A very clever friend of mine coined the abbreviation “CISM” (Pronounced sih-zum). On asking what it was, she promptly said “Creepy Indian Staring Men”. I laughed, but couldn’t deny how unfortunately true it was. Every girl has been subjected to uncomfortable stares, sly videotaping and/or obnoxious words/whistles. At first, I too, chose to look the other way and pretend I didn’t notice. But why should I? What gives them, a man, the right to make any girl feel uncomfortable about her body or the way she choose to dress? So for a week, I asked my friends to change their attitude towards these unbearable CISMs.

When a ‘pedostrian’ chose to visibly stare at her as she walked by, she refused to walk to the other side of the road and shrug as though she was afraid. She walked by confidently and gave him the most judgmental, disgusted, get-over-yourself stare she could muster, coupled with the perennial classic eye roll. While sitting in a rickshaw, a man on a motorbike sneakily attempted to video tape/ photographs her. Just sitting. Weird!! In retaliation, she started to do the very same thing. She brought out her phone and took a video of him staring at her, making her actions very evident. Surely enough, eventually he stopped recording and instantly looked away. Meanwhile, on the other side of her rickshaw, a rickshaw driver was staring at her, so she stared back. She found that this trick almost always worked, and they suddenly lost all their macho “mattitude” (manly attitude) and hesitantly looked away. When they didn’t and shamelessly continued to stare into her eyes like we’d probably see in every Bollywood movie known to man, she coupled her responsive stare with a raised eyebrow “Kya?”(What). Unfailingly met with a “…Ha? Nahi?… Kya?– Kuch nahi.”. Mission accomplished.

Remember, we live in a country of 1.2 billion people. We couldn’t be alone even if we desperately wanted to; we’re all in this together. To all the girls out there: You don’t have to be invisible while they remain

Invincible! You are not a sentient piece of meat and you don’t deserve to be condemned while their actions are condoned.

And to all the boys out there: Anytime you feel like you’re drifting towards CISM territory, run away as fast as you can, because when the feminists succeed, and they will, you don’t want to be on the wrong side of the tracks.

Remember, treat other women the same way you would want other men to treat your mother and sister, so a woman doesn’t feel the need to rush home every day and thank one of 300 million gods that she wasn’t sexually harassed or mentally undressed.