Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Strange Gender Bias!

One of my neighbours also goes for walks in the morning on the same road as I do. She has some form of music device with her, and wears headphones in her ears. Nothing unusual about that at all. Many people walk with their ipods. This lady also happens to sing along with the music, both loudly and tunelessly. Although it is not a treat to hear her, I do love the utter unselfconsciousness with which she walks and sings, so totally bindaas. One of my companions objects to her terrible singing. As one whose great desire to sing to an admiring audience has been thoroughly squashed by her cheeky kids, I beg to differ. Even the tuneless have the right to sing. Women also have the right to sing, hum and whistle if they so desire. How often, though, in India at least, do you get to see a woman hum or sing on the road? Even a silent, prim and proper female gets more than enough unwarranted male attention. And yet we never look twice at a man singing out loud as he cycles past, or whistles while he walks along. This may sound very trivial, yet it is part of the larger battle, of women's right to freely occupy public spaces.

To be able to walk onthe road with a spring in your step and a song in your heart, and to let the song emerge if it wants to. That is a joyful freedom indeed!

37 comments:

Abhishek said...

It probably is the truest freedom ever... especially to see a woman do that in out country... I hope we can see more of it though!!!

kbpm said...

Yes Dipali. Tis very true!

Banno said...

I totally agree.

artnavy said...

nice to hear about this singing lady

women with babies also seem to lose their shyness in teh area of singing out loud:-))

Phoenixritu said...

Yeah! My mother used to give me hell for singing hindi filmy songs - her objection : the servant will get ideas :(

Wish we had a level playing field

Usha said...

oh god! isn't it bad enough that we have tuneless men polluting public places. Should women start too. Why not do it in the confines of her own house or terrace?
Two wrongs don't make a right - I would definitely not want anyone to spoil my morning walk with tuneless or tuneful singing.

Sukesh Kumar said...

A point to ponder: The gender bias you have mentioned is caused by male-counterparts to dominate in the area of 'humming' or females themselves for the sake of 'gracefulness'??

choxbox said...

aah dips. my favourite topic.

you see n3 can whistle like anything. when she was abt 5 i remember she started whistling vande mataram (of all things) when i was buying something from a hawker in hyd. the guy first looked at me in shock, then at her and actually said to her in the typical hyd style 'aurat loga seetiyaa nai maarte. sharam nahi aati tumko?'

i gave him a earful, it was far less musical i can tell you.

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

I absolutely agree with this. It really is a joyful feeling and there really is a great sense of freedom attached to singing what's in your heart and mind.

mandira said...

i like the "even the tuneless have the right to sing".:)
nw that u mentioned, i dont remember seeing a woman hum/sing on the streets ever!!

@lankr1ta said...

When you talked about the desire to be sing quashed, I cannot help but think of so many women I know- one lady- no nightingale- but has been completely I would say bullied by a more tuneful husband and daughter, another quelled by parents who would tell her to do something she was good at- and so on. Why does everyone have to be absolutely perfect in what they like doing- can they not just enjoy it? Good for this lady.

Sue said...

It helps being out with a toddler. You care less what people thinks because it seems more important to join in his delight with the world around him.

Or so I find.

Sue said...

BTW, I've been known to dance while plugged into my iPod in the Metro. :D

DotThoughts said...

How true!

Monika said...

lovely dipali

Nat said...

han yaar, I appreciate anyone who can sing too. just humming going about our day can be so uplifting. lets start a hum a song while out n about campaign. :)

Indian Homemaker said...

I agree Dipali..
"it is part of the larger battle, of women's right to freely occupy public spaces.

To be able to walk onthe road with a spring in your step and a song in your heart, and to let the song emerge if it wants to. That is a joyful freedom indeed!"
Lovely words!!

Mom Gone Mad said...

Dipali, Its so true!

My mother is one of those tuneless people doomed to silence thanks to merciless family ribbing. She won't even dare to sing lullabies to her grandkids. Sad, methinks.

ra said...

Agree completely.I have a whole lot os suppressed anger and angst on this issue. Hope your dad is getting better.

Jawahara said...

*applause* When we really break down womens' rights we sometimes forget the small but so very important ones. Like this one, the right to enjoy...to fill the public spaces we pass through. And why not?

wordjunkie said...

So true!
I loved those last lines.

rads said...

heh kudos to bindaas and all that, but sometimes I think folks ought to realize their capabilities and all that too :-)

Phantasmagoria said...

Absolutely.

Besides the strategic and practical reasons for a level playing field, I believe, there are these -- the subtle ones -- that will chip away at the spirit.

Grasshopper said...

i love singing on the streets, there is something about open spaces that ads volume.

in fact, it was on my mother's scooter that i learnt singing. we were supposed to sing so that we don't fall asleep.

but singing while walking, now that must take courage. and that too first thing in the morning!

eve's lungs said...

I so empathise with this lady !

Angshu said...

Tribal women sing in chorus, and they are good. I think they are more liberated in many ways than their city counterpart.

Nino's Mum said...

so true!
I've the most delightful help these days, a young man who loves to dust and clean to the tune of gujarati folk music. He waits till the house is clear of the men folk, and then lets out, with a big lilt, matching the tune to the furniture he's cleaning. It makes me smile, and it's a freedom that neither his circumstance nor his destiny can take away.

shankari said...

Yaay!

I totally support this. :)

Whats more, I see all the others here do too.

Way to go, lady - lets whistle ahead - tuneful or not.

mayG said...

To be able to walk onthe road with a spring in your step and a song in your heart, and to let the song emerge if it wants to. That made me smile the hugest smile :D
amen to that!

dipali said...

@Ahishek: That is most unlikely!
@kbpm:-)
@Banno:-)
@artnavy: That is so true- babies do wonders for inhibitions:)
@Ritu: I wonder if we ever will:(
@Usha: I'm mot in favour of anyone singing while I'm on my walk! But it's the principle of the thing:)
@Suresh Kumar: I'd say it's due to centuries of submission to patriarchal cultural norms.
@chox: I love to whistle too!
Dare I, in public? No:(
Even in my own car, (with the driver at the wheel)I will join in only if my son is singing anyway.
I wonder if you reformed that hawker even a wee bit!
@mamma mia me a mamma: So true!
@mandira: There you are! They barely exist:(
@alankrita: That's why I'm all for her execrable singing:)
@Sue: Absolutely! I do find myself dancing a few steps to good music playing in department stores or music shops:)
@Dottie: -)
@Monika: Thanks.
@Nat: Good idea.
@Indian Homemaker:Thanks!
@Mom Gone Mad: That is so sad.
@ra: Yes he is , thanks. Do expound.
@Jawahara:Thanks. Though apparently trivial, this is symbolic of much greater inequalities.
@Word Junkie: Thanks.
@Rads: Ah well. We beg to differ:)
@Phantasmagoria: Welcome. Yes, it all adds up.
@grasshopper: I'd love to hear you:)
I'm way too inhibited to do more than hum under my breath:(
@eve's lungs: I'll introduce you to her if you like!
@Angshu: Absolutely.
@Nino's Mum: How lovely!
I love your last line:'It makes me smile, and it's a freedom that neither his circumstance nor his destiny can take away.'
@Shankari: welcome and thanks:)
@MayG: Thanks. Amen indeed:)

D said...

I never thought of it as a gender issue, but I've always maintained that singing out aloud is liberating (especially for bad singers!)

dipali said...

@D: As long as they enjoy it, I guess there aren't any bad singers!
(There are of course, but I'm sure they need to sing too).

choxbox said...

reformed the hawker? - very much doubt it. he must have thought - women these days tch tch.

Mampi said...

You have a point. Here is wishing the singing walker more power with her walk and song.

Mampi said...

You have a point. Here is wishing the singing walker more power with her walk and song.

starry-eyed said...

Truly important. I guess singing out loud has gained a bad reputation as an 'eve-teasing' and a 'road-romeo' tactic, so if a woman sings out loud, many people look askance at her, and wonder if she's 'adam-hunting' :(

dipali said...

@choxbox: Yes, I guess that was too much to hope for:(
@mampi: I hope so too:)
@starry-eyed: Nice to see you here!
I guess we are so thoroughly conditioned into these associations:(