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.

6 Comments so far

  1. tsk tsk (unregistered) on May 19th, 2007 @ 11:45 am

    Sometimes i think it is unfair to compare eve teasing in chennai with eve teasing in mumbai or blore, for the following reasons.

    1. In Chennai, most women, are in most occasions dressed rather unfashionably or clumsily or badly. This apparently is to escape eve teasing – so they say

    2.In chennai, Women dont venture out here much, you will find that in theatres, nightclubs or even at beasant nagar beach the ratio of men is to women is something like 3:1.

    All this culminates into a ‘novelty’ factor when well dressed girls are out alone somewhere

    Bombay boasts about being the city that has liberated women the most, and also has the lowest % rape and eve teasing cases to the female population. I think it has created this situation with two strategies

    1. Created a situation of plently where no one single girl can be targeted for being fashonable/ dressed up, and also reduced the novelty factor of a girl being fashionable or being out alone somewhere

    2. Locals as such are against eve teasing, and are assured that if they catch someone in the act, there will be sufficient number of people to team up against the eve teaser

    3. Opionion leaders in society there are more urbanised and cosmopolitan, and hence encourage a sense of womens lib. Im not so sure that our opion leaders even speak out that much or are tuned to the mindset of the 21st century.. except for example – Daya Maran

    So if u want society to evolve a little in the eve teasing aspects, atleast in the city you are in currently – then make ur difference and stand up against the teaser when u see him. Its easier said than done, and it takes balls.


  2. SN (unregistered) on May 19th, 2007 @ 12:27 pm

    “no one has been able to restore the world to a previous version (of its software) after Pandora’s box was opened”.

    Great line but a dead giveaway of a person’s industry affiliation :)


  3. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on May 19th, 2007 @ 9:04 pm

    Are you sure you’re in Chennai, tsk tsk?

    I see plenty of good-looking women, of all ages, on the street every day…


  4. potpourri (unregistered) on May 19th, 2007 @ 10:01 pm

    It is not just in the odd hours that we are being harassed. I used to travel by MTC to work and there was this 45+ bald guy who was being indecent (btw, most of the eve teasers are 40+ sometimes even in their 50s and 60s) I told him to back off and he went “enna panna mudiyumo pannu”. I raised my voice and told the conductor about the guy and asked him to take the bus to the police station. Since it was around 8.45 am everyone murmured about being late, the conductor made the guy get off at the next stop. Needless to say, my mom was shocked by my action (?!) and made me go in a van thereafter.

    Having said the above, I have also come back home late (from a wedding reception) alone in autos, dressed up way better than what I do for work ..I’ve not faced any eve-teasing.
    I guess, we can’t really see a pattern or trend..it is just a matter of those sickos being present at that time.


  5. Saravan (unregistered) on May 21st, 2007 @ 11:18 am

    Great thoughts, Good observations too..Kept me thinking…Thank to the author.


  6. Ashwin Raghu (unregistered) on May 21st, 2007 @ 1:24 pm

    Something I’ve heard from a friend a couple of years back has stayed in my mind pretty strongly: she and her (girl) friends were from all over the country, in Madras to study for a couple of years. They dressed (by Madras standards) “liberally”, and she talked about how they were often NOT the target of eve-teasing on buses and roads, and that the typical roadside romeo targeted someone he thought he could “get”, which often meant a typically staidly dressed Chennaivaasi, rather than the tight-tshirts-and-low-rise-jeans “urban” type.



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