The Radio in a Purse was born out of a response to campaigns such as the "metoo" campaign and Raya Sarkar’s List. Both initiatives which were in itself reactions towards the climate around sexual harassment today. RIP was means to extend these conversations through the everyday experiences of college students within campus spaces in Bangalore. The method was borrowed from community radio wherein one goes into a space with all the recording equipment one needs to interact with people from a specific location and record experiences around a specific theme. For us that was the questions, testimonials, confusions and interactions of college students with sexual harassment and discrimination.
The purse thus exists as a space to record and project not only the black and white spaces present around harassment and discrimination but to open up a space for discussion on the grey areas present in the discourse today. A non-judgemental area wherein students are afforded the chance to speak up about their own experiences and opinions on the subject regardless of their opinions’ position on the spectrum or fear of any backlash based on the fact that they were speaking up. This was made achievable by the anonymity provided by voice recordings.
The creation of this space is important in that university spaces as described by throughout the experiences of numerous students have become spaces of silence wherein one is faced with several brick walls and obstacles which prevent students from voicing their concerns around ideas of sexuality, discrimination, harassment or resistance through inadequate institutional mechanisms, social taboos placed on these topics and the underlying perspectives of the institutions on these specific topics, wherein silence is golden and speaking up is forbidden.
The purse in turn has allowed for discussion to help isolate some of the troubles students face in dealing with their own experiences of these topics. Be it the emotions of shame associated with their experiences, or the conundrum of where lies the most effective reaction - through silence and open reaction. About the interactions one comes in contact with not only in regard to institutions but also one’s peer groups due to the prevalent culture around harassment. The conversations also stretch to the implications on gender relations within this space and the effect uncertainties around harassment have on how one reacts to such issues based on one’s gender roles and responsibility which often act as limiting factors.
To this point, the purse is not even half full, we are barely scratching the surface of the way this space functions and how these interactions work. Yet this is where the purse is positioned, perhaps never to create a fundamental understanding of how these interaction function but to shed light on the variations in which they do.