DesiLink Blogs

DesiLink Blog Directory

Intercultural relationship blogs
with a South
Asian twist!

JoinListMore Info

Previous BlogNext Blog

I LOVE your feedback! Please keep those comments coming

June 4th, 2011

Slut walk in Delhi ? Oh dear God, no

As a firm, dyed-in-the-wool feminist, I never thought I would disapprove of anything that empowers women, but the thought of a Slut Walk in Delhi terrifies me.

There. I have said it.

Girls, please don’t do this.

This is not a city that can appreciate irony, ladies.

This is a coarse, vulgar city full of lecherous men who would love nothing better than to see young girls wearing skimpy clothing.  OK, OK, not all men are lecherous here, but there is a serious, visible, aggressive macho under-current here.

This is a city, surrounded by a state, where murder in the name of “honour” regularly takes place.

Like 2 days ago.

This is a city where the Chief Minister’s drunken bodyguard assaults a young girl, and the police tell her not to press charges because of who he is.  Because of who he is ?  Please.

And if you don’t believe me, these 2 stories are next to each other :

Girls, dear girls, whose cause I fully endorse, from the bottom of my ’70s feminist heart, just look at the way the paper reports this.

Just look at the headline below.

Tacky cheap reporting.

Shame on whoever approved a headline like this.

I hope to God I am wrong, but I have visions of men taking photographs of these girls, ogling them, trying to touch them – and not getting the point at all.

To be blunt, I don’t think Delhi is ready for this kind of in-your-face protest.  Sad, but true.

The policing in this city needs to be majorly revamped, so that the likes of the CM’s bodyguard aren’t protected.

Sexual harrassment needs firm and effective punishment.

Men who murder their female relatives for marrying for love need draconian punishment.

But I am fear that this Slut Walk is too early for the likes of this city of mine.

I hope to God I am wrong.

43 comments to Slut walk in Delhi ? Oh dear God, no

  • ankush

    ma’am ur completely right that it does not effect the mentality of those rapist they’ll maintain their n may be seen in doing something like u said …. but this may be a message to our society containing only some nice(from mentality) educated people that we have left …. the basic aim of this movement that i felt is that this old thinking is needed to be changed that if ur surrounded by dogs outside ur house then it’s stupid ADJUST and stay in home instead you should go outside kill them …. “the reason that i think it bite u is not because u went out but because u ADJUSTED n didn’t had guts to kill it” ….BUT OUR IDIOTIC SOCIETY GIVE REASON THAT it happened because u came out(u were wearing small clothes) … this bullshit thinking is staying with us since British rule come on!!!ma’am u need to come out of that…..!!!! ur asking to follow the sick path to stay inside coz dogs r outside ADJUST and wait till every thing gets right. n believe me this ain’t going by itself!!

  • christine

    Thanks for such a passionate reply. I share your feelings, believe me. I am just worried that the in-your-face nature of this movement may well titillate rather than shock. As I said in my blog post, I hope I am wrong. I really do.

  • aakanksha

    hello maa’m,
    i think..in a city like ours…on-your-face protest is perhaps the only option…when people don’t respond to subtle protests maybe..an on-your-face protest is the only option we have…
    the basic agenda of this slut walk is not just about rapes and its victims..
    its about how our lives are affected even before rapes happen…why are we supposed to learn self-defence…
    have we accepted that rapes, eve-teasing and lewed comments are and will remain a part of our life…
    and because we can’t control the sexually frustrated freaks, we will control the women…
    because it has become easier to control the women counterparts…lets just impose restrictions on them…
    a lot of times my mother tell me…please go carefully..you might get harassed..
    why hasn’t she ever told my brother ?..that please don’t harass a woman on your way….??..
    the word “shame” when attached to a woman takes a different meaning all together…
    and this protest is to tell…that i don’t give a fuck about it !!…i am an independent, confident woman…
    it does not limit itself to urban women…
    but also to women farmer, your house maid, you, me and even the c.m.
    from running a house..to a running a government…we’ve been there..done that !
    who the hell is that stranger in the bus, to decide what am i supposed to wear…how am i supposed to talk and what should be my curfew time !!
    yeahh..
    i guess that’s all i wanted to say …
    thanks..:)

  • christine

    Dear Aakansha, I admire your passion and I fully respect everything you say. I also know as the mother of a daughter, 21 today as it so happens, that I, too, worry about her safety in Delhi. She has been touched up, and defended herself appropriately. I hope to God your protest works, and has the desired effect. It is the thought of creepy men leering that revolts me. I wish you all well, admire you all, and will try and come and cheer for you all. promise. I am of a generation that has had to fight huge feminist battles, so my instincts are with you, I just worry for your collective safety.

  • Moon

    Hi ma’am, it was interesting to read your post (and equally interesting to read the above comments). Having lived in Delhi for the past eight years now, it almost becomes an instinct to look over your shoulder every minute of the day when you are out on the streets. Women shouldn’t have to learn self-defence while walking on a road, something which is an indefensible right. But I agree with you when you say that the irony will be lost on this city that is full of lecherous men. I have been reading reports in newspapers online and most of the comments following them are really scary — men who want to witness this ‘spectacle’, one says he will bring popcorn and watch the march.
    Men, most often than not, cannot appreciate a woman’s sexuality. But a march like this in a city like Delhi really makes me anxious. I am still to make up my mind if I will participate or not. But our full support to those brave women who do.

  • Ritu

    I share your sentiments Christine. I’m a 25 year of student of Delhi University and have almost gotten accustomed to the lewd comments and the ogling men. Sexual harassment and violence against women are pressing issues and require immediate attention. The concept of ‘Slut walk’ however, in my opinion will have detrimental effect on the society in question.

    Women might come together and feel liberated for the time she’s participating in the walk, what after that ? How many of them would be able to take the metros/autos/buses back to their homes, dressed in the ‘liberating attire’ that was donned to make an impact. How many parents will allow their daughters to participate in an event like this ? How many of them would have to lie at the their homes to participate in the slut walk.

    In, India , especially the northern parts , women are commodified. She had to ‘belong’ to someone. She’s either a daughter, a sister a wife , a mother and say she ceases to belong she’s labeled a depraved woman or worse, a Slut.

    I understand the urge to give a in-you-face reply to those men who ogle, who comment , who unclothe you with their eyes and would rape you in the first given opportunity. Having faced ‘milder’ ( and i’m just amazed at how ‘okay’ I am with people staring or passing a ‘subtle’ comment or two) i feel that men from all stratum of the society can be held guilty of this depravity . It’s very convenient for us english speaking-educated-middle-upper middle class to blame the lower middle class or the poor sections. In order to make an intervention its important to look beyond the class differentials and concentrate on the gender divide and its implications.

    The need of the hour, according to me is to sensitize the society . Men and women along. Slut walk , agreed , has the potential to evoke strong sentiments, but I doubt how successful will it be making a dent in the thought processes of the men who treat women as their property. Having said that , i also think that its a platform for catharsis , and should be seen as just that without expecting a lot from it. For all those who will be part of this, I would like to wish you all a SAFE and enriching experience.

  • Blair

    You are right–this Canadian export is way out of context in Delhi. In 3 years in Delhi I think I saw one Indian woman wearing short shorts in the street. As she walked by a group of men stopped everything they were doing and leered until she was way out of sight. It will be seen by many as an invitation, not a repudiation.

  • Vaudree

    I think that you are getting the wrong idea of what a Slutwalk is really like! Sure some people camp it up, but most people dress normally – and it is actually the men who appear in the most undress. Thus, if men come to a slutwalk to “admire the scenery”, they would get more out of it if they are gay rather than straight. Though women are slut-shamed all the time, both men and women are slut-shamed after they are sexually assaulted. Each slut-walk deals with local issues related to racism and gender violence as well as sexual assault.

    A slut-walk is also a family event in that parents, siblings, spouses, friends and children all show up. One doesn’t see pictures of babies and toddlers and 10 year olds in the media shots, but one does when you look at a slut-walks own photos taken by participants of the walk. Also, one can learn more about what a slutwalk is about by listening to the speeches on youtube than one can by listening to Fox News – which isn’t known for its accuracy in the first place.

    In Delhi, you may not be able to get your grandmother to show up, so that might be different. But maybe one can bring one’s brother and his football playing friends – Canadians showed up in hockey jerseys. Delhi may be safer than some areas of India to hold a Walk, but they can speak up for those who can’t come or are too afraid to come. Those who speak at slutwalks tend to represent on the ground organizations who help victims of sexual assault and/or which promote human rights – so there is a certain spreading of useful information at a slutwalk.

  • W Smitts

    Good advice, but I would bet it will fall on deaf ears. As this entire movement was predicated on the advice a police officer gave 10 students. I wouldnt be surprised if they had a march against you. It is sad to see the feminist movement degenerated to the point where they ask themselves ” What would Paris Hilton do?”…..Sad really….

  • Sneha

    Protesting …maybe..okay. But why expose?????????? Why can’t they wear normal clothes? This wont work!! The guys on the streets are gonna look at the girls!!!!!!ONLY!!!!!!!

    DARN.

  • christine

    That’s what I fear, Sneha. As I said in my blog post, I just hope I am wrong, I really and truly do.

  • christine

    Ritu, your point about travel is well made. I so want this movement to work, truly, but I just worry about the reactions here, that they may well be counter-productive.

  • Kartik

    Ma’am
    First of all, I think there is a distinction between oglers and molesters/rapists. In a society, there is inconvenience caused by oglers to women in skimpy clothes and also there is inconvenience caused by women in skimpy clothes to men who find this near-nudity repulsive. It’s two way. So, in this context, I don’t completely go with the campaign. This campaign shouldn’t be taken as narrow as a movement against men staring at thinly clothed women.
    But, there are men, lecherous and uncivilized men, who go many steps further making verbal abuse, personal assault, molestation and worst case, rape. And, if their hearts are made of anything but cold stone, this campaign should be an eye-opener for them, a facepalm.
    As you’ve rightly pointed it out, the impression this campaign will make on the society as a whole will depend on how media portrays it. Whether it will it ridicule it or embrace it.

  • christine

    Thanks, Kartik, for your thoughts – and if I may add to your very last sentence – it also depends on whether the media sensationalises it.

  • Adjana

    I belive that the Slut walk is just a fashion statement borrowed from West. Rape needs to be countered by stringent laws and punishment like castration, preparing and publishing a sex offender’s registry to all in the country, penalising the rapists in not living in a residential area, juvenile offenders to be sent to pentinary. Also, police must be trained to immeditely handle such issues in a sensitive manner by having more women police , train police with respect to rape and related sex offences. The same penalty should be made on child sexual abuse.

    Slut walk will just became a parade for people to watch and will not highlight the main cause of rape.

  • Hey! I am a journalist based in Bombay. I am writing a story about this slutwalk, and I am interested in your views on the same. I have provided my email address – can you please get in touch with me? It is very much appreciated. Thanks!

  • Catriona

    Mmm – I am with you Christine. I don’t think Delhi is ready for this and the point will be missed. Need some lateral thinking for what kind of protest would be appropriate to raise these issues in Indian cities. Any ideas anyone????
    Meanwhile let us hope June 25 goes off ok with no problems for anyone.

  • christine

    Cat, have you seen how much feedback I got for the earlier posting re this ? 4 June – amazing. Some chord has definitely been touched

  • Anannya

    Hey, Christine! Great article! I do think though that the height of “sluttiness” you’ll see at Delhi’s walk will be something like a short skirt and some cleavage. I don’t think Delhi girls have it in them to show up in fishnets and leather just yet! It’ll probably be a nice, powerful message and honestly, this city needs to be kicked in the balls just a bit.

  • The cord you touched is about fear and as an old feministo from way back we KNOW that the way to control women is through the fear of rape. I support these girls and will attend. We have tried other actions in the past in India (check out the Blank Noise Campaign) and in this case women are NOT stupid, mostly I hear the girls and women are covering up so the media and the misogynists will be disappointed.

  • Tanya

    I agree that the level of awareness regarding sex, sexuality and gender equality is very low here, and that the irony is lost to an extent. But I will be there anyway, because the irony won’t be lost on me or the other women there, and women around the country who will read about it. It is important for us to remind ourselves and each other that “No Means No” no matter what the circumstance, and I find even women here too often shifting the blame on the victim in cases where the woman is seen as promiscuous.

  • christine

    Anannya, you may well be right, in which case the walk may actually achieve its purpose. Am just concerned about the perviness of some sections of society in our city…

  • christine

    Thanks Dianne, and if indeed the girls are covering up, then much if the salaciousness will be missing, and perhaps the point will be made. I do hope so.

  • Neha

    Hi Christine

    I am a journalist. I am writing an article about the Slut Walk and would like to know your opinion. Please send me your email id or phone number so I can get in touch.

  • okay…
    about the clothing bit….
    i know that a lot of people think..that a bunch of urban girls ..who have nothing to do in these summer vacations…are demanding their right to be scantily dressed…
    but no…thats not the case…you can very well come in a salwar-kameez or a saree or even in a bikini top…
    ur dressing won’t have anything to do with the cause that you are supporting…
    even in toronto…slut walk was attended by women as old as 70 years of age..and also a toddler…
    see…the media has to sell its newspaper..
    even if 2 women out of 100 dress up scantily..they will be the ones gaining maximum attention..
    don’t worry we’ll be working on the security aspect…
    permissions and everything else..

  • Protests don’t happen when a city or people around are ‘ready’ for it. Protest by its very nature is something that happens when no one is ready for it. If they were ‘ready’ there wouldn’t have been a need for a ‘protest of this nature! And believe me,. no one ever is going to be ready till someone somewhere takes a first step that everyone else decries as unsuitable.

    When you talk of the crowd being ‘titillated’ you are again saying (like others have repeated over the ages) that a man getting titillated depends on what a woman wears. Wrong. A woman can be fully clothed too and a man is titillated. Titillation is in his mind, whatever we women wear does not make a difference.

  • Praja

    Its wrong to copy westerners. India is the country where in 99% of homes women (as a mother, daughter, bahu etc) highly respected also. Men fight to death for their girls’ respect… I think we should understand india’s culture, system and stand… blindly following the women of west … be indians and dare to differ….

  • Radhika

    This walk is not good for us. For those people who still have brain, see this:
    answerbag.co.uk/q_view/2470822

  • christine

    Radhika, I read the link you kindly posted. Thank you very much. Written by a man… and did you see the following remark ?

    “However, I would also say that the victim was foolish to go running around dressed in such a way as to give the guy the wrong impression.”

    Give the guy the wrong impression ?

  • Radhika

    Instead of promoting this stupid walk, I think people should work on the real solution. Its about time. These people are themselves saying that dressing is nowhere related to rape, then why the hell are you misleading people. Why can’t you work on the real solution?

  • Radhika

    Sorry Christine, in my previous post “you” means them and not you 🙂

  • christine

    No, no, don’t worry, I didn’t think that for a moment ! Just didn’t like the comment in that man’s post that’s all…

  • Suresh

    Well my take on this is slightly different. What India is lacking at the moment is the imagination that our founding fathers had at the Independence. Protests like these that are nothing but ‘me toos’ or copy cats while certainly enables the few involved some bragging rights or perhaps helps establish a sense of solidarity or kinship with their foreign counterparts. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with that and I would certainly encourage the feminists in India to collaborate and execute a protest on common global issues that plague all their societies. But a good valid protest needs to address three basic criteria :
    1. Can it educate or awaken the target audience its trying to awaken ?
    2. Can it provoke the villains of any issue effectively either thru guilt, shame or fear ?
    3. Finally is the protest suited to the surroundings – By that I mean does the method of protest aligned well with the sensibilities of both the protesters and the members of the society it desires to have an impact on ?

    I think having a slut walk in Delhi along the western format may not address above three tenets of a good protest. I suggest that perhaps slut walk can be slightly modified to suit Indian conditions.
    How about the women come out as goddess Kalis or warrior women in full intimidating gear that will make the creepy men of Delhi pad lock their man hoods instead of oogle at the women.
    Explain thru loud creative songs the rights of women to dress however and wear whatever they want and poke fun at the men through creative Bollywood songs. They could even parody the latest sheila songs and maybe have some women dance in wet white sarees but carry symbolic chopped manhoods to create fear and sensationalism.
    Finally, There are some quite strong images of empowered rural women like the women in Rajasthan and Punjab. Why not have a protest that showcases their prowess and lampoon the chauvinistic masochistic nature of Indian men.

  • Yours is the first post against holding a slutwalk that I can relate with. I think your concerns are shared by everyone. I’m not in Delhi, and won’t be attending, but am a vocal supporter online. To put it simply, we need to begin somewhere, and if we cow down one important time, it sets precedent to claim only as much freedom as the city will allow. In other words, renders it meaningless. It is a risk, but with the publicity and security, it is never going to get safer than this to make a stand. Or, we should put our heads down shrug our bags higher up on our shoulders and hope to be allowed to live unnoticed.

  • Very well put.
    One of our bloggers agrees with you word by word.
    http://beingabhi.com/2011/07/are-we-ready-for-a-slut-walk-in-india/

  • christine

    Thanks. I would be interested to know what’s being said in the Indian press – am overseas, due back in a fortnight, in time for the walk, I hope

  • Could not agree more with you

    well said

  • Ashwini

    try to understand,for whom ,this is what it made for, will not come to see it at all or if they will come only to watch the half naked girls out there,so simply it is worthless

  • I appreciate your concern and I do have the same fears. But history tells us that no city is ever ready for any revolution. We must not not succumb to our fears but speak out. My concern is first the walkers need to understand the essence of this movement. I myself am not all up for dressing skimpily but the point is even if I do, nobody has the right to even touch me. Anyways even the men go around in shorts and sleeve-less T’s, but females are the only target to be controlled.
    I’ll be there. Will you be?

  • christine

    Yes, I will, Ishita, probably with my 21 year old daughter. See you ?

  • banveen

    i think tht ur totaly rite.
    i noe evn tough r country is nt ready for all dis bt v need a start like dis .
    v’ve had enough n now surely its a high time so v ppl have to get together n not loose hope instead .
    surely something will happen .

  • Uttara Coorlawala

    I am so proud the slutwalk//Behsharmi Morcha happened to day in delhi. May it happen in every Indian city.
    Women need to be trusted with their own bodies.
    Women need to trust that women know how to be women instead of policing them into prisons of the male gaze.

    Men need to be educated, and this turning back of the gaze onto HOW men see, will ultimately liberate the guys from their drive to prove their hormone vitality. (Think of where justification of male self control leads,—the ultimate testosterone high is to kill or be killed.) So any little step from their sisters towards liberating the men is a big step.

    Women who Marched I am proud of you. Y

    Women who stayed home in disagreement. Dont worry you will still benefit from the parade. Next time you take a walk, like it or not.

    Those of you who felt this was imitation of the West- think again! This was a very astutely staged local adaptation of what affects all biological wo-men and men. If you dont want to imitate “the west” Dont read English.

    I am so proud of all of you young ones, and so ashamed of many of the comments on this line. May only good come to all from all of this. I also resent that my earlier comment, typos and all, is awaiting moderation.

  • […] Christine Pemberton an expatriate of Indian origin living in New Delhi, speaks from her 70’s feminist heart: I hope to God I am wrong, but I have visions of men taking photographs of these girls, ogling them, trying to touch them – and not getting the point at all. […]

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>