16.1.11

GOT MAIL


Hello Blank Noise members/ readers/ supporters / spirited BN
Guys and Action Heroes,
We got an email from * locutus83 * and he has
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.
Warm regards,
Locutus83

*

Hello
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
Thanks!
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 :-)

20 comments:

  1. I don't know where to begin. I don't have two hours.

    I'll answer this one though, the point of most 'eve-teasing' IS to make women uncomfortable, most of it is about power to make another human being squirm, women and women's bodies have been objectified enough to make them all seem subhuman and devoid of feeling (have a guy stick his finger up your arse and you know he doesn't give a crap how much it hurts, he just wants to hear you squeal--- fun, fun). It's barely about sexual urges, interaction or attraction.

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  2. Eve teasing is a form of expressing 'woman you don't belong here'.and what better way to do it than make you feel uncomfortable sexually.

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  3. a long time action hero12:19 am

    in response:

    >However, I am a bit puzzled as to why LOOKING or occasional STARING falls in the category of eve-teasing. [Q1] How uncomformtable 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)

    answer 1> are you trying to say that there aren't 'ways of looking'?
    Heard this before and Blank Noise is not suggesting, implying or working towards a 'watch your eyes or we'll pull 'em out' campaign. It is not against looking or glancing but urges people to focus on the tone. HOW ARE YOU LOOKING besides ofcourse, where are you looking? It doesn't have to only take someone to stare at you to feel offended or uncomfortable, it could be in just the way someone looks at you that could violate. It could happen in the fraction of a second. Ofcourse it is intangible.

    How many women here have experienced eyes filled with lust, rage, love. Eyes have expressions and tones just the way words do. Sadly we're trained to think in words, and express an argument in words, but you know there's something about the way of looking that can assert power, can outrage and has the ability to insult and humiliate.

    >q 1 part 1
    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?


    answer 1 part 2> A woman can know in less than a fraction of a section what the intention of the look is. Once again, it's not about 'not looking', it's about how are you looking. The eyes say everything. Sometimes it's obvious; too many of us have had random men, shopkeepers, uncles etc making conversations with our breasts and not our face. I think there should be a writing event that just focusses on memories of being looked at in a way that both offended , humiliated and flattered.

    Ofcourse people look. Both men and women look and check each other out. We're not suggesting you walk with blinkers or look down and walk, but instead reflect on how you look. You know the experience of walking past a gang of guys who are 'checking you out' and about to rate your body on a 10? You know the experience of flirting(mutual) with just the eyes? Have you ever been in a staring contest with a stranger? Have you ever looked away when someone saw you looking at them? or vice versa? What do you say with your eyes? dont think just feel.

    Eyes carry power. When I walk on the street looking back at strangers in the eye, they know I know them, I have seen them. Sometimes this is followed with a smile or a scowl depending on how I am feeling that day. It took me a lot of training to be able to raise my eyes to another strangers eyes. I asserted power in this process.

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  4. action hero speaking12:33 am

    How uncomfortable can a girl/woman feel because of a fleeting glance/look which is not "lecherous/sexual" ?

    a lecherous and sexual glance isn't always offensive , if the woman expresses interest. both male and female strangers could be attracted to each other in which case the look or the glance can be as lustful or loveful whatever. if it's mutual it wont make the girl feel uncomfortable. stop seeing things in black and white. read the grays.

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  5. one girl12:51 am

    if a woman is enjoying it , it is MUTUAL and NOT street sexual harassment.
    there could be cases where the intention of the person initiating flirting , (let's say the man in a hypothetical case) may 'over do it' by being persistent. he might be the kind of guy who thinks that the more she says NO she means yes (classic hindi movie statement- ladki ki naa mein haan hain) There could be cases in which is way of flirting or desiring someone, or wanting to genuinely get to know a female stranger could be all wrong. eg stalking someone but meaning to get to know her. or stalking someone to ask her out for coffee. there are no rules. stop thinking start feeling.

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  6. My comment exceeded your permitted word limit..
    so please follow this ling to view it..

    http://80abhishek.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/in-response-to-blank_noise-weve-got-mail-httpblog-blanknoise-org201101got-mail-html/

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  7. http://wp.me/p1fArY-1i

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  8. your aha moment10:40 am

    dear locotus , if it is attention from someone a woman finds attractive, and the attention is delivered in a form that is honest and in synch with her sensibilities then there are less chances of it being categorized as 'eve-teasing'. it is mutual. it is a case of strangers being attracted to each other.

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  9. Akhila1:16 pm

    Hi...

    I really appreciate that you are inviting comments on what you think, particularly that you want a list of do's and don'ts for men!!

    However some issues that i found problematic and i am raising more questions and i urge you to think about it:

    "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?"

    1. My question to you is: Who am i or you to decide who a woman finds attractive? A woman may find men who are poor, dirty, uncouth, illiterate, rude pot-bellied...... attractive... Isn't our notions of who the women find attractive itself stereotypical?

    2. Also it is not about 'who' but 'how'...

    If an 'attractive' (whatever that means), educated, polished, erudite, refined, clean, sophisticated man is violent and insensitive in his interactions with a woman... will she put up with it because he happens to be atractive, edudite, polished etc etc? Think about it..... :-)

    ok... u bring up the most important issue of biology... and there are some conceptual minefields:

    Is male biology= violence/ insensitivity

    Do you think it is 'natural' for men to be violent, insensitive? Or have we as a society brought up our male children to be that? If you go by biology then you are tainting all of male kind with being violent and insensiive....


    Male sexual desire= violence/ insensitivity

    Is male sexual desire intrinsically violent, unmanageable that to have respectful, mutual fulfilling sexual relations with another is impossible? So is 'avoiding women like plague' the only way out? Then what wil happen to all the pent up male sexual energies? Will it explode, cause havoc, devastation?


    Homosexual= not natural

    Do men 'resort' to being homosexual because they do not have access to women?

    Do you think men who are sexually violent with women will not be so with a man? Isn't violence about the abuse of power?

    I rest my case....

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  10. Dear Locutus83:

    I highly appreciate a very interesting perspective into the issue.

    I consider myself a "westernized" Indian women as well. I personally don't believe there is anything wrong in men approaching women/ liking them or even admiring the beauty. You are right on the dot its against our biology to not appreciate any form of beauty.

    However eve-teasing/sexual harrasment / assault has got nothing to do with admiring beauty, its about over-powering those who are powerless. Making them feel sick of themselves. I agree with other posts here, a girl/woman (especially an Indian girl who grows up in the streets of India) can tell in less than a few seconds what a glance is all about.

    Whether a man is educated or good looking or otherwise, a man should know how to be respectful. While some girls/women growing up in a conservative society may find a man approaching her to be hard/unacceptable, most modern Indian girls/women will understand.

    As Akhila pointed out, we as a society have allowed the male species to be violent/insensitive for a long time. All the movies that potrays the heroes doing all obnoxious things to the girls have turned the men educated/not into perverted heroes. For a while, we had no definition of how a respectful male will behave. We as a society have made it perfectly ok to assault girls/women over and over again, even in public and just make it look like a normal way of life.

    As our society is evolving and the teams like blanknoise emerge, we have to redefine what is likeable/respectful. We should start teaching young boys and men the right way of approaching women. And for starters ban all those 80s and 90s movies that showcase women as sense objects. I hear you - now am not sounding that westernized..

    A girl/women will always like a guy who is there for them. A well-groomed male will look at a girl with respect, as a fellow human, knowledgeable,sensible, and respectful individual. That respect is all any girl/woman would ever want.

    Let me know of a girl who doesn't like such a well-groomed male! He will not stare / talk to the breasts.. He would look into the eyes of individual and talk with confidence and maturity!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Dear Locutus83:

    I highly appreciate a very interesting perspective into the issue.

    I consider myself a "westernized" Indian women as well. I personally don't believe there is anything wrong in men approaching women/ liking them or even admiring the beauty. You are right on the dot its against our biology to not appreciate any form of beauty.

    However eve-teasing/sexual harrasment / assault has got nothing to do with admiring beauty, its about over-powering those who are powerless. Making them feel sick of themselves. I agree with other posts here, a girl/woman (especially an Indian girl who grows up in the streets of India) can tell in less than a few seconds what a glance is all about.

    Whether a man is educated or good looking or otherwise, a man should know how to be respectful. While some girls/women growing up in a conservative society may find a man approaching her to be hard/unacceptable, most modern Indian girls/women will understand.

    As Akhila pointed out, we as a society have allowed the male species to be violent/insensitive for a long time. All the movies that potrays the heroes doing all obnoxious things to the girls have turned the men educated/not into perverted heroes. For a while, we had no definition of how a respectful male will behave. We as a society have made it perfectly ok to assault girls/women over and over again, even in public and just make it look like a normal way of life.

    As our society is evolving and the teams like blanknoise emerge, we have to redefine what is likeable/respectful. We should start teaching young boys and men the right way of approaching women. And for starters ban all those 80s and 90s movies that showcase women as sense objects. I hear you - now am not sounding that westernized..

    A girl/women will always like a guy who is there for them. A well-groomed male will look at a girl with respect, as a fellow human, knowledgeable,sensible, and respectful individual. That respect is all any girl/woman would ever want.

    Let me know of a girl who doesn't like such a well-groomed male! He will not stare / talk to the breasts.. He would look into the eyes of individual and talk with confidence and maturity!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great article and comments.

    Kunal Singla

    ReplyDelete
  13. great article and comments



    kunal singla

    ReplyDelete
  14. Dear Locusts83
    Thankyou for starting your post with an unambiguous declaration of your position of privilege in a space that is clearly meant for those who find they got the short end
    of the stick. How kind you are in setting yourself apart form us lesser beings, whose "problems" you very graciously deing to consider!
    For context, I am a 19 year old woman, an undergraduate student in English Literature. I call myself a feminist in what I consider a "true" sense of the word. I am
    passionate about sexuality and gender studies, work as a facilitator for sexuality education and rights advocacy for young people, read extensively, and hate assholes.
    http://web.archive.org/web/20070716111952/http://pandagon.net/2007/04/13/how-to-not-be-an-asshole-a-guide-for-men/
    (By the way, since i'm at it, it is your sex that is "male"; your gender is 'masculine,' or so i assume.)
    Here's some of my ideas on what some call "eve teasing" and i call sexual harrassment.

    ReplyDelete
  15. ~ Your kind of "Occasional staring" constitutes the violation of my dignity, because you assume i am an object for you to ogle at and judge, which - even if you don't
    acknowledge it - I am not. I am a sexual agent, not an object. You do not have the right to look at me in a way that objectifies me, because you violate one of my most
    fundamental rights then: my right to dignity. "Looking" is an act of power, as some have mentioned here. Being looked at is rarely so. Since you are so interested in
    women, do some preliminary reading on the male gaze, and Foucauld's theories on discourse and power/knowledge.
    ~ Your idea of a woman's "discomfort" is based upon the patriarchal idea of 'honour,' where a woman being "eve- teased" means she is unduly sexually attractive and
    calling attention to herself because of that (as if this act of violence is some kind of underhand compliment), which a chaste woman never deserves. Sexual harrassment
    does not cheapen me by somehow misconstruing me as at all sexual or by dirtying my purity, but attempts to do so by denying me agency and subjectivity. It does not
    embarass me; it enrages me.
    ~Thankyou, again, for attributing to women some kind of mystical (as in non- cognitive) sensitivity at all times to the threat of being sexually harrassed. Some might
    call it a coping strategy.
    ~ A girl/ woman can "figure it out so quickly" because she lives in a society that very actively eroticises, excuses and encourages her sexual objectification, even
    ensures it. Since she cares about her dignity, she is sensitive to such objectification (at least at the personal level). You might call your looking "absent-
    minded/ innocent/ admiring," but you do not exist outside of social and historical context, and you cannot be excused for being ignorant. Women suffer a violent - and
    not just the bloody, bone- breaking variety - devious and institutionalised patriarchy from which you, as cis het male, benefit at their expense. A respectful human
    being would be aware of this and attempt to not indulge in behaviour that reinforces women's, or any other community's, marginalisation and victimisation. You do not
    deserve any brownie points for respecting women, it does not entitle you to women's enraptured attention. You are merely not being an evil guy in doing that. But this
    one here constitutes THE top tip for a man interested in women: respect, always.

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  16. ~ I am never surprised at the science angle in a misogynist argument. Here's some food for thought: http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2010/12/09/evpsych-mag/
    Just a reminder of the respect bit: you are not entitled to ogle a woman, "beautiful" or not, by virtue of being a man. Whatever excuse you have to denigrate me does
    not hold before my essential human rights.
    ~ No, your ogling does not make me feel grateful. I most definitely never enjoy it. I like to be regarded as a full person and not a body merely. When you smile at me
    or meet my gaze, I know that you respect my personhood, maybe you admire me, that you see me as a fully functioning human and not a barbie doll that you can do whatever
    with. Ogling does not feel like admiring to me; it feels like dehumanising.
    ~ Since you are obviously "someone who is polished, erudite, refined, clean, sophisticated, educated," you are free to "tease" (or harrass) women as you may like, and
    women will just love it, since, of course, its you! I mean, how could we not love violence when it comes from you!
    You, however, conveniently overlook that it is not lower- class men that women avoid, but macho cliques, where sexual harrassment is most condoned. Here's some more
    homework for you: http://www.timeoutmumbai.net/client_coverstory/client_coverstory_details.asp?code=1040
    ~ Let me assure you that if you respect women you will not be starved of our enchanting company. Cheers!

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  17. response from schizophrenic
    http://anandphilip.com/accidental-eveteasing-and-other-mythical-beasts/

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  18. locutus8311:54 pm

    Thank you for the effort, time and thought all of you took out for composing your responses. This is much appreciated.

    Very interesting responses. Some witty, some (highly) sarcastic :-), some understanding, some pontificating; but I really enjoyed reading all the comments!

    The gist of what I take back from the comments is:
    1. Treat women with RESPECT; and you will get respect. (Most Important rule)
    2. Do not "look" at women purely as sex objects for self-pleasure.
    3. Flirting is okay, again, as long as you are admiring her entire personality and the object of your attention is also enjoying it.
    4. Eve-teasing is a power trip for men which makes women feel weak, helpless and disgusted; and no sensible and well meaning man would indulge in it.
    5. Think and analyze less, follow Point #1 and use your instincts :-)

    I have got to know what I wanted to. Also re-inforced some points I already had in mind; but was still curious and wanted to know others' points of view. Thank you all once again for clearing my doubts.

    Regards,
    Locutus83

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  19. i want to be an action hero1:35 am

    hey locutus 83. there are no do's and dont's
    when you respect and respect because thats in your system , not in political correctness you won't go wrong, you wont have to worry about anything. for now do keep the questions and the ifs and the buts of this discussion going. spend time talking with your guy friends about it too
    there really are no rules. everyone has different levels of comfort. just be in synch with another persons comfort level. that's all.

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  20. http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/09/02/women-and-street-harassment/

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