Quite The (Un)Feminist Dilemma

As much as I try, I cannot live in a void. Sure, I can keep to myself, read when none of my LadyFriends are around, ignore the douche dude in class when he’s mumbling, “You think so because you’re a woman“. Hell, I can go as far as to wish reality didn’t exist. Sometimes that works; especially if alcohol is a part of the equation. Most other times, I do realise that I don’t live in a void.

Due to my almost regular residence in the RealWorld, I do have to meet, co-exist and sometimes even share breathing space with Not-Feminist people. It doesn’t always go down too pleasantly. Especially if your argument against bell hooks is that “her nose looks weird” or if you think watching Oprah makes you feminist. Chances are, you’ll be yelling your lungs out at me; calling me a man-hating, bra-burning feminist while I am explaining to you just why your brain will melt away one day if not used immediately. I warned you things get ugly around me.

I am often left wondering why do many young women shy away from the label of Feminism? It’s not like being a woman, acting or thinking like one is a disease. If it is, I’m sure it’s not as contagious as rabies is. Of course dear old douche-y dude-y Axe has another take on that. But this is not what I am ranting about today.

What gets to me is how most women will go to no lengths to deny this title. They’ll yell, screech, thinly veil their insults, call you names. Some even wear Playboy merchandise to piss you off. Often it works too well and soon enough you’re doing some of your own screeching. Sometimes it gets to such a point that you really want to even hit them for being so daft (Ladies : Don’t ever hit anyone. Message brought to you by humanity). Sometimes you want to just sit them down, whack them on the head with ‘The Dialectic of Sex‘ till they get you. Or maybe sometimes you just wish they’d go away; to a galaxy far, far away and never come back. Too bad as the bell rings, you collect your books and see that girl acting like a fool just to comply to the wishes of her Dude.

By this point, you’ve gotten over yourself and your narcissistic need to stop looking at anything beyond your own nose. Have you ever wondered, just maybe, she does try and gets nowhere?

Now Beyoncé  in this video is probably the ideal of femininity —  where femininity equals to hero-worship and the obligation to give his boner a squeeze every minute. She picks it up to such a level that it becomes absurd, at the same time it remains  extremely real.  She does your laundry, waters your plants, cooks, washes your car and windows while looking like she just walked out of a lingerie catalog, ready to jump your bones when you say so. Despite all her efforts, you still don’t love her, she cries. How many times you’ve seen the same scene unfold in front of you? Sans the hot pants of course.

She’s the girl sitting three rows behind you in class, her only aim is to get a boyfriend and keep him happy. Or the woman you see crying in the train, talking to her spouse, wailing, begging him to take her back. Perhaps it’s a person you know really well, you’ve seen her trying to please her man over and over again; landing back on the floor every single time. Maybe it’s your best-friend who is still sticking around in an abusive relationship hoping to ‘change’ him. At one point or the other, we’ve seen and met these women. Maybe, not-so-long ago we were like them too.

The question that we all come back to is — why don’t you love me? Especially when I make it so easy for you to love me, croons Beyoncé. You can blame the patriarchal culture, misogynist ad campaigns and opinions, that guy down the street who stares at you like you are an object, blame his parents for not teaching him any better, blame your parents for encouraging gender differences, blame your ex WHO BY THE WAY STILL HAS ALL YOUR BOOKS, blame your teachers for not nipping sexism in the bud, blame the State for trying to control our bodies, this culture that re-enforces women’s worth isn’t too much. Finally, you can blame yourself for letting all this affect you on a personal level. You still end up crying with mascara eyes while you’re sitting around your house in lingerie while waiting for him to call.

What is the solution? Give up mascara? Or the guy? Or not expect so much? Or surmising that “She had it coming. She was too needy“? Think it’s justified because she’s not a feminist, she’s obviously a doormat and there’s nothing you can do about that?

Here’s one suggestion : Maybe, we can acknowledge that she tries. This alone makes her human and ‘worthy’ of our time. The next step is to STOP judging. This is the only way we will get anywhere far, far away from now.

(This post is published in the fbomb too)

I Can’t Believe You Laugh At This: The Edition Of Just Why I Want To Live In A Cave

Dear BLOG! reading person,

I have to warn you early enough today. This letter you see before you is actually a rant. A long winded-one at that. So, if you’re in no mood to listen to me rant (again), you can leave. I seriously don’t want any more e-mails detailing just why do I rant and what’s so wrong with it. Now that all the troll-people have gone, let’s get on with our usual LadyBusiness shall we?

It comes as no surprise that I love watch mind-numbingly horrid T.V. shows; it’s a real problem with no visible cure. So today, while I fed my weekly need to pierce my eyeballs out addiction, something terrible happened. It happened. Indian T.V. has finally managed to completely repulse me by just a three-minute dance performance. Every time I see something terrible, I promise myself I won’t watch the show again. Sure enough, next week I am on my position on the couch, waiting for the horror to unfold.

This show I talk of is called ‘Zara Nachke Dikha’ which is probably the Indian version of ‘Dancing With The Stars’ — only the stars are divided into two teams : Men Vs Women. This week the theme was ‘fusion’. This is an opportunity for the contestants to mix Western and traditional Indian dance styles. Apparently contestant Siddhesh Pai  interpreted this theme to ‘fusing genders’. Just peachy.

The dance performance is set to an ‘item-number’ genre of song (These songs are typically identified with courtesans and prostitutes), where the contestant is dressed as a woman first and then quickly changes back to his usual masculine self. As it is a ‘second-grade’ song, this gender subversion is ignored. The audience looks at the dancing prowess of the contestant, how effortlessly he dances like a woman, how equally effortlessly he changes to his shiny silver costume, giving out a ton of dude-ittude one moment, shifting to feminine seduction next. This can possibly be an extremely warped version of Woolf’s Orlando on an alternate universe. You can hear people cheering, the judges laughing, while I seethed in fury from my position in front of the T.V.

The Indian Transsexual

The Indian Transsexual

This is certainly not the first time transgender and trans-sexual identities have been an object of ridicule. It’s de rigueur for stand up comedians and script-writers to use trans-sexuality as a joke. After all, transsexuals in India are nothing but a joke. A man who actually has LadyBits? Or a woman who is born with the cumbersome male-appendage? Nothing provides better fodder for jokes and mockathons. They are called hijra and chakka — derogatory words that symbolise their “incomplete-ness”.

The trans-sexual community is a grossly marginalised one; people literally walk away when they see them. We see them at road signals, dressed in sarees, walking in packs of two’s and three’s. They beg for money, tease the taxi driver, laugh and walk away. As a child, I was scared of them mainly because I didn’t know who they were. When my mum explained to me that they were “half and half”, I realised they were people too.

Finish reading at Womanist Musings here.

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I Got Lucky! Again!

Hello Dear BLOG! reading person. Amidst my barfing and some more barfing, I got some happy news today. I haven’t been crowned Queen (yet) but something even better happened! I got published in Womanist Musings! Again! Learning from my mistake from last time, I’ll just post the link right away. Turns out most of you are too lazy to even click on the supplied link. Sigh. Making an invalid work so much. There has to be a law against this *continues to grumble for some time*

Here is the post you lazy bums!

Us and Them

Surviving in Mumbai is an acquired skill, my grand mum used to say. This city offers hope to millions of citizens to become ‘someone important’, to become rich, to break into the Bollywood industry or make every other dream of theirs into reality. Based on these fantasies, millions migrate daily into the city. If their fairy tales were played out in the real world, they’d crumble in two seconds flat, leaving you feeling bitter and cheated – not unlike the disillusionment Mumbai instills on every (once) dreamy eye. It doesn’t matter whether Mumbai is your hometown or not. You’re just as much a stranger to the city as the clichéd immigrant.

Before you know it, you’ve settled for serving coffee to the editor instead of hoping to be the person reporting interesting stories. Soon enough you realise Living is Surviving. In this process, the city becomes your teacher, making you a person you would have never dreamt of. Or so you reassure yourself.

You learn to adjust to the perpetual humid climate, you learn the correct way to elbow your way out of the crowded trains, you learn to ‘tolerate’ men brushing past you almost daily and perhaps the most important of all, you learn the fine art of ‘othering’.

You learn to see the world in two halves: You and Them.

Every time you see a beggar, you turn your heart into stone, look away. You’ve heard stories about these beggars being addicts, child molesters, and con- artists. You try not to cringe in shame when you see a tiny boy stealing the biscuits you left for stray dogs. You tell yourself, “They are lazy people. Instead of begging on the streets, they should look for jobs”. Soon you have a scale of judging “those people” – you decide whether the beggar looks healthy or not, whether zie looks capable enough to hold a job. Only if they are truly destitute or missing limbs from their body, you give them money. Even then, you look at fellow straphangers in the train, searching for assurance that the beggar truly deserved your charity.

You learn to ‘other’ people from different religions or cultures next. You label people as ‘Bihari’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Tamilian’, ‘Sikh’ or ‘Christian’ based on their attire and dialect. Being next to anyone of those people doesn’t bother you much if you’re in a crowd, bus or train. In restaurants however, you say, “I can’t sit next to those non-veg eating people” and ask the manager to re-locate you. You say, “I’ve got nothing against Muslims” yet you think they “smell”, they are “backward and orthodox”, they are “fundamentalists”. When people accuse you of being biased, you say, “Now not All of them are like THAT. But most of them are”. You claim to be a person sensitive to other cultures yet you will vote for the candidate who speaks your language or ‘prefers’ your culture over others. You learn to turn up the volume of your TV and apathy every time you hear your neighbor beating his wife. You say to yourself, “I can’t meddle with their lives. Besides, they’re a Marwari family. In such cultures, this is bound to happen”. You tell yourself “This would never happen in a Hindu family”.

You tell your child not to discriminate between boys and girls, between gay or straight people; yet you turn up your nose when you see two men walking hand in hand. You tell your children, “There’s nothing wrong in being That Way” but you’ll exclaim in disbelief that a Girl you knew was homosexual. You say. “I raised my daughter as every other boy. I let her play all she wanted. Now, is the time to become a woman and settle down”. You say, “Of course my daughter is educated! How else will she find a decent, educated boy?”. When someone points out to you your bias and sexism, you exclaim loudly, “I’m not one of those uneducated people! I gave my daughter the best education. What more do you want? We have to think practically after all”.

On the news, you see reports of another rape, molestation, murder or numerous other disasters. You quickly blame the “system”, “corporate sector”, “capitalism”, “those lazy politicians”, “western cultures” and say, “This is what this cracked city does to you”. You claim that you can buy and sell morals, integrity and  people out here. You say, “In my time Bombay was paradise. Now it’s a hellhole full of rapists, drug addicts and other low-lifes. They should all be killed”.

Every time I hear these slurs a part of me melts away. I want to scream, “The city has nothing to do with your flawed logic!” but they just say, “These feminist bitches have a problem with everything!”

So now, I have two options: either ‘learn’ from the city and ‘survive’ with ‘them’ or look into my own heart to learn to ‘live’, ‘believe’ and ‘expect MORE’. As it turns out, I’m not that jaded. Yet.

So, the next time, you’re ‘othering’ someone else, remember to not back up your argument with “Those people…” We people nay ‘feminists bitches’ deserve better comebacks. About time now.

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