Testimonials

TISSTalks is for all of us.

Gender. Sex. Harassment. Violence. Discrimination.

Our experiences, coloured by who we are, where we come from and what we define as our identities. Our experiences that are hidden and secret.

Here’s our chance to talk about this. Here’s our chance to make ourselves heard.

Whoever we are. Female, male, both, uncertain, we welcome your experiences, your feelings about things which have happened to you, things that have made you feel happy, sad, angry, upset, joyous, glad. Because we believe in the power of speech and we believe that through expression of our realities, we facilitate a great amount of learning.

Either mail us your testimonial at tisstalks@gmail.com or post a comment on this page and get the discussion started. As per our code of confidentiality we do not require identification, however anonymous testimonials defeat the purpose and we would prefer it if you speak out as yourselves. We are not here to judge. We are not here to dismiss.

All ideas, opinions and suggestions are welcome.

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43 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ujithra  |  August 24, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    It was 7.00pm on Sunday and I decided to go to Crossword, Ghatkopar. On my way back my auto stopped at the Ghatkopar signal and there was a truck full of men-drunk, covered in mud and with saffron flags, probably coming from the festival. They see me sitting alone in the auto and start yelling out ‘Oye pattli kamar wali’/”lambe bal wale’ and a whole string of vulgar remarks. Everybody at the signal was curious to know who was the reason for so much attention and turned to look at me and smiled, no body asked them to stop. I was scared, they would climb down from their truck, since many of them were anyways hanging from the sides, trying hard to have an eye contact with me. I would have gotten out of the auto, if any of them climbed down.One of the men from the truck flung his saffron scraf at me. All I could think of then, was to dial 100, which I did. The traffic was jammed for about 10 minutes, which seemed like a lifetime to me at that point. In those few minutes all the instances of violence committed against women in Gujarat riots ran through my mind. There was no space for the auto to move. I increased the volume on my i-pod, and moved to the extreme corner of the auto, away from the truck.I felt so helpless. It made me so angry that there was nothing I could have done, but sit there helplessly and wait it out.

    Reply
  • 2. Ashwin Joseph  |  August 25, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    @ Ujithra

    I passed out of TISS in 2007. Had a good friend of mine who went through a similar experience when we were studying at TISS. Mumbai in general is a safe city. But we must exercise our caution too. Please be careful… i really dont know what to say beyond this.

    Reply
  • 3. shankha  |  August 28, 2008 at 1:19 am

    Friends!
    Enough is enough. For once please make some sense. I mean you people literally embodies the distilled spirit of the verb called baqar. Koi kaam dhaam nahin. Koi actual(or factual) value addition nahi. I mean getting the cyberspace free ensures that you can waste it the way you like. SO much like the Fab India Marxists!

    Reply
  • 4. arundathi87  |  August 28, 2008 at 7:57 am

    @ Shankha

    You would rather people shut up is it?
    You would rather people not talk about it because ‘it doesn’t make sense’? to who? to you? to what?

    Kaam, dhaam? Value addition? Im too disgusted to even comment on this.

    ‘Factual value nahi hain?’ *laughs out of exasperation*
    Face it Shankha, it IS a FACT that women get sexually harrassed and it also a FACT that they are asked to shut up about it, not discuss it and are constantly told that ‘enough is enough’. And it is a FACT that TISSTalks is about creating space for people to talk about gender, you and me and there is no questioning that.

    Reply
  • 5. shankha  |  August 28, 2008 at 11:13 am

    we would prefer it if you speak out as yourselves. We are not here to judge. We are not here to dismiss.

    These gospelic sermons were written just a few centimeters above. Bt then again as the self proclaimed messiahs of marginalised(The most used or abused , as the case may be phrase in TISS vocab) there is a holy oath that we shall always look at the downward comparison side of things. We shall essentially never look upwards.
    I am so sorry for not keeping those words in mind. I am also sorry because I thought those words meant what they get translated into English.I express my sincere apologies for mistaking the TISS Talks language as simple English a sunderstood by common not so sensitive people.

    Reply
  • 6. Sanjana  |  August 28, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    @Shankha

    I must thank you for this very useful feedback that you have given us. I also must thank you being honest about what you and probably a lot of other people probably think about TISSTalks.

    In response to you – I guess you underestimate the power of speech, the power of expression. I guess you feel that there are issues which we OUGHT to NEVER EVER talk about because, well, these are not issues anyway right. So what if a woman gets harassed by a truck full of men. Why, thats perfectly acceptable. Why thats normal. Why, we women actually ask for this. What are we complaining about anyway.

    You say this is has no factual value. You say that this is what we are doing is not working. We are not looking at facts. We are not looking to see whether something ‘works.’ This, Shankha, is an experiment, this is an honest attempt to explore different realities, to discuss certain issues, and to actually throw out ideas on themes and topics which need to be discussed. These are sensitive topics and I think you must understand that it is not easy for people to come out about this. By the virtue of dismissing this effort as useless, I think you are making a very clear statement about your beliefs and while I appreciate that, I still think certain points you have raised needs to be addressed.

    If you could also clarify (in UNDERSTANDABLE language) how you see TISSTalks approaching these issues in a top-down manner, and give us concrete examples/suggestions etc on how you believe we can address this, I believe it would be much more meaningful. It’s very easy to criticise, very difficult to engage. I hope you get what I mean.

    And about your comment on cyberspace. The very beauty of the internet is that there is space for creative expression, space for discussion without too much moderation or regulation. This is where we want to start…and dont raise issues on cyberspace – it is for everyone to do as they wish, and nobody ought to pass judgements on the use of this space.

    Reply
  • 7. Hoopla Over Nothing(HR)  |  August 28, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Dear Sensitive species

    Standing against you does not mean standing against “women” and their exploitation. My mother is a woman too, so is my sister, so will be my to be wife. Therefore to pretence of you guys (sorry “Gals”, now dont call atleast this exploitation) about standing for “all women” against “all exploitation” in the garb of gunning for your own causes is nauseating. We can see through it.

    Preaching and thinking of yourself the only “enlightened” and “sensitive” species around is the biggest fallacy. People operate from different perspectives. Exploitation of a woman “by a truckload” of MEN (not all men are villians, contrary to your projection of the same), is what i will fight for with my tooth and nail. On the other hand, whether or not a certain girl wants to wear a skirt and creating hoopla about it to an innocuous comment, is not my concern. I speak for “me”, with all honesty, not pretending to be a saviour of “Un-causes”

    For further reference: Please read Carpman Triangle online (do something productive online too) or attend some Group behaviour classes taken by an external faculty in HR.

    Reply
  • 8. Shreya Ghosh  |  August 28, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    Dear Hoopla Over Nothing (HR),
    I think there has been a huge flaw in your interpretation of what tisstalks stands for. Not a single member has ever claimed to be the ‘enlightened’ one…sensitive yes. and proud to be so.moving on to the rest of your post, I would like you to kindly clarify the following for me:
    1) If you think tisstalks is using this forum to ‘gun its own cause’, and you have actually ‘see through it’, please elaborate on what you think the agenda/cause of tisstalks is.
    2) I also think you need to know the definition of harassment and exploitation. what makes you think that the incident of Ujithra being targetted by a truckload of men qualifies as sexual harrassment, while comments passed on Sanjana’s skirt is not?
    3) Do you not think that the ones being targets of harrassment should have the right to define and qualify harrassment?
    We just had such a long series of posts on sexual harrassment and what it encompasses! Was it so difficult for you ‘insensitive’ people to grasp?
    4) If you speak for yourself, dont you think you should at least have the courage to mention your name?
    And what behaviour, in your opinion, needs attention or change that you think tisstalks members need to go for classes?

    Reply
  • 9. medha  |  August 28, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    As a person who was observing a lot of what has been transpiring, from a distance, and not actively ( i confess) participating… i can say that the above exchange stirs me enough to say this; “the incident related by uji is something similar to what i myself have experienced, it can be awfully disturbing,i remember feeling scared more than angry and outraged on reflecting on the incident further , so to call a discussion on the same “hoopla” i feel is unfair. and also please do not say that you are not judging and dismissing when you actually are, after all that was also taught to us in the group behaviour classes…and do not extend your remarks to the entire HR franternity of tiss, i think there is enough ill-will as it is without ascribing such stances to one and all, and in any case isint that what you are disputing, such generalisations?like the ones you pointed out against men…”

    If a constructive discussion can take place and people’s actual thoughts and ideas can be put forth (not the politically correct ones that people state but dont actually believe in or practice) then please let it flow.

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  • 10. yashoda  |  August 29, 2008 at 12:12 am

    @ hoopla over nothing
    hoopla?? i never thought talking about issues which for me is so stark and something that a lot of us can relate to could be ever considered hoopla! I am really proud that students of TISS have created a space wherein people across caste, gender and class can at least talk about issues which are not addressed elsewhere.
    I can’t seem to understand why there is a resistance to an informal forum such as TISStalks??
    is there no free space even on the internet for people to voice their opinion?

    Reply
  • 11. Natasha Koshy (DS)  |  August 29, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    @ Hoopla Over Nothing (HR)

    By referring to our taking up of the harassment of Sanjana as an ‘uncause’ you have not only made painfully evident your own insensitivity, but also trivialized the humiliation that most of us women, including your mother, sister, and your unfortunate to-be wife, face almost every day of our lives. And sadly, anyone who subscribes to a ‘perspective’ that considers the comment made to Sanjana to be ‘innocuous’ and not violative of her basic rights and freedoms, would belong to the category of what we Sensitive Species would consider Villainous Men.

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  • 12. Ujithra  |  August 29, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Dear Hoopla Over Nothing,

    Thank you for wanting to come to my rescue with all ‘tooth and nail’, while in the same breath thinking it is a ‘hoopla’ to talk about comments made about someone’s skirt.Your machoism is hard to miss.

    Clearly you have been missing the point of your behavior classes, as rightly pointed out by Medha. Wanting us to attend the same, then will be of no use, considering you who swears by them has completely got it wrong. And by sending us to behaviour classes, do you want us to become docile, homely, well-dressed (according to your dictate ofcourse!) women (suitable enough to become your wife)? Please elaborate.

    Since, you and Shanka both seem to think that the causes being discussed are “un-causes”, would you be kind enough to tell us what causes are held high by you?

    Reply
  • 13. Shankha  |  August 29, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Tata Institute Of Social Science (Social only and not the intellectually inferior management chaps) is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

    There is another theory which states that this has already happened.

    I took a little bit of liberty to tailor good friend Douglas Adams to suit the situation. Friend Ujithra (The shorter version of the name sounds phonetically similar to a fantastic sub machine gun used by Israeli Defense forces) has pointed out that together with Hoopla I also think these causes being discussed are un causes.

    I object. I do not think them as un cause. I think them as *******.With all these sensitization comes what? In this very forum I read about a lady colleague of ours who has anonymously posted an event of being called something utterly objectionable by a faculty. Incidentally the proper noun pointing at the faculty’s identity was nowhere to be found. I was curious enough to see how that Bus****(I am sorry to use the word but can’t find a better description ) is hit back. Because it was necessary. I would love it if somebody enlightens me about that. Any further mention of it in this place have been carefully avoided.

    Friends this is Hoopla . You use n numbers of incidents and multi syllable words to do what? When something happens bang next to you how freely can you get out in open and fire back to it? An anonymous post in an issue of something as disturbing as this indicates to an attempt. An attempt to secure my skin while I go around and keep crying over my misfortunes. Hundreds of megabytes of free cyberspaces, deeply thought provoking discussions and when there is something burning save our skins first. This is what we can see through. Probably people like “hoopla over nothing” are a little bit burnt by realities (So far I know him he is not a Fab India Marxist) to buy in the exemplary andragogy you people are proliferating. Brilliant attempt. I wish I had a better language and imagination to express my respect and awe towards the crusaders of this holy cause.

    And dear friends one very important point. “and your unfortunate to-be wife,” Source:- 11. Natasha Koshy (DS) | August 29, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Whether his to be wife is going to be unfortunate or not is just no bloody (again the sharp word was absolutely necessary) business of somebody else. For Goodness’ Sake I wish there will be no repetition of this behavior. Friends with all our differences we have presumed ourselves to be moderately civilized people. Please do not challenge this very basic assumption.

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  • 14. yashaswini  |  August 29, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    I read the last spate of blogs…and as I admit I felt…anger!! Anger against the insensitivity that was being displayed. Let me clarify. This was NOT anger as a woman. NOR anger against “MEN”. This was anger against the fact that vulnerability was ridiculed and made a show of. Insecurity was called nothing and an attempt to encourage more people to come out of their shells hoopla.
    I would like to point out certain common emotions that human beings feel – fear vulnerability and shame. Every person, man or woman is capable of feeling these. It is not a male or female issue. I would like the gentlemen who commented to try and imagine moments in their life when they have claustrophobic fear, uncertainty about themselves, abject vulnerability. You see this is what women who are sexually harassed feel ALL THE TIME. These are emotions and feelings which are SECULAR. I am not arguing from the stand point of the “marginalized” or the “women”. I am just saying that ANYONE in this world being made to feel that, purely by virtue of their being WHOM THEY ARE is UNACCEPTABLE.
    At this moment I am trying to understand what the thought that might have elicited the comments is. I think there has been a clear misunderstanding of what the blog represents. This blog is not a tirade against men. Or for the marginalized. This is a tirade against injustice. That is the spirit of this blog, to understand that there are highly socialized ways of looking at a particular segment of the population and they are clearly getting manifested in many ways in every day life. The expression of different incidents such as the auto as well as the skirt incident, are just to show that this shaming is happening at different levels and in different ways.

    Another point I would like to make – those writing posts about sexual harassment are taking the courage to write about incidents that were downright shameful to them, to substantiate their stand. So anyone commenting against it should also kindly substantiate their stands. Simply because we need to understand where you are coming from and why u say what u say. it would help us understand what is the frame of reality that makes you feel the way you do. I am sure we are all above merely saying things to scoff at anothers’ hurt. I am sure u would like to be taken seriously, else I wonder y u would have taken the effort to actually write and question posts in this blog.

    I must admit that with anger I feel a sense of disappointment. That men who have “mothers” ( UH need I point out that every rapist has a mother too, and having one doesn’t necessarily qualify you to have become more sensitive”) and who have been educated and been brought up in an environment where injustice against humanity is a common crime, where they have taken “CLASSES PREVIOUSLY and been taught by an external faculty about how prejudices and biases can blind you to what another is experiencing, can continue to remain ensconced in their way of looking at life !! It is truly a pity if despite this exposure, one cannot stop looking at every expression in terms of a generalized attack on ones’ gender and if one cannot appreciate that they too might be caught in a socialized way of thinking which needs to be broken out of.

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  • 15. swati  |  August 29, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    TO,
    all those who are concerned about wasting cyberspace..
    pls STOP bothering about this wastage (as u refer to it).
    Also, i think tisstalks is not about having a medical perspective on the issue that here is the problem presented by someone and so you jump to treating it by prescribing a sure short action.
    its about becoming ‘thinking doers’ and as i have been talking to people, all of us have started thinking.
    Shanka if u are waiting for a solution to be presented here, then u r waiting for the wrong thing.. we have to think and evolve our own actions. Pls try to interpret people’s experiences mentioned above and start thinking because am sure u dont want someone to tell u do what to do and how do.. use ur brains and influence people around u in the RIGHT manner rather than adding fuel to the fire for gossip!!

    Reply
  • 16. tisstalks  |  August 29, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    At Shankha (again)

    I am glad you have brought up the issue of the anonymous post on the faculty who refered to our campus as a brothel. Please say it…there is no need to hide realities behind vague euphemisms. We are unfortunately not telepathic – unless we know who the person is and what action they are willing to take, we cannot do anything. It is only when the effort is mutual that change can actually happen. That is why there is a disclaimer on top of this (relevant/irrelevant/whatever) discussion. The same discussion that you ridiculed some time back.

    I would also like to state that no one is ridiculing anyone because of their opinions. Everyone has an opinion, lets respect it – instead of lashing out at each other and being defensive. Shankha, I would like to invite you for our next TISSTalks session so we can talk about your comments in an adult like manner. Lets not call each other names and lets not ridicule each other like pre-school children. This only defeats the purpose.

    And finally, if you want to curse, please fucking curse. We are not looking to be ‘politically correct’ here. Otherwise a bunch of (objectionable) posts would have already been screened. Hiding behind asterisks just exposes you as a faker, a coward. Is that what you are?

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  • 17. Sanjana  |  August 29, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    At Shankha (again)

    I am glad you have brought up the issue of the anonymous post on the faculty who refered to our campus as a brothel. Please say it…there is no need to hide realities behind vague euphemisms. We are unfortunately not telepathic – unless we know who the person is and what action they are willing to take, we cannot do anything. It is only when the effort is mutual that change can actually happen. That is why there is a disclaimer on top of this (relevant/irrelevant/whatever) discussion. The same discussion that you ridiculed some time back.

    I would also like to state that no one is ridiculing anyone because of their opinions. Everyone has an opinion, lets respect it – instead of lashing out at each other and being defensive. Shankha, I would like to invite you for our next TISSTalks session so we can talk about your comments in an adult like manner. Lets not call each other names and lets not ridicule each other like pre-school children. This only defeats the purpose.

    And finally, if you want to curse, please fucking curse. We are not looking to be ‘politically correct’ here. Otherwise a bunch of (objectionable) posts would have already been screened. Hiding behind asterisks just exposes you as a faker, a coward. Is that what you are?

    Reply
  • 18. Natasha  |  August 29, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    TISSTalks is not a crusade. It is a community. The intention with which we started this blog was to provide people with a space to discuss their experiences. In that it is implicit that people who find the courage to speak out (having also been burnt by realities) will find respect and acceptance, and not be belittled or made to feel ashamed because someone claims that an experience that was traumatising to them is a non-issue or ******. You forget Shankha, that the issue of the skirt was posted by Sanjana in her capacity as a woman, , as a student of TISS and not as a ‘crusader of a holy cause’ or a ‘Fab-India Marxist’ (on a different note, I fail to see how just anyone who protests against injustice may be defined as Marxist. Do you mean to say that the world exists in binaries, with whatever political orientation at the other end of the spectrum being in favour of injustice?). It is therefore only fair to accord her the respect she deserves.

    With respect to the faculty, TISSTalks is very keen to support in every way possible people who wish to take up issues of discrimination and harassment on campus. However, we are bound by norms of confidentiality that do not allow us to do so without the express desire of students concerned. And the reason why students prefer not to take these issues up (though we have encouraged them to) is in fact because of the in-built patriarchy in institutions even such as TISS, not just amongst faculty, but even amongst students as has just been clearly illustrated.

    As for the comment about your unfortunate to-be wife, I merely meant that if one day your to-be wife comes to you and speaks of a man on the street who tells her that her skirt is too short, or her top too low, and if you respond to her in the way you have responded now, it will be unfortunate that she will not find support when she needs it. The comment was not meant in any way to cast aspersions on any other aspects of your character.

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  • 19. Ammel  |  August 29, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    With reference to the distinction between being harassed by a mob of saffron men, and wearing a skirt..we must note that both incidents were based on the experience of being a woman, and both incidents were targetted at women’s bodies. It happens all the time. It is subjective. Women Know It.

    Unfortunately, these incidents do show experiences in binaries. One, that shame is to be induced, and control over how we wish to view a body, particularly a woman’s. Two, that machismo is in being able to make a woman believe that her feminity is also very vulnerable.

    And women relate to these incidents with anger. It is not to be ridiculed. To be supportive is also to affirm this anger, and work with it in ways that will help change the way we think of gender. In ways that we change the way we think about everything else, by being sensitive to power within gender roles. Or would you like to disregard all the indicators that put women at the bottom, and say that there are no unequal power relations??

    And it happens all the time, across people’s backgrounds. Instead of reacting and throwing mud on TISSTalks, it would be better to see how we prize ourselves as men and women, and rethink these ideas. It is a gender issue. It isnt just A woman’s.

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  • 20. Sanchita  |  August 29, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    As much as you are enjoying the ATTENTION that you are getting I have no choice but to intervene and suggest that you step down from your self proclaimed position of Power and stop passing certificates as to what qualifies as harassment and what’s not.

    Now with regard to the post, is it that hard to understand that it’s not for You and I to pull that person out from the anonymity, it’s her decision! It will be hard for you to get that but not everyone enjoys this much notice. And considering how people are ready to judge and dismiss her as someone who cries over misfortunes already, I don’t really blame her.
    But Shankha, what her crying over her misfortunes has done is busted the myth that everything is alright in our Oh so revered CAMPUS.

    I request you to to stop trivializing issues and perhaps take more of some Behavior classes and this time focus on Attention Deficit Disorder. You know just what I mean.

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  • 21. Ujithra  |  August 29, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Linear thought processes and, immediate solutions (I wish) are unfortunately not going to take us far. Belittling discussions, by saying they do not manifest in immediate solutions and hence pointless is also a product of the above mentioned thought process. No one has to give the other agency, agency is one’s own to take/use. Hence for someone to come and say that an incident experienced by someone does or does not qualify as sexual harrasment is a denial of agency, which is a product of power- an inherent part of gender relations.

    Turning a blind eye to the working of power or denying its existence could be the manifestation of the same power relations or even worse existence in a state of naivety.

    TISSTalks, is a faciliator and ideally it should branch out into sub-conversations/discussions etc, which are initated by people on this campus. We hope that this would happen at some point. However, to typecaste us a ‘crusaders’, ‘fab India Marxists’ or deciphering the phonetics of my name is not a contribution to this process.

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  • 22. Shreya Ghosh  |  August 29, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    I have said this to my friends and I now take this forum to put it accross to a larger group of people:
    If the powerful were to step into the shoes of the disempowered and experience their lives even for a short period of time, face even a tenth of what it feels like when they are constantly being pulled down and being dictated in every sphere of their lives, how would they feel?
    It takes a lot of guts to actually come up in a public forum and talk about one’s life experiences, even if it is on an anonymous basis. If we do not extend our support to them, they will never be able to come out of their staus of anonimity. Please remember it is NOT EASY to be able to speak up. and it will take time and even MORE COURAGE to reveal oneself and the one who humiliates and harasses him/her. So give it time and support it till you can see the change coming thru…

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  • 23. Parul  |  August 30, 2008 at 12:02 am

    I think I can safely say that what Ujithra had to face was not an isolated incident. Men in mobs out to celeberate festivals, in marriage processions, political rallies are a daunting, horrifying experience for any woman who happens to be in the vicinity. The helplessness and the fear that I feel in such situations stays with me for so long, i just don’t know what to do with it, it is just this unresolved rage.
    (offers of protection do not help)

    For all of those who feel we are fab india marxists, crusaders for an un-cause creating hoopla over nothing, please put yourselves in our place. Think of what I undergo in such situations, add it to all the stress that we, men and women anyway have to handle and hopefully you will realize that just by the virtue of being a woman, regardless of my class, educational background my life is just that bit tougher than of the average man from a similar background.
    I am not blaming anyone for the way things are, nor am I saying that all men behave badly. The idea is to request everyone to empathize with what others go through it makes world a better place.

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  • 24. neha  |  August 30, 2008 at 12:53 am

    Adding to what uji, shreya and parul are saying I want to add that this is a forum to discuss issues which have not been discussed before, it is a part of each woman’s life to feel violated.
    How I walk on a road, how I stand in a bus, why do I chose to go in the ladies compartment( the world is equal isnt it?)
    It doesn’t have to be a truck full of drunk men. It could be your neighbors ‘growing up’ son, it could be a stranger in the bus who takes it as a right to rub his body to yours, it could be 70- 80 year old uncles in the garden, it could be an empty road in the afternoon…. there could be a zillion probablities!!
    I mean look how gendered mobs are, in festivals even if I want to attend a ceremony say dahi handi ( janamashtmi) looking how the crowd goes I would refrain from going…. after all later if something happens den what was I doing in a crowded place full of men? what the men are doing is not to be questioned mind it!!!
    being a woman how many times do I put restrictions on myself.. do I do everything that is defined as being safe for me?? Or shouldn’t i have the space to make the choice, but on virtue of being a woman i can be and i am denied of that choice, there is a subconscious threat of being violated..
    all of us have felt sexual harassment in different ways it does not equate to RAPE!!!
    We are not belittling the issue maybe we need to acknowledge that this affects a lot of us in so many ways that we don’t even realize it…
    there is a constant control and the irony is we have internalized it.. and some one who has the courage to stand up to it has been mocked at..
    well its not funny!! it really isn’t… we need understand that these realities have to be acknowledged…

    this is a space for people to share and find comfort with support…
    We just want people to talk about there experiences so that new platform can be created…. We all are on a journey… we don’t have the answers, so we want people to give us feed backs and suggestions rather than constant criticism…

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  • 25. Vasundhara  |  August 30, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Ok a lot of what I want to say has already been said, but I’m going to put it all together in any case.
    Before starting I want to say that I don’t want to get into a slanging match of any sort, I’ve read (listened) to what everyone had to say, and now I’d like that everyone listened to what I have to say (without claiming any sort of finality or moral legitimacy lest I be misunderstood)

    Ok for starters, when a girl, a woman, narrates an incident of trauma, of fear, of helplessness, of sexual harassment – never shut her up, never say you are wasting your time, never write her off as upper class (even if she is), never write her off as an elitist intellectual, never write her testimonial off as a waste of time because nothing comes of it.
    (you are of course free to to do all those things if you wish to, i am not ordering anyone – just making my point)

    If you noticed, HR or DS or SW, all the girls seem to be reiterating that this IS a serious issue, it IS a gender issue, it IS a space that is most important to have, they have all WELCOMED this space to talk these issues through, engage in discussion…and vent if nothing else!
    And venting is most necessary when you’re always wondering whether it’s SAFE to do this, to go there, to wear this, at this or that time.

    You must appreciate that life can very very suffocating and cluastrophobic for women in this world but more so in this country. The way you dress, the way you sit, the way you talk, who you talk to and who you don’t, where you live, how you live, who you live with, where you go, where you don’t go, what you study, where you study, IF you study, marriage, etc etc etc – the list goes on and on and on. Many of these issues i’m sure men face as well – there is an image of machoism that they must live up to as well – for fear of being termed a ‘fag’. But I think it’s safe to say it’s worse for women at a more general level.

    And all this IRRESPECTIVE of your caste, of your class, of your religion, of your region, of your language, of your tribe.
    There is, besides harassment, all sorts of things that amount to a certain amount of suffocation…EVEN when one belongs to the most liberal educated middle class families – gender is where they all stop short of rebelling.

    Having said that, the constant fear of sexual harassment, worse so with a mob of drunken saffron brigade men, one of the WORST nightmares for a woman, only adds to that feeling of suffocation – added to it a constant sense of fear.
    To respond to that by saying, OH shut up all of you you’re wasting your time is MOST cruel, MOST insensitive, and it’s just terribly terrible! If you think these are people wasting their time – don’t read it. But NEVER say stop wasting your time.

    You cannot understand the level of trauma and the level of suffocation. And i do not blame you for it because you have lived as men and you do not know what it is like to live as a woman. But at least respect the suffocation that we have to live with every living moment of our lives. if you rebel there is a cost, if you don’t there is a cost.
    I am most upset that all the men that have responded have responded negatively. This must not become a men vs women thing. As Ammel rightly said – it is a GENDER issue – and gender issues must concern all – men as well as women. I know there are men who agree with a lot of what is being said here, and it pains me that you sit and watch the women fight this out. It is not a women’s issue – it is a gender issue.

    Sexual harassment is sexual harassment whether you are upper classes or not. To write off ‘one kind’ of sexual harassment is to deny the the existence of that same trauma and fear to one class of women – that’s unjust.

    Finally – do not undermine the strength and value of talking, and listening. The result may not always be tangible – but you will see – in the long run – it will do a lot.

    Reply
  • 26. Megha  |  August 31, 2008 at 10:39 am

    I cant believe some of these comments came from people in a postgraduation social science institute.
    really what were they looking for in the enterance interviews?

    Reply
  • 27. tobehonest  |  August 31, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    well megha…..u will have to accept the reality that the “best” that institutions seek from the multiudes out there need not often be the most sensible or sensitive…..interviews need not necesarily bring out the true colours in people….it often provides the opportunity for the best fakers to make it through what are often “hallowed portals” 🙂

    as for the topic of the discussion here i (despite my being a guy) have seen numerous girls in countless instances being subjected to the same kind of harrasment and ridicule. the men in this instance ; like it was rightly mentioned; found security in their numbers, their drunkenness and their affiliations to protect them from anything the girl or others could have possibly done

    there is nothing that can possibly be done about “this” except to not acknowledge (i know it is very very very difficult) what they are saying or doing as trust me no one is gonna raise a finger in ur support except when u are in a situation like here on tisstalks. some of the very same people here who are encouraging u to react will just walk away on the other side of the road when they see such kind of situations….thats the reality here…..thats the sad thing……

    Reply
  • 28. Kerry  |  August 31, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    I’m shocked and saddened by this. Why is it a point of debate that a woman should be free from comments on her choice of attire? Why would a woman be maligned for posting about her real, traumatic, and terrifying experiences that are all too sadly emblematic existence here? Why is this purported progressive institution host to so many who would reject not only the right of self determination for all, but even the right – or prudence, at the very least – of discussing instances of alienation, marginalization, and inequality.

    I wish I had more to add to the debate. But I don’t see where the debate lies; I don’t see why there are questions here to be argued. The critics are questioning the wrong suppositions and criticizing the wrong actors. When I first heard of TISStalks, I didn’t understand why it was necessary. Now I do, and though I yearn for the day that it won’t be necessary, I’m very, very glad it’s here for now.

    Reply
  • 29. Shreya Ghosh  |  September 1, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    I have faced countless instances of sexual harrassment at almost every conceivable space.What happened today adds to this exhaustive list.
    I was on my way to the bus stop outside my fieldwork agency.I was to do two school visits today.While I was walking,I felt like I was being watched and followed.Soon, a car pulls over right next to me, and the old man (at least 70 yrs of age) driving the vehicle asks me where I want to go.I tell him I am going to the bus stop ahead. He then asks what stop I wanted to go to.A little alarmed by his possible intentions, I tell him I want to go to ‘3 taaki’ which is just a few stops away.He volunteers to drop me…but my insticts tell me not to believe him, so I start walking faster towards the stop.so he follows me with his car!
    I reach the bus stop, relieved to find a few people standing there already.I quietly go and stand at the stop, still trying hard to give the old man, the benefit of the doubt. To my shock, he stops the car right in front of me and stares straight at me.I try being brave, and stare back (the blank noise intervention strategy).But it had no effect on him.
    Then something came upon me, and I went upto him and said, ‘Uncle aapki gaadi ka number maine note kar liya hai…agar aap apna naam bataa dete, toh mujhe complaint karne mein asaani hoti…’ Now the old man doesnt know how to respond! he asks me who I would complain to and for what reason?
    I tell him I will go to the police of course, and file a complaint for Street Sexual Harrassment…the man does not say a word…just starts the car and drives away!
    here I wanna say two things:
    We somehow always want to give the other person the benefit of the doubt, thinking maybe he has good intentions, maybe he genuinely wants to help.but all the times I have been targetted so far, my insticts have never failed me.
    secondly, face the ones who try to harrass you. most of them do not expect retaliation. they cannot look into your eyes. u retaliating helps you reclaim your power…and trust me it feel goood!!!

    Reply
  • 30. pritha  |  September 1, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    well done shreya !

    Reply
  • 31. pritha  |  September 1, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    enough of haressment and discrimination … now its time when woman should be bold and prepared enuf to fight the battle alone..
    public shaming is the best .. ! i just did it in the afternoon when a guy said ..”sexy dreams”

    thats the best way to deal with the situation ..

    Reply
  • 32. Christine  |  September 1, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    I wanted to share an incident that occurred to me the other day. I was coming back from Colaba with a friend of mine who was travelling on the locals for the first time. It was 1 in the afternoon and as usual I wanted to get into the ladies compartment. I showed him the general compartment to get in. He wasn’t very comfortable with this as he did not know which station to get off at, and he also did not see the problem in me travelling in the ‘general’ compartment – something purportedly for men and women. As it wasn’t rush hour, I agreed to this, although I was slightly apprehensive.

    The train came and I did get into the general compartment. As I walked in and took the seat, there were male eyes staring at me with a questioning look. Why has she entered this compartment? We sat opposite each other, next to the window. Although there were other vacant seats in the compartment, one man chose the seat right next to me. Seeing this my friend moved up, making me sit between the window and himself. That’s when I felt a little secure.

    I was the only woman in that compartment through out that journey from Colaba to Govandi, besides an other elderly woman (who had got in with her husband only for two stations). When we reached Govandi, we tried to take our positions in the line exiting the train. I was aware that a few men were purposely crowding around the door and refused give me more than an inch to move. As I got off, I happened to look behind and saw that they had moved for my ‘male’ friend. I was also brushed against by one of the men in the guise of getting off at that station, when he really wasn’t.

    At that point in time, as is commonly felt by many of us, I felt frustrated but it passed away in a couple of minutes. On the weekend when I was going through the different comments on TISSTalks, I realised how often we women dismiss these incidents. During this incident I felt completely out of place in the so-called general compartment, for reasons obvious to all of us. My friend also realised why I did not want to travel in the general compartment. I question the reasons why women choose to remain in their allotted spaces? To me it’s because if we choose to move out, we are vulnerable to awkward and maybe threatening situations.

    Reply
  • 33. Ujithra  |  September 1, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    It is true that women continue to stay in the demarcated spaces allocated to them because most importantly they are safer. A common place example isthe the reserved seats in the bus, which many might feel are unfair in this supposed age of equality. However, these seats act as insulation away from unwanted touches and in company of other women. The ladies compartment works on the same principle. Transcending or moving out of these comfort zones is a challenge and at many times might seem like an unwanted one. People would wonder and mock or worse make you pay a heavy price by harrasing you. Such situations could make one question the reason for wanting to step out in the first place. The painful and discomforting attempt is essential for a personal attempt at reclaimming spaces and demanding rights, which can then be translated into a collective effort if more women feel the need and muster courage to do the same.

    Reply
  • 34. Wandering Soul  |  September 2, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Hi,
    I chanced upon this discussion while searching for some information on a play … and then lingered on.

    As a man from a small town, I am reminded of times that I was asked to accompany my elder sister, and I remember her acute discomfort about not being able to move alone freely because of the hostility that she experienced as a single woman.

    I am also reminded of my trip with some of my classmates, when our train (yes, train …) met with an accident and we were forced to travel in a bus, and as I sat squished between two burly men, one of them pointed to one of my class mates and asked if she were my sister … I had vacated a seat for her (it was next to an elderly woman) … and why I did not want her to sit in this particular seat between them.

    Then there are these incidents on Holi …. and parties … and festive dancing … getting on a bus .. getting off …

    Being a man, I am not sure if I feel the full extent of rage that women all over India feel when they are subjected to this level of brute force. But what I feel is enough to let me know that being a woman is many times tougher.

    But I want to address women here,

    Please understand that the men who use violence (and it is violence) by violating the personal space of a woman, is not a non violent creature otherwise. He uses the same violence against men and against nature too. Women just happen to be one of the ways that this violence manifests itself. He does not ‘learn’ to be violent, it is part and parcel of his being.

    And men are not alone. Women too get violent, albeit to much lesser extent. The nature of violence may be different too.

    If the underlying dynamics is of force and violence, and that too the in built variety, then just talking and having a web based forum appears, well, it appears very unmanly!!! (My apologies!)

    Almost all women on this forum, exception Shreya Ghosh (influence of land of Durga perhaps), appear to believe in ‘Tea and Sympathy’ route of changing the world. Can you reflect on your experiences so far and see if it works? Purposive action, as demonstrated by Shreya, will be far more effective.

    As for men on this forum, and I notice there are ‘two’ few of them, please remember, that not only women, you too will get targeted. It may not be about your body, but it will certainly be about your dignity and self worth. So either learn how to fight along with women and in the process learn some survival skills yourself, or get sucked into the perpetual dominance – submission roles.

    Good luck to all of you. Hope to see more of such discussion.

    A concerned wandering man

    Reply
  • 35. Shreya Ghosh  |  September 2, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Today, for the second consecutive day, I was made to feel like my body and my space were open to invasion, and that I had no right to question it. My experience-
    I get on to a heavily crowded bus at D-Mart, Koparkhairane. I buy my ticket and stand about two seats away from the bus entrance, when I suddenly feel a hand pinching my butt. I turn to find a young man (around 20-22yrs) quickly look away and give a cheeky and victorious smile. I scream at him asking him why he did that and dare him to do it again. To humiliate me further, the man does not even acknowledge me or the fact that I am yelling my lungs out to him!
    My screaming did attract attention, but not one person came to my support. The conductor comes to me and says, ‘Jaane do na madam…ho gaya’. Another man says ‘aap yahaan kya kar rahe ho? Ladies seat toh aage hai…’
    I wanted to punch that man on his face, but logic took over and I realised that it would serve no purpose.
    My questions:
    1Don’t I have the right to stand in an area other than the space demarcated for me on the basis of my gender?
    2)Is the violence against me justified, because I have stepped out of ‘my limits’? Its exactly like a dog demarcating his territory by urinating along its borders…‘outsiders’ enters at their own risk?!
    3)The govt. took an affirmative action by reserving seats for women in public transport. But is that the end of it? will the day come when we can do away with this reservation and all spaces are ‘safe’ and free from the threat of violence and exploitation? Is there any simultaneous action going on to sensitize people?

    Reply
  • 36. yashaswini  |  September 2, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    TO FIGHT BACK

    Here is something similar to what shreya has gone throiugh. I was in amritsar two years back, for some 20 days on a research project along with my entire class of 30 odd girls and a faculty member. Most of our work was in the field and so we came across all kinds of people. Now from the VERY day I stepped foot in that city, I was shocked to see the level of eve teasing that took place in that city. It was bloody blatant and bold and so shockingly accepted. Truth be told I am still shocked. Every single day, if any of us were out after 6 in the evening, we would invariably be followed by a bunch of guys on bikes. It didn’t matter whether we were in groups (of as many as 10 sometimes), whether we were on foot, on a rickshaw. It happened. And it was scary, because these men were really bold. They would ride up to an inch of u on their bikes, two guys flanking u on either side of the rickshaw and one behind. The first one week, we guys were so terrified that we never even said a word to the men. We just grumbled to each other and to our teachers. And then one day, a fuse blew. I remember it was 8 pm and I was returning to our guest house along with two of my friends. As usual a bunch of guys found us. And started the rigmarole! This time after 2 mins, I began to feel sick of the gnawing daily fear. I told the rick guy to stop and looked the men in the eye and told them “saale mere cellphone par yahaan ke police commissioner ka number hai, tum yaheen mere saat ruko main unko phone lagati hoon”. Immediately, it was like a charm had been broken, they sniggered but they began to slowly ride away. One guy turned back and I just calmly shouted out “kahaan ja rahe ho bhai? Police ka toh wait kar lo”. Obviously he did not wait !!

    We went back and discussed this with the rest of the girls. The very next day, 5 other girls were walking back and some idiots again followed them. This time, one of them turned around and asked him which college he was from. He gave the name of his college and she very sweetly asked him to show her his ID. When he did, she snatched it from him and said that now that she has his ID, she is going to go to that college and inform the authorities about him and see to it that action is taken against him. That was that for that guy and his friends. They began demanding his ID back and saying that they didn’t mean any harm and why must she act like that etc etc etc, she just threw it back at him and they slunk away.
    In both these cases, we could have continued to be the victims and let them surround us. We didn’t, just as Shreya did not. And that’s what matters. Turning that outrage into anger, that helplessness into action. And the moment u do that u will come out of the victim role and force the man come out of the persecutor role.

    Reply
  • 37. yashaswini  |  September 2, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    At this moment another incident comes back to me. During the same time in Amritsar, in the same “horrible” city where we had decided no woman could possibly be safe, the following occurred just two days before we left. Two of our girls had to go to a distant relative’s place for dinner. It was around 7 30 – 8 when they were travelling. And they began to actually be intensely harassed by a group of men in a car. It began to get very bad and one or two of the times, they almost grabbed these girls. These two were on the brink of a break down. They ran into a doctors’ clinic that they saw on the roadside, just to avoid these men. The doctor, inside to their shock , when she was explained the situation, just told them that they had no business being out at this time of the night and began to scold them severely. She also added her own two-penny bit about “aaj kal ki ladkiyan” and how they deserve this. So they of course went out again only to be met by these guys. Thank fully for them, some other “uncles” came to their rescue and challenged these eve teasers. Cops also happened to join in and these guys were beat up rather mercilessly.
    The point I think is fairly clear. There clearly are men willing to fight with us even in that city. And clearly not all women are supportive, even when they can be. So people come in all shades and hues. I respect and welcome those men to join us as I am sure they have seen that this not really about women but (as wandering soul has pointed out) about dignity and self-worth being thwarted.

    Reply
  • 38. vibhawari  |  September 5, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Look here also!!!!
    from generation they are being deprived and from birth they have to do this work…plz think on it

    Devadasi’s Saga

    I could hear the temple bell

    Ringing in my ears,

    The day I was born

    To an unwedded mother, or rather

    My mother was “married” to the temple!

    But,

    The Temple was not my father!

    I could hear the temple bells

    Ringing in my ears…

    I could hear the temple walls,

    Heaving sighs in the dead of night,

    Sighs of satisfaction…

    I could hear my mother’s sobs,

    Intermingle with the sighs,

    Sighs of dissatisfaction…

    As I slept on the cold-rough stone,

    My cradle in the darkest chamber,

    Where light hardly ever entered,

    I missed a father’s loving touch,

    When I asked my mother,

    She said:

    The temple was my father!

    Then one day, through the

    Half shut doors, I saw:

    The priest heaving and hawing,

    Full of sweat…

    The pained surprise in my mother’ eyes,

    (On being so exposed),

    Silently beseeching me

    With helpless tearful eyes:

    “Go away! You’re still too young!”

    But one day, I grew up!

    I felt the “touch”,

    A creeping crawling, lustful touch,

    The expression in the priest’s eyes,

    Matched the touch,

    As he held me in his clutch…

    Nausea welled up in my throat:

    It was not a father’s touch,

    I could feel it in my innocent bones…

    Then Another, and Another…

    Now, I am “My Mother”…

    Like her, I do not know,

    The father of the baby in my womb…

    Like my mother, I am going to

    Tell, my daughter:

    “Temple is your father!”

    This has gone on for centuries,

    And still goes on…

    This will go on forever…

    I am the Devadasi of the Temple…

    Temples may crumble…

    But,

    I will go on

    Forever…

    Reply
  • 39. Mansha  |  September 6, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    this about an incident that happened on campus, i don’t how much sense it will be make but it was for sure an important incident for me.

    we were suppose to discuss about some assignments and this talk popped up where do boys look and where do girls stare in other person body. ( the people who brought the talk are my friends). its fine to discuss about issues and our own view points but to my surprise there was a lot of joke and insensitivity and no respect. i respect my body and also others, i as a person do not feel uncomfortable about discussing any issues but there should be vulgarity attached to it.

    which was not acceptable to me so i just walked off from the meeting.

    Reply
  • 40. saveetha meganathan  |  September 8, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Last thursday post office hours i was shown this web page by my batchmates…I was completely taken aback that people can actually antagonise such feelings of terror and leave alone be so insensitive. I have undergone a similar expeirence of a truck full of men ( dahi handi festival) throwing things at me just outside our TISS campus. I exactly remember the fear and moreover the helplessness of doing nothing about such VIOLENT behaviour. I am glad that you people have come up with this forum and it is time to listen to our less privileged fraternity who are drowned in their insensitivities and sheer ignorance, so that atleast in their spirit to bicker they read what we have to say. I can only pity you people who are basking in the pride of having been able to antagonise without actually reflecting. In my anger, i can only resort to compassion. I find it very amusing about the group behaviour classes whcih one of our friends have recommended for us. Thank you!! we have more KHAM DHAM than to attend such classes, for it is very clear that we need to work more on making people understand that there are injustices in the world which you and i share and i will voice it out…so will every other woman, man or the third gender.

    Reply
  • 41. resonance  |  September 10, 2008 at 1:00 am

    how many times my body has been violated and how many times have i let ppl violate mine body?? i donno i have lost the count. intially i felt disgusted with mine body then it was myself and mine incapacity to to do anything about it. today i am insensitive to mine own self. somewhere i have accepted this happen and will happen no matter what time what dress and what area!!

    Reply
  • 42. 123  |  September 10, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    things like u guys are speaking about are normal…..the girls are provocative and the guys often drunk…what better combination is there for trouble….its not one groups fault alone…..both are equally responsible

    Reply
  • 43. Wandering Soul  |  September 16, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Hi,
    I had wandered in this space, about a month back. And I was curious to see how the experiment is going ahead and I notice the following,
    a. This space has inspired more members to come forward and publicly acknowledge the pain that they have gone through.
    b. I saw some participation earlier from some members from the ‘other’ gender, and that has now stopped completely.

    I am charting a very risky territory by guessing that although all of us would welcome the first development, I am not sure if the second development is so welcome.

    I am a frequent visitor to a website called http://www.change.org. I am sure a lot of you would have heard about it. It seeks to enable change by, and I quote,
    1. Connect to people who care about the same social issues.
    2. Discover and engage with leading non profit organisations in these areas.
    3. Make a difference by donating and taking action with others.

    TISSTALKS has been a great forum for 1., and I for one would strongly urge that TISSTALKS evolves into TISSTALKS&ACTS.

    Somewhere initially, I saw a comment that this space is meant for open and free airing of views and that individual (i think it was swati) said that actions have to be evolved individually.

    If one were to analyse the discourse in this forum, it appears to be loaded against purposive action through very unconscious neglect of the same. Could it be that women, by not veering towards action be playing the role that the patriarchal system creates for them (i.e. feeling beings without the ability for purposive action!!).

    Admittedly this is a contentious thought, it can be argued that action orientation itself is a patriarchal concept!!

    I think the answer lies in the question, ‘Does purposive action lead to a ‘better’ condition for both genders?’ and if the answer is yes, then not taking it up is not only irresponsible but immoral too!!

    And this forum, admirable as it is, will become the feather with which we tickle our outraged conscience!!

    Wandering Man

    Reply

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