Womens Experience in India from a male point of view

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#1 Nov 7th, 2005, 12:23
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  • Sunray is offline
#1
As a guy I can experience all that India has to offer in complete safey, with little hassle. In Kolkata, the street shop sellers and locals have been very helpfully keeping all the hassle away from me as I walk down the street. I get very politely approached for 'photo' occasionally, which can be fun at times. People are really friendly, come up and talk to me in the street, sometimes really out of curiosity and I've had some great conversations and learnt a lot about the festivals and whats been going on.

Met some German girls in a cafe and we hooked up to explore the city. It was such a relevation. The atmosphere was intimidating and unfriendly. Followed by large groups of men, lots of strange stares, having to tell some real pests to go away, not once but many times.

I'm in Diu at the moment, western girls here have to seek out the deserted beaches to go in to the sea, otherwise they get massive attention. Even then, its incredible, you can be on a deserted beach, but suddenly there are indian men sitting near you right near, even though there is a mile long deserted beach.

This saddens me a lot. Its so bad, I have total admiration to any girl that would attempt to go to India alone. It seems to me, unless you are a bloke half of what makes India a great destination gets obscured from you by all the hassle your having to deal with.
#2 Nov 7th, 2005, 14:03
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#2
It is extremely unpleasant living in urban India as an Indian woman. It's when I travelled West for the first time that I realised "women are people, too". It's in the little things - eye contact with everyone, stuff like that.

I love the simple appreciation I receive as a person in the West. Something my Western friends understand very well.

Thanks, Sunray.
~~~~~Eschew Obfuscation~~~~~
#3 Nov 7th, 2005, 14:30
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#3
Sad but very true, half of your time is spent in shooing away all the Indian guys that want to get close to young females with requests of a photo with them or with some travel & hotel plans and "I want to be your friend" and then they will not leave you alone even on shouting at them as if no means yes to them!!! The best way to tackle them is to ignore them!!! I really take my hat off to all the single women who travel in India without getting into hassles with Indian guys who are out to harrass them at temples, restaurants, public places and anywhere they may find them like an eagle finds his prey from the skies above and ready to swoop down on them!!!

Cheers,
Aadil.
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Your goal, the sky,
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#4 Nov 7th, 2005, 21:47
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When I was in Chennai I dealt with a jewelery salesman -- in an "upscale" store no less -- who, in perfect English, said we should get together so I could be his yoga teacher; he also offered to give me a massage. Those were only two of his comments. He was, to use an old fashioned word, "smarmy". Not being someone who is easily intimidated, I shot back, "do you think I'm a stupid American woman? Is this the way you try to make a sale? Do you think I don't know you say this to every woman?" Needless to say, he was not prepared for my reaction. Since I was more or less prepared for crap like this, I wasn't that upset by it, I just thought, what an idiot, what a total loser....

The night I checked out of my hotel, I was going over my bill with the desk clerk. I was in a hurry, my ride to the airport was waiting in the lobby. Then two Indian men came to the desk to check out and suddenly the clerk drops me in the middle of what we were doing, goes over to them, and starts to help them, like I was nothing. The thing was, I spent a hell of a lot more money in the hotel in my month's stay than these two guys did, but obviously, my money did not talk -- being male did (and I'm putting this diplomatically.) After he checked them out, he came back to me to finish our business. I thought, in America, if he had done that to a woman checking out of a hotel, he would have been verbally knocked into next week, reported to the manager, and maybe lose his job. But as a western woman in India, I thought, why bother saying anything.....

As HumanBean says, "women are people too"; as she says, she travelled to the west and experienced that. So what's the problem? In a country that worships the feminine divine (as equals) in Parvati, Durga, etc., indeed, feminine power, why is the attitude toward women such as it is, why is it "extremely unpleasant living in urban India as an Indian woman" (or as a non-Indian woman?)
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Last edited by Sama; Aug 24th, 2006 at 23:43..
#5 Nov 7th, 2005, 22:15
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Yogagal, you HAVE to tell me which store this was in Chennai...what on earth makes this guy think he can get away with propositioning women tourists like this.

Not that I ever felt particularly unsafe while travelling in India but I was with two other women. I think it would have been a bit harder had I been alone. Just from observing my cousins (male), I think they have an easier time of it when they travel...they seem to get hassled far less, even in the touristy spots.
#6 Nov 7th, 2005, 22:36
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yes, I will PM you, Auntyji! I found out later that this guy said the exact same thing to another yoga student, and she's even 10 years older than me (of course, neither one of us look our ages, ha ha!!) -- he was a younger guy and we are just two old decrepit western women (as was mentioned on another thread....) hey sonny boy, where's my wheelchair.....?
#7 Nov 8th, 2005, 00:14
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You shud have reported this incident!
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#8 Nov 8th, 2005, 00:38
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#8
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Originally Posted by crimsonriver You shud have reported this incident!
sorry to say, but any "incidents" that were encountered by the western women I spent the month with were just shrugged off like "oh well, this is india, nothing we can do about it anyway...."

hmmm... sad, isn't it? or just realistic?
#9 Nov 8th, 2005, 01:12
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  • raos is offline
#9

Question for women out there

Wow! These are some interesting stories. I have always wondered what it would be like to be a Western woman in India. The sexual harrassment on the streets is so rampant for Indian women (and accepted as 'part of life' by all parties) that someone who is not used to being harrassed (simply for getting on to a bus) might find the entire experience scary. I am more curious to know if there are any women who don't mind it as much or, even, enjoy the attention (and why)?
#10 Nov 8th, 2005, 01:22
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#10
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Originally Posted by yogagal60510 sorry to say, but any "incidents" that were encountered by the western women I spent the month with were just shrugged off like "oh well, this is india, nothing we can do about it anyway...."

hmmm... sad, isn't it? or just realistic?
I sent you a PM, Yogagal. I'm glad you told off the guy.

I too can't understand the lack of reaction, because they surely wouldn't stand for harassment like this in the U.S, so why would they keep quiet in India?

Harassment is the same the world over; it needs to be reported and you can't just keep silent just because you think that's how it is in India. Since no one has raised a fuss, this man in the jewelry store keeps trying his luck, I guess.
#11 Nov 8th, 2005, 01:33
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#11
Quote:
Originally Posted by raos Wow! These are some interesting stories. I have always wondered what it would be like to be a Western woman in India. The sexual harrassment on the streets is so rampant for Indian women (and accepted as 'part of life' by all parties) that someone who is not used to being harrassed (simply for getting on to a bus) might find the entire experience scary. I am more curious to know if there are any women who don't mind it as much or, even, enjoy the attention (and why)?
I suppose the initial reaction to harassment would depend on the woman, if they are easily intimidated, whatever. Me, I go for the jugular vein immediately..... As for the guy in the store, believe me, I blasted him in front of another clerk, and laughed in his face. And no, I did not buy anything.....couldn't afford $600 gold earrings anyway.....hmmm, buy some earrings from him so he can make his commission AND be his "friend".....what an enterprising fellow! Oh yeah, when I told him I was old enough to be his mother he said "age is no problem!" EGADS! I suppose this fool thought he was doing me a favor.....

Personally, I was shocked when I saw one of the western women students blow a kiss to her rickshaw driver when he dropped her off in the morning! Basically, I asked her, are you nuts?!? and she said, oh, he knows I'm kidding! I said, are you sure of that? I thought that was a stupid thing to do, but hey, whatever.

Anyway, I was much more offended by the way I was treated by the hotel clerk as I was checking out....
#12 Nov 8th, 2005, 02:51
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#12
i travel solo to india; i've been there 3 times.

the first time i had an intentional tunnel vision having been told to avoid eye contact with men because this could signal that you want them. wow, i had a hard time with that advice because i want to be very aware of my environment.

the second trip i forgot the advice and made a lot of friends with indian men. my whole trip was better.

my third trip this year was great. i made many friends with indian men and spent a lot of time in their company talking about everything imaginable, (and even the unimaginable.)

i personally find that if i try and ignore the men, i become that much more of a mystery to them. i think it feeds the problem, so i befriend them instead. and it's worked! i am no longer an elusive female to them, and we grow ever curious to learn about each other, and each others cultures.

this is not to say that there haven't been any instances with men in india. but i find that if i carry myself as a fearless traveler and do not allow their cultural dis-ease to become a personal issue for me, it is easier.
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#13 Nov 8th, 2005, 14:57
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#13
I really don't get what all the fuss is about. I'm a quite striking woman (even if I do say so myself - check out my travelogue for piccies) and I never had anything that I deemed to be 'trouble' or 'bother' with Indian guys. Everyone stares, both men and women in India. With the women I always made eye contact and often stopped to chat with them at length. With the men, I tended to look more stern but would still make eye contact and if they wanted to shake my hand or whatever, I would put my hands together and say 'Namaste'... if pushed, I would simply say 'you would not do this with Indian lady, would you?'. Of course when they said no, I said 'well you treat me with respect as for Indian lady' and that was that. I had some fascinating conversations with Indian men of all ages, non of them in any way compromising or over familiar.

Maybe this is because I treated everyone with total respect both in the way I dressed (nearly always wore Salwar Kameez) and in the type of things I did. I did see many western women, with cleavages or shoulders uncovered, shorts etc and to be honest, you are just asking for it - is it any wonder that in a society that is not used to seeing these particular body parts uncovered, they are interested and have a false impression of how Western women behave? Indian men are totally tame in comparison to say Moroccan men - they really did hassle me, but I'm strong and don't take any crap from anyone!

Namaste

Dinah
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#14 Nov 8th, 2005, 15:33
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#14
I travelled around India for a month on my own and didn't feel any intimidation from men at all.

Yes a few local boys tried it on, but a humorous put-down was enough to resolve that, and a big guy on a motorbike tried to get me to leave my rickshaw and go for a ride with him. I just told him to get real and he left... But, yes I did get alot of staring, from both men and women.

So it makes me wonder that was I oblivious to this hassling or was I just plain lucky. I've been to Morocco as well and yes I think the hassle you get from men there is far worse then in India.

I thought that maybe because I am Asian I didn't get hassled as the men might have thought I was local. But by all accounts, it seems that local women get hassled as well... so that only leaves the fact that I must not be attractive to the locals .
#15 Nov 8th, 2005, 16:12
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#15
Quote:
Originally Posted by divadino you are just asking for it
I thought only men used this self-justifying crap.

And just because you didn't have any trouble, doesn't mean other strong, self-assured women don't get harassed. If you don't know what the fuss is about, maybe you should open your eyes even wider.
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