from chinmayee

It's interesting to see the alternatives and opposing points of view posted in the comment boxes of entries. The suggestions to do something more concrete than demonstrating, to stop hoping for miracles, to stop expecting that men will not grope in a year or two, to 'understand' that leching is not an offense, that a man can mentally undress a woman.

What surprises me is the complete lack of sensitivity in these comments. Because what is not being recognised is that eve teasing or street harassment or leching or groping - call it what you want - is not seen as an offence. That's the bottom line here. It's also the starting post. As young girls in school uniforms, awkward teenagers in shorts or grown women in salwar-kameezes, we are made to think that it 'happens' and you can do nothing about it.

We've all had terrible experiences. How many of us have had our breasts grabbed? How many of us have had men in crowded buses jerking off against our backs? Do we talk about it? No. Are we made to feel like it's not our fault? No. Why? Because it happens. Men, ruled by libidos, do things like this. As junk_alpha pointed out, demeaning thoughts may not be an offense under the law. But what about the scars left on a woman when it happens? The feeling that your body is dirty and unworthy, that's a playground only for lust and not tenderness? Is legality the only space for this? What about humane sensitivity?

What Jasmeen is doing with Blank Noise is trying to first get recognition that eve teasing is not okay. That just because thousands of men do it and thousands of women are victims every minute of every day, it's not bloody okay. No-one has a right to lech at my body and imagine what I look like naked. First you need to have the issue recognised and out there, in your face, before you can do anything else.

Going to the police is an option open to us. Whether or not you choose to is entirely personal. For many of us, it ceases to be a choice because of the insensitive manner in which the complaint is treated. A friend of mine was taking her morning walk when a grown man flashed himself to her. When she complained to the police, they just told her to walk elsewhere. Another was told to wear a dupatta. Another was told that men are "like that only". I was once told not to walk on Cubbon Road. Simple. Just don't walk because, again, raging libidos cannot be protected against.

The public demonstrations, banners, the pictures on the blog are not "scare tactics" or pointless. Because ultimately, unless something is taken into the public space screaming for attention, nothing can be done. The legal alternatives, educating young girls, dialogues, platforms, everything else can only begin when people open their eyes to the issue.
Instead of constantly posing a smart answer and a legal loophole to every initiative of Blank Noise, why don't people join in? It may be very interesting and intellectually stimulating to argue for and against, to analyse and discard, to banter, to offer alternatives, to point out mistakes, to threaten and criticise...very interesting, indeed.

But, on the 15th, how many of you are going to be there at Majestic with Jasmeen to take one step into the public space? Because eventually that's what counts.


Anonymous said...

excellent post, chinmayee - that something happens all the time does not make it "normal" or even more acceptable - sadly, in Indian sciety, it is bad enough to go thru such incidents, and worse to talk about it - to anyone else....


Citrus said...

very nice junk alpha [clap clap] :)

hemangini said...

Junk_alpha: Are you suggesting the next time a man misbehaves with me I take him out to lunch and explain why he was wrong???????? Could you please explain why i should have to indulge "in light banter" with someone who has grabbed me, violated me, invaded my space, shaken me?

"the straight forward thing is to talk to him....explain to him...achieve your objective. Nobody likes to be criticized even if they are wrong, and it is important to you because, you can be emotionally smart about it, and not hurt the person, and talk to him, touch his heart, make him see." - Nobody likes to be criticised??? Are these men petulant children, who need handling with kid gloves?? They need imprisonment, junk_alpha. They need to know this is NOT OK. I understand there is substantial (justified) debate over whether imprisonment worsens likelihood of crime and whether prison spells achieve the objectives of reforming the perpetrator - in which case these men need remand. Either way, they certainly don't need a free lunch and some gentle explaining.

As for what Jasmeen is doing: why don't you come to the next session? And join us? Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't. But for some of us time is not at as much of a premium to stop us trying this experiment.

Blank Noise takes street harrassment into unexplored territory, approaching the subject in an unconventional way that could make people think about it and not block it out which is what might have happened if it was a mere 'demonstration' at a street corner.

What's all this about statistics?? "in ten years you can cut down the average groping by about 45%" Do you have any proof that your suggestions will achieve these clear cut results?? What we need is joint action on many levels - many people undertaking many initiatives. No one initiative is expecting to revolutionise our society or change the world. Jasmeen is not saying - correct me if I'm wrong - that Blank Noise will rid India of street harrassment.

Anonymous said...

junk alpha, what are you talking about?? a strange sick man grabs your breast on the street and you want to repsond to him with "love"??
I think the most important thing that jasmeen is doing is getting this subject out into the open - initiating discussion about this - and making a point and very very important point that such behavior is not "ok" simply because it happens " all the time". someone has to start and as with all individual initiatives, the results will show up slowly - but surely...
as for going and talking in schools, what do you propose to do about the parents and families of these kids - what about the values that the older / present generation of adults - these sick men included - will pass on to their children - and what all will you talk about in schools?

Anonymous said...

junk_alpha's suggestion is among the stupidest suggestions I have seen .. in .. well, ever.

Okay alpha, let's play a thought experiment. Some neighbourhood hooligan takes your wallet at knifepoint. Assume your wallet was almost empty and your physical loss is negligible.. Would you take the hooligan out to lunch and explain why property is personal and tell him how bad you 'felt'?

Give me an effing break ! Treat him with love? Reform him ?

Freedom is not a special perk that must be "granted by society" to women. It's the RIGHT of all women on this forum, and of all human beings everywhere.

Have you ladies heard of "Mace" ? A pepper spray popular in Western countries. I don't know if it's available in Bangalore.. but I sure wish it was.

Sexual harrasment is not about sex, or even lust. It's about power - and the feeling that men are entitled to power over any woman who can't fight back, either due to physical strength or due to social pressures.

Harassment multiplies in the dark corners of anonymity. When a man rubs up, and then even if you raise a stink he hides behind the shield of denial. On the other hand, instant retribution such as a knee to the crotch, or a generous serving of mace in his eyes will leave him rolling on the ground in agony.. and will scare potential criminals. It has the added benefit of helping such dogs learn about "Stimulus->Response" in an unforgettable way.

I'm up to hauling a carton of Mace into Bangalore on my next trip, if any of you are interested.

"Feed him lunch" ?! Indeed. Mace sprayed in the face will stay in memory a lot longer than a free lunch.

Laura Castelino said...

i don't think jasmeen is looking for a war or even a fist fight, but genuine change, like chinmayee said
"What Jasmeen is doing with Blank Noise is trying to first get recognition that eve teasing is not okay"
by all appearances this protest seemes to be a peaceful demonstration, drawing attention to the problem, just like any demonstration that was held by Ghandi, M Luther King Jr. etc.
so what's all this talk about violence and bloodshed? nobody's bringing guns.

Laura Castelino said...

laks- sorry i was just a bit confused about the response made by Junk_a above. In regard to -
"Give me an effing break ! Treat him with love? Reform him ?"
I find your approach very diplomatic, which is very Indian of you;
and just to be clear, I wasn't trying to pick a bone with either your or junk_alpha.
I believe that if we listen to each others opinions instead of slamming it down each others throats, some kind of progress can be made.
As I said before, Jasmeen is drawing attention to the problem of harassment,not hitting people over the head with baseball bats and so far it's working.
You may agree or disagree with what she's doing, but fact is, she has brought the topic to the table and it can't be ignored.
she deserves credit for that.

J said...

junk alpha

"[Deep Breath]
Though I have several arguments about what you seek to achieve is right or wrong, I will not talk about them because they are irrelevant to my point, which is simple:

I want you to convince me that because of your demonstrations, some of these results will take place:

1. After a certain time, the percentage of men groping women will decrease by 20% , 30% or whatever.
2. The authorities will not dismiss your complaints by asking you to make the adjustments.
3. Number of men who strip women naked in their heads will decrease in number by x%."

the 'strategy' you expect us/ me to articulate is a difficult one. Blank Noise is not set out in its 'AIM' AND 'GOALS' to change statistics and give you the 2+2=4 results.

there has to be some room for a process that can be lyrical and intuitive. there are times when research methodolgies are applied to the project, but by itself the project does not take that form.

it is a new territory for all of us here. first as a 'vcitim of street sexual harassment' and as an artist it is worth seeing how art and activism= public art creates an impact ,generates dialogue,.our approach is a result of our background. traditionally you would expect an activist to do this, or a researcher, i chose to be neither or both.

phucker said...

Phew, lots of stuff happening here. I just have one comment to make however:

No-one has a right to lech at my body and imagine what I look like naked

I understand that this remark has to be taken in context, and when you mean 'lech' you mean stare at you for a long period of time making you uncomfortable...

That being said, I, or anybody else in the entire world, have every single right to imagine you in whatever way I choose, as do you and this emotional statement weakens your cause.

Being civilised means deciding which thoughts to act on, and which thoughts to leave as thoughts. I can imagine you naked all day, but if I choose to not look at you in a lecherous way, or molest/touch/pass a dirty comment to you - how does this make me a "bad" person? Simply because I imagine you naked? Bullshit. If one of the aims of your project is purge men of "unclean" thoughts, then I suggest you read a book called 1984, by a man called George Orwell. But if your project is to prevent men from acting on those unclean thoughts, I think it would be far more successful.

One more thing - it is true that Man will never be free of his vices. So it is best for those vices to have some outlet. In the Western world, that outlet is called legalised prostitution . That outlet doesn't exist in this country. And the result is in front of you. A sexual liberation is required (and is happening parallel to all these barbaric atrocities) of both the men and women of this country.

Anonymous said...

jasmeen has clarified what blank noise stands for. ttg, i have read 1984 and i am not talking about policing thoughts or 'big brother' here. if you realise that my remark has, indeed, to be taken into context, the argument needn't be carried forward.

J said...

hello laks

you are welcome to come and make the event happen.

looking forward


J said...

"Hate the crime. Not the criminal".

agree junk alpha, but this is only possible with some distancing from the self.

when one starts it is important to experience anger and show it to the criminal instead of blaming the self and apologizing for her/(his?) body. from the very begining we are taught to apologize, and blame ourselves..." ask for it".

how many of us even do that?

to look at things wholistically, victim, perpetrator, abused, accused...in this story so far we the victims have been the protagonists...

what do you say about threat? wat do you say for instincts? who feels threatened and why?

J said...

"I want you to remember, that like me, we are somebody daughters, sisters, mothers; we are not objects; I would appreaciate if you would not do this anymore, and remember this meal everytime you would feel like groping a woman, [...al the nice adjectives..]"

what do i say to you?
its like saying
"ghar mein maa behen nahi hai kya?"


Anonymous said...

whatever u women might say, i know for a fact that women enjoy being groped as much as i enjoy groping them

vasundhar said...


Its been great, to see people coming fwd ...
Yesterday I heard from another friend of mine,
A message filled with filth.

I dont know what people gain from that $#???
I will see his end forget it but...
I am angry frustrated because ... He is just another male, who is making us feel ashamed.

Any way I hope we will change.
Change for a good cause.

Nature gave freedom to Enjoy The beauty,
But not to scractch tear and spoil.

Sriram said...


I cannot discern your gender for sure but I'm assuming you're male. I'm a guy too - and I've tried the exact same thing that you spoke about.

I once saw a male classmate 'accidentally touch' a girl on the road. I took him aside and spoke to him for over 2 hours on why it is fundamentally wrong,etc. I spoke to him about his mother and sister, I spoke to him about how he would feel if something similar had happened to them.

I spoke to him about he would feel if he were abused homosexually. I spoke to him about freedom, rights,love and all those other nice things you mentioned.

Guess what? This guy nodded his head and promised to reform his ways - and seemed quite sincere at it. He's not your average roadside Romeo - quite smart, near the top of the class in a well-known engineering college.

A week later, I found out that he had gotten into trouble for groping a girl in a train.

I don't know which world you live in Junk_alpha, but it is definitely not ours.

Before you argue that it is wrong to generalize from one incident, let me assure you that I have seen umpteen other incidents where friendly advice (from the victims, from other men,women) have falled on deaf ears.

One such guy once confessed to me (similar to the confession on Mangs blogpost about her trip to Chennai) "Man..I lost control".

Do I have an easy solution to this? Nope. I think this needs to be fought on multiple levels.

1. Be pragmatic and practical: Women need to understand that the problem exists today and be prepared to deal with it and fight back. This might mean self-defence, martial arts, pepper spray,etc. It scares the life out of me when close female friends of mine choose to walk alone on lonely roads at night saying something along the lines of "It is my right to do so".Realize that I'm *not* justifying the crime - just observing that becoming a martyr is not going to help anyone.

I'm not saying "put your head down and put up with it". I'm saying "Carry pepper spray and don't hesitate to use it" and "Be sensible".

In an ideal world, this wouldn't be needed - but we don't live in an ideal world where we can leave our house doors unlocked when we go on vacation.

2. Education at every level:
If kids see movie heroes eve-teasing women and this behaviour being deemd as 'acceptable',the situation is not going to concern. We need education at all levels of society- from school kids to college. Efforts like this are a great start.

3. Support from the authorities:
The government swings into action only when there is a well-publicized incident. We need (and movements like this will help in that) recognition of this as a society wide problem just like,for e.g, terrorism is recognized as a problem.

I don't know how these can be achieved though. I do know that this won't be easy at all.

Gaurav said...


You think that you can justify your bullshit by taking the name of Gandhiji? That is a logical fallacy on so many levels. Gandhiji opposing a state which was doing something wrong. You are doing his philosophy of non-violence an extreme disservice by stretching it to this extreme.

So you advise people to buy molestors lunch because you bought lunch for a guy who accused you of being a terrorist. Calling an innocent person a terrorist, as despicable it is, is not a crime. Molesting a woman is. By comparing being called Bin laden's pal to a woman's harrassment, you are cheapening the magnitude of frustration felt by women.

Yes, yes, you will say "Oh no, I am just saying compassion makes people repent". I am saying that showing compassion is easier said that done. Imagine if you were walking with your wife and sister and someone molested them. Would you, in all honesty, still buy them lunch and talk to them?

Gandhiji's definition of ahimsa was...suffering in one's own person, instead of inflicting violence on others. By what stretch of imagination is Jasmeen's project inflicting violence? In fact it is Gandhian in the proper spirit.

What you are suggesting is puerile.

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Anonymous said...

In my opinion, demonstrations and protests is definitely a first step to make people to take notice of some everyday small-scale violence against women as "CRIME -Invading somebody's private space". Several of the movements ( black rights, women rights in US ) has indeed started with simple demonstrations and protests. Even though this effort may not change a serial rapist or molestor, it would make a normal guy to think twice before committing it. These demonstrations will let that these normal guys know that women do NOT enjoy being groped by every tom and jack. Also, there is a possiblity that people seeing the demonstrations in future would feel strongly for the women and would come forward to rescue the victim if such an act is committed against women.

One can also borrow the approach used to create awareness for shop-lifiting that shop-lifting is a serious crime. That approach ( like you see in Wal-mart Restrooms in US ) is to use postures that teach general public that physical man-handling of women is a CRIME.

I think previous commenters Gaurav and Shriram refuted the preposterous claims/preaching put forward by junk_alpha very well. junk_alpha's approach is simply impractical and his understanding of Gandhian principle is meagre, to say the least. I agree with some other commenters that sex education in high school and open soceity is a mature approach and it attacks the problem at its root.