.

Tachyoson said...

re the above comment .... the look that is NOT TO BE LOOKED .... is the first ...

agh... just delete it .... it sounds weird :(

Gauravonomics said...

@ TGFI: For an taxonomy of looks, and fifty-five fiction pieces about men, women and how they look at each other, read this post.

Sakshi said...

Oh.. Way to go. After spending time in Mumbai locals/roads/Buses - any place with more than 10 men, I felt I needed to go home and wash myself clean.
Most men really dont get this - if they only speak up and join in this anti-eve teasing rally, we might have a better chance.

greensatya said...

Aha great post ! I will comment about the post later. Just wanted to register my last visit from Finland on your counter.

The Inquisitive Akka said...

Hmmm, that was a good post. I wonder if eve-teasing (when will we have a stronger term for it??!)will ever stop. Seems like such a distant dream!
On another note, you like phd comics??I just love them!!I can SO empathise!

Anonymous said...

Read almost everything!

Exhausted!

it wasn't me! said...

I grew up in Qatar and would go to India during my summer vacations. My two older sisters were studying in India and whenever we would go out I saw random guys giving them the 'look'. Trust me, there is nothing that got my blood boiling more than having to see those looks. I got into fights a few times when it got too much, but, the looks were endless and from guys all ages.

My sisters told me that they just learned to ignore most looks. In extreme cases, they would start yelling back at the guy and use the gathered-crowd to teach the guy a lesson.

There is a clear distinction of a non-perverted 'look' and one that is insulting/demeaning.

Kudos to BNP!!

Rebellion said...

Excellent Lajjo!

Agree with every word of what you say! As far as your bus incidents in Bbay goes, I agree, all that doesn't help!! But somehow, I haven't yet. These bleedy lechers are EVERYWHERE!! They don't even get ashamed of their sickening acts which don't stop even in the temple! I sooo hate these bleedy b*stards!!!

Very well written dear :)

Take care,
Aarti

Rebellion said...

My thoughts were running much faster than my fingers Lajjo! I missed one half way, in my above comment :P

//But somehow I haven't yet...
... taken up the courage to yell back at them in public, for the sole reason of embarrassment.. I hate embarrassing situations :(

Yeah, the temple incident made me upset enuff to turn around, see him in the eye & slap him hard but the rush was too much, which went to his rescue!!

Take care,
Aarti

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

Prashanth,
For example, I currently feel like a cornered rat looking up at a pair of tigresses
lol! why the insecurity?? ;)

tachyoson,
i'm leaving your comment in. because it supports my point!!! :-)

gauravonomics,
hmm. your 55 fiction pieces are quite creative.

sakshi,
yeah. my question is this: where were all these gentlemen when it comes to protesting against eve-teasing? So much noise over BNP's "looking". hmph. :-)

satya,
heyA!! thanks ! you're gone? :( happy landings!

akka,
yes, i wonder too. on yeah, i live on a healthy dose of phd comics. one strip a day keeps the blues away.

anony,
and?????? :-)

it wasn't you!
most of the times, we all ignore because not much else can be done.

aarti,
am glad you slapped the bastard.

Rebellion said...

Lajjo jee,

Aap bhi badi jaldi mein the?? You missed the last line of my comment dear... I said I felt like doing it but the rush was too much which saved his...!!!

Take care,
Aarti

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

aarti,
sorry dear. i misread. u should've slapped him. vun tiight slap.

fafridi said...

You completely echo my thoughts there. And talking about what 'confused has to say about 'looks', its not just we who imagine a look to be perverse, guys know the difference very well. Why else would we complain of brothers/guy friends getting over-protective at times.
And these men who are leching, they are only running their eyes all over us coz they are not in the proximity to pinch our butt at the time. At the first opportunity they get to be close enough, they do that or more.

Some lines that i had read on a blog long time back (the blog was called something like riversblueelephants me thinks) which seem so relevant anytime

When my friend
talks about riding
a nightwave on a distant
moon-drenched street

I want to scream.

I will never know
what it means
to seduce
the nightstreets
alone.

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

anonymous
deleted your comment; it was irrelevant and out of context.

fafridi,
nice lines. so true.

IdeaSmith said...

I totally agree. Hammer the male-bloggers who think its just a bunch of hullaballoo...

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

hi ideasmith,
hammer away, yes! altho it's quite a challenge, to get this point across..le sigh. :-)