Category Archives: Feminism

First moon party

Note: Seriously mature topics on Feminism. Please refrain from reading further if you are grossed out by red or blood. There are graphic images in the link provided that are not suitable for male children. (of all ages)

This is a bit of an old news by now about  Rupi Kaur’s photo being taken down by Instagram and then added back after the protest of feminists:

When I saw this I had a mixed reaction. First reaction: It’s gross. Did this woman really have to do this? I ignored the news it generated but then it started to burn a hole in my brain. I realized that whatever medium a feminist chooses to bring across the gender message the most important thing is the message. Rupi’s message was powerful:

I will not apologize for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak. When your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified, pornified. and treated less than human

Maybe photos like Rupi Kaur’s will superimpose on those barely-adult-barely -clothed woman’s photos in the psyche of men  and allow for less objectification and more humanization.

Growing up in traditional India, there were a lot of taboos that we girls grew up with with regard to menstruation. When I came home with the ‘news’  the living room was rearranged to make an empty corner for me to sit on the floor. Relatives and neighbours were summoned. The women streamed in and out, ready to pour their share of turmeric water to purify me. Everybody in the world knew. (So, whatever I’m blogging about my life in this post is no secret.) No one was grossed out on hearing the news but I was treated as if I was gross.

This celebration of my grossness culminated in a wedding like event with a lot of presents for me. It wasn’t all that bad. Unless you count being suddenly alienated from your father…Looking at my father barely 5 feet away when he came in from work that day, sitting in a corner ,ordered not to get up and greet him like I usually do ,was the most traumatic moment of that whole episode.

Basically the message I got when young was that a woman is impure during this time and therefore has a lesser status than her usual lesser status in the society. From being the lowest in the totem pole to untouchable.

Things have changed a lot now with educated women breaking taboos on menstruation. There’s even a facebook page: Menstrupedia

In countries with developed economies and different cultures  there are no such taboos but there are jokes about PMS, dismissing women as hormonal.  Those are the things I think  Rupi’s message is trying to address.

I still find Rupi’s picture gross…as I would find a man’s leak gross.

Now , if I had a daughter , this is how I would be celebrating:

Without the ‘coffee filter’ gift ofcourse 🙂

So parents, please please invite me to your daughter’s ‘First moon’ party and let’s make it all fun for her! Let’s welcome her into womanhood by building a better gender equal society! Period!


My secret Heroine

Note: I’m exorcising a very deep anger here in an effort to find healing and to move on. An anger many women can relate to. The story, situations and character descriptions may change but the underlying theme has been male aggression and their privilege to exercise that aggression.  If you don’t want to read about the need for Feminism, please stop reading here and save yourself some time.

We had a pet dog called Jimmy. She was such a intelligent, kind and friendly dog. Everyone in our neighbourhood treated her as they would a family member. She was loved and respected in society.

One day a little kitten , barely a week or so old strayed into our compound. Now this kitten had just learned to walk and was probably not yet weaned off her mother’s milk. An innocent baby in every sense. Let’s call her Kitty.

What happened when the Intelligent and kind-hearted older dog , a mother of two litters, well fed dog, beacon dog of society, met Kitty? Ofcourse, the deep bias inherent in dogs against cats came out. She started to bark and attack Kitty. I watched Kitty go towards Jimmy still friendly, curious and playful thinking Jimmy’s aggression was a game. Kitty was too young to even understand aggression. She must have only seen in her brief life  the loving care of the mother and she must have projected that image of loving , playful benevolence on Jimmy. The image of that  innocent moment is still etched in my mind.

When Kitty playfully approached Jimmy , she got even more aggressive and went to attack Kitty. Kitty realizing half instinctively that something was wrong , ran to a corner of the compound into an outdoor toilet. She was cornered by Jimmy  who was blocking the entrance. I tried to go near Jimmy to pull her back. But she was so aggressive and snarling, ready to even bite me that I couldn’t do anything. Now cornered Kitty was still confused on what was happening and reached out gently with her paw, mewing softly. I don’t know cat language but I swear it was a peace gesture. Jimmy was still snarling, growling and aggressive.  Jimmy jaws descended towards Kitty. At that very moment Kitty’s instinct fully kicked in and she grew up in that one second. She realized that she was in grave danger and then lashed out to save herself, scratching Jimmy in the face. In the final moments of Kitty’s life, cornered, her playful and loving gestures rewarded with a fatal bite, her eyes showed a flash of ferociousness that also remains etched in my mind.

In many ways this Kitty , her short life cut short by the much adored and loved and lauded Jimmy ,is my secret heroine. No, she didn’t win that battle but that last moment of ferociousness inspires me to this day to fight for myself irrespective of whatever corner the “Jimmys “of my life push me into and however the bleak the prospects of survival may seem.

Yes, I have had a fair share of such “Jimmy’s” in my life. My girl friends too. These “Jimmys” have attacked us with preconceived notions, gender bias, stereotyping  and misunderstanding pure innocence. They have snarled like dogs. Put us in corners. Most of these ‘gentlemen’ walk around in society with their heads held high , lauded and congratulated. Loved. Successful. They go unpunished ,without a scratch. When I see that my blood boils on the injustice because no one knows what they did or even if they knew no one cares that much. Being aggressive or mean to a girl/woman and triggering fight or flight responses is not a crime unless a punch was thrown or there was actual physical contact . Even then we see women struggle to get the justice in court for those offences.

This male aggression towards women, that falls just short of the legal definition of abuse…  is so insidious.  So difficult to fight. So difficult to forget. So difficult to forgive. It has been years since some of  those incidents happened but the wounds open up every time I encounter that abuser’s apparently successful life.

Like, when I see my college ex-principal being lauded for something, I want to fling rotten eggs at him to demonstrate his rotten mind. This man had retired from the Indian Air-force as a high ranking official.  He joined our college as a Head of the computer science department in our second year. Became the vice principal in our third year and Principal in our fourth year. In each year, a bunch of girl friends and me ended up in at least one situation where he was yelling at us for literally nothing. For a couple of girls smiling at each other in class. You may think I exaggerate. Everything  I have written here is exactly as it happened. I have enough male witnesses, who saw yet didn’t  care.

The following year, when he called a bunch of us girls into his office to scream at us when a male lecturer complained to him that we were  talking loudly in a hallway, he showed his true colours. He said, ” I know about the characters of you girls (as in bad character). Your seniors have told stories about you”.  Now these same seniors vandalized the girls bathroom with lewd drawings and etched our names in desks with slurs. Why was this refined, older gentleman , a father of a daughter, ex-guardian of the nations skies,  listening to adolescent boys carrying erotic made-up tales about teenage girls? Didn’t he have any common sense to know what is true and what is false? Does he know that talking normally  in an almost empty hallway/building , when there was no electricity, would be loud without the hum of the 100s of electronic equipment? Does it need a telling-off?  Was it even appropriate to scream at girls about their character based on a rumour and how is it related to talking in a hallway? Now, we needed to get out of the college with a ‘Good Conduct certificate’ signed by that man to graduate . So yes, we were kind of cornered, so we endured it. He would have continued his angry rant if I had not started crying after about 10 minutes of that rant. Oh! how I hate myself for crying.  I was crying out of uncontrollable anger on the injustice and and helplessness that I couldn’t scratch his face off.

And then there was this other man a few years later who said that he will destroy me, crush me , ruin my life if he so chooses. It was just a matter of his choice he said when no one was around.  I did nothing to deserve that aggressive threat. “Really, you did nothing?” I can hear someone asking. I can also hear some women say that they believe me. I did nothing more than what Kitty did when she accidentally crossed paths with a species way different from her own. I walked away from him , without even uttering a word, with the grace of a grown up cat on a high compound wall, above reach from the snarling dog below. However coolly I walked away, it was like walking on a high-razor-wire . One misstep is all it can take to plunge to ruin. By this time, I had learned not to cry…to control that anger, channel it, trap it like molten lava in the Earth’s belly.

We continued to love and care for Jimmy after she murdered Kitty. “It’s her nature”, my dad said: “She’s just a dog. What can you expect”. But it was our fault, we never put Jimmy on a leash. No negative feedback loop to discourage unwarranted aggression. So if you can’t help but  love one of these human ‘Jimmys” in spite of fully knowing their ‘nature’, I empathize with you. I understand that a man is more than his gender bias or moments of stupidity. But the lowest moments are how people are judged. Like Bill Clinton. Did I hear someone snicker ? So for all of your sakes you need to  put a leash on him and do something to prevent such aggression. Else you are equally guilty.

I’m  attempting to convert this smouldering anger into a constructive force hoping that by writing about this, at least one person who reads this recognizes and stops their negative behaviour /gender bias or if you witness such incidents to “pick up a leash”. Or if you are cornered like Kitty, know that you need to act ferociously. The incidents I have mentioned are just two of a longer list. The reason I picked these two is because both were senior citizens with a solid standing in society with enough life experience, and had  raised a daughter of their own.  Pillars of society. Yet, they showed bias and aggression towards another man’s daughter with little to no provocation.

I want to say this to all those men, who thought they had me cornered: Just because you are roaming around in society freely, respected, loved, just like my dog Jimmy, doesn’t mean I was afraid or will ever be afraid of you. I would continue to be cautious around you for sure…as I would be with any rabid dog on the street.

Chennai High Court – Do you know how to spell DEMOCRACY ?

A bunch of people , men and women of various ages, who subscribe to a political ideology in a democratic nation (Chennai, India) decide to perform a symbolic act , the removal of the mangalsutra/Thali, to support the emancipation of women in a patriarchal society . No one was hurt or could possibly be hurt in that event.

What’s the big deal? Let this tiny fraction of the society do what they want to do and go home. You watch their event on TV or don’t watch it. You agree with them or don’t agree with them. You do what you want to do. Maybe organize an event to counter that symbolic gesture to promote your culture. Simple..Right? That’s how democracy works. Right?

Apparently not. Well, another group of people’s sentiments were hurt…that is a big deal. You see this “sensitive group of people” , the guardians of ‘Indian Hindu Culture’ as they call themselves , can’t tolerate freedom of someone else’s expression.

I understand such zealous-fanatical-about-culture entities  exist in our society….but the High Court? What were the Justices thinking? Or rather were they thinking?

Here’s some news coverage on this issue:
The Times of India articles says:

At a special sitting that began at 8.15am, the Madras HC reversed an earlier order and stayed DK’s programme. A bench comprising Justice Satish K Agnihotri and Justice M Venugopal said fundamental rights, freedom of speech and expression along with freedom to assemble peacefully could not be exercised if it destroyed the fabric and ethos of Indian culture, and caused law and order problems. The sitting was held in Justice Agnihotri’s residence. The bench gave its order at around 9am.”

Is the High Court bipolar? Give approval for the event one day. Revoke it the next day!

So if a criminal, with enough proof to be sentenced to death, has a bunch of goons who can cause law and order problems if they don’t like the verdict , will he or she be sentenced to prison one day and set free the next day?

Do they really understand what true Indian culture is ? Know that Hinduism is a tolerant religion ?

Someone please submit a petition to the High Court, that Indian men in Tamil Nadu are hurting  Hindu/Indian sentiments and destroying the fabric and ethos of Indian culture by walking around in western wear…by not wearing the traditional Indian dress of Dhoti. By not wearing the Metti. By not wearing the thilak/namam on their forehead. Will the high court then order all men to dress as per Indian tradition?Overriding their personal freedom to wear what they want?

No more of this western ‘Hindu/culture eroding’ dress:
Only this Outfit embracing true “Hindu/Indian culture”

Justices and people of India, please remember India is a ‘DEMOCRACY’ not  ‘ D  E M O C R A Z Y’.


It’s been a year!  A year since 200 or so girls were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria by Boko Haram. Of all the tragic anniversaries that gets marked in history, this too will be remembered.  In most tragedies though, the victims are dead and the only resolution is retribution or the pursuit of justice. In this  tragedy though , there are kidnapped girls out there still hoping that they will be rescued.  And that somehow makes it more tragic …to think something can be done yet to see nothing happen.

While women are fighting for equal pay and other social equality rights in developed nations there are women in the rest of the worlds still fighting the ancient enemy: religion.  Is the Nigerian government and the International community thinking, “Well, the girls are alive. Just suppressed. Forced to marry under the threat of being killed. Forced to live under the benevolence of a violent man. But alive and obviously fed. So why is that a big deal?”. I wonder if the inaction is due to international politics, logistics of fighting the enemy or just that they are ‘only girls’?

I wrote a piece few months ago in “Prayer” ….forcing a happy ending in fiction …It’s time to start pushing for that Happy ending in real life. It’s time to #BringBackOurGirls .

My thoughts on ‘My choice’ – Women’s empowerment

Recently I watched the controversial video by Indian actress Deepika Padukone and Vogue Magazine to ‘Empower Women’. The bold assertions in the video has been stirring controversies and men/women alike have criticized the video. On first view, I too felt that the message did not really help Women’s empowerment because of some lines that jarred my sensibilities.
To understand what exactly was causing my strong pro-feminist side to falter , I had to do some soul-searching and analyse the message line by line. My thoughts are in brackets [ ]
transcript of the film

My body, my mind, my choice

To wear the clothes I like; even if my spirit roams naked

My choice; to be a size 0 or a size 15

[Yes, break those stereotypes of size 0 model…So many young women have body image issues… great message!]

They don’t have a size for my spirit, and never will

To use cotton and silk to trap my soul is to believe that you can halt the expansion of the universe

Or capture sunlight in the palm of your hand

Your mind is caged, let it free

My body is not

Let it be

My choice

To marry, or not to marry

[I’m 1000% with the message so far]

To have sex before marriage,

to have sex out of marriage,

or to not have sex

[My thoughts   for ‘before marriage’ – please understand the consequences of this choice

for ‘out of marriage’ – Marriage has an implicit promise of fidelity. Unless there is a clear open agreement between the spouses on expectations of fidelity ..this message is wrong. Some men are exercising this choice today without much societal disapproval. We need to change the society to treat both male and female infidelity(when it breaks a promise to someone) the same…not encourage it or sanction it for women

for ‘not to have’ – Again, setting expectations before starting a relationship with someone is wise.  ]

My choice

To love temporarily, or to lust forever

My choice

To love a man, or a woman, or both

Remember; you are my choice, I’m not your privilege

[this above line seems to have upset some males…maybe “You are ALSO my choice as I’m your Choice ” may explain the message better. But it does not go with the poetic someone who struggles to make things rhyme/sound poetic…I understand the need to keep it brief. And Men like to have dare you take it away Deepika? That’s so feminist of you! ]

The bindi on my forehead, the ring on my finger, adding your surname to mine, they’re all ornaments and can be replaced

My love for you cannot, so treasure that

[Totally 2000% with the message]

My choice; to come home when I want

Don’t be upset if I come home at 4am

Don’t be fooled if I come home at 6pm,

[As someone who has waited for my spouse..without having an expectation of when he would be home…and experiencing the angst and worry it caused …. I can’t accept this message. Just because many males are already exercising this choice does not mean women should mimic this disrespectful choice that men make. We need to encourage  healthy relationships where one understands that their choice “to come home when I want’  is at the cost of their spouse’s choice and changes their behaviour to at least give an Estimated Time of Arrival.

With that said, there are some males who expect ‘their’ women to be home by a certain time without understanding the legitimate delays that they may encounter at work etc.. and in those cases…yes..It’s your choice!]

My choice; to have your baby or not

To pick you from 7 billion choices or not

[this has some males angry…”what she gets to pick…there are 6 billion 999 million others? “…I hear them say. “I also have a choice to not pick you”,they say in a spoof.

Do you know how many girls in India have been attacked with acid for rebuffing romantic advances from a male who made her ‘his choice’? Google it and see…

Acid throwing and murder are extreme cases. But most men ,when their romantic advances do not work out, get verbally abusive. It’s interesting to see their “love” turn to “she thinks too much of herself” hatred in a matter of minutes when they hear the word “no”


So don’t get cocky

My pleasure might be your pain

My songs, your noise

My order, your anarchy

Your sins, my virtues

My choices are like my fingerprints

They make me unique

I am the tree of the forest

I am the snowflake not the snowfall

You are the snowflake

Wake up

Get out of the shit storm

I choose to empathise

Or to be indifferent

I choose to be different

I am the universe

Infinite in every direction

This is my choice

[None of the above lines attack any men – it just says I have my perspective and it’s as valid as yours how ever different they may be]

Overall I think the message was great. The few lines about sex and ‘coming home when i want’ was too radical for the Indian population…and it deflected the beauty of the rest of the message.
“Why write about this?…everyone is writing about different”….someone asked me…I said, “It’s my choice”.
Note: Somehow the fonts sizes of the various paragraphs were messed up when I pasted the draft from another word processor. It was not intentional and I’m still getting used the WordPress editor.

From Raptors to Mascots….


4th grade students from a New Hampshire school had drafted a bill to name the red-tailed hawk the official state raptor. They visited the state assembly  as part of a lesson on how a bill becomes a law. They wanted a civics lesson and instead they got several lessons on the cold, harsh realities of politics , freedom of speech and abortion!

Their bill was crushed. That’s fine. That was part of their lesson on the democratic process. The lesson that they were not prepared for came when Rep. Warren Groen, a Republican from Rochester said,

“[The red-tailed hawk] grasps [its prey] with its talons then uses its razor sharp beak to basically tear it apart limb by limb, and I guess the shame about making this a state bird is it would serve as a much better mascot for Planned Parenthood.”

Why? Why tie this vote about red tailed hawks to abortion/women’s reproductive rights?

If Planned Parenthood needs a mascot based on the merits of how a living creature treats its prey….it should pick us humans as the mascot….the ones at the top of the food chain. We not only tear apart our prey (cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, tuna etc.) limb by limb with sharp tools we also dredge it in  bread crumbs and fry it in boiling oil.

Bills about Red-tailed hawks are frivolous, a waste of precious time as one lawmaker says…..She’s right…What we need instead is a bill that proposes that no man or woman should ever be allowed to vote on any woman’s right to choose what happens with her body.

It’s time to stop the lawmaker’s tug of war on a woman’s uterus and for everyone to mind their own business.


Photo credits: The picture of the Uterus is from and the tug of war is from

India is not alone

The blog, tweets and comments  defending Indian’s government ban on the BBC documentary ‘India’s daughter’ makes one claim: “The rest of the world , even so called developed nations, are no better when it comes to women’s right and safety. Solve your problems first before pointing fingers at me”.
It’s a very valid claim. If you google “TOP 10 countries with highest rape”, you will find that India is wedged between US and UK who lead and trail India respectively. If you take India’s huge population in comparison to the population of UK and US the statistics would paint a much brighter picture of India. But lets not forget that the incidence in India is less than the rest of the world due to a significant population  guarding its women like ‘flowers’ and under-reporting.
Rape and misogyny is not just an Indian problem. Governments, Feminists and gender equality proponents all have a huge challenge on their hands throughout the world as shown in this WHO info-graphic:
The supporters of the ban use the above statistics and are responding:
“I know my house is dirty….you don’t have a right to point it out because your house is equally dirty”
A mature response from the Indian government should be like one or more of the below, instead of a ban on a documentary:
1) A call for Collaboration:
“Thanks for pointing it. By the way you too seem to have the same issues. Why don’t we work together to solve this to make the whole world a better place”
2) A chance to lead the world:
“I’m going to do these following steps to fix the problem <list the steps>. You also may want to implement the same in your country’
3) Offer help:
“I thank you for your concern for the welfare of our society. Let us know how we can also help you”
Here’s a compilation of misogynistic pubic statements made by prominent US citizens that rival  our world famous Indian defence lawyers: ML Sharma and AK Singh
The fact remains that the US government did not ban the above post or any such videos in the media.
I commend the actions of the Indian bar council that has issued notices to the two defence lawyers for their misogynistic remarks in the documentary “India’s Daughter”.
It’s great to see a portion of India taking positive action! Its time to lead the world in meaningful change.

“Je suis India’s daughter” – Indian goverment stop defaming your daughter

India’s home minister has threatened action against the BBC, after it aired a film in the UK featuring an interview with an Indian rapist on death row.

The video that I managed to watch before it was taken down in Youtube shows the story of the victim’s meaningful life , the sorrow of her parents on losing her in this horrific way and the abject poverty and harsh environment that bred her killers. It shows the deep rooted bias against women ,in the psyche  of a portion the Indian society and passive acceptance of this bias in the remaining portion of the Indian society ,that facilitated this crime. It shows the massive response from another portion of the society – mainly women’s group and students – that banded together with unprecedented efficiency and demanded quick justice.

Here’s the link to the documentary..if its still working:

Now more than 2 years after this incident and uprising , when everyone has returned to their normal lives, without much meaningful change to prevent such incidents or stricter laws for rape (the frequency of which hasn’t abated), comes this documentary. And it gets banned in India. 6 men took Jyothi Singh’s (the victim)  right to her body , her intestines and her life. Now the Indian government has taken her right after death- the right to have her death become a meaningful one.

I will never understand the reasons that the Indian government has for this ban. I only know that the reasons, if any, are not pro-women. If they are concerned that this video will portray India and its criminal politicians in bad light, then they should focus on removing the bad elements ,not remove the spotlight.  The government cries that this documentary defames India. They are wrong; they are the ones defaming their daughter; our daughter; by banning this.

We need the debate that showing of this documentary will open up. We need the mirror that this documentary holds to a portion of our society so people can recognize themselves, the part they play and then…effect positive Change !

I keep emphasizing “a portion of our society” so that we all understand that there is another portion of the Indian society that is doing all the right things. But that ‘good’ portion needs to grow in size and infiltrate and influence the government.

There needs to be stricter laws, swifter justice for sexually based crimes against women in India to prevent these gang rapes in the short term.

For long term and lasting change, there needs to be education for boys and girls equally; education mandated and available easily to all children of all economic strata; with campaigns to remove the gender bias deeply rooted in the society.

The Indian government is working on ways it can ban this video outside India. My request to the international community is this… You all said “Je Suis Charlie”….Please now say “Je Suis India’s daughter”.

I love Alpha Males !

My baby – my first born son -an alpha male-  makes my day…..everyday.
Every morning , my baby ,now a teen,  wakes  up to go to school on time without any prodding to complete his daily routine. He prepares his own breakfast( Peanut butter/jelly sandwich or a bowl of cold cereal), eats leaving little to no mess on the counter, puts the plate/bowl in the sink. When I make him an omelette later in the morning, he says “Thank You Amma”…..Everyday ,with an genuine sincere sense of gratitude; making eye contact. Every time, with a gentleness that has become the source of my strength. Everyday he lives his life with that compassion , dignity, respect to fellow (female) humans  and self sufficiency despite not having  role model to mimic or reinforce that respectful and gracious behaviour. That ‘bad nurture’ cannot suppress ‘good nature’ fills me with hope for the future .
And then comes the rest of the family, the “pretend alpha males”, looking strangely at the cup of cereal soaking in milk  just the way they want it, waiting on the counter missing a spoon or the bread without its crust cut off. A mild expression of surprise and annoyance ,and suppressed aggression masked in a thin veil of civility, precedes the question: “where is the spoon”..”can you cut out that crust”. As I drop whatever it is that I am  doing and walk across the kitchen , to fetch the spoon that sits within an arms length of the said “pretend alpha male’, I draw from that earlier “Thank you” the strength to give that spoon ,to those role model deprived, and walk away…… Hoping that one day they would learn from my first born son how to be a true ‘alpha human male’!