Thursday, May 3, 2012

Laughable Eve Teasing

Eve teasing is when the sexual harassment or groping of women by young men. It's a term predominantly used in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and possibly other close and similar areas. I had never heard this term in the US. This sexual harassment includes inappropriate comments (cat calls), unwanted touching (groping or brushing up against you), intimidation tactics, and any other form of female harassment.

This activity is most often engaged in by young, unmarried men. In my experience, foreigners do not experience this to the extremes that Indian women do. I can only imagine this is because even though they will verbally say that western women are easy, they are still somewhat intimidated by us. I'm not sure though because I have not, nor will I ever, ask these young men. They likely wouldn't have an answer anyway because I doubt they think about it under those terms.

I have to laugh at some of the eve teasing I experience. I ignore the hell out of these people, keep my head up and act like I don't notice them. It works. But some of these experiences are quite funny. Young men here in Amritsar (as well as in the US) tend to have high testosterone levels and often think or act like they are God's gift to women. It's laughable at best.

These men are all young, late teens to early 20's. That time of life when you're still sure you know everything and haven't been smacked enough to realize you don't. So here are some of my experiences with eve-teasing here in Amritsar. I should mention that this kind of thing is a big fear for my Indian family. They equate eve-teasing as being a severe threat. I do not. Should this ever escalate and some random man (in any country) ever touch me without my consent then he's going to be hitting the floor. I don't smack like a lady, I punch like a bitch.

Once I was walking to the rest room alone at the mall. 3 young men were walking up the hallway and staring at me. Then they spread out and blocked the whole hallway. What did I do? I kept my head up (I was taller than 2 of them) and broke right through the middle of them as if they weren't even there.

Another time I was walking with a gori that lives here and a young man got directly in her face. Literally an inch or two from her and he did it on purpose. As if she wanted him breathing in her airspace. As he walked off he laughed and she turned around and yelled at him. 

Those are not  typical scenarios though. It's usually more like this one: (Keep in mind this was Tuesday between 1 and 3 PM. The mall was not even close to being crowded.)

I was out with a different gori friend who's lived here in Amritsar for 3 years and India for 10. We were having lunch at the mall in a restaurant and not out in the open food court. I was seated with a view of the window. I was laughing with her about something and two men walked by. Then they came back, stood there and stared directly at me for several minutes. I kept my eyes turned toward her and kept talking as if they weren't there.

We walked out of the restaurant and toward the escalators. Near the top of the escalators a group of young men were there and asked "hello, how are you?" and we ignored them as well. We laughed at them on the way down about how not every western woman is just dying to talk to some young man she doesn't know.

We get to the bottom of the escalators and are walking toward our destination when another group of young men says "hello my American beauties." I wanted so bad to roll my eyes but I just kept walking. She's not even American!

We get to our destination and not one, but 3 different groups of young Indian men followed us around various sections of the store. One pretended twice to need to find something in the imported section. His friend had to come drag him out to get him to leave. Another group followed us to the register and my friend told them basically to f*ck off then told the cashier to get rid of them when that wasn't enough.

None of these things feel threatening. They are annoying at best. Even the punks trying to block my path to the restroom got a laugh out of me. I'm not backing down to some strange kid who thinks he's all that. Nor should you.

Following me around the mall is quite common. It doesn't seem to matter if I'm with hubby or not. I had a fortune teller follow me once and even sat and watched while hubby and I ate lunch. I've had groups of young men try to brush by me after following me. This is where the benefit of knowing some Punjabi comes in handy. I know what they're saying behind me and it makes it all that much easier to snub them when they try to pull some crap or say something.

Any of you who have been to the US know there's always some man who thinks that he's gorgeous, can get any girl, etc. You'll likely have experienced this before, just maybe not as often or in family oriented establishments. When it happens, I recommend you laugh a little and keep walking. That's what I and most of the gori's here that I know do.

Have you been eve teased?
Were you alone?
How did you react to it?

9 comments:

  1. Yeah I have been eve teased quite a few times, no touching or groping, just stalking and cat calling, the guy who stalked me on my dog walk was creepy I walked with my head up and my dog at my hip ignoring him, in front of my home he planted himself in front of me saying, may you have some nice balls, the moron didn't even know the word for boobs. I shouted "Well you want to come upstair and talk about that with my husband?" you should have seen the guy speed away on his cycle :)

    I don't care about eve teasing that much, I ignore, and like you said I can punch like a bitch if touched, never happened, but my dad was a jail officer, and when my sister and I were growing up he taught us the tricks he learnt in self defense seminars at work, his logic was that he can be sure we will never be in a though situation, and that it was better to prepare us to be though and in control of ourselves.
    A year ago my sister was coming late from work home, and a guy in a side alley between the bus stand and her home grabbed her by the hair and started feeling her, my sister never walk that stretch without her lighter in her hand, realising what was going on in a split second, she lit her lighter and burnt his face and ran for her life to her home to call the cops, now of course my dad was probably not advocating she smoke in the first place, but yeah he was the one to teach us to not be afraid to have a weapon in our hand, be it the keys or our key chain in between the knuckles of our hand or a fork, or swiss army knife, he dealt with the sexual offenders behind bars, he sure knew the danger was real and he wanted us at the ready :)

    On the guys stalking you all around the mall, I would have been totally game for walking in a lingerie shop to see if he dared follow.

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  2. Yes, I have been hooted at, whistled at and jeered at in India several times. Breasts groped in a swanky hair salon, butt and crotch grabbed walking in a crowd, hair pulled from behind twice, middle aged man exposed genitals from open door of taxi while wiggling tongue at me in broad daylight, solicited for prostitution while waiting for husband at the elevators in a 5 star hotel in Delhi.
    Why do these men think they are God's gift to women? I never dress in a 'revealing' manner-no ankles, arms, bum, or boob cleavage- kurtis mid thigh or to the knee. 
    I get the comment 'You look like Barbie' all the time. Ok well, I understand I look different, BUT HANDS TO YOURSELF!!! 
    Oh my husband gets pissed when he hears/sees some of the crap Indian men have said done to me.
    Anyway, a friend from Israel brought me some pepper/skunk foam spray, it fits in a key fob dispenser and supposedly not only does it burn like hell but it leaves your attacker with a 'skunk stench' that lasts for a week. I haven't used it yet, hope I never have to.

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  3. I wish we had a lingerie shop! Lol. Only thing is they would probably think I was going to pick out something to get ready. Lol.

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  4. Eww! How brazen they must be to grab your hair and such. That's just bad. I watched this travel show here recently where a man dressed up in burkha, fully covered face and all. It had no fancy embroidery or anything. When he walked down the street men were flirting with him. It just goes to show as long as they think you're female you're a target.

    I'm going to have to find some of that spray lol. It sounds fabulous!

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  5.  Yeah they might, but I dare them to enter the store, these idiots think they are God send to women but that's part of the macho act, they would not be caught dead in a ladie's underwear store, they would stare from the window at the most :)

    The eve teasing I've seen in India is really immature and it's disturbing to see grown men doing it. I mean giggling and whistling at the sight of anything with breast is something teenagers do back home! Or if they are adults after they had way too much booze. I used to barkeep during village fairs, it gets pretty pathetic after a few glasses.

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  6. Hi,
    I live in Chandigarh and I've lived in the States for a few years as well. Street harassment or eve teasing as we like to call it, is a huge huge problem everywhere. I was so badly harassed once that I decided to do something against it and started a Chandigarh chapter of a New York based organization called Hollaback! (you can check us out at chd.ihollaback.org) It is a constant struggle and it's fine when it isn't harmful but some of the stories i hear are downright scary. 

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  7. Yes it is definitely a world wide issue and I'm glad women like you are fighting back on a broad scale. After my vacation, if you're interested, I would love to help your Chandigarh chapter branch out to include services here in Amritsar. If you're interested, let me know. Even if you're not, I want to feature what you are doing on this blog. I want more women, Indian and pardesi alike, to know there are things like this out there to help them. Please either comment back here and let me know if it's okay to contact you at the email address you entered or to let me know if you had rather decline me featuring you here. Thank you for taking the time to leave your comment so we can all be more aware of the good work you're doing.

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  8. You really don't want to dare them to do anything..always better to keep a low profile and ignore them.

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  9. Hey Kristy,

    Thank you so much for the encouraging words. It would be great if you could feature us and help spread awareness about the issue. Please contact me at chd@ihollaback.org and I'll do what I can :)

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