Blank Noise Moment(s) at Chennai (sort of)
The blogosphere has been introduced to the Blank Noise Project for quite some time now and people from Chennai have also recounted their experiences of this city in relation to that. On my recent post in Chennai Metblogs “Madras by Night“, long-time reader and fellow-blogger Govar made an astute comment that “Just by virtue of sex, we men are probably insulated from 95% of the security issues in India”, which I keep getting reminded of, whenever I leave office at odd hours and take an auto home. It is true that as men we hardly experience what women go thru when out in public spaces, with other factors like time of day, type of dress and whether alone or in company get thrown into the mix to create wildly varying feelings in them. But, my daily auto ride itself gives me an occasional glimpse into the kind of things a woman is typically exposed to. On some days, when the auto comes to a stop at a traffic light with some space around it, a two-wheeler would also pull up close to the auto and the driver or his male companion or both would immediately look into the auto to see who it is. If their imagination had been fired up on some kind of expectations, before they had a chance to literally crawl their way into that space and finally pull alongside the auto, hoping to see who this “party” is, one has to see their faces to understand their disappointment when all they get to see is this guy with a five o’clock shadow :-).
This scenario that keeps playing out on occasion stirs up at least some empathy in me regarding the plight of the womenfolk on our roads or other public spaces, and how much the victims have to put up with unwanted attention or the real-life enactment of the “male gaze” that they are subject to constantly. Will things change as per what some of these participants in the BNP hope for? I don’t think so. Not in the foreseeable future. The people seeking change like to believe in their power to make a difference. I believe in Genetics. What is hard-coded remains that way. Or to put it another way, no one has been able to restore the world to a previous version (of its software) after Pandora’s box was opened. And no one ever will. That is the bitter truth.