amongst fathers husbands brothers and uncle-jis

Ever chatted with dad + uncles + grandfather + brothers + husbands + boyfriend about and street sexual harassment? O
r is it just one of those things you 'understood' without having to discuss?
Or would you take a chance and get talking about it with your father or uncles or grandfather or your brother in the next one month?

Send your response/ thoughts/ memories/ conversations in an email or a blog post to blurtblanknoise at gmail com subject titled 'papa said'/ 'abba said'/ 'dad said'/ or brother/ uncle/ grandfather said deadline: feb 21 To confirm your participation in this event do email us immediately and announce this event on your blog/ twitter / fb page to spread the word.

For any questions thoughts suggestions please write to us.

Tweet this:
ever chatted with dad uncles bros abt ?http://bit.ly/efXJ6I


Beyond the Digital-The Digital Tipping Point

First posted here

Is Web 2.0 really the only reason why youth digital activism is so successful in mobilizing public engagement? A look into the transformation of Blank Noise’s blog from a one-way communication medium into a site of public dialogue and collaboration reveals the crucial factors behind the success.

News Image

What images popped in your head when you hear the term ‘digital activism’? Those that popped in mine are of campaigns that originated in the Internet, perhaps with a blog, a Youtube video, or a Facebook group, mobilizing people to take part in a certain action to advocate for a cause or to respond to a specific event. Whether the request is to sign a petition for a new legislation or to wear a specific colour on a specific day, the campaigns also ask people to spread the message, usually responded by re-tweets, status updates, and link-shares that appear on my timeline. These campaigns, like the famous Wear Red for Burma or the Pink Chaddi, are usually responses to certain events and dwindle after the events have passed.

With its four blogs, two Facebook groups, a YouTube channel, and a Twitter account, at first glance Blank Noise certainly resembles the images in my head. However, they popped one by one as I got to know Blank Noise better. For one, as I have shared before, Blank Noise was not a response to a specific event but rather the long term, ongoing, structural problem of street sexual harassment. For another, street interventions started as the main core of Blank Noise and have remained a crucial element despite its prolific online presence. Blank Noise did not start in the Internet nor did it immediately turn to Web 2.0 for its mobilization.

The main blog was created soon after Blank Noise started in 2003 to serve as an archive, information center, and space to announce future street events. The diverse online campaigns, lively discussions in the comment section of blog posts, and abundant blog post contributions by people who have experienced, witnessed, or committed street sexual harassment started after two unexpected events that I call ‘the digital tipping point’.

The first was when Jasmeen Patheja, the founder of Blank Noise, started uploading pictures of her harasser, taken with her mobile phone, to the blog in March 2005. The first picture was of a man who had stalked and pestered her for coffee despite her rejection to his unwelcomed advances. While some readers applauded her action, many challenged the post. How is the action different from “Can I buy you a drink?” Can it trigger the change wanted, especially since the guy might not even have access to the Internet? Is the action of publicly labeling the man as a perpetrator of street sexual harassment ethical, especially since the man has not been proven guilty?

These challenges then spiraled into a long discussion (72 comments!) about the grey areas of street sexual harassment and the ethics around confronting perpetrators. Although Blank Noise still continue to upload snapshots of harassers (this intervention is called ‘Unwanted’), their pictures have since then been blurred until the face is unrecognizable, including the one in the original post. This event was when Jasmeen realized that the blog also has the potential of being a space for discussions, opinions, and debates – the public conversation that Blank Noise aims for.

The second tipping point was when one of Blank Noise volunteers proposed an idea of a blogathon to commemorate the International Women’s Day in 2006. Blogging had become a major trend in India around 2004 and the blogathon basically asked bloggers around India to write about their experience with street sexual harassment in their private blogs and link the post to the Blank Noise blog. The bloggers invited were both women and men, people who have either experienced, witnessed, or committed street sexual harassment. The blogathon was an immense success, perhaps due to the frustration on the silence and downplay of street sexual harassment into eve teasing. Suddenly, eve teasing became a booming topic on the web and Blank Noise received media and (mostly the cyber) public attention.

This is when the idea of online interventions started. In the following year, Blank Noise created the first of its blogs that consist entirely of contributions from the public: the Action Heroes blog, a growing compilation of women’s experiences in dealing with street sexual harassment. It is then followed by Blank Noise Guys and Blank Noise Spectators, which respectively concentrates on the experiences of men and people who have witnessed street sexual harassment. Other than the community blogs, the main blog also introduced collaborative online campaigns in 2008, such as the ‘Museum of Street Weapons’ (a poster project that explores how women uses everyday objects to defend themselves against street sexual harassment) and ‘Blank Noise This Place’ (a photo collection of places where street sexual harassment occurs). These interventions were not only online; they were also collaborative and invited the public to participate.

These tipping points are intriguing not only for being the triggers to Blank Noise’s transformation to one of the most important digital activism in India (Mishra, 2010), but also for the reason why they are successful in doing so: they are able to attract public participation.

The first tipping point was able to attract people to participate by commenting on a post. The said post was very simple; it consists of a picture and a one-paragraph text that depicts a conversation between the harasser and the woman:

“stalker no. 1: " Excuse me, have we met before?" machlee: no Stalker no. 1: Yes we have! On commercial street! I work in a call centre. I am a science graduate." machlee: why are you telling me all this? stalker no. 1: can I have coffee with you? machlee: can i photograph you? stalker no. 1: yes! sure you can! stalker no.1: blah blah blah” (Patheja, 2005)

Having been used to NGO pamphlets and blog posts, I have come to equate discussion on sexual harassment as a very serious discussion with long text and formal language. This post is so different from what I was used to, but it was clear to me that even though the language was casual, the issue and intention were serious. The casual presentation spoke to me “we would like to share our thoughts and activities with you” rather than “we are an established organization and this is what we do”. It is not the space of professionals, but passionate people. As a blogger myself, I recognize the space as being one of my peer’s and immediately felt more attracted and comfortable to jump into the conversation.

The second tipping point attracted the more active, substantial participation than commenting; many people actually created texts, photos, or posters for Blank Noise. It was possible because Blank Noise opened itself. Jasmeen opened up to an idea of a volunteer, who opened up to the possibilities offered by the cybersphere. Instead of depending on a core team to conduct an intervention, Blank Noise opened up to a project that entirely depended on the public’s response to be successful. Moreover, Blank Noise opened up to diverse points of views and many types of experiences with street sexual harassment.

It is widely acknowledged that the success of a digital activism lies on its ability to attract public collaboration; however, the digital tipping points of Blank Noise underline several important factors behind the ability. Attracting public engagement is not always a result of a meticulous pre-planned intervention. On the contrary, it might spawn from unintentional events that welcome diverse points of view, adopt a peer-to-peer attitude, invite contributions, and most importantly, touched an issue that is very important for many different people. Web 2.0 is an enabling tool and site for dialogue, but it is certainly not the only reason behind the success of digital activism in galvanizing youth’s engagement.

This is the fifth post in the Beyond the Digital series, a research project that aims to explore new insights to understand youth digital activism conducted by Maesy Angelina with Blank Noise under the Hivos-CIS Digital Natives Knowledge Programme.



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,


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 :-)


MEET UP 2011

+listen +chai +100% Action Hero-ism=

Watch this space for meet ups , event announcements, Blank Noise workshops and presentations in your city in 2011. To organize a meet up or to have us present at your workplace, college, city etc email in at blurtblanknoise at gmail


any city , town, place, country as long as it's outside!
>propose location and your wish list for the picnic!

Date: Feb 2nd. Wednesday
Are you in college? We're starting an Action Heroes College network.
We are meeting on Wednesday between 4 30- 6 30 pm. Location will be disclosed on confirmation. We will be meeting near Cunningham Road. To apply sign up here and if you have already applied just send in an email to blurtblanknoise@gmail.com subject titled BLANK NOISE ACTION HERO COLLEGE NETWORK

Date: Feb 6th. Sunday
Time 2 30 pm-5 30 pm


Date: Jan 23
Location: Central Park
who: everybody/ anybody
Time 2 30- 5pm

Date: Wednesday 19th
Who: college students only.
Time: 4 pm
Location: to be confirmed. email blurtblanknoise@gmail

(past meet)
Date: Jan 12
who: college students only.
time: 4 - 530 pm

Date: Jan 8th
who: everybody
time: 11 am- 1 pm

Workshop/ presentation
Date: Jan 4
Location: Mount Carmel College via Sichrem, Bangalore.


2011 and some immediate things-

2011 and the ACTION HERO is on duty.
make your city safe by walking your street fearless.
Happy New Year!

To new news and immediate action:

This year promises to be eventful and energetic. We're starting with a meeting in Bangalore on Jan 8th, Saturday at 10 45 am. Location will be disclosed upon confirmation. if you can make it, please confirm at the soonest + bring a potential action hero along! (your friend/ colleague/ neighbour/ family/ co traveler) please email us most definitely by the 7th of Jan to confirm.

Meet up in Delhi and Chandigarh on Jan 23-. If you'd like to be involved with organizing a meet up in your city do get in touch with us right away.

Upcoming events include an Action Heroes event across cities (Feb) and an all new internet event too (to be announced in a week).

A big thank you to all Action Heroes for sharing their stories with us on dealing with street sexual violence.Thank you Dianne Padma Nandini If you've got a story or a strategy on how you dealt with 'eve-teasing' you know where to send it .It doesn't have to be your story alone, it could be an urban legend, something you heard. This could also involve you speaking with women around you and gathering stories. (ask the women around you- grandma. cousins. friends. colleagues. domestic help.)

call for interns. time- 2 months/ or project specific. apply by Jan 30 internship. phase 1 of 2011 begins feb 10

apply to volunteer deadline for 2011 phase 1 is Jan 30

We often hear stories about a 3rd person being attacked for helping in an 'eve-teasing'/ street sexual violence situation. These reports perpetuate fear by emphasizing the personal risk in getting involved. We're not here to say it isn't a risk but surely there have been instances where a 3rd person's intervention has changed the scene.
This is a call for personal stories of how 'spectators' involvement made a difference.Have you been that third person who got involved? Have you got a story on how the spectator's involvement helped you? email your story subject titled THIS SPECTATOR CHANGED THE SCENE no later than Jan 30. blurtblanknoise at gmail com
(more details to follow)

Yours in spirit
Blank Noise Team