If someone would have told me 3 weeks back that I would be writing this today I would have said they were nuts! But here I am in a strange position and I don’t know what to make of it.
A quick flash back, in Mumbai or whenever I am in Delhi, (like many other) I too have been wary of the lecherous male eyes noting every step we take on the roads. A simple walk through in exercise shorts and a cotton vest draws a loadful of attention from every walking male member on the Indian roads, and not to forget the uninvited comments. While some may even argue that this is a part of desi man’s “appreciation of beauty“; speaking for women like me, let me tell you that we really don’t feel appreciated when men just stare at our body parts with drool dripping from their mouths.
That has been one reason, why I have restricted my clothes on several occasions, say when taking the public transport in Mumbai or Delhi. The silent fact that I can dress up as per my will only when accosted by male members of my family & friends and that too when we are using our own means of transport can be pretty jarring to live with in 21st century.
Today, as I vacation in HongKong, I realise how deeply the thought of dressing “right” has been ingrained in my mind. Each time I decide on a dress to wear out, I think twice whether its appropriate for a female tourist.
In my first week in HK, I dressed in my jeans and tight tops and ventured alone in local markets and voila, it drew no comments, no unwarranted stares, nothing. Relief!
In my second week, I experimented with my make-up using different styles in highlighting my eyes and face in order to compliment my dresses and skirts. Still no stares, not even a second more than a passing look from the locals (men and women). Double relief. Even the taxi drivers and bus drivers are courteous enough to look straight on to roads and not tilt the rear-view mirror to get a better peek at your dress or body.
In my third week, I went about (sometimes with my husband, sometimes alone) in shorts and tank tops, just as hundreds of other HK women and tourists. This time I did manage to draw some attention from HK males, but none of it made me uncomfortable.
I don’t know if many would understand that a woman does know when a male stares at her appreciatively and when he is leching at her dress or body. The kind of stares I drew here in HK — and I am speaking from experience as I have had my share of male ogling — were inquisitive, and at times appreciative. Some might argue that I could haven’t seen the real HK, as I am not ruling out male jerks in HK lanes too, but I can safely claim to have seen more than an average HK tourist after my 4 weeks of vacationing here.
I still do not understand the language, but I do read faces well. And I haven’t seen a threatening male face that makes me uncomfortable about my body in a tight dress or for that inch more of my leg that shows through the slit of the skirt.
I had categorically made up in my mind that men all over are the same when it comes to leching. Somehow, I am forced to reconsider that opinion now as I spend my days in HK.
PS: This post has been written in bits and parts — while sitting in Starbucks after my morning run in exercise shorts, some paras in a cafeteria in a pretty skirt, and last part in a park dressed up in slacks & shirt. Every time, I have been looked at by males (a few females too) it has not made my hair stand. I am finally getting comfortable in my choice of clothes