Have you ever realized how much Indian/South Asian men stare at Indian/South Asian women in public spaces. I know that often women, (even me to avoid lewd looks and comments few years ago) when in public in India prefer to walk with their heads bent and do not look people in their eyes, like admitting the superiority of men and sort of being apologetic for invading public spaces which are rightfully belongs to men. And the men stare you down as if you are committing a crime by being in a public space that belongs to them and to assert their superiority. After all, the “adarsh Bharatiya nari” (Ideal Indian Woman in Hindi) has to be meek, humble and docile and that is shown by bowing your head in deference.
Out here there are lots of Indian/south Asian men and I avoid looking at them and they ogle at Indian women as if they have never ever laid their eyes on a female in their lives. Lately, okay today, when they stare back at me, I stared back at them in defiance. I looked them in the eyes and made them look down or away. I made them uncomfortable. I bet they presumed I was those western influenced women and no their traditional wives did not do that. I want to wear traditional clothes and do the same!
This was empowering. This was not being apologetic for being a woman. I have every right to this public space as them. Why should I walk with my head bowed in respect/fear/shame?