Tag Archives: gender equality

Of tongues and barbs

PHOTO PROMPT © Madison Woods

“ha ha . In your house ‘Shakti’ is dominant eh!?  The lady wears the pant eh! In my house ‘Shiva’ is  dominant! “, our male guest puffed up his chest.

My husband turned beet-red. The ‘pin-drop’ silence that followed –  a loud presence in my life.

That day I discovered a sub-species of the human male ,with dominant ‘obnoxious moron’ genes, who get emasculated whenever a woman displays intelligence. And another sub-species of intelligent-human-males who care about what such moron-sub-species-males thinks about them.

“If you love me… don’t say anything intelligent in front of guests”, my husband begged.

So I write.

— end—

Note:  I try  not to talk more intelligently than such moron-sub-species-male whenever I encounter them but it’s such a challenge that I give up after a while. I’m not being vain …it doesn’t take much to be more intelligent than such folks 🙂

Shakti – Feminine energy; Shiva – Masculine energy

This 99 word piece based on true life events was written for the 100 word photo challenge. More details about this challenge can be found at:  https://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/22-april-2016/

PHOTO PROMPT © Madison Woods

Click on the Froggy below for other amazing takes on the same prompt by fellow “Friday Fictioneers.”

Advertisements

Honorable disrespect

A wife is calling a husband to dinner . Below are three general types of interactions that can happen : 1- positive, 2- neutral, 3- negative

Type1 : Positive

wife: Dinner is ready , dear

husband: I will be there in 5 minutes sweetheart.

type 2: Neutral

wife: Dinner is ready

husband: I will be there in 5 minutes.

type 3: Negative / shows inequality of gender

wife: Dinner is ready oh-human-deserving-of-respect

husband: I will be there in 5 minutes female-who-is-inferior-to-me

That last one is quite a mouthful…Isn’t it? But it won’t be if you talk Tamil.

Tamil – or rather KondunTamil as the version in use is appropriately called – is a language that makes showing gender and other social inequality in everyday conversations a breeze. Tamil uses Honorific suffixes of all kinds- some showing respect and some showing disrespect. (More about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamil_honorifics)

This language reflects the culture of a society that promotes overt display of social hierarchy, in social and interpersonal relationships, where in every interaction the power balance between the two parties conversing is expected to be shown. This language is the vehicle societies ride on to propagate inequality in age,gender,socio-economic status, power and caste.

Are honorific suffixes bad? Not necessarily. Suffixes that allow the show of mutual respect , love and intimacy is  a good thing. But using suffixes to show disrespect  is in my opinion undesirable.

Moreover, this honorific suffix usage promotes gender inequality in a marriage , validates male privilege and propagates the “culture of abuse“. Which is obviously my main area of focus in this article.

It is to be noted that not all humans who speak this Tamil language avail themselves to the ‘privilege’ of showing disrespect even though they ‘can’ under societal norms. I have witnessed many – male and female alike – address younger or  people in lesser status then them  with respect – using respectful honorific suffixes- and I applaud them for them for their dignity. These people bring out the beauty in the language and are role models for others to follow suit. But they are still in the minority.

Now, How do these honorific suffixes work and then how do they promote a culture of abuse?

For illustration ,let’s take  Tamil’s honorific suffixes: “di”  and “da”

“Di”  suffix is informal, denotes that a  female of lesser or equal status  is being addressed.

“Da”  suffix is the male counterpart.

So for example, if you want to call your younger brother towards you, you can say :

” Enga va da

The rough translation for the Tamil trans-literation sentence is:

Come here “you male who is inferior than me in either age or social status or power or all”

Or it can also be:

Come here “you male who is  equal to me because you are also allowed to respond back with a “di” or “da” “.

This latter ‘equal’ usage is the case in informal friendly /intimate relationships, where both the parties considers themselves equal, irrespective of age/socio-economic status.

The “da” or “di” gets translated into disrespect showing  the subtle inequality of the relationship when the person addressed with this suffix is not allowed to respond back with the “di/da” suffix in their response to the speaker.

E.g. A person can address his servant , disrespectfully, with “da” but the servant cannot use “da” towards his employer (if he expects to be gainfully employed). Instead he is expected to use another honorific suffix that shows respect like “ar” or “enga”- which denotes respect and reinforces his lesser economic status relative to his employer.

Some husbands use the suffix “Di”  when talking to their wives: publicly and privately. Wives are not allowed/expected to respond back or use the “Da” – they may do that in private (who knows?) but publicly it’s a huge ‘no-no’. The conversation between husband and wife  is expected to follow the pattern of the man/servant relationship, setting the stage for gender inequality – male superiority.

This “Di”, that husbands use when talking to their wives,  is  like an annoying sibling eating grapes and spitting the seeds at you – through out your lifetime.  It’s an offence where if you go to court and say “he spit a grape seed at me five times a day , 7 days a week” , and ask for justice everyone will laugh at you and ask you come back only when your limbs are broken.

The “Di” is like a vaccine – with a slightly ineffective virus – that builds immunity so when the real virus hits the nervous system – the body is prepared to deal with it.  As an immunized person may not even know that a deadly virus entered their body and was dealt with deftly – the female soul immunized with “Di”  doesn’t even feel much difference when an explicit disrespect is thrown at her. Say for example she is called a ‘bitch’ or to say in Tamil “nÃy” .

“Di” is just   a simple syllable- an innocuous reminder in every interaction that you are lesser than your husband and he deserves more respect than you get. A mere trifle of disrespect that is expected to roll off women’s back like water on a fish’s.

Some may argue that the usage of “Di” shows the intimate nature of the relationship between husband and wife and therefore “Di” expresses a romantic undertone. But if those same people, frown upon the wife’s usage of the “Da” and do not consider that usage romantic – their argument is not valid.

This  in-equal “Di” is just one example of a honorific in language usage that establishes the power structure within a marriage – and accepting this societal norm as normal  is to accept that women are lesser than men and therefore entitled to verbal abuse.

Honorific or not , gender inequality is conveyed in speech of all languages depending on how it is used and more importantly in the tone that it is delivered. Tamil and such languages that use honorific are not at fault . Fault if any lies in the society that uses it and normalizes disrespect towards one gender.

The issue in particular with honorific languages is that it makes showing overt disrespect easy, while cloaking the intent of disrespect under the ambiguity of grammar/societal norms of usage.  Whereas in non-honorific languages showing disrespect has to be explicit ,showing intent. e.g. ” I will be there in 5 minutes female-who-is-inferior-to-me” or  a short-cut  “I will be there in 5 minutes bitch”

Husband and wife (or Partners) should both bring love and respect to the marriage table and to their language. Bringing  love and expecting more than love (servile respect) in return is not fair. Bringing nothing but expecting both love and respect is even worse.  Our language is only an outward expression of these subtleties of inequality.

So how can we banish  “Di” and other such disrespectful words/inequality from our speech? Maybe we should switch mother tongues – move from Tamil to say English (or any other language that does not have honorific)  at least temporarily – and try to convey the whole message – subject/verb and honorific (and mainly the intent of respect or disrespect).

Since there are no such simple honorific suffixes substitutes in English as in Tamil – except maybe  “Sir/ Madam” or “Your highness” perhaps? –  in order to bring over all the inequality  to English we have to use more words than necessary ,making intent very clear and sentence structure very complicated. We would no longer be able to hide under the ambiguous shadow of honorific suffixes then.

Switching to English , carrying the baggage of honorific over , will be hard work.  Or we can make a true effort to have every interaction a positive one in our own mother tongues – turning Koduntamil (corrupt Tamil) into SenTamil (pure Tamil) . That will be harder work if one is not willing to let go of privilege, easy if one realizes that all humans- male are female-  are  equal.

Now , you may ask why all the fuss about one word ? How will discontinuing the usage of  honorific ,say  in-equal “Di” by a husband ,change the inequality of their relationship? What prevents the husband from taking the more explicit route to express disrespect for his wife if “Di” is banished?  Won’t “Di” be a more honourable disrespect (there’s a new oxymoron for you) than ,say, ‘bitch’?

I agree that eliminating the usage of a gender in-equality honorific suffix will not change the world , in itself. But it can do three things:

1- Those who take the subterfuge under the honorific today will be forced to be chose from the 3 word choices: explicitly disrespectful  ,neutral or respectful. Many will choose neutral without the  grey area of “honourable disrespect” to chose from.

2- It brings the enemy out of the shadows in to the open – the intent of disrespect will be explicit. It is easy to confront the enemy when he’s in front of you – easy to assess the threat- easy to formulate a defence strategy.  The fight comes out in the open. Today a father can tolerate his daughter being called “Di” by her husband in front of him – but will not tolerate the unwarranted and explicit disrespect of ‘bitch’ or ‘fool’ or any such thing.

3- It sets the societal expectation that both genders in a marriage are equal. Female babies are not born with the sense of inferiority , ready to accept verbal abuse, they learn that from the interactions they see playing in everyday life, day after day after day, at their homes, in the TV and around them. Neither are male babies born with the sense of superiority , ready to abuse. The girls see, father using “Di” and mother not using “Da” and intuitively learn that they should not use “Da”. The boys learn that they should use “Di” and not expect a “Da” back.  If they grow up seeing mutual respect in their parents language  and in the society around them then a new positive culture is formed- gender inequality and the evils associated with it will slowly fade away.

While this may seem applicable to only one segment of the world population that uses honorific suffixes, the basic premise  is respectful communication and being aware of  gender in-equality in language and the impact it has not only on relationships but on culture as a whole.

So, respected-reader-who-is-equal-to-me, what do you think?

Note: There are many other languages in the world that use honorific devices to show social hierarchy with more degrees of complexity…Tamil is the only one I speak, so I have used this as an example.

Disclaimers: (to keep trolls in bay) The intent of this post is to show the gender in-equality inherent in the usage of some languages today  not to put down any particular language. I do put down certain cultural norms that treats women as inferior though.

I may not be a feminist after all….

My special friend sent me the below TED talk link and said, “Since you are a feminist and have a whole section on your blog you may want to see and share  this”.

It was such a timely message from her – because just earlier in the day I was called a sexist by couple of other ‘special friends’. It had me thinking and reflecting (and upset): Am I really a feminist ? Or Am I sexist?

I was forced to examine my beliefs and convictions, thoughts and ideas, and statements and feelings. I still believe that all human beings are equal and should not be discriminated against for gender, race , sexual orientation and economic status. So what made them call me a sexist?

My responses to their question , they said- and the vehemence in which I expressed my opinion, they said. Those  questions and the essence of my responses :

Would you vote for  Carly Fiorina or Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election (assuming ofcourse that they become their respective party candidates)?

I would not vote for Carly because her stance of abortion interferes with the fundamental freedom of a woman to decide on her healthcare choices with her doctor.

(Does this response make a feminist? Or a sexist? )

Do I support killing pain-capable foetus then?

My stance on abortion is this:

-If a foetus is capable of feeling pain then imagine how much more pain the born child would have to endure if it’s unwanted and ends up being uncared for. I would rather a foetus experience the one final pain rather than a lifetime of pains.

-Unless the society/government changes in such a way to ensure that every born child will have all their needs met , including love, 100% of the time , I believe society/government should not interfere in the choice of individuals.

-If a government believes in pro-life I expect the government never to go to war – to dismantle all nuclear weapons and Weapons of mass destruction . And to have  all guns in the country melted to make cradles.

(Does this response make a feminist? Or a sexist? Or socialist? )

Question: who would you vote for: Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton – both are pro-choice ?

All things being equal between the two candidates, I would vote for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman.

(Does this statement make me a sexist? It might seem so…but No….because…)

Why?

Because the United states of America – a developed “super-power”- has not had a woman president or even a woman vice president since its founding. The percentage of women in US Congress is low (just touched 20%, see source below). There were more systemic roadblocks in place that prevented women like Hillary Clinton (women from that era) from progressing than today – while the men enjoyed more privilege…..so all things being equal , in 2016, I would vote for a woman president because

  1. I want to give her the advantage that she has lacked 
  2. she had to work harder to be “equal” to a male who has had systemic advantage. Therefore she is a better candidate.

Am I still a sexist? Did I move towards the feminist midpoint? Do I care what my label is?

If the society changes to allow people of all genders (more than the binary version of genders) equal opportunity  and gender inequality exists only in a museum display as an ancient artefact – with all things being truly truly equal between candidates like Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and when  women represent around 50% of the senate and house, who would I choose? 

I would choose the one who looks good, as I had already written in an earlier post . Bernie Sanders , if you want my vote you better be a good looking dude 🙂 

I don’t know what this response makes me: sexist or feminist or shallow? Do I look like I care?

So who would you vote for between a male and female candidate?  Considering that the two candidates are equal in every respect ..who would you choose: a man or a woman?  And what does that choice make you? A feminist or a sexist?

————–

P.S – Thank you special friend!

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_the_United_States_House_of_Representatives

Number of Women in Congress by House

Number of women in the United States Congress (1917–2013):[2]

Congress Years in Congress % in House % in Senate %
65th 1917–1919 1 0.2% 1 0.2% 0 0%
66th 1919–1921 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
67th 1921–1923 4 0.7% 3 0.7% 1 1%
68th 1923–1925 1 0.2% 1 0.2% 0 0%
69th 1925–1927 3 0.6% 3 0.7% 0 0%
70th 1927–1929 5 0.9% 5 1.1% 0 0%
71st 1929–1931 9 1.7% 9 2.1% 0 0%
72nd 1931–1933 8 1.5% 7 1.6% 1 1%
73rd 1933–1935 8 1.5% 7 1.6% 1 1%
74th 1935–1937 8 1.5% 6 1.4% 2 2%
75th 1937–1939 9 1.7% 6 1.4% 3 3%
76th 1939–1941 9 1.7% 8 1.8% 1 1%
77th 1941–1943 10 1.9% 9 2.1% 1 1%
78th 1943–1945 9 1.7% 8 1.8% 1 1%
79th 1945–1947 11 2.1% 11 2.5% 0 0%
80th 1947–1949 8 1.5% 7 1.6% 1 1%
81st 1949–1951 10 1.9% 9 2.1% 1 1%
82nd 1951–1953 11 2.1% 10 2.3% 1 1%
83rd 1953–1955 15 2.8% 12 2.8% 3 3%
84th 1955–1957 18 3.4% 17 3.9% 1 1%
85th 1957–1959 16 3.0% 15 3.4% 1 1%
86th 1959–1961 19 3.5% 17 3.9% 2 2%
87th 1961–1963 20 3.7% 18 4.1% 2 2%
88th 1963–1965 14 2.6% 12 2.8% 2 2%
89th 1965–1967 13 2.4% 11 2.5% 2 2%
90th 1967–1969 12 2.2% 11 2.5% 1 1%
91st 1969–1971 11 2.1% 10 2.3% 1 1%
92nd 1971–1973 15 2.8% 13 3.0% 2 2%
93rd 1973–1975 16 3.0% 16 3.7% 0 0%
94th 1975–1977 19 3.6% 19 4.4% 0 0%
95th 1977–1979 20 3.7% 18 4.1% 2 2%
96th 1979–1981 17 3.2% 16 3.7% 1 1%
97th 1981–1983 23 4.3% 21 4.8% 2 2%
98th 1983–1985 24 4.5% 22 5.0% 2 2%
99th 1985–1987 25 4.7% 23 5.3% 2 2%
100th 1987–1989 26 4.9% 24 5.5% 2 2%
101st 1989–1991 31 5.8% 29 6.7% 2 2%
102nd 1991–1993 33 6.2% 30 6.9% 3 3%
103rd 1993–1995 55 10.3% 48 11.0% 7 7%
104th 1995–1997 59 11.0% 50 11.5% 9 9%
105th 1997–1999 66 12.3% 57 13.1% 9 9%
106th 1999–2001 67 12.5% 58 13.3% 9 9%
107th 2001–2003 75 14.0% 62 14.3% 13 13%
108th 2003–2005 77 14.4% 63 14.5% 14 14%
109th 2005–2007 85 15.9% 71 16.3% 14 14%
110th 2007–2009 94 17.6% 78 17.9% 16 16%
111th 2009–2011 96 17.9% 79 18.2% 17 17%
112th 2011–2013 96 17.9% 79 18.2% 17 17%
113th 2013–2015 102 19.1% 82 18.9% 20 20%
114th 2015–2017 104 19.4% 84 19.3% 20 20%

A Culture of abuse

When my son was one year old, he decided he had enough with us shovelling food down his throat. He pried the spoon from me and insisted on using his motor skills. He picked up a bunch of noodles in his chubby little hands and watched in fascination as they wiggled like little worms and slid off his fingers. Then he must have decided to feed the carpet – that lovely beige thing that always fascinated him with its cornucopia of dust and hair – because that’s where the remaining noodles that he flung landed.

It’s a cute memory. We recite this story and laugh over it.

Let’s imagine him as a middle-aged man (with all mental faculties intact )doing the food flinging act ,food which … let’s say his wife prepared. The same act will no longer be called cute. It will be called domestic violence. It won’t be a memory that can be laughed over….ever.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) . Are you aware of what constitutes domestic violence?

Have you ever thrown objects on the floor in anger, in front of your spouse /or someone who were angry with? Remotes, cellphones, paper-weights, plates, cups……whatever you can get you hand on? It may not have landed on a person and “hurt” them- but did you know that it’s still called Domestic violence?  It’s called “destruction of property” and it’s a form of psychological abuse according to the  United states department justice: http://www.justice.gov/ovw/domestic-violence.

 The website called Hotline (http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse-defined/) uses a diagram called the Power & Control Wheel to describe most accurately what occurs in an abusive relationship. The below text is from their website provided above:

Think of the wheel as a diagram of the tactics your abusive partner uses to keep you in the relationship. While the inside of the wheel is comprised of subtle, continual behaviors, the outer ring represents physical, visible violence. These are the abusive acts that are more overt and forceful, and often the intense acts that reinforce the regular use of other subtler methods of abuse.

Out of these 8 areas – how many areas have you actively dabbled in?  Whether you are a man or a woman, It’s important to look at these behaviours and see not only who has victimized you but to also see if you engage in any of these actions.

I’m guilty of one thing…. Please don’t start imagining me mounting my spouse on a crucifix …whipping him with a stick ……although I have done something close to that ,according to my in-laws , by asking their son to take out the garbage.

Many of us Indian women are already “victims” of  “male privilege” type domestic abuse  and this is not exactly a secret…it is one that we have experienced publicly, along with several of our fellow compatriots who are in the same proverbial boat. But here’s the issue – everyone including me , do not recognize that as an abuse. We  expect it , are prepared for it all our young lives and accept it because it’s our “culture” . A wife “Being treated like a servant”  would not raise any eyebrows in our Indian “culture”. Some people may even look down on him if he treats his wife nicely and as an equal and doesn’t exercise his male privilege. In some cases , they may be pressured- directly or indirectly –  to subordinate the wife and become the “master of the castle”, by their own parent(s).

It is difficult for this average (I say average because some Indian males have evolved and I commend them for that) Indian male to see himself painted as a domestic abuser because this is how he was raised to act. He is only following social conventions….Parental guidance….walking in the footsteps of his forefathers ,like sheep. No one has told him that this is wrong. Until now. If you have read this , you no longer have an excuse.  You have a choice: to change for the better.

It’s not an easy choice. For some it’s to choose between being a disobedient son and being a better human being. That’s major conflict, I tell you . Like how the legend goes that Parashurama had to choose between being an obedient son and  a murderer when his father asked him to behead his mother. (More on the legend: http://www.speakingtree.in/blog/why-did-parashuram-kill-his-mother )

But being aware of what is considered a negative behaviour is an important first step in changing negative patterns – in cleaning up our culture. As human beings we are endowed with a capacity to learn and evolve. Culture need not be static either – it can grow – it needs to evolve. So my question to you is : are you capable of evolution? If you are man, are you ready to forgo ‘male privilege” ? Are you willing to transcend the barriers of gender and look at everyone as human beings equal to you?

Note: I have only written on a mild form of abuse that a segment of the world’s population experiences.  I know that that there are much more harsher abuses that go on that impact both men and women and this post does not address that – simply because I don’t find myself qualified to talk about it . Another reason is that I believe the fundamental root cause of domestic violence (against women) is male privilege- that is sanctioned by “culture” and that if we change that mind-set we can curb domestic violence in its infancy.

The invisible store

PHOTO PROMPT - © Kent Bonham

Radha  rose before sunrise to cook for her family and get ready to take the first bus out, praying that prime spot at the entrance of the Bazaar remains unoccupied.  She calculated Rs3 as the break-even price for her goods that were purchased on borrowed money from a heartless loan shark. Profit meant ……. Not clothes or exotic things  sold in the bazaar under shiny lights…. but food for a day or two.  Her back throbbed in pain where her husband had battered her in his drunken stupor asking her for money …but she hurried on.

The prime spot was unoccupied. She thanked God for her good luck and put out a lemon in front of her make-shift stall to ward off the evil eye.

——————————————-end ————————————————

The women who have inspired me are not the Indira Gandhi’s or Hillary Clinton’s of the world but these unassuming , uneducated , hard-working women who lift their families out of starvation and ruin amidst numerous challenges and who serve as the invisible backbone of many a country’s economy. The pictures below would say what I feel more eloquently than any words I can write:

Photos of beautiful hard-working women entrepreneurs from around the world:

India:

photo credit: www.telegraphindia.com

Photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/janyjacob/beautiful-women-of-south-asia/

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/indias-invisible-workers/article4488407.ece#im-image-12

Peru:

Photo Credit – http://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/250-reasons-to-fall-in-love-with-peru/old-woman-640×426/

Vietnam:

Photo credit: http://www.amusingplanet.com/2011/10/street-food-vendors-from-around-world.html

Jerusalem:

Photo credit: http://menzelphoto.photoshelter.com/image/I00009SgPXnL.ssA

Mynamar:

Photo credit: https://freedommuzic.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/myanmar-friends-cptc2.jpg

Ethiopia:

Photo credit: http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/x/30056644street-vendor-harar-old-town-ethiop-30056644.jpg

—————————————————————————————-

This  100+ word story is written in response to the 100 word photo challenge  posted by Rochelle Wisoff-Field each week.

Click on the ‘blue frog’  below to read other amazing takes, that fellow Friday Fictioneers have, on the same photo prompt:

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:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11503621/Instagram-deletes-womans-period-photos-her-reply-is-great.html

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

https://www.facebook.com/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!

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’.

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 theme..as someone who struggles to make things rhyme/sound poetic…I understand the need to keep it brief. And Men like to have Privilege..how 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 it..be 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.

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.

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’!