This project required me to be in constant conversation with a lot of people from within DAIICT as well as outside. I would like to thank
First and foremost, I would like to thank my mentor, Professor G.N Devy, for his guidance. It was his constant encouragement and trust in my efforts which pushed me to work harder when I almost caved in to self doubt. Indeed, having a mentor who believes in your work is a huge moral boost and without him, I would not have seen the end of this project.
all those students – boys across different batches of B.Tech and Post-Graduate courses – who took out time for me and patiently explained their point of views and feedbacks. I would also like to thank Adira Thekkuvittil (Ahmedabad) and Payal Arya (Mumbai) for giving me insights into their projects which dealt with the perception of women in public spaces and sexual harassment respectively.
I am also grateful to Professor Vishvajit Pandya and Professor Madhumita Mazumdar for their valuable critiquing which pushed me to question and justify every aspect of this project. Without their guidance, the very basis of this project would have been on shaky ground.
My heartfelt thanks to Ms. Nandita Gandhi, Co-Director of Akshara Foundation (Mumbai), for making time for me in her busy schedule and helping me to clarify objectives and questions for the primary research. The Akshara handbook, Unwanted Attention, and their short film on sexual harassment has also been tremendously helpful
Huge thanks to my classmates, the girls – for their support and late
strengthening the background for my research.
night discussions, and the boys – for their point of views – especially Manu Kamath and Avik Ganguli, who were my very first interviewees. Theirs were the most extensive and polar point of
Last but not the least, I extend my thanks to all the respondents of
views regarding sexual harassment which encompassed a lot of
the online qualitative survey. I believe I am as anonymous to most
points. Those points formed the basis of further interviews for the
of them as they are to me – but thanks to them anyway, for their
preliminary field research.
valuable point of views which helped me to create the resulting products of this research project.
1. ABSTRACT………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….1 2. INTRODUCTION………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 3 2.1- Why not call it ‘eve-teasing’ 2.2- What is Sexual Harassment about? 2.3- Problem Statement 2.4- Research Objective (Initial) 2.5- Research Objective (Final) 3. Background………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….6 3.1- Understanding the Patriarchal Indian Society 3.2- Some campaigns against Sexual Harassment 3.3- Changing Mindset of the Indian Male 4. Methodology………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………16 4.1- Sample group for study 4.2- Resources and Methods of Data Collection 4.3- Design Strategy 4.5- Design Problem
4.6- Medium of Communication 5. Product………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..38 5.1- How to make the PSA effective? 5.2- The Success of Online Campaigns 5.3- The Posters 5.4- The Video 5.5- The Website 6. Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….46 7. Citations……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….47 8. References…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..49
that power and keep it under control by inculcating in women
a certain sense of self doubt and dependency. “At the level of values, human progress can be seen as an expanding awareness of the subtler and more institutionalized forms of inequity and the suffering born of it.” (Nandy, A. (1988). Woman versus Womanliness in India . In R. Ghadially, Women in Indian
The superiority complex (or it could really be the fear of feminine power) that men harbor in our patriarchal society manifests itself various forms, the most prominent being
Society (p. 69).).
violence against women. It is often used as a tool for rethe
establishing the equation of domination-subjugation between
‘institutionalized forms of inequity’ – why is it desired and
the two sexes. Almost every woman, at some point in her life,
sustained. Most Indians are brought up with the mindset that
has been subjected to sexual harassment, if not outright
women are inferior to men. If not explicitly said, it is definitely
violence, by men (known or unknown). Most women learn to
indicated through various social, cultural and religious
live with it. There are some who learn to fight the advances of
practices which have been inbred in the Indian psyche for
leering men while some quietly endure for fear of worse
thousands of years. Men are ambivalent in their view towards
situations. However, there are some women who are driven
womanhood – it swings from awe to contempt and from
to take desperate measures like withdrawal from education
respect to scorn. For them, women play powerful roles, the
and even, suicide to escape from it.
most important being that of a nurturing mother and the dutiful wife. It is understood that a woman in control of her
One must question, at a time when we are quickly picking up
sexuality is a dangerous one. She can choose to nurture and
on western lifestyles and ideas of modernity, why is sexual
flourish or to destroy. Thus, the men saw the need to curb
harassment still treated with such callousness? Why is it trivialized by using a term like ‘eve-teasing’? Moreover, this
act, which already demeans and violates a woman’s sense of
Through this project, one can come across the point of view of
personal space, is often believed to be solved by
men regarding why sexual harassment exists. They are
strengthening control over the victim’s whereabouts, dressing
encouraged to question and reflect upon themselves about
various situations and patriarchal norms which are used as excuses to harass women.
After looking at various discourses which try to come to a conclusion regarding this issue, one can comment that in most
Finally, through public service advertising on internet, the
cases, the focus is invariably turned to the victim. Apart from
project tries to highlight the voice of those men who have a
that, a lot of finger-pointing at patriarchy, sudden flourish in
liberal idea about women’s role in the society and how they
women’s freedom and extent of criminal intent of the act is
should be treated.
involved. Each of the arguments might (or might not) resolve the problem one case at a time but the existence of sexual
This new model of masculinity is not widespread but is
harassment as a national phenomenon is bypassed. The
distinctive in its logic and indications that equality for women
understanding that each isolated case of sexual harassment
does not necessarily mean lesser rights for men; that sexual
has deeper implications regarding the Indian male psyche and
harassment, in particular, is a misuse of biological and social
our society as a whole, needs to be propagated.
privileges accorded to men in the Indian Society.
Why not call it ‘eve-teasing’? A lot of people have various excuses to defend what they call
An Oxford English Dictionary definition for “teasing” is “to
as ‘eve-teasing’ – some say that it is ‘harmless flirting’ while
tempt someone sexually with no intention of satisfying the
others say it is ‘just for fun’; some indicate that it is a reminder
desire aroused.” Both parts of the term put the blame on the
for women to remain in the boundaries that the society has
woman; she is the temptress who isn’t providing something
created for them; still others say that it is plain appreciation of
she has promised…Using a euphemism leads us to believe
a woman dressing up and obviously wanting to be looked at.
All in all, it is a widely tolerated (if not encouraged) practice in
hypothetical, instead of something visceral, dirty and
‘Eve-teasing’ is a euphemism used instead of ‘sexual
However, most of the people might not be consciously using
harassment’. According to Ranjani Iyer Mohanty, a writer and
this euphemism. When asked about it, most male and female
academic editor, based in Delhi, “We use euphemisms for
subjects described verbal harassment as ‘eve teasing’ while
various reasons: to make something more socially acceptable;
physical harassment is counted as ‘sexual harassment’.
to sound more upper class; to hide the severity or truth of an event from others and even from ourselves. In the Indian term “eve-teasing,” the word “eve” alludes to the biblical story of Eve tempting Adam to stray from the path of righteousness.
What is sexual harassment about? The Supreme Court describes sexual harassment as follows – ‘Sexual harassment includes sexually determined behavior
such as physical contact, a demand or request for sexual
In the Indian society, young girls often refrain from
favors, sexually colored remarks, showing pornography, any
mentioning such incidents to their families for fear that they
other unwelcome physical, verbal or non verbal conduct of
will not be allowed to stay out after dark or because they
themselves are unsure of what to say. They often are themselves held responsible for what befalls them – for being
This means that:
Sexual harassment is different from sexual desire,
in the wrong place at the wrong time and for wearing wrong clothing.
mutual romance or love
It is unwelcome
Despite being a nationwide, everyday phenomenon, the
It can come in many forms like physical, psychological,
existence of this issue has mostly been trivialized or
verbal and non-verbal
overlooked or simply put up with. Mere catcalls, singing songs
It is a criminal offence
and commenting are often shrugged off while the more
serious offenses like stalking and physical advances are treated with wariness. But one must understand that often
Most people are not aware of the above definition and hence
the lesser forms of sexual harassment can escalate to the
hold sexual harassment as a different offence from ‘eve
more serious forms. In many instances, apart from leaving the
teasing’. Sometimes, when a woman becomes a victim of ‘eve
victim with a bitter taste in the mouth, such harassment can
teasing’, she does not know whether creating hue and cry
become traumatizing, humiliating and a violation of a
over verbal harassment is worth it or they themselves will be
woman’s freedom in public spaces.
ridiculed for being ‘hyper sensitive’.
Sexual harassment is not about sex. It is about power play for
The commonly voiced solution to tackle the issue is that
the perpetrators. Such men harass because they think they
women should be careful not to provoke harassment. The
can get away with it. They are often cowardly and retreat at
root of the problem is believed to lie with the victim as
being firmly treated by a prospective victim. A quiet victim
opposed to the perpetrator.
only increases their euphoria at being able to show off their
bystander is not taken into account although their
‘manliness’. In such a scenario, what do the men, who might
involvement (or the lack there of) at the scene of offense
not necessarily be indulging in sexual harassment but are a
makes a difference too.
Moreover, the role of the
bystander nonetheless, have to say? Research Objective (Initial): To introduce a new area of Problem Statement
discourse – the self reflexive discourse among men – about this problem’s existence which could help us to understand
Sexual harassment is rampant across India and is the bane of every woman’s existence. For a long time, debates have raged
the wider implications of this social problem and tackle it at the root level.
over how to tackle this issue and like every problem, there is a perpetrator, a victim and a bystander. All of them have come
Refined Research Objective (Final): To generate a reflexive
up with various discourses on this issue – that of criminality, of
discourse among men about the roots of sexual harassment
feminists and of the conservative patriarchal society – which
and their roles as, both, the perpetrator and the bystander.
clash with each other, leaving no specific stand whereupon
This is to be generated by designing a communication solution
action could be taken.
in the form of Public Service Advertisement.
BACKGROUND Understanding the patriarchal Indian Society
transition which involves changes in physiological and psychological dimensions. With growth of cognitive skill,
Role of Traditional Indian Parenting in Generating Sex Stereotypes: Patriarchy literally means rule of the father in a maledominated family. It is a social and ideological construct which considers men (who are the patriarchs) as superior to women. (Ray). Women have been targets of subjugation for so long
interaction with the environment and socialization experience, the sex role behavior of adolescent children gets more strengthened.
Differential socialization of the two sexes
within the family, school and in wider socio-cultural set up is perhaps the single most important contributor to sex stereotyping in children. (Sukanya Das, 1988)
that one cannot change the scenario overnight. The roles of sexes have long been stereotyped and are reflected through
The structure of a traditional Indian family is heavily
the powers and privileges accorded to men. Family,
influenced by the religious scriptures. Most of the teachings in
community, education, media, religion and culture – all have
these scriptures portrayed women as dual beings who hold
played a crucial role in the social construction of gender and in
tremendous power which can be nurturing or devastating,
the process of women’s subordination. The ‘sex’ of a person is
benevolent or malevolent.1 Thus, it was necessary that they
either male or female but the sex stereotype is what turns the perception of ‘sex’ into ‘gender’. Socialization for the development of appropriate sex traits and roles start from childhood and pass through the phases of adolescence and adulthood. Adolescence is a period of
For instance, according to Hindu cosmology, there are two images of the woman linked by the basic conceptions of the nature of femaleness: that the female is both shakti (power/energy) and prakriti (nature). As power and nature and in control of her own sexuality, the female is potentially destructive and malevolent. With the control of her sexuality transferred to men, the female is consistently fertile and benevolent. Understanding the dual character of the Hindu female’s essential nature, shakti and prakriti, provides a backdrop for understanding the rules and role models for women in Hindu South Asia. (Wadley, 1988)
be controlled by men. Although we are well into the modern
differences between the two sexes (R.Helmreich, 1978). Thus
age, the seed of stereotypical roles as was embedded in the
parents with a given sex role orientation are expected to
traditional family structures still function. Young boys are
display these personality characteristics. They become role
encouraged to be aggressive, assertive, independent and
models for the children who emulate similar personality
characteristics from childhood through observation learning,
encouraged to be more domesticated and expected to be
imitation and mechanisms of identification. (R.Walters, 1963).
agreeable to whatever situation that is thrust upon them. Such an atmosphere during the growth years has fueled the For instance, if a young boy falls, he is unwittingly told that he
moral conservatism among Indian men; adding to it, are their
must not cry because he is a boy and he must be strong
patriarchal views about gender roles in a society where
whereas if a girl child in the same family falls, it is often seen
economic modernization is outstripping social attitudes.
that she is pampered by her parents. A boy is hardly
Although the society has progressed towards education of girl
encouraged to help in the kitchen or to put clothes on the line.
children and their progress as independent individuals in life,
But all these chores fall on a girlâ€™s part. During adolescence,
the mindset that a woman should be domestic in nature still
the impact of school, peers and mass media also affect this
largely exists. Even the education, for some families, has
understanding of sex roles in the social structure. As such,
become a ticket to getting a good groom for their daughter
there is a rift between the two sexes from an early age, which
who is expected to give up her profession once she has settled
in turn, leads to most boys growing up expecting women to be
into marital life. Views regarding what kind of clothes a
the same as what they have been conditioned to live with.
woman should wear, where she can go, who she can marry and even to an extent, what she can eat, still loom large.
To sum it up, traditional sex role attitude is found to be significantly
Attitude towards Westernization and Liberalization:
the women, which in turn prompts men to harass them. The words of Mohan Bhagwat, the leader of RSS (a paramilitary,
The concept of equality, as a correlate of the concept of individual freedom, is still alien to the Indian society. It was first introduced into the Indian culture through western
Hindu nationalist group), condense what perhaps a million of pro-patriarchy Indians believe regarding the boom of Western influences in the country: “Rapes happen in India, not Bharat.”
education and through the exposure of western educated Indians to liberalism. In recent times, the status of women has
For instance, if a woman is open to interaction with men and
changed socially, politically and economically. By attending
is forward and assertive in her behavior, the more
colleges and universities, entering the occupational world and
‘conservative’ people (both men and women) outside this
political arena, women are contributing to the development of
environment tend to perceive such a woman as morally
the Indian society (Rao, 1988). It is also seen that children
corrupt and a threat to their ‘culture’.
whose parents are not so ‘traditional’, grow up to be more liberal in their view towards woman’s rights and roles in the society.
A similar view is harbored when it comes to such women’s clothing. If men across the country – across religions, castes, and economic, educational background – are questioned, one
Westernization has brought about a change in lifestyles of the
would come to know that enough of them would want to keep
people – liberal clothing styles, newer forms of entertainment
women in shackles and tie them again if they have escaped.
with friends, more open approaches to courtship, and so on.
This impulse is expressed in many ways: as brute misogyny or
The diversity in social structure in our country is not able to
stifling protectionism. But running common through it all is a
cope with these changes. The conservative faction of the
fear and abhorrence of women who display autonomy over
Indian society still stands by men while it censures women.
their own bodies and sexuality. It is almost as if women’s
Most believe that Westernization is corrupting the morals of
clothes are the ‘greatest internal security threat in this
and overcoats (as the Puducherry government has recently
country’. (Chaudhary, 2013)
tried to do with schoolgirls) also means that you are unable to see women as anything but sexualized bodies, requiring either
“Dressing skimpily is like showing a red rag to a bull. You can’t
to be revealed or covered up. (Krishnan, 2013)
complain what happens to you thereafter” - RAMEEZ SUDEN, 30 (School Teacher, Uri, J&K)
Portrayal of Women in Mass Media and its Effects:
“The clothes today’s girls wear provoke even the most upright
The double standards, which Indians portray as a society, are
men. They have moved away from Hindu culture” - VIJAY
manifested in many forms through media like cinema and
PRASAD SHETTY, 57 (President, Udupi Bar Association,
Karnataka) The power of mass media to create, select and convey (Chaudhary, 2013)
particular kinds of images about women cannot be underestimated. The medium that is most watched and
Time and again, the solution to curb sexual harassment has been meted out on the women themselves. When women are blamed for the harassment they face because of their behavior or clothing, one does not consider the fact that men do not ‘provoke’ harassment when they relieve themselves in public or move about in their banyaans in the localities. The point that needs to be put across is that it is not the woman’s sexuality or clothing which is at fault but the perpetrator’s
provides a window to the sexist attitudes of the patriarchal society is Hindi Cinema. The sheer quantity of stereotyping and aggression against women drowned in the morass of the traditional imagery of our society. (Ghadially, 1988). The personality of the virtuous women in Hindi films (pre 1990s) was resplendent with characteristics such as chastity, patience and selflessness. Almost in every film there was an instance of a woman being subjected to sexual assault and violence which
view. Moreover, the solution of putting women in purdahs
the hero saves her from. There were also instances where
Helen), in contrast to the lead actress of the film who would
societal sanctions, in the forms of public humiliation,
be demure and traditional with an overwhelming sense of
ostracism, slander, etc. seem to wait for the women who dare
to transgress from the traditional role prescriptions of the chaste wife and devoted mother. (Lakshmi, Ek Hi Bhool, etc.) (Hegde, 1988). Moreover, the vamps and bar dancers were mostly shown as Western - clothes clad women who were brash and sexually forward in nature (Bindu, Aruna Irani,
In recent times, the Indian films have adapted the portrayal of the characters to match the West-influenced modern lifestyles of the people in cities and towns. Although the traditional sense of morality says a virtuous girl is one who is not in any kind of physical relationship before marriage, everybody has a curiosity and a perverse interest in watching and hearing
Yesteryear actresses Aruna
about the liberal atmosphere that the West projects about
Irani and Bindu were
such issues. However, when Indians in urban cities start to
frequently portrayed in
adapt to such approaches towards sex, i.e., when the on-
negative roles as opposed
screen content starts manifesting itself into real life, the
to the demure, traditional
conservative society finds it difficult to cope with.
positive roles of the lead actress. Image source: http://photogallery.indiatimes.com/bollywoo d-baddies-100-years-of-indiancinema/articleshow/19707425.cmshttp://ibnl ive.in.com/photogallery/7343.html
Take for example the projection of Deepika Padukone in the movie Cocktail. She is an independent woman with a successful career and enjoys drinking and a physical relationship with her boyfriend. However, in the end her boyfriend falls for her virginal roommate who cooks and prays
– an epitome of the good Indian woman. In an attempt to woo
as a factor to try and ban depictions of smoking in movies
him back, Deepika herself has to change her lifestyle.
countless times. Scientific studies have been done in the west which established a link between the media's obsession with
Why this hypocrisy? In the same medium, we talk about how modern we are and on the other hand, we try to project this
size-zero women and incidences of anorexia. (Deshpande, 2012)
modernity as something we are not going to live with, in the end.
Thus, one can safely say mass media works both ways – it reflects what its viewers want to see and promotes what it
Beside the hypocrisy, there lies the fact the our film industry
thinks its viewers will be impressed with and pick up.
breeds the common idea that if one pursues a woman relentlessly, she will eventually give in – even when she says
‘no’, it means ‘yes’ because she plays hard to get. This often
translates into real life which can be cited as one of the
reasons for sexual harassment. Several people in the film
objectify women as
industry have vociferously denied this giving statements such as "Life doesn't imitate art, art imitates life". However, any observant person can vouch for the many haircutting salons across the country, including in the smallest of villages, prominently showcase the hairstyles of movie stars as an inspiration for their customers to copy. The influence of smoking on screen on young impressionable minds been cited
One of the many Axe ads which show women running after a single man because of how he smells. Image source:
http://www.cuttingthechai com /2007/09/241/janmashtamithe-axe-effect/
sex objects with no opinion or conscious thought when they
Objectifying any human would mean disregarding the fact
come across a man who smells good. (Axe, Set Wet, Wild
they are capable of conscious thought or action and have
Stone and so on). Do women truly behave like that? Most men
emotions and needs. When women are objectified, it
wish they did.
automatically re-establishes their inferiority and lack of control over their own lives (as is preferred in a patriarchal
Another example could be that of a recent ad for a mobile phone brand, Micromax's Superfone Ninja, which has an inbuilt artificial intelligence speech handset assistant called Aisha. The ad shows Aisha as a real woman who conforms to stereotype, what the man in the ad wants her to be. Man: "I can sleep with you, but I can't marry you." Aisha: "It's okay I will find you a girl in the matrimonial." Man: "I am going out with Vanessa." Aisha: "Shall I book you movie tickets?" Man: "Aren't you jealous?" Aisha: "I am not programmed for that."
society) while elevating men to the level of a dominating, conscious factor in the society. By dehumanizing a person, one loses the capability to sympathize with them and might commit to actions whose consequences are not of any concern. Same is the case when a man sees a woman as an object only for the purpose of his various needs. Some campaigns against Sexual Harassment A number of efforts across various media have been mobilized over the years. Some of the famous ones are:
GotStaredAt (online campaign)
Man: "Wish every girl was like Aisha." (Sharma, 2013)
Besharmi Morcha (street campaign)
Manipuri Mother’s Protest (street campaign)
“Safe Delhi” Jagori (ad campaign)
“When No One Is Looking” – Installation at Kala Ghoda
In other cities, where the walk had taken place, the main focus
was that women’s clothes have no effect whatsoever on a
GotStaredAt is a successful blog which has an immense
man’s intention to harass them. They had come out in scores
number of followers both in India and abroad. It shares
wearing revealing clothing as an open dare to such men.
thoughts and experiences of men and women against sexual
However, in a conservative country like India, such an
harassment. It is now expanding as an organization which has
approach of putting across the idea did not work. The
been drawing more and more followers.
volunteers themselves had admitted that “it would be a peaceful gathering to spread awareness. No provocative
Besharmi Morcha, the Indian equivalent of the famous
clothes would be worn to hurt the sentiments” – the
Slutwalk which was conducted in cities across the globe could
statement itself being a contradiction to the entire idea of the
not really reach the Indian masses. Although it gathered a lot
walk. In a way, it turned out to be one of young India’s
of followers through Facebook, the response to the maiden
attempts to ape the West without considering the context in
show in Bhopal came nowhere close to the hype and
which it will function.
expectations created over social networking sites. About 5,000 people had signed up on Facebook expressing their support;
The same idea had been beautifully captured by Blank Noise, a
at least 500 were expected to join the march; eventually, just
project initially started by a Student of Srishti School of
about 50 showed up with more men than women. There were
Design, Bangalore. She had rounded up garments of women
a number of other reasons for their failures. Moreover, it was
from across the country for an installation against sexual
a walk which only the English speaking urban crowd could
harassment. The special part of these clothes was that they
relate to. Thus it did not have a mass appeal.
had notes attached to them describing the situation in which the owners had worn these garments and subjected to
harassment by men. The point that women’s clothing play no
had to pass. When they would do so, they would feel the
role in sexual harassment was put across effectively because
brush of hands which were attached to the walls of the
of the wide collection of salwar kameez, jeans, tshirts and so
narrow passage. It received rave reviews not only from
on, that the student had managed to collect.
women, but also men who came out visibly disturbed. For a change, most of the men felt empathy, instead of sympathy,
Manipuri Mother’s Protest: A much more radical form of protest was seen in Manipur when a group of 12 middle aged women went on a naked protest against the Indian Army stationed at Imphal. They came out with loud slogans of ‘Indian Army Rape Us! Take Our Flesh!’ for the Army, often
for the women who have been victims of such treatment in reality. One of the visiting men had a remarkable suggestion to make: “I think you should have made an adjoining chamber with one way looking glass, which can register the guilt on a guys face as he goes through that.”
taking advantage of the AFSPA, abducted and raped many Manipuri women. There was anger, there was pain. It shocked
Changing Mindset of the New Indian Male
the country and the image stayed. There has been a gradual change in the way that masculinity is When No One is Looking by Payal Arya, a fine arts student,
seen in recent times. The New Man has shifted completely
received much acclaim and popularity based on the realistic
away from the traditional model by stressing equality
and effective way she put across her message. It was an
between male and female. This meant new codes of conduct
interactive installation at the Kala Ghoda Festival which
leaving space for women, not pushing for control within
expresses the agitation faced by women because of the
families, not demanding the initiative in sex. It has meant
harassment they go through on a daily basis at public places –
trying to build new relationships: caring for children, opening
in local trains, at bus stops or even while walking on the road.
up emotionally to other men. (The Evolving Man, 1987)
It was an L shaped enclosed space through which the visitors
Although this idea took it’s time to reach our country, changes
for ‘Men Against Rape and Discrimination’. Their objective is
are indeed visible. In fact, more and more men think it is okay
to create awareness amongst men to instill gender equality
express interest in not-so-macho arenas such as fashion,
and respect towards women. ‘MARD’, meaning ‘man’ in Hindi,
performing arts and so on. A large number of men share
can be considered as a really effective plan as it shows the
domestic responsibilities with their partners, respect the
support of the Indian Film Industry to the cause – and as
women’s sexuality and do not perceive their independence as
already been established, most Indians swear by their favorite
a threat to their own. They mix freely with members of the
opposite sex and not always with romantic intentions. Such men take an interest in the world of women and try to understand their emotional and intellectual side which dispels the ‘mystery’ that a lot of men see in women. This, in turn, cuts a clear passage for a healthy interaction between both the sexes based on mutual understanding.
One hopes that the youth of the country, being the most impressionable (and already quite liberal) will contribute to this movement and bring it to a common man’s level. Only then will the streets be safe for women to walk on, anytime of the day, irrespective of their clothing.
The New Man understands the political implications of the traditional model of masculinity and actually shies away from it. He understands inequality when he sees it and this acts as a beacon of hope for those struggling to rid the society of evils like sexual harassment. Giving a voice and a platform for such liberal men, Farhan Akhtar, a well known Indian actor, has started ‘MARD’, short
Working men, on the other hand, will reflect the kind of backgrounds they have grown up in and will have stronger
Sample group for study
opinions about the issue – although less malleable, they can be more experienced and outspoken in their stand without getting
Age group – 18-30 Not all men are of the same disposition. The Indian idea of masculinity has been reconstructed to quite an extent. There are some who see injustice and recognize it, whether it was in
The communication product will be based upon the men’s own point of view regarding the issue. It is a communication done by the men, for the men.
their own families or outside, or in the contrast between the two. They have the logic to question the norm of male
Resources & Methods of data collection
dominance and female submission. PRELIMINARY FIELD WORK: This was an attempt to familiarize College students, being more radical in nature and prone to
oneself with the different viewpoints of the study group
picking up on new ideas, have mainly been chosen as the
before going into deeper observation to support the same.
study group. They are in an atmosphere where they are
Study group: Male students of DA-IICT
surrounded by students of various backgrounds and upbringing – influences which shape the adult they are going
It required me to initially converse with a few boys who had
to be. The dynamics between boys and girls within the campus
specific views about the issue. Speaking to them helped me to
can explain a lot about what changes this generation can bring
locate the key points of the issue and come up with questions
about in the society in future.
for further conversations with other boys. The initial questions were:
What is their definition of eve teasing?
Who do they think is responsible?
Why exactly are the perpetrators indulging in it?
What is their idea of any woman’s appearance in public?
What do they think would make it safer, even if not immediately, for their females friends, family members
Is Westernization involved in this issue somehow?
Is the status of Indian women involved in this issue
and other acquaintances to walk in the streets without being eve teased?
somehow? Notable points which surfaced during the conversations were:
Do they think touching can be considered as eve
issue. People tend to comment on each other all the
Do they know anybody who has eve teased? What
time – it is just a matter of ‘dealing with it’.
Do they think educated and married men can also indulge in eve teasing? If yes, why?
The questionable existence of ‘eve teasing’ as social
prompted them to do so?
How open are they with their female friends? What is
A girl is eve-teased only when she FEELS teased.
Role of Indian movies in this issue.
Double standards (Sexism) in the Indian society
Whether ‘eve-teasing’ can be considered as sexual harassment?
their idea of poking fun at their female friends? How would they look at it if a stranger did the same with
(To be noted: Initially, the questions regarding the issue were
their female friends?
addressed with the terminology ‘eve-teasing’ as there was an ambiguity regarding the usage of ‘sexual harassment’ – it could be deemed too harsh. Gradually, with the gathering of 17
more and more information, I could justify the use of â€˜sexual
Drawing from the conversations, one can give a general
harassmentâ€™ in this project.)
explanation of sexual harassment through the following info graphic:
PRIMARY RESEARCH: Qualitative survey The sample group for this survey was initially planned to be
Advantages of the online qualitative survey:
Since the problem of sexual harassment is widespread,
from colleges in Mumbai. Mumbai is one of the busiest cities
an online qualitative survey will allow further reach
in the country with different areas which can be categorized
towards men of different cities and backgrounds.
on the basis of social structure, industries and population.
Since the survey was filled through networking, it was
Also, a large number of women travel till late in the night to
made sure that most of the respondents met the age
and from these areas.
criteria of 18-30.
It was felt during the conversations during the
Mumbai is often counted as a ‘safe’ city for girls in country,
preliminary field work that the respondents knew the
although unfortunate cases such as the Keenan and Reuben
‘politically correct’ thing to say. Whether they truly
murder case keep surfacing once in a while. The city’s youth is
thought in the same manner is questionable. People
open and forward in their lifestyle – they can dress as they
are more open to speak about sensitive issues when
want and stay out till late hours of the night.
they are not asked questions face to face. They, then, need not require to mentally edit their point of views
Any discussion with the student community here, regarding sexual harassment would have given an interesting insight
to suit the person shooting the question (more so, if it is a female).
owing to their lifestyle. The questionnaire, being qualitative, tries to give an idea of However, practically, it was not possible to generate such a discussion in individual colleges. Thus, the plan of an online
how the educated Indian male looks at women and their roles in the society.
It required them to put themselves in a
situation and introspect about various instances which are
The responses from the questionnaire will be used to create
often used as excuses to harass women.
the communication product.
Overview of the responses:
Figure 1: The ‘other’ responses to this question mostly implied
conditioned in his early years, starting from home. However,
that the perpetrators were not brought up in a certain way
most men seem to treat teasing and commenting as ‘harmless
that they would respect women; they seemed to believe they
flirting’ and it raises questions whether they classify such acts
had an authority over women and the law would not stop
as sexual harassment.
them. This could lead to the inference that a number of men think that how a man behaves towards a woman is
Figure 2: Most of the responses for this question showed that
wrong signals to a man who might take it as positive sign to
men were aware that beyond a point, a man should be
progress to a sexual banter. One response, however, indicates
perceptive enough to sense if he is making a woman
power play by men whose advances had been harshly nipped
uncomfortable. Flirting is mutual and when the woman is not
at the bud. â€œWhen the good looking girl appropriately
responding positively, one should back off. The line from
responds to uninvited flirting with harsh words, it is not
flirting to harassment is crossed when the banter moves from
acceptable to men's overblown ego. The 'harmless flirting'
subtly, acceptable comments with sexual undertones to
now takes shape of 'aggressive humiliation'. And for people
downright vulgar comments. A fair number of men also stated
who have no respect for womankind, the best way to insult a
that a woman who is drunk and inebriated can also send
woman is to talk about her body parts.â€? Also, as can be seen
from Figure 2, the need to prove oneself in the presence of
intention might be just ‘harmless flirting’).
peers also can egg on a man to harass a woman (though the
Figure 3 & 4: These two questions were asked to see how
the excuse that a woman’s ‘no’ actually means ‘yes’. She just
many men out of the respondents think that girls play hard to
needs to be given importance and attention and shown how
get and need to be pursued relentlessly as is glorified in
much she is wanted before finally giving in. However, a large
Bollywood films and songs. A lot of men harass women using
number of respondents were clear that even if a woman is
playing hard to get they would just move on. This is justified in Figure 5.
Figure 6: This question was trying to generate a thought about
aggressor, more men preferred to go and talk to the victim
how a bystander’s role is vital in an act of sexual harassment.
and accompany her. In the ‘other’ responses, however, a lot of
A bystander, when supporting a victim, discourages further
men said that they would rather gauge the situation first and
acts of harassment not only towards the particular victim but
then act accordingly if the things get out of hand. Here is an
also others. The perpetrator then is notified that his actions
indication that people are ready to sympathize but not rectify;
are being noticed and disapproved by people. However, a
even worse, they would rather wait for something serious to
silent bystander becomes an unintentional ‘accomplice’ to the
happen before taking action.
perpetrator as he/she does not do anything to stop the offense. Being quiet never helps the victim, it only encourages the perpetrator.
According to Figure 6, although a large
number of men did say that they would speak to the
Figure 7: This question gives the bystander a more personal stake in the offense. True that majority of the men said that they would ask their friends to stop. But one wonders if the smaller voices are truer than the mob’s. In the ‘others’ section
two insightful comments give an idea that the particular
“Talk to them after the event and point out my displeasure.”
respondents actually might have put themselves in the
“This gets complicated if the person happens to be your boss
situation and not done what is deemed ‘politically correct’.
or someone higher up in the ranks”
Figure 8: Deemed inappropriate by some of the respondents,
who had not experienced any such instance, it hoped to
this question was an attempt for men to think back and
generate a scenario where they will be forced to think about
remember incidents where they had been subjected to
how they would have reacted. The point was to gauge how
unwelcome sexual advances. In case of those respondents
those men deal with such situations and how it is any different
or similar to a case of a woman getting sexually harassed. The
been victims, the offense was put to a stop then and there by
main difference was that, in case of respondents who have
voicing their outrage or moving away from the perpetrator.
Figure 9: Here one tries to understand why and how men
other half believes that a woman who is drunk and clothed
perceive as girls “asking’ to be harassed. The response to this
inappropriately is possibly ‘asking’ for it. There is another
question can be broadly divided into two categories – one half
minor segment of respondents who seem to indicate that a
which believes that nobody ‘asks’ to be harassed and the
woman who is trying to deliberately grab attention is ‘asking’
for it. It is a taboo in the Indian society for a woman to be
Figure 10: The last question is an attempt to see how today’s
drinking and be dressed in short clothing, although people do
men view the patriarchal norms of the society and how much
not mind watching such behavior in the much beloved
of it influences their judgment. It is an important question
Bollywood films. According to the responses, one might be led
because unless the men are aware of the oppressive nature of
to believe that a lot of men either find it necessary to show
the patriarchal norms towards women, they themselves will
women their ‘place’ or take advantage of the situation
not be able to see how certain kind of thought process lead to
guiltlessly just because the society lets them have their way.
dehumanizing and objectifying a woman – from there,
This leads us to the last question of the survey.
‘disrespecting’ is only a short distance. According to the
responses, most men were aware of how they have an upper
women in terms of physical strength, number, more tolerance
hand in terms of sexuality and freedom of expression in the
by the society for things like adultery, alcoholism, violence,
Indian society. In fact, a lack of the same is considered a taboo
polygamy and chastity.”
in men. “In the place I have been working I tend to think the other way round. I feel promiscuity in men is considered a social status but called a stigma for women. Such a mindset in the society is a huge privilege for men.” “In our society (male dominated patriarchal Indian) men have privileges over
They are also aware that as men, they are rarely subjected to sexual harassment or blamed for the same. “People only talk about the respect of women is gone after sexual harassment, why not men's?”
DESIGN STRATEGY The male voice which has a different view regarding women’s
One way this movement will sustain momentum is definitely if
rights is very niche at the moment. The main reason it
the common masses start implementing what the celebrities
surfaces now and then in the limelight is because of the
are supporting. It is much like a new product which needs
celebrity support it receives. Actors like Rahul Bose, Farhaan
constant advertising. However, one should understand the
Akhtar and Hrithik Roshan are involved in the promotion of
implications of the changes that are required for the new
men against sexual harassment and its reception is quite
model of masculinity to stay afloat. The men have to question
promising. However, being a cause which has to go against
and introspect on various situations – something that cannot
age old patriarchal ideas that the Indian society holds, it will
be merely guided by celebrity endorsement. It is a much
be a long time before a marked difference is seen in the
deeper questioning of age old values and norms which one
attitude of people towards sexual harassment.
must be able to let go with good justification. Otherwise, they
will tend to waver from their resolve. They must know it in
about the success of this old lady, one comes to know that the
their hearts and mind why this change is necessary.
secret lies in the character’s ability to relate to people – a refreshing relief to have someone create a light atmosphere
Through this project, I am trying out the ordinary-people-
out of what people can only grumble about.
driven discourse on the new model of masculinity as opposed to the celebrity driven one. INITIAL STRATEGY: I had created a male persona which tried to promote the new model of masculinity based on the views collected through the qualitative survey.
reflected upon various situations and gave his stance. Taking the case of ‘Aunty Acid’, an explanation of how this persona functioned can be explained. Case Study 1: Aunty Acid is a fictional character created to give
Image source: http://www.auntyacid com
the ‘crazy, old lady in us’ a voice. She is sarcastic, funny and tells things as they are. Her fan base keeps growing by thousands every day. She isn’t glamorous; she could be the
Similarly, the persona for the new model of masculinity was
cranky old lady next door; she deals with everyday problems
average in every way, and talked about the problems and
with the dry amusement and sarcasm, much like common
express opinions about them, but not preaches.
people would. She does not preach but just says what she thinks and pretty much follows it. When questioning around
U.R. DAMAN is a fictional character who has been brought
How effective was the Facebook page for U.R. DAMAN?
up by his mother in a metropolitan city where he studies in a reputed co-educational college. Being extremely close to his mother, he is sensitive to what she has often gone through as a woman. And in turn, is careful not to become one of ‘those’ men. U.R. Daman is often found dwelling on various situations which are used as excuses to harass women and points out how things could be different with a little introspection. 'U.R. Daman' is actually a pun for 'U R Da Man' (‘da’ stands for
Figure 11: Percentage of male and female viewers who have come to know about this page through their Facebook connections.
‘the’ in the instant messaging language). It tried to insinuate that a true man does not blindly follow the taboos of the age old patriarchal society. The thought behind this is that masculinity is no longer a reciprocal of femininity. One who realizes that safety and equality for women does not necessarily mean lesser rights for him is The Man. Manliness lies in realizing your strengths and using it in a way which benefits one and all, not just as individuals but as an entire society.
Figure 12: Highest number of viewers who have come to know about this page.
The page was ‘Liked’ by a total of 160 users within a time
solution. By this I mean, that the idea of a persona with a
period of 20 days. ‘Liking’ a Facebook page is equivalent to
specific profile and biography could not address to both the
becoming a part of a group which will send notifications to the
students and the working males in the same tone. Thus, only
members whenever there is an update of content (be it in the
the responses of the college students were separated from
form of images, posts or links). There were a total of 11
the original online survey I had conducted. 32 out of the 60
posters which were uploaded on the page and 8 links with
respondents were college goers.
relevant content on which the members could discuss and give their point of views. Apart from that 2 videos of content relevant to the topic were shared as well.
The new communication solution is based on two archetypes of students who would be the audience: the Urban and the Semi-urban.
It was observed that the page was getting a lot of views and even if the viewers agreed with a certain post and ‘liked’ it, they were not responding with any comments.
The Urban – Educated, frequently English speaking Indians, inclination towards non-Indian television shows, brought up in liberal environments, cool, liberal, open minded, niche.
It was required that I conduct another round of one to one interviews which included Facebook users who had ‘liked’ the page. This was to understand the lack of responses in spite of visible support.
The Semi-Urban – Educated, average street Indian who can speak English, colloquial in their conversations, inclination more towards Indian films and television shows in comparison to The Urban, brought up in traditional or semi
traditional environments, average, slightly conformist but open minded, more in touch with the ‘real’ India.
It was found that the implications of the initial survey were too wide to be encompassed in a single communication
The Urban and the Semi-urban mix in colleges and often their
Named as YOU ARE THE MAN, the campaign as the same ideas
specific traits dissolve through peer groups. The age of 18-23
relayed to both the sections but in ways that will appeal to
is an impressionable time in a student’s life – he gets out of his
their baser traits as has already been listed. Here, I am
parents’ wings and truly gets to experience the effects of peer
working on the assumption that the influence for change is
groups. This is a period of possible transformation of traits and
not only from the liberal peer groups but also education and
building up individualistic opinions about different issues
application of logic to question traditional ideas which create
without too much parental guidance and intervention. With
a gap between the sexes.
such an opportunity, introducing the idea of the new model of masculinity to this mix of young minds might lead to a good reception of the same.
DESIGN PROBLEM How to promote and sustain the surge of men supporting
confusion which currently take place in interactions between
women against sexual harassment through the cyber media?
women and men in everyday life. Thousands of daily online interactions, the choices of ways of speaking, and of subjects
Medium of Communication The cyber space has the potential to be liberating, and it has the potential to duplicate all the misunderstandings and
have gradually shaped the cyberspace culture. Although on the surface, it would seem that the cyberspace tends to be friendly to women and allows them to adopt more active
personas, and to speak on an equal plane with men, it is often
fact that even those pictures might or might not be of the
seen that real life patterns of thought and interaction are
original user is not taken under logical consideration.
reflected online. This outdated myth jests that the internet is essentially a male It is often seen that anonymity in the cyberspace, propels
dominated dimension, where a small number of men pretend
people to be more forward in their opinions – some opinions
to be women in pursuit of misleading other male users for fun,
even bordering on malicious. These opinions might be true or
or getting an advantage over games and interaction and so on.
might be just a façade for achieving a specific kind of image
But the fact remains that this belief also ends up being an
online. For instance, continuing from the early days of internet
excuse for sexist behavior against the female internet users,
usage, a large segment of males users go by the rule ‘There
who have been steadily rising in number.
Are No Girls On The Internet’ – a belief that all female users on the internet are men pretending to be women, looking for the added ‘advantages’ and ‘privileges’ that comes with being a woman. Even if you are actually a woman, making an announcement of the same is indicative of your need for attention and special treatment. Such occurrences happen on social networking sites which provide the user with an option
Thus one sees, like real life, the cyberspace, too, has been overpowered by the male users. However, on social networking sites like Facebook, the identities of the users are visible hence the sexism of the cyberspace is much toned down. Facebook is now one of the mediums which, unlike most other social networks, have an
of remaining ‘anonymous’ while interacting with other users.
indefinitely huge number of female users. Thus any male who
There is a common demand to post pictures of their breasts as
wants to appear favorable and not provoke antagonistic
a confirmation of their statements of being a female user. The
attitude from the opposite sex will know the politically correct thing to say.
The cyber domain is currently the fastest form of relaying
Salwa is the image of the first campaign against sexual
information, thanks to the surge of social networking among
harassment in Lebanon. This was first launched on Facebook
the youth of today. All information can be accessed on-the-go
and gradually went on to have a web page of it’s own. Salwa is
and a single piece of information has unimaginable reach.
an average Lebanese woman who is fed up with the sexual
Facebook allow the user not only to view the information but
harassment that has become part of her life and decides to
also to comment or show support by ‘like’-ing it. Thus, one
combat it on her own. Her weapon is a red bag which she uses
has to take a leap of faith because it is as good a medium of
at the instance of an unwanted sexual harassment. This
putting across the new model of masculinity as any other with
campaign basically encourages women to speak up, if not
the added advantage of at least showing the number of
strike back against their harassers, and give visibility to the
people who have viewed, commented or shared.
A lot of social causes these days have had humble beginnings
After the initial launch by The League of Independent Activists –
from Facebook. If not Facebook, most social causes have an
IndyACT, Salwa graduated from Facebook to other media such as
online presence. Some case studies of efforts of online
newspapers, magazines, blogs, TV, etc. A booklet containing
campaigns of sexual harassment will give an idea of how such
guidance for young women to defend themselves in case they are
social campaigns fare online, highlighting the liberating the far reaching effectiveness of cyberspace.
subjected to harassment or rape, and instructions on how to file a complaint was also launched. In addition, awareness workshops are often
Case study 2: The Adventures of Salwa (Lebanon)
Image source: http://www.adventuresofsalwa com
Case Study 3: Young Women for Change (Afghanistan)
abuse and violence. YWC has also opened the first ever womenâ€™s net cafe in Kabul and a learning center for men and
Founded by Afghan women for Afghan women in 2011, it was established to empower women across the country and recruit them to the struggle for gender equality. They held the very first anti-street harassment march in Afghan history, and had conducted the first ever large-scale study of sexual harassment in Afghanistan. In April 2012, YWC held a protest to ask for justice for the women who have faced domestic
women to teach literacy and language and computer skills. The cafĂŠ is a haven for women seeking to learn about and come in contact of women from other countries, and see wider possibilities beyond how they have been living for so long. YWC is not only supported for women, but a lot of educated young Afghan men are also contributing to the movement.
Image source: http://www.youngwomenforchange.org
PRODUCT How to make the PSA effective?
Eventually the momentum of the entire movement slows
‘To be effective, broadcast PSAs should be relevant to their
down. Hence, they need a constant reminder to continue
audience, interesting or entertaining and have leave the
audience with a message that can be summarized in a single declarative sentence. Most importantly, the message should
The aim would be to use the views of those men who could be
be actionable, meaning we evoke the desired response from
called the ‘stalwarts’ of the new model of masculinity and
the audience, AND THERE SHOULD BE A RESPONSE REQUIRED.
convince not only men, but the Indian society to consider the
Good PSAs move the audience or viewer along in a continuum
idea that sexual harassment although seemingly woman
that ultimately results in attitude or behavior change (though
centric, is a blot on the face of the male population as well. All
not due to PSAs of and by themselves).’
in all, it is a negative reflection of our society.
(Goodwill) The success of online campaigns: In terms of relevance, this issue is very much under fire. The turning point in the struggle against sexual harassment came in December 16, with the brutal rape of a 23 year old medical student. The youth of the entire nation rose up in protest and for justice. Justice is yet to be served but the thought still remains. However, attitude and behavior change doesn’t come so easily and like most issues, people tend to move on.
It is seen that being a tool for those with the privilege of internet access, the online success of sexual harassment campaigns are almost always accompanied by a parallel real life effort. They could be walks, discussions, theatre, installations and so on. The more varied the collaterals, the further the reach of the message. Same could be suggested for the YOU ARE THE MAN campaign.
The Video: It stresses on how there should be a change in the
doesn't really help. When they have to show support they do.
behavior that people have towards sexual harassment. People
But when the actual crime is happening nobody comes
often wait for the consequences of a sexual harassment case
forward and they remain mute witnesses. The storyline is as
and according to the severity of the case, they respond. That
1.In a dark area candles are burning – although there is the candle’s light, it doesn’t entirely dispel the darkness –
2. one by one all start to fade out in the wind and darkness starts to encroach them – Only one remains lit –
3. the flame in the candle turns into a flame in the heart. It’s a man’s heart .
4. he carries the flame with him while news of sexual violence against women continue
5. how long can one man fight? He sits and wonders – he cannot stop them all
6. another man comes to him and tries to light a candle from the flame in this man’s heart – the first man refuses to light the candle
7. he passes the flame from his heart to the other man’s heart
8. soon other men leave the candles behind n light flames in their heart – now their hearts are burning with the flames
9. they stand united – the wind is not able to blow it out – the light spreads (colors start filling into the scene) and the world becomes a better place.
The Website: The posters of the campaign will be seen across social
also have news and events related to the idea of YOU ARE THE
networking sites. However, if anybody requires more
information about the same, a website will be helpful. It will give detailed information about the campaign and can have a blog where the latest posters and videos can be posted. It can
THE HOME PAGE
CONCLUSIONS from the fact that the youth is liberal, forward and impressionable, some more so than the others. The campaign has a vision – a long term goal; this project is an attempt to set the wheels in motion to bring about a
For instance, a student coming from a traditional environment
consciousness about the kind of thinking which goes behind
will be exposed to the urban and liberal students. They might
the act of sexually harassing a person. The aim was not to
or might not get along but exchange of ideas happen all the
stop sexual harassment overnight. It is practically not even
time. It is common in the student life to try and emulate the
possible to do that for the present state of affairs is a result of
so called ‘cooler’ crowd in a campus. Also, college days are a
hundreds of years of societal conditioning.
chance at liberty and forming individual opinions. Thus, it might be so that a student with previously patriarchal views
Just like charity, change begins at home. When each person begins to think of the driving force behind acts of sexual harassment, they see how age old patriarchal norms play a
might become more liberal about issues such as women’s rights of dressing and behavior in public spaces (and with good logic gained from mixing and learning from his peers).
role in it. This line of thought, once settled in the consciousness of a person will, in turn, generate more liberal
The effort is not trying to undermine the importance of Indian
family structures in future and the building sex stereotypes
traditions in any way. Sexual harassment is an outcrop of the
from an early age can be kept in check.
more orthodox rules of the society which might have had base when they were formed but do not apply anymore. As often
The logic behind choosing the mix of urban and semi urban students to target the YOU ARE THE MAN campaign comes
happens with changing times, old rules outlive their usefulness, and new adaptations are to be made. The new
model of masculinity is one such attempt. However, it will
generation to next and from that to the one after it for a
take time to spread its roots and anchor itself in the majority
visible change in the state of affairs in future.
of the Indian society. The idea has to trickle down from this
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