Blank Noise T shirts
While at Khoj on a public art residency programme Blank Noise T shirts " Kya Dekh Rahe Ho" were designed for women who take auto rickshaw rides.
NO-Blank Noise is not anti auto rickshaw drivers. Not all auto drivers adjust their rear view mirros to women's breast level either! However this t shirt works for those 'awkward' situations, where it's a little obvious why the rear view mirror is focussing on parts of the female passenger's anatomy.
This t shirt is a Blank Noise Action Hero strategy to deal with sexual violation. Wear it. Give it to your friends. You could buy 3 for Rs 200 and gift it to your friends or 1 for Rs 125!
We are also accepting donation towards the production of these t shirts. You can also hand cut your own v neck and sleeves!
Bring a twist! Enjoy the t shirt!
To receive the t shirts email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
T shirts are avaliable in Hindi too. Will be made avaliable in tamil, bengali, telegu.
Auto waaley Bhaisahab...
On my way home from Hazratganj, I had to as usual catch an auto rickshaw to get home quick. I always go for the sharing one, its five times cheaper. ;)
I love the evening auto rides - Immersed in my thoughts, enjoying the radio and feeling the cold wind blowing. It also helps me ignore the hustle of '1 savari 1 savari' and overloaded autos.
Lost as I always am, I realize a hand trying to feel my whatever little back is available above the back rest of the auto seat. I glare, not being too sure was it intentional or was it the driver's rash driving. I felt it again. I turn and stare at the guy sitting on the other side of the auto (only 3 fit anyway ), notice him trying to gauge my reaction for the second time by the corner of his eye. "Bhaisahab haath apney paas rakh saktey hai ya auto rukwao aapkey liye" The over stuffed auto with six passengers (all male), excluding the driver, stare too, and the hands went back, slightly uneasily placed on his lap.
An Action Hero is a woman who has dealt with street sexual harassment/ violence/ 'eve teasing' by confronting and challenging it.
Send in your stories of resisting street sexual violence. Please email us at email@example.com
Get involved- Blank Noise Opinion Poll in your city!
Location: Namita Sharma's Tea Stall. Gariahat. Kolkata.
Namita Sharma's tea stall is by the auto stand in Gariahat market, Kolkata. Every evening, eva long que lines up by her tea stall awaiting their auto rickshaw ride back home. During this stretch of time some people drink tea , smoke a ciggarete, snack a bit.
Namita and her colleagues welcomed Blank Noise as an idea. Her tea stall hosts the Blank Noise opinion poll which asks a simple but infinitely complex question-
WHAT IS EVE TEASING? LOOKING? STARING? STARING AT BREASTS? TALKING TO BREASTS? ADJUSTING REAR VIEW MIRROR? PASSING COMMENTS? CALLING NAMES? RATING? WHISTLING? SINGING? MAKING KISSING SOUND? UNSOLICITED CONVERSATION? WINKING? BLOWING KISSES? UNSOLICITED PHOTOGRAPHY? TICKLING? TOUCHING 'ACCIDENTALLY'? GROPING? TOUCHING/NUDGING IN PUBLIC TRANSPORT?/ RUBBING? FINGERING?SPITTING ON? STALKING? VEHICLES( CARS. BIKES. CYCLES) FOLLOWING. VEHICLES( CARS. BIKES. CYCLES) HONKING. VEHICLES( CARS. BIKES. CYCLES)PURPOSELY DASHING? GESTURES/ACTIONS/ MASTURBATION? FLASHING? OTHERS??
There have been innumerable debates on the blog in the past over what exactly constitutes 'street sexual violence'- Can it be in the verb of 'looking' or in the adverb of 'lecherously looking'. there are questions about what constitutes a lecherous look- and the ones who experience it will argue saying ' it's obvious. we just know!'
This is precisely the kind of discussion we want to further on the streets itself. More than for facts figures and statistics we attempt to use the form of an opinion poll to start discussions. The opinion poll also becomes a 'safe' way for people to testify and admit what they have seen or experienced.
The opinion poll is bilingual- for Kolkata it is in Bangla/ Bengali and English. We are getting them made in English with Urdu/ Hindi/ Kannada/ Telegu/ Tamil/ If you would like to volunteer with translations do email us asap! always at firstname.lastname@example.org
By asking someone from your neighbourhood /locality to host the Blank Noise Eve Teasing Opinion Poll you are getting them involved in the process of taking agency, and also being an agent yourself. The opinion poll could also be in your college/ office/ apartment block/ market/ anywhere- email us- let's discuss your ideas
You will need to provide your local Blank Noise agent with 2 ink pads( red and blue) for people to put their thumb print.
In the next 2 weeks individuals/ Blank Noise members from Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Lucknow, Kolkata will receive the opinion poll charts. If you belong to any of these cities and would like get started - email us right away!
If your city is not mentioned and you would like start this process in your city, write in and we could have an entire bunch sent in to you. You could also be the opinion poll distributor for your city or town.
You will also receive an email with detailed instructions on how to introduce Blank Noise/ the issue of 'eve teasing' and how this process can be documented.
Coming up is an interview with Namita Sharma on her experience of hosting the opinion poll. The interview will be conducted by members of the Blank Noise Kolkata team.
We look forward to your emails! email@example.com
Blank Noise Agents : people who are participating in Opinion Poll project to further discussion about 'eve teasing'.
- Barkha Madhok- New Delhi- Will install the poster in her office.
- Ashish Asgekar- Goa-will translate the opinion poll to marathi
- Nabila Zaidi- Lucknow- will translate the opinion poll and distribute opinion poll sheets in Lucknow. She is also installing the poster at Avadh Girl's College.
- Sharath V- Bangalore- has translated the text to kannada. The text has been further edited by Blank Noise bangalore.
- Girish Pandit- edited Kannada text.
- Meghna C edited the kannada text.
- Soumya C. Shekhar edited the kannada text.
- Nisha Chandwani - Mumbai added the word ' pinching' to the opinion poll list.
- Siddarth Mukund Srivastava- New Delhi- is translating the opinion poll to Hindi.
- Poorva Dutt - New Delhi is also translating the opinion poll text to Hindi
WANTED: ACTION HEROES IN KOLKATA! NOV 16!
This Friday Nov 16 at no later than 6 pm join in as we- Blank Noise Kolkata intervene in Gariahat market. The Gariahat hawkers and vendors have voiced support towards Blank Noise and will be participating in the project over the next one week!
The action itself will be simple. All we require from our Action Heroes this time is for them to be themselves! We promise the event wont be acrobatic and will conclude at 7 20 pm.
Bring along your friends/ family / neighbour/ (anyone interested) This goes without saying- men / boys/ males/ are already a part of Blank Noise and are much needed at all Blank Noise meetings and events.
You are required to bring a handwritten testimonial of your experience on the street in the form of a letter.
you could end it with the following statement- so are you a victim/ perpetrator/ spectator to eve teasing/ street sexual harassment?
The letter could be in bangla/ hindi or english. If you like you could photocopy this letter and give it to more strangers than one.
Do you own something that you love to wear but are scared of wearing on the streets, for fear of attracting the 'wrong kind of attention'?
Life-changing decisions are made everyday. The most crucial ones take place before one's wardrobe. Blank Noise asks you to challenge your notion of 'asking for it' by coming dressed in that one garment you've always wished to wear but haven't, because of your fear of the reactions it might provoke within your fellow-pedestrians.
Be an Action Hero. Be fearless. Feel carefree.
Believe -- " I did not ask for it".
To confirm please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org subject titled Blank Noise Action Hero Kolkata. You can also reach us at 9836361612. Be in the loop with Blank Noise Kolakata by signing up at http://groups.google.com/group/bnpkolkata
Blank Noise Kolkata
Participating Action Heroes:
- Sunayana Roy
- Dana Roy
- Saptarshi Chakraborty
- Bimbabati Sen
- Simran Soni
- Sayantani Dasgupta
- Priyanka Verma
- Soubhik Niyogy
- Sharabh Niyogy
- Nilanjana Deb
- Rimi B.Chatterjee
- Meghna Mukherjee
- Romila Saha
- Priyanka Agarwal
- Subhayu Mukherjee
- Dipali Taneja
- Nita P
- Sahar Romani
BLANK NOISE ACTION HEROES: SHOUT IT LOUD
Blank Noise Action Heroes are women in public who face threat and feel fear but devise unique ways to confront it.
www.blanknoiseactionheroes.blogspot.com was created in March 2007 during international women's day to archive your stories of dealing with fear.
We would like to kickstart this process once again, starting now!
An Action Hero is a woman who has dealt with street sexual harassment by confronting and challenging it. Her final response might have been to choose to ignore the harassment, but she will have chosen to do so, not failed to notice it. (You can also be an Action Hero by participating in our city specific street actions).
Different kinds of sexual violence/harassment take place on the street - ranging from the hapless wooer to the aggressive sexual bully. Women in public across the world have their own unique strategies and capabilities of dealing with threat. This blog collects a range of such empowered actions from across the world.
You could also be the agent- the one who collects stories from your city/ neighbourhood/locality/ school/ college/ friends/family/ colleagues/. Ask the domestic help/ vegetable vendor/ flower seller/ woman bus conductor/ anyone!
This means that men are also invited to share stories of women whose response has amazed them! Go ahead... ask all the women you know!
Shout out loud! Tell us how and when you felt fearless.
You are an action hero not by the magnitude of what you did but how it made you feel. Write in. email@example.com.
Excuse Me? Are You Calling Me?
Tales of Street Love and Lust were compiled after bloggers/ blank noise members/ supporters/ Blank Noise agents emailed us what they were referred as or called on the street by random male strangers. This is an effort to compile an 'eve teasing' vocabulary. Statements received will be uploaded here. Food here. (Don't miss the song from Prema Loka- here comes a girl looking like a lemon)Movie Songs here. Below is a list of 'love' references- do keep sending them in if you've been shocked, amused, threatened, attacked, humiliated by them.
words of love:
- gudiya (doll)
- 'gullabbo' ( miss rose)
- 'sundari' (gorgeous)
- baby doll
- 'ms. busty'
- baby/ bebe
- jaan (life)
- chhokri ('girl' in vernacular slang i guess)
- jaaneman( the love of my life)
- phuljhari (firecracker)
- Rani (queen)
- Chhammak Chhallo
- mallika (queen)
- Bijli (lightening)
- bollySakkat,(super sexy)
- GORI ( fair skinned)
- taj mahal ( monument)
- Photaka( fire craker)
- mike( another very popular word in kolkata for breasts)
- Veena ( musical instrument)
- Matka ( earthen pot)
- khekda ( which in marathi means crab)
- lota (spinning top)
- Tennis balls
- katori (bowl?)
- CHIKNI MAST ( white exciting thing)
- Scooby doo
- sun silk
- Malldaar (the jerk said this one looking at my boobs)
- DAGAAR - a veryyy veryyyy cheap Kannada word which means 'cheap whore'.... usually they would say this when I would stare back at them with anger or scold them.... this word used to make me furious!!
- Lal chhaddi" (red stick)
- kali( dark skin woman)
- FIGURE - How could I forget this.... the most common word you here on the roads of Bangalore
- DOVE - They pronounce it as DAWUU(I dont think u can guess how they say it unless u live in Bangalore). In their lingo its supposed to mean 'beloved'!!!
- mast- exciting
- cheez- thing
- darling (accompanied by kissing noises
- chhokri ('girl' in vernacular slang i guess)
- maal (goods)
- jaan( life)
Excuse Me? Are you singing to me?
Tales of Street Love and Lust :
Tales of Street Love and Lust were compiled after bloggers/ blank noise members/ supporters/ Blank Noise agents emailed us what they were referred as/ called on the street by random male strangers.
This is an effort to compile an 'eve teasing' vocabulary. statements will be uploaded here. Food here. (Don't miss the song from Prema Loka- here comes a girl looking like a lemon)
Movie Songs here (objects / descriptors/coming soon!)
If you have been sung to and felt threatened / 'harassed' or even amused- email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . You are welcome to describe the situation and how you felt. We will add the song to this blog post right away! Thankyou!
Haseena Maan Jayegi: I'm sure if I am persistent one day she will be mine.
Khud ko kya samajhti hai: what does she think of herself/ she is arrogant/ let's have some fun guys.
chhai chhappa chhai- (I had short hair and was wearing a white salwar kameez!) The guys tried to follow me for nearly a couple of blocks singing this song.
ek bar aaaja aaaja aajajaaaaaaaaaaaaaa: come to me just once
o priya priya: someone remembering Priya, his love
babuji zara dheere chalo: go slow mister, I am lightening and I am standing here.
Yeh ladki hai! : Oh that girl!
Khambe jaisi Khadi Hai: She stands like a pole/ is she a girl or a firecracker? she has rage in her eyes and her lips are ready to abuse you.
Akhiyon se goli mare, larki kamaal ki: she shoots me with her eyes/ what an amazing woman. she tortures the guy in love with her.
Aati Kya?: will you come with me? to Khandala? We will go dancing, roaming and chill together.
Aaja Meri Gaadi Mein Beth Ja: Come sit on my car!
Hai Hai Mirchi / Uff Uff Mirchi: oh you hot thing!
Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast: You are such an exciting thing!
Street Tales of Love and Lust include a list of statements that have been sent in by YOU.
This online event was triggered in August as our collective attempt to 'define eve teasing'/ street sexual harassment/ street sexual violence.
In August we gave the list of food names you sent in the form of Food Charts/ IMAGE WORD MEANING REVISION: THINGS I AM NOT. Coming up is a list of 'things' and descriptors you have been referred to as while out in public.
The statements have been heard by women from across geographies. Over 80 people participated to compile this list. You can still add to it..email us subject titled 'excuse me?'
e: email@example.com. You can be anonymous if you like.
Besides being published on the blog, all responses to collectively building the 'eve teasing' vocab will be printed in the form of a book .
All email responses will be listed below- keep sending them in!
statements will be uploaded here. Food here. (objects / descriptors/ songs coming soon!)
- ooof ...so niissse
- where fr u go? where do you go?
- I want to be youwer friend. I want to be your friend.
- up and down ( to be repeated very fast )
- rapchik maal. good thing/stuff
- ' kya maal hai' what a thing!
- Small baby with big balls.
- Muslim phuljhari(at the sabzi market) muslim firecracker
- Oh beautiful gori. oh beautiful fair woman
- nice tits.
- i want to fuck you
- "F@!k me baby one more time"
- Ure so sweet as honey bhaybe
- PUT SOMETHING IN HER MOUTH
- KODTYEENEE (WILL YOU GIVE in kannada)
- COME 'DO' SEX WITH ME
- COME 'DO' LOVE 'WITH' ME
- CHECK OUT MAN, THIS SLUT DOESNT HAVE ANY SHAME.
- can i have a ride? (many times when i was riding my bike in nyc)
- rambe urvashi menake (the heavenly angels)
- ghonti chepe debo( i want to squeeze your bells, in bengali)
- Ki maal(what a thing)
- Hi plumpy
- hi chink chong. chinky
- hey silky
- aye item hey you thing!
- SEE HER BUTT - ive heard this in Kannada... sounds very gross
- kya lag rahi hai! you're looking hot
- want to come for a ride, baby?
- waiting for me?
- (after flashing his penis) "well, did you see it? did you like it?"
- "ashbi" ("aati kya?") will you come?
- what a handful?!
- sardi ka saman sardi-winter/ saman-thing/object
- soda buddhi (when i used to wear glasses)- old woman with glasses
- Dekhle hobe? khorcha achhe"( referring to a girl with a man, meaning it takes money to keep such a girl.")
- "Pooro makhon" ( Following a Bengali Butter Biscuit ad, meaning very smooth like butter)
- CHEWING GUM CHIPKEGI KYA? will you stick like chewing gum?
- How much?
- Rose for me?
- Hi! Julliet
- Hey Bob-cut!!
- Hai Babiiieeee
- Maal hai yaar!
- ki bodo(what big ones!!)
- Hey- you breastfeeding those books?
- excuse me baby
- hello..excuse me..hi sexy..
- item hai
- “kahaaaN se aayeeeeee?” [sung in unrecognizable melody- where have you come from?]
- “hi gorgeous” [in nattering nasal chipmunk voice]
- "Jaldi karo, seth-ji" (yes, that too. Whatever it meant.) hurry up! you rich man
- WHAT, SHE HAS NOT KEPT ANY 'SAAMAAN' ONLY- likely to mean that she does not have breasts.
- Kya Garam Hai / She is hot
- Soni Kudi/ beautiful woman
- KUUTCHI MAAL HAI
- Aye Soniye/ beautiful woman
- Front or back?
- “nice girl” [by a 65 year old retired police officer who then tried to sweep in for a kiss]
- “Yes? Yes?”
- “hi beautiful"
- "white-bra" - because my bra strap was visible
- WHY EVEN THIS, SHE SHOULD HAVE COME NAKED - when we were wearing Jeans and Tees
- I WILL F@#K HER - I cant even repeat the words in kannada... sounds soooooooooo gross!!
- "####### bitch!"
- Bade hilla hilla ke chal rahi hain/ you're moving your breasts as you walk
- Neena na kachch haki bidtini (i'll eat you up!)
- Isko bana do! (make her up!)
- kela chahiye? (do you want a banana??)
- rambe urvashi menake (the heavenly angels)
- One shot- 1000 Rs. Barthiya? (Will you come?) *NEW*
Both images have been sent via
1. Hamsini Ravi from Blank Noise Chennai
2. Atreyee Majumder and Abhishek Baxi from Blank Noise Delhi
Look Out!! While driving, walking, being stuck in traffic...
It could be anywhere and in any city or town. On a bilboard, in a magazine, on the back of an auto or taxi, on your best friend's t shirt, on the tele, in a movie hall...anywhere!
Do these images amuse you or confuse you? Do they make you angry?
In the Blank Noise spirit we invite you to start questioning the politics of public communication in our everyday life and in our cities.
Who is communicating? To which audience? What is the explicit and the implicit message? What does it say to you about YOU?
Look Out NOW, photograph it and email it to us! You can also send in text to start a debate.
Yes it's not always about 'eve teasing', but it is about reinforced attitudes of relationships between men, women, and cities.
Atreyee and members from the Blank Noise Delhi group discussed the Delhi Police advert on the Blank Noise Delhi mailing list a few months ago
I was appalled that there was no mention that such behaviour can be criminally punished, and women should take action against these harassers by coming to the police, what is the whole point of the ad then?? Coming as it does from the police!
"Dont you know how ashamed and embarassed women fell when they are teased? Please protect them and take them away form the scene when this happens"
These are all stereotypes which reinforce the macho mindset which causes most of these problems in the first place.
It shouldn't say, "there are no men in this picture", rather it should be "there are no human beings in this picture" because no one should be able to stand by and watch another person being belittled and harassed for fun--whether male or female.
Wooing on the streets
The first time I participated in a Blank Noise intervention, March 2006, Brigade Road, Bangalore, it was the most empowering experience I’d had in my life so far. Standing on the street and reversing the gaze, confronting people who felt me up - in whatever ways I felt was appropriate - and, most importantly, simply talking about an issue I had been taught to ‘ignore’ all my life, knowing other people had similar experiences to share.
The issue was pertinent; I had never come across it being addressed before and in this manner. The methods were self reflective, participatory and therapeutic. Most of all it wasn’t NGO-ish and jargonistic. As an eighteen year old in the first year of college who had just begun exploring feminist theory and activism, I felt I was actually doing something.
One intervention after another, and after talking to friends who have been involved with related issues and those who haven’t, I found myself beginning to question certain things that were central to these interventions and central to the direction in which Blank Noise, as a social movement / form of protest seems to be heading.
After listening to countless stories of friends being molested in nightclubs by people they know and being felt up at parties by friends it made me think about how most of us women (and men) automatically demonize the public space, assume that it can only be a site of harassment and proceed to make our private spaces out to be safer and more devoid of harassment than they actually are. Not only are we unequipped to deal with harassment in the private sphere but also more importantly this ignores the presence of desire in the public sphere.
Of course looking hurts. And I have the right to protest against being looked at in a way that violates me and the right to be offended by any kind of looking or staring. But why is it that most of us are usually only harassed when we are stared at by the man from a lower socio-economic strata on Brigade Road and not by the guy on the dance floor in a posh nightclub, or by a woman?
Because you just don’t feel as harassed by the nightclub guy, you may even think he’s cute and that’s how people hook up. Are you not implicitly ruling out the remotest possibility that you may be attracted to the guy on Brigade Road? And that he may be trying to woo you just like the nightclub guy may be trying to chat you up? Especially in a society where the man is almost always expected to make the first move and where no still means yes, where a women who is sexual is seen as desperate, Blank Noise while trying to challenge the notion of a slut may also be restricting the ways in which this can be done by imposing rigid codes of behaviour, rigid codes of what to feel when one is stared at by a man on the road, and also what not to feel.
Why and how are the actions of the man on the street different from those of the man in the nightclub?
I am not trying to say that we shouldn’t feel harassed by non- English speaking lower class strangers on the road. However I am saying that looking at every public space as only sexually threatening and not a gray area where people interact, forge relationships, fall in love, and also have unpleasant experiences, and get harassed, is dangerous because of the assumptions on which it is based. Perhaps worse is the potential for an entire movement to be based on these same assumptions.
Am I also not ruling out that fact that I can be sexually threatened by a woman? That the same stare from a woman may not offend me in the way it would if it was from a man. Again I’m not trying to say that one should feel offended by a woman who stares at you, only that we must wonder why. And acknowledge the shades of gray.
I also want to ask whether this is an inevitable consequence of what Blank Noise is supposed to be doing, or is it because of the assumptions we as participants take for granted and base our actions on?
Is Blank Noise still a form of protest that is responsive and dependant on the social and cultural context or is it just another convenient social issue for us to be involved with, while airbrushing confusion and refusing to challenge notions in our minds before we go out and challenge the street?
Strategy 3 - Formalise a complaint
This piece was published in Tehelka and got me thinking about whether formalising a complaint was a good idea at all.
Vocabulary - Strategy 2. Meeting rudeness with rationale
Vocabulary - Strategy 1. Owning, twisting, throwing it back
Peppered with colleges and libraries and bookstores, this little bit of London has a portion that is frequented by cyclists and students hurrying back and forth from college. So when I was crossing one of the main roads leading into an enclave of colleges including my own, I was startled by a loud, "Excuse me!"
I ignored it at first, but it repeated itself, so loud that it pierced through the neighbourhood quiet: "Excuse ME!"
Directions, I thought. Students often stop to direct tourists to the nearby British Museum or Russell Square tube stop.
A bunch of hooting guys were poking their heads out of their car - "Do you study around here?" asked the one in the passenger seat with a wide grin.
"No, I don't," I shouted back, "I'm a prostitute. Want to follow me?"
"A prostitute??" he said sounding taken aback. The car drove off.
The shout and the rejoinder hung disjointed and awkward around silent Bloomsbury.
I can't remember the last time I have said "prostitute" but it seemed to suit their aggression and a street dynamic I have come to cultivate which requires you to be rude and in your face, not look away or pretend not to notice.
In India people yell things at you and whistle as they pass you by. Here they yell out across streets, addressing questions at you, stopping you in your path with a mock exaggeration. Coyness, disregard, and looking downward don't work so well.
Recently I have begun to reply the buyont, "do you study around here?", the lip licking "hola, hola", the young boys surrounding you to ask directions, the "hello" with actual rejoinders - "I'm sorry, do I know you?" The conversation is always quick to be taken up, but the aggression in the response allows you to be participant in some skewed way in a street dialogue you did not initiate or want.
At Stoke, my friend is brushed against by a boy who could not be older than 12. "Asshole," she yells at him, and everyone at the bus stand turns. "Sorry," he mutters and his friend's smirk quickly shrinks away.
Men sipping coffee on Angel's Upper Street form their fingers into a camera shape and tilt their heads pretending to get the best "shot" of a friend's anatomy as she walks by. The girls that follow her stop to yell at them.
Neighbourhood gangs of boys are screamed at, fingers are shown, gangs of girls tease back loitering boys.
Looking back, talking sharp, packing punch, weaving wit and surprise into street talk... takes some doing especially when you're alone and sometimes embarrassed, but it seems better than being overwhelmed.
Here comes a girl looking like a lemon, hey baalu ……(from the film Prem Loka * kannada)
Akhila Vasan made sure I saw this film. Akhila works for an NGO called the FRHS and has been involved in primarily research studies with young people on gender, sexuality and popular media. Akhila has been part of Blank Noise since 2005/2006
She writes about Prema Loka, a film made in the late 80's:
Prema Loka was a huge hit and inspired many a real life love stories. It was perhaps the first time that an actress was ‘imported’ from the Bombay film industry who wore ‘bold dresses’ with a kind of casual nonchalance.
This was a time when there was a crucial change in mainstream ‘good and chaste’ heroine and ‘club- dancing’ vamp morphed into one in mainstream movies. The female lead now was both the vamp and the ‘good’ woman - she wriggled and writhed on the dance floor on some pretext while being the ideal ‘bahu’ or the wifely material on the other.
Prema Loka became popular for its several nearly explicit kissing scenes. However it is the songs that continue to hold sway over the public even today. With this film, ‘crazy star’ Ravichandran created a niche for himself as someone who made ‘sexy films’.
In this clip the heroine is introduced to the audience for the first time. And it is not surprising that she is reduced to several body parts- hips, lips, breasts….. the lyrics of the song is a description of these various body parts, comparing them to different things- vegetables, fruits - much like the food list here on the blog- a girl like nimbu, lips like tondehannu, breasts like balloon… legs like bale dindu (banana stem)… something that is to be consumed…. And that is what the camera does… titillate and tantalise them with close- up visuals of the woman’s breast, lips, waist and hips.
The men in the song say they are happy to give away things for free to the woman….. because they have already got their money’s worth of ‘free show’.
The song is replete with sexual innuendo…. The first line of the song goes somewhat like this:
Here comes a girl looking like a lemon, hey baalu ……
By ‘Baalu’ one is supposedly referring to one of the men there but the visual shows a man squeezing balloons and in Kannada the English word ‘ball’ is pronounced as ‘baalu’.
We showed this clip to a group of young college –going men and women in a peri- urban town. Girls were outraged that a girl could walk around a local market dressed like that. And they were quick to distance themselves from her and turn her into the ‘other’- she was the typical rich, spoilt girl from a place like Bangalore where such things are ‘common’… she was the kind who likes to attract boys’ attention…. With a bad reputation…. She was also a threat to girls like themselves….
Boys’ response also focussed on the girl and made her responsible for the kind of attention she was attracting in the clip:
‘What do you expect if you wear tundu batte (tattered clothes) like that?’
‘She wants boys to tease her. That is why she is dressed like that?’
Some even unabashedly shared what they felt like:
‘I feel like raping her with my eyes’
IMAGE WORD MEANING REVISION/ THINGS I AM NOT
I am not your apple, chamcham, coconut, butterchicken, makhan ki tikiya, bajji, doodh factory, narangi, mosambi, nimbu.... or whatever else you might want to eat. Blank Noise has created this food chart as an attempt to revise the relationship between- image, word and meaning.
Here's a compilation of words/food names sent in by over 70 women. While this list is out today it proposes to build istelf further with new participation. If you have more food names to add to in based on your experiences , please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, subject titled "excuse me?"
This is also an attempt to define 'street sexual harasment' through each person that has witnessed or experienced it.
We would also like to emphasize on the tone/ the adjective versus the noun - looking versus how one is looking.
The 70 + participants of " excuse me?" have been referred to as the following by random male strangers:
- text edited by Hemangini Gupta.
- The posters are up at Payal Kamat's office in Hyderbad! Email us and tell us if you have put them up in your neighbourhood/ college/ office/ marketplace!
street tales of love and lust
food name , statements, words of love , film songs,
'Eve Teasing' Food Chart. Excerpt 1 from Tales of Street Love and Lust
Aloo- (hindi) potato The potato (Solanum tuberosum) is a perennial plant of the Solanaceae, or nightshade, family, commonly grown for its starchy tuber.
Nutritionally, potatoes are best known for their carbohydrate content (approximately 26 grams in a medium potato). Starch is the predominant form of carbohydrate found in potatoes
Apple-The apple is the pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica in the rose family Rosaceae. It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits. Apples contain Vitamin C as well as a host of other antioxidant compounds, which may reduce the risk of cancer by preventing DNA damage
'bajji'/pakoda-Indian evening snack. Deep fried with gram flour coating. The bajji/ pakoda could contain onions/ potatoes/ pumkin
cham cham- Bengali (east Indian) sweet. Sweet, spongy and soft patties made from milk, flavored with saffron, in a sugar syrup.
butter chicken/ murgh makhani is North Indian dish popular in countries all over the world that have a tradition of Indian restaurants. Butter chicken is usually served with naan, roti, parathas or steamed rice.
Bhindi : ( Hindi) vegetable. also known as ochra or lady's finger.
Chatpati Papri- Indian street food.
Chatpati- (Hindi) adjective for a combination of sweet sour and spicey.
Papri- crispy fried dough wafers made from flour and ghee.
Chaat (Hindi: चाट, Urdu: چاٹ) is a word used across India, Pakistan and the rest of South Asia to refer to small plates of savory snacks, typically served at the side of the road from stalls or carts. Most chaat originated in North India, but they are now eaten across the country.
Papri Chaat the papris are served with potatoes, chilis, yoghurt and tamarind chutney.
Coffee widely consumed beverage prepared from the roasted seeds—commonly called "beans"—of the coffee plant. Coffee was first consumed as early as the 9th century, when it appeared in the highlands of Ethiopia
chicken fry fried chicken. deep fried tender chicken.
chaashni- sugar syrup. prepare chaashni by putting sugar in boiling water and stirring it until a thick consistent solution is attained
Doodh factory : doodh- milk ( hindi) is an opaque white liquid produced by the mammary glands of female mammals (including monotremes)
The exact components of raw milk varies by species, but it contains significant amounts of saturated fat, protein and calcium as well as vitamin C. Unfortunately the vitamin C is destroyed by the heat in pasteurization process
Egg: oval shaped with white shell. source- chicken. Contains yellow yolk and transparent fluid.
hari mirchi green chilli ( hindi)
hot vegetable used in India, Thai, Indonesian,Mexican cooking.Available fresh, dried, powdered, flaked, in oil, in sauce, bottled and pickled. It gives spiciness to all the vegetables.
Rich source of vitamin C. Also used to ward off evil spirit.
Jalebi -sweet commonly sold in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. made from deep-fried, syrup-soaked batter and shaped into a large, spiral shape. Jalebis are mostly bright orange in colour but are also available in white. It can be served dripping warm.
Juice drink made from fruits. rich in vitamins. popular indian juice- orange, pomegranate, pineapple, apple, lemon, watermelon, carrot
Kaai- vegetable (tamil)
Lassun (hindi) garlic :is a species in the onion family Alliaceae. Garlic, like onion, contains compounds that inhibit lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase,
kela (hindi) banana :cultivated throughout the Tropics. Bananas are a valuable source of Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and potassium.
Lollypop is a candy pop/ suckers.
hard sweet sugar candies with a stick. type: Dum Dum , Tootsie Pop, Blow Pop21.
makhan ki tikiya: butter - the fatty portion of milk, separating as a soft whitish or
yellowish solid when milk or cream is agitated or churned.
tikiya (Hindi) - Roughly translated as 'cutlet': 1706, from Fr.
côtelette, from O.Fr. costelette "little rib," from coste "rib, side,"
from L. costa (see coast), infl. by Eng. cut.
Malai ("cream"): Rich portion of milk which rises to the
surface when the liquid is allowed to stand unless homogenised.
Maavinkai (Mango in Kannada): The fruit of a tropical tree,
Mangifera indica, of the cashew family, eaten ripe, or preserved or
'Mirchi' - ("spice"): Any of a class of pungent or aromatic
substances of vegetable origin, as pepper, cinnamon, or cloves, used
as seasoning, preservatives, etc.
Mishti Doi:Mishti ("sweet" in Bengali) - Producing the one of the four basic
taste sensations that is not bitter, sour, or salt.
Doi ("yoghurt" in Bengali) - A prepared food having the consistency of
custard, made from milk curdled by the action of cultures.
Masala Dosa: South Indian crepe lightly cooked with a filling
of potatoes, fried onions and spices.
Mosambi: Lemon tree having fruit with a somewhat insipid sweetish pulp.
Mother dairy: Mother Dairy - Delhi was set up in 1974 under the
Operation Flood Programme. It is now a subsidiary company of National
Dairy Development Board (NDDB).
Narial ("Coconut") - The edible white flesh of the coconut,
often shredded and used in food and confections or for the extraction
of coconut oil.
Narangi/ oranges: Any white-flowered, evergreen citrus trees of
the genus Citrus, bearing this fruit, as C. aurantium (bitter orange,
Seville orange, or sour orange) and C. sinensis (sweet orange),
cultivated in warm countries.
NIMBE KAAYI (means nimbu/lemon) nimbe hanu (lemon): The
yellowish, acid fruit of a subtropical citrus tree, Citrus limon.
Onions/ pyaaz: A plant, Allium cepa, of the amaryllis family.
Pacha Manga: (Malyalam) raw mango. Also known as kairi. sour tasting summer fruit. Can be eaten in salad, or with salt and pepper. Also used to make pickle/ achar.
Pushnikaa (pumpkin), kaddu: 1647, alteration of pumpion "melon,
pumpkin" (1545), from M.Fr. pompon, from L. peponem (nom. pepo)
"melon," from Gk. pepon "melon," probably originally "cooked by the
sun, ripe," from peptein "to cook." Pumpkin-pie is recorded from 1654.
Pumpkin-head, Amer.Eng. colloquial for "person with hair cut short all
around" is recorded from 1781.
Pakaa Bel : Egg-shaped tropical fruit of certain passionflower
vines; used for sherbets and confectionery and drinks.
Panjamittaai (Cotton Candy): Czech: cukrová vata, Danish:
sukkervat, Dutch: gesponnen suiker, Estonian: suhkruvatt, Finnish:
hattara, French: barbe à papa, German: die Zuckerwatte, Greek: μαλλί
Rasberry: Any of various shrubby, usually prickly plants of the
genus Rubus in the rose family, such as R. idaeus var. strigosus of
eastern North America and R. idaeus of Europe, that bear edible fruit.
Rass malai: Rasmalai originated somewhere in the coastal parts of
the Indian state of Orissa. Sometimes shown as Rassmalai or Ras Malai.
Rasgulla: A dessert from Orissa and Bengal consisting of balls of
unripened cheese or cottage cheese (chenna) soaked in a syrup.
Samosa: popular South Asian snack. Triangular shape. Deep fried. Crispy dough crust with potato stuffing.
Son papri : Indian sweet prepared with gram flour. popularly sold at KC Das
takkaali, tomato, tamatar : The tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is a plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Red pulpy fruit with seeds. Rich in vitamin C and A
Teekhi chaat: spicey chaat
chaat- indian street food
teekhi- spicey ( hindi)
Topa kool : (bengali) plum. used to make chutney/ sauce.
Tadka : Indian cooking. consists of onions, spices, curry leaves, green chili, tomatoes. The sauted ingredients are added to any Indian cooking.
Watermelons: green and red citrus food. produced in Japan in cube size , rest of world in a spherical shape. Excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A, with one serving containing 14.59 mg of vitamin C and 556.32 IU of vitamin A. Watermelon also provides significant amounts of vitamin B6 and vitamin B1
Source: bloggers/ emails in response to "excuse me". Blank Noise event.
Tales of Love and Lust
Tales of Street Love and Lust were compiled after bloggers/ blank noise members/ supporters/ blank noise agents emailed us lists of words that they had heard on the street.
We have several lists now divided in the following categories-
1.Food- to be called or referred to as food/ fruit/ vegetable etc
2. statements/ comments
3. objects- body parts literally referred to as objects
4. names for miss bijli (lightening)
5. songs- about being courted on the street by random men singing verses from popular film songs being
6. other/ sounds/ behaviour/ gestures
On the 20th-21st we will publish the list of food names.
WILL BE RIGHT BACK!
The responses for ' excuse me' are being delayed by 2 days.
Please bear with us and don't forget to keep checking!!
Yes you can still send the words, if you've missed out/ or thought of something new. email@example.com
Thankyou for participating, every word you sent in - matters :)
Blank Noise Team
(GARLIC)? MALAI( CREAM)?
What did you just hear? What made you say " what?!! me??"
Send us your list of ridiculous,strange, bizzare, disgusting, funny, humiliating words that have been used towards you/ your body when you were out on the streets
Male members/ supporters can also participate*
email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, subject titled, "excuse me?"
Your email responses will be listed on the blog with photographic illustrations of the responses. Email us no later than Aug 14th. Let's build the 'eve teasing' vocab!On the 17th of August we will put all the words out on the blog!( date has been shifted from Aug 15th to 17th). Apologies.
- Surbhi Goel,
- Sneha Bhat
- Payal Kamat
- Jyotsna Mandana
- Naeem Mohaiemen
- Soumya C Shekhar
- Ratna Apnender
- Shikha Sethi
- Chaitra Yadavar
- Nayantrana Abreo
- Vinita Bharadwaj
- Nabila Zaidi
- Annie Zaidi
- Neelam Jain
- Raheema Begum
- Paige Trabulsi
- Reema Banerjee
- Sneha Singh
- Chitra Badrinarayan
- Meghana Chythanya
- Ruchika Bahl
- Anusha Hari
- Ratna, Shravanthi
- Hemangini Gupta
- Sindhu Menon
- Jasmeen Patheja,....
- Neeti Jain
- Beatrice Jauregui
- Tanisha Soni
- Simon Bhuiyan+ children between the age of 12-16 years
- Romal Singh as BLANK NOISE AGENT- he asked his friends
- Sharad Kapoor as BLANK NOISE AGENT- he asked his friends
- Vidya Raja
- Amrutha Bhushan
- V Taneja
- Kamal Makkar Patheja
- Puja Gupta
- Sana Rizvi
- Ria Kartha
- Seema Seth
- Sunayna Roy
- Parul Sharma
- Bhoomika Joshi
- Pooja Sahai
- Nikhil Narayanan
- Anees Mekhri
- Dipanjali Rao
- Tashi yangzom bhutia
- Snigdha Mishra
- Tharunya Balan
- Nirmala Ravindran
- Bandna Kaur
- Suparna Kudesia
- Narada G
- Sunayana Roy
- Shriya Bhagwat
- Nandini Das
- Priyanka Rimi Nandy
- Esha U
- Bhavita Vaishnava
- Yashaswini Viswanathan
- Tanya X
- Asavari Gill
- Priyanka Verma
- Suman S
- Shravya Raghunand
- Vanita Falcao
WAR ZONE- film by Hadleigh-West
Silence- short film by Nupur Mathur
Nupur Mathur participated in Blank Noise in 2003, when the project had just started. She along with eight other students of Srishti School of Art Design and Technology were participants of workshops I facilitated over 3 months. At that time I was graduating and Nupur was in her first year.
Nupur writes about her film:
Silence is my first fiction film. The script for Silence was developed from an incident that happened to me a few years back. I was returning home from a tiring day at college. Frustrated, I just wanted to get home, on the way however, a little beggar child kept tugging at my clothes and interrupting my walk home. Eventually I turned around and harshly brushed her away saying leave me alone, I’m not going to give you anything. It turned out that the little girl wanted no money, rather wanted to give me a flower. I’m not sure why she wanted to give me this small white flower she had in her hand, but I was so overwhelmed by my stupidity and arrogance that I walked away rather than embracing the humble gesture.
After this incident I started to think about feminism and growing up. Of how the gaze of a man shifts as you grow up. The little girl I once was, was carefree, a tom boy who would hang out with the boys, ride cycles, cut my hair short, talk to strangers etc. I still however, looked at my older cousin sisters and wanted to wear sari’s and dress up and look beautiful. The day did come when it started to change. Puberty kicked in and I changed and continue to do so.
The original idea of Silence, which probably would have been called something else, was to explore these lost freedoms because of growing up, because of the way the world is. The little girl was me as a child and the older girl is me now. The little girl however, aspires to be one day, what the young woman is. The young woman however is subjected to the world outside, the male gaze and attention she’d rather not have, at least in the situation I put the young woman in.
I chose to not have the protagonist react to the incident in the bus because I think that mostly that is what happens. When faced with harassment in a public space, especially if you are alien to the people around you and different from them, you end up feeling helpless. It is a feeling where one does not know what to say or do. It is only through an afterthought; after the shock gives way to rage that one finds strength. I feel like men have a certain power over women in our society, this ‘silent arrangement,’ that has come into being is what women have to question.
And I will counter him, trying my best to avoid slipping into the nebulous and often weakening terrain of argument that rests on “personal experience”, by keeping this argument within the realm he has defined – one of rights. Are we denying someone a basic right when we say we “object” to being looked at in a way that is unwanted, sexually aggressive, invasive? Who decides when someone's look has changed from “Eesh, what terrible clothes” to one that is unsolicited and sexual?
In a sense the parameters of this debate seem to have already been defined by Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code that Annie has just written about. It mentions criminal liability for “words, gestures, sounds and exhibition of objects” and through that list has acceded that physical contact is not the only invasion that can be punished. It leaves out looking – why? Because this is too nebulous, too open to conflicting interpretation to be codified by law?
Blank Noise has always maintained however that a look which is invasive (you could call it a “leer”, I suppose), persistent in the face of expressed disapproval from its recipient and unwanted is equatable to harassment. “But if a girl is pretty of course I will stare at her,” says Alpha Male. And Alpha Female would agree that she would stare at a hot guy too. But initial interest is invariably tempered by the response to it. In seconds you will know if you are making someone uncomfortable. When you persist with your looking beyond that initial stage, you are being invasive. This is not a naive, innocent act anymore, it is not someone “looking” around at their environment or “glancing” at a pretty girl. It is a knowing incursion into someone's private space that is making them uncomfortable. The breaching of the line where the “right” to look infringes upon the other's right to “be” - stand, walk, wait for a bus without being hassled – is one that the perpetrator of the look is always keenly aware of. We assume this when we talk about "looking". This looking despite knowing it is unsolicited and making someone uncomfortable is what we are addressing.
Take a crowded narrow road like Bangalore's Brigade Road, for instance. Men drape themselves on the railings, looking at women passing by. Of course they are not always just looking. They reach out as well, to poke, pinch, grab. In the rush and the melee of all the concentrated shopping that unfolds on that street, women often just look downward, avert the male gaze and hurry past. But sometimes, when you're out shopping, you want to just wander down a road. You want to take your time, looking at stores, making eye contact with people walking the same street that you are. You don't want to have to seem like you're apologising for your presence on a public street. And yet when you're met by people “looking” at you (“checking you out”, “leering”, “sussing you”), you shrink into the barest minimal space and hurry on.
Blank Noise began holding interventions along the long stretch of road which was so far dominated by men. Power equations defined by the dominant male presence were challenged and then flipped as women from Blank Noise occupied the railings along the road, looking back at men who looked at them. Men were eased off the railings as women took over them. Often on these interventions there would be as many as 40 women along the railings on that road: a space which was usually occupied by women hurrying down it, looking downward now had women lounging around, enjoying what is, essentially, a public space for everyone to lounge around in.
So when men suggest that looks are easily misunderstood, I wonder if this is something that only men could believe. Blank Noise isn't talking about meeting someone's eye when you walk along a street. We're not talking about thinking “oh, that girl's cute!” at a bus stand and then walking on. We're talking about persistent, annoying, invasive looking which is completely unmindful of the response of the person you're subjecting to your insensitivity and “desire”.
We're talking about this.
Like that man on the train who reached out repeatedly to make my journey hell and then, pleading forgiveness, told me “he could not help it”.
"Looking" is not always a neutral, innocent act.