Monday, January 22, 2007

riots and resistance!

well india is certainly showing its colors, and promptly. day 5 and there are riots in bangalore. no, no, not because we came. because some hindu fundy fest got out of control ostensibly in reaction to another violent rally on friday where muslim groups were condeming the hanging of saddam. surprise surprise. we were unharmed, as we were nowhere near the violence, but saw the debris on our way home. scary indeed. hopefully the first and last such experience.

but the better part of the day was our evening participating in a piece of public art/action. We joined a group of feminists challenging the sexist norm of "eve-teasing" where idle men hang around on busy streets and watch women without any self-consciousness - and trust me it happens in epidemic proportions. so this project is called BLANK NOISE and in this particular campaign, Action Heroes, women take up the space usually occupied by men along the railings of Brigade Road - a very commercial area in Bangalore that is evidently ideal for gazing at the ladies (especially in jeanspants) and harrassing the hell out of them with no repercussions.

So in this action, the heroes hand out letters that chronicle familiar experiences of sexual harassment to other women passing by and just casually take over the space. when the heroes identify one or more really disgusting or irritating eve-teasers, they quietly approach and surround him/them. the result is brilliant, ranging from a panicky expression and immediate escape to fearful anxious laughter to typical aggressive reactions. The art of this action is in the performance of dominance over these leering, jeering, lecherous men and in the synchronized action that the group takes in challenging them - all the while silent. meanwhile, the male allies with us were also following up with other men to share information. it was a powerful experience and an amazing group of women and men to share the process with.

other than that we have been eating well - spent a lot of time with my family in south bangalore this weekend - and it looks like we have finally kicked the jetlag. And tomorrow is my first day of work! wish me luck!


Uzma said...

Surabhi - Good luck on your first day of work! I miss you guys - but I'm always just a skype away - feel free to call me anytime. loveloveandmoreloveuzma

Anonymous said...

Hmm ...

It is a good move. If women start walking around in the night, our cities will be safer. But i fear, from the blog at least, your action is based on "here is the criminal - Man". There is no justification for what is happening. But may be you want to see it from a different angle and give me a smile instead of a stare next time. Believe me, many men fail to face a smile.

Good luck