Why Loiter? Radical Possibilities for Gender Dissent
The forenamed article revolves around the relation of public spaces with men and women. According to the authors, public spaces are largely used by men and spending so much time create a sense of belonging for them to those public spaces. On the other hand, women loitering on the streets are deemed bad as the notion of good women is associated with the private women while women at a public space is assumed as a prostitute or someone asking to have her.
Besides, it is not only women who are kept deprived of seeking pleasure in a public space; it is for all other marginalized groups as well. She further talks about the dangers that a woman has to face if she travels alone or consume a public space. Taporis, and Muslim men are considered a threat or obstacle for women. Also, the lower class man become objects of surveillance for women protection which do not let them enjoy their leisure in a public space as the sense of being monitored not only stops them to commit a crime but make them conscious of their actions that can be misunderstood, staring for example. It is in the mindsets that will be discussed further later in the response.
Applying the notion to our country, another “patriarchal chauvinistic society”, one example is of chand raat. It’s a common trend to witness men loitering in the markets and malls – the places predominantly associated with women, on chand raat when women and families are there to enjoy the festive night by shopping, buy bangles and put on mehndi . The loiter or taporis as mentioned in the essay would stare, pass indecent comments, pass by very closely or even touch women to get satisfaction and resultantly make women feel uncomfortable in a public place.
It can be understood from the idea of gendered spaces as public spaces have now been completely owned by males hence it has become a loitering space for men. It is due to gender inequality that is so deeply inherent in chauvinistic societies that women are still left deprived of their basic needs.
Here, I see the marginalized women as sub-alterns who are well aware of the fact the public space itself means it is for public and it has no gender restriction yet it is occupied by men and they are hesitant to equally consume the pleasure of public spaces. They are not speaking up or fighting back for it. Besides, the danger or obstacles, the stereotyping of women as “public bad women” and “private good women” could be one of the reasons for them to stay silent and keep the morals of their chastity and honor of their family.
The authors of the book Why Loiter? Shilpa Randae and Shilpa Phadake along with Sameera Khan after three year research with Partners for Urban Knowledge Action and Research (PUKAR) lunched a game on “public space and women” called “gender strategies for loitering” in which the female protagonist while loitering on the public spaces face the obstacles and “enables people to understand how women from various age groups handle such obstacles.”
I personally think that loitering plays a vital role in increasing number of crimes against women be it sexual harassment, abduction, killing, rape or even acid attacks.
There is an Indian television program broadcasted on Sony TV called Crime Patrol that reports true crime stories and I can recall tens of them in a minute that were resulted due to loitering culture owned by men. A group of loiters on the nukkad possessing the ownership of the public space providing them agency over ‘others’ – marginalized groups specifically women. Many theorists suggest that rape is more about the power and control rather than being sexually aroused. This statement elucidates further that how the relation of loiters with their public spaces empower them to disturb the trespassers and the realization of owning the space and power encourages men to involve in deviant behavior. On the other hand, it keeps the women deprived of their basic right of life and having pleasure in a public space which does not let them empower.
The following views of rapists are comprehensive enough to elaborate my point further.
Watch Proud Rapist
A very recent example is of Mukesh Singh, one of the rapists involved in Delhi gang rape case recently in an interview with The Telegraph said, girls are the one to be blamed for their sexual assault.
“A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. Boy and girl are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20 per cent of girls are good.”
“When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after ‘doing her’, and only hit the boy.”
“The death penalty will make things even more dangerous for girls,” he says. “Before, they would rape and say, ‘Leave her, she won’t tell anyone.’ Now when they rape,especially the criminal types, they will just kill the girl. Death.”
These were his views and that is what we hear in all rape incidents. The danger for women in public spaces is created by such mindsets which we need to change and this issue is addressed in the following #vogueempower’s new campaign #goinghome.
There are many basic necessities of individuals that govern them fundamental rights as a citizen of a particular country including right to vote, right to equality, right to freedom, right to education, right to privacy and so on and forth. Loitering or spending time aimlessly in a public space is also a basic human need to seek pleasure and release all stress. Public spaces are not constructed for any particular class, race, ethnicity or gender. It is equally for all depending on their belonging to that particular space.