“Eve Teasing” Gets Guys Off the Hook

Eve-teasing[1]Egypt’s fight for freedom and democracy is increasingly met with public sexual assaults. In addition to assault, rape and sexual harassment, rape-like virginity tests and tortures may also be administered. Or perhaps a woman will be dragged naked on the ground.

There’s a reason for that.

Many sexist men fear women’s power or the chaos of a receding patriarchy. But women’s rights are also symbolic of freedom for all, so best to snuff it out and demoralize other agitators.

The tormentors are aided, wittingly or not, by the media. As Laura Bates at The Women’s Media Center points out, article titles typically label it all “sexual-harassment” even though the behavior is much crueler: “grabbing, groping, stripping, touching and penetrating—acts that are more accurately described as ‘sexual assault’ or ‘rape.’”

She says the dismissive language is part of a wider trend:

In India, the term “Eve teasing” is popularly used to describe the public harassment, assault, or molestation of women. The term has gained global familiarity, spreading to other countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal and being used by the international media.

“Eve teasing.” Eve, a weak, lying temptress. Suspicion is cast upon the woman, herself.

And if it’s all her fault, she feels shame. Leopard, over at Crates and Ribbons, says shame can lead a woman to see her whole self as flawed with self-worth fading until she can no longer face public scrutiny and defend herself.

“Eve” joined by “teasing” tells us that the crime is small, “a bit of fun,” Bates says.  It’s not serious or threatening and the perpetrators mean no harm. Anyone who objects can’t take a joke.


The problem is so severe that it has caused at least 14 women to commit suicide in Bangladesh, young men have been murdered in Mumbai for trying to protect their female friends, a 17-year-old Indian girl has acid thrown in her face for daring to resist it. It doesn’t seem particularly funny.

If women are at fault and the “teasers” mean no real harm, who will stop the assaults?

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on May 24, 2013, in feminism, gender, men, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Juan Leonardo

    I have been hearing a lot of sexual harassment news in india, pakistan, or some african countries. I even hear that they invented a rape prevention, shaped like a women’s condom with spikes in it, so that when men rape them and actually penetrate them, their genitals will be severely damaged. You can see it here: http://didyouknowarchive.com/?p=331 . I totally disagree with how they use such term as eve-teasing just to make everything easier. Some women who are too scared and feel powerless there won’t actually do anything to fight back. But in fact, men are the ones who should realize that they are to protect and respect women’s right.

  2. Manisha Joshi

    It’s kind of déjà-vu reading this article. Having lived in India for almost 23 years I can say that yes eve-teasing is common. First it’s not considered very serious and second even though the laws are strict to deal with it the implementation is pathetic. One of the bloggers (Javeria Kella) has pointed out that seeing someone in the eyes should help..I would like to differ here – it may or may not work. There are several places in Delhi for example where I or any local girl may not even dare to walk after twilight…forget about looking in their eyes…I think strict laws and implementation should be the first step. I have several positive things to say about India, but sadly this is not one of them.

  3. For women in America in our eyes we see the in justice of other women in diffrent countries one because we have been taught that such acts are cruel, usual and against the law. In a way I understand how these acts could be allowed because in countries like those men are seen as superior and women are inferior, not saying that America does not have that as well but women here are in the process of trying to break down that barrier and in some parts have suceeded while in countries like these men are backed up by their religion and use it as an armor do commit such crimes against women which is weird if you actually take a look at what their religion is about. But like most things in life humans have a tendecie to take one thing and change it to benefit theselfs so it is no suprise that men would justify their actions using their bible. To me I believe it is every ones fault espically the perpertraitors

  4. f.naghiniarami

    That is a big shame specially for those countries that screem “Islam” and their rules by Islam in which women have freedom. I’ve never seen any freedom for women in these countries. Men are so violent to women and disrespect women everywhere at anytime. If mollesting or raping happen, they say that is a woman’s fault! Their patriachy system always blame women. Women should cover themselves all over frome toe to head because it can make a man to rape her or put the man in a sexual situation. that is so shameful. I hope one day feminism could educate these people and end the religous, patriarchy systems in these contries.

  5. Javeria Kella

    Living in Pakistan I know how being ‘Eve Teased’ feels. You don’t feel comfortable in your shell. But over then time I have learned one thing: If someone ‘Eve Teases’, you don’t ever look away. Look right into their eyes with an angry look. Keep looking until they look away. If they don’t just abuse I’d say. At least I do that, either moral or immoral.

    • Sounds moral to me.

      Looking at someone makes them look at themselves, and may make them aware of their own breech of morality. Psychologists say self-consciousness often works this way.

  6. Jolene Gomez

    I have read a lot about the violence against women in countries such as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh and it is bad enough that violence against women is so common. But the fact that the media is using a euphemism such as “eve teasing” to belittle situation, making it easy to sweep under the rug and turn a blind eye. Sexual molestation and rape is a direct result of male dominance and control, every bit of it is for a man to fulfill his need for control and manipulation. I would hope that the media may realize that they are doing more harm by reporting about such stories in that way. If your going to talk about it, then do it and be real. Explain things the way they truly are and make it a big deal because that is what it is. Women’s rights need to be given and protected.

  7. I have heard a lot about how common rapes and sexual assault are in India. Some women are trying to live how they want but because men feel that they’re patriarchal control is slipping away that they have to use violence to keep the control. Hopefully equality progresses there.

  8. To be honest with you, the men in these countries are sexually frustrated and desperate. I don’t think men having their sexual needs met need to act this way…

    (No, not having sexual needs met is not an excuse for sexual harassment, but still…)

  9. I’d like to bring this home a bit. “Eve teasing” sounds like the attitude that the boys in Steubenville and Saratoga had towards their victims. Definitely, Leopard’s point about “shame can lead a woman to see her whole self as flawed with self-worth fading until she can no longer face public scrutiny and defend herself” applies to Audrie Pott’s suicide.

  10. The phrase “eve teasing” does make it sound like a smile and a wink rather than grope or rape.

  11. Oh, Georgia–this is terrible. “Teasing Eve” might have to make in into some poetry this week. Oh, that stings.

  12. Rohan 7 Things

    Euphemisms like this do a lot of damage. It really is sad that this kind of things still goes on.

    Thanks for sharing!


    • Yes, I’m amazed at how unempathetic some can be. Everything revolving around themselves and what they THINK is good for them. Surely this sort of thing is damaging to the perpetrators too, as it dehumanizes them.

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