Staring Games

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?

3 thoughts on “Staring Games

  1. Good for you! You can take the Indian out of India… What I’d also recommend is going up to the guy and ask him politely to not stare. Politeness confuses them. Or be rude and ask “What do you think you’re looking at?”. Confrontation is key, like you are doing with the staring back. I find staring by everyone is pretty common though – even aunties do the 360 degree body scan that put x-ray machines to shame 😦

  2. Haha Good work… I have found it to be a good way of offending the oglers too. Stare them in the eyes till they feel ashamed of themselves. I taught this to myself after puberty when I first came into the receiving end of such staring and trust me it has got dirty many a times. The reactions have varied from just looking away to outright cursing but I have continued doing it over the years. Hope to see a day when this won’t be necessary in India any more. Sigh!

    1. I understand, but when you are abroad, I feel more confident because I know it is safe, they cannot do anything to me and it will backlash on them. Proper institutions of justice can go a long in getting rid of men owning public space attitudes

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