A very Happy New Year to all. I want to start this year with a strong voice and opinion.
Keepsakewala as a blog is to treasure memories, moments and mercies. But sometimes the so called past does not give sweet comfort but some bitter lessons. Lessons you don't treasure but imbibe for future. You don't forget then but you neither forgive. You don't hide. anymore and you are ready for the fight next time.
Today I want to discuss a social evil which has plagued our society time immemorial. It happened in ancient times when Draupadi was asked to sit on the janghas (thighs) of Dushasan and her Sari was stripped in front of everyone. It happens even now when rape happens to the Daminis or Nirbhayas of Delhi. This blog is especially for all mothers who would want to familiarize their daughters to the world of Eve teasing. Like the sessions of monthly periods, marriage and motherhood, all mothers should also hold `How to handle Eve teasing` lessons for their daughters. It is better to orient your daughters to this menace, because let's face it, you can't keep her locked in the house for ever.
What is Eve Teasing?
Eve teasing is letching, commenting, touching or any other lewd behavior a male subjects a female for fun or out of frustration. Most men think that this is a way of wooing women. Clearly they are mistaken. This is clear violation of the girl's self-respect and personal space. I had a cousin who started giggling every time she realized a boy was checking her out. Must say that is a very good example of idiocy.
You may try to draw parallels to dowry, female infanticide, pardah system and other general forms of female emancipation. They have a hint of male superiority and domination but they are more of customs and practices which may or may not happen. Domestic violence is another form of ill-treating women but at the hands of their own so called Protectors.
But we are going to restrict this discussion to Eve teasing which happens across the world irrespective of religion, country, race, caste or creed. The world of Eve Teasing stretches from mere letching to acid throwing, raping, even leading to killings. Let's not confuse it with bullying, ragging, and other teasing acts as they are independent evils and crimes free of gender whereas eve teasing is solely and obviously for women.
How long can you keep her in the protective cocoon of your household and then transfer her to the husbands house with an intact honor and name. If she is poor she will still need to go to the market to buy vegetables or answer the door when her husband is away earning a living. If she is rich she will have to travel with her driver to attend kitty parties and events in hotels and restaurants. You can't simply assume that rich and poor has got anything to do with eve teasing. A rich bugger is equally bound to be an Eve Teaser just like the poor bugger waiting for you at the road side. It's all about availability of the victim and the mood of the teaser.
Sending her out with body guards or big brothers is one option. But men have other jobs too, than protecting women, like eve teasing others sisters. Also this will only put more restrictions on women. You cannot have an escort or protector always, hence it's better to create a more independent defense mechanism.
3. SERVICE 24/7
Such events are more prevelant post or close to getting dark. But Eve teasers are very hard working people, their motto being - Round the clock service - Knights of horny charmers for Damsels in Distress. Once a friend told me how a man waited for her on the way to the school bus stop, a distance of just 500 meters from her home, every morning around 6AM to show her his private parts. She tackled it by taking the crowded main road rather than this inner secluded short cut. This is definitely an advantage of Eve teasing, women can't take short cuts and hence get a good long walk, burning all the fats for those amazing figures to entice the teasers. They never can take any of the less treaded paths (pun intended) in life or career because that's where the devil is lurking in the corners.
4. ONE or MANY
That brings me to my next point, Crowds. Don't think that eve teasing does not happen in crowds, and you are safe amongst larger number of people. Look again at the so called crowd. Are these faces you can trust? Are they a gang of people doing nothing, probably idle chit-chat and looking at all random women walking by? Then you have met the Gang teasers. There is generally a leader of this gang mostly the most loud and lewd guy. He is already letching at you shamelessly knowing very well that he can get away with anything at the strength of the gang numbers. These are generally found outside school, college, or other hangout places like bars, coffee shops, markets, etc. Even if there is a sensible and decent guy in the gang, the group mentality overpowers his intelligence - validating the old saying of "Never underestimate the stupidity of men in large groups" (or was it stupid men in large groups, I wonder).
As a first step just figure out a larger group of older men or girls and mingle with them before he or his other buddies dare to strike a chat with you or offer their free services. If you can just manage to 'get out' of their attention, that should do the trick. Now I realize why my father always told me "You shouldn't talk so loud in public, it gets you unnecessary attention." He probably knew how gangs worked and he wanted to protect his daughter when he was not around, subjecting her to obscurity in large groups and pointers to avoid Eve teasing. (p.s. Dad I failed, I am writing a blog nowadays to get all that unnecessary attention from men and women alike)
Eve teasers have another way of teasing you in public, silent treatment. Letching or creeping close to you, like in public transport or queues, breathing down your neck or rubbing against you. In the best scenario, I would ask you to hit them or confront them. But this can play against you if they are physically stronger, or in groups and can get reinforcements before you do. In such situations it's better to change your seat or position, or if nothing else talk loudly or angrily to some other person so he knows, you can be loud if need be. This is a strategy which I will explain further under the section - How not to look VULNERABLE.
5. AGE NO BAR
Men of all ages do it to women of all ages. In fact I was thinking if government and police can't do anything to avoid it, then they should at least legalize it, and allow men and women of certain age to comply with it? So 16 -25 or more should be allowed to do some healthy eve teasing. This way boys could learn some healthy social skills by starting conversations with strange girls. The young girls can find some admiration at the peak of their youth, and older women can feel they still have it.
I sometimes wonder how men figure out that they are supposed to eve tease girls. Are they given any lessons, or they just learn by observing other degenerate men or they are simply born with it. Once a boy of probably 8-10 years old went past me on his cycle singing "Aaja meri gaadi main baith ja". Yes I was physically and mentally superior to him but the mere audacity and poor bringing up of this boy angered me. I was 20 years old enough, yet not old enough to be his mother, but I still felt like giving him a good thrashing the way a mother should give to such sons. The responsibility of all mothers to teach their boys to respect women is a must. If you can't avoid it yourself, then you have to ensure others don't get subjected to it. You are so busy protecting your daughters that you forget it's important to teach your son some chivalry. Seriously age hardly matters and don't even get me started on older horny uncles.
6. HE is a FAMILY MAN
This leads me to the next point, never assume that a family man - the one with sisters, mother, wife and daughters does not eve tease. He has done it in the past and continues to do so. He may not be as outrageously shameless like a man without daughter or sister but he is shameless to some extent. While studying in college as a bunch of girls we always knew who would give us lifts if need be. Young boys - yes, but they always ended up asking you out in return and you became obligated to be nice to them.
So the main target were the uncles. They always stopped their cars, looking fondly at you like a father would. Getting you to sit nice and comfy in the air conditioned car and putting some latest peppy music for your entertainment. We laughed laughed inside and exchanged glances wondering if Aunty ji knew about his escapades. We called him Uncle ji in a playful manner (Yes girls tease too, solo and in groups. But that's a topic for another day). He is happy with these little adventures, full of laughter, of young girls in close proximity to him, rather than the daily life of drudgery and mundane responsibilities as the man of the house. He prefers to be the man on the house, getting all the attention from these young perky girls.
But this discussion is not about Uncle ji's sad life. Did you figure what I was trying to say? Let me restate – DON'T TRUST ANYONE and DON'T TAKE LIFTS, FROM STRANGE MEN. It's dangerous. Take paid and secure transport. It's ok to spend the extra 200 bucks than risk your honor or life. You know who stops to give a lift - not your Knights in shining armor but the rich sad lonely losers who don't love their wives or young boys just wanting to have a good time.
Now you may say 'She has done it herself, and now she is trying to preach me. Such double standards.' Well I confess that maturity comes with age and so did mine. Now I cringe at the thought of sitting in some stranger's car even though with a group of friends. What could have happened? My parents still don't know about it, and they would still get a mini heart attack if I tell them I did. The carefree aka stupidity of youth.
Finally something for your own family. Despite my earlier point on how mothers should bring up their sons, have you ever caught your brothers, husband, or friends looking at other women. Burns you with jealousy if it's your boyfriend or husband. Looking is kind of all right, it's a healthy way of admiration. Next time forget about jealousy, just think how this same behavior sows the seeds of Eve teasing. There are acceptable levels of looking, only getting worse with desperation and alcohol. Most do it, just that you are not the victim here. You can save other girls by watching out or ensuring that men around you respect women. Never give them a chance to walk over you or other women, whether it's your father to your mother, your brother or your husband or your boss.
7. BEAUTY in the eyes of the beholder
Very important question, are only beautiful girls subject to eve teasing? So if you are pretty, you are bound to get a few winks, head turns, smiles, pouts, sometimes accompanied with a smooching sound and comments. You can't help it, you are so pretty. Well allow me - to SLAP YOU HARD FIRST and then tell you THIS IS BULLSHIT.
Eve teasers are technically 'beauty blind' like 'color blind'. For that matter you just need to be of female gender or if not then at least perceived to be of female gender like a man dressed as a woman or a cardboard cutout of a female model or a stick standing in a burqua. A real Eve teaser is a very liberal man. He is unbiased, secular, open hearted person who doesn't differentiate on age, beauty, religion, caste, country, color or anything.
Once my aunt had gone to the market with her daughter. While in a shop, she noticed that two boys probably 18 or 19 years old started touching the clothes of a mannequin, to see what's under her shirt or in her pants. The pure innocent curiosity of the boys, scandalized my aunt in walking away from the shop with her young daughter in toe. So don't gaud at the fact that a young boy is teasing you and you are so pretty. He probably thinks the same for your 80 year old grandmother or your 4 year old niece.
8. World is Flat
Have you ever been told 'Don't go there, and don't go here, this is not safe and that is not safe." So here let me tell you. NO PLACE IS SAFE. If the lady ministers didn't have security they would be filing eve teasing complaints maximum at the police station. Because none us are safe and no place is safe. Have you been in a queue outside a religious place for God's blessings. Has the person behind you pinched or tried to get too close to you. Has the priest felt your hands or head nicely while blessing you. Don't even get me started on the Swami and Babas, the media is full of stories of their distractions from the path of God.
9. How not to look VULNERABLE
Now the most critical point. Have you ever seen a goat tied as a bait to catch a wild ferocious animal. Easy target, right. Now that's how an eve teaser sees when you are traveling alone, on empty roads, timid, with head bent, worry lines on your forehead, waiting for someone to rescue you. But you know you are stuck there just like that goat tied to the pole waiting for the pounce. Sometimes the goat is unaware, innocently eating the grass, enjoying the weather and the attacker simply tip toes and catches it from the back. Well that's similar to when you are laughing loudly or talking on the phone or sleeping alone, unaware of your surroundings, in an empty parking lot or corridor with some dark shadow following you waiting to pounce. The wolf may or may not be caught later but the goat is dead anyways.
Now think, if instead of the goat, it's the lion itself, would the attacker be able to pounce so easily. So next time you are out don't look like a goat, look like a lion. If in an unknown place with unknown people, don't act like a delicate darling. Eve teasers review their potential victim and the delicate and shy become the obvious and easy targets. Don't be a victim, try to be a good trap so he avoids messing with you. Show them that you can give them a good fight if need be.
Remember to -
A) Walk with head held high and confidently
B) Eyes aware and wide open on look out
C) Do not play with your hair, please that's totally inviting and plain silly
D) No worry lines, or fidgety hand movements showing you are scared or even tired
E) Clenched Jaw look - this is my favorite look. When I have to ward off irritating eve teasers, it always works without a noise. I call it 'My No Nonsense look'. Clench your teeth and jaw first to show you are ready to fight it need be. That will ward off most men, if not then follow the next step. The twisted mouth with clenched jaw. This means I am irritated and ready to do something if you don't stop. It's a subtle way of hinting, "Don't mess with me" without raising a false alarm. What if the guy was simply looking excitedly at the Cricket match playing on the TV behind you and not you. It also says that you are uncomfortable with whatever he is doing and should respect your space. As a women, you already know we can say a lot with our eyes and sharp looks, and it definitely helps avoiding unnecessary awkward situations.
10. Hit and Hit Real Hard
Finally the last word, if nothing of this works, Please don't do 'Abla Naari' or the 'Damsel in Distress' act, pleading "Mujhe Bhagwaan ke liye chod do". It only worked in Bollywood films with the entry of a Hero, but doesn't work in real life. If you think your negotiation or threatening skills are good then give it a try, but I don't assume they are going to give you a patient hearing. If getting out is not possible, then call Police or your family for help. Even then, if it seems like a dead end and help is far, then only one thing is left - SCREAM and HIT - HARD, and so hard the first time that he can't get up for the next 10 mins.
He is your punching bag ladies, his face is that of all the Eve teasers who ever violated your right to freedom, freedom to wear anything, freedom to wear loud make up, freedom to talk and laugh loudly, freedom to travel alone, freedom to take a walk on an empty road on a nice evening, freedom to explore that interesting ruin or nooks your mother always warned you against, freedom to be looked at and be liked, than be letched at and being undressed with eyes. He is your culprit. Hit him so hard, he thinks of God Bajrang Bali, next time any girl comes even close to him. Don't worry if you maim him or hurt him mortally, its allowed by law and religion on grounds of self-defense and remember the adage of "Jaisi karni waisi bharni".
Finally a food for thought - we all have been amused on the way a boy chased a girl till he won her over, or bitched about how a girl dressed up like a hot chick or floozy inviting lewd remarks from the men. And then you lament on the fact how some random guy teased you and how the society is going to the dogs. Moral of the story - 'We make the society'. The mothers of daughters are also mothers of sons. Teach your men some respect for you and your kind.