If the headline reads odd to you, it feels a million times more so to women when you use the term eve-teasing for harassment.
If the headline reads odd to you, it feels a million times more so to women when you use the term eve-teasing for harassment.

From an Eve to the Adams: It’s time to address inherited sexism

If the headline reads odd to you, it feels a million times more so to women when you use the term eve-teasing for harassment.
By Sonal Kalra | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 12, 2017 08:56 PM IST

Dictionary kholo.

Eve (noun): The first woman, and mother of human race. Adam’s wife, as per the Old Testament of the Bible.

Teasing (verb): make fun of or attempt to provoke (a person or animal) in a playful way.

Usage (not in dictionary, genius): By more than 70% of the educated population in India, including by ‘experts’ on professional mass media platforms, to describe blatant sexual harassment including verbal abuse as well as molestation, groping, disrobing of a woman by one or many men, at a public place.

Does it bother you that while we are becoming more and more aware of the horror that most women go through in the name of harassment (thankfully so!), we continue to sink deeper into ignorance when it comes to describing it in words. Several women groped, assaulted, molested during New Year’s celebrations on the busiest street in the busiest city called Bengaluru, allege media reports. Drunk strangers tried to tear off their clothes, cheered on by a mob, as they screamed and ran around for help, add these reports. I don’t know if all this actually happened or not. That’s for the cops to look into. What I do know, however, is that the ticker on at least two popular news channels the next day read ‘scores of women eve-teased in Bengaluru’. EVE TEASED? Like, really? A colleague informs me that a Hindi news channel, and several papers, described the incident in these words — “31 December ki raat ko sadak pe ladkiyon ke saath jum ke chhed chhaad”. I’m banging my head on the keyboard, jum ke, as I type this.

Pata hai, the intent of all these news channels or newspapers was praiseworthy. The fact that media takes a stand to expose such ugly incidents, and the angry response that everyone — right from the common man to the celebrities who took to social media — give in return, makes me hopeful that someday women in our country would feel safe whether the sun is out or not. But why should any of us use trivial terms like ‘chhed chhad’ or ‘teasing’ for incidents that could leave a person traumatised for life?

And what’s with the word ‘eve’, for God’s sake? Ek baat toh yeh that eve teasing, which literally implies a woman tempting or teasing a man into straying out of desire, is so grossly wrong in the context of harassment. The women who are molested or harassed on the streets in our country have no intention, inclination or desire to tempt. If anything, groping or molestation leaves a woman feeling repulsed, violated and helpless. Eve teasing, in that sense, is a completely unfair way of subconsciously putting the blame on them. It’s kind of the same when a scumbag comes on TV and says that girls are asking for it because they dress in western clothes.

You know how shitty that argument is, right? So even when we unintentionally use terms like eve teasing, we are diluting the overall seriousness of the issue. You all must have heard of the term ‘chhed chaad’ in a very playful banter, raas-leela kind of a way in Bollywood films and songs. What happens with a woman on a street or in public transport or in parks, day in and day out, is not light-hearted chhed chhad. It is full-blown disgusting behaviour. And hey, what’s with the term ‘eve’ anyway? Do you ever say four adams were walking down the street? You don’t, right? Theek karo yaar, bhasha ko.

Yesterday someone was telling me about this YouTube prankster who has become ‘popular’ by uploading videos where he is seen stopping women on the road on some pretext, suddenly kissing them, and running away. The women in the videos are shown freezing for a moment out of shock, and then running after him crying for help. He calls it funny. The 1.5K people who subscribe to his channel may find it funny. But, I’m pretty sure that a majority of the 1.5 billion people in this country — women or men — find it disgusting. The last I heard, he has apologised and taken off his channel. Appreciate that he left some scope in his head to let good sense prevail.

By the way, have you noticed the absence of the term ‘girls’ in all that I wrote above? That’s another language-related peeve I must share here. We have some kind of an obsession to address grown-up, adult women as girls. Sample this headline in yesterday’s paper: 23-year-old girl raped by neighbour. Do we address twenty three-year-old men as boys? We, in fact, take pride even when we tell an 16-year-old that he is a grown-up man. Then why the hesitation in calling a woman, a woman? To be honest, even in this usage, the intent is not to demean anyone. I, like you, have also made this mistake several times. It’s like how many of us use the term ‘class ke sab bachchey’ even for students in the twelfth grade. But the problem here is that when we continue to address adult women as girls, we are subconsciously being patronising. In the process, we are somewhat reducing them into being immature and childish.

I know what a lot of you must be thinking right now. In Hindi, we suddenly can’t start addressing a 20-year-old as an ‘aurat’ or mahila. Many of you would giggle at the very thought. Even the 20-year-old would hate you for making her feel like an ‘aunty’ (Oh, we are not short of sexist terms, are we?). It’s so deeply ingrained in our day to day communication that while a group of people (including both male and female) can be comfortably called ‘guys’, we’ll never be able to address such a bunch as ‘girls’. The term ‘girls’ denotes sissy, it gives you the imagery of pink dresses, giggles, tears, and helplessness. ‘Guys’ or ‘men’, on the other hand invokes the feelings of ‘power, brotherhood, strength. Sigh. Not really sure how long will it take for the womenkind to graduate to the position of being taken as seriously as men in this world. But we can sure make a start by at least using the right words. Whatsay?

Sonal Kalra has heard of several classes for eves to learn the art of self-defense. How about classes for adams to learn the art of basic respect? Mail her at sonal.kalra@hindustantimes.com or facebook.com/sonalkalraofficial. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
People who identify as non-binary - neither male nor female - can now select the gender-neutral title "Mx" on the White House website's contact page(Pixabay)
People who identify as non-binary - neither male nor female - can now select the gender-neutral title "Mx" on the White House website's contact page(Pixabay)

White House website adds gender-neutral pronouns as Biden meets LGBT+ demands

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 01:24 PM IST
People can now select gender-neutral pronouns when contacting the U.S. government, as President Joe Biden signed a raft of executive actions on his first day in office, including an order tackling discrimination against LGBT+ people.
Close
The move comes in the wake of child abuse accusations involving a prominent French political expert.(Pixabay)
The move comes in the wake of child abuse accusations involving a prominent French political expert.(Pixabay)

French victims of child abuse speak out in new #MeToo wave

AP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 11:25 AM IST
The French government pledged on Thursday to toughen laws on the rape of children after a massive online movement saw hundreds of victims share accounts about sexual abuse within their families.
Close
New York City has opened $25 billion worth of contracts to bids from LGBT+-owned businesses as part of a pledge to widen access to a raft of benefits already offered to other minorities, from women to Black entrepreneurs.(Yahoo)
New York City has opened $25 billion worth of contracts to bids from LGBT+-owned businesses as part of a pledge to widen access to a raft of benefits already offered to other minorities, from women to Black entrepreneurs.(Yahoo)

New York City opens billions in contracts to LGBT+ business

Reuters
UPDATED ON JAN 21, 2021 04:07 PM IST
New York City has opened $25 billion worth of contracts to bids from LGBT+-owned businesses as part of a pledge to widen access to a raft of benefits already offered to other minorities, from women to Black entrepreneurs.
Close
After the separation from ex-husband Liam Hemsworth, the former 'Hannah Montana' actor has been open in interviews about her dating life and exploring her sexuality. (Instagram )
After the separation from ex-husband Liam Hemsworth, the former 'Hannah Montana' actor has been open in interviews about her dating life and exploring her sexuality. (Instagram )

Miley Cyrus gets candid about her sexuality

ANI, Washington [us]
PUBLISHED ON JAN 21, 2021 11:27 AM IST
American singer-songwriter Miley Cyrus got candid about her sexual orientation in an interview on Wednesday.
Close
Tilda Swinton(Instagram)
Tilda Swinton(Instagram)

Tilda Swinton reveals she identifies as queer

PTI
UPDATED ON JAN 20, 2021 08:10 PM IST
The 60-year-old actor, known for films such as "Orlando", "The Chronicles of Narnia" series, "Okja" and "Suspiria", said being queer is a "sensibility" for her.
Close
Representational Image(Unsplash)
Representational Image(Unsplash)

'Brain development shaped by what happens to us as well as our parents'

ANI
UPDATED ON JAN 20, 2021 02:55 PM IST
New research is showing that those effects can be passed down to subsequent generations, reporting that the infant children of mothers who had experienced childhood emotional neglect displayed altered brain circuitry involved in fear responses and anxiety.
Close
Vegans are better lovers? Here's what 'Baywatch' star Pamela Anderson has to say(Twitter/pamfoundation)
Vegans are better lovers? Here's what 'Baywatch' star Pamela Anderson has to say(Twitter/pamfoundation)

Vegans are better lovers? Here's what 'Baywatch' star Pamela Anderson has to say

ANI
UPDATED ON JAN 20, 2021 10:53 AM IST
'Baywatch' star Pamela Anderson has been on plant-based diet for about 30 years and here's what she thinks about vegans as lovers
Close
Kerala is the first State in India which declared a Transgender Policy after the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court in 2014. (Unsplash)
Kerala is the first State in India which declared a Transgender Policy after the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court in 2014. (Unsplash)

Kerala government to include 'Transgender' as gender option in application forms

PTI, Thiruvananthapuram
PUBLISHED ON JAN 19, 2021 10:22 AM IST
In a landmark decision, the Left Front government in Kerala on Monday decided to include transgender as gender option in all application forms in its departments.
Close
The study was led by researchers from McGill University.(Unsplash)
The study was led by researchers from McGill University.(Unsplash)

With multiple children, fragmented sleep reported by mothers than fathers: Study

ANI, Montreal [canada]
UPDATED ON JAN 18, 2021 04:29 PM IST
According to a new study, mothers with multiple children report more fragmented sleep than mothers of a single child. However, the number of children in a family doesn't seem to affect the quality of sleep for fathers.
Close
Previous research suggests that as many as half of children and teens who have at least one treatable mental health disorder may not receive treatment due to several barriers.(Unsplash)
Previous research suggests that as many as half of children and teens who have at least one treatable mental health disorder may not receive treatment due to several barriers.(Unsplash)

Teens with anxiety, depression may benefit from peer confidants at school

ANI, Washington [us]
UPDATED ON JAN 18, 2021 12:54 PM IST
Three-quarters of parents in a new national poll think peers better understand teen challenges including depression and anxiety, compared to teachers or counsellors in the school.
Close
Alabama transgender license policy unconstitutional(Pexels)
Alabama transgender license policy unconstitutional(Pexels)

Alabama judge declares transgender driver's license policy as unconstitutional

AP, Montgomery
PUBLISHED ON JAN 16, 2021 09:48 AM IST
  • US District Judge Myron Thompson, on Friday, said that the policy stating that people, "can only change the sex designation on their driver's licenses by changing their genitalia," is unconstitutional.
Close
Representational Image(Unsplash)
Representational Image(Unsplash)

'Love jihad' law seen trampling women's hard-earned freedoms in India

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 15, 2021 08:39 PM IST
Men have been arrested and women forced into shelters in Uttar Pradesh under the new law, which imposes prison terms for anyone convicted of compelling others to change their faith or luring them to do so through marriage.
Close
That leaves women who don't fit the prototype potentially facing greater hurdles when trying to convince a workplace or court that they have been harassed.(Pixabay)
That leaves women who don't fit the prototype potentially facing greater hurdles when trying to convince a workplace or court that they have been harassed.(Pixabay)

Harassment claims made by 'prototypical' women considered more credible: Study

ANI, Washington [us]
PUBLISHED ON JAN 15, 2021 06:10 PM IST
A new study has revealed that women who are young, 'conventionally attractive' and appear to act feminine are more likely to be believed when making accusations of sexual harassment.
Close
The percentage of regularly seen LGBTQ characters on streaming as well as prime-time broadcast TV and cable during the 2020-21 season fell.(Unsplash)
The percentage of regularly seen LGBTQ characters on streaming as well as prime-time broadcast TV and cable during the 2020-21 season fell.(Unsplash)

Study: Pandemic eats into LGBTQ representation on network TV

AP, New York
PUBLISHED ON JAN 15, 2021 02:54 PM IST
LGBTQ and gender inclusiveness on television has retreated slightly this season due to delays and shutdowns caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Close
Studies suggest that anywhere between 30% to 90% of women who experience physical abuse at the hands of an intimate partner experienced head trauma.(Unsplash)
Studies suggest that anywhere between 30% to 90% of women who experience physical abuse at the hands of an intimate partner experienced head trauma.(Unsplash)

Effects of head trauma from intimate partner violence largely unrecognised

ANI, Washington [us]
PUBLISHED ON JAN 14, 2021 01:05 PM IST
While there is an abundant amount of research about traumatic brain injuries in athletes and those serving in the military, the same data is scarce when it comes to concussions and head and neck injuries sustained due to intimate partner violence.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP