Sunday, February 14, 2010

Empty Vessels

Vulturo writes on Desicritics:
"It is you who voluntarily decides to travel on the crowded bus or train, fully aware of the fact that there is not enough space for everybody, in the first place. The choice of traveling using more expensive means, or buying a car is always open to you."
Seriously? Seriously?
I was actually appreciating the author’s point of view till I got to this paragraph.
My friends call me a feminist, but I tend to disagree with them, because while I do get annoyed when I see women getting the short end of the stick, I don't necessarily believe that we need any extra favours either.
I was lucky enough to be given the car by my father to go travel from Gurgaon to JMC and subsequently South Campus, but there were days when that option wasn't there and I had to take a bus. So yeah, I’ve had my “personal space” invaded more often than I’d like to recall. I’ve done the whole crowded Delhi buses routine, I’ve also done the crowded stampede-in-the-metro routine where my classmate fell on the ground and had people trampled her – I’m pretty sure this guy has never been on the West Delhi-Dwarka metro route. I’ve had guys grope me, I’ve had a guy stick right next to me for the whole journey – the bus was really crowded when I got on and because he was much taller than me and had me backed into a corner, I couldn’t see that he had two feet of empty space behind him till it was too late, the ass.
By the end of those five years, I realised it was preferable to spend two hours taking the longer route via Safdarjung than the much faster and cheaper Dhaula Kuan/highway route, simply because the bus was familiar, and the crowd was safer. So yes, I had that choice to make and I made it, even with exams round the corner and each minute counting as precious time lost.
But then, I’ve been stopped by a guy wearing the fancy watch and driving the big car, asking me in excellent English what my name is because he thought I “looked good”. All a street away from my house, while I was walking home from the market, in a fairly upmarket locality in Gurgaon. In broad daylight. You want me to take the car every time I go to the market?
A lot of people don’t have even those many choices. Scrolling through the comments, I see the author is one of those who is big on making “choices” – walking out of an unhappy marriage, not getting married if you don’t want to, using more expensive means of transport. I envy this guy in some ways, because he has either never faced, or never cared about familial pressures, societal pressures, or any of those concerns that tend to rule our lives. And he is therefore able to sit in his glass castle and pass judgment on the many women in this country who don’t have those choices.
So no, I don’t blame the girl he sat next to one bit for looking at him warily and turning away from him. I say more power to her because she made her discomfort obvious – a lot of girls don’t even have the courage to do that.
Oh and for the record, that whole bullshit about speaking up loudly and embarrassing a guy into backing off? Doesn’t work. Not unless there’s a substantial number of women in the bus. Which, in Haryana Roadways buses, is rarely the case. DTC Bus No. 517, on the other hand, which goes from Aya Nagar to Safdarjung, is highly recommended - both in terms of punctuality and safety. I miss that route.
NB: It's been a long time since I wrote a post that could be given my old label of "feminist rants". The irony, given Vulturo's strong dislike of feminism as a concept, doesn't escape me.
NB2: For that fellow in the comments of that post who talks about "Bra burning feminism" - he would do well to actually read up on the history of feminism. The actual act of bra burning as it's described never happened - it's a myth that's got perpetuated over the centuries.


The Seeker said...

First he says he could only travel by local train in Mumbai if he didn't want to go bankrupt, then he suggests other people use more expensive modes of transport...

Now I completely agree with what you wrote, but reading that article I also couldn't help but think that it's alarming that HE had to think that way as well. That he paid such extreme attention to how close he got to that girl.
Reminds me a bit of British Airways' policy of never seating men next to children they don't know. You know, because who knows what we might get up to otherwise.

R said...

Not done reading but HANG ON - your FRIENDS call you a feminist??? Who the hell are these friends, I've only met and been those who are all LOL @ traveller thinking she's a feminist.

R said...

anyhoo time to read the orig article. Thought processes per paragraph:

#1. Ok this is obviously a dude if he starts with I haven't experienced sexual harassment and follows with I haven't witnessed it first hand.

#2. BWAHAHAHAHA 'fierce'! hahahahaha I'm sorry, I have several gay friends. ahem. Right - individualist - FIERCE! (fit of giggles resumes) - yeah, big whoop, you're living in a collectivist society, they don't care. Last sentence leaves me confused and Chivalrous Martyr is obvs tongue-in-cheek because no one could really think that about themselves, right?

#3. Fair enough, I agree, I think.

#4. Fucking 'ell: "a really amusing comment explaining that anyone had a right to look at any one else, and of course, a right to think whatever he/she wanted to about whoever they were looking at. Boy, that sure was funny." you are joking obviously, or at the very least have gone off topic and are not referring to New Delhi. Thank you for the disclosure (disclaimer?)

#4. again - fucking 'ell - IT'S INDIA HAVE YOU SEEN THE MEN? At this point I could launch into a tirade about how it's not even a matter of gender but of class when the women are usually educated or being educated while the men are from... well, not so educated backgrounds. And women from those backgrounds don't really publically transport much. Furthermore, woman are not more equal than men, women are more vulnerable than men anywhere. (wot, me, feminist?)


wow this is long, I'll cut to the chase.

yes, yes every one hates having personal space invaded male or female yadda yadda. Also fair enough not being a fan of being treated like dirt for accidental brushage.

I don't blame that girl one bit.

And I've got the 'I'm a decent guy' line IN MELBOURNE and there is nothing that signals red flags more.

Ironic, yeah, but poor girl, she lives with that 'the whole world is out to rape me' thought process every day.

Choice is yours etc. no, not really - it all involves $$$ and some people don't have enough.

Anyhoo, dude seems to mean well but appears a bit misguided. This is an excellent comment. LEARN.