January 14th Choice Excursion
The local streets of India is fascinating as it is indulged with all sorts of sounds, smells, people, vendors, animals, and stores. Walking the streets of India really test your senses, especially if you’re not used to the noise, crowded areas, and the extravagant tastes of spices. There is so much to see and you can only take in so much in a place so full of culture. Yet, what caught my attention during our travels in Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, and Gurgaon were the gender specific signs. These signs ranged anywhere from street parking, advertisements, to security check-in. Often, the signs would list detailed information and then write, “For Girls only.” Some signs were color specific, associating bright colors of pink, purple, reds, and other soft bright colors with the female gender.
Though North America and other parts of the world is still struggling with gender issues, it is strange to see gender specific signs as a foreigner coming from a community that is not as visually explicit with language about gender specific spaces. My understanding is that India is a patriarch striven society. From my perspective, I would assume that gender segregation and sexism is a very prominent part of the social culture in India. I noticed that signs associated with cooking, cleaning, or learning more “feminine” duties often list “Girls Only” at the bottom or in between sentences on showcased advertisements.
Even though foreigners my find these signs the epitome of sexism, it could be used to an advantage for the local Indian community of women too. Parking lots that are for ladies only are often located closer to the shopping center. Security check-in’s often do little to no checking of a woman when entering a facility, when men get the full pat-down with a screen check. Though, women are still viewed as the weaker sex and needs to be protected in this part of the world, the “ladies only” continues to signify and feed into the vulnerability of women.