given us the permission to publish it so that anyone who visits the blog can respond to it.
His email is below:
Hi Blank Noise,
I have read about your project recently and have had a look at your website. I must com
mend your group for the extremely high levels of enthusiasm and dedication you bring, in spreading aw
areness about sexual harassment of women and "eve-teasing". Keep it up!
However, being a member of the much maligned (with due cause
, of course) male gender of India, I have a lot of queries and scattered doubts regarding what you term as "eve-teasing" and sexual har
assment. I hope you would take your time to go through the questions and satisfy my doubts!
Before I shoot, let me lay down my ground beliefs:
1. I feel any kind of inappropriate PHYSICAL contact definitely is a very serious and despicable form of eve-teasing and sexual harassment.
2. I also agree that inappropriate VERBAL gestures also make up a large fraction of what you term as sexual harassment.
3. Blatantly lecherous staring (such as ogling at breasts openly) and "self-containted" but openly sexual acts (masturbation) too can be categorized as sexual harassment.
My main conclusion is that the key behind every act of sexual harassment/eve-teasing is that the victim feels violated, uncomfortable, insulted and humiliated.
However, I am a bit puzzled as to why LOOKING or occasional STARING falls in the category of eve-teasing. [Q1] How uncomfortable can a girl/woman feel because of a fleeting glance/look which is not "lecherous/sexual" ?
I understand that women have powerful instincts using which they can immediately classify the intent behind someone's look.. (undressing in the mind stuff)
But, a look/stare could be blank / angry/ absent-minded/ innocent with good intent/ admiring/ lecherous. [Q2] How can a girl/woman figure it out so quickly and classify it as harassment?
If I see a beautiful woman, then instinctively my eyes veer over her for a few seconds. This reaction, I feel, is quite biological and hard-ingrained into us males, and I think I am admiring the beauty of the lady in a nice way; I am not thinking of having sex with her right on the spot. (and even if there is some sexual intent, it's there for a fleeting second.) [Q3] What's wrong with that? Don't women feel good about themselves if they get a few admiring glances from the opposite sex?
It has happened sometimes that I have caught girls/women looking at me and women have caught me looking at them. This kind of fleeting eye-contact situation keeps happening from time to time. [Q4] Can staring into a woman's eyes be constituted as sexual harassment? It has also happened that I have smiled at a woman (stranger) post eye-contact; and vice versa. [Q5] Is staring and smiling at a woman sexual harassment?
[Q6] Isn't all this eve-teasing or sexual harassment if the woman is uncomfortable? [Q7] You surely cannot call it eve-teasing if the lady is ACTUALLY ENJOYING it, can you :-) ?
Next, some men have a belief that women don't mind being admired/teased by someone THEY admire or like; someone who is polished, erudite, refined, clean, sophisticated, educated. They get disgusted mainly because of the level/class of the man involved ( poor, dirty, pot-bellied, uncouth, illiterate, rude, smelly) rather thant the action. (Class bias). [Q8] Is this a misconception or is this somewhat true?
Finally, some people say that if you are to strictly avoid ALL of what constitues sexual harassment, then men would have to go against biology, and would have to:
1. Have some magical powers to get rid of sexual desire completely.
2. Be homosexual.
3. Be blind or extremely absent minded and have tunnel vision so as to look through women/girls as if they did not exist.
4. Avoid women like the plague and stay at a safe distance of more that 10 metres away from a woman/girl.
Surely, this is way too extreme, to be taken as a joke :-). But seriously, you have talked a lot about the NEGATIVEs of behaviour and what constitutes sexual harassment. What about some positive advice to all the men out there? How should men conduct themselves in public and in and around women to be liked and not be hated/feared as a lecher/jerk? Some "top 10 tips to be a nice yet classy man around women" would be welcome.
I hope you can spend some time and resolve some of my doubts.You may throw these questions open to debate to all the women/men in your group and associated with your group.
Best wishes to your team for 2011 and the future.
Thanks very much for this email. We promise to answer all the questions and responds to the ideas mentioned. Am sure your questions resonate with many more people who visit us hence would it be okay with you if we shared your email on the blog? We could give you a pseudonym if you prefer?
Please let us know if you're okay with this. If yes, could you also share details such as age and a little bit about you.
Look forward to hearing from you
Blank Noise Team
Locutus83 has introduced himself as "I am 27+ years old. I have a Bachelor's Degree and Master's in Electrical Engineering and am currently working in a semiconductor Chip Design company in Bangalore. I am a science fiction freak and a cricket fanatic, and I love cycling and table tennis. Even though I don't consider myself a "feminist" in the true sense, I love to read a lot about women, relationships, problems faced by women, issues about love, sexuality, marriage, family and society; and the clashes with the puritanical, patriarchal Indian society. I consider myself a bit "westernized" in the sense that I believe in individualism, independence and sexual freedom; and don't hold the Indian social "culture, morals and values" in very high regard :-)
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e v e - t e a s i n g ?
Blank - that which is not allowed meaning, form or articulation. Noise - that which heightens, builds itself.
'Eve Teasing' in India is considered a joke or prank. Blank Noise is a public and participatory arts project that seeks to explore street dynamics and recognize 'eve teasing' as street sexual harassment or violence.
Blank Noise is a public and participatory arts project begun in August 2003 with a small group of 9 participants. Conceived as a personal reaction to street sexual harassment, the project has grown through workshops and local volunteers to a five-city, hundred-plus volunteer project that seeks to address street sexual violence through dialogue made possible as a result of sustained public interventions.