But what has been amazing to witness is how quickly young women in particular, took to the ideas of Why Loiter? and pushed them even further, creating new movements to expand women’s rights to the public, including the right to be out late at night, to stretch the curfew at women’s hostels, to demand extended access to women’s toilets, to public transport etc.
I gave myself the freedom to choose. And I chose to re-examine my assumptions. Maybe it was possible to ask strange men for directions without being afraid of seeming vulnerable. Maybe I could plan my outfit without bothering about the fact that I would be travelling on public transport.
Shilpa believes loitering, just being, just hanging out in public places, is about ‘claiming the city with your body’. One of the co-authors of the book, ‘Why Loiter: Women and Risk on Mumbai’s Streets’ published in 2011, Shilpa has authored several essays and journals on issues of feminist parenting, gender and the politics of space, the right to take risks and related thoughts and concepts.
To claim the public then in arbitrary, messy and oppositional ways, whether on the streets or online is to challenge the neoliberal impulse which is located in the creation of order. To create place, to stake claim, thwarts the desires for the sanitised neoliberal city and is a politics.