Feminism is the radical notion that women are people said someone famous. That sums up feminism better than any long winded definitio...

Sunday, 12 July 2015

To Pee or Not To Pee

So, during my morning run a few days ago, I got flashed by a man.

At first, I assumed he was peeing in public, in the park where I go for my morning run. Dawn was just breaking with the sun yet to come up and the light was pleasantly dim. I looked away. But as I approached him - he was right in my way- he slowly turned towards me and flashed his penis at me. I was outraged, and I felt violated.

I've ticked off men peeing in public before. I make a pointed comment, "is this a public toilet?" to men hunched against walls in all kinds of public spaces, along a road, in a park, what-have-you. Not sure how much it helps but my hope is maybe the person will not repeat the offence, at least for a while, though of course, I have no way of knowing.
I was still making up my mind whether to go ahead with it, when he precipitated the situation and I was too dumbfounded to do speak. I looked away and walked off.

My first instinct was to go up to the private security guard a little distance away and report it to him. However, anticipating a not very helpful reaction from the guy, and knowing it would only make me angrier at the situation, I walked home, upset.

This is a call every woman has to make at various points in time, almost on a daily basis, specially when negotiating public spaces. All kinds of creeps are out there harassing you. How you react to each incident affects how the rest of your day will go. It entails lost time and energy, if you choose to make a complaint. That's assuming there's someone in authority willing to even hear you out, let alone act upon it, and to to your benefit. It also involves allowing a stranger to determine your mood- you are bound to become angrier as you discuss this and have to explain exactly how the situation arose.

But I digress. My thoughts here are prompted by something more mundane : public toilets , or the lack of them. I go for my morning run, the Rabindra Sarobar in Kolkata which is open to the public. In a public space spread over an area of 73 acres (300,00 sq m) of you'd expect at least a few toilets. Guess how many are there? Not one. Wonder whether the Kolkata Improvement Trust is aware of this or has even given it a thought. It would seem like common sense to me.

Had there been easily available toilets in public spaces, hopefully men would not be let off so easily for relieving themselves in public, either to urinate or for urges best restricted to private spaces.

So although one may outrage at men peeing in public, the fact remains that without a valid option, what is a man to do? Till such time as the government provides more options for the public to relieve themselves, the recent drive to send people to jail for relieving themselves in public can only be seen as a piecemeal effort. Not much will be achieved from such drives.

There's a laudatory effort undertaken by a lone woman Mayuri Bhattacharjee who is going around our city checking out loos  for our benefit.
Of course, we don't regularly come across women peeing in the open, for some strange reason. Wonder why? 

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