Monday, 2 February 2015

Spatial Sex-Segregation…!!.... ??

Being women, what are our experiences in public spaces, particularly in India? Imagine yourself walking down the crowded or lonely street, boarding the buses or general compartments in train, on the overcrowded railway bridges or deserted skywalks or even in a park alone.. How do you visualize yourself.. cautious.. watchful.. not looking directly at the people standing at the nooks and corners of street.. minding your own business.. shrinking your body as much as possible?
And when you are in ladies compartment of train..? or ladies waiting room.. or reserved for women parks or any such spaces..? More relaxed, comfortable..?
With understanding that the perceptions are always related to attitudes of people and not only spaces, yet spaces provide us comfort and sense of belonging..
Does it mean that we look forward for such special types of spatial arrangements for us? Ask yourself..!
Most of us do NOT agree with this.. We don’t really want special spaces for us..

So, what is the problem with spaces “only for women”? Or with anything that is planned with this “only for” tag? What women actually look for is co-existence, acceptance, and respect as an individual and be an active part of society.
Are we looking forward to different “Male society” and “Female Society” existing separately? Don’t Children in the spaces designed for them expect their parents to be with them? Don’t senior citizens expect their grand children to be with them in “Nana-Nani Park”?

When women expect that their viewpoints also to be considered while planning, their needs and requirements to be fulfilled, do they really expect some few spaces specially reserved for them? Doesn’t it mean that again we are creating some small volume of spaces “reserved” for women and rest whole world open for men? Just like a sheltered space called “home” or “workplace” where they feel safer(?) and rest of the outdoors are men’s domain? Or just like kitchen and inner rooms and backyards for women and front varandahs, living rooms and whatever else was open for men?

When there is lot of response for “Ladies Special Locals”, does that really mean that all that women want in transportation are such locals? Or they are just finding it convenient “better than existing” situation of just 2 and half ladies compartments in 12 car locals?

The 2006 ‘why women?’ report (Women’s Resource Centre, 2006a) explores, in-depth, the wide-spread misconception that discrimination against women has been eliminated and women now enjoy full equality with men.

The exclusion of men by women and the exclusion of women by men are fundamentally different. Christine Delphy, internationally known radical feminist and editor of France's only Women's Studies Journal, writes, “To accuse women of ‘inverse sexism’ (or Blacks of counter- racism) is not only unfriendly, it is reactionary, because it posits a symmetry between oppressor and oppressed. To decry or exclude those who oppress you is not symmetrical with decrying or excluding those whom you oppress” (Delphy 110) (Kamienski, 2003).

A research outcome of a survey conducted in this regard during 2012 posits that women from the city of Mumbai directly opposed the very idea of seclusion or sex-segregation at public spaces.
Links to this study are –

Please feel free to post your opinions on the concept of sex segregation in public spaces irrespective of your gender..
Looking forward!! 

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