Where in India are you likely to see teenage girls doing this?

They say, once you start looking at the world through feminist eyes, it is difficult not to notice what half the population is denied.

Desi Girl shared on facebook:

“We who have tasted the forbidden fruit called freedom of thought will never live in peace ever again.

We’ll be tormented by our quest to know all or nothing. We who have tasted freedom of thought will never be at ease in the company of mortals for mortals can only do as much for us.

We who tasted the freedom of thought play mind games, we touch and feel thoughts

We are mortals yet we died long back to attain our salvation in the verses.

We create and recreate ourselves by finding another “me” with our exact tastes, passions and quirks in another gender, name, age, time and space yet it doesn’t work because our souls we know it is our bodies that fail us.

We who have tasted the freedom of thought are doomed to be there yet absent. May be ignorance is bliss, hail the pigs who make merry in shit. “

Some of the comments in the previous post felt that too much was made of ‘harmless stares’ – but (amongst countless other things) the stares and street sexual harassment is also responsible for young girls being taken out of school or being denied higher education, or getting to run and play in open fields.

There are many things that those who are not affected would probably never give a second thought to, like, where in India are you likely to see teenage girls doing this?

And what makes it possible, difficult or impossible?

Or something like this…

I am traveling and have unreliable connectivity, so please do bear with the delay in publishing of comments.

Related Posts:

Give a girl a ball.

Dheeyan di maa ranee, budhape bharan paani.

74 thoughts on “Where in India are you likely to see teenage girls doing this?

  1. I’d rather women be aware and in pain….trying to better their lives, than in ignorance and bliss. Who wants to be a pig making merry in ….?

    Like

  2. Sweet IHM,

    You made a post of my FB status message.🙂

    DG did all that. Drove Yamaha @ 120km/hr without helmet. Rode bike with three friends riding pillion, hitch hiked on a truck with other friends after we missed the last bus. Also did Sholay teri jeet meri jeet stunt on Vijay Super (if anyone remembers it was a scooter).
    Sat on isolated hill top to watch sunset in solitude. Traveled in trains sitting on suitcase over nights. Slept in railway station wait rooms so that didn’t have to call home to ask some to come and pick her up, in the morning took first bus and headed home, did this routine for 3 years until parents moved to another town. And many more adventures that deserve a separate book.

    On the end note: Paying the price for all that adrenal rush now at this age. It was not easy and it was not safe one had to be always on the guard.

    Wish daughters and grand daughters of my friends and family could do all this and not watch over their shoulders. DG’s was a mind that would not rest in a body constrained by her social gender. May our minds be free and our spirits soar to touch the skies may our bodies not limit us to what we can do and who we can be.
    Peace,
    Desi Girl

    PS: Please hyperlink Desi Girl with GGTS.

    Like

    • DG
      Some day I hope I will have the privilege of meeting you.
      Regards
      GV
      (Camp: Delhi)
      Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Note

      Like

      • @GV,

        That is a very sweet thing to say. DG is just another Desi Girl. Yes, it will be pleasure, then she can bug you directly. Sorry she has been bugging you a lot since we made acquaintances.
        Regards,
        Desi Girl

        Like

    • biking @120 km /hr.. wow!.. You sure rock DG! I really wish girls were allowed to be even half as free. At times I think it is also about the mindset (blame it on conditioning if you like). I have seen how the girls group up together and be girly- in most of my office off-sites/parties etc!

      If you are in Hyderabad, I let you ride Yamaha R15 beyond your old record🙂 but with the helmet on:)

      Like

      • @Anil Singhal,
        That was one time deal at 110lbs the bike was almost off from DG’s legs. She saw her whole life in front of her eyes. If you have read her other comments you’ll know she was done with all adrenal rush by 24. DG is full of battle scars she was known as Rana Sangha’s sister.
        DG no longer drives thanks for the offer though.
        Women are discouraged from being proactive rather they are rewarded for being sedentary read lady like.
        http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/633/

        Also it is person’s inherent spirit that keeps them going after what they enjoy. DG knows bunch of women from rural interiors who chase bulls in the fields and do all sort of things. If we pay attention we all know some young aunt who is running around with kids in the streets and flying kites.
        Please join us on the FB.
        Peace,
        Desi Girl

        Like

        • Thanks.. I had actually sent you a request before even read this .. I still have decent adrenal rush🙂 on the car & the bike & the outer-ring-road🙂 at 42 ! .. and I always wonder why people grow old..

          and I also think that in our society – in a way women stop growing (rather forced to stop growing/living their life,etc) at a young age..and married is a definite full stop ! (IHM – food for though for the next blog [Why marriage shouldn’t be a full stop in life – specially for the women folks] )

          Like

  3. I have always wanted to do that…but always avoided doing it so as not to attract attention. I did attempt it once but I was with a male friend and somehow I could not gather the guts to stand up straight. Instead I looked like a weird hunched alien on a bike.

    Like

    • You’ve just mentioned the operative phrase – ‘if I was free to’. That choice and freedom is not there for an average girl, period. The photos are just symbolic if you ask me. If you had to stop your kinetic honda by the side of the road to take a long call, like the guy in the photo – the first thought that would enter a girl’s mind is “is it safe to stop?” Not to mention the stares, catcalls, whistles, comments and what not she will endure if she does stop and make herself comfortable as in the picture to take a call. For the guy, it’s all as automatic as the blink of an eye – to just stop wherever he is and take a call – basically to do as he pleases. The contrast is eyewatering.

      Like

  4. I would like to know the answer.

    But I must say me and my group of friends including girls did do all this.. but then those days were different..

    Next time I am visiting India I will have to scan those old pics and show them..

    I will say Chandigarh maybe 15 years ago this was possible…

    Like

      • Those were my thoughts too initially!!! Why would we want to do something like ‘that’!!
        But I guess Bikram, it was just an example.. There are so many things that we would want to do.. like in Sumana’s comment above. Having a lunch alone at some good place – it should not be as difficult na? I am reminded of my own experiences at Barista in Delhi which was the only place I could go to for lunch.. and since I didnt know anyone, alone it had to be..The stares does make you uncomfortable and I got used to having lunch with my eyes firmly fixed to the book which I used to bring along! Bangalore is no better!! The only difference is that now I have my don’t-care attitude firmly in place…But I do wish things were different.. and I didnt have to maintain that rude , unfriendly expression fixed on my face – just to keep unwanted attention away!

        Like

        • YEah I know what you saying. As I said Things have gone BAD.. I can vouch for one thing for sure .. as I said there were girls in our group too, and Once I get the pics will show it too..

          What makes me more angry is That if we were doing this all, and girls felt safe then , obviously things have deteriorated yet we go on saying It use to because of this issue that issue ..

          the mentality of people it seems is going worse ..

          without much of boasting and all and without pointing a finger at the current crop of so called MEN.. Things have changed for bad. You know of maybe we were weird people who thought that way, I am sure girls were safer earlier, I know I have done some silly things who does not but I dont recall any incident where I have heard of guys i knew (not just friends ) who did something like that ..
          (if you know what i mean) and if we did find some they were given a thrashing that they would have rmemebered uptill now ..

          Like

    • @Bikramjit Singh,

      DG agrees with you things have gone bad. DG didn’t have to be in the company of her male colleagues and friends to do what she did. She went to Women’s college and she was always odd one out. By the time she hit her mid and late twenties she saw girls on the university campus were wearing denims and pants but their denouement and deportation changed. There were more sexual assaults on women (so called eve teasing) touching, groping and just pushing or punching a woman walking on the street became sort of a norm. It was outright hatred for women as if saying you don’t belong out in the public space.

      During this time DG had the opportunity to meet a female freedom fighter (Muslim, later married a Hindu) in her 80s who as a 16yr old acted as courier for freedom fighters. She rode trains at night hid on the train rooftops went to jails to take and deliver messages and what not. She told DG that women in DG’s generation were chickens and did not know how to grab and keep their space in a pushy male world.

      She was right but we also have to remember in past 25 years crime against women has increased and there is collective hostility against women as more men are unable to meet their role as provider in the transitioning economies.

      DG had had all her fun and adventure by the age of 24, she had driven all bikes in the country at that time, jumped free fall from her para sailing parachutes, traveled wide and far and interiors of the country. There was nothing exciting left to do so she picked up the project called that God forsaken now called ex. And within fours years she could see the decline in women’s space on the campus and rise in crime against women. It was not just one campus but across the nation.
      Peace,
      Desi Girl

      Like

  5. I think the ‘harmless stare’ arguments comes from men (or women) who don’t have the psychosocial schema to understand it. It is like my sister, who at 7, didn’t know that a cat felt pain when its tail was pulled (she used to pull a kitten’s tale for amusement). She understood, after I tugged at her ponytail so that she could make the connection between pulling a cat’s tail and pain. Even though a lot of readers here are in denial of this psychological reality, psycho-social schema is pretty much essential for humans to understand the social situations, trials and pains of others.

    The proverbial 18 year old Indian male is apt to dismiss women’s fears because he doesn’t understand what the deal really is the big deal. To his mind, if someone gives him a problem, he tells them off and if they still don’t comply, he escalates by getting a group of friends and beating the hell out of that problem creator. Problem solved. They never had to live in the constant harassment and fear that the presence of predators can create, because they don’t have to deal with that on a daily basis.

    Like

  6. The best illustration of how psycho-social schema shapes our fears and understanding of others – the film God Must Be Crazy. In a particular scene, when a policeman whips out a gun to prevent a Sub-Saharan tribal from ‘stealing’ a goat, the guy didn’t show the kind of fear that is commonplace when confronted with a gun in most civilised society. Because he doesn’t understand what a gun is and what a gunshot could do (just like he didn’t understand the concept of ownership and property and hence, ended up ‘stealing’ someone’s goat).

    Like

  7. There was a striking comment in the previous post. One commenter mentioned how she would not tell her folks if she was groped/harassed because then they would SNATCH away HER freedom – and make sure she came home earlier, stopped wearing certain clothes and so on. In other words – our solution to harassment and related sexual crimes has always been to restrict (and stigmatise) a VICTIM’S life while nothing gets done to correct the perps.

    There was the one time while at work, I was so absolutely famished that I had to step into a nearby restaurant to eat something. It is one of those hip places so it attracts mainly ‘corporate’ crowd and young college students. I was stared at so much that it is probably the most uncomfortable meal I’ve ever had. And yes, I look like a nerd (no offence to nerds, really), I was in a salwaar kameez, and yes, the dupatta was firmly draped across my chest – so it is safe to say that I was dressed ‘very very modestly’. So there! Forget about teenage girls – even a simple thing such as enjoying a meal BY HERSELF in a ‘regular’ restaurant is not a pleasant experience for an older, office-going woman.

    (But of course some might say it is all in my head. No one said or did anything to harass me – they just stared and stared – not because they are bad or have bad manners or have a bad culture apparently – it is only because they are not used to seeing women eating alone in a restaurant – so they just stared hard enough to bore holes in my face – a very natural reaction; so will I please stop whining?)

    Like

    • A girl friend and I went drinking once to a hip place in Delhi. Just the two of us. And did not have someone come by to take our order for the longest time- we had to ask for a waiter- and when we placed our order for alcohol, the guy asked us if we were waiting for someone and gave us a puzzled look when we said no, we were alone and could he please step on it. Needless to say, the rest of the evening was interspersed with very obvious stares. and we were two of us. I would like to find out what drinking alone is like!

      Like

    • Just imagine DG walking into campus canteen with another girl and ordering tea and samosas how uncomfortable it made all the men there. More fun was to sit on a road side thadi (stall) all by herself in a hot summer afternoon and sip tea one sip at a time. That made it possible for other women to come out and have a cup of tea.
      Yes, there was this time she was eating by herself in a dhaba where a bunch of guys were staring at DG. She stared back and then asked “if they haven’t seen a girl or food or a girl eating food?” That did the job.

      There was this one time she went to a garment store with a friend and the owner kept staring at her as if will strip her naked with his eyes. She was just out of home and it was the only time this happened. As a 19year she was so stunned that she did not knowing what to do not even considering walking out of the store was an option too. Lately, about two weeks ago a 70yr old man came too close into her personal space and she froze. But she reported it and made pretty good hell for the old fella.

      We need to equip our girls how to confront an abuser not how to shrink in their presence. Yes, the main impetus should be on educating men how not to objectify women.
      Peace,
      Desi Girl

      Like

    • It is also true that most Indians have no concept of personal space and boundaries. The staring is partly a result of the inability to understand personal space.

      In the US, I saw Indian women in malls, staring hard at other people who were just going about their business. It could be that some people use unblinking stares to establish dominance — why they do it to perfect strangers is what confounds me.

      Like

    • I have done that…gone to the restaurant and eaten alone(late 80’s early 90’s)..I was way too famished to care about the stares and once I was done…I stared back, with the look that said, “what are you looking at?” with the rudest/offensive look I could muster. Some looked away, some continued to stare, I do wonder, I was just eating like the rest of you..so what exactly are you staring at?

      Like

  8. Why do we make women responsible for the failure of men ?

    Men stare and harass a woman on the street, and we tell the woman to change her clothing. Men act threatening or grope a woman walking home, and we tell the her to come home earlier. Men abuse a woman who had drunk alcohol or flirted with them, and we tell her she should not be doing those things.

    This is not reasonable.

    If you think it’s a case of “everybody should be careful”, then consider this: When did you last hear someone tell a man that he should adjust his behaviour because otherwise women will harass, grope or assault him ? What’s the last time you heard anyone tell a man he should not wear shorts if he doesn’t like women squeezing his buttocks uninvited ?

    As for the pictures, I think the men should stop doing that, especially the riding-while-standing without a helmet – imitating the men is not always a good idea – often the men should imitate women instead.

    Like

    • Those days not many people wore helmets DG was referring to early 1990s. People bought bikes not helmets. DG has been accused of aping men but the fact was all she wanted to do was have some fun and there was no fun in what women her age and women her class did- sit talk and read MnBs. Fun was running 1500mts and clocking your time, fun was climbing trees and jumping down fun was whistling when you felt like.
      Peace,
      Desi Girl

      Like

      • I agree with DG – fun means different things to different ppl. Anil said in his office, girls do “girly things”. Anil – there is nothing wrong in girly things, if the person is having fun. For me, driving my activa on the beach road at 100kmph may be fun but for another, maybe it is shopping(which is considered girly,but research shows guys spend more time shopping than women – i am digressing, but you get my point). The intent of this article is, whether women are able to do what they want to do without any inhibitions and fear of what will happen- whether they will be assaulted,started at, abused in any way.

        Like

        • @ GGTS, LOL!! Yep, fun means whistling..I was told not to whistle cause I am a girl….well, I whistled to my hearts content anyway, I got looks of disapproval, dirty stares, accusations for being a show off…I could whistle entire songs, I still do when I am happy. I couldnt take it that something as simple as whistling was to be monopolized with the “Men Only” Stamp, I didnt think that was fair.

          Like

  9. All of this.. and it’s not like I don’t find peeing in the street disgusting and would never want to do it, but these men are so hypocritical. Their logic to rationalise rape is that the girl is ‘scantily/skimpily dressed’ according to them, she’s ‘theirs for the taking’. By that logic, a man should be susceptible to rape and/or bobbittisation every time he takes a leak by the road, no? Hypocritical losers.

    Like

    • @ abohemiansrhapsody
      Someone who pees on the road, in full view of the public deserves a hard and memorable kick in the butt. Just because no one is willing to bell this cat doesn’t mean they condone or approve of it.

      @Eivind
      It would have been the case if Indian women were prone to groping, catcalling and harassing males (AND the men had a problem with it). Role reversal examples don’t work when the reverse situation simply doesn’t happen.

      Like

  10. I think teenage girls in India have enough freedom to do things that some here believe are forbidden for girls in India. Teenage girls are less adventurous and hence are seldom seen doing things that some here wish to do and so its incorrect to accuse stares or chants for the rarity. Maybe girls never want to become tomboys and deliberately lose boys who prefer feminine girls. So therefore i don’t understand why India is being singled out and why its environment is being bashed and if American girls indulge in such things then its their personal choice much like the Indian ones opting not to. I personally feel that some who were not experimental enough to do such things place the blame on pedestrians to escape feeling guilty.

    Like

    • Susbodh , I used to in my single days drive a tvs (whatever) in bangalore . Those days b’lore didn’t have a great public transport system and rather than depend on auto’s i prefered my own wheels, now coming to adventourous a group of us friends decided we wanted to drive to hoggenkal falls for a day and were chased almost most of the time by men on bikes, driving close to us, whistling and trying to get us off thew road.all the while laughing and whisting loudly…. now please tell me where else in the world this is so predominant.
      ok we endured the horror and reached hoggenkal , to realize to our horror that when we got into the water ( fully dressied like idiots mind you) we were stared, men swam close to us and tried to touch us and when we went on aboat ride they rammed their boat into ours inspite of the boatman yelling at them . then we tried to go buy lunch and were groped by the chasing us group.
      for some reason 6 young girls a bit modern for our times perhaps out alone having fun could not be tolerated by the men in that city… we were harassed and our entire day was ruined, when we complained to a policeman, he laughed nd told us to stay home safe or come with our elsers, it was supposedly our behavior that elicited this response!!!!

      Now we were being adventerous ( or atleast trying), minding our business, dressed appropriately ( rather too much covered for the water IMO) , why did the men chase us? why did they make a sport of driving us off the road ( a nation highway and highly unsafe mind you) , why did they hit on us inthe water, why did they tru to tease us inthe boat and why did they grope us at a harmless luch buying activity ???

      now i don’t know of all the countries, i’m sure something like this in saudi is frowned upon, but saudi doesn’t claim equal rights for women. in the coutried I HAVE visited, like US / scotland or geneva or UK, this behavior by men will quite possibly get them locked up and in court … but in india , oh no we revere such behavior, boys are being boys and girls shouldn’t dare decide to have fun. that too single girls!!!!!!!!! what were we thinking, no sanskar !!!!

      Like

      • Radha, sometimes I feel that if they could, Indian men would lock all women into cages and only take us out when they needed sex or food.

        Why do men in India have such demonic insecurities that every woman has to be shown her place?

        Your recollection reminded me of the day when I was walking back home from the gym. I’d had a bone-crunching workout and was plugged into my CD player, so could not hear a car honking behind me.

        The man almost rammed the car into me and I jumped out of my skin. I was walking by the side of the road and did not except to have a car nuzzle my backside.

        He did that because he wanted to park the car by the side of the road and was irritated that I was walking slowly, taking up his parking space. How dare I, a mere woman, make his lordship wait?

        Not satisfied still, he and his companion climbed out of the car, and abused me in chaste Kannada. I lost my temper and cursed them back. He then wrenched the CD player from my hand and threw it to the ground, pushed me hard so that I fell and drove away.

        I still remember the giant gold Ganesha pendant hanging around his neck. I’ll bet this gentleman offered profuse supplications at every temple he went to, and thought he was the custodian of “Indian culture” — “samaj ka thekedar” as they say Hindi.

        Ah, men in India, such ajoy to be around you.

        Like

        • :O biwo…how horrible! here…i am sending a lot of curses his way O_O ***eyes crossed severely, brows knitted tightly, lips uttering unspeakable things***

          Like

        • Insecurity – you said it. These mice of men are so insecure about themselves they NEED to feel powerful by bullying others. I bet it made it feel like a king for a moment in his (most likely) life.

          I wish you’d given him a swift kick in the groin!

          Like

    • Maybe girls never want to become tomboys and deliberately lose boys who prefer feminine girls (You Really Said That !!)

      …..You think that is what girls want ????….Urghhhhhh !!!!!

      Like

    • oh yea .. you are right. When 13 yr. old girls dare an adventure like to ride a bicycle in their salwar-kurta to their tuition , unknown men give them some ‘harmeless attention’ like grabbing and pinching their breasts. When boys and older men constantly follow them on their way to tuition and home, overtaking..then falling behind.. again overtaking..then falling behind… meanwhile making obscene comments and gestures EVERY SINGLE DAY. Sometimes, men from a passing by vehicle spit on their hands .. Just being out on an indian street as a teenage girl is the biggest adventure.
      My teenage was THE WORST time of my life because of all this ‘harmless male attention’ on the streets. And as for your reason of “girls not wanting to be feminine and not losing boys”.. well, indian teenagers are supposed to not show any interest in opposite sex. I was beaten up for too much talking to a distant male cousin. I was scolded and berated when a classmate spread rumors about ‘dating’ me.
      Which world do you live in Sushobh? Do us a favour and please have a conversation with women around you and ask their experience on indian streets. As if it was not painful enough to go through those experiences… there are people like you who just want to deny the existence of these horrible conditions.

      Like

    • @Sushobh, I think you are absolutely right. women have all the freedom in the world to do what they feel like, they just don’t want to use it. They find it disconcerting that people stare “harmlessly” at them or “stare” or call them names or feel or prod them. It is only in their heads that people make them feel like pieces of meat. Of course women have it great. They prefer dressing in restrictive clothing and being cat called about it. They also like being moralized if they are molested or assaulted, after all it is their fault. They prefer the restrictions on their freedom- it makes them feel secure.

      Sarcasm aside, you do know that you are representing “cultured” Indian men as crass, doltish, misogynistic and very clueless with your set of “informed comments” don’t you?

      Like

    • ‘lose boys who prefer feminine girls’. Thanks, but us girls have better stuff to be concerned about than ‘losing boys’. Stuff like, um education, work, music, happiness and our general existence. Loser.

      Like

    • Lemme tell you something Sushobh… When I was about 8 or 9 yrs old, I was given a football by my mother’s sis. I was very excited and I even bought an air-pump and all. The neighborhood I played in didn’t have a single girl – all boys. They were pretty excited about the ball too. I played with them – in mud and muck, had cycling contests (I won a lottt of times), ran around with them, played tag, hide and seek, etc.
      It all started to change as I became older – first, my parents restricted me because my body was changing and then I felt awkward myself because it had been ingrained into me by my parents and the society at large that since my body is changing, its no longer “proper” for me to play with boys. Where was my “shame”?
      I studied in a girls school till half of class 8 and trust me, they do all sorts of “tomboyish” and un”feminine” stuff which you think girls are not inclined to do. They played kabbadi teams, kho-kho teams, basketball teams, volleyball teams and even indoor games competitions (for those who truly did not wish to participate in outdoorsy stuff). we cheered on the different “house” teams (red, blue, yellow, green) and were excited about these and shouted till our voices became hoarse (all the things typically associated with men watching a sports game). We did not have to belong to a team to just play – we played in groups and ran about like wild children. There was a recess to pour all our excess energy out. We played and played. We had a male coach but a pretty damn good coach and person he was – very dignified too.

      Then, I was shifted to a co-ed school. First, girls did not play even during the period alloted. Not even during recess. They just sat around in groups and talked. I was shy ’cause I spent almost a decade in the company of only girls but at the same time, if I went to the washroom all by myself guys would stare pointedly at me. That is when I realized the reason girls banded in groups and roamed. I went to washrooms by myself my entire school life – I mean, what was the reason to go in a group like we were going to a movie or something? I did not understand at first – but then I understood. I even walked and sat “differently” (too freely).
      so, there it is.
      Females DO want all that – but not encouraged.
      Infact, I still wanna cycle in evenings and mornings BUT street harassment? Stares, whistles, comments?
      I wanna cycle – to shops so that I don’t have to walk so much or to exercise or just for the sake of it BUT and there is big BUT.
      When I see my childhood friends playing in a field close by, I wanna play too – a lot BUT the society is really obsessed with girls’ bodies and I wouldn’t want my body to be the object of stares and such.
      I have to not be “tomboyish”. I’m forced to stay at home.

      This is my story and countless other girls’ too.
      Why do you think we don’t wanna be tomboyish? Because you don’t see girls doing all that? Why don’t you? Its because we don’t have the sort of encouragement and support males do. That is why.

      And the word “feminine” doesn’t automatically mean not having any interest in outdoor games and sitting in. The characteristics of a particular female is feminine, and the characteristics of a particular male is masculine.
      The notions of feminine and masculine are subjective – if a female loves playing outdoors, it is feminine. If a male loves reading a book, it is masculine. It depends on the person.

      Why are we intent on labeling qualities as “feminine” or “masculine”? Can’t we just accept them as qualities and label them (if we HAVE to) according to the person?
      Because we label qualities like that, I think most people force themselves to change – to fit into these preconceived notions of “masculine” and “feminine” just because they are males or females. Because they don’t want people to think they are less than others of their gender, they betray their own essence. That is sad, indeed.

      Like

    • Sushobh – every single one woman in India cant recount the horrors she has experienced on the streets, on public transport – why even while driving in our own car. I have faced it even when i was with my mom. I have a sincere request to make of you. We have faced enough and endured all the pains. The least you can do(by being an educated,young person of today’s age) is to try and understand the issues women face for something as trivial as walking on the road by oneself or walking into a restaurant all alone and ordering food. Take a listen and try to understand – it is hard to empathize especially if you have not had a lot of friends who are girls or sisters with whom you spend a lot of time. But do try- we all have a duty to make our nation better and safer for all- be in men, women, children or animals. Instead of just dismissing all the experiences shared by fellow commentators and making rash comments like ” I personally feel that some who were not experimental enough to do such things place the blame on pedestrians to escape feeling guilty” – try to put yourself in their shoes and think how you will feel if for a day, nay, a just an hour, you were subjected to cat calls and whistles and stares if you did the things you always do- like driving your bike, stopping and gazing at the sunset, walking alone on the road, eating by yourself and numerous such small things. Then come and tell us that we were not experimental enough and were feminine- hence did not indulge in “tomboyish activities” hence we lost those men.

      Like

    • Please visit the US and then compare the freedom women enjoy there versus what we have here.

      I went river-rafting every summer in the US and invariably, our raft had a female instructor at the helm. She’d even fish us all of us out of the water if the raft capsized — men and women.

      We’d also see lone women canoeing early in the morning, skillful and unafraid.

      In India, its rare to see women who love sport so unabashedly and uninhibitedly. I had promised myself that I would not reason with you, but am making one final attempt.

      Like

      • Just yesterday, when I bumming around in the gym after 1 set of exercises, I idly watched a game of indoor soccer that was going on. I was startled that one of the team’s goalie was a woman. This was the first time I’ve seen a woman play soccer. And she was a formidable player too, moving really fast, and “tackling” the opponents, even pushing them around, and the way she manipulated the ball with her feet, she made it seem like a dance🙂 I’ve NEVER played football before. Street cricket, yes, but football, no. I plan to go kick a ball around in the court sometime when no one’s around.

        Of course, as an Indian woman I should exhibit apathy towards Football, or the likes of Sushobh will accuse me of “westernization”, and wanting “western living standards”

        Like

    • “Maybe girls never want to become tomboys and deliberately lose boys who prefer feminine girls”

      Most girls with any sort of self-esteem (and hence the most attractive) reject boys who have regressive mindsets (typically, the narrow-minded class of men who believe that girls have a “place”, and they should stay in it). I know a extremely good-looking guy who subscribes to precisely this mindset (In his own words, “my girlfriend should be covered, and be Mahalakshmi”). His looks attract women initially, but he has a super high “dump-rate” , he’s been in 4 short-lived relationships, each of which ended in his being dumped, and at the age of 28, is now morosely looking over “profiles” his Mother shortlists for him.

      Should the “Great Indian Arranged Marriage” system die out, “boys” who are MCPs will soon be an endangered species.

      Like

  11. The question is justified, but the choice of pics does not speak for the cause.

    Why would anyone (a man or a woman) want to behave irresponsibly on the road?

    Like

    • > Why would anyone (a man or a woman) want to behave irresponsibly on the road?

      For the pleasure of feeling cool wind in your hair.

      For an awesome vantage point for a nice view… or an award winning photograph.

      To let out your joy over the celebration of a special event to the whole world.

      To give the finger to another motorist who just cut you off dangerously.

      To scream “I AM QUEEN OF THE WOOOORRRLLLDDD!”

      For the sheer thrill of breaking a boring old norm and doing something *slightly* dangerous… what else are teenage years for?!

      Like

      • I think you both are right to an extent. Of course, no one should encourage anyone (man or woman) to engage in dangerous behavior casually. But like Nandini said, recklessness is also a form of freedom (especially in our teen years). We’ve all done something stupid before and felt thrilled in the moment (as long as it didn’t end badly!). What we should be concerned about, EM, is why women are not encouraged to have fun, take chances, test their limits. The answer from Indian society is: you’ll get hurt, you’ll get raped, you’ll be thought of the wrong way. We are never told: it’s dangerous, but at least you’re living!

        Like

  12. Been there. Done that.
    But it wasnt easy. Too many stares – the men and women staring at me for different reasons.
    Also tried a solo trek near Mumbai. After abt 3 hrs and multiple bus changes, I chickened out after walking a km towards the base. Too many nasty stares since I was alone. Didnt matter that it was the highway thru the village. Gave up. Figured the thrill of treking alone, wasnt worth the uneasiness and risk the stares were invoking.

    Like

  13. Been there and done that, though not as daring as DG’s stunts, like riding without helmet. Another thing, I know people will find this difficult to believe. But I have never been bothered by stares. In fact I hardly notice it unless my friends poke, turn me around, point and say, ‘look, that guy is staring’. My friends spcli guys get furious with me for not being aware of my surroundings.

    Not that Im a highly confident type…but frankly, I dont give a damn bcz in my experience 90% starers are cowards. Why else do they avert gaze immediately wen we stare back straight in the eye…
    Of course space-encroachers WILL get a power punch!😀
    In previous comments i saw lotsa girls saying that they hunch & look down wen they see stares. My friends do that a lot too… never realised it is such a common thing to do. But is it just the stares or is it bcz you’re not comfortable with what you’re wearing… Just curious..

    Like

    • I think it has to do with the stares. I think they made it very clear that the stares make them feel insecure, like they should try to hide portions of themselves (breasts, bum, hair) in the hopes (the very vain hope!) that it will make a difference. I am actually from the US and had to learn to deal with the stares of Indian men when I came here a year ago. It was something I never experienced and when I went home to the US for vacation, the thing I loved the most was how safe I felt. No more stares. No more immediately tensing when a group of men passes by. It’s heaven. But in India now, I don’t try to hide parts of myself when I walk by (it’s kind of impossible because I’m large chested!) but I try to give off a confident, don’t-even-think-of-messing-with-me look. It is hard to keep up and most of the time means I have to stare straight ahead all the time and avoid eye-contact. That is sad because sometimes I genuinely just want to stroll and look around! It’s funny, but sometimes I’m occasionally surprised by things in my neighborhood because I’ve never seen them before. I’ve been to busy dodging men’s stares.

      Like

  14. I think a lot of incidents that have been described here are from those who prefer a particular way of living ( which is very common in the west ) but uncommon in India. You people are aware of the western living standards and are resentful of not being able to enjoy what your western counterparts do. But India is a very different case altogether, here people don’t indulge in certain activities that you mention because they are simply not interested. There is absolutely no relation between men’s mindset and and what women are prohibited from doing. Women (most according to me) in India would never dream of doing things that you people wish to and that is because of apathy and not because they are frightened of stares. You people are intent on doing these things because you see women doing such things in the west and are frustrated that such things attract unwanted attention from your fellow citizens, but not all in India believe that such things are the only way towards happiness and some find them amusing and most probably queer (which is why you are subjected to stares). Being a freak is sort of a trend in America but not in India and event though a woman having tea alone by the roadside is no crime it certainly is strange(in India).and since you are accustomed to such things you find stares sickening( i would too if i were you). There have been a lot of descriptions of how some men have treated women disgust fully but that according to me is just a notion just like women snatching away all the earnings from a man and investing in branded cosmetics ( both are unjustified but neither universal). And lastly i condemn the usage of the word Indian men (are all american men racist?) in describing the horrible instances of mistreatment which i oppose vehemently.

    Like

    • This probably won’t earn me any favors with you; I am from the oh-so-corrupt West after all, but…”being a freak” is not a “trend” in America. There are social rules there too and one of those rules is that women are to be treated with respect and their safety is never in question. If it is, the perpetrators are brought to justice quite swiftly. It’s not a perfectly equal country (and as you note, there are still problems with racism and subtle forms of misogyny) but you cannot oppress half of your entire country because YOU think you know what Indian culture is. India is far too diverse (regionally, religiously, socially, economically) for ANY grand generalizations about how people should act. Who are you to say what it is that young Indian women want out of life? I should think a feeling of basic safety and walking around without fear is a very very very basic human right that should transcend “cultures.” I won’t make any disparaging comments, but again I think it needs to be reiterated that you need to sit down and have a long and honest conversation with a woman in your life who is not afraid to give you her REAL opinion. Try to understand. Please. Society will change with or without your permission.

      Like

      • I am here to express my views and not modify the society. I support a woman’s empowerment with deliberation and with indigenous methods and not blind imitation of some other society.

        Like

        • That’s fair enough. But can I ask what would women’s empowerment look like with “indigenous methods”? What do you suggest?

          Like

        • @Sushobh,

          So what are those indigenous methods of women’s empowerment please elucidate.
          Introduction of formal education to women- home science and arts and crafts, how to be an adarsh bhartiya naari

          Oh, you have to read “Domesticity in Colonial India: What women learned when men gave them advise.”
          Peace,
          Desi Girl

          Like

        • Sushobh, no one here is saying that riding motorbikes, going rafting, etc is an attempt to liberate all women. They did it because they wanted to. Because they liked doing it. Anything bad about it? I never did it because I was never the sporty type. But I totally support women who want to do it. Is there a reason they shouldn’t do it ? Do they lose their Indianness by doing what they like?

          If you think men stare only at uncommon things, let me tell you something: I always got stared at and eve-teased when going to the ladies room in my college. There always used to be a bunch of boys passing indecent comments on girls.Now, is going to toilet a rare thing?

          Like

        • Sushobh, do you find it below your dignity to use methods of life improvement / empowerment that originate in a different culture/country? I hope you are not eschewing cars, electricity and telephones.

          Like

    • Sushobh,
      You are a re troll get off this site right now. Who are you? An expert on Indian women, womanhood? Who cares what according to you is…

      A 8-9 year old living in India definitely did not know what women in the west did.
      15 year old DG had no clue what women did or wanted to do in other parts of the world all she wanted was to have fun just as other half other Indian citizens. And why shouldn’t she or anyone else have fun without being prodded, felt and stared at?

      Even as an eleven years old DG knew she does not want to be stared at. For this reason her dad use to stand nearby when she skated in the public park.

      About Indian women doing thrill seeking grow up dude, women in Independence struggle did all sorts of thrilling stuff be it being couriers or going to prabhatpheris, playing all sorts of rough games that were possible then.

      Collective misogyny and violent hostility against women in public space is not a recent phenomenon but its extent and volume has definitely increased.

      Now please take your according to you… else where.

      People stop giving this troll any further attention.
      Peace,
      Desi Girl

      Like

  15. These pics so remind me of one incident. I had straddled (as if sitting on a horse) on the edge of the first floor balcony that overlooked my college lobby. Not only did I get wild stares from all but also disgusting looks from girls who thought I was doing something provocative. One gal even taunted, ‘STF, maan gaye. I wouldn’t dare to do this in jeans and you did it in salwaar!!!!’

    Like

    • @STF,

      Do you know there is an ekadashi fast where fasting women do not sit all day. In Jodhpur men in their families drive them to Sojati Bridge and women straddled in their ghagra odanis on the bridge. As it was a religious thing and pious women doing pious thing it was excused from stares.

      Guess everything is excused in the name of religion especially if it for the sake of men.
      Peace,
      Desi Girl

      Like

  16. To speak from the point of men… IMO there are 2 kids ( or more) but i’m addressing the 2 obvious types.
    — there are enough patriarchial creeps out there who deem it their right and who seriously believe women should be hidden at home and under their thumb. This type we should worry about. the Bina buddhi, dimaag type who blidly quote sanskar for their benefit.

    –the other type is the group of guys who think teasing girls is fun, they learn from their surrounding and know no better these are the ones we can fix. Most of them believe in equal rights and will learn shown the err of their ways. Not to condone their action they are nasty too but IMO fixable.🙂

    i think we need to educate type2 and inturn makes the place atleast partially more comfortable for the girls. As parents we can ensure our boys don’t stare , tease and are taught the value of freedom and respect it for everyone .
    I t’s not enough for moms to preach . They need to see their dad behaving well, respecting mom, treating everyone the same and doing his share of work .

    Like

  17. Pingback: Plain-clothed police officers, warning signboards, cancellation of permits, helplines: SC directs States to take serious steps to curb Street Sexual Harassment. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  18. Pingback: Kai Po Che : Through feminist eyes… | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  19. Pingback: Eleven reasons why I liked Highway. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s