Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Why?

In my previous post, I fleetingly touched upon why men indulge in eve-teasing. I propose to explore the reasons slightly more.
Note 1: If you are sick and tired of hearing about eve-teasing, please feel free to skip this post :)
Note 2: This is not a Feminist Woman's Day post :)


In this post, I had written:

My mother tells me that eve-teasing was rampant in her younger days. Her reasoning is that it was the only way the poor males could establish contact with the girls, because the times were such that males and females did not talk to each other, even in college. Now, it is much more open, youngsters go out in mixed groups all the time, so males are not really frustrated, and thus eve-teasing has reduced.


My uncle and I had a discussion on this. He posed a question to me.
"If that is one of the main reasons for eve-teasing", he said, "then consider your grandfather's generation. Contact between men and women, not of the same family, was even more scarce at that time. Was there any eve-teasing then?"
I was almost amused. "No", I said emphatically.
"Why? It is because of urbanization, and hence anonymity. In those days, there were smaller towns, and everybody knew everybody else. You could never hope to go unnoticed if you as much as looked at another girl. Now, you are just one in a crowd. You can do anything and get away with it. With that confidence, men go ahead and do anything."

He had a point. But one more reason could be that women rarely went out unescorted in my grandfather's generation. But this got me thinking. If this was one of the
reasons, then why has eve-teasing reduced, from the time I was in my teens, to now? Bangalore is bigger, anonymity is greater - then why? If I consider eve-teasing as something which men do just coz they think women are inferior and hence their property, with whom they can do anything they want to, then there is an explanation. I tend to think that men have finally recognized that women are as good as, if not better than men. Or if not anything else, that women are educated, confident, and can stand up for themselves. They probably do not want to take a risk with getting on the wrong side of a woman, coz there is no saying what she might do. Can this be a reason?

Next reason, movies. I think this is the greatest culprit. Movie-makers claim that art imitates life. Then what instance in real life inspired the first idiot to put in an eve-teasing scene in his film? Boy teases girl, girl gets horrified, boy persists, girl resists, boys sings to girl in public, girl melts into boy's arms, and they live happily ever after. How many movies stand on this theme? Within a span of one silly song, the boy and girl move from being strangers to being married. If this does not inspire men, then what will?

They must naturally think that if they tease a random girl on the street and compliment different parts of her body, she will get all flattered and fall for him, and all's well that ends well. Utter rubbish. Show me a single instance where eve-teasing has led to marriage in real life, and I will eat my words.

Then, once again, why has eve-teasing reduced now? I do not really have an answer. Maybe the boy-teasing-girl-on-street kind of movies have reduced. Maybe men have realized that it doesn't work after all. But behind all this comes one more question. Why do married men indulge in this activity? What is the reason for all the groping and touching? The first answer that comes to my mind is JFK - Just For Kicks. He feels like a hero. He feels superior. He feels like a "man", a word that has a perverted meaning in his stunted intelligence.

[Sidenote: Am I the only one who thinks that eve-teasing has reduced in Bangalore? Please note, I am not saying its not there at all. I am just saying that it seems to be much less from what my teenage memories tell me. Or is it that I do not notice it any longer? Or is it that I have become too old to get eve-teased? :)]

Also, reading all the experiences of other bloggers, I realized one thing. Those from the north have faced even more severe instances of eve-teasing. My experiences sound like mosquito bites compared to their snake-bites. But why? From what I have read, I gather that over the centuries, a woman's place in society has been much higher in the south, than in the north of India. Probably men take women for granted even more in the north. Maybe that is why eve-teasing is more rampant there. [I might be wrong, I am open to correction.]

Well, I don't really know. I can just take refuge in the fact that eve-teasing is not the outcome of just one or two reasons. It is a combination of complex social and psychological issues. Also, I would love it if somebody comes out with a small-town perspective. I haven't seen much of that. Maybe we can get a clearer idea.

Why am I looking for reasons? In the hope that if we are able to put our finger on it [Sigh! Wrong expression!], there might be hope for our daughters. I would not want my daughter to avoid doing something she wants to do, just out of fear of men, as I have very often found myself doing. I want my daughter to live the life that I haven't.

I would really appreciate your thoughts on this. Of both men and women.

[Note: My apologies to all the wonderful men I know, for using the generic "men" in this post, instead of "some men". Out of every 10 men I know, 9 are absolutely beyond censure, but the horrible 1 man brings disrepute to the entire male populace.]

Update: Please read the comments too.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

"The first answer that comes to my mind is JFK"

For my innocent mind, JFK read as John F Kennedy ! I was like "Now what did JFK do!!'

Jokes apart, I dont know where I had written but will say it here again. Your uncle was very right. Dont you notice you dont hear much abt it in villages even now. Its because girls dont hesistate to take sandals in their hands. Its not about diplomacy or mannerisms. Its plain defensive mechanism. For various reasons it cant be done in city. Also the practice among city folks to brush aside these things rather than bring some kind of identity to themselves by making noise. Please dont think I am saying this is wrong but some things cant be changed easily and we live afterall in a community.

PS : Honestly I dont have answer to 'Why?'

Abi said...

Your uncle has a point. Since eve-teasing is (largely) the domain of insecure-as-hell dudes (most adolescent boys and the one-in-ten men you mentioned in your post), anything that shatters the anonymity and 'outs' them is good enough -- even in big cities.

It is difficult to harass someone when there is always someone you know lurking in the vicinity. It's not necessary for the girl to be accompanied; a generic, nondescript lurker in the background is enough!

Shruthi said...

Anon: Yes, that's what I wanted to know - some concrete info on the rural/small-town scene.
It is not easy to change, I know, and its a long process. But every step in the right direction will help!

Abi: Thanks for your comment. And yes, you do have a point.

Supremus said...

There is only one reason shruthi - "Education". Lemme run to office and explain my position better :D

Suyog

Shruthi said...

Suyog: Great! Can't wait to hear your theory :)

Anonymous said...

I feel the answer is a combination of the following factors (not ordered by priority)

1. Basic lack of self esteem

I guess some people need to constantly prove to themselves that they are superior by dominating another person. Women are easy targets.

2. A sex starved society fed by sudden rush of media without any censorship.

3. I feel media has somehow built up an image that "The amount of dress a women wears is inversely proportional to how available she is"

4. Lack of general awareness. South india is more progressive than some of the northern states so people have more exposure hence less of such incidents in the south.

5. No fear of being caught or punished.

6. Women are more conscious of their personal space and sexuality. So sometimes accidental voilations of this personal space are mistaken for delibrate attempts.

zaratul said...

there are two solutions
1.segregation of sexes
2.integration of sexes

India is caught inbetween.

Countries where strict laws are implemented we can say women r safe.But liberty is restricted.

Countries which are developed & many of its citizens are literate then again the cases of groping & harrasment is quite less.

Countries which has liberty & women start shedding clothes then again teasing is prevalent.

So in conclusion I can say education, liberty within limits(coz women start exploiting the liberty & excced the limits of decency) , integeration of sexes as segegration is outdated & we are progressing towards integeration will perhaps lead to a happy society.

Shruthi said...

Anon: Wow! I think this comment, almost sums up all the reasons. Each point makes sense. There might be some more, but I, for one, cannot think of any. Thanks so much! :)

Zaratul: Your point about segregation and integration, and India caught between definitely is a valid one.
But I absolutely don't agree with:
coz women start exploiting the liberty & excced the limits of decency
Who sets the limits of decency? And what ARE the limits of decency? It is just perception. And "women start exploiting" does not ring true. Who says that? The woman obviously doesn't think so. IF the moral police think so, then they are wrong. I am not sure what exactly you meant to say, but this sentence could you get you in trouble in feminist circles!

Anonymous said...

Talking of older generations, a lot of things were different. Agreed that there was no contact between men and women, but then this discussion of rights of women was also not there then. Eveything was suppressed. While today, things have changed. Women have changed and come out. While 'some' men, I think, are still catching up with this change.

I agree with Suyog, that Education (especially Co-Education) plays an important role to curb this menace. The smaller incidents at schools/colleges are all due to lack of proper interaction between the two genders. An uninitiated guy, when in front of a girl/lady, behaves unpredictably depending on his behavioral tendency. The sober guys avoid the confrontation and shy away, while the brash ones get down to eve teasing. If not controlled early, this can grow into an ugly offensive tendency.

For those out there, who are already grown and ready to do the damage, the measures needed are more difficult.

Rajit

chitra said...

"mosquito bites and snake-bites" True. I am amazed at the honesty of all those women out there.

Eve-teasing reduced? Hmmmm.... perhaps not. It's just that ladies are little less prone to such environment ecspecially after that infamous 'HP' incident in Bangalore.

Personally, I face eve-teasing while travelling by the corporation buses - some one pressed up to me etc etc. But in office bus, I can be relaxed and free.

Ummmm....quite a comment here. Could not help it :) !!

Anonymous said...

guys,

Are you not confusing education with literacy? I have seen scores of so called well educated people teasing girls in public areas or crowded places. Agreed they may not go as far as touching/groping et al but still they do eve teasing. May be given a chance they wud still want to 'touch' in a crowd but the thought of getting caught will desist from doing so and some do it 'coz they dont mind getting some 'peice of mind'

Shruthi said...

Rajit: Yup, you have a point, about the uninitiated guy responding differently, depending on his character. But even if he is unsure around women, his basic values, if inculcated in childhood, should come to his stead. This of course depends on lots of factors, like how him father treated his mother, etc. That brings us to your last two lines. Catch 'em young and teach them. Else it will be too late.

Chitra: Thanks for your perspective! Probably I haven't put myself into too many eve-teasing-prone situations nowadays. Should take a re-look at the situation in Bangalore.

Anon: Yup, literacy does not guarantee education. I think the other commenters also implied the same thing. Why students, even people like professors indulge in this activity!

Swathi said...

yes, the last sentence was well said n in fact reading all these incidents make us start suspecting even those who r nearest n dearest to us too...

Shruthi said...

Swathi: Yup! And we might have also mistaken someone who accidentally brushed against us, as an eveteaser, and shouted at him. And he might be a really decent person after all. Sad, but what can we do? We are so conditioned to it.

Nirwa said...

Shruthi,

I think Education and awareness has got a lot to do with crimes against women, and not just eve teasing in general...

One major crime, which is not taken up very seriously is the female foeticide.. look at the decreasing sex ratio.. Delhi and other northern states have less than 900 females per 1000 males.. and towards the south, the same ratio is pretty high.. especially Kerela, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka..

So basically, its awareness and education that plays a main role..

Nice thought provoking post! :)

Nirwa

Anil Jagalur said...

Nirwa said "So basically, its awareness and education that plays a main role.." It is definitely not education-as-we-know-it. Recent statistics say that "educated" women commit more female foeticide than their uneducated sisters! Of course, the solution is not to stop educating women!

Even these statistics might have a bias. More educated women live in cities where the facilities for such crimes are more accessible.

Shruthi said...

Nirwa and Anil: As Nirwa says, in the case of eveteasing, education and awareness are very important, yes, and also inculcation of correct values in childhood. I am not too familiar with the stastics of foeticide to comment on this. But as Anil says, there might be other reasons too!

Emma said...

While I cannot give you an answer to the question "Why" I think I agree with the anonymous comment on the various reasons.

I also wanted to gve you an example of real-life eve-teasing leading to a marriage: Yes, it did happen. With this girl in our class when we were in school. She would complain about this guy who would literally stalk her and tease her with his group of friends while she was on her way to and from school. Post school, next thing we hear they are going steady and later married too. While this did shock me to a large extent, it also showed that the unexpected does happen at times.

Shruthi said...

Emma: Oh man! This is huge! I now formally take back my words :O

Anitha said...

Hi Shruthi.. I agree with you that eve teasing has come down a lot...

This is a generation of Girl friends/boy friends / dating etc ... eve teasing is pretty out dated i guess....(at least in Bangalore)

Seriously ..The way the young guys/gals on 91 FM talk about the above things .. I feel very out dated myself .. When I was in my teens The word boy friend/girl friend was a taboo

Sachin said...

Shruthi, am commenting on this post of yours which is pretty much dated as I reading through your posts backwards. So I hope you do end up reading this one.

I too believe that instances of eve teasing have gone down now. Of course, I am a guy so my knowledge might be limited. I put it down to:

1. Much more awareness amongst people now about gender equality (at least in urban locations). Even the most perverted person would think twice before indulging himself. They might just end up with a broken arm.

2. Public support for the woman in distress is much more active than it was. People are much more expressive now and outrage is usually expressed in some form or the other.

3. There are quite a lot of sources (media, Internet etc.) for the earlier sexually deprived mind to satiate itself and to prevent them from getting let loose onto society.

4. I'd also like to believe that, at least on the surface, people are getting more civilized enough to not exceed their limits in public.

And no, I do not believe the school of thought which says that women from earlier generations were weaker. Women have always been strong in their own way. It is just a matter of using their strength differently. Men were chauvinistic even then and many are that way even now.

Cheers!!!

Sachin said...

Hi again, I just read your earlier post now where you talk about the different cities and their notoriety as regards eve teasing.

Being a Mumbaiite myself, I agree with you: Mumbai does have a reputation to which it does not live upto. I mean, ladies from outside Mumbai tend to come here with mingled fears, trepidation. With Mumbai being so crowded, the concept of "private space" (you know that each individual has a certain radius around them which is termed as personal space and one becomes reactive if someones trespasses there) becomes re-defined. So people, especially women have to make do with sharing the same sqare foot with maybe 3 other individuals.

But in spite of this, Mumbai retains the essential spirit of civilized existence. Whoa, it does sound as if I am blowing my own trumpet here but its true. Most people around would tend me extremely helpful to a stranded lady or if the lady needs help. There are a few oddballs even here but they would far and few in between. In fact, this is one of the few places where a girl can go home alone even at 1 am at night safely.

I have stayed in Bangalore too and yes, the city is friendly enough (though not extrovertly so) and women do have their breathing space.

As for Delhi, I can only be apologetic about being blatantly biased against it on all counts. Well, almost all, other than the fact that a few of our best organizations are head-quartered there.

Shruthi said...

Anitha: I know what you mean! And good to hear from you too, that eve-teasing has come down.

Sachin: Thanks a ton for your insightful comments. No way were the women of previous generations weak! They were just very sheltered. And shy. So what I meant was, the woman of today does not hesitate to display anger or resentment in public, which was not that common in the previous generation. There was more of a "what will people say" environment.

- -