A tryst with eve-teasing: Face to face with reality….

When we face eve-teasing, it happens! But what if we invite it upon ourselves??? And then, FIGHT BACK????? Well, this was something I did on Saturday. I shall relate the experiences here. When I say I “invited” the teasing on me, I meant I dressed up “provocatively”, in men’s language………

Some 10 days back, I came across this project called “Blank Noise” project. I had no idea what it was going to do or who was running it or what “I” was supposed to be doing as a part of the project!!!! It was like one of those proverbial dark rooms I was entering only to touch and feel things and find my way to the other side.

And when I went for the first meeting (I believe that was last Tuesday or something), I had gone half expecting it to be a Group of people who intend to take it to streets, shouting slogans, opposing this and that! But I was proven wrong and delightedly so. I met a cool and “in-control” Jasmeen who had her set of ideas, that defied the conventional ways of protesting! I think her ideas struck me as protest from the middle of the crowd!!!! Not standing away from the crowd.

So, we decided to meet up on Brigade Road on Saturday, April 15th at 4:30 pm. The rain did play a bit of a spoil-sport but as they say, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”. So, in total, 12 girls turned up. And there were guys too, three of them, all of them struck me as the kind who respected women.

The idea was to dress up in clothes that we wouldn’t dare to wear otherwise. Mind you, we didn’t BU anything in particular for this occasion, but chose one of the pieces of our own wardrobe that we don’t otherwise have the guts to wear. And then, we were to stand a little apart from each other, some 6 feet away, across Brigade Road. We all positioned ourselves and just stood and watched the crowds.

Trust me, when I started off, I was a little jittery, but all my close friends supported me and showed faith in me. So, we started this something called a STREET INTERVENTION……..where we STARE back at whoever stared at us. Now, the entire episode was a long one so, I shall not write the entire thing but I shall write about the discussion we had at the end of it all.

The salient points that sprang up during the discussion were:

1. Some men came up with the brilliant idea that “We are warm blooded, hormoned, Indian men and we are programmed to look at women” (now whoever said we said we thought this guy was a cold-blooded cockroach!!!! I can’t think of a better term for him as I think I despise cockroaches the maximum). I did not know that men who chose to be decent on the roads are either cold blooded or non-hormoned or non-Indian………funny na?

2. Why are women trying to deprive us of our fundamental right? Staring at women? Afterall, that’s what we come to do at Brigade Road!!!!!!!! (And what about the discomfort women face because of these stares? Don’t we have a right to chill out? Just like that? Unaccompanied by men? And what about our right to feel comfortable on the streets??)…………..hello!!! Your rights end where MY nose begins! Wonder if they ever heard of this!!!!!

3. If you dress PROVOCATIVELY, we WILL look! Why can’t you dress “DECENTLY”?? (Well, the statistics will shout in your ears that dresses have had NOTHING to do with WHO has been teased. In fact, boldly dressed ones aren’t teased as much. The “timidly” dressed ones are more frequently targetted“)

4. Eve-teaising is NORMAL and not a crime………..(ANYTHING that infringes upon someone’s freedom is an offence. And eve-teasing is an infringement upon our sense of feeling free in a public space. Admiratory glances are different, lewd gestures are something completely different).

5. I was only LOOKING……………(well, ALL women have a knack for finding out the difference between looking and staring. An appreciative glance, that pretty women draw plenty of, is totally different from a leching one, and trust me, WE KNOW WHICH WAY YOU ARE LOOKING AT US).

6. Women have become programmed to stick their elbows out to prevent those “accidental” brushes from every Tom, Dick and Harry passing by (on Saturday, we consciously made an effort to walk freely, and trust me, IT WAS SO DIFFICULT as we’ve been programmed to walk like that, defending ourselves all the time. But when we did it, it gave us an all new confidence).

7. Women are amazingly complacent about eve-teasing. Primarily because it’s been grilled into them that if you are eve-teased, IT MUST HAVE BEEN YOUR FAULT!!!!!!!! You must have dressed in an inviting way and BLAH BLAH BLAH………………….so, WE BLAME OURSELVES and keep on compromising on HOW we dress (and the matter only gets complicated if there’s someone who keeps grilling into you that it’s YOU who’s caused the eve-teasing. I should know, I have had a guy like THAT in my life who always made ME feel that I was the one who called for the eve-teasing)! How we want to dress is primarily governed by how men in the street will look at us! Strange eh? Strange but true!!!!! Men on streets decide the dresses of a happy 90% women!!!!!!!

8. Men who stand for women being harassed on the street are being viewed as “spineless”, “feminine” and “un-macho”…………………..it’s just about as ridiculous as it can get!!!!!! I would call such men sensitive, caring and responsible……..of course, opinions differ!!!!!!!!

I guess I have lots more to stay but then, I shall refrain from it! I guess some men out there are going to HATE me for feeling how I do about eve-teasing! But I guess these are the very bloody idiots who need some cure in their top-floors so that they learn to respect women, and the space they deserve, to be THEMSELVES and to CHILL OUT, without being ogled at and ridiculed…….




  1. fuse me said,

    April 17, 2006 at 10:55 am

    Thats one passionate blog i’ve seen. God save the guys whom you caught on the streets staring at you!! i am sure none of them would ever even look at any girl, even their mom’s or sisters!! 🙂

  2. unforgiven said,

    April 17, 2006 at 1:43 pm

    So I agree with you on all the points but,

    “8. Men who stand for women being harassed on the street are being viewed as “spineless”, “feminine” and “un-macho””

    Actually no, infact if a guy that stands aside and watches a woman get eve teased without doing anything is considered “spineless” and “unmacho” (don’t think we ever really call each other feminine, even as an insult).

    This is something that atleast I’ve observed and followed in every group of friends I’ve been in.

    I haven’t really known many people who I could even think would actually eve-tease, so maybe my sample set is biased. *shrug*

    This is important:
    I smiled when I read your post. Your heart is in the right place but do realize, this isn’t your job and for a very good reason. You seem to know quite a lot about the negative side of men but you seem to be missing one essential part.

    A lot of these men who do the eve-teasing, are often inferiority complex ridden guys who have a severe fear of sexual inadequacy. They do the entire eve-teasing and all that crap simply to prove their male superiority. People like this can be dangerous to take panga with. Left to themselves, they might just eve-tease but in case you get into any kind of face off with them, you have no idea what kind of retribution they may inflict just to assauge their egos.

    As a sincere request. Don’t take these kinds of risks. You may be safe @ brigade road while you’re staring back at them or dishing out a smart comment, but these kinds of men can go to extreme lengths to exact what they feel is an adequate revenge for any real or even perceived insult.

    Especially if they have friends around.

    I can’t stress this enough. If you have any friends who are psych majors or something, ask them about this.

    Crimes against women, are rarely related to how they dress (as you said) or even how they look. Most crimes against women are related to power. Infact a majority of rape victims in the world have not been provocatively dressed or inordinately attractive. Typically it is the desire for a male with a sexual inadequacy to show his supremacy through violence (of any sort, emotional, mental or physical) against a woman to prove his own manhood to himself (and at times his friends).

    (This is straight from almost any psychology text. You should look up on the internet about this before you undertake any such further jaunts).

  3. Karthik said,

    April 17, 2006 at 10:25 pm

    Its clear that you feel very strongly about eve teasing and I should firstly appreciate you having the passion to do something about it, but….

    I haven’t met Rahul before, but I largely agree with him. I don’t think its a good idea to engage in such exercises. You will invariably end up clouding your mind with negative thoughts, and simply put, they sap your energy.

    Defying eve-teasing in this manner (by choosing to ‘invite’ it)will not really achieve anything. Those guys most probably are still going to remain the same, and you end up feeling a lot worse, and get all worked up.

    Frankly speaking, see no point in this. If in regular course of the day, you encounter and defy it, it makes (a lot of ) sense. If you’re going about ‘trying’ to make it happen , so that you ‘catch’ these guys doing it, i have to disagree.

  4. April 17, 2006 at 11:58 pm

    Rahul’s comment says it all. Compliments Rahul. And Karthik’s adds another.

    My additions:
    1. Don’t be bitter. Men are designed to be good people, as women are. The pendulum of gender discrimination has slowly started returning to its equilibrium. Don’t now let it swing to the other extreme, in a hurry to get it back quickly to the centre! It’s a humble request.

    2. Please don’t believe in female sixth senses. It will encourage eve-teasers to believe in their sixth sense regarding when a girl is inviting indecent overtures.

    I feel, it’s logically understandable what’s right and what’s wrong. Let’s believe in our reason and follow only that. We’ll are together.

  5. Pritesh said,

    April 18, 2006 at 1:51 am

    Well, I shall respond one by one. Rahul, I did not assume that these “helping” men were being called spineless or unmacho. It happened in front of me. And trust me, I have TONED DOWN my language stating what actually happened. There was abusive language doing rounds ridiculing guys who were supporting us.

    And as far as this tendency for males to extablish their superiority is concerned, that is what we aim to do. That there’s no one superior. We are all equal. We have every right to be just standing and chilling out wherever we want without having to be ogled at.

    And this street intervention is not the only way we are choosing to make people aware of eve-teasing as an offence, There’s more to come.

    And Karthik, I agree that fighting back when eve-teasing is really happening makes sense. But trust me, it takes LOADS of confidence and guts to do that! Most of the girls simply CAN NOT!!!! So, we’re starting off as a Group! In Group, we have a sense of security. Only when we face it and defy it in a Group do we get the confidence to fight back when we’re alone too.

    And as far as feeling bitter goes, NO. Just because I have written the negative thoughts here doesn’t mean I had only negative experiences. As I have always said, there are all sorts of men around. There were guys who offered to be a part of the Group, there and then. There were guys who thanked us for making them aware that eve-teasing hurts women. That it is a curtailment of OUR freedom!

    And coming to Sujju’s comment, the pendulum has shifted in OUR minds! But largely, the janta out there still believes in the fact that women are to be stared at! We like to believe in the goodness of things but we can not close our eyes to the naked reality! Staying in Institute and feeling secure is something different and walking out when every other man ogles at you (as if to eat you) is something completely different. Insitute is a comfortable cocoon where educated people are (and some of the Institute guys have been reprimanded for eve-teasing as well)…….

    WE walk on roads feelinginsecure, WE face those leching stares, WE need men all the time to escort us, WE face the real situations! So, WE know what it is like to be eve-teased…….gender equations are shifting all rihgt, but the shift has to percolate down to the society fabric…….and that is what we intend to do.

  6. fuse me said,

    April 18, 2006 at 2:15 am

    I dis-agree with you Sujit, Karthik and ‘unforgiven’. Contrary to your idea, we (the so called non-abisice people) are not an overwhelming majority. Statistics show that 80% of all women have encountered some sexual abuse (not necessarily physical) before they become adults. One in every 4 woman is likely to be raped. And 3 in 4 women are likely to be sexually abused (not necesarily physically).

    I am sure if a proper survey is done among all the girls of our very own institution which is supposed to be safe, we shall know that more than half of them have faced sexual abuse in some form or the other. Abuse does not necessarily mean physical.

    But the point is women are dead scared. Only 1 in 70 cases of rape are reported all because only 3 in 1000 rapists actually gets convicted. Women are scared, and so the men commit this crime without being afraid.

    So I think Pritz, you have very well embarked on the right path. Women have to be bold and men have to realize that they have to do a lot more to actually show their dominance in any way.

    Having said this, i advice you not to be reckless or advice your co-women to be reckless. Be careful, but NEVER timid or scared.

  7. unforgiven said,

    April 18, 2006 at 5:28 am

    fuse me, so you’re disagreeing with part of what I said.

    Pritz, let me clarify one thing.
    I understand how horrible it can be to have someone leering at you or have to be afraid that at any point your own body itself could be assaulted.
    Its a horrible feeling.

    I also accept, as I said in a previous comment, men really are, dogs.

    We are genetically inclined to be aggressive wherever our sexuality is concerned (a large majority that is).

    I re-read your comment on my blog. In the confusion of whether you were talking about my story or something else, I hadn’t really gotten what you were trying to say the first time through.

    You yourself agree that there are men that are decent. My only dissension from you on that part is, that they are not a minority, they are just the ones that tend to get noticed a lot less often.

    According to what you described, you guys went out with a fishing net, looking for the dregs of our society. What else did you expect? Any behaviour they exhibited is not something that can be attributed to the majority of our gender.

    Even though I am actually quite amazed at your courage, I still don’t understand what it is that you hope to acomplish by this?

    Again, I wasn’t saying this either sarcastically or in humor. Read. Read about the psychology of a sexually violent and abusive man.

    It will save me the trouble for giving the explaination for the following line (not that I mind writing but people have written it better).

    Men, who do the kinds of things that you are trying to stop, do so because of a fault deeper than even they themselves realize. They have no decency or shame and will react either defensively (less often) or violently (more often) to anyone who forces them to see anything different than what they want to see.

    The solution has to be two pronged.
    a.) Education and inculcation of empathy: There are various methods via which men can also be made to realize the meaning of sexual abuse. Often the best bet is with the ones who are still young and have their minds still open to a different thought process. The ones who are hardened, they will grow older soon enough and get enmeshed in life’s problems so much that they soon won’t have the time or the luxury of the risk that they can take now.

    b.) The ones who are on the streets, unfortunately, this is the one place I would actually advocate, retribution. Instilling fear is pretty much the only thing that can be done. Fear of exposure, fear of the law, etc etc.

    Provoking shits like these and then just hoping to “stare them down” isn’t something that will *ever* change anything but may result in one of them picking up a personal ego grudge you and things getting very very ugly.

    Even if you manage to somehow at one occasion manage to repel them, that will only fan the fire more and will have them come back with a vengence.

    War does not bring peace.

    Of course, you’ll do what you believe in. Maybe I am just being pedantic and pretentious but this is what every gram of my brain tells me.

    About matters such as these, I also am not wrong, very often.

  8. April 18, 2006 at 11:48 am

    Pritesh, I found a simple contradiction.

    You wanted to attract eve-teasing on you to give a fitting reply..to fight back

    you said some statistics(point number 3, shouting in ear wala) says that girls wearing normal dresses are teased more than boldly dressed

    then why you were wearing dresss which from your statistics were not fit for your purpose

  9. Pritesh said,

    April 19, 2006 at 10:13 pm

    This post has been removed by the author.

  10. Pritesh said,

    April 19, 2006 at 10:24 pm

    Satyam, you seem to have missed the point! I didn’t wear what was “not generally acceptable” because I wanted to attract attention! But it was because it was a sense of liberation and empowerment that I wanted to experience……

    Because when the eve-teasing is coming my way anyway, why not jsut weat wear whatever I want to! We decided to those normally not worn clothes to feel good about ourselves and not worry about the onlookers! My subsequent blog talks about the experiences in the form of a questionnaire…….that shall throw more light on how I feel……

    And above all, the intervention was more about ME feeling empowered to counter the eve-teasing than to STOP those featherheads from doing it!

  11. fuse me said,

    April 21, 2006 at 7:12 am

    Anyway, I don’t think this drive was anywhere related to the guys who are involved in ‘Rape’. I agree that the men who resort to violent sexual Abuse, are definitely a minority and they are those with some psychopathic mental problem.

    But there are many ways of sexual abuse without resorting to violence. Or even, violence against women in their own household.

    I am also talking about those guys who walk on the streets trying to grab any lady’s parts they can, or those guys who throw verbal abuse on women, or those guys who think every woman on the street is their property. Such men are an definitely a majority!!!

    This drive I think was for such people. They must realize that they cannot believe every woman on the street is meant to be looked at, or ‘available’ for them. It is wrong for them to think that women are just created to satisfy the wanton needs of males.

    It is important to make the average guy on the streets understand that the women are humans too and must be respected like any other male. And they must realize that they themselves are not animals, whose only interaction with the opposite sex (adult) is for propogation.

    It is time, men learn to live above their basic instincts especially when it encroaches on others….

  12. fuse me said,

    April 21, 2006 at 7:19 am

    75% of rape is commited by people known to the victim. Often they are part of the family, and they are otherwise well settled people. And it is not that such people don’t have remorse and are not scared. But they know that once the victim of scared, they are safe. And it may induce them to repeat it.

    I think this MUST reach out to the people. Being scared and timid increases chances of being victimized.

    And especially when the victim is underaged, it is very easy for the propounder to commit the crime, because it is easy to make the victim feel scared and guilty themselves.

    Be aware that Sexual abuse is rampant and could very well be in your own household. Hushing up the issue won’t ever solve the problem.

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