Had to jump into this one - it's critical and ranges from mild admiration to violent rape with harassment / eve -teasing etc. somewhere in the middle yet close to both extremes.
I have two views - both true I imagine, both diametrically different.
One is the simpler view. I've hardly been to a city in the world where 'eve-teasing' doesn't occur - from wolf-whistles, to leering looks, to driving close,cheesy one-liners heavily sexually loaded, to the breast-grabber and more graphic stuff. As a woman I try and quickly understand the culture of the city I am currently in. Some places in the world, you say 'No' to guy or just tell him to lay off and he does. He's just trying to see if you're game. Some cultures, particularly the North Indian one, the guys don't know better - they don't have the opportunity to engage in normal relationships with women at an age where they have active hormones - and they socio-psychological conditioning is so strong : the aggressive macho male who can have it all anyway he wants completely submerging his own trembling insecurity within. And as a woman, you learn to deal with this guy as well, in the manner that all the other blogs mentioned. Quick tips to keep safe. Sock a guy, keep mist handy, take precautions, use elbows, keep cool.
The complex view (and I'm a little ambivalent on this one, though I cannot ignore it) in India is a rapidly changing exposure to comparatively liberal mores in the media and in society over the past 10 years - not long enough for the deeply-embedded social and cultural conditioning to adapt itself. While I theoretically and personally agree with "if a guy can wear what he wants or scratch his balls in public, why on earth can't a woman wear / do what she wants without getting harassed?", this isn't how it works. Let's be real. We've been used to bare-chested, half-lungi, kaccha -clad guys since forever. But the spaghetti strapped, g-string panty peeping out of low-slung jeans, hugely sexy and carefree young thing is a new phenomenon. Sit at a Subway (or etc.) when school gives over in Delhi and you'll see a bunch of girls in decent school uniforms go into the restroom and come out looking like they're ready for the ramp. I think they look gorgeous. So do the guys. I think they look provocative. So do the guys. And the guys don't know how to handle it. So either those schoolgirls get harassed or some young guy who gets completely turned on but wouldn't dare do anything with them picks on an innocent alone in a bus girl / woman and wants to unleash his manhood on her. Sometimes this leads to more than harassment - sometimes it leads to rape. I'm not saying "she asked for it". I'm saying "he's not ready for so much so fast". And with the focus on looks, clothes, sex etc etc he's getting a lot to handle - and his collective consciousness hasn't equipped him with nonchalance yet.
I'll try some.
- Mothers, educate your sons
- Media, initiate debate
- Media, (all kinds), you do have social responsibility.
- The older generation cannot abdicate its responsibility to the next and then rue the fact that there is violence and an unsafe environment. So, when you make a Neel and Nicky where the heroine wears a bra throughout and oozes out of it (story does not demand the same) then please expect all the guys from small toowns, villages, big towns to get possessed and lose rational thought.
- Girls, figure what you should wear where.
- Fathers, set a good example in how you refer to women in general
- Schools - talk about this.
Action Hero Anita Vasudeva