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Watch: Women Challenge Misogyny and Slut Shaming in ‘What Were You Wearing’

The spoken word video by Vitamin स्त्री chronicles the unfortunate daily drudgery of sexual harassment

Riddhi Chakraborty Mar 07, 2017
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As we gear up to celebrate women on International Women’s Day this March 8th,  Vitamin स्त्री (pronounced ”˜stree’) is quick to point out there’s a long way to go before we’re truly free. In their new video, titled “What Were You Wearing,” the Mumbai-based studio/online portal tackles the effects of unwanted sexual advances and the blame placed on women for having ”˜provoked’ said advances.

Written by Mumbai-based poet Gaya Lobo Gajiwala, “What Were You Wearing” outlines how most women have grown used to cat calls, wolf whistles and even physical touches due to the sheer number of attacks they face every day; “I laugh them off,/these stray hands at taxi stands and/”accidental” jolts in buses and trains”. 

Directed by Mumbai filmmaker Akshat Gupt in collaboration with Supari Studios, the video features close-up shots of several men and women as Gajiwala narrates the poem. The women in the video cross boundaries of race, age and religion as they mouth along to Gajiwala’s words, their expressions flitting between angry, uncomfortable, confident and tired. The men in the video however fix the camera with shameless smirks and lecherous grins. The music (produced by Spud In The Box’s Siddharth Talwar and Mumbai-based artist Zain Calcuttawala) consists of burps, snickers and wolf whistles on loop, adding to the overall discomfort portrayed in the video.

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Here is Gaya Lobo Gajiwala’s “What Were You Wearing” in its entirety:

I’ve been wearing men’s gazes
For so long now 
That mere wolf whistles 
No longer pierce my calm.

My ears don’t tingle 
And my cheeks don’t burn 
In fact I don’t even have the urge 
To turn and say, 

When one of them shouts
How he would like to
Fuck me
As if. 

I do admit, 
That sometimes skin on skin, 
The brush of thigh or hip or tit, 
Worries me, 
Because I’ve grown so numb 
To fingers on my body
My lover calls me frigid. 

I laugh them off, 
These stray hands at taxi stands and
“Accidental” jolts in buses and trains 
That make for a very good story 
Which I tell well 

Especially since collective outrage
Unites us like nothing else;
Even though I am not outraged
Because outrage wears thin with age 
And mine disintegrated years ago 

There’s always someone though,
Who asks,
But what were you wearing?

The same thing, I want to answer,
That I have worn for so long now,
It has become my skin
Your Gaze.

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