Saturday, 7 December 2013

The Pseudo Feminism

Most of us have added to this activism, at some point of time or another. Getting aggressive and enraged over unintended harmless remarks on women, digging out a feminist angle in almost everything, looking down on people if God forbid, they ever support men in any situation, the whole sing song about-‘You have no idea about what a woman goes through each day…’ begins. Yes, I know that it’s a hard world out there for the women. Yes, I know most of the time it is the women who are wronged. But, to drown oneself in self pity and present that as an answer to every question raised on women is wrong as well.

Yes, I know you must be thinking that I am a traitor of my own sex, that I am another of those women influenced by patriarchy to a level that she starts believing in their ideologies too. No, I am not one of them. I am a feminist, proud to be a woman and strongly feel for the cause of my gender but unnecessarily sensationalizing every second thing to be an assault on feminism or women rights is something that I find horribly annoying.

The other day I read this piece on how Raksha Bandhan propagates the idea of male superiority over women. I don’t understand why an innocent festival which celebrates sibling love has to be blamed for propagating patriarchy. No, it does not! It’s totally the way you wish to look at it. They might argue that it makes the little children believe that the brother is someone who should be looked up at with high regard (and is probably worthy of more respect) even if he is younger to the sister because according to tradition, the sister ties the ‘Rakhi’ to the brother who pledges to protect her always. May be the little children do start looking at it that way. It is our job to make sure the thought never crosses their mind also. However, if we are hell bent on believing that Raksha Bandhan is another tool of imbibing into every individual that men are above women, then there’s nothing much that we can do from preventing our children to think on similar lines.

 Culture, tradition and value-system have evolved with time. The traditional celebration of festivals also has. I remember when I was little Raksha Bandhan meant selection of the most beautiful Rakhi for my brother, expecting the most beautiful gift ever and flaunting it the next day to my school friends, wearing pretty dresses, having delicious sweets and of course a holiday, that was pretty much all. The idea of it meaning the dominance of my brother over me did not even cross my mind for a split second, because I believe a child’s brain is too pure to even think of such lowly things. In fact, sometimes even my brother used to tie a Rakhi on my wrist, or I tied one on my mother’s wrist, we never quite went by some hard and fast rule. So, if we are so concerned about the male dominance occurring to our children, we may ask the brothers and sisters to tie Rakhi to each other, instead of having it just one way or maybe we can present the ideology behind the festival in a more beautiful way to them but let us not put blame the lovely festival for anything evil, it has given me a lot of sweet memories.

Then, there is this Tarun Tejpal sexual assault case, I have my utmost respect for the victim who came out strongly against the perpetrator. However, I was reading one of the replies to some tweet where someone asked why she went on the elevator with him for the second time. And, then began one after another outpours of comments like, ‘you are a sexist’, ‘it is the same mentality which makes one blame a women’s clothes for rape’, ‘you are a misogynist’, etc. Now, nobody is blaming the women for being assaulted, but it is genuinely shocking that you would consider going again in the elevator with someone who has sexually assaulted you the previous night. Correct me if I am wrong, but if you have been forcibly kissed, attempted at being disrobed and penetrated by fingers by a man on one night, you would not even consider coming close to him, leave apart getting into the lift with him again. I am not saying that this makes Mr Tejpal any less wrong for what he has done, but it does make the women appear a lot stupid, weak and defenseless.

We are getting to a stage where we are ready to believe that every time a woman suffers, she has either been wronged or used or cheated or misled or suppressed. We blame it on the misogynist society, on patriarchal norms and what not! What we completely ignore is that sometimes, it may have nothing to do with it at all. We get all charged up to take the feminist brigade forward every time the word ‘woman’ even pops up in any conversation.

Why is any man who would prefer to marry a girl who could devote most of her time to take care of the children and the house looked upon as a sexist? I mean… it is all a matter of choices, right? There are a lot of women out there who are not ambitious, who would actually look forward to that kind of life. Not every woman is career conscious. A lot of them would actually look forward to being a supportive homemaker. They would actually enjoy it.

Come on, let’s face it- all of us have different ideas of what we want out of life. We have our priorities set differently. Some of us value our career more than anything else, while there is another category for which marriage is more important and they wouldn’t even think twice before leaving their careers to devote all their time to the family. Not always is the second category forced to do it, sometimes they choose to do it. They have no complaints, they enjoy their life that way. To look at all of them with pitiable eyes thinking that they had to make a huge sacrifice would be very wrong on our part. This is what they wanted out of life and they are getting it.

A lot of women openly claim that one of the main parameters of choosing the right guy is definitely his bank balance. We never judge them, do we? We feel that it is important for a woman to be concerned about her financial security. Well, if we talk about equality then why do we have to depend on the guy for our financial needs? This question is often swept under the carpet. I believe if we do not judge women when they tick mark ‘hefty bank balance’ in the must-haves list, we have no right to judge men when they expect a homely girl. Else, it is plain hypocrisy.

Then comes this whole expectation of being respected and what not for just being a woman, what have we done to earn it! If we want respect, let our deeds be worthy of it, not plainly our gender. Feminism means equality and equality has little space for undue respect and honor and we must refuse to accept it as well.

It has all been bothering me of late, hypocrisy dressed as feminism is something that was annoying me. Everything highlighted to be an agent of suppression of womankind is just mere stupidity. We are digging unnecessarily and probably meaninglessly trying to find an element of suppression in every little thing we come across. We have probably started looking for little things to drown ourselves in self pity and exclaim, ’No country for women’. There is a country for women, exactly the one we are living in. Things have been terrible, I know. Life is a lot harder for women, I know. However, frantically linking every possible thing as an attempt to oppress women is not the solution for it, either. It might lead to a stage where feminists are looked upon as a group of hysterical, men-hating lot. Like somebody commented on a similar discussion, ‘Now, it is better to avoid women like you avoid cobras.’ I fear this stage coming, and trust me it will not be a pleasant one. We need to end that war, pretty soon at that!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Why it’s not even half as bad to be single!

And she was expected to be sitting by the window wiping her tears; her friends were prepared to be ‘there’ for her. They had mentally prepared themselves to bitch about him, to talk about how big pain relationships are and to curse the entire fraternity with a penis to make her feel better. Surprisingly however, the consolations, the sympathies, the empathies… none of them were used. They did not even require to tell her the often quoted, ’Men, you know… all of them are dogs.’
‘Why the hell is she NEVER crying’, ‘She doesn’t look sad at all’, ‘She did love him, didn’t she’, it all started bothering them gradually. They were the official mourners, after all. ’Oh baby, you have to be strong’, ‘Show him that you can do wonderfully well without him’, ‘Give him the you-don’t-give-a-damn attitude’’, all these well-rehearsed lines were all going un-used.
She wondered about it too, just the way her friends did. Why was it not killing her. She was not having a casual fling. She was hopelessly and madly in love with him. She was the kind who’d cry themselves to bed each night thinking about why he didn’t treat her right. Why wasn’t the breakup ripping her apart then, why!
May be what she was struggling to do all these years finally happened… may be she finally ‘matured’ up. May be she finally realized that to stay in a relationship that is just going to add more tears in her life, is worse than not being in a relationship at all. May be she realized that to be stuck with someone who can never value her for who she is, is a mistake she must not commit. May be after all these years of growing older, she finally grew up. May be in the process of growing up, she also became stronger, way stronger and realized that sometimes the only person that she needs in her life is herself. May be she realized that if she has to be in a relationship, it should be maddeningly passionate love …  love that is above distances, time, conditions and circumstances. Love that surpasses all of it, intense enough so that she doesn’t even contemplate breaking apart for a moment. Everything else, is a farce, a sheer waste of time, emotions and an insult to love.
She was awed by the plethora of boxes left to be opened by her. So much that was left unexplored in life. Those wonderful novels stacked in the corner, which she always wanted to read...but couldn’t find enough time in the midst of wiping her tears every two minutes. The great internship opportunities she could seize, the amazing online tutorials that are left unexplored, the book she always wanted to write, the library with a zillion books which she wanted to dive into. All of them seemed so much more rewarding and pleasurable than contracting her entire world to the way one person chooses to treat her. Na├»ve woman, she once was! There was so much to do in life, so much to learn, so much more than thinking about the hows and whys of why it didn’t work out. Life suddenly seemed so much more intriguing to her.
And then, there was this new found freedom. A new found feeling, that her soul is independent, free from the clutches of another soul which tried to own it at some point. The soul that could breathe more happily, because now its happiness was dependent on little and big joys of life; not solely on how it would be treated by another soul.

Then, there was this hope… this hope of coming across the correct definition of love someday… to be able to experience it and say to herself, ‘I know what it feels like to be truly loved’. Oh no, she did not stop believing in love… love is a beautiful thing… someday, she’ll just stumble across it and know what it truly is. Oh, yeah… she was happy. She felt free, like the independent young woman she always wanted to be.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The Small Town Girl

I was talking to old school friends studying and settled in big cities today. Random conversations about 'cute' guys and 'hot' chicks were picked up. We spoke about college, crushes, flings and relationships.
One casually remarked that she'd be going on a date with Mr C--, it confused me because she was dating  Mr A-- . I thought maybe I heard her wrong, and I asked her again,"Did you say C". She told me that I heard her right, that she was in a relationship with another guy and going on a casual date with someone else. She told me that her relationship didn't mean much to her, that it is a very casual affair and her guy knows that as well, so she isn't 'cheating' anyone. It all seemed very amusing to me on a superficial note. I was thinking deep within however, about the big things about commitments that she used to talk about when we were younger and 'small-towners'.
I spoke to another when he told me that he was in an 'open' relationship with a girl. Now, I have never been able to understand the whole need of an 'open' relationship. What is the need of being in a relationship if it's not exclusive. What is the need of being in a relationship if you don't love the other person. 'For the fun of it', 'to avoid having any strings attached', I am often told. How can uttering 'I love yous' to someone whom you don't feel to be fun, I wonder. Moreover, if at all that kind of 'fun' is something you must experience, then why is getting into a relationship such a necessity. One can surely go around flirting with all and sundry without the tag of an 'open' relationship as well. Why bother being in a relationship at all...for the feel of it, seriously! (I know I'm sounding like a nagging 50 year old sermonizing little kids...but, just bear with me!).
Another conversation which disturbed me was when my friend told me about the 'friends with benefits' relation which was no longer a big deal in his group. 'No feelings, no baggage, just fun', that was his take on it. It disgusted me. The very thought of getting intimate with someone whom you don't feel for romantically  made me despise him for a while. Wasn't it all supposed to be a beautiful part of love. Wasn't it yesterday when getting intimate was purely an act of deep emotions, passionate love and just that. Isn't it maligning the beauty, the purity of friendship and love as well. Or maybe that is how I look at it, maybe I am wrong, very wrong. Maybe!
These conversations got me thinking. They made me feel like there's something extremely wrong that's happening to my people, to the younger generation around me, to my India. Have we blindly started aping just all the ugly and convenient western concepts. Have we lost our conscience, our respect for love, for friendship. Or is it just a new idea of fun that we have accepted.
I wonder if it is just me to whom it seems odd. I wonder if I'm overreacting to it all. Maybe, I should have just reacted saying,'Oh, we're young...this is the time to have fun'. But, no matter how hard I try, it just doesn't happen. It frustrates me when people use YOLO (You Only Live Once ) to justify everything that they ever do in their lives. What a shame to have such a limited idea of fun!
I fail to relate to it, but I'm trying hard to understand. Maybe this is another idea of liberalization. Another idea of freedom which is very alien to me. For me physical intimacy was always an act of deep emotional bonding. Just when the emotions got separated from it, is something I fail to understand. I want to though...I really want to. I want to develop a deeper understanding of it. I want to act all liberal and 'cool' about it. I fail to, though. 
I wonder when the ideologies of people started changing. Maybe, it's all of the hormones to be blamed. Come on, let's just all blame it on estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. We're all their slaves, aren't we!
Maybe, I've been overreacting to it. I totally understand that people have different ideologies of leading their lives. I am no one here to sit and moralize. These are simply my ideas which I wanted to bring up.
I am scared that this drifting away from the conventional relationships will put us in constant fear of long term commitments and strong emotional bonds. I fear this is not a very pleasant thing that might happen. Maybe it is the 'Allahabadi' morals drilled so deeply into me that are doing all the talking. But, a huge part of me feels that they are right.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The third gender!

I must have been seven, when I heard the word 'hijra' for the first time. We were all playing hide and seek, when I saw a huge group of them walking towards our colony. I was the one left outside while my friends were in the hiding. I couldn't quite decide whether I should rush back home or stay there. They scared me for some reason, maybe it was their body language, or the dark make up or maybe or the way they looked so different from the rest of us. I rushed to look for my friends, found three of them hiding under the staircase. I told them about the sight I just witnessed.

"They are hijras", one of my friends said. "They have a partially male and partially female body structure’, told another. ‘You shouldn't ever annoy them, because if you anger them, they might curse you. And trust me; a hijra’s curse is fatal." It was from my friends that I got my first information on transsexual people. All I could figure out was that they were intimidating people from whom you should just avoid at all costs.

I grew up to come across transsexual people more often. I noticed that they visited happy homes, newly wedded couples or new parents. I understood that they haven’t got anything to do with scaring little kids. I understood that they were not even distantly related to witchcraft and wizardry. I understood that they were not evil. I understood that a huge portion of what people constantly kept telling me about them was false.

Years later, on just another busy Monday afternoon, I was stuck in the Delhi traffic jam. A ‘hijra’ knocked at my window. I took out a Rs 10 note that was clinging to my jeans pocket. I inadvertently smiled at her while giving the money, apologizing for not being able to give much. She looked dumbstruck by my smile. I couldn't clearly figure out the reason, but then I guessed that smiles were a rare thing for her. I could notice her face brighten up and she was certainly not faking it. She looked genuinely touched. She leaned forward, put her hand on my head and said a prayer. You know the thing they say about you getting to know right from the look in someone’s eye when they actually mean something they say, it is true. I could read the genuinity in her eyes. The traffic cleared a little, the car moved. The incident moved me. It set a thought process into action.

Was wondering why we couldn’t live together in harmony. Why a life this hard should be forced upon them! Why should our birth determine everything? Why! Meaningless, futile questions!

The ritual of going around asking for money, sometimes by going as far as threatening people with a fatal curse, probably sprung from the fact that this was all that they were left to do for a living. We were so busy hating them for being physically different from us that hatred is what we got back. It’s like settling scores, I presume.

Being friends with them and accepting the fact that they have as much right as anybody else to enjoy every joy of life-be it giving them place in educational institutions, public parks, private malls, restaurants and most importantly in our lives, might be a distant dream, which maybe my grandchild will be able to realize. Till then, we can just begin with a smile. Maybe, we won’t get one back in return. But, then…we might just do our bit. I don’t think it’s all that hard.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

I think I overthink !

I was standing on a cliff overlooking the sea with a friend. My feet slipped on it a bit, was about to fall but then he held me and I got back my balance. ‘You better stay far from the edge, because I can’t swim and if you drown in that sea…I don’t even know if I’ll jump to save you,’ he said. A seemingly harmless line. It wasn't though. It was the originator of a complex thought process in my mind.

Me: ’You wouldn't  You’d watch me drown! I would have definitely jumped to save you if you’d be drowning,’

Him: ’That’s because you know how to swim Charul, I would have jumped to save even a random person if I knew how to swim. It’s just that I know that I will in any case not be able to save you.’

Me: ‘But still, how can you just watch me die! Wouldn't you try! How can you not!’

Him: ‘Charul, you’ve lost it. Can we talk about something else. You’re not dying, okay? Stop creating stupid hypothetical situations and expect me to act like Hrithik Roshan in Kaho Na Pyar Hai. This is life. I really don’t know how I’d act. I might jump. I might not. I’d want to save you, but the fear of losing my own life may stop me from jumping. I really don’t know. Now, please stop it.’

And, then I was lost thinking about my Mr Perfect. Kept thinking and rethinking what his answer would be. Would he jump to save me, knowing that it might mean his own death. Could my life mean more to him than his own. That’s what true love is, no. It’s foolish, passionate, impractical, selfless and crazy.

I think he would jump. He should. Maybe, he won’t. Maybe, he will. I think he will. He should. I don’t know.

I think I overthink. I most certainly do. Someday, it might drive me crazy, or may be it already has. Another criteria added to the ‘must-haves’ in my Mr Perfect- ‘He must jump to save me if I’m drowning, even if he doesn't know how to swim.’

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Those tears that fell !

And, I was left there alone with misty eyes wondering what went wrong, how exactly the pieces of the jigsaw got messed up. Wasn’t it yesterday that I felt it was forever, wasn’t it yesterday that world without you ceased to exist for me, wasn’t it yesterday that you could fight the entire world to catch those tears that fell, wasn’t it yesterday that I started believing in a perfect world…in the rare possibility of it existing and me being a part of it.
 Those days seem close…yet too far. Close enough to bring back transitory smiles on my face but too far to make me feel that life could be as beautiful again.  I look around myself...the beauty of nature, the smiling faces everywhere, couples stupidly in love drowning madly into each other’s eyes…there’s this hint of envy that sweeps through me. Or maybe, I’m not sure which feeling it is…envy is an evil feeling…I shouldn’t be getting that from other’s happiness. Maybe, it’s grief, or nostalgia or maybe hurt…maybe, it reminds me of the beautiful times that were and it hurts to know that there aren’t there anymore. But, you know what…these happy faces also give a peek into the lovely past…oh, yes…those were wonderful days, truly wonderful!
 I was figuring out where exactly it went wrong. Where could have I made amends, how could have I saved it. Hopeless, futile questions! The worst part about being loved too much is the fact that you get used to it. It’s hard, very hard to accustom yourself to indifference once you’re so used to attention, that too, too much of it. But, funny thing about life is…that is doesn’t give you much of a choice.

Those things you thought you can never live without are suddenly pulled away from you one day…and you’re forced to live without them. And, the amazing thing is that eventually we learn…we learn to live without them. And, what is better, eventually we smile…we learn to smile without them. And eventually, they’d be happiness…they’d be happiness, even without them.
I’m sure it’ll happen. Eventually, it will all be fine…not perfectly. Maybe, almost-perfectly fine!