16 Angry Women

26 Aug

Remember that scene in Chak De India where the entire hockey team ends up trashing a McDonald’s and beating up a bunch of louts who verbally harass two of their teammates? Beth of BethLovesBollywood thought-provokingly writes:

Apart from this scene, Chak De! India is for me a feminist film, unapologetically, boldly, with heart and humor. But women taking on the worst behavior of men and/or male-established/dominated society is not what feminism about. You don’t get to attack people because they mistreat you. Of course these jackasses deserved to be punished… [b]ut vigilante violence isn’t really the answer here… In a story that highlights personal and professional success by playing by the rules and behaving ethically and with concern for others, it doesn’t fit. I’m so disappointed that not only does the movie have the girls engage in this behavior, it also has this outburst of short tempers and violence serve as the bonding moment, the experience that enables the very existence of the team continue. What’s the message here? The enemy of my enemy is my friend? We will rise when we beat down others? The people who mistreated us behave like this, so we should too? Violence demonstrates our potential for greatness?

My answer, and i promise it’s not a copout, is that it’s complicated.

On the one hand, she has it absolutely right. Vigilante justice might solve a particular crime at a specific point in time but in the long run and larger scheme of things, it’s an ineffectual band aid applied on a deep wound. The lesson those men in Chak De are likely to have learned is not to refrain from eve teasing, as we call it in India, but to target girls singly because groups can turn nasty and, above all else, to keep away from girls with hockey sticks. That is most important.

But on the other hand, I’m an Indian woman.

When I was eleven, a cousin and I were followed home by a group of grown men who kept describing the various ways they’d like to fuck us and how much we deserved it – because I’d gone to the store down the street from our house with no one but my nineteen-year-old cousin sister to give me company. My pocket-sized, hot tempered self immediately wanted to stand my ground and throw punches, or maybe a few rocks while I was it. But my cousin all but dragged me home, holding on to my hand with a white knuckled grip, signalling me with her eyes to keep quiet every time I opened my mouth to say something, hurrying as fast we could without actually breaking into a run, and we didn’t stop until we were inside the main gates of the house and the security guard threw the lock behind us.

This was not a big city where crime was rampant. This was a small town in southern India, where my cousins and I couldn’t walk down the street without ten aunties calling home to check whether our mothers knew we were wandering about “like vagabonds”. That day when we came back home and told our mothers what had taken place, my aunt simply informed us that we were not to go to the store any more and could send one of the servants to buy whatever we wanted.

We were not poor and we were not defenceless – perhaps the two of us couldn’t have taken them on the way I wanted to on the street, but there was plenty we could have done. Yet the easiest solution was to apparently take away our freedom because who wanted to get involved in that kind of mess? Dealing with the police, registering complaints, and all for what? So some guy could get a few licks of some constable’s cane and spend a night breaking the government’s bread before he went back on the street and possibly created more troubles for us?

It was the first time I’d ever been harassed on the street and I’ve undergone the experience plenty of times since then, but what sets that one incident apart in my memory, is the laughter of those men as we ran into our house. Perhaps what he did that day was nothing more than idle amusement for him, and he really didn’t mean anything by it. Perhaps he was a bully and this was how he got his kicks. I don’t know. I remember feeling vaguely threatened, eleven year olds not being used to much sexual banter at least in my day, but what I remember most clearly is the feeling of impotent rage that shook me when I heard that man laugh. It stays with me to this day.

This is why that scene in Chak De struck such a chord in every single Indian woman I know. There is not one of us that has not experienced a moment like that one. A moment when we would have done anything just to rip some motherfucker’s throat out but had to satisfy ourselves with a few choice insults or maybe a dignified silence depending upon the circumstances, our personalities and our upbringing. If there’s something that Indian women across caste, class and regional lines can relate to, it’s being harassed. Therefore it was a cathartic moment to watch those guys get beaten up – our long suppressed wishes were being fulfilled on screen in one glorious scene. And unlike other Bollywood movies, where women only get to beat up evil doers in the most “eeks! don’t break my itsy bitsy fingernail” uber-ditsy feminine manner possible by using lampshades and sandals, and that too only with the help of either a cunning, faithful dog or a massive crowd, these women were using hockey sticks, those oh-so-macho tools of every gangster’s trade and they didn’t care if they broke a few tables along with their fingernails.

Reprehensible? Yes. Enjoyable? Hell, yes! Hypocritical? Well… it’s complicated. No, really! Consider:

The Law. Technically speaking, there are laws against eve teasing. Nothing soul destroying but it will get you sent to the slammer for a couple of nights and maybe fined. Reality is far different. It starts with the policeman telling you he’ll “take care of it” and not to bother your pretty little head about it. The “taking care of it” might entail his rushing at the man or the group of men in question and making them run away by waving his truncheon threateningly at them or maybe giving them a “good scare” by threatening to lock them up and then finally letting him go after he’s emptied his pockets.

The Family. If, by some miracle, you manage to get someone arrested for their nasty behavior, then it’s very likely that your family won’t be too pleased. Going to the police and registering a complaint against eve teasers might end up harming the victim‘s reputation. You’d think this is ignorant rural bumpkin behavior. You’d be wrong. Take one of my cousins who just abandoned her degree at a famous engineering college because a group of male students had developed a habit of bursting into the women’s hostel in the middle of the night to create a ruckus every time they got a good drunk on. This is a girl whose maternal uncle is a Minister, whose parents are well educated professionals settled abroad, and who is certainly not hurting for money. Rather than place a few calls and take a stand, her family chose to forget the three years she’d plugged into her engineering degree and place her elsewhere because, I suppose, least said soonest mended. And even if your family stood by you and wanted to bring the guilty to justice, the perpetrator’s family would probably slip immediately into denial mode and refuse to believe that their dear child could be capable of such heinous behavior and strive to portray themselves as victims of a heartless Westernized, feminist culture out to destroy their values and their lives. Which would, of course, make no sense logically but would set off deep alarm bells because it used the five-alarm words “Western culture” and “feminism”. And at the end of it all, the man in question would have learned precisely nothing from his experience.

The Culture. This culture of silence, deflecting blame and taking the path of least resistance floats on the fact that a lot of Indian men and women have limited social skills when it comes to the opposite gender. Not all of them, but a lot of them, especially in smaller cities and in less advantaged or more conservative communities where segregation is the order of the day.

There was this kid in my high school who really liked this one girl who was a year junior to him. She was a brilliant student, very fair skinned, soft spoken and all her close friends were girls. All important requirements for a proper girl in our hometown. He was lucky not to flunk out, very dark, and addicted to displays of machismo that were all too likely to backfire like the bits fluff he grew on his upper lip. As per the dynamics of conservative small town South India, there was no way in hell the princess would even look at him, especially because she was also a Good Girl and didn’t do things like that because it offended her moral principles. So what’s a guy to do to get her attention? He pulled off her dupatta in the stairwell during recess which nearly (or maybe it did?) drove her to tears. And then he followed her around everywhere she went, offering her little gifts and sweet cards from Hallmark. She did what soft-spoken, moral girls do all over India when faced with a situation like this – she tied him a rakhi and hoped that was an end to it.

She thought he was a scumbag. Every single girl in school thought he was a scumbag. And all the guys rushed to tell us that he wasn’t that bad, he was actually a good guy, he didn’t mean anything by it. The faceless 21 year old in this article, Raja Kumar, puts it best: “I was never really taught how to act around a girl. I thought teasing was the way to get them to notice me.”

And he isn’t entirely wrong. I’m sure he’s closely related to one woman at least and he doesn’t usually interact with her by complimenting her ass, so with a little thought I’m sure he knew what he was doing was objectionable. But there actually are men and women who think this kind of behavior, as long as it comes from someone they like or consider personable, is romantic. If that boy in my school had been better looking or more charismatic, I bet there would have been girls who thought his behavior deliciously deplorable rather than just plain old deplorable.

This is why it’s “cute” and “fun” when a Bollywood hero (or a hero from any of India’s fim industries for that matter – this is a national sterotype) stalks the heroine and “teases” her unmercifully until she “realizes” that he’s being an asshole because he “loves” her. But it’s terrible and threatening when the villain does the same thing because well, he’s kind of unfortunate looking and is clearly motivated by impure thoughts rather than pure ones. The hero is the guy who stalks the girl because he wants to marry her and father adorable little babies with her; the villain is the guy who even if he wants to marry her and father adorable little babies with her, only wants to do so via some athletic, kinky sex unimaginable and shocking to those who’re pure of heart.

So when those 16 women in Chak De India took up their hocket sticks and laid all those men out, they were fulfilling the fantasies of millions of Indian women who’d never seen anything like it before.

[WaPo article via Jezebel]


Posted by on August 26, 2008 in Entertainment, Life, Movies, Personal, Video


27 responses to “16 Angry Women

  1. Pitu

    August 26, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    I remember being miserable as a ‘phoren’- returned, miniskirt-wearing adolescent in Mumbai – I cried and cried because I had no idea how to cope with leches, having never been eve-teased in Afrika. One day my nana found me crying and in typical Armyman fashion, instructed me to take our fiercest dog (we had 3) on walks/errands with me. Well, darn it if all the bhen****s didn’t shit their pants when they saw Raja snarl at them. One step towards me and I’d have let go of the leash, and they knew it! I no longer do that in India- I’m a stronger person, and I have my fists as well as a potty mouth.

    But I completely disagree with Beth. If a guy so much as mutters a gaali at me or my kid cousins, he has a very, very, very sharp set of canine teeth to contend with. No offense but it is easy to be peace-loving abroad. Experience the constant harassment in India and your outlook changes very quickly.

  2. bollyviewer

    August 26, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Very well put, Amrita. That moment in Chak De certainly fulfilled my fantasy! 🙂

    I dont think anyone who’s not been subjected to daily harassment in India can understand its effects. I still remember how free and happy I felt the first time I left India – it was like a weight I hadnt been aware of carrying around with me was removed and I could know true happiness. Vigilante justice is not the answer but constant harassment can breed battered woman syndrome which finds expression in violence – in this case vicarious violence.

  3. Vishal

    August 26, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Nicely written. A delightful read (as always!)

    >> This is why that scene in Chak De struck such a chord in every single Indian woman I know.

    This scene stuck a chord in many Indian males too. As you’ve correctly mentioned, Indian male also suffers from the “culture of silence and least resistance”. Many choose to ‘let it go’ however furious they might get because of the indecent behavior of the eve teasers, and however guilty they might feel for letting it go.

  4. ana

    August 26, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    So I will do a Tevye (Fiddler on The Roof) here and say that on the one hand I agree with Beth that “vigilante justice/violence” is not the answer.

    On the other hand, Pakistan, is definitely NOT different from India when it comes to women being harassed, the women in my immediate family (including me) have been chased or attacked in busy centres where no one, certainly no decent man out there did anything to stop it. And the laws there don’t protect women all the time (do not even get me started on that cursed ordinance!) So, even if I had seen Chak de India, and I saw those women with hockey sticks, a small part of me would have gone Gandhian with “an eye for an eye makes the world go blind” but an even bigger part of me would have thought, “yeaaah baby!”

    One of my stories, Anarkali Bazaar was published at a website, it is a story about how a teenager enjoying all the colors and sights of the bazaar gets elbowed in the breast by a faceless creep. The teenager’s response is one of anger mixed with resignation. One of the readers suggested that that attitude was the wrong attitude to take, and that he should have been reported to the authorities. How could an adolescent have reported the attack of a faceless man to the authorities, when enough is not done to someone one can actually attach a face to?

    That teenager was me. And countless other girls. And it happened in that bazaar more than once. So I think that scene, to borrow from Amrita, may have fulfilled the fantasies of countless Pakistani women as well.

  5. prasun

    August 26, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    Beth would have been right – in a perfect world. But India is not America.
    FWIW, I liked that scene.

  6. Beth

    August 26, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    Wow! These conversations are all really interesting!

    While I must be quick to state that the US too has issues with women, including how they are addressed and treated in public, I certainly did not mean to imply I thought that the challenges women in India deal with are the same as the ones my grandmother, my mother, my friends, and I do. I can’t really talk about the experiences of Indian women because I’m not one and I haven’t lived there – which is why I’m so glad people are talking about their own contexts for viewing and appreciating this scene (.I think almost everyone who has commented on my site has more first-hand experience with “eve teasing” [vile term] than I do).

    Amrita and others, do you have any thoughts on why this particular plot point was used as the bonding moment for the team? Perhaps because it’s such a pan-female experience in India and therefore something all the teammates could relate to?

  7. Pitu

    August 26, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    Beth, it’s as simple as this: every woman in India has experienced the desire to violently bash up these cowards who torment her/ her loved ones. In fact, in India, the men stand aside and do nothing whereas other women will rally around a ‘victim’ and thrash the living daylights out of a man if the victim kicks up a fuss (I speak of Mumbai). One of my proudest moments was when (as a 15 yr old) I slapped a man in a crowded theater – he was groping my 11 yr old cousin! Chaos ensued and he was beaten up by the crowd. Am I sorry? No way!

    The movie merely showed (and in an approving way) what women would like to see. Show me a woman who has been pawed/groped/molested in public in broad daylight in India and who ‘disapproves’ of that scene, and I will show you a hypocrite :-/

  8. apu

    August 27, 2008 at 12:51 am

    FANTASTIC post… I agree with the majority of commentors. There are of course issues with women being shown as strong only if they can take up a typical filmi male response; on the other hand, which one of us wouldn’t love to do it?

  9. Broom

    August 27, 2008 at 1:06 am

    That was my absolute favourite scene from the movie. As much as I hate violence & as much as I know it doesn’t really solve anything in the long run – I don’t care. To my mind – those women in Chak De were beating up all the bastards who had copped a feel and gotten away with it while I seethed in “impotent rage”.

    More power to them.

  10. Ramsu

    August 27, 2008 at 4:26 am

    Interesting post and comments!

    I hadn’t thought of the scene this way. But what you say makes a whole lot of sense. In a way, violence in a movie works when it is in response to a frustration we feel as viewers. It didn’t evoke that sort of visceral reaction in me, but I can see how the scene must’ve tapped into a basic frustration that a lot of women must’ve felt.

    I suspect Amin put that scene in because he had to go from a point where the team was united against Kabir to a point where the team was united under Kabir, so he used the fight as a way to make that transition. But I don’t see the logic — why would the team suddenly feel like Kabir is “worthy” of being their coach? From that perspective, I still feel it wasn’t as effective as it needed to be.

    But as an isolated sequence, I understand it better now.


  11. Sheetal

    August 27, 2008 at 6:02 am

    Got stunned after read the review.u hv guts but after all we r living in man’s world so u hv to compromise.

  12. memsaab

    August 27, 2008 at 10:25 am

    I read Beth’s post yesterday and found it interesting, but even as an American woman I found that scene enormously entertaining and at an emotional level very satisfying too. I’ve been groped, and followed, and flashed—all in AMERICA. I can’t even begin to count the obnoxious comments that have come my way in addition—also in America. I have also had to deal with some bizarre things in India (hotel staff who won’t leave my room until I start shouting at them from the hall, for instance) and I’ll bet there isn’t a woman on the planet who hasn’t at least once in her life wanted to punch some man in the face. I don’t personally know any, anyway!

    What better unifying event could there be for such a disparate group of girls/women? And the aftermath of the fight was that the girls suddenly “got” what Kabir had been saying to them all along about being a team, not a group of individuals, and to me that made sense in making them realize that maybe he knew what he was doing, after all.

    I loved that scene, and while I don’t in any way condone vigilante justice (in fact, I’ve disliked a few Hindi movies because it was celebrated as a real solution) I think that the reality for women is that we all know what it feels like to be treated that way, and to feel essentially helpless to make it stop. It was catharsis at its finest!

  13. M

    August 27, 2008 at 11:57 am


    You said it! I LOVED that scene, for precisely the reason all the others have said.

    IMO vigilante justice is not always incorrect – it doesn’t work when other forms of justice exist and are enforced – and enforcement is key really, as the laws do exist in India.

    Over the years, I have come to believe that in situations where the culture is slow to accept new ideas, a healthy respect for the law (if not fear) is needed to enforce some ideas. For example, dowry – the dent made by the anti-dowry laws is small, but it is there – and among average middle-class educated families, there is at least a fear that too much overt harrassment may have their DIL call the cops on them, and that they will be subject to some humiliation. Such a fear does not exist in most people’s minds when it comes to street harrassment laws – and so IMO/IME, sufficient vigilante justice might help control some of this.



  14. Amey

    August 27, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    I agree that some physical action is cathartic (and taken to extreme, that is most people’s argument about capital punishment).

    As for breaking tables and chairs, any “hero” stepping in to “save” the damsel in distress is bound to cause a whole lot of damage, too. And there is only a slight line between vigilante and street gang, if beating up is taken as answer to injustice. I guess it’s more to do with who rather than why in case of such things.

    A detour on a lighter lane: remember the egg-fight in “Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar”? Now that was some serious smashing 😉

  15. rads

    August 27, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    o absolutely! Your last line summed it up.
    Actually I did kicked a ticket conductor once. Well, kick’s over stating it, more like punched him in the stomach for standing too close to me enough for me to feel violated. Folks around saw what I did, not a soul said a word, but one woman from the working class yelled at no one in particular “more girls ought to do this”

    long story short, vigilante or not, circumstances dictate what and how we react, and how deeply we react. What I did wasn’t big, but at least I felt better.

  16. pitu

    August 27, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Such a fab discussion! I am curious to ask the male posters what they think- why do guys in India never say/do anything when they see these things happen? I don’t even bother looking at guys in India for help – the women are very helpful- but don’t the decent males feel like saying/doing anything?

  17. Kanan

    August 27, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    “So when those 16 women in Chak De India took up their hocket sticks and laid all those men out, they were fulfilling the fantasies of millions of Indian women who’d never seen anything like it before.” There! you said it!

    Thanks for the post and sharing the other info. I didn’t even know there was a law, not that it makes any difference.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your cousin dropping out of Engineering just because of a bunch of harassing guys. It’s a shame.

    Among a numerous enraging incidents that I’m reminded of after reading this post and comments, there are two fun ones (well, almost):

    I remember my classmate’s brother badly beating up a guy for he won’t quit stalking her. The previous day he had called at her home and said I love you to her mom (by mistake of course thinking it’s her and not her mom). The guy didn’t show his bruised face for a week and then quit stalking.

    The other time it was a teenager boy from our neighborhood. I was barely around 10 or so at the time. So this guy comes up to me and sends a message to teenage girl living next door from me “tell her to meet me at this place at 5 PM tomorrow” I was a lot more silly back then and asked him if she needed to bring anyone with her to which he said no. I came home and told the story to my parents and they told to teenage girl’s parents. The uncle (her dad) went to meet him the next day at 5 PM and beat him up there. He never even take a glance towards our houses after that. Later, we started calling him five-o-clock.

  18. s

    August 28, 2008 at 2:28 am

    That incident you mentioned in chak de India, did not strike any chord in me. I am still trying to figure out why, may be because I have never been teased when I am out with a group of girls. or I don’t even think it is possible to beat up the guys back.

    Besides, atleast the place where I come from(Tamil Nadu), I have read that the rogues who get beaten up end up throwing Acid on the girl. I haven’t heard a case like that on a first/econd hand account only in the media.

    What makes me shake my head in my disbelief is, due to the very fact that the guy loves the girl( deep very deep), the girl should also love him. These guys really believe that. When the girl does not return the interest, it is called arrogance.I am not really sure in these parts, its cinema influence on the younger generation or vice versa.

  19. Amrita

    August 28, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Pitu – hahaha, I wish I’d been there to see it! I might be wrong but I think the more you go up north, the more women are willing to take matters into their hands. I don’t know if this is because of natural belligerence or whether harassment is more common or whether it’s the remnants of feelings left over from the days when they were constantly being invaded, but I feel north Indian women are more likely to hand out an ass whupping. I grew up around a bunch of Punjabis, Sindhis, and UPwallahs and I have a feeling it only served to increase my natural aggressiveness. And yes, if you want to get into a fight, don’t hang around hoping for the cavalry because nothing of the kind exists.

    BV – Ha, mine too! 🙂 I’ve been bothered plenty of times in America as well but what those encounters lacked was the sheer menace of the same in India. In fact, I later figured out that the rules in America were entirely opposite and if you talked back to the guys who said things and were able to laugh at it, then they immediately let it go. In India, that would be construed as a come on.

    Vishal – I guess that makes sense. Prudence, whether practiced by males or females, comes at a price for everyone.

    Ana – so I’ve heard, so I’ve heard. And god knows, I’ve been in that same bazaar (just over the border) and I’ve felt the same. All those years of men “casually” brushing up against me have given me a hyper awareness of things like that actually. The best reaction to which came from a creep on an overnight bus from Bangalore who, when I asked him to kindly mind his hand which kept trying to “fall” into my lap, looked very wise and told me he “understood” and that there were women who felt like me, it was a psychological problem and I could cure it one day! I stared at him for a while before I realized he was telling me I was frigid because I didn’t feel like getting groped by a random stranger on a bus!

    Prasun – perfect world is the term.

    Beth – I certainly didn’t think you were being an Ugly American if that’s what you think 🙂 One of the reasons I so appreciate reading you and carla and nida and greta and the ppcc and others is I’m always keen to know what you see because I lack that perspective you can bring to it. I’m just glad I can throw some light on why that scene was so “Indian” to so many of us. Re: the scene itself, that was certainly my reading of it. Kabir had spent all that time trying to unite them by giving them something to unite against (himself) but that didn’t really give them any pleasure as such and ultimately ended by them kicking him out but this was something they all understood at a gut level and they certainly had not mixed feelings for those louts.

    Apu and Broom – yup 🙂 I saw the movie with my mom and even she could hardly contain her enthusiasm for what was going on. And then she told my father all about it and how he HAD to watch it. 😀

    Ramsu – like others have mentioned, it IS that 70s thing where the Angry Young Man became a symbol for all those unemployed young men. And you’re absolutely correct that it doesn’t make sense why they suddenly saw the light after they beat those guys up. Unless they admired a man who could keep munching his Aloo McTikkis while a massive fight is going on.

    Sheetal – it’s not about having guts or living in a man’s world (which I don’t believe btw), it’s just about fighting to live with a basic amount of dignity. And frequently having more temper than brains 😀

    Memsaab – I’m so sorry on behalf of my idiot countrymen that you had to go through that 😦 Of course we get treated just as bad or worse but you’d think they’d at least leave guests alone. Sigh. I think I have a tendency to downsize the amount of harassment I’ve experienced in America because it’s never, as yet cross my finger, gotten physical unless you count the stoned homeless Jamaican guy who was overcome with brotherly love and wanted to give me a hug but the one big difference is that at least American women can call the police. Indian women can call the police but they’ll probably ask her why she’s dressed like that or walking in that part of town or a hundred icky things like that. But yes, sexual persecution = very relatable!!

    M – I think that’s one aspect of it certainly. Some of the harassment is so open and in your face, it’s astounding. Somebody was talking about The Pink Gang or something like that who’re a group of women vigilantes in Ahmdbd or somewhere who go around fighting harassment. Good for them, is what I’m thinking.

    Amey – equality in table trashing! that’s what I’m talking about! Talking about cpaital punishment reminds me of a post I’ve been meaning to write. Hmm.

    Rads – move theaters were where we waged our battles, me and my best friend. We’ve scratched, kicked, gotten up from our seats, taken off our high heels and smacked them about the head, yelled, screamed, punched – and nobody ever said a word. Not even the navy officers who used to intermittently share theatre space with us. It wasn’t hockey stick fueled mayhem but it was plenty for two scrawny 16 yr olds facing down groups of four or more.

    Kanan – HAHAHAH!!! I wish you and Pitu had lived next to each other, then you could have gone home and told your nice little story and Raja and his sharp teeth could have met Mr. Romeo.

    S – you’re really fortunate 🙂 But I can tell you first hand, that it is indeed possible to beat up the guys but you have to be really committed to your attack. It’s the first rule of any hand to hand combat really: Don’t Pull Your Punches. As for acid attacks – ugh, yes, I’ve heard those stories too. Which only make me even more mad. … And yes, I totally agree that it makes no sense as to why one person should reciprocate the other person’s feelings only because its so strong. Is it some kind of law? And how about rape victims falling in love with their rapists because they eventually see the rapist’s “compulsions” and forgive them? Unbelievable!

  20. memsaab

    August 28, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Amrita no need to apologize on behalf of your countrymen; my point was that men can be obnoxious anywhere. We can call the police, but unless we’ve been actually harmed they don’t do much here either, although they will talk to the guy if you know who it is. Doesn’t help at all if you’re harassed in passing and there’s no policeman around (there never is when you need one) 🙂

  21. the PPCC pulls its punches

    August 28, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    What a wonderful post, and fascinating replies! Don’t have much to add – I think I’m closest to Memsaab in opinion on this one – but I just wanted to say this is very informative (and a little dismaying – obviously it’s hard not to have an instant emotional reaction to hearing about all these horror stories of harassment. Good grief!)

    I’m thrilled to see this discussion going. Thanks for rolling the ball, Beth, and thanks for taking up the baton, Amrita!

    (Ooh, the pain of a mixed metaphor.)

  22. Amrita

    August 31, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Memsaab – oh sure, that’s true. The only thing that makes me feel better about it is that things are slowly improving to the point where we can all agree that certain things are definitely bad.

    PPCC – You’d feel a lot better if you punched one of them out 😀 No, really, I don’t know how I could have handled one half of what I’ve experienced if I’d been forced to bite my tongue and move on all the time. Yay, Beth for making everybody sit up.

  23. Been there!

    September 2, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Oh God, an safe little American girl commenting on what women in India experience on a daily basis and how they should respond in a “civil” way.


    I’m an American who has lived there for a decade.
    I’m back in the USA now and guess what Beth? I’m not getting sexually harrassed anymore and I can wear and act however I want.

    In India I did not have those freedoms, and I STILL GOT HARRASSED.

    Believe me, if Indian women start resorting to violence, it will be the best thing since roti with ghee for that country!

  24. the PPCC: newest dilip kumar convert

    September 4, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Whoa, lots of CAPS IN THAT last comment. Just JUMPING IN to defend the “safe little American girl” – I think Beth was just throwing out some ideas in the hope of generating some discussion, especially amongst women who’ve been through Eve-teasing. I realize Been there! has, uhh, been there, but no need for the aggressive dismissal of Beth’s ideas. Everyone’s entitled to muse and to opine… and civil society is nice (even on the internet!).

  25. Amrita

    September 8, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Just chipping in to say Amen to what the PPCC said: this post is in no meant as a slam on Beth, who’s one of my favorite people ever! I love her work and her blog and I was just responding to a question she put out there!

    Also, Been There, I’m sorry you had such a wretched time 😦 I hope some day you’ll be able to come back and see for yourself that there is indeed a civil society, it just likes to sit back and meditate on the middle distance.

  26. High Priestess

    September 9, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    India has a serious law and order problem, we all know that. Women in general are not safe there.

    I feel Been There’s pain.

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