read as: " Are you a man or just not a man/ not man enough?"

Amul Advert. 2007.


Shreyasi Kar writes for BN GUY

also posted at http://actionheroes.blanknoise.org

Being stalked is not fun. Even when you know that it is not dangerous and harmless. Or maybe it seems like stalking only to me. For many others, including my “stalker”, its trying to woo or flirt. Maybe even being caring and protective. No wonder the whole school was surprised as to why I wasn’t madly in love with my stalker as yet. That was Jabalpur for me. A small town trying to get big. I was the newcomer there in 11th and everyone wondered which guy’s ‘girl’ I would become. Ofcourse it didn’t matter whether I even remotely liked the guy or not. Having come from Nagpur, (which by no means was a big bad city) Jabalpur, and then studying in K.V. felt like a culture shock of sorts. Suddenly talking to the guys of the class without any mission to be accomplished was too forward and reflected badly on your character. Openly going out with someone (NOT the stalker) was a matter that the principle brought up while talking about participating in a science fest, no wonder all my dates used to be at 10 am when for sure no one would see us together. I hated the town and its culture for all of this. But after a point you stop being the rebel outsider and just fit in somewhere at the extreme end of the crazy culture, and actually start taking notice of the zillion subtle things happening.

In any small town, your two-wheeler is your true BFF. And yes a major chunk of your social life and activities revolve around it. At one o’clock when the senior school gets over, you’ll see girls and boys spilling out of schools and line up along the road in groups. This is the 5 minutes that they’ll be getting for any sort of interaction. Looking straight at the guy you like/are going out with is not what good cultured girls do, therefore shy and coy glances are exchanged between the two parties by looking into the tiny rear-view mirror. Notes are exchanged in the form of ‘stray’ crumpled balls of paper that was obviously meant to hit a friend but hit the love interest ‘by mistake’. And if the note is read and not just left lying there or not torn up after reading, it means that the girl is yours. Immediately she is his girl and he is her protector. He’ll ‘drop’ her from home to school. From school to home. From home to the zillion coaching centres. From the zillion coaching centres to home. Day after day. And during all this smiles are exchanged through rear-view mirrors. Conversations happen only at traffic signals. If they are lucky, cellphone nos. will be exchanged. In order to not forget the no. both will be chanting it till they get home, and by this time they know the no. so well that there is no need to write it down any more. And then its love!

What happens when the girl ignores the crumpled ball of paper, or tears it up? She is still ‘his girl’ and the most important mission is to ‘win’ her. He still becomes her ‘protector’ (read stalker) follows her around and ensures that no one else dares to play catch with crumpled balls of paper around her. Orkut, email, and social networking makes stalking a little bit easier. And oh so sweet forwards spam her mail box and scrapbook. I always felt that the funda behind doing all this was ‘hate me or love me you can’t ignore me, (and soon enough you’ll love me)’ [ someone had actually written this – “sorry for without permission - entering your profile but if i say hi.......u may say whoz this.... if i ask for chat....u may say why??.... if i say i liked ur profile......u may say im flattering…” ]

And what happens when you read and don’t tear up someone else’s letter? Hell breaks loose. Fist fights, punctured tires, suddenly empty fuel tanks, strange fake orkut id’s, etc is what you will be subjecting your new lover boy to! Not to forget a fresh torrent of lovey dovey forwards in your mail and very serious warnings about the honesty and integrity of the new lover boy in your life [someone had actually sent me a cell phone snap of my new lover boy talking to some other girl!] and all you can do is hope that this testosterone fuelled obsession dies out soon enough. If you are lucky, it dies out within 2-3 months of the entry of new lover boy. If your not, you may still be getting mails like – ‘thanks for accepting my rqest ...dear !
or kaise ho.....? pics to bohut saari hai par kuch hi dekh paya hu....u are really enjoying thr....may i know ur usual loggin tym......take care !’

Even after 2 years of having left school, moved to a different city, and graduating to facebook from orkut J




I've been reluctant to write all along because I don't want to sound moralistic about my opinions on 'eve-teasing' and other forms of harassment. But there is a lot of doubt, perhaps among women especially, about the reasons for harassment. I don't know if what I have to say will help, but for those who are interested in an academic effort it might offer some clues.

Growing up in Kerala, and having spent my most memorable childhood days there, exposed me to a different world. The 'difference' here is what UR Ananthamurthy talked of in an essay on his boyhood; the access to the backyard, or the women's area of the house. The frontyard (to Ananthamurthy) was always his father and his friends discussing the world, the big questions of politics and so on, while his mother's friends, gossipping in the backyard, would obviously indulge in 'women's talk'. Not that one form of gossip is higher than the other.

My experiences were similar. When I was in Kerala for two months every year (the most memorable part of the year, I might add), I was always amidst women. This was until I was 12 or 13, after which one tends to rebel against being treated like a baby. The menfolk were generally away, on Army or other duties, and grandpa was the only male around.

Anyway, what happened was that it opened me up to a world that is not obvious in the living room. The womenfolk had their pet pastime of talking of neighbours, and movies and so forth. There was another vocation -- the fortnightly women's magazine which ran serialised stories. All the women had a terrified fascination for one kind of story -- the rape. There would invariably be an illustration of a man tugging away at a woman's saree. The word 'balaalsangham' was spoken in whispers when they discussed those stories. It implied something horrific, unspeakable.
I don't know if the stories were written by men or women. Looking back, I suspect they were written by men. Such things usually are.

So that was my earliest intimation that what mattered to men was very different from what mattered to women...

We used to go to the pond to bathe, early morning. I would go with the women (this was until I was ten or so). The pond had separate embankments for men and women... and (not surprisingly) there were always a couple of men at least ogling the women.
And the women... they just felt disgusted. They felt helpless being stared at, but they had their own ways of getting back. They assigned nicknames to the oglers and discussed them with contempt. When they crossed them in the street, they looked through them, as if they were invisible.

Much, much later.... I discovered I couldn't sit through fashion shows (my college had a hugely popular annual inter-college fest with a fashion show) because to me it meant women being paraded in front of a bunch of oglers.

I'm surprised when I'm told it's difficult for girls in Kerala. After all, my experiences were not unique. Given the matrilineal/ matriarchal system in Kerala, kids always grow up around the womenfolk. I don't know what happens when they get into their teens. My teens were not spent in Kerala.


The horror of being construed as an ogler or harasser... even by accident! It cramps one in public, sure... for there is a fear of whistling or singing on the road or in the bus. Or even smiling inadvertently at a stranger. These are small privileges to give up; I think the girls have it much harder. (Why can't men keep their hands to themselves!)

How do I see eve-teasing? I think it's part wooing behaviour, part misguided machismo, part bravado, part peer pressure. You get to hear war stories when you're among the boys in hostel (I was, for four years). The guys made it look like a conquest. A lot of this happened on buses... especially on the long-distance routes. There never seemed an element of shame in narrating those stories. I suspect a lot of their inspiration had to do with what our film heroes portray on screen, that the way to woo is to 'break' feminine resistance. Behave incorrigibly for long enough, and the maiden would be bowled (over). There are class questions too that come up, but that's for another time.



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I have been a very nice person and I am more sensitive towards girls. 

Whenever I am in public, I make sure no female ever feels embarassed because of me. 
I dont look at them just like that. If i have to interact for asking something, I look straight into eyes and ask plainly and then get away. I understand that females have the right to be free in public and atleast not to feel embarassed because of us. They have the right to be on their own. And I understand the psychological phenomenons happen at all those disturbing times. Come, 'half the world' deserves it surely. 

However, being a man, there are times, and there are girls who are very cute, very beautiful that you just cant ignore them and they look that way also. Even in those cases, if I look at them, there's nothing else in mind other than praise for the beautiful face, and I say it to myself that she is beautiful, just so that my thought remains till that point only. 
If I look at them, (thats generally for very short instance), I make sure that they or for that matter even the general public doesnt notice that I am "looking at a girl". 
If the physical circumstances are such, that I can actually not look at them to see 'His' creation, then I Dont. 
I have many female friends, and when I am with them, I try to behave like a protecting man. 
And at that time, I behave in the manner that I 'expect from other men'. 

Somtimes, in public, I see school or college boys, talking and laughing very loudly, sometimes when girls are nearby (they may or may not be using *** language). At that time, it becomes difficult to define the crossing line of decency.On one hand, they have the right to talk and laugh loudly (they may be engaged in their own non-contextual stuff), on another hand, their behaviour is sometimes a consequence of presence of girls. You cannot define, cannot even object. 

And ya, peeping in Autos, and even buses is rampant. In Delhi (unlike Bangalore, and Mumbai), the left row) almost 5 seats, in buses are resrved for ladies. And for the 'elements', this side is the favorite, whether they are outside the bus (for looking in while the bus stops), or inside the bus. They have  a panache for standing on this side, and even sitting on reserved seats, and causing a row when they are asked to leave seat. 

For me, I like to give the seat, but sometimes, u cannot keep giving seat to every girl, specially when they are in large numbers, like in Delhi Metro or a big girls' group, borading from a school or college stop. 
Sometimes, in morning buses, I see office going young girls, whose faces (in different makes) depict what they r undergoing. The buses are crowded, half the conductors are insensitive, and they have to pass through dense male crowd. At these times, I surely offer seat to the nearmost female. And one must . Thats least u can do at that time.

I appreciate and also thank God that Mumbai is a safer city, than Delhi, and I have seen women travelling even at 12 in night. This is impossible in Delhi, unless its inevitable. Parents wouldnt simply allow at any cost, unless its the 'elite crowd'. 

I am currently working on a plan to start a social business enterprise in Delhi, running on Women Empowerment. Was studying things for the same in Mumbai. I found Mumbai better, for starting the plan, but then, I live in Delhi, so its difficult. I'll surely seek help of BlankNoise whenever I start, for creating awareness among 'my women'. :-) 

I often think, that for those men who, being in large numbers in buses (at times there is only a single female, in a crowd of say 20-25 men), think they are at liberty to behave the way they want, should be left in a big crowd of eve-teasing females :-D 
Only, then they can realise what the mind undergoes in such situation, and empathise. 

One prominent cause for all this, is the lack of sex education in schools. These habits of men are borne when they are in school. Within their peer groups, 'learning' from each other, they start these things while befriending girls (yes, thats true), and innocent girls dont even realise. Nobody puts  a brake to them and their habits  keep on 'nurturing', and unconsciously take on a anti-social perpective later. If they are taught in school itself, to respect the females, treat them as equals and good friends, I doubt anything like what we see today, should happen. 
I remember, once my school principle (lady) had took to fury after some incidences, and gave a lecture in class (class 12). She openly quoted instances of boys indirectly leching at teachers, behind their backs, thru thoughts of gifting them 'clothes', and how boys were indirectly 'touching' girls, with the latter not even realising it. She asked girls to be more careful, and told boys to be ashamed. It caused a huge furore among students. They shared the story immaturely (mostly the boys), with other classes/ sections and even private tutors, all of whom thought of principal as negative and very sexist. What the principle did was right to some extent, but did it with wrong strategy and at wrong place. It could have been an organized sex education session. 
But thats how the 'boomers' treat it today. They dont like to deal with this subject openly in front of their 'kids'. However, when they see an extreme situation, they just blurt out (almost explode), and use all kinds of language, without thinking of any psychological consequences  (as in the case of principle). Often they even blame the girls themselves (like the college principle, if I am correct). 
What we at BNP can do is start a series of Gender education/ sensitisation session (in a very subtle manner) in association with schools, whichever cities we can target. I dont think this job shud be left to school's counsellors and private psychiatrists, who are invited by schools for such sessions. (They charge for this very high.) Probably, we youth can do it much better, and students can get us easily. 

Kanpur I just remembered a quote by Aamir Khan in some award function (he did visit) - 
God made man and woman. And SHE made them equal

Nimesh is 23 years of age. lives in India.


Anubhav Pradhan:

"The "fear of being a perpetrator" is as real and widespread as the perpetration is. In an increasingly liberal age of political correctness, women’s empowerment and gender sensitivity, some age old norms of body/facial language are getting irrelevant and unacceptable.

One can, for example, never be sure whether smiling too much in public may be misconstrued as a disturbing sign. Going to college in a bus or the Metro I often feel like smiling, just for the heck of it, because I like to. But I am usually careful not to overdo it because I wouldn’t want my fellow commuters to think I’ve lost my marbles. Additionally, I generally don’t smile often at women because I really wouldn’t want them to mistake my purpose-less morning joy as ‘hitting’.

Then again, looking too is a dangerous business these days. Now, the word itself sounds suspect and does by this virtue excite uncritical condemnation. We must, however, consider all nuances and be very careful before completely negating the concept.

Heterosexual romantic love, the fairy tale love of knight-and-lady romances, has always been that sort of bond which is sealed as soon as the lovers look at each other from afar. While this is in actuality nothing more than a fanciful falsification, the idea of love at first sight has nonetheless been an abiding cultural obsession which continues to enthral millions of people and will, in all probability, continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

So what would happen to this if looking at members of the opposite sex would become tantamount to harassment? All looking cannot be staring, ogling…

The human body is beautiful and it is natural for one to appreciate its beauty. If I, as a perfect stranger, see a girl who I find attractive, whose long curvy eyebrows, deep black eyes and long hair seem beautiful to me, then I’ll naturally feel like looking more at her. Yet, even while doing so, I must be careful not look too much, just so that my looking does not morph into unwelcome staring and is not given the garb of harassment.

On another plane, even as liberal individuals one has to keep the dynamics of patriarchy in consideration. Having a few times been lost while travelling around in semi-urban villages of Delhi (as also in some middle-class bastions!) I have observed that if the men are around, it is always better to take directions from them rather than from the women, especially young ones. In case one has to, then it’s better to not look at them directly in the eye. This may seem a bit retrograde, but I believe progress cannot be forced upon somebody...

There really can be no objective, universal definition for such abstract and intensely subjective concepts as harassment, staring and looking. Yet, somehow, in fighting against male-perpetrated sexual harassment we not just routinely forget to consider all the nuances of looking but also overlook the fact that women too look at men and appreciate their physical beauty. Just as a course correction is needed in attitudes of perpetrators at large, so is one in that of the perpetrated so that the fear of being a perpetrator slowly vanishes away as we eventually move to a stage of mutual trust and equality.

About Anubhav:

I'm a Delhi-wallah and a third year student of Literature in Ramjas College of Delhi University...



From From an 'ex perpetrator'
Age 14 .I was going in a bus and it was not very crowded.I was standing behind a girl who was a little older and probably someone from the lower middle class.I accidentally touch her back with my front.But then I did not move away and did that again.She realized it,moved away and I was pretty embarrassed that I had even attempted that.

Blank Noise members/ supporters are both male and female. We believe that street sexual harassment is as much a male issue as it is one concerning women because it is influenced by male behaviour, attitude and expression.
With this thought we announce "Blank Noise Guy" : inviting males to share their experiences on being in public.

Thoughts on the body, boundaries, behaviours
[flirting, 'teasing' , 'harassing',' intimidating', 'having fun', 'just looking'?]

It could range from the fear of being seen as a perpetrator; how you approached a female stranger (if you ever did); being attracted to a stranger and what you did or witnessing harassment and introspecting on your response. Welcome.


Vivek / Jaipur

About 2 years ago, Vivek Kakkar from Jaipur met Blank Noise members in Delhi at a meeting. He enthusiastically participated by translating several testimonials ( of the blogathon) to hindi. This was for a Blank Noise street action in Delhi that evening.

He took back Blank Noise stickers to Jaipur and had put this one on his bike at first . He says that the sticker got washed away in the rain but he made another one- the one you see on his bike!

He sent us this photograph about a year ago. Apologies for sharing it so late, but we felt that the time has come to talk about how men have built Blank Noise over the years.

BN: When did you decide to put a Blank Noise sticker on your bike?
Vivek: I read that sticker first and thought where i can stick this, then i thought these things should come into view so i put it on my bike, i took my bike to normal places like juice shops, bakerys, malls, cigratte shops etc, where i use to go as lots of young people and my friends are present, my friends asked me why did i have sticked unwanted instead of wanted as in sticker rest things were in background and it was in bold letters, then i said , read it fully, then i asked them what u feel about eve-teasing, your views, why we stare, comment etc, then some said its bad habit, lots of things one question which was raised everywhere was , about clothes which girls wear.

BN: did they ask you why you wanted that sticker on your bike?
Vivek: Yes some asked and I replied that lot of us stick different stickers which are of no use and i sticked it becaused it looked different and may be other can stick some inspiring stickers

One friend said yeh kya lagaya hai kuch acha lagata.
(What have you put on your bike?! you should have put something better).
I said dear sticker bhe hai( it's a sticker too) and also awareness for people .

BN: Did anyone get annoyed or irritated with the sticker on your bike?
Vivek : No , no one was angry or annoyed with sticker, not even my family, second one raised little less as people abbrevated it to fifferent menaing and then i explained them about it and about this project, its aim etc

BN : Why do you react to eve teasing? what makes you want to address 'eve teasing'?

Vivek: I react to eve teasing because i think its not a good thing and people who do so must understand that it gives a wrong message to society about yourself and what you will feel if such incident happens by chance with female members of their family. i will think hundred times before doing such things. And i want to address this issue because i feel it a problem these days , not many peole are working on this and above all i respect all females

BN: but what happens lets say if you find a girl attractive...you dont see her as a mother. sister. etc..you are a stranger to this girl how would you try to get to know her? or how would yo look at her? what would happen?when does it become 'eve teasing'? when does it become 'flirting'? or feeling attracted to 'flirting'? or feeling attracted to someone and expressing it?
Vivek : If i find a girl attractive and I'm stranger to this girl , if I have to look from my perspective I would not try to get to know her, but if i had to know her then will probably find out some decent way and if im not able to find out decent way then will not try to know her, i would look at her as a normal girl and will ignore. it becomes eve teasing when people find girl attractive and say some comments and try to touch her or roam around her, follow her without any reason.

BN :How did you start thinking about eve teasing?
Vivek : When i read into newspapers , heard about teaisng incidents and when one happened with my friend i started thinking about eve-teasing. I noticed while growing up that people unnecessarily comments on girls, ladies in markets, in parks, people following girls, etc

I have seen..people harrasing girls in buses, making comments on roads in traffic and some when sitting in malls making fun and comments on girls their ...

BN :Do your friends eve tease?

Vivek :few of them, remeber i once asked u about it that one of friend stares a lot , what i should i do?
I discussed with him a lot, made him understand many a times, then said look, what if someday u r trapped and public smashes u, or if ur sister faces such things what will u feel, slowly slowly he started understanding but still some problem is there but i will pull out that too

Vivek , age 24 , is based in Jaipur. He is a member of Pravah since 2007.
He is enthusiastic about the idea of a Blank Noise Jaipur

(we have been receiving emails from Jaipur- its time to call for a national meet up and get you in touch with each other! keep them coming!)

If you're male and have gotten into discussions with men about street sexual harassment or eve teasing- do write in to us at blurtblanknoise at gmail dot com. We would love to hear from you