Yes, a woman who is eve-teased is asking for it. At least, that’s what some women’s colleges in Kanpur seem to think. Before we even start dissecting and criticising this logic, let’s get one thing straight. The term eve-teasing trivialises an extremely serious issue; that of street sexual harassment. Most companies have a strict anti-sexual harassment policy. But, on the street, there seems to be no protection whatsoever. Even assuming that this can be classified as teasing, isn’t it the culprit’s responsibility to behave better?

The colleges in question have banned their students from wearing tight clothes. To quote the Indian Express new item,

Four leading women’s colleges of Kanpur have banned students from wearing jeans, tight tops besides other tight-fit clothes, sleeveless blouses and high heels on the campus.”

Pray, why? Because wearing jeans and sleeveless tempts men into looking and lusting. As if they don’t lust after women who are modestly dressed. Every woman has faced sexual harassment in some form at some point in her life. What we wear, or how we behave has nothing to do with it. A sixty-year old man once flashed me on the street. I was then 13 years old and was wearing my school uniform. Even then, it’s my responsibility to not provoke sexual harassment? WTF? Yesterday was a case in point. I was out with two male friends at a place I consider a second home. We were talking animatedly about work, and life in general. After about 15 minutes of conversation, I noticed a guy sitting a short distance away, directing his phone’s camera lens at me. I moved away, trying to stay out of the line of sight of the camera. I don’t think it worked. I was getting increasingly uncomfortable and the two guys I was with were oblivious to the reason behind it. Thankfully, the guy saw me looking and moved away. But, this incident made me extremely insecure.

Here I was, in a place I was extrmely comfortable with, with guys I knew very well, and yet I was insecure. I was wearing a salwar kameez. Nothing remotely revealing. Nothing “western or decadent”. Yet, he was trying to capture me on his camera. So, it’s my fault that I was even there? Or was it because I was talking to two men and apparently comfortable with it? Or maybe because I was well-dressed? Or was it because I came across as friendly and hence the guy assumed he could cross the line? Whatever it is, the problem was with him, not with me. Blaming the victim doesn’t help the cause. As IHM points out, boys don’t even realise that they are wrong, seeing as they are never pulled up for their behaviour. They grow up thinking that if they lust after a woman and ogle, it’s the woman’s fault. It’s never their responsibility to behave. It’s the woman’s to ensure they behave by covering up to the maximum. When will this change? Will be ever get principals who pull up the culprits and report them, instead of ordering the girls to come covered up? Will we ever get a police force that takes complaints of sexual harassment seriously and stop questioning the girl and slandering her? Will we ever get a public that’s more sesitive to the issue and recognises its seriousness? I am slowly losing hope. Someone tell me.

Eve-teasing? Oh, you asked for it!

7 thoughts on “Eve-teasing? Oh, you asked for it!

  • June 15, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    I think we need to loudly and publicly start ridiculing these “for the good of women” restriction. The whole “Dress this way” or “Don’t go out late”. And we need to be more vociferous in our protest. Too often we make the few obligatory “I am not asking for it” comments and we let it peter out. Besides we make these statements in an environment where there are like-minded people. We need to get “out” there and raise our voice. Maybe a pink chaddi like campaign, maybe something else. I would propose collecting money to buy blindfolds for men- in the very outrageous idiocy of that suggestion it is very like “women dress decently”. It needs to be public and it needs to be ridiculing those views- patient discourse has not really worked too well.

    Exactly. The problem is, I still hear ridiculous things like, “this is India.” This need to change NOW!

  • June 16, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Eve teasing and sexual harassment at work places are manifestations of the same desire to possess whatever is found desirable at least for the moment.The medieval kings had their harems and employed eunuchs to protect their property from trespassers and other untoward things possible in such a situation.While financing for purchase of sheep it is in the ratio of 10:1 or 20:1 keeping the ram in a minority. Biologically men can’t be equal to the ram or bull.Its all vanity and pride.To be the proud owner of the most sought after thing at the moment.Jehangir is said to have killed the husband of Noor Mahal in order to have her.In his ardour or madness whatever be the name he is said to have issued a gold coin with her face on one side and an inscription “Gold has a thousand splendours added to it by being inscribed with the image of Noor Jehan” on the other side.Such an ardour did not prevent him from marrying other women.May be she was a prized possession.
    In modern times bigamy is punishable and maintaining a harem is ruled out due to changing social mores and cultural values.But having been brought up on a diet of male pride and the worship of power I am afraid the modern man is unable to come to terms with the reality of having to be a law abiding being respecting the rights and freedom of others.The recent incident in Gujarat where the offending males were beaten up by the public may be considered the answer to hooliganism on the road.

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  • June 23, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Hay Amrutha,

    It was by chance that I landed in ur blog. But feel glad for it.
    A very good post with a great thought in it.
    Why the society is pointing the finger towards a girl at a time she is being victimised?
    Do the same guys would tease his sister when she is dresses with jeans or tight dresses?
    Some of them are citing the reason that the girl’s dressing is tempting the guys to tease..
    But the girls are not getting tempted, when a guy roam with minimum dress in roads…
    If one doesnt have that strength to control his temptations, then it is his fault rather than the girl’s.
    Hope a change comes soon.


    Welcome to my blog, Bala. Yes, things must change. But when? I don’t know.

  • July 7, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    hey .

    what if a guy came over and told you how pretty you looked ( if you are so ) ..
    and started hitting on you . Is that eve teasing . I wanna know cos i dont want to cross any line that might get me in trouble .

    If you really don’t know whether it’s considered eve-teasing or not, then it’s probably eve-teasing. Harmless flirting is one thing. Sexual harassment is quite another.


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