Empowered Women: Project Blank Noise

August 15, 2007

I read about Project Blanknoise in Ms. Magazine and felt immensely proud of the amazing women who started this. Growing up in India, a girl is cautioned about undesired male attention even before she attains puberty and after getting a whole lot of it in the form of groping, touching, stalking and leering they turn conditioned to accept it as a fact of life.

Back in my day, I was considered dangerously bold because I stepped on the toes of a man with my stilettos in a crowded bus after being "eve-teased". He yelped in pain and I told him that was the only way I could stand unless he put some distance between us. My girlfriends were in awe of me but not everyone dared to fight back like I did.

My aunt and I once slapped a guy in a crowded marketplace until our hands turned blue. A ring of silent spectators had formed around us. Several of them wanted to know what exactly the guy had done - such voyeuristic curiosity followed by complete inaction was typical. We did not expect better.

While there were always a few "firebrands" who did not mind slapping a man publicly or screaming obscenities to call attention to the molester, the fear of consequences (or more accurately retribution) was too deeply ingrained for any of this to turn into a grassroots movement.

Something has changed in the positive direction within the last decade for women in India; they feel empowered enough to come up intervention strategies collectively. Maybe with the booming economy, more women are financially independent than ever before and like they say money talks. It definitely enhances confidence. This has been long overdue and I can't say how strongly I identify with the cause of Blank Noise. More power to these determined young women and may their tribe increase!

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August 15, 2007
10:51 PM

This is one movement SIFF considered supporting.

In spite of politically correct tone, why Blank Noise Project did not create a massive impact?

They need to constantly keep changing their methods and keep experimenting to be more effective.

August 15, 2007
11:53 PM

!!!!!!!!!My aunt and I once slapped a guy in a crowded marketplace until our hands turned blue. A ring of silent spectators had formed around us. Several of them wanted to know what exactly the guy had done - such voyeuristic curiosity followed by complete inaction was typical. We did not expect better.!!!!!!!!!

that is common 4 the people asking what happened there.If it is not decent to say what that nasty guy has did to you, just ask them for help to put a police case on him.So there you can write on paper what that guy has did.I think it is better..than beating someone in public.

August 16, 2007
07:24 AM

Ravi - I have to assume that you are either particularly naive or have never set foot in India. Police don't do much even when a woman is brutally raped. And this in an incident of mere "eve-teasing" - it would be fodder of obscene questioning and dismissal if not worse. Sure, its not the best thing in the world to beat someone publicly but it is a sign of how helpless and outraged women feel when the system does not protect them.

August 16, 2007
08:14 AM


your assumption is wrong, i am neither naive nor the person who didn't put his foot in India. I am just a Man at next door.You said that police don't do much...sorry, i am disagreeing with you.Police can do much better than a woman can do in public.

Your case is true only when the man is strong influence..., even in this case also beating that person causes some problems.Of course if you go to PS then also problems will come.

But he is ordinary, it will definitely works..I don't know in which state you are, but in my state for eve teasers...there is a punishment upto 5 years( it depends upon the crime he committed, i read it in some news paper 1 year back, i didn't know much about this law, but there is a law to punish eve teasers).

And in tamil nadu police are strict against eve teasers and they succeeded well. I read it in TOI.

beating some one in public is not that much better idea.I think you are aware of the truth, woman don't accept beating them even though there is a mistake.

I can understand how it will be, if some one harassed.but there is always a remedy other than physical attack.

August 16, 2007
09:58 AM

I agree that the Blank Noise Project is a good thing. But I do have some issues...

I wrote about this topic on one of my blogs a while back. I will repeat some of what I had to say here.

I sincerely applaud the work of the Blank Noise Project. Education is very, very important. But I have some concerns. Look at the banner at the top. I agree with most of the items they have next to the word NO... but no looking? No staring? This is excessive. People look, and they stare. And looking/staring is not harmful. Everyone in India seems to stare! Yes, I agree that sometimes a look can make you feel dirty. And I do agree that leching is different from looking. But ladies, I will let you know now. You will never, and I mean NEVER stop men from noticing your body. But you can control how you feel about that. If your self-esteem is high enough, no simple look will produce that horrible stomach churning. It will take something a lot more serious.

There is a fact we need to understand. You cannot make something like a look equal in seriousness to something like groping. Do I like it when a man stares at my breasts? Hell no. But I also realize that men are visually stimulated. If they stare for a long time, and have a conversation with them, I cue them to look up. Do I humiliate them? Usually not. Why? Because men are more likely to take it to heart and not repeat the offense if they are not made to feel humiliated. Make them see you as human and not an object. Then they will stop staring inappropriately.

and no passing remarks? Do I think shouting "hey baby, shake that ass" should be illegal? No, I do not. Why? Because they are just words. They are obnoxious one, agreed. But they are not threatening. Yes I understand that in some situations they might be. And yes, some words are threats... you whisper in some poor girl's ear that you want to "do her good" or some other such horrifying nonsense, and that can (and should) be construed as a threat to rape. It should be illegal. But "hey sexy" is not a threat. It's annoying, but it's simply teasing.

Men need to clearly know the difference. If you outlaw everything, the people acting out will try harder to get around the rules. If the punishment for speaking and assaulting are the same, you are basically telling these men that they might as well go ahead and full-on assault you, because they are going to catch hell anyway.. they might as well make it good.

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