BNP Blog-a-thon (Better late….)
This post was supposed to be up by Monday or latest yesterday. But I was lazy and then busy. It is for a good cause and hence posting late anyway.
This is in support of the Blank Noise Project blog-a-thon, which aims to raise awareness of a very real problem faced by women in India – sexual harassment on streets, which by some perverted sense of logic is innocuously called eve-teasing. Whether lewd comments and whistles on the street, or groping in crowded trains and buses or even being told that they brought in upon themselves, most women in India would have faced this issue one time or the other. Unfortunately, as a society, we do not do much more than blink and wish the problem away. I do not claim to have a solution or even pretend to understand or feel the indignity suffered by women in such cases. But for what its worth, here are some of my thoughts and at least a moral support for any type of effort to eradicate this menace.
I realize this is a serious issue and I am not a sociologist or psychologist. What I talk about here are some simple honest thoughts from my heart. So I hope they will be read and interpreted accordingly.
For those looking for a reason for the prevalence of such harassments in India, the repression of natural sexual urges in Indian men is often the easy answer. I can attest to that, having spent five years of my post-school life in college dorms (which were gender segregated), the degree of repression I observed in some guys is quite unbelievable. At the risk of generalization I will also say that it was more pronounced in guys who attended all-male schools or came from a less urban area. The problem was worse in my wife’s college where most boys seemed to have a sense of entitlement while lording over and/or harassing the girls in the class!
There would be another group of boys, too well-mannered and polite to indulge in such activities themselves, but their attitude towards women was at best, one of condescension. Some would even condone these activities while laying the blame at the women ‘for provocation’ (one of the very well known defenses for men).
Neither of the two groups I mention above are your average uneducated, so-called ‘roadside-Romeos’. These are people who have good jobs, occupy responsible positions and many of them read or even write their own blogs. Now I hate preachiness, so I felt a bit strange while writing this, but I do hope that something like this blog-a-thon will not just be bandwidth gone waste and at least raise awareness among these groups.
I digressed a bit, but in the end analysis, I think the problem is more severe than simple repressed urges. It is a deeply entrenched notion of the male superiority in much of our culture and society. I am not sure if this will sound sexist (I do not mean it that way), but I think many women also take their so-called secondary role for granted. We as men can learn to respect women (should not be hard – don’t we all love and respect our mothers?), but women should also stop taking crap. Hopefully, there will be enough support and awareness groups to help them. Unfortunately, I do not see this going away easily even after greater feminine empowerment – after all it still exists to some degree in the western, so-called ‘liberated’ societies as well.
Read what other bloggers have to say on this here.
Note 1: The film Dahan, by Rituparno Ghosh tackles the issue of an eve-teasing molestation incident gone out of hand and how a shallow society responds to it. I had problems with the filmmakers style and manner of presentation, but it does do a good job of exposing much hypocrisy.
Note 2: Michael Higgins actually makes a good point that might help tackle harassments in a practical manner.
There is really only one effective method to fight back: using Mace spray or pepper spray. Do most women in India carry it? Definitely, the perps will think twice if they think women carry pepper spray.