"To recognize Women's Day, and as part of an effort to build a core constituency that is aware of the Blank Noise Project, we're organizing a blogathon for Tuesday, the 7th of March. Blank Noise is asking other bloggers to post about their experiences of sexual harassment - as a victim, perpetrator or bystander - at work, at home or in the public sphere. Or deal with the subject anyway you like. On International Women's Day, which is March 8th, it would be exciting to see the theme of harassment become audible on the Indian and diasporic blogosphere."
I remember many instances, as a teenager, way back in the 80's being 'harrassed' on the street and in public buses. At the time, I didn't know quite what to do about it ... it was almost embarrassing to mention it to friends or family, it seemed like such a personal 'attack', and in my growing awareness of my body at that age, it wasn't something I could share easily. Neither was it something I could 'prove' in any way, it was sometimes just that brush of a hand against your body, sometimes more blatant than that. I remember many times in a really crowded BEST bus where you're squashed among bodies, smelling armpits as you cling to the handle, when a hand would snake around my breasts and try and squeeze them. Or I'd feel a hard groin against my back. Though I hated it, I thought then, it was just part and parcel of travelling by bus. I didn't even realise then it was 'harrassment' of a kind.
Just the once, did I actually retaliate ...I will share that story on March 7th !
I'm happy to see a space that encourages people to talk about this, one that tells you that it is wrong, and inspires you that you CAN do something about it.
(And heh .. just came across this blog that's called Holla Back NYC - which asks people to send in pictures of street harrassers ... it even has a Holla Back Hall of Fame. Cam phones make it so easy to do! Its also a little scary ... )
Do spread the word for the Blog-a-thon ... and share your experiences ... and tag it with this code :
Annie Zaidi has a really powerful post on her experiences and lessons learnt in navigating the streets of Delhi and the local trains in Bombay. She also brings up another aspect worth thinking about ....
There is another aspect to this that I can't help thinking about: it creates a never-ending trap of dependence that many men resent equally. We women depend - are taught to depend, are left with no option but to depend - on men for our safety and survival.
We can go out, but with 'ghar ke ladke' to take care of us. The brother, husband, father, cousin or boys known to the family will escort us - to a movie, to a mall, to a party. At best, you might be able to manage if you're a big group of girls. But how many times can you walk around as girl-gangs?
We learn, consciously and sub-consciously, that we cannot do anything alone. And if we do, we're going to have wage war every inch of the way. That lesson is etched in so deep that conceiving of 'life' alone is... No wonder you need men. No wonder you need marriage. No wonder you cling to the man, because how will you manage alone?
And Stephanie at HumLab joins in with a twist : "We will attempt to capture 'being a women' through audio, text, picture, collaborative sidewalk art, as well as giving women a change to blog in their own words. There is a twist, however! You get the chance to participate by sending in your digital pictures to our flickr account. The theme is, of course, 'on being a woman'. The email address to send in photos is email@example.com"
- Action Hero Dina Mehta