Sunday, July 24, 2011

The right of women to do as they damn well please

My review of ‘Why Loiter? Women & Risk on Mumbai Streets’,  by Shilpa Phadke, Sameera Khan and Shilpa Ranade, Penguin Books, 2011.  The review is published in the latest issue of Indian Architect & Builder.

'Why Loiter?’ is about the ultimate freedom a woman demands in an urban space: the freedom to do exactly what a man is allowed to do. Mumbai, the progressive city, denies this just by being what it is.  Perhaps the most important liberty a megalopolis should offer is the choice to do nothing. To loiter. To have fun. To be a flaneur, to go walkabout, to regard the city and its life as it happens, with no purpose in mind at all. The problem is, if you are not some kind of useful cog, you are a deviant, and a surveillance obsessed society will not accept this. It is difficult enough for men in Mumbai to loiter without being seen as vagabonds.