Just came across an article on BBC & NY Times on Pakistani women clicking selfies and and starting a movement for reclaiming safe public spaces for women. Long have been, such places ruled by men and the irony of it all is that such tea stalls are located at every nook and corner of almost all streets in India but rarely or probably never ever you will see women hanging out at such places . It is only in the company of male guardians like fathers , brothers or husbands that will you see women. As it there is no concept per say of men and women friendship in this country because supposedly” men and women can only have sex” ya that’s blunt but that is the fact floating around all our lives, on our heads whether or not we like it. Right from our homes where every inch of the body is covered with clothes, to offices where still there is an un- touch ability factor operating at a very pseudo level and where women still cover themselves up firstly with clothes and then with a second piece of clothing either it being a Dupatta or a Burqa (in case of Muslims) to avoid all the boob staring that happens in these public places. One thing which again and again comes out of this is that women are somehow very ashamed of their bodies whether it is covering up their breasts or not talking about their sexuality, all this which is another tool of patriarchal control and women very happily give into it ,in the name of respect and safety.
And then to top it all are the advertisements of strapless bras floating all around the social media universe ,which completely bowls me over as to why in the first place we need strap less bras when we can either completely do away with the necessity of wearing a bra or can wear dresses which don’t require all this obnoxious gears as if our lives were a bed of roses that we need such nonsense on top of it. Why are women so afraid of their straps? What will happen if some sees our bra straps ? I completely miss the point and if bra straps are thing to be hidden then why do we need to wear dresses which expose them in the first place.
Having hung around such tea stalls with my class mates during post graduation, I remember being ridiculed by fellow women classmates for doing that and being cursed for making them uncomfortable but again I would reiterate that women need to come out of their houses, their closets, and their little world of imagined beauties and reclaim their space in the public arena as no one else can do that for them as it is only in our increasing numbers in such spaces that would eventually increase our safety and security and in turn develop the mindset of being treated as a fellow human being rather that the popular culture of being objectified.
It is a long way but we have to start somewhere and while the French women reclaimed the night , at least we can reclaim the day and what better tool than with Chai Pe Charcha!