7 Reasons India’s rape problem is not going to end at least not in our lifetimes (Telangana rape case)

Apologies for sounding pessimist but I will rather be real than weave a fairy tale idealistic world in which India is a nation where women are safe and sound. Sorry, no sugar coating from me.

The recent rape in Telangana of a young vet doctor has caused an uproar in the media these days. In 2012 when Nirbhaya happened, I began my blog, wrote my first book and I became a staunch advocate of women’s rights and violence against women. In the last 8 years, I’ve written and made plenty of videos on the issue yet not an ounce of change has happened on the ground. And considering the culture, it doesn’t seem like the changes would be visible anytime sooner. Here’s why:
1- the glorification of rape and harassment in our movies and pop songs
Sanjay Rajoura, satirist best pointed it out when he shone a light on the most loved, most heard songs in Bollywood. From ‘chumma dede’ which was the first gang rape song to the ‘tandoori murgi’ song lets just admit that our cinema and TV have failed women greatly. And not just women it has also failed men taking away their humanity and instilling these ideas of rape and harassment as ‘romance’.
Just look at Yo Yo Honey Singh’s songs and you would wonder how is this guy not banned from making these super misogynistic songs. But when you look at the people obsessed with him and dancing to his tunes, you would know how things work in our society. Sure then, please stop complaining about harassment then.
2- young boys raised with toxic masculinity in which power and control over the other is taught
Taking forward this impact of cinema, boys need better parenting. But NOOOOOOOOOOO boys will be boys, superior and power-hungry. Look at how our media is obsessed with the 56-inch chest of the PM. Unless one is going to wrestle in a match or model for CK, I don’t see why his chest size is worth noting. But the more this toxic idea of masculinity is imbibed in our men, the more they think that being a man is about exercising your power on the vulnerable.
3- lack of proper sex education that teaches about consent and safe intercourse
I begged my mom and sister to speak to my pre-teen little brother about sex. I sent books to help them manage the subject. But neither listened to me. And a few months later they catch him looking at porn on mom’s phone. And of course, even then the reaction was absolutely the opposite of what was required. And the awful thing is that they are among the majority of parents in India who never speak to their children about safe sex practices or the concept of ‘consent’. Jamila Jameel said it best that learning about sex from porn is like learning driving from Fast and Furious movies; its a fucking terrible idea!
4- disbelief and belittling of rape survivors
Unless a woman is dead, she is a liar. Let us be honest here when was the last time a woman talked about surviving rape and she was believed? Just admit it, ours is not a society where a survivor of rape is trusted or healed.
5- lousy legal and police system that doesn’t respond on time or appropriately
In Telangana case, had the police reacted on time, they would at least have found her injured body, she may not have been burned. How pathetic is the police that tells a frantic mother that her 27-year-old daughter may have eloped but not possibly a victim of rape? Our courts do not do a better job either. If you somehow make it alive after an attack like that, you probably will be ripped to pieces trying to get justice.
6- government patronage to rapists
Chinmayanand, Kuldeep Singh Senger, Gurmeet Singh… need I even say more.
7- generic treatment of women as second-grade citizens
Women in our society are meat. Made to be used and consumed. Women empowerment is only lip service and political tool. No one is bothered about keeping women safe. We are half the fucking country and yet, no one is bothered. Women themselves are not bothered. I personally know of women who will blame the victim of rape after an incident like such surfaces. What do you expect from a society like this?
I am not saying that rape and harassment only occur in India. They happen worldwide but the barbaric brutality in which women are mutilated and burnt alive is certainly not seen much elsewhere in the world.
Kathua rape victim was an 8-year-old who was drugged, starved for 8 days, raped constantly inside a temple by several men and then finally killed by smashing her skull. Sounds normal in any sense?
The Unnao rape victim is struggling to survive while her almost entire family and lawyer have been killed by the suspects who have government patronage.
Another 6-year-old child today was raped and strangled by her school belt and left for dead.
These are not just rapes, these are incidents of absolute brutality.
And to top this all up, the top porn search from India today the Telangana victims rape. Yes, more than 80 lakh people searched for this rape video to jerk off to the cries of a helpless and vulnerable woman before she died.
Huh, you telling me this society will change?
Sure, fool yourself if you have any hope from this society. I know it won’t, not for a long time.

In a Country Where Religious Fundamentalism Encourages Men to Rape Minorities is Quitting Bollywood Over Religion That Big of a Deal That it is a Topic of National Outrage?

The Unnecessary And Stupid Outpour Over Zaira’s Retiring from Bollywood Shows How Much India Loves Hating Women.

I seriously just hate to write this post because this is soooooooooooooooooo lame that I have read so much unnecessary outpour that now I am forced to write this as an intellectual and a Muslim Feminist.

Just look at how many comments have these posts drawn:

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And look what matured senior people from Bollywood like Raveena Tandon and Anupam Kher have said:

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So, is it right to hate Zaira over her decision to quit Bollywood?

Abso-freakin-lutely NOT!

She is going back to or being forced to go back to regressive Islamic tradition.

She never said so.

She is supposed to be an icon of women empowerment. By quitting over religion, isn’t she harming the cause of women empowerment?

No. She has been an icon, yes, but in a nation where thousands of parliamentarians have RAPE cases against them, we cannot put the responsibility of empowering the entire womenkind on one 18-year-old girl.

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Also, who says she cannot empower women by doing something else? Can’t she be a doctor, a social worker or whatever else and still continue to empower women?

But the RELIGION interfering with her Bollywood career is a sign of regressive thinking?

NO. Please bother to read her post and understand that she has talked in her post about the ‘spirituality’ of Islam. She mentions her about her ‘iman’ and peace. Who knows maybe being in the limelight at such a tender age, getting all this attention and success, taught her something about the importance of other values or the lack of some sort of peace that she misses because of the attention. She has already achieved plenty by the age of 18 that most people strive for until their 60s. Therefore her maturity about her career should be given due respect too.

Or let’s call it being stupid. So what? When you and I were 18, haven’t we ever made any stupid decisions? She has her whole life ahead of her. Maybe someday she will realize that she enjoyed acting more than other things and she may come back to it. Whatever the case may be, it is absolutely her prerogative to decide.

Would you say the same if a Hindu girl quit Bollywood?

My argument is not based on specifics of a religion but the independence to chose for herself. So it would be the same, regardless of what the religion may be.

So, after quitting Bollywood, would Zaira be the best Muslim, an icon for piety?

Absolutely not! Allah alone can judge people and to be a good Muslim is to be a good human being. Me or you or Zaira have to practice compassion and kindness in our actions, which can be practiced as a poor person and as a wealthy successful Bollywood actress as well.

Those Muslims who are praising her for somehow practicing modesty or ‘being meek to patriarchy’ PLEASE STOP. Don’t make this about your belief that women must stay indoors to be respected. By saying things like that you are demeaning the entire womenkind and the Muslim community as a whole.

She could have faded away simply but why did she make this public announcement?

In an era where people are literally sharing information about what they had for breakfast, you want to blame an 18-year-old girl for sharing a major life decision?

Plus, her decision was a simple Facebook post, not a press conference or a media interview that it drew so much undue attention. Her intention may have been to announce her decision to people who are close to her or who follow her or even those write cinema news. Whatever, but seems like she wanted to let people know that she didn’t become invisible because she was bad at her job or wasn’t getting any offers. She is the one to quit despite being an award-winning actress.

Would you quit a job and let your friends or family think that you were fired or simply unemployable? Of course not. You would want them to know it was your decision.

Her bringing Islam into her decision reflects that she is trying to be a good Muslim which begs to ask if other Muslim actors in Bollywood are bad Muslims?

First of all, no, she did not say anything about other Muslims in Bollywood.

Second of all, I don’t think Bollywood would be the same without Muslim artists. From Dilip Sahab to Shahrukh Khan, from Nargis to Huma Qureshi, Bollywood is an epitome of religious diversity. Being a good Muslim or a bad Muslim means nothing if one is not a good HUMAN BEING.

Each human being interprets and practices religion in their own way and the Holy Quran allows that. The Quran and all the Hadith and Sunnah lay out a ‘way of life’ for its followers in order to live peacefully and have virtues like compassion and patience in times of distress.

The primary line that most extremists would conveniently forget is ‘there is NO COMPULSION IN ISLAM’. None of the prayers or anything matter if you do it out of compulsion rather than free will and love for God.

Also, this line was written because times go by and today the Quran is a book from another century. Times change and so have the meanings and interpretations. For instance, there is mention of treating your ‘slaves’ in a just manner, several times. But in this century, slavery is illegal. So, as common sense would suggest, the rule would apply to any person working under you or anyone from a poorer income/background.

Whether art does not mix with Islam, is an old debate that has been going on for centuries because it serves the extremists. It helps them create fear and hatred.

The reasons Zaira quoted though are more spiritual, rather than fundamentalist.

But let’s assume for a moment that they are fundamentalist, so what? In a nation where fundamentalists, religious extremists literally murder minorities in the name of so-called ‘god’, should our focus really be on a teenage kid quitting Bollywood?

If Sania Mirza wearing skirts for her matches is not wrong in my eyes, if thousands of Muslim artists working in Coke Studio are not bad Muslims to me, certainly one little teenage Zaira choosing NOT to be in Bollywood does not make her a target for outrage. My Feminism won’t be INCLUSIVE and INTERSECTIONAL if I did not respect Zaira’s choices.

The maturity that I acquired by being a Feminist is that I would respect people and their life choices, even if I would not choose that for myself.

For example, prostitution.

I personally would not do sex work. But that does not mean I can disrespect or look down upon those who do or mock some woman on the corner of the street for doing so. I would rather go my own way or if I feel weird, I might bother to ask if she was a victim of human trafficking, if she needed any help from me etc.

But what I would never do is call her names, mock her or feel superior because this is life and no one knows when tables might turn.

I have therefore learned to RESPECT people who are making their life decisions which I may not personally make for myself and having the maturity of giving them time and space to deal with their shit in their own ways.

So, FFS, chill and leave Zaira to discover her own life and her own path and find a better reason for your outrage.

 

 

5 Reasons Why My Solo New Year’s Night at Home is The Best

So, as you are settling into 2019, I hope you all had a wonderful celebration to welcome 2019, in your own way.

Usually, there is so much pressure to go out, do something fun and live an extraordinary night #fomo This is problematic in many ways but mostly for your mental health.

If that’s what you like, it is great but before you instantly agree to it…take a few moments to read about my solo new year’s celebration at home and ponder.

1- Home cooked Chilli Chicken with Toasted Buns VS expensive restaurant food

So, nothing is more crucial to a celebration than food. I am a bit of a chef and love my own cooking. Hence I made one of my all-time favorite, Indo-Chinese style Chilli Chicken.

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Making restaurant reservations for months, paying super high prices and staying on point in uncomfortable tight/formal evening wear…. compare that with an evening in sweatpants, bare feet, home cooked, no wait, authentic meal. Yum, I always pick the latter.

2- Boring movies/entertainment, super expensive VS Netflix and solo chill 😉

The next important thing after food is your entertainment. The hours that build upto midnight are crucial. You are supposed to have fun YOUR WAY and what’s better than your own sofa, lots of cushions, and movies picked by you with no commercials and no extra prices to pay.

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My choice of movie was PK, Amir Khan’s legendary film. I know it’s a lil old but I had not yet found time to watch it and lucky for me, now that it’s on Netflix, I loved watching every second of it. My kind of entertainment, with my kind of food.

3- Cold and wet streets VS cozy home sofa with loads of blankets, cushions, and heating

I know this is highly subjective and I am not saying that my way is the best way. But when it comes to ambiance, I always go for non-crowdy spaces. Watching a LIVE firework somewhere amongst a million other people has its own charm. But it gets old. Not something that one can enjoy every single year. Good to try once in a while especially when you visit some iconic city. But otherwise, as you age, you rather be in your cozy spot rather than large crowds for hours in the cold. It really is so much more nicer.

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4- Better views of fireworks from different angles VS from the crowds

This might again be up for debate but watching the midnight fireworks on LIVE TV is a lot more fun because you get to see all these different angles and you are not holding your phone trying to record it, getting pushed or groped among endless crowds.

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5- Do YOU VS do what the crowds on Insta and Snapchat and FB are doing

No doubt this is the age of social media. And when you see all your friends on beaches, music concerts, under landmark buildings etc. you feel like you are lame and people will judge you for being boring or uninteresting or whatever.

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But let’s face the facts here. Like me, many of you might not be in the best of health to stay on your feet for 3-4 hours or more in public areas. Many of us have visible and invisible illnesses. Many of us also have money constraints or families to care for. Staying outdoors until midnight with small children or elderly people is risky and frustrating too.

Other than the above restraints, there is also an internal mood of the soul, depending on the kind of person you are. If you are someone like me who prefers quiet places without crowds and dim lighting… you don’t need to beat yourself up just cause you are not the life of the party. I am not a drinker myself but I don’t see why if you were a drinker, you could not do even that by yourself. Probably that way you’d have more control over your consumption and save yourself from a terrible headache on the first day of the year.

The point I am trying to make is DO WHAT YOU FEEL LIKE DOING AND NOT WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA TELLS YOU. Be happy with what you have and who you have. Life is precious. I know at least 2 people who died on the 31st itself and could not see the morning of 2019. Life is precious. Don’t spend it living up to someone else’s standards. Set your own standards and find happiness in the little moments.

And most of all- learn to enjoy your own company because you are all you got. I know countless people who are so shit-scared of being on there own, they chose to live with partners that mistreat them like slaves. But the fear of being on your own keeps them in ‘doormat’ position.

That’s my message to you. I hope you all have a great year ahead.

Why did Dr. Ford or Tanushree not speak earlier about sexual assault? #MeToo

Originally published on Youth Ki Awaaz.

‘Since last week when Tanushree Datta’s interview claiming Nana Patekar assaulted her have caught fire, the most common attack against her (other than her character assassination) has been this narrative of time lapse. 

I can’t recall how many comments I’ve seen from people on social media and how many celebrities have mentioned this time thing that if Nana assaulted her she should have done something then and there. 

What’s the point of speaking up after 10 years?

So in this article, I wish to clarify. 

First of all, as confirmed by Janice Sequeira the journalist, an outraged Rakhi Sawant and devils advocate Ganesh Acharya himself: it is 100% true that TANUSHREE did complain then and there. 

First to the choreographer then to the director and then to the Artists and producers association including the cops. 

So all those people who are saying that this media trial is useless and she should have taken a legal road then and there; she did and guess what happened? Nothing!

Instead, thanks to the corrupt legal system, she and her family got re traumatised over and over again to the extent that she flees the country and her career ended. She has about 40 films signed but film sets got so traumatic for her, she decided never to return. 

Now that this has been cleared, let’s assume that she didn’t speak up then and is only coming out now. 

Lets say it’s been 20 years. 

Or may be even 30/40/50 years. ‘

Continue reading here.

Sanjay Rajoura Is the Indian Feminist Man Every Woman Wishes Would Have Around

Sanjay Rajoura. The man.

This recent stand-up video from Aisi Taisi Democracy is a total hit.

In the video, Sanjay talks about super uncomfortable issues like #MeToo, toxic masculinity, sexism, blaming women for awful habits, the self entitlement of Indian men and a whole lot of other things.

In fact, this is less of comedy more of hard-hitting satire.

The rare thing about Sanjay Rajoura is that for as long as I have watched his videos, Sanjay has actively used his male privilege in the INDIAN society to raise awareness about women’s sufferings. He has spoken about derogatory customs and traditions that keep the Indian women oppressed while thinking they are being the ‘good girls’.

I have met Indian men before that claim to be feminists. But 2 minutes into a conversation with them and I realize that they caught the word feminist from some celebrity social media account or some trendy T-shirt and that is all they know about feminism. They have neither read nor researched a single problem of a woman’s life yet have distorted views and often long misogynistic attitudes.

Watching Sanjay in this video, seeing him using his space and privilege to self reflect and talk so blatantly about the rotten habits of Indian men, without pulling any punches is a rare thing in the Indian stand up/ content creation scene.

We need more men like him who acknowledge their gender and caste privilege and have no hesitation in accepting the oppression and persecution of others by their class.

Before you start the #NotAllMen argument for the millionth time, yes I know not all men Sanjay refers to are molesters, rapists, and sexists. But that is not the point.

That never was the point.

The point is that ALL MEN have been disproportionately advanced at one place or another due to their gender, such is the Indian society and most of the world too.

Thanks, Sanjay for such honest self-reflection and commentary on your species 🙂

13 Reasons Why and the deal with forgiving rapists

I watched 13 Reasons Why season 3 recently and had some moving thoughts on the various issues around the whole sexual assault, toxic masculinity, and bro culture thing. This has spoilers so beware.

 

Casting

The best acting first of all in this season I think was Tyler’s. Casting in this program is excellent hence the massive success of the entire show overall. But in this particular season, I would say Tyler deserves an extra applaud. Playing a boy victim of sexual assault, a bullied kid isn’t what most actors dream of when they come to the field of acting. But every emotion every word he said, it was all too natural and too surreal.

Ani was the new character they introduced this season who was kind of a rope, a common thread that began the story and brought it to its conclusion. Apart from the storyline of Ani, I didn’t like her acting very much for some reason.

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Just my personal choice but of all the characters they chose, this one had to have the most screen time in this season but they went very wrong with this character. I’m really sorry but I didn’t find her acting skills as strong as those of others in the show.
At first, I thought maybe it is just me but then I read reviews from several other fans of the show and shared similar feelings about Ani. It was a total hit and miss kind of a thing. I still don’t understand what were the writers thinking. If you take her part of the story out, there is absolutely no impact on the outcome and the story would still have existed.

Storyline and impact

The first season had the most impact on me and mostly because we were introduced to a funeral type scene in a high school gallery and we were left to discover the secrets behind the suicide of this sweet innocent girl. Something not many people had watched so closely before.

This season was your typical murder mystery.

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They disclosed that Bryce was killed and like many other shows we discover how. The character of Ani was only introduced to give Clay another reason to be mad at Bryce. Other than that the should have kept on without her just as well. And they could have shown Clay was angry at Bryce anyway from Hannah’s death. But introducing Ani and the Walker household stuff was a way to drag the show to 13 episodes. The impact factor in this season was much lower compared to the first. I had tears in my eyes when Tyler finally told Clay about his ordeal and when Justin and Clay bonded.

Feeling sorry for Bryce and forgiving RAPISTS

This season got the audience a lot closer to Bryce.
We got to see his issues with his parents, his grandfather, the fathers’ girlfriend, and kid and his soft corner for friends.
I am still trying to understand whether they gave that much screen time to Bryce so that the fans could feel sorry for him, to see his difficult life post-trial. Or was it an attempt to make young men aware that their consequences have actions.
We see Bryce helping out, standing by his friends throughout the entire season. Bryce even helped out Tony in an attempt to make amends.
The irony is that despite raping Hannah and barely being remorseful about it, Bryce is angry at his friend Monty for raping Tyler.
At plenty of points in the season, you see the humanity in Bryce and think ‘aww what a kind-hearted and loving young man he is’.
Justin starts hanging out with Bryce despite knowing he raped Jessica and ultimately you see Jessica forgive Justin for all of it.
Realistically possible? I don’t know but this certainly does bring me to this whole subject of forgiving rapists.
Some actions are irreversible and no amount of apologies can make any difference. In another Netflix Show called ‘Unbelievable’ about the real-life serial rapist, one of the cops puts it very well. She says that when you shoot someone the bullet can be extracted and they either live or die. But rape is like a constant bullet in the soul of the person that they have to carry with them forever.
So if any of you have watched the show or any such news about how difficult a rape convict’s life is, please refrain from feeling any guilt or pressure to ‘see their side of things’. Maybe if someone murders another human, there is a slight possibility that there maybe ‘other side of things’. It could be self-defense or accidental or whatever.
But rape is not an accident. A rapist knows exactly how to exert power and take advantage of someone they want to violate. Rape does not deserve forgiveness or excuses.
Some people feel the need to forgive in order for their own mental health so they can get closure to move on. I would say, to each their own.
If that’s what you think you need to do, not because someone has told you that the only way to move on is to forgive or give you some religious reasons to forgive a rapist, then sure, do that.
Otherwise, a rapist does not deserve any mercy or forgiveness. End of story. No matter how kind and sweet he is to his friends, helping them get drugs anyways is not exactly ‘kindness’ but you get what I mean.

Continue reading

Muslim Woman MP + Hindu Husband + Indian Parliament = Disaster

Recently, a Muslim Woman by name called Nusrat Jehan was voted to be one of the MP’s to the Indian Parliament among few others. Kudos for female representation in politics.

But since she is married to a Hindu man, she is being trolled and while they agree on nothing but this they agreed on that this woman deserved to be trolled.

Hindus trolled her for her Western outfit that she wore a few days ago.

Muslims trolled her for wearing saree and sindoor and her marriage to a Hindu Man.

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Although, the validity of those Twitter trolls is questionable it would be far fetched to say that Indian Muslims are so secular that they won’t flinch their eyebrows on the concept of a Muslim woman marrying a Hindu man.

Whatever, but here are my two cents on the debate:

India is a secular country.

Any woman living on the land of India can wear whatever she pleases and marry whoever she pleases or not marry at all.

Muslim clerics giving her lessons in Islamic studies, trying to ‘educate’ her or basically patronize her, giving lessons in ‘how to dress like a Muslim woman’ really should stop propagating this line of thought because besides being a Muslim, they are also Indian.

Indian Muslims are different from Arab Muslims simply because our identity was created on the values of secularity and religious tolerance and acceptance.

There is no compulsion in Islam by the very definition of it but very conveniently men forget this part.

An Indian woman, whether she marries a man of her religion or that of another, has the right to do so under the Indian sky and when you try to lecture her for her choices, you are violating her constitutional civil right.

Plain and simple.

She can be barely Muslim, namesake Muslim, practicing Muslim or a Non-Muslim.

It’s up to her.

As the lady Fatima in the debate show said that this is a Muslim women’s issue- it certainly isn’t.

The one thing that united INDIAN MEN both HINDUS AND MUSLIMS across India is their MISOGYNY AND SEXISM.

No woman has been spared from their filthy graze, patronizing remarks and excessive trolling online and offline.

Rahul Eshwar made a point about people in public life developing a ‘thick skin’ because trolling is part of being in the limelight and suggesting we all take PM Modi as an example.

I want to bang my head on the wall because I don’t know if he is pretending to be an idiot in order to trivialize the issue or if he genuinely can’t differentiate between gender-based oppression- sexism and generic critique.

PM Modi is criticized on his silence on the oppression of minorities, the financial massacre that was demonization and a million other things. Not for what he was wearing or being tagged as a male prostitute which these women were called.

Can’t you see no difference in critique and personal gender-based attacks?

I am not saying women must not be criticized but criticize women for their work and when you say they are incompetent don’t dare say that all women are incompetent.

I personally hated how Hema Malini took some photos in the fields right before the elections and when asked about the work she has done for her constituency, she said that she doesn’t remember.

I shared plenty of memes myself because that is an abuse of power. Critique her all you want but for her and her work alone.

Don’t attack the entire gender, don’t say she is incompetent because she is a woman and when criticizing her, only focus on the work, not what she is wearing or the way her hair looks.

It’s not rocket science. If you want to see the difference, you really will.

 

How Women Find Excuses to Dismiss My Belief Against Domestic Abuse

Men and women have almost equal contribution in the fucked up mess that our society is today.

Undoubtedly, men have played a prominent role as aggressors and oppressors, while women have been the oppressed ones, historically and statistically speaking.

But in most people’s minds, women’s roles in perpetuating misogyny, domestic abuse, and even rapes have been downplayed.

Women make excuses for their abusive husbands, sons, and brothers, among many other awful things that contribute to the oppression of women.

The funny thing that I want to discuss in this article is how while discussing domestic abuse, women dismiss my advice or warnings to suit their narrative.

WHEN I SAY I AM IN A HAPPY RELATIONSHIP WITH A MAN:

Speaking as a feminist who has a man in her life who respects and loves her, my advice or whatever statement I make in a discussion is dismissed.

They say I have a good guy, the rest of them are not like him and since I don’t know what an abusive relationship is like, I cannot understand the risks of living a single woman’s life and which is why they would continue to live with an abusive man.

WHEN I SAY I AM A HAPPY SINGLE WOMAN:

They say that I am a man-hating feminist who never wants to be associated with a man. Over the years I have been awarded many other such titles, dominating feminist, a competitor of men, delusional woman who thinks she does not need men blah blah blah.

I have been in both situations, single and in a relationship.

And not for one second I changed my core belief that

A MAN THAT DOES NOT RESPECT YOU OR TREATS YOU AS HIS EQUAL, DOES NOT DESERVE YOU. 

Domestic abuse has many aspects and leaving a spouse or partner you love/d is never going to be easy. I never said it would be.

But is it easy to be with a man who can break your skull any moment with a bat?

Technically speaking, almost nothing in life is easy. But instead of finding ways to bring down women who claim to be a feminist and advocate equal rights in a relationship also, not just on paper in society, maybe focus on the reason why you are NOT A FEMINIST.

Feminism to me is religion, it is logic, it is common sense. A way for society to move forward and accept all humans as they are. Just because you have failed to Google a simple definition of what ‘feminism’ is, does not mean I would not call myself a feminist to save me from your judgment.

I have the deepest of sympathies for any person, any gender who is in an abusive relationship and needs help. In fact, this blog is for such people and I get queries from all over the world, from all sorts of people seeking advice. I have studied the topics, researched them and written books on them. So, I know my shit. I know what I am talking about.

But these women defending the abuse and saying ‘this is what marriage is’ and ‘I am putting up with this for my kids’ is a total disaster. Instead of defending abuse and abusive men, break the cycle of abuse by not making your kids watch you get beaten.

And I will always be there to help.

Me, the openly feminist, man-hating single woman. (#satire)

 

Free Public Transport For Women is An Excellent Step By Delhi Govt Through a Feminist Lens. Here’s Why:

So, the AAP government in New Delhi, India recently announced that they would like to make public transport (metro rail and buses) FREE for women.

One might assume this would be celebrated by people, right?

Shockingly, NO. People are pissed. Or let’s say, ignorant ones at least are. And they are making arguments to protest against this move. Below, I write about the arguments and why they are absolute garbage.

1- This is not FEMINISM or EQUALITY if only women get free rides.

If you think about equality in such binary terms, you have no clue what feminism is. The picture most commonly circulated on the internet to explain the issue is this one, which illustrates what I mean.

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Equality is the ideal goal but to give people equality, we have to ensure all people have the same starting point in the race. Which is not. We have all sorts of social and economic inequalities within gender inequality. So, if you have read anything on FEMINISM, you would know that things like reservations for the disabled or women or any special privileges given to women are because historically women were marginalized and to CORRECT THAT IMBALANCE some sort of measures will be needed.

2- Don’t bring FEMINISM into this.

Of course, the existence of women and them reclaiming public spaces is very much a feminist issue and if anyone claims to be a feminist for real, they would very much approve and celebrate this move by Kejriwal.

3- Women care about safety and not free rides.

This one too is an ignorant statement from someone coming from a privileged background. Maybe you don’t care about saving roughly 2500 INR per month because your bank account has 50,000. But for someone who barely makes 10,000 or less a month, this 2500 would mean a lot to them.

So, please don’t pretend that all Indian women living in Delhi are so financially well off that they don’t care about saving that money. Secondly, safety is a larger picture, the elements of which are divided into a thousand smaller pieces.

Safety for women is NOT an ice cream that you GIVE women.

Because if that is the case, women suffer the most harassment and abuse in their own homes through their husbands, fathers, brothers, and relatives. Can we isolate all women from their families or place CCTVs inside their homes?

Women’s safety is a very large project and women RECLAIMING PUBLIC SPACES is a tiny element or a building block that would contribute to that larger picture. The key here is for women TO BE SEEN in public spaces, changes the age-old mindset of men that women must stay indoors or only travel at certain times a day.

You may not think it has any impact but research suggests otherwise. Just speak with Mumbaikers. Women in Mumbai may also face harassment in public from time to time but they travel at any time day or night and are not looked at weirdly because the working class women do travel and men have gotten used to the idea of seeing them in public spaces.

I cannot emphasize how important it is for women to BE SEEN IN PUBLIC SPACES, living their lives, doing their thing or just loitering.

4- This is only a political bait thrown by the AAP.

To people who say this, my question is “name one political party in India that has not offered some kind of pre-election treat to people?”

And if those pre-election promises are religious divisions and persecution of minorities, then I think AAP IS NOT ONLY RIGHT BUT also should be CELEBRATED for at least making the bait non-religious, and something that would help the working class women from economically backward society.

5- The metros will be overcrowded and uncomfortable and all sorts of poor people would make it ghetto.

This, of course, is an argument coming from an elitist or upper-middle-class person who wants equality and democracy only above their level, not below.

The people making the policy are not fools. Kejriwal explained how this has been budgeted and taking into account the daily commuters stats, there is not going to be overcrowding as is in Mumbai.

Yeah, the only thing is, wearing your expensive Gucci dress you might have to sit or stand next to a happy maid wearing a 200 Rupee saree, who just might be too busy to notice your fancy presence because her focus might be not on your Prada bag but her monthly wage.

So, if this pisses you off that a poor woman might make a living while you cannot call the metro fancy and a means that caters to rich people any more, then I would say- STAY PISSED, NO ONE CARES.

This is what all of it actually comes down to.

Women from poorer backgrounds might be able to travel far for economic opportunities and in general, the reclaiming of public spaces by women is GOOD and a welcome move.

Kejriwal has got this one thing right and may have a hundred more to go.

But at least its a good start.

Something is better than nothing.

Would A Low Income Husband Really Follow Around His Famous High Profile Wealthy Wife? Thoughts on Netflix’s ‘Always Be My Maybe’.

Netflix has been doing a good job in terms of creating content with diversity and woke perceptions in general.

The latest movie, ‘Always Be My Maybe’ is one such example, staring Ali Wong and Randall Park.

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We have seen these two several times before but rarely as the protagonists of the story with their own fully developed characters. So, absolutely refreshing to see talented and amazing actors like them to come on full display rather than remain side pieces. Their acting was on point, the screenplay and story were entertaining and very millennial, very relevant for 2019. All the side characters were also funny, smart and did an amazing job at moving the story forward.

The theme though, which rarely is seen in English films or any cinema worldwide for that matter is that of a middle-class man, dating a high profile celebrity woman.

The film does a good job of showing how the two different lifestyles just don’t mix and the clashes are hilarious.

Marcus is a very vanilla, very sweet but scared man. Maybe losing his mother at a young age made him stay comfortable by his dad, in that very same neighborhood. He is a talented singer but lacks ambition. He doesn’t want to try new things, do anything adventurous or take any chances.

Sasha, on the other hand, is a celebrity chef who is innovating traditional Korean/ Chinese cuisine and taking it to the next level where a plate costs four figures worth of money. She does not like to stay in one place, she takes chances, she is successful and does not apologize for her money or fame. With all that fancy, high profile life though comes a lot of pretentiousness. She herself has that regular girl vibe but to be at that level of success and deal with a wealthy clientele, she has created a fake fancy version of herself that she blends easily with her real self. She has felt neglected as a kid when her immigrant parents used to be busy working and she had to look after herself. That seems to have made her stand for herself in a good way, though she resents being neglected as a kid.

Sasha and Marcus were neighbors and as kids and had grown fond of each other. So there is already a pre-existing affection there. Maybe this is what holds the story together because otherwise, would we believe that a celebrity hotshot chef is with a middle-class man?

Don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying that no wealthy high profile, famous person has ever dated or married a person who is not as famous or wealthy.

What I am saying is that how many times have we seen this for real or in TV and films as fiction? I personally am aware of plenty of women who were great at studies, got amazing grades, medical and engineering degrees and today I see them washing their husbands’ underwear and dishes. If this was just a one-off instance, then I might tell myself it is no big deal. But the cases I see are about 98% approximately.

Speaking of films and TV, we have always seen the wife or girlfriend following the man around. The guy is the one with an important career or a mission. And the woman is the cheerleader standing on the sidelines. Women have always been nurturing wives and mothers who are just a piece in the success of a man.

Take Julia Roberts’ two films for instance.

In Notting Hill, she is the celebrity, the rich woman falling in love with the regular guy Hugh Grant, who plays the role of a book shop owner. The theme of her fame and wealth is constantly in conflict with the man’s ego. Just look at the question on the poster- Can the most famous star in the world fall for the man in the street. Wow. Have you ever seen this question where the man is famous and the woman is from the street? Barely ever, because that is the NORM.

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In Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts is playing the role of a prostitute who is picked up by a wealthy Richard Gere for a night that turns into a week and they fall in love. The wealth and fame of the guy is no impediment to the woman there. She is thrilled at the amenities and luxuries. In the end, you see her going along with the wealthy guy without there being any conflict with her ego or self-respect.

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People say that our media and entertainment is the mirror of our society. It is hard to say that we have these unsaid rules that the man has to be wealthier, taller, older than the woman, were created by media or society first. But they certainly exist in both realms.

If not, why do I constantly hear  ‘no man wants a woman that successful, so dial down your ambitions’? And if and when a woman is more successful than a man, why is the world judgmental and harsh towards the man? Why does the man himself feel small and unappreciated or grumpy about not being in the spotlight?

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Marcus has no ego issues or does he? He feels bad when Sasha refers to him as a ‘regular’ guy, holding the purse of his woman while the world’s eyes are on her.

But you also see him not choosing to follow Sasha to New York simply because his only family, his father, his friends, his band, his dads business, everything required him to stay where he was.

I guess we can say it’s both and it takes a while for him to get used to being OK with standing on the sidelines.

My wish is that there were more men out there who did not crush their women’s ambitions and do not make this an ego or manliness issue that their wives earn more than them.

This theme was slightly discussed in The Big Bang Theory where Amy and Bernadette discuss hiding their money or awards from their husbands so they do not feel that their wives are more successful than them. Similarly, at one point when Penny makes more money than Leonard, he gets weird too.

Time and again we see this thing. Men used to be the breadwinners for their families while women stayed home, cooked and made babies. This was in the past though.

While all our entertainment is highly tilted towards this ‘men being the breadwinner’ narrative, the millennials have made some strides in changing this. The film ‘The Intern’ starring Anne Hathaway and Robert DiNero was one such for instance. Anne was a founder of her fashion brand and her husband was a stay at home dad. And they were happy with their arrangement because it worked.

I cannot put enough emphasis on the importance of changing this ‘man is the higher one, guardian, head of the family, breadwinner’ narrative.

Girls do much better than boys at school, we have seen this for several years in several surveys. Yet by the time they reach college or graduate, their numbers in the workforce decline drastically.

Motherhood takes its toll at one point and lack of proper maternity policies are also to blame. Everything is rigged in favor of male employees. When they make bigger families, they are given more benefits, higher positions and are seen as stable people, as seen in plenty of films and women, on the other hand, are penalized for having babies.

Netflix and a few other movie makers are changing this narrative, whether it is through subtle rom-com type films like ‘Always Be My Maybe’ (which isn’t a serious, in-depth feminist film of a woman’s fight or struggle) or more serious ones here and there. As a woman, I can only hope that this narrative seeps in the societal expectations too. Serious films on themes like this have their own space. But plenty of people get sidelined or purposefully dislike such films as they see it as ‘women-centric’ (which for them is a bad thing). Hence this idea needs to sneak in mainstream films, all kinds of films, like parents, hide medicine in a banana to feed their kid.

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Social changes like these move at a glacial speed and in a world where little girls are exiled to huts while on their periods, one might be thankful to be in some part of the world where we at least get to go out and work. But we cannot get stuck with being satisfied with the crumbs of societal respect. Many men I know, send their wives to work in the garb of being progressive, while their true intent is to benefit from her salary because of the inflation in the economies all around the world. But they show off and applaud themselves that they ‘allow’ their wives to work.

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These same men also flirt with other women because, after work, this wife of theirs comes home, helps kids with homework, cooks food and goes to bed late at night after putting everyone to bed. So, while the man is ‘allowing’ the woman to work outside the home, the entire household is still the wife’s responsibility. The poor woman who was earlier handling all household chores and was the primary parent and primary caregiver to the elderly is now also laboring outside the home. How is this of any benefit to her?

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This Netflix film was an entertaining light note romantic comedy but I think the themes were such that we need to discuss and ponder over and urge people around us to move towards valuing women’s labor in the way Sasha’s work is valued. She is unapologetic about her ambitions, her success, her money and doesn’t give up on that crucial part of her just because the guy is too egotistical to deal with it. Successful women often are put in that spot where they are forced to choose between love and ambition.

Ambition ain’t going anywhere but if the guy really loves you, he would NEVER put you in that spot. Just saying.

 

The loud silence of Non-Muslim Indians on the #NewZealandTerror attack shows hypocrisy towards terrorism

I want you to look at these comments and pause before you read the rest of the article.

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Among all the reactions that poured in after the recent terrorist attacks on a Mosque in New Zealand, most were reassuring.

Being an Indian, it was obvious to see reactions from Indians in my friend lists and networks. Sadly, I waited and waited and there were barely any Non-Muslims who shared any reactions at all on this tragedy.

There are also Indian Facebook groups who are quick to share details and openly condemn attacks when the killer is a Muslim. For example, when the Manchester Arena attack happened, Hindu women in the group were vehemently expressing disgust and hatred towards Muslims, especially immigrants, despite being immigrants themselves.

However, the silence of the majority of Hindus in the aftermath of this terror attack on Mosque going people was appalling. While I was thinking silence is disturbing, I came across the comments from people that were expressive.

Instead of being sympathetic or sad, they were openly bigoted. You saw for yourself in the above picture. And this is just a tiny part of the screenshot. There are several posts under which such hatred and bigotry are flowing.

Of course, I know that this is not representative of all Hindus. My best friends have been and still, are plenty of Hindus and I know plenty who absolutely stand by people of other religions.

But is it only my job to understand that these hateful people do not represent all Hindus? And the non-muslims of the world are free to tag all Muslims as terrorists when one moron goes on a killing spree?

Exactly a month ago when the Pulwama attack happened 40 CRPF Indian soldiers were martyred, apparently terrorism was on the hit list of all Indians. Not one person was silent on their strong stand against terrorism. When the names of the terrorists are Muslim names, the passion and hatred towards terrorism are at peak. But when the terrorist is a Hindu or a white guy, then apparently terrorism is not that important of an issue to be talked about or challenged.

Anyway, the last two days have been unspeakably depressing not just because of the murder of these 50 innocent people but more because of this hateful rhetoric in the air. My mental health has been deeply affected by this because the fear of something like this happening to me or my loved ones is much closer. I’m dreaded to think if such a thing would have happened with me or the ones I love. It’s just something straight out of a violent film, just that this one is actually real life and the blood spilling everywhere is real.

I am a Muslim but I was equally expressive and disturbed when last year there was an attack at a synagogue in the USA killing Jews by a white power supremacist terrorist.

And the same when other innocent people are killed anywhere in the world regardless of the association of the killer. Just hope more people stood for the innocent people and could see past their hateful bigoted feelings.

 

Believe them~believe them not-why fans are finding it impossible to believe #LeavingNeverland & MJs victims of Child Sexual Abuse

Michael Jackson is no more. His legacy lives on, both negative and positive.

#LeavingNeverland is a chilling documentary that has been talked about since its first release in Sundance Film Festival.

And since then, there have been protests of all kinds and people have expressed very strong emotions about Jackson and their love for him.

I personally have been biased towards Michael, I want to admit it openly today.

I was a teenager myself when all this stuff about Michael abusing children first made the news. I purposely avoided watching this. The very thought of my favorite pop star being a child molester was so hurtful that I did not want to confront it. What if it turned out to be true? My memories would be ruined forever, memories of my childhood listening to his songs, dancing to his tunes. All of that would be overshadowed with filth and fear, hence I stayed away from any such news and did not even give the survivors a chance to be heard. It was convenient for me this way.

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Years passed by and I had been molested multiple times during these years. I had PTSD, learned how to make sense of trauma, read books, met victims of assaults, wrote books on the subject and counseled several survivors myself.

At this stage, when I first saw Leaving Neverland making the news, I did not ignore it like I did in my teenage years. I decided to give it a fair chance. It is still hurtful and I am aware that it would still ruin my memories and all those songs I loved growing up would now have to be deleted cause they would only remind me of the survivors. But still, I decided to watch it on TV when it was aired in the UK, two nights ago.

From the very beginning, not for one second, I felt that the survivors were lying. From their descriptions of how they were totally in awe of MJ, to the point where they had Stockholm syndrome and defended him, it was all familiar and in fact, hit too close to home.

My best friend who is also a huge fan of MJ, her and I have been sharing our views about this whole issue and she has been adamant on MJ’s innocence. And no matter what the survivors say, her end remark is just one “MJ is dead now so you can say whatever you want”.

I suppose many fans of MJ would say the same. But here is the thing: yes he died, which means this is not about MJ, this is not about revenge, not about getting even or anything else at all.

This is about the survivors. About their unburdening themselves, about the charming power and influence of a superstar that blinded the parents of a kid.

Child sexual abuse is extremely complicated and I think that is the lesson we need to learn from all of this. It is not as simple as a binary ‘go tell someone’ as people think it is. The depth of this manipulation is so intense that not only you don’t realize you have been abused, you, in fact, think of yourself as a special, gifted person because the molester makes you think that.

And you can only see the abuse for what it is when you see it happening to someone else or imagine it might happen to someone you love.

Like in the case of these two young men. When they had their own sons, their life went down a spiral. As their own children grew closer to that age, they began to have nightmares about MJ doing all that sexual stuff to their own boys.

And this is how things got so bad, they went to therapy and finally made sense of what happened to them. They could then admit it to themselves that they had been abused.

Fans all over social media are arguing whether or not to believe the survivors. To me, there is not a single ounce of doubt that these two young men would be liars. People don’t just wake up one morning and decide to accuse the pop God MICHAEL JACKSON of sexual abuse because it is so much fun to be on the receiving end of all this hatred and trolling from his fans, right?

The mothers of these boys blame themselves and they have to live their entire lives with this guilt that they were not able to protect their children when they needed them most.

The wives of these men, their own children, so many lives have been affected by this. And these are just two. We don’t even know how many others were there who never came out and who still might be suffering in silence.

And when the world is going ballistic against these two men, guess who is standing by them? The feminist! The same people who you accuse of hating men.

Whether you choose to believe these two men or not, it is your choice but remember that every time you chose not to believe a survivor of sexual assault; a woman or a child around you suffers in silence knowing that you won’t believe their story either.

You may have your own idea of what a ‘perfect victim’ looks like or talks like. Just like you have an image of the perfect pedophile or the perfect rapist. But the truth of the matter is that rapists and molesters don’t look like monsters, they look absolutely normal as any other human. And victims also don’t have to have any special skills or characteristics, they are just usual, regular people with human flaws, who trust easy and share their vulnerabilities with us.

The only and only and only reason why someone would not believe these men after watching this documentary is that they are giving MJ the benefit of doubt and they are blinded by the star power of a super talented artist and fail to see the human with flaws that he was like all other humans.