October 21, Quartz india The waiting area outside the yoga studio starts filling up with the usual suspects. Everyone nods and smiles in companionable silence and agarbatti fumes until a new girl walks in—supple, blonde, stunningly beautiful. A middle-aged gentleman a regular, almost always in pro-cycling day-glo cannot contain himself. The man stands inches away from her. She must crane her neck to reply but she is remarkably composed with a curt response: A lot of them are models.
My husband was transferred to Mumbai. The agarbatti smoke clears but there is now major awkwardness in the air.
They come across as arrogant or smarmy or gauche and often seem jettisoned at you from the testosterone-filled atmosphere of an all-male herd. How did we get to this lose-lose situation? Has a culture of arranged marriages made it difficult to develop dating smarts? Should we, as per usual, blame Bollywood? Women are afraid that men will kill them. The random Indian male To begin with, Indian women are not big fans of the random Indian male.
Just the heaving, senseless, lascivious mass that, every moment of the day, we must shut our ears to, learn ceding public space to, audit how we appear to, and expect physical and psychological trouble from. Sure, women all over the world face street harassment, catcalling or the harder to point out, but as intimidating, eyefucking.
In India, in addition to the quotidian catcalls, the constant commentary, and the sexual innuendoes, we also face clear threats of misogynistic violence in everyday life. Women I know have been driven into, had sticks thrown into the spokes of their motorcycles, and have even had men spit in their paths. Ask the Kama Sutra. Indian women also know how easy it is to get slut-shamed and are less likely to trust an encounter with an absolute stranger.
In the Quora thread How would Indian girls like to be approached for a date? This Buzzfeed piece about Bollywood songs corrected for sexism makes the point perfectly. He said it and left.
There were common threads. Not one woman mentioned how the men looked, how rich they seemed or how exceptionally funny they were. They were charmed, flattered, and remembered the incidents long after they happened, for a few reasons. The conversation seemed friendly, the compliments sincere. The men showed no sense of entitlement and seemed to expect nothing in return. In many cases, the men were alone or in a group that contained a number of women.
The idea is to come across as genuine, non-threatening, pleasant, and casual. You have to be cool Indian dude bros, be cool. This post first appeared on Scroll. We welcome your comments at ideas.