"I live in this country alternating between hope and fear.
Hope that nothing terrible will happen and fear that maybe, one day, I will be the unlucky one. Face blurred, splashed across newspaper headlines. My life mired in a never-ending legal struggle to make sure my assailant is behind bars.
That incident on the night of December 16th, 2012 in South Delhi somehow changed us all, indelibly. India went from a nation of forgotten incidents of sexual violence to a nation that was ashamed of its men. Worse, we became a nation that was scared of its men. As I lived and worked in Delhi in 2013, I remember pasting a rapist sneer on every male face that I saw -walking on the streets, standing in the metro, waiting at the bus stop…"
Time and again, I am harassed by men. It doesn’t matter where, for it’s everywhere and anywhere. From leering, catcalls, and comments about my body to stalking & groping - they all reduce me to an object. Not a person but a thing. A body to have show of Power over. All of these forms of harassment are triggers for me. They all induce the same sense of powerlessness, the feeling of invasion.
I know I am not the only one. Woman’s harassment IS a big deal. It perpetuates the society that allows men to treat women as objects, to have power over them, to assault them, to rape them.
Harassment of girls can happen anywhere, anytime and to anyone. However, in the name of culture and traditions, people begin to play the blame game – school girls wearing short skirts, college girls wearing revealing clothes, denims and skirts, independent life, late night parties etc.
But regardless of what anyone is wearing, there is No excuse, No justification and No invitation for someone to sexually assault them.
My research on the subject of Sexual Assault against women brought forth some really shocking facts.
The infographic on the left was created to highlight some of these shocking facts.
Some other artworks to pen-down what I felt about the topic.
THE MIND MAP:
THE PROJECT INTENT
To evoke the experience of how a woman feels when she is leered at, touched, or harassed & that regardless of what anyone is wearing, there is No excuse, No justification and No invitation for someone to sexually assault them.
The project questions the aspect of blaming our clothes for the harassment we have to face. By shifting the focus on the attire of a woman, I want to use the interface of clothing to drive home the point of sexual assault and the social conditioning around it, and wish to sensitise and make people aware of the trauma of violation felt when we are leered at, groped or our personal spaces invaded.
HOW IT WORKS:
1st LEVEL: ( Gaze Based) - When a person leers at the cleavage of the woman the dress recognises it and the flaps on the front panel start flipping to reveal the mirrors underneath, the viewer is made aware of his gaze in his reflection in the mirrors & is made to feel the same level of self consciousness & discomfort that the woman feels when she is leered at.
2nd LEVEL: ( Proximity Based) - If still the assaulter doesn't back off and tries to come close to the woman invading on her personal space the ultrasonic sensors detect it and the spike like flaps on the shoulders stand up as a warning signal to warn the man to stop in his tracks.
3rd LEVEL: ( Touch Based) - The final & the closest form of assault is Inappropriate touch in which a woman is mostly groped at on her breasts & posterior, the flaps in these areas stand at 90 degree angles forming sharp teeth like structures that sharply jab the man making him feel the same kind of pain & discomfort a woman feels when she is touched inappropriately.
EXPLORATIONS OF THE GARMENT DESIGN & INTERACTIONS:
THE FINAL GARMENT
The garment was created in a canvas fabric with triangular tessellated panels created in rexine that opened up in reaction to GAZE, TOUCH & PROMIXIMITY. Sensors & servo motors on the garment caused the movements.
THE CONCEPT VIDEO
I imagine a future where it would normal for women to resort to attire that is intelligent, intuitive and offers a mode of defence / offence depending on the use case scenario.
The dress will be better able to understand its environment and identify the specifics of the viewer such as the gender and age as well as the kind of gaze, differentiating it from a casual look to a lecherous gaze, thus reducing the chances of it misfiring.
The touch sensing will be more accurate to be better able to differentiate from the caress of a known one to the inappropriate touch of a pervert.
My vision is to make society self-aware and sensitive to the experience of a victim of sexual assault, in the hope that this could introduce a change in the social conditioning, by shifting the focus to the assaulter and the problem of the assault.