White Woman’s Burden
Last week, I read University of Chicago student, RoseChasm/ Michaela Cross’ article on her traumatic travels through India. I couldn’t not. After all, it’s all over the Internet, and has already elicited many responses. Cross, a student who I’m assuming is in her early Twenties, had visited India on a 3-month long Civilisations study programme. What followed disturbed her so much that she suffered from a public breakdown and post-traumatic stress disorder and was put on mental leave from University of Chicago.
上个礼拜，我读了芝加哥大学学生RoseChasm / Michaela 写的文章，是关于她在印度的旅游创伤。
毕竟这一切都在网路上，就已经引起许多的回应。克罗斯(注：可能是作者在文章中的人物)，我假设她 是20岁出头的学生，已经造访印度进行长达3个月的文明学习计划。接下来让他如此不安，她遭受了公众崩溃和创伤后压力综合症(注：post- traumatic stress disorder；台湾称"创伤压力症候群")，最后被芝加哥大学以精神问题为由放假。
The good thing is that Cross didn’t internalise her trauma. Instead, she wrote an article in CNN on it. An article in which she wrote that she “knew that as a white woman I would be seen as a promiscuous being and a sexual prize”. On her first day in India, she danced at the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Pune and was surprised at “how the festival actually stopped when the American women started dancing, so that we looked around to see a circle of men filming our every move”.
And that, “when people compliment me on my Indian sandals, do I talk about the man who stalked me for forty-five minutes after I purchased them, until I yelled in his face in a busy crowd? Do I describe the lovely hotel in Goa when my strongest memory of it was lying hunched in a fetal position, holding a pair of scissors with the door bolted shut, while the staff member of the hotel who had tried to rape my roommate called me over and over, and breathing into the phone?”
好在克罗斯并未内化她的创伤，她反而写了文章给CNN。在她写的文章中，她知道"做为一个白人女子我会被看成 放纵的人和性奖品"。她在印度的第一天，在浦那的甘尼许节(Ganesh Chaturthi festival)跳舞，当这位美国女子开始跳舞时，很惊讶节庆已经暂停。"「我们看看四周，看到一群男的在拍摄我们的一举一动。」"
My answer to all her questions would be, yes. She should talk about it. By talking about it she will learn to deal with her unpleasant memories and will also make sure that other women who visit India know what could lie in store for them in similar situations.
Her article was followed by another University of Chicago student’s article, who was on the same student trip to India and visited many of the same places as RoseChasm had. The only difference was – that she was black. Which didn’t qualify her according to RoseChasm’s analysis to be a “sexual prize” or a “promiscuous being”. Yet, it didn’t prevent her from being stared at – by men, women and children. She also faced a certain level of sexual harassment. Something which anyone visiting India will realise has nothing to do with skin colour, but everything to do with gender.
在她文章之后又有另一个芝加哥大学学生写的文章，也同样是去印度旅游的学生，而且去过很多跟 RoseChasm 一样的地方，但是唯一的不同在于她是黑人。根本RoseChasm的分析，她并不具备资格被称为"性奖品"或是"放纵的人"。然而，这并没有避免她被男人，女人和小孩盯着看。她也遇到一定程度的性骚扰。任何去印度的人都会明白，跟肤色无关，但是跟性别有关。
This is sadly the way India is. Women are raped every day in India – in big cities, town, villages. This doesn’t make what happened to RoseChasm okay, but there is a skewed psychological and sexual dynamic between men and women in the country, and you cannot visit or live in India without keeping this in mind. And you would be a fool to think that you can just ignore it when you visit this country. And no, the normal man on the street is not used to seeing any woman gyrating or even doing graceful pirouettes next to them during religious festivals. Forget dancing, they still find it an oddity to see women walking around in market places or checking into hotels alone. In some parts of the country it is unacceptable for women to bare their faces in the presence of men they are not married to. This has nothing to do with whether a woman is white or not.
Which is why, you need to be careful in India as a woman. Which is why no sane woman would burst into dance in the middle of a group of men during Ganesh Chaturthi festivals. Whether you’re brown, black, white or blue – you will be stared at.
I’ve lived on my own in Mumbai and Delhi ever since I was 22 years old. It’s not that anything untoward has not happened to me because I’m blessed and born under the right stars or safe because I don’t have red hair, blue eyes and white skin. It’s because I’m very careful in the way I behave and dress in public, on the streets. This is the price you pay for living in India – especially as a single woman. You must be constantly vigilant.
I remember visiting Pune for a week-long film appreciation course with four female classmates when we were 22 years old. The apartment we were staying in was located in the same building as a boy’s college hostel. It was Holi the day after we reached. We remember the boys banging on our door on Holi. Wildly. Loudly. And a little unnervingly. We kept the door locked. There must have been at least 50 of them out there. But we kept our cool. I’m sure at least one amongst us must have been slightly shaken up. But we all knew this was an aberration. And yes, we took it as par for the course. And no, it doesn’t make it okay for RoseChasm to have been groped or flashed, just because we have been. But it also doesn’t mean that everyone flashes everyone or that she was handpicked for her colour.
When I went to Italy, I remember extremely slimy oily Italian men walking up to my Italian-speaking friend and requesting her to ask me whether I would have coffee with them or a drink. I used to give them an earful in English or look at them disdainfully. But I knew that every Italian wasn’t a Lothario, just the ones I seemed to bump into on the streets of Milan and Rome. I also remember sitting in Preston Park during the Brighton Pride Parade Party and suddenly feeling someone ruffling my hair. It was a weedy pasty-faced young Britisher. He’d never seen raven coloured long hair before or skin my shade. And couldn’t resist touching it. But for every pasty Britisher, there were ten others who weren’t randomly ruffling my hair.
我去意大利时，我记得非常粘人的油嘴意大利男人，走向我说意大利语的朋友，并请她传话问我要不要跟他们一起喝 咖啡或饮料？我曾给他们说滔滔不绝的英语，并不屑地看着他们。但是我发现并非所有意大利人是放荡之徒，好像只有一些我在米兰或罗马街道上碰见的人。我还记得坐在 普雷斯顿公园，在布莱顿同志游行期间突然感觉有人泼乱我的头发，是一个面容苍白的年轻英国人。他从来没有看过乌黑色的长发，而且忍不住想碰它。但是每一个面容苍白的英国人，就有另外10个英国人不会随便地乱摸我头发。
I am not saying that what happened to RoseChasm should just be taken on the jaw and forgotten as par for the course. By no means should that happen. But when visiting any country, especially one where whether we like it or not different rules apply, a different culture exists, men are very rarely in proximity of women they are not related to – it is important to prepare yourself for what to expect. And it’s not because as RoseChasm wrote, she “knew that as a white woman I would be seen as a promiscuous being and a sexual prize”. A presumption and perception that is a little strange in the least.
我不是说RoseChasm发生的事应该被责骂或当作意料之中，而是决不应该发生的。当你前往一个国家，尤其 是不管我们是否喜欢，或是不一样的规则，存在不同的文化，男人很少会靠近跟他们没有关系的女人，重要的是为预料中会发生的事情做准备。不是因为 RoseChasm所写的，她知道"身为白种女人，会被当成放纵的人或一种性奖品"。
When you visit any country, you need to keep in mind how you can be safe and still enjoy yourself. It’s not a perfect world. No one said it was. We are all working towards trying to make India safer for women. But it’s not as if Rose Chasm comes from the safest country in the world. Rapes happen there as well, there are serial killers, children take guns to school and shoot each other, white men still shoot black men just because they’re wearing hoodies, men lock up women in their basements for years on end. That doesn’t mean that that’s the norm. I know whenever I visit America next that I wouldn’t be as argumentative or short with a security guard in an American airport as I am over here. If they want to frisk me 20 times, I’d let them. And no, in India if they tried it, I’d tell them to sod off and bring the house down for harassment. But I’ll be conducive and obedient in the airports of the first world. Simply because I am aware that if I don’t – purely because of the colour of my skin and my place of origin – I might risk being thrown in the clink.
当你前往任何国家，你需要把安全牢记在心，并且好好享受。世界不是完美的，也没人说是。我们正努力尝试让印度 对妇女更安全。但Rose Chasm并不像是来自世界最安全的国家。那里也会发生强奸，那里有连环杀手，孩子带枪去学校，并枪击对方。白人还是在枪杀黑人，只是因为他们穿帽衫，男 人把女人锁在地下室多年才结束。这并不代表是一种常态。我知道每当我访问美国，我不会争论或粗暴对待美国机场的保安。如果他们要搜我身20次，我也会同意。但如果在印度他们想尝试，我会告诉他们滚开并获得全场喝彩。但是我会在第一世界的机场协助和顺从。很简单，因为我知道如果我不做， 纯粹是因为我皮肤的颜色，和我的原籍地，我可能会冒着被丢进黑牢的风险。
But would I be traumatised if that happens or balk at America’s security guards? No. And if I am that easily traumatised, I honestly wouldn’t bother visiting America. RoseChasm isn’t some unaware uneducated woman who just happened to find her way to India. And was then shocked by the male gaze. No. She is a college student. One who studies Civilisations no less. She claims that she “was prepared to follow the University of Chicago’s advice to women, to dress conservatively, to not smile in the streets. And I was prepared for the curiosity my red hair, fair skin and blue eyes would arouse”.
India is not a country friendly to women. Neither is it one spilling over with lecherous potential rapists. But, much like other countries, this is also one in which white/black/brown women need to be careful while travelling through. It is RoseChasm’s shock, surprise and skewed perception of being a “sexual prize” because she’s a white woman which surprises me.
印度不是对女人友善的国家，也不是被潜在的好色强奸犯泛滥的国家。但是跟许多国家一样，也是白/ 黑 / 棕色女人在旅行时需要小心的。RoseChasm认为她是白人女子而被看做"性奖品"，她的曲解看法着实让我惊讶。
As a student of journalism I can see where Ms Rajyashree Sen is coming from. As a writer, one has two choices when they write about an issue - choose to write pro, or choose anti. Usually its considered brave and more "intellectual" if your choice is other than that of the majority. Writing anti an issue is totally acceptable as everyone has a right to freedom of expression. What Ms Sen lacked here is Quality. The quality of the article is very poor; the arguments put forward are weak, and examples used are baseless. In total a trash article on a wrong stand!
I wonder how you managed to become a writer? plus you get to write for an organisation who seem like a breath of fresh air in this time of trash news! Disappointing!
身为一名新闻学的学生，我可以看到Rajyashree女士是从何而来的。身为一名作家，当他们对一项议题写 评论，有两种选择。选择赞成面，或选择对立面。如果你的选择是站在多数人的立场，通常会被认为是勇敢和更有智慧。写一篇反面文章完全可以接受，每个人 有言论自由的权利。森小姐(Rajyashree)所缺少的是文章质量。提出的论据薄弱，而且使用的例子毫无根据。
Again the same old victim blaming ... god how could this be published here.. .. so disappointed ..
news laundry, does she work for you guys for free???
there can be no better explanation for you people hiring her....
delete if i'm being personal, she's a bad writer and her thoughts are regressive and rigid as hell....
yeah, and this article was in bad taste... very very bad taste....
Wow, talk about victim blaming! I suppose all those tens of thousands of Indian women this happens to every day were not 'careful enough' and somehow asked for it. Including those shamelessly alluring 5-year-olds piroutting wantonly through the streets. This article makes me sick. It's so poorly informed about actual victim profiles as well as the true nature of crimes against women.
Your essay is a slap on every woman's face in India because it is a classic piece of "Blame the Victim" for not being prepared "well enough". Do you suggest that the University of Chicago start a special course on "Women traveling to India"? No amount of lectures and books can compensate for ground experiences.
The less said about the other arguments, the better, because you have already blamed Rose for her nightmares. As a woman, you should be on her side, making a hue and cry and working towards changing the attitude of Indian society, not playing the game of "Blame the Victim".
Ms. Cross, singling out India, commits baseless slander.
If applying sensible, culturally compatible security measures, India is safer than most of the "developed" Western countries.
68'000 rapes in two years in a country of 1.1
billion people. That works out to 3,09 cases per 100,000. Let not the media pull wool over your eyes. Compare with other countries:
Rapes per 100,000 inhabitants:
USA . . . . . . . 32.99
Sweden . . . . 24.47
Canada . . . . 77.64
Germany . . . 10.44
Denmark . . . . 9.34
Australia . . . . .8.06
Finland . . . . 10.60
India . . . . . . . 3.09
What is very disturbing in India, is the very low number of convictions!
The acclaimed documentary film director Michael Moore said the following, based on USA statistics: "...and we rape and beat and kill our women without mercy and at a staggering rate: every three hours a women is murdered in the USA [...]; every three minutes a woman is raped in the USA; and every 15 seconds a woman is beaten in the USA."