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I get a lot of these myths about women. Astonishing, because women aren't yet so rare that people can't simply look around them and find out truths. Here goes.

Women are stupid at tech

Now this comes as a surprise to me, because most men I know are beyond stupid at tech stuff too. In fact, women will at least admit they don't know and attempt to learn, men will mostly go the lazy route and say they can't. Particularly if it involves work. How about test driving this view of the genders for a few days?

Women are frivolous

Apparently this one is born from the fact that women do a lot of shopping. I recommend that men take over the running of the home, and enjoy all the shopping they want. Groceries, vegetables, curtains, home appliances.... goody... what wasteful creatures, these men!!!

Other than clothing, cosmetics and accessories, I don't even know any other expense women typically do for themselves. Now men wear clothing too. Also accessories. Most men have more expensive phones than the women in their home. Far more men have gadgets in general from cars to iPods and laptops to cigarette lighters than women.

If you consider men and women in entriety, rather than the bucket you live in, men earn hundreds of times more than women. Own thousands of times more property than women. Women take on far more unpaid work than men. Yet apparently, it is the women with money to throw around?

There is no logic to this popular myth, yet it abounds.

The cosmetics industry is the only one which will never die

Here is the Forbes list of Global 2000 companies. Please find your cosmetics company of choice and return with an explanation of why Forbes is publishing such blatant lies when "everyone knows" that women are the real spenders. Or you have to face the fact that men guarantee far more industries immortality than women. Then it is useful to examine what is achieved by perpetuating this myth? What is achieved by portraying women's spending as inappropriately large?

Women get more publicity but men suffer "equally"

Please explain our gender ratio. Being irritated by demanding women isn't on the same scale as millions of dead women - women dead of gender crimes, though it is our culture to object more to inconvenient women than actual harm done to women. Many like to imagine that India's bad reputation as a country for women is just bad publicity. This is about as true as Pakistan government's belief that Pakistan's reputation for terrorism is bad publicity. And we have far more women dead from gender crimes in our country alone than terrorism worldwide. A disbelieving reader had commented that it was impossible that India was worse than say Saudi Arabia, where women are officially second class citizens. And yet we are. Takes some achievement.

We succeeded in this dubious achievement, because hideous as it is to consider women a second class kind of citizen, there are other factors they are better at. Hunger, safety, domestic abuse, poverty... Not being able to work, for example doesn't matter as much if you are not denied the money to attend to your needs. Sex crimes in Saudi Arabia, for example are not as prevalent as India with beheading being the punishment as opposed to a short stint in jail *if* caught, *if* convicted. This is not to say Saudi Arabia is a paradise for women. It certainly isn't, but to simply say that India "can't be worse than Saudi for women" without statistics to back it doesn't wash. Rather, it stinks of a denial of the wrongness of conditions for women in India.

There need to be organizations to protect men from women

Sure. And there are. And there should be more. Why not start one? Why stop those who are working toward something and redirect their efforts? Because the ones who do the work, aren't the ones talking, but the ones who don't want to see work toward women's rights are the ones talking. People who work for human rights tend to object to all rights violations in general, even if their focus is specific. It is those who wish to deny the rights of people who recommend replacing an overwhelmingly large needy group with what they imagine is the opposite.

But it isn't the opposite of working for women's rights to work for men's rights. The fact of the matter is, men's rights when violated are also largely violated by men. And I am not talking only of sexual crimes. One needs to have power to abuse it, and the fact is that women very rarely have power over men to begin with. So, this whole fantasy of "if only there were people fighting for men's rights, we wouldn't have to listen to this crap that makes us feel guilty" is bullshit. It will never fall under human rights to keep silent on abusers. No matter which group you aim to help.

What such selfish and juvenile people fail to understand is that no matter how many groups for men you start, it won't absolve the harm being done by men, just like no matter how many womens groups get started, it cannot absolve the harm done by women. For example, when it comes to child abuse, other than pedophilia, other kinds of abuse are also perpetrated by women in fairly large numbers. A woman being beaten by her husband will not excuse her beating up a child - to put it bluntly. There never will be a day when a human rights activist - whether for men or women says "ok, see, the rapist is a victim of other women in his life too, so we should not object to a rape" or "men have so much pressure for home expenses, that it was understandable he burned his wife when she didn't get him money". It is possible for an abuse victim to be an abuser, but the abuse will still be wrong - in both cases. The objections women's groups are raising will not be negated by men's rights work. It is pure immaturity that makes the guilty conscience wish for a smokescreen.

How do I look? Is this dress ok?

Many men described this as an "irritating habit" of women. To me, this statement says that the woman is trying to please someone who doesn't give a fuck and finds these interactions a burden. To me, the real concern with such insecure questions is an over anxiety to please, which comes from fearing consequences of not pleasing.

In my view, if a person finds it difficult to accept such minor quirks - it isn't exactly the end of the world to answer a question - then the lack of tolerance in the relationship is more concerning than the questions themselves. I mean that it is natural to be irritated by questions, but to provide them as an example of harassment of men by women as counterpoints to issues of mortal danger to women seems like disproportionate anger. It would be like objecting to activism against rising incidents of murders by describing how the people who are targetted are really irritating - as if it is not as serious, because they are problems anyway.

Though I do think women should stop doing this, because it is an acknowledgment of a veto power over their personal preferences. They may get vetoed, but at least the woman shouldn't invite it. I think it is ok in intimate relationships where it is mutual and leads to useful feedback, but by and large, women should stop asking for any approvals for how they want to be.

Being "forced" to watch soap operas

I would like this person to swear an oath on what he holds dear that he doesn't dominate the TV when he wants - be it news or a match. But culturally, I think it is fine if the man acts like a hog, but a woman being inconvenient is a deep flaw about the woman.

Women get hysterical, over react, nag

This is pure bull shit. Disaproval is at the root of this. If you say something you think is important and it doesn't get heard, you repeat louder. The next time you see a "hysterical" or "nagging" woman, an exercise is to look at how the first time she said it was received. If you only find women nagging, perhaps you are willing to listen to men, but not women or at least those certain women. That said, you can catch yourself nagging if they refuse to do what you tell them. Or for shits and giggles refuse to listen to someone you think doesn't nag and watch them transform.

Free yourself permanently from nagging by learning to be responsible for your side of communications. This also goes for women who think men nag, if any.

Though if you find yourself nagging, whatever your gender, it is a good idea to stop, because the need to nag itself means it isn't working.

In conclusion

There is plenty such garbage incoming on a daily basis. One common factor seems to be double standards. A woman shopping is frivolous. A man shopping is not noticed. Men bathing in deos till an asthmatic person can't come close to them will whine about the cosmetics their wives buy (never mind that deos need purchased way more frequently than lipsticks).

It seems that we may make many pretenses to be modern, but the freedom that entails is limited to men and expecting greater standards from women, while women exerting their freedoms face social censure. The resentment toward women exerting their will is actually increasing. A recent example is "I allow my wife to handle her own investments herself". Good morning, Sherlock, if you were really supportive of her freedom, the question of your permission wouldn't arise at all, because it isn't your money in the first place.

Our culture is increasingly one where women are objects, and astonishingly, I find working class women from my mother's generation far more confident and secure about their place in the world than today, even though today's woman appears to be more free. It seems that while more and more parents have set daughters free, exactly the opposite is happening in societies and working environments at large. The opportunism inherent in seeing women as objects rather than people is on the rise, and I do suspect it has a lot to do with media.

Many times, there are ways of speaking with or women that I object to, which raise protests saying "come on, we weren't serious! we respect women!" in my view, that is far more serious than a deliberate insult, because derogatory language is actually enshrined as  acceptable. It may seem superficially witty to make

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The Mumbai Slutwalk had died when the police required us to provide an undertaking on the letterhead of an NGO with details of the walk. We could have falsified it, but the fact is that it was purely a citizen's initiative, and there was no NGO involved enough for us to feel justified in representing ourselves on its letter head.

Other problems cropped up, and we decided to let things be.

Today, the Bangalore Slutwalk was cancelled. The update from the organizers says that their permission for peaceful assembly was withdrawn under objection and pressure from BJP and related organizations.

As the permission was withdrawn at the last minute, the organizers decided to land up at the venue to inform people arriving for the SlutWalk that it had been called off.

What followed is better than a hundred SlutWalks in making the point, but.... our media is oblivious.

This group of ex-protesters, now only updaters, dressed in jeans and T-Shirts, were arrested by the cops and taken on a long drive to some remote police station. Their phones were taken away and they were detained without explanation.

These people detained were directing people that the SlutWalk was cancelled. They were cooperating with the police. Some of those detained were walking away from the venue exactly as directed by the police when they were hauled back and arrested.

This, dear friends, was Bangalore's SlutWalk. A live demo by the cops of the need for a SlutWalk.

  • Moral Police had a problem with what they perceived as characterless behavior
  • They pressurized the government with threats of illegal action
  • As usual, the victim was suppressed to avoid a problem and permissions cancelled
  • Organizers were arrested in spite of co-operating
  • Protesters leaving the site were arrested because "they shouldn't have been there in the first place"

THIS is why slutwalks happen. Moral policing in society. Character judgments about women/men based on what goes on in the minds of those thinking about them. Morality being rigidly defined by whoever is able to bully the others. Bullying leading to comprehensive silencing of women asserting their constitutional rights that have been deprived. Government and police making absolutely no effort to safeguard those rights. Police actively persecuting those who attempted to assert themselves, even if they are fully cooperating.

Shows a dead society that will not let others live because they are not able to face the dirt in their own minds and would rather blame someone for it.

In my eyes, the Bangalore Slutwalk is a success.

I think, we have gone beyond the time for protest walks. The time is for us to live our realities, and insist that the police maintain law and order.

Update: Better coverage of Delhi's Slutwalk in San Francisco Chronicle. The messages are far more effectively conveyed true to the idea, so that the disparity in dress is not garish. Responsible, real. Good job! If this were being showed to India instead of the crap, we could have called this a really awesome event. However, I am becoming incr

As pictures come in from Delhi's slutwalk today, I can't but help worry that the walk gives a totally different message from that intended and reinforces the stereotypes it aims to challenge.

My main concerns:

  • The clothes: Two distinct patterns - Indian women covered up, foreigners bare. I am very concerned by this on several fronts. The most important being what does it project about foreigners. The first picture in the coverage by HT shows a girl writing slutwalk messages on a skimpily dressed foreigner's bare stomach. When I burst out in outrage on Twitter, some thought it was bare stomachs scandalizing me. Not true. It is the bare stomach of a foreigner being touched/written on, while Indian women are dressed conservatively as the defining picture of the event. Now, if Delhi has any problem after rapes in general, it is rapes of foreigners. What message does this picture convey about a foreigner's personal space? Is either writing slogans or foreigners the main thing about the slutwalk? This kind of masala journalism sells papers and prejudice at the same time. SHAME Hindustan Times!!!
  • There is a stark contrast among the foreigners and Indians when it comes to clothes. The Indian women are dressed MORE conservatively than on the streets. It is almost like they are trying to prove that they are not sluts and thus should not be raped. This, I think is a message that will add to judgments about clothing. WORSE than not having a slutwalk.
  • In the pictures, it is the men shown as vocal and the women quietly holding placards. Another message I'd like to have missed.
  • The foreigners look like the "item numbers" of the event. Attention getters, but not part of the real story. And that not being integrated with the local people is what is the real damage. The skimpily dressed people are not us. We are not dressed like that. We hold up placards saying don't rape us. An entire segment of Indian women who dress skimpily is totally unrepresented - worse, covered up.
  • The biggest mistake - the organizer of the slutwalk is totally covered up, devoid of makeup or any effort whatsoever to look appealing.
This coming after the threats to disrupt the walk comes off as totally wrong. Threaten us, and we will cover up.

Why am I making such a big deal of clothes if they don't really matter? I am not making it. The big deal has already been made, which is why we see such a conservative choice of clothes. I am only calling it out as harmful to the message of the walk. I think it is important that this be noted that the slutwalk is not only about covered up women. You wouldn't like being raped while returning from the disco because you weren't in the slutwalk uniform, would you?

That said, I understand that this is the first slutwalk and that it happened is a big thing. Unfortunately, I think that now it becomes even more important to make sure that the right message reaches people. There are other things I saw that could be avoided in future walks, but this is not the time for them, will post separately.

I congratulate that it happened at all. It sets precedent for future walks to happen. Good. Now the trick is to make them happen at full power.

Now, the invitation is to see the slutwalk as a social intervention and not a masala event, or something that is okay if done halfway. Restraining conditions on the slutwalk and expecting the message to reach is like reigning in a thoroughbred and expecting it to win a race. The essence of a slutwalk is the right of a woman to wear what she likes, like the essence of a thoroughbred is in its speed.

If you believe in what you are doing, then there is no need to be apologetic about it. I am not saying parade skimpily dressed women, but the absence of skimpily dressed women totally is a big matter of concern, because then it is the message of clothes defining right to be safe that is getting promoted - quite the opposite of what is intended.

Also, the slutwalk is an intervention means that the message is crucial to change in society. It needs to ring loud and clear. If you are saying clothes don't matter, then there MUST NOT be recommendations of dressing conservatively.

Coming to the journalists. You guys are the eyes of the country. Few will see the walk live. Most will see what you choose to show. As memories fade, the only ones publicly preserved will be those in your archives. As such, you have an ethical responsibility to convey the spirit of an attempt at social change as transparently as possible. From the beginning, there has been this obsession with bare stomachs. Now, in an event of hundreds of people FROM Delhi, dressed in a certain manner, your opening picture is of a foreigner dressed not representatively of the crowd. Sure, include it. But as the FIRST picture that also gets used as a thumbnail to represent the coverage? What is it that is being conveyed here?

I suggest that there is a serious effort to contribute to social transformation and promoting social initiatives rather than pimping midriffs for a moment of attention and undermining their entire validity.

Beyond angry with the reporting. Bloody pimps.

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On comments and other dialogue around the slutwalk think this is a misguided movement. Never mind that it spread like wildfire around the world because people saw its significance. "misguided" is an incredibly patronizing way to describe what essentially amounts to a difference of opinion. It is quite unrealistic as well, to assume that people who have devoted significant amounts of time thinking about the protest, its impact, its need, its origin, its name..... are somehow stupider than you, because you have decided. This is not a voice of wisdom, and it polarizes a dialogue, where the core need for greater dignity is actually not disputed at all. I hope people are better able to verbalize specifics, so that we all gain from the thoughts and conversations generated.

The assumptions that there will be women in various stages of nudity is something I find really strange. But even if it were true, clothes used AS a protest certainly cannot be called daily wear. I cannot imagine how people think that their world is going to be flooded with women flaunting skimpily dressed bodies and invading their space. Really, this is the realm of wishful thinking. Where are these women going to come from? Who are these women going to be who will overnight change their fear for safety to become provoking?

There are those fixated on what the walk is not. For example, it does not do anything for the minorities. Or that the Dantewada women gain nothing from this. Or vicious contempt that it is a "middle-class" thing of no use to the poor. I'd like to respond that middle-class women are people too. They have every right to protest something that is an issue for them. It is not their responsibility to protest every injustice against women ever in this country. As far as I know, the slutwalk is extremely inclusive of gender, caste, class, age, etc. I accept that some women from minority communities or repressed lower class/caste communities may not feel comfortable attending. The critics miss the point. The protest is still useful for a massive number of women, and the social change it aims for helps all women in the society, not just those who walked. If the streets become safer, even a little, even lower class women who did not feel comfortable attending the walk are safer.

The other thing is about villages and small towns where the protest doesn't reach. I think this is flat out wrong. Thoughts percolate. Delhi took the initiative, now there are noises in Mumbai about a slutwalk. Soon other cities may follow. If big cities do it, in a couple of years, larger towns may think of organizing their own, and so on. The other difference is that the big cities also are houses of media, which is a very big factor in influencing thought. If the media in the cities finds value in evolving attitudes toward women, those attitudes are going to reach in different forms to homes across the country - through the kind of stories of films, language used in soap operas, sensitivity shown in news reporting, coverage of the walks, debates and discussions on TV.... the possibilities are endless. It is futile to expect a switch be thrown that updates the entire country in one shot, and it is futile to say it will have no impact just because other areas are not directly addressed. We, as a country are connected. Thoughts travel.

The protest is that women DON'T need to be provoking to be objectified and abused, and the comments certainly seem to be illustrating the point. I am yet to find a single supporter of the slutwalk saying that the streets should be filled with near naked women. It is a tribute to the nudity obsessed mind that a stray mention in the variety of clothes possible has been made into the uniform, or that of all the hundreds of pictures of slutwalks around the world, the only ones being reacted to are ones with skimpily dressed women.

I have written extensively in support of the walk and I remain convinced that no matter what the result, it is still a step ahead. I am not a feminist. I am a believer that hidden dysfunctional dynamics in our society need to be brought on the table for change to happen - for men, women, kids, politics, terrorism, education, police, healthcare.... anything. Wrong doings thrive out of sight. I don't see this as a "women's issue" at all. I see this as a big social concern - an increasingly unsafe, judgmental and intolerant environment. And women may be its most common victims, but the decay ranges from politics to education. The questioning of the right to pass judgments is going to create awareness on judgments in other areas too (a guess based on my study of people, not data)

About the name, I think the name needs to be one used as a judgment. This is a protest, not a popularity contest. If naari shakti variety names were reality, the protest would not be needed at all. If calling to naari shakti type attitudes were effective, the protest wouldn't be needed either. We have been tossing rhetoric about women's power for ages. Everything should have been sorted, no? No. It takes all kinds of messages to reach all kinds of people. The protest takes the reality happening in streets, trains, buses, homes, markets, offices, colleges.... and places it firmly in public view. Look. this is happening.

There is no one format that says, "Look, this is how you should protest, and no other". For those stuck on the idea of nudity and it creating a dangerous world seriously need to read up on the twelve Manupuri activists defiantly stripped naked to protest rapes by the Indian Army. Yes. Totally naked, on the street. According to your logic, Manipur would be the rape capital of India. Not true. Statistics show that that one protest was more effective than anything else done so far. And yes, for those who don't know, Manipur IS in India. This is not an imported "neo-feminist farce".

The discomfort is natural when a massive bluff is called. the bluff that women are respected, when they are not. There is similar discomfort around other massive calls to face reality. I see it as a good sign, because the message is reaching, even if it isn't understood yet.

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No. It is the attitude that is insulting to women. The name is just a word.

We have a lot of tongue wagging happened in our country about naari shakti and such nonsense. Truth is, it is a lot of fragrant air, but when you're walking down the street, that isn't who you are. You ARE "maal", "item", "sexy" (in a lusty, invasive way). No one is looking at you with respect. They are calculating your bra size. They are wondering how they can brush past you so that they can rub themselves against you. There are people scanning the street for eye candy and it isn't about the girl being cheap - it is about entertainment. We women are entertainment for whoever wants to take a mental masturbation trip right there on the road. And the irony is that we are the ones labeled "cheap", "whore", "Besharam", etc.

It is the dirt in the heads of the predators in the society that we are forced to carry. It has nothing to do with clothes. Your mother in her most ordinary clothes has people rubbing their bodies against her in a bus. There are small girls and boys raped. There are communities that will order women raped - for crimes they didn't commit, but their "men" did. There are women who suffer acid attacks for being beautiful. There are women who get violently raped. There are 10 year old girls who get dragged under escaping cars of eve-teasers who get scarred for life. There are accusations that these people invited trouble on themselves.

You have policemen not taking complaints seriously. You have policemen blaming women for the clothes they wore if they get raped, when they know full well it is women in conservative clothes getting raped more. You have eve-teasers enjoying full freedom and the support of silence in a society and you have generations of women unsafe on the streets.

If you think this is naari shakti, you are out of your freaking mind. This is the women of the country being entertainment in a bloodsport. The name reflects that, not a fantasy of how this creep show should be called. And it seems it also makes people angry if this truth is called out. People think you are shameless for the choice of name of your protest. They want you to continue pretending some bullshit concepts that they will go "accha-accha theek hai" and on their way home, see if they are finally able to grab the butt of their neighbour's daughter.

The names are correct because they reflect reality. They are ugly, because they reflect reality. That is our reality - we are ugly with our women, even though we have created some very nice sounding words to cover it up with.

The slutwalk is a protest, not a popularity contest. The idea is not that you like the name we choose, but that you understand why it is so. I hate the name too. Which is exactly why it must stay - the ugly truth slapping our face. If women were respected, the protest would be unnecessary. And so would an ugly name.

Here are some of the prevalent objections I came across about the slutwalk, since I started speaking up in support:

  1. Women parading naked on the streets is going to increase harassment. I have no clue why these depraved minds imagine only naked women, but whatever, that is their imagination, and it can only be countered by reality as it unfolds. However, I refuse to rule out nudity, unlikely as I think it will happen. Whoever thinks it will make things more dangerous needs to study the impact of the activists stripping naked in protest of rapes. It worked better than all previous protests combined. So yeah, they became safer.
  2. Why do you want the women to dress cheaply? I don't want anyone to dress cheaply, but I refuse to label anyone's choice of clothes as cheap.  This is exactly the thinking being questioned. What they wear is their right. I may or may not like their choices, and that is my business. They are not required to pander to my desires. Nor is my  choice somehow more respectable than another's.
  3. Feminists and assorted bold women have made life unsafe for all women. Not true. They have protested what is happening, not created the incidents they protest. As for protesting increasing violence against women.... you'll need to show me some statistics, because I think this is a load of bull shit.
  4. It is useless. Men will not change. This is self-defeating. And it is insulting to our men to call them incapable of doing the decent thing. Not to mention this is outright acceptance of victimization of women. Quoting slightly modified from another post, :"It is an age-old trick to prevent protest by brainwashing/dominating someone into believing it is futile. I hope you see through it... They have been intellectually and emotionally abandoned as animals and unquestioningly pampered for having dicks. No one expects better, so they have no need to think that any change is needed. It is different from not able to change."
  5. The slutwalk trivializes an important issue and damages the women's cause. I am a scientist by nature. I work with observations, not imagination or assumptions. I see this protest already effective because of the amount of reactions it has caused in society. In support, in opposition, in being vocally neutral.... that only happens when a call for change creates turmoil in minds. If it was useless, futile, etc... it wouldn't get so much attention. It would yawn and sink. Also, I fail to see the trivializing. It takes some of the ugliest attitudes of society and puts them on the table - how is that trivial? I think those calling it trivial need to think more about what is happening in the world around them.
  6. I don't support all this victimization of women, I am not a woman. This is irrelevant to me. Dream on, unless you are saying that you don't give a damn that your daughter, sister, wife, mother, girl friend, school teacher, etc are routinely harassed. If you don't support these attitudes, all the more reason for you to walk in support and serve as a role model. Think beyond your couch for once.
  7. It will destroy our society if women start wearing whatever they want. Good morning. Women often wear whatever they want. The idea of the protest is to prevent their victimization for it. I don't see how this will destroy society.
  8. If you think encouraging nudity is.... ever wonder why your mind shorts and is unable to progress beyond the nudity? THAT is what we are protesting. Get the fuck off your obsession with us nude. It is not your business. If it gives you an uncontrollable urge to start raping people, I suggest that you close your eyes tightly that day. Or walk in the protest and learn a more respectful way of being.
  9. I don't think this is the best way... Every way doesn't have to meet your approval. You really need to stop having such a high opinion of yourself that anyone thinking differently cannot be allowed.
  10. I am scared my daughter, wife, etc will suffer at the hands of lecherous spectators of the protest. All the more reason for you to walk along them and keep them safe and endorse their call for dignity.
  11. You call this Satyagraha? You must be joking. Actually, I am not. If the Satyagraha is about the right to insist peacefully and protest injustice, I see this as a far more fundamental satyagraha than a freedom struggle or fight against corruption. It is about the right of women to not be victimized. For children to not be used for sexual attacks. To not be objectified. To not be an entire country's porn projection. It protests hate crimes pretending to be moral policing, repressing half the country's population and spreading moral decay in the pretense of moral superiority.

These are the most common ones picked from tweets, comments, emails and other conversations. If you find more, let's use the comments to get talking about this. The more important ones, I'll add to the post as updates, so people find them easily.