Monday, March 06, 2006

Blank Noise Project

See the Blank Noise Project blogathon and please participate.

I have travelled enough crowded buses and trains in Calcutta and other cities that I know to say "Shoja hoye daran" [Stand straight!] in a particularly tough tone to a stranger invading my space, ironically in very polite words. I know not to make eye contact with that smirking man in the auto next to mine. I have also learnt that its a small minority of men who have behaved in ways that meant that I had to learn to walk around with that invisible force-field around me, where if you step into it I will give you the 'stare' and probably ask you [politely of course] to 'step away'.

There are two kinds of situations that women face in terms of harassment. One where the attacker depends on surprise and shock to escape retribution - but where you can hit back and fight back given enough awareness and forethought. One thing I have learnt is to raise my voice and say NO. I have been lucky enough, not to have faced the other kind where the attacker is in a place of power - whether physical or social or mental - and can face the victim with impunity and not face punishment. I hope I would be able to raise my voice in such a situation as well.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I know of you lady, you will not only be able to say no but also give him a swift kick in the nuts.

More power to you!

March 07, 2006 8:57 AM  
Blogger Urmea said...

Thanks Anon - is that you Sid??

March 07, 2006 9:42 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

Growing up in a big city we all have to learn ways of protecting ourselves from harassment. Some can take the offensive stand. But not everyone can. What do these girls do?

March 07, 2006 12:24 PM  
Blogger Urmea said...

M, thanks for that remark - it was something I'd been pondering myself. I guess what I feel is that learning to stand up against harassment of these kinds is something that every young girl ought to be taught.

I remember how scared and powerless I felt when some pervert felt me up in a crowded bus, I could not have been more than 10, maybe 8 or 9. The worst part then and everytime it happened again (and it did) was the feeling of embarassment and guilt - was it MY fault somehow. That is what kids need to be taught - it is NOT their fault. Their right is to be able to stand up and say - stop it now. Its a form of social conditioning that keeps girls silent. To say "STOP" and to say "NO" is not an offensive stand, it is purely defensive.
There was an interesting self-protection program (taught by the city police where I lived then) that I attended in Grad school - its linked to in my post. One of the first things they teach you is how effective it is to simply raise your voice and say NO, to say STOP. This was in the context of rapes and muggings and I believe it would work for eve-teasers and other bullies too.

March 07, 2006 1:00 PM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Urmi, excellent post, and your comment above really goes to the crux of the issue. I think it is up to parents and society at large to make young women grow up empowered, and feel strong enough to be able to resist harassment and also give a kick in the shins if need be.

We are not a very physically active culture, especially our women and that is a big problem.

March 07, 2006 1:17 PM  
Blogger Patient Portnoy said...

Having the guts and saying "NO" might just about be the answer.

I think u r right

March 10, 2006 2:20 AM  
Blogger Adagio For Strings said...

I just read your previous post. LOVED IT! If you find this guy, let me know if he has a younger/elder sister. (Heck let me know if he has a sibling any gender...I am sure we can work things out :D)

March 10, 2006 11:06 AM  
Blogger Urmea said...

Thanks Swati, I was wondering if I was perhaps not putting myself sufficiently in the shoes of those who are not as strong or as empowered as we like to think we are. The thing is - I have been there myself - nobody as powerless as the child who does not know what is going on. Megha's blog had a comment from Megha where she quoted from a song called 'My Body' that they teach in the first grade here. That's something that can be done - teach the kids - cause the only other way they would learn about it is through whispers and shame.

Patient portnoy - thanks.

Adagio - well be sure if I found 'him' -I'd keep him far away from Pasadena, forget his siblings!

March 10, 2006 3:32 PM  
Blogger Adagio For Strings said...

Achcha ... maan liya. Ab kuch naya likho :D!

March 15, 2006 6:45 PM  
Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock said...

No post for 22 days. I surmise you're too busy chatting.


March 27, 2006 10:38 PM  
Blogger GREATBONG said...

Off topic but the 7-tag is up on my blog.

March 31, 2006 7:14 AM  

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