What Are The Safest Hangout Spots In Delhi University?

Why do seemingly normal scenarios have to be fantasy?

by Varchasvi Singh.

As the summer begins to set in, it is the perfect time to go grab a bite (or realistically speaking, several bites), forget about studies for a while, and relax a little. With that agenda in mind and almost zero money in my pocket — typical for a college student, I asked girls around my college about what their favourite cool, safe hangout spots were. Cool, because I have to live up to the character (or is it caricature?) of being a ‘modern Indian youth’, and safe, as a tribute to [read: compulsion for] my sex.

“Places where you can feel safe and be yourself? Those don’t exist.” The majority of the answers I received sounded like this, expressed with raised eyebrows and a tone that suggested pity.

It just didn’t make sense.

I mean, young women aren’t afraid to step out anymore, are they? Where was this shared sentiment coming from? It was possible that we had 
collectively internalised that our own safety was an unachievable feat. But why did it have to be that way?

I wanted to know: what did we want that was missing?

After hearing these views, my question changed. I now asked women to describe an ideal hangout spot and day for them with whatever specifications that their hearts desired. Here are some of the answers I
 got:

I noticed a commonality. We all desired freedom from danger and judgment. Most interestingly, people described these ideal locations/days with a sense of wonder, as if it was impossible for them to exist.

These seemingly reasonable “fantasies” were truly fantasies — a creation of a utopia of sorts. But that is the sad truth, isn’t it?

We’ve become so accepting of patriarchy and it’s influence on Indian society that we don’t consider a safe environment to be real anymore. With the increasing amount violence towards women, it has become the woman’s job to “be careful and aware”, because “bad things are bound to happen to us.”

It might not be something that forces us to never step out of our homes(though that is a reality for some of us), but it certainly changes the questions from:

“Where can I go to have fun tonight?”
“Will I be able to get back home by 6?”

to:

“What clothes should I wear to not look provocative?”
“Do I have enough balance in my phone to make emergency calls?”
Did I remember to take my pepper spray?”

Every woman wants to ‘reclaim’ the space, comfort, and safety that has been taken away by patriarchy and sexism.We all want to make the utopia a reality. And in a lot of ways, by not letting the absence of it confine us to our homes proves that we are, in fact, taking the first steps towards that-literally.

It is hard to define what or who will provide the missing link that will create these spaces comfortable and safe for women, but one thing is clear: you 
cannot place the onus of providing safety onto one gender.

Women should not be expected to deal with it and always take measures to 
defend themselves against what is now perceived by many as the inevitable, and at the same time, men shouldn’t be painted as the ‘protectors’ of women as it leads to a paradox which makes them protectors of the very concept of patriarchy that they may be trying to erase.

As for the seemingly utopian hangout spots the women described to me, I hope that with the HopeInU movement, we are soon able to turn those into a reality, and into the new normal.

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