Last & Least
The psychology of eve-teasing
Dr Binoy Barman
RECENTLY a number of girls have been the victims of eve-teasing in Bangladesh. The unhappy girls resorted to suicide in a bid to end the mental pangs they suffered as a result of perverts' verbal and behavioural abuses. They took the extreme decisions. We can express sympathy for them and ponder over the grave problem during our times of loneliness and assembly. We can ask ourselves: Why did the girls commit suicide? Could they not be prevented from doing so? It is difficult to answer what goes on in the mind of the victims of eve-teasing and why they terminate their own lives with such desperation. We may shift our attention to the other side and ask: What goes on in the mind of the eve-teasers and why do they eve-tease? If we can get their psychology it will help us in devising our preventive measures. If the eve-teasers can be stopped from the offensive job, there will be no victim of it. The incidence of suicide will subside.
Obviously, eve-teasing is committed by the boys who live in fools' paradise. Their mental make-up speaks of their foolishness? An eve-teaser constructs a romantic image of girls in his mind and is always inspired by it to stand at the street corner and pokes fun at a moving girl. Truly, he does it mostly for fun. He thinks girls are over there to receive his flying kiss and obscene gestures that he has developed for them. His aching heart always looks for a 'queen' as he regards himself as the king of his world of passion. No sense of guilt works in him. He makes it his responsibility to hunt for and run after a girl rhythmically drifting past his vision covered with tinted glasses. He lives in a world of dream and he seldom realises the hazards he may cause to the 'queen' of his dream. He eyes a flower in the garden and he thinks he has to pluck it, unaware of the effects of his devilish touch.
This kind of psychology is not accidental whatsoever. It is made systematically through the socio-cultural machinery we have as a whole. The young minds are moulded into a fantasy. The dish culture is directly linked up with this phenomenon. The cheap courtships in the films from Hollywood, Bollywood or even Dhallywood excite their hormone secretion process, making the neurons turbulent. They are trained to think in the scandalous fashion they witness affairs in films. They accept vulgarity as real and tend to exercise it in their own lives. They are trapped in the virtual reality and wrongly import it to the practical world. They mind is muddled up in the middle of light and shadow. They find the image of a heroine reflected in the face of a girl walking down the streets on her way to school or way back home. And a masculine adventure turns into a feminine misadventure!
In extreme cases, vulgarity makes the boys perverted. Apart from obscenity in films, it may be found in websites. Information technology has in fact intensified the crisis. The teenagers may go to a cyber café and peep into the secrets of male-female relationship. They are driven by their curiosity to explore the hitherto unknown territory and get easily aroused. They witness with awe and admiration the physicality of love. They cannot control themselves any more. Primarily they feel shy but soon they overcome their shyness to the way of mischief. They become adults prematurely. They are transformed into what is called in Bangla “ichorey paka”. A set of new eyes are opened, burning with new desire. They can hardly suppress the inner stirring. In a state of intoxication, they come down to streets, throwing aside their books, in search of such feminine beauty as they met in vulgar films or red sites. They find a slippery way to go to the dogs.
The analysis of eve-teasing psychology ultimately brings us to the realm of sociology. The psychological problem melts down into a social problem since the psychic disorder in question crops up as the pitfall of social malady. The psycho-devil resides in the social fold. In a culture where money or profit is the ultimate goal, technology is used to enhance the materialist agenda. As there is money in the business of making vulgar films and websites, there must be entrepreneurship for them. The state authorities have little control over them. With the impact of technology the society moves towards being open. In a conservative society the sexual aspirations are suppressed while in an open society sexual aspirations are abused. Bangladesh is going though the transitional shocks. Boys witness the demeanours of open society from a distance and they fail to adjust them to their own lives. The dilemma is expressed through the phenomenon of eve-teasing.
There might be another socioeconomic aspect of eve-teasing, which emanates from the curse of capitalism. In our society the wealth disparity is ever growing. Wealth of the nation is distributed unequally, which widens the gap between the rich and the poor. A boy of a poor family always suffers from a sense of deprivation which may burst out through verbal abuse. He avenges his unfulfilled desire in a distorted way. He watches a girl in the street and knows that he cannot get her in his life due to his poverty. So out of frustration, he hurls the poison of mind at the girl, making her an unfortunate victim. Due to poverty, he could not advance in education and due to lack of education he could not advance in career and due to lack of career he cannot form a prosperous family. So the only option is: tease the girl and make her life hell! When one is living in hell, it is natural for him to pull others to the inferno.
The problem of eve-teasing is closely connected with gender issue as well. In a male-dominated society like ours, the boys think themselves more powerful than their girl counterparts. They are physically strong by natural builds and mentally emboldened thanks to the male-chauvinistic pampering. They think they can propose a girl and if she rejects he can abuse her verbally and physically. He may throw acid to her or threaten to kidnap, rape and kill her. This audacity comes from the gender imbalance in society. Society endows the male with greater role and the female with smaller role, which creates a bias towards men, often leading to the violation of rights of the weaker sex. The gender bias has ominous impact on the psychology of the growing boys. And for this reason, teasing is always unidirectional -- from men to women. Men are hunters and women are hunted; men are predators and women are preys. That is why, in dictionary also, we get only 'eve-teasing' and never the contrary term 'adam-teasing'.
Therefore the solution of eve-teasing problem is not psychological treatment but social treatment. We have to mend up the society we inhabit infusing more civilised norms, preaching through education and collective exercise in practical life. As per prioritised national policy, poverty should be eradicated from society and wealth gap among the citizens has to be minimised. There is no harm in making society open but it has to be protected with strict legislation. The provision of severe punishment may somewhat prevent perverted boys from eve-teasing. Lastly, the community campaign against the socio-psychological menace will also help.
The writer is Assistant Professor and Head, Department of English, Daffodil International University.)