Monday, August 29, 2005

PS - IMHO, not fair

When I wrote out the last post, I waited three days before hitting the 'publish' button.
When I titled it 'provocation', I cringed at the ominous irony of it. I guessed that somebody was going to fail to understand and think- 'this amounts to defending rapists'.

That is not a nice thing for anyone to think, so I hesitated.

For the first time, since I started this blog, I stopped to think of how a post would be received and whether this was really what I wanted to say. Four times, I edited it - just to make sure I wasn't saying something I didn't mean to say.

And yet, a lot of people ended up mixing up everything I was trying to say.

I really, totally, am not justifying violation of any sort.
Right now, I am only justifying my having thought and said what I did think and say.

I agree - castrate rapists by all means.
Punch those who pinch you; make mince of those who touch you, by all means.
If you face the threat of pummelling, scalping, torching, then pummel, scalp, torch. By all means.

But where do you draw the line of justified pummelling and scalping?
What is your justification?
Where is the line?

Is rape the line?
Is touching without permission the line?
Is making lewd gestures the line?
Is whistling and singing a silly cinema song the line?
Is staring the line?

When is it okay to turn around and slap a guy?

I know my line: if I am physically threatened, I will react in self-defence. If I am touched, I will slap.

But I also believe that I have the right to retaliate in kind.... measure for measure. No more.
Even in the harshest form of judgement, you are granted an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. No more.

If someone says lewd things, I have the right to hurl abuse back at him.
If someones leches, I have the right to, perhaps, glare back. Or to lech back. Or to ignore.... but even if I think that he wants to insult me, I do not have the right to hit him. Or get him arrested, unless I have reason to believe that he is going to physically harm me.
If someone whistles, I do not have the right to hit him. Or even verbally abuse him. It is not fair.
And no, whadeheg, whistling is not the same thing as squeezing/pinching someone's butt.
A man, or woman, does have the right to say or do anything he/she likes as long as he/she is not physically harming you. Or touching you when you do not want it.
Your body is your fiefdom. The mohalla is not.

I understand that different people have different ideas of violation and of personal space. But hey, there have to be some basic rules that everyone recognizes. Every individual cannot go about setting their own rules, wrt 'doses and amounts' of admiration that are acceptable or not.

Some women get upset if someone enters a three-foot radius of space around them... When in public, they'll just have to live with their fears, and sense of violation. It's nobody's fault.

You may get very upset when a drunk stranger leans close, barely six inches away from your face... But you still do NOT have the right to slap him.
I may get very upset when I am followed home. But I do NOT have the right to hit the men concerned. I may get upset in crowded buses, but I do not have the right to hit the men standing next to me. If a man standing next to me tries to touch me, I do have the right to slap him, scream, ask him to get off the bus.

As far as expression of admiration is concerned, I know of women who follow men they find attractive. I know enough women who check out men in public places - pubs, malls, cinema complexes. They comment, they ogle, they giggle, they make blank calls, they say lewd things on the phone and send nasty emails....

I don't like to think of what would happen if the men slapped the women concerned... How do I know they don't feel harrassed? (I do know definitely of two different men who have felt harrassed by women who chased them all over town in cars.... I laughed, when I heard. But the men were not amused.)

Try and put yourself on the other side.

How would you (as a woman) feel if you're in a public space, and you're leching at a man/woman who is dressed to kill, and this person turns around and thrashes you to make you stop leching.

What do you think your reaction will be? Will you say - 'Oh, but he's right... I was insulting him.'
(I'd probably just thrash the person right back, be it man or woman.)

And, for the last time, I am not saying - 'dress like this; don't dress like that'.
I dress like both, this and that. I DON'T care how you dress.
But I do think it is a bit much when you want to control not only the way you dress, but also the ways in which people react to your dressing.
That, IMHO, is not fair.


Anurag said...

Well, that's honest, and I like it. Well said.

Annie Zaidi said...

thanks, anurag... wish there was enough honesty to go round for everybody :)

Whadaheg said...

well, first of all, the hit, pummel routine-I didnt really mean those literally, i was trying to say that i had the right to react to reactions to the way i dressed;
i was just being the question of what constitutes the eye for that eye is really not the point...the contentious bone is the quesiton of my right to react, which you werent much for in the first post, but now are..from suggesting that we move around in cars with tinted glasses(what are you saying woman?!!!) to allowing a little bit of the pummel routine...thank you.
second, yes, what constitutes violation is subjective, but surely you see the objective "violativeness" of persistent stares, cat-calls, whistles, butt pinches etc,without getting into extreme positions of "within 5 feet radius and i feel raped" ( are you a lawyer?..), lets just say that more often than not a woman's sense of being violated
is matched by the violator's intent to violate..there is conscious intent i've seen (and dont deny it, you too) in the eyes of these ****ers..its that desire to insult that riles..i guess, yes in a court of law, it becomes rather dicey going into establishing that, but really the benefit of the doubt should go to the woman in this case when making laws, even when we know it can sometimes be misused..the greater common good thingie..

"body is your fiefdom, mohall is not..." your understanding ofviolation is painfully stunted to within the boudnaries of the physical body my dear...stunted cos violation is so undeniably just as painful in its consequences even wehn limited to the non-physical no, people cannot just say anyting they want-they can fucking do that in the confines of their fucking bathroom, but if it is directed at me,sister...(not going into that again...)

fourth, given half the chance i'd
prescribe the pummel routine (kidding...once again, non-literally..) for women who violate:ogle,giggle, blank call, lewd write, etc what cork-screw convoluted logic do you try to exonerate men of a deed by saying women do the same as well? gender here is a confounding non-issue.

putting myself on the other side, i just wanto confess (contrite and shamefaced my expression rite now..) that i have "harassed" on one or two occasions and i have also expressed subdued, frank, respectful admiration(to men and women)..I KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO.. (believe me men know too...)and submit to the pum.rou. for the first and not the second...

finally, dressing the way i want is a right to self, right to being me..are you saying butt pinches can be defended the same way? btw,
your very last comment gives the lie to the rest of your post, just want you to know...

Dr. Gonzo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Annie Zaidi said...

whatdaheg - have the last say, if you will... I don't agree with everything you say, but that's mutual, so let's leave it at that

TTG said...

Wow great points. I just wanted to add something - If an Autowala whistles to you and says "Hey Sexy!" and an Adonis-type does the same thing, many people would brand the autowala as a cheap creep, and the Adonis-dude as just another stud. There is a lot of elitism involved in this. In Italy, Men routinely indulge in "eve-teasing", and I know of many women who think it flattering when in Italy, but find the same behaviour here in India to be despicable. Why the double standard, if not a little elitism, and even racism?

Pareshaan said...

I must say you have a lot of patience, forgiveness and a very deliberate mind, if after being hounded by your share of sadak chhaaps all the way from Bombay to Delhi, you can still ponder about the fairness and the propriety of a woman's action. It is very admirable.
In my own opinion, a woman's over-reaction, even if it be such, is justified. This is because in Indian society men are given a lot of priveleges, but are also given a set of duties. One of them, has always been not to be a pain in the ass of women. To be civil and corteous, and make sure that they are doing well.
So they know they are screwing up big time when they hassle a female, And thus they should be ready, and expecting at least a slap (castration would be stretching it perhaps), everytime, they stare down, whistle at, grope at a woman.
By the way your blog is very nice, you paint well done and many hued pictures of India. Very vivid. And the emotional content is also awesome. Though reading your writing makes it seem really unsafe to be a single woman in India. Is it really that bad? Your auto story was apalling. I am really sorry as an Indian man, if such is the depravity of my brethren.

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