We celebrate love, engagements, weddings, right?
A decision for a divorce is already hard enough… on top of that the stigma around divorce is horrible!
What can we do? #NormaliseDivorce
Here’s how I am celebrating it on my channel-
We celebrate love, engagements, weddings, right?
A decision for a divorce is already hard enough… on top of that the stigma around divorce is horrible!
What can we do? #NormaliseDivorce
Here’s how I am celebrating it on my channel-
In our culture single women are supposed to stay thin and slim. Kareena Kapoor literally brought the trend of size zero in fashion.
Can you imagine how deeply toxic this message is – be a zero means be nothing, be less than nothing, in this whole big world, occupy zero space. So in order for a man and his family of course, to find you a worthy wife you have got to be thin. Look how they shame Kareena by comparing her weight gain and weight loss photos side by side. You can’t have weight because that would mean you are a human that eats. Oh god! What on earth would that be like???
A woman who has a mouth and eats food or worse yet, is a foodie! God dammit why don’t you become an elephant while you’re at it. Jetha Lal’s neighbour, Mr Hathi can maybe marry you!
So for a woman to be a suitable wife she has to learn how to cook all the dishes from Rajma chawal to mughlai Biryani. But while she’s in the kitchen cooking all that she isn’t allowed to eat any of it. Because if she eats, she will gain weight and nobody wants to see that. So we got to stay thin and sexy so a man can fall in love with my waistline and collar bones.
So what changes after the wedding?
The man would certainly like to keep you that slim and least sized for as long as possible. But societal expectations change. If you’re not gaining weight, they will ask you if your husband provides you food. They want you to gain some weight not because of anything else but simply to show that husband is “khaate peete ghar ke log”. Not gareeb majboor log who don’t have enough to eat.
For some reason, when a woman is unmarried and living in her parents home, her health isn’t reflective of their affluence. But now the sasural ki izzat depends upon how high maintenance the BAHU is. So she has to be dolled up all the time and have bangles around her wrists and other patriarchal jewellery on her body to indicate to others in the society that she’s already taken and is off the market. And to reflect how wealthy her sasural walas are. I have also heard the infamous “man wants meat on a woman’s body when in his arms, he hates when you are all bones, so put some weight on”.
Makes me feel like a sheep before BAKRA EID at a busy BAKRA MANDI!
What baffles me most is that a woman’s body is never hers. It’s pretty natural for girls to be thinner and as time goes by, their metabolism slows down and they will put on weight. To that add pregnancy and childbirth, the whole cacophony of hormones and you got yourself a huge jumble of weight gain.
Instead of taking these natural processes into account and letting women’s bodies be in their natural state, we almost always make women’s bodies a battleground of expectations and ideals. Of what it should be in order to satisfy men. How do we twist and shrink or blow up our existence for the convenience of men.
My mom often tells me that I am allowed to gain weight after I marry and in order to look good in my wedding pictures, I have to stay thin. It baffles me how things said in ‘normal’ and well meaning conversations from the people we love most in the entire planet, are so deeply sinister and judgmental. I’ve heard more things like “travel wherever the heck you want to after you get married”. Or “use makeup after you get married”.
As if a woman has put her dreams and wishes on hold until she gets married. Before you get married you can’t do any of these things because I don’t know, only a man’s guardianship is going to support that? Whatever the fuck that means.
But what happens more often than not is that the moment a woman gets married in India, she has to give up her soul and dignity as dowry along with electronics and furniture. She has to forget her family, friends, lifestyle, choices, hobbies, personality and whatever career or ambition she ever dreamt of. Some men and sasural people are sinister though. They will ‘allow’ her to work outside the home and show off as being ‘progressive’ while making her do all the household work too and taking away all her salary! May such people burn in hell.
I digress but the whole point is a woman’s body is almost never her own. From the day she is born until the day she dies her body is used to make a man’s life easier. I urge you to think about the way you look at your own body now and ten years ago. And tell me how much of that view was your own. Weren’t you always looking at your body through the eyes of a man? Weren’t you always thinking how your body represents or rejects society’s expectations?
Be a lady, they said.
The degradation of our environment is horrendous!
Minority rights are being denied day after day.
The rise of the far-right in the world all over is scary.
You want all the nonsense, all the shit going on in the world fixed. Me too.
But social change requires a million things out of us and PATIENCE is the most important one.
For the last couple of days, in the DRS group, I have been reading a lot about the extremist scriptures from Hinduism and Sharia, in the CONTEXT OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS.
Being a Muslim Feminist, I found this as a fantastic opportunity to observe both sides of the coin: the people trying to make the change and on the other side the people whose religious sentiments easily get hurt.
The posts attracted tons of comments (because people get easily emotional about religious sentiments) in comparison to posts about sanitation, climate change, and education policies. A lot of this involved hate comments or labeling which I guess is the collateral damage of free speech over social media.
But overall, the observation reminded me of a TED Talk I had watched in 2015, of a Baloch Pakistani young woman named Khalida Brohi fighting against ‘honor killing’s in her region.
Now, before you jump on the anti-national wagon, and question why I couldn’t think of any other example; here is why…
Khalida’s story has super important pointers about making social change.
She was 18 when she discovered Facebook and decided to campaign, rally against ‘honour killings’ in her tribal, conservative Islamist region.
She failed monumentally when the local people got offended and destroyed her property, threatened to kill her. (She says that was natural and she is right).
The point in this talk that stayed in my mind, five years later is that YOU CANNOT MAKE SOCIAL CHANGE AMONG THE PEOPLE OF A COMMUNITY BY:
This is the MANTRA FOR ANY SOCIAL CHANGE that you ever wish to see.
It definitely helps when the person trying to make the change IS FROM THAT COMMUNITY because when you criticize from the outside, you might often not understand the full extent of their practices and beliefs and even if you do and you talk about them with utmost best intentions, it is easier for the people to dismiss you thinking ‘oh she/he is not one of us’ hence it is an attack on our beliefs. Coming from that community also helps in terms of the ‘savior complex’ which people of privilege often suffer from. There also internalized biases that all of us are capable of holding instead of factual criticisms.
I cannot speak for other religions but from the Islamic point of view, just like in Khalida’s talk, people did not need to become atheists in order for women to have human rights or advance as communities. What they needed was a reminder of the core values that get muddied under the patriarchal systems.
Hence, she and her team apologized to those people. Asked to be accepted and offered an opportunity to make it up to the people.
Why did they do that?
Because it was her own community, her own people. You cannot abandon your own roots, regardless of how patriarchal or oppressive, they are. Many people do. But people like me, people like Khalida Brohi whose mission is to bring about actual change on the ground, we have got to REACH THE PEOPLE AT THE LEVEL IN WHICH THEY LIVE; IN WHICH THEY CAN RECEIVE YOUR MESSAGE.
Yes, this time it worked. Because they made it a point to engage with people’s own culture, music, art, fables in order to bring about social change.
Was it easy? No. Did it take a lot more time, patience, hard work and strategy? You bet your sweet ass it did. But did it work? A BIG FUCKING YES!
And just before you think this is all, came the next hurdle.
The men in the community began to notice the change in wives and daughters… their confidence, their income capabilities, their talents… and as always, it threatened men and immediately they started stopping their women from participating in these programs.
Was it the end of social change?
No, of course not. It was time for the next strategy. It was time to up the alley, it was time to make the women’s handicrafts an official business so now men had to trade their fragile egos with lucrative women empowerment.
Did that work? Hellll, yeah!
Islamic scriptures are centuries old and today in various parts of the world, are followed by people all over the globe in various versions. The traditions are also mixed with specific cultural practices of specific regions and the melody and mash-up are just too complicated for an individual to understand. So, people pick and choose things that make sense to them, that they feel to be relevant in their lives and in this modern age.
What’s interesting is that in order to bring about change in the condition of women, feminism did not have to forgo Islam, instead, it became INTERSECTIONAL so women could accommodate their connection with God, along with human rights or women upliftment. This could be done because, in many ways, even those old scriptures have stood the test of time in terms of having outside home employment, riding camels and horses alongside men at wars, not being forced to take the husbands surname after marriage, writing your own terms and conditions for your Nikah and divorce, etc, just to name a few.
Undeniably there are plenty of other things like polygamy or half valued testimony of women that need upgrading. But just like Khalida’s story, these or any other Islamic or cultural (not actually Islamic) practices are to be challenged, it has to be done at the ground level and by taking the people in confidence; not by mocking them.
To this point, I am so proud to see so many Muslim Feminists all over the globe, from small indigenous tribal communities like the Baloch in Pakistan to super Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia where women like Manal al-Sharif live, women are standing up for their rights and challenging the patriarchal ancient customs that are laid upon them. And none of them had to give up their faith in order to work for women empowerment.
A very common myth on the outer side (thanks to Western media and now Indian media too) is that Muslim women are oppressed and don’t have a voice. This statement would hold true in almost every country, every religion, everywhere in the world to various degrees. And as an outsider, if you really care about the conditions of Muslim women, here is what to do instead of head-on attacking the people’s faith or CORE VALUES:
Khalida was the privileged one in her story, the one with knowledge and education of these oppressive cultural practices, but in her experience, neither talking AT THEM helped, nor TALKING OVER them helped.
What helped was showing genuine intent of helping those people, meeting them at a level they can understand (and not feel threatened) and ENABLE them to find their voices, learn about their rights, gradually dismantle those archaic practices with their own hands.
After I learned about FEMINISM and evaluated my whole life against it, I wanted to scream out loud at the top of my lungs how things were wrong and injustices against women were happening all over the world.
I began writing blogs, books published. But that was the knowledge, on paper, not much was changing on the ground.
So I began helping women through my blog in other ways.
I would hear their stories, point them towards doctors, lawyers, therapists, whatever resources they were in need of.
Sometimes, I also helped them financially, for example, to get out of violent husbands’ homes.
Informed them of their rights under the Sharia law, according to which they were married in the first place.
I talked about sensitive issues on my YouTube channel so people could use that to get validation and support.
I DISMANTLE the oppression with my Muslim community, among cousins, friends, neighbors, blog readers, book fans and internet strangers by MEETING THEM WHERE THEY ARE instead of challenging their entire belief system.
Is this all I could do? Perhaps more but I am only human and still learning social change.
I am still trying to find better ways, sharper strategies to bring about change in women’s lives, not just in my community but the world all over, but I have to make peace with these few things;
- Social change moves at glacial speed, so don’t expect things to change overnight.
- Probably in my lifetime, gender gaps won’t be closed and women won’t have equal rights as that of men.
- I can’t change a person or their opinion unless I find something in common with them (sometimes it could just be our humanity, an important negotiation technique I learned in my Swiss Business School).
Should I stop trying because it was too hard and too exhausting?
I would probably die if I stopped. I do this because it gives me purpose to live.
I am in it for the surprises, NOT the PRIZES.
For me, a simple thank you from a distressed, domestically abused woman is enough.
That overused, cliched story holds true- the one with the grandfather and the kid walking past by the shore and the kid throwing back fishes into the water that were left stranded on the shore by the waves. And the grandpa laughs and asks the kid “there are millions, how many would you throwback and what difference would it make?”
And the kid replies “it makes a difference to the one fish that is back in the water”!
Total cliche, I know, but I can’t help but feel exactly the same way. The war on social injustice is strenuous and sinister at best, tiring and life draining at worst. But if you are reading this long piece, I have faith that you care about the world and the injustices happening around, and you are working day and night to stand up for the rights of some people, whether or not they acknowledge your efforts.
HOW DOES THIS PLAY OUT IN THE WORLD OF SOCIAL MEDIA?
Over social media, the chances of someone coming to a Twitter feud and walking away with enlightenment is UNHEARD of. The same applies to Facebook.
So how do we expect to bring about any change if our audience is on social media?
The honest answer is I DON’T KNOW because if I did, I would have an army uprising for me right now.
But the basic premise from Khalida’s story that we can learn are the ones I already mentioned in the beginning: that YOU CANNOT MAKE SOCIAL CHANGE AMONG THE PEOPLE OF A COMMUNITY BY:
Belittling or condescending them.
Telling them how you are the most evolved one and they are unevolved.
Standing in a direct challenge to their CORE VALUES.
If you do even one, you won’t be making any social changes but inviting nonsensical debates from people that did not understand your intentions.
Now also a thing to be noted is that this is a general approach to a tribal, uninhibited people.
It does not apply to fundamentalist politicians, right-wing supporters, and leaders.
That’s because leaders, politicians are privileged people in power that are voted by democratic masses, and their job is to be secular and unbiased (no racist sexist shit can go down).
I also include supporters of the majority (often right-wing type) party supporters because in Khalida’s example we were talking about challenging only cultural/religious practices.
However, in the other one, there isn’t just religion but political ideologies. And political ideologies do not work on the same principles. Politicians use fake news, propaganda, fear-mongering, hate speeches, polarization, inciting communal riots, and several other sinister tactics to keep the voter scared enough to vote for them. And these change state after state, politician after politician.
Bringing about social change in the political area is something way harder (in my opinion) because of the awe-inspiring, larger than life image created by media for the politicians. And until and unless your very own existence comes under threat, your own women raped on the streets and your own life savings taken over by a bankrupt bank; it is hard to give a crap and understand how the minorities feel.
There are people, plenty of privileged people who stand up for minority rights, challenge the status quo even when it is dangerous and put their own lives at risk. But with such compassionate people, on the opposite spectrum are also the vile, vicious and violent ones. And those are the ones that will take heed with time alone, maybe by having employment opportunities that keep them busy and provide them an environment to intermingle with the very people their politicians are telling them to hate.
But that’s a distant dream, right?
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 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:
And look what matured senior people from Bollywood like Raveena Tandon and Anupam Kher have said:
So, is it right to hate Zaira over her decision to quit Bollywood?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A few days ago, a lady in a women’s only group shared a meme like this with a similar caption. To my shock, plenty of women laughed and enjoyed it. A friend of mine objected to it and so did I and it was quickly taken down.
It left an awkward silence. There was no explanation why this was unacceptable and my guess is that the lady who shared it and others who were laughing and enjoying it, either felt embarassed or stifled or both.
For many of us this might be a no-brainer. As in we don’t need an explanation for why the meme is problematic, maybe because we are feminism aware and understand gender politics. For many however, this might be a new territory. You may not understand why sharing such memes is not only offensive but deeply problematic. So here is a simple way to decode the message and compare it with ground reality.
In this picture and other memes like this, you can see a common theme:
The woman in these memes is painted as the dominating partner. It seems like the woman is oppressing the man. She is taking up more space, he is the one making adjustments and sacrifices while she is the bossy one, pushing him around literally beneath her feet for 364 days of the year except for ‘Karva chauth’.
Ever heard of the STRAW MAN LOGICAL FALLACY/ Argument?
A strawman is a fallacious argument that distorts an opposing stance in order to make it easier to attack. Essentially, the person using the strawman pretends to attack their opponent’s stance, while in reality they are actually attacking a distorted version of that stance, which their opponent doesn’t necessarily support.
For example, if someone says “I think that we should give better study guides to students”, a person using a strawman might reply by saying “I think that your idea is bad, because we shouldn’t just give out easy A’s to everyone”.
Another common example is when a woman says she can wear whatever she wants, the conservative people will jump and say why don’t you roam around naked?
You see the common theme?
There is a sky and earth difference between a woman wanting to wear a skirt or pant and a woman wanting to go out naked in public (which by the way never happens because all places have their decorums, you’ll see women wear bikinis on the beach but that’s about it).
So when a woman says she wants to wear a skirt and doesn’t need to hear a lecture on modesty, she is asserting her right to her own body.
For the opponent, it is difficult/impossible to argue why a woman should NOT have the right to her own body.
So what they do is reduce her argument to a distorted version and equate wearing a skirt to roaming around naked. This way they can argue with her without arguing or challenging her actual point which is the right to her own body.
This argument/fallacy is called the STRAW MAN argument and can be seen everywhere from media to politics.
Why is that meme with the man standing on the scooter a STRAW FEMINIST argument?
Feminists are people who want equal rights for women and people of all genders, races, abilities and faiths.
Obviously, people who believe that women should only remain in kitchens and pump out babies like a vending machine HATE feminists. Because if the women in their homes get to make their own decisions, they know for certain no woman would want to live with jerks like them who demean and harass women.
So they want feminists to look bad or STRAW! They would make it look like feminism or the women who identify as feminists and are aware of their rights are all MAN HATING, UGLY SPINSTERS. Thanks to our media and cinema, they have all painted feminists as those angry, ugly women who treat men like shit and can’t keep a home together. So they go around breaking other people’s homes and brainwashing other women into hating their ever-loving innocent husbands.
Because if you paint feminists in this light, few or almost no woman would want to be a feminist. In our patriarchal society, women get brownie points for being the submissive, ever-sacrificing Tulsi or Parvati types… they get placed on a pedastal for taking orders from sasural and pati while the ones who don’t get married or don’t blindly, submissively follow her husbands are the evil daayans.
So, is there any truth to memes like this- are men really being oppressed by selfish, non-adjusting women?
Violence occurs in about 35 per cent of women globally in their lifetime1.
In a study done in India, on about 10000 women, 26 per cent reported having experienced physical violence from spouses during their lifetime2.
The prevalence could be as high as 45 per cent as indicated by data from Uttar Pradesh3.
Latest figures from the National Crime Records Bureau4 show that a crime was recorded against women every three minutes.
Every hour, at least two women are sexually assaulted and every six hours, a young married woman is beaten to death, burnt or driven to suicide.
It is appalling to learn that 28.4 per cent of pregnant women suffer domestic violence5.
As a result of violence, women suffer social isolation, unemployment, income loss, poor self-care and fail to provide childcare, which is a grave concern.
Based on data from 2019, on average at least 92 women are raped in India, each day!
Maybe men are doing a lot of housework then?
The gender gap in unpaid care work (UCW) is one of the most glaring manifestations of inequality between men and women around the world. Women perform 75 per cent of such work globally, dedicating, on average, four hours and 25 minutes daily to it – more than three times men’s average of one hour and 23 minutes.
Women in India currently spend upto 352 minutes per day on domestic work, 577% more than men (52 minutes) and at least 40% more than women in South Africa and China (the other two BRICS countries for which data are available), according to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data.
Now consider all this data from above and tell me, is there any truth to that meme?
Can you genuinely with all honesty, tell me that this is the most adjustable man? The man whose wife is spending more than 352 minutes perday cleaning his underwear, washing his dirty dishes, raising their children, feeding after the elderly saas sasur and the nanad and devar?
Not only the meme is untrue, it helps ANTI-FEMINISTS paint a false picture of women so that internally us women, despite being oppressed, despite being used for unpaid domestic labour, we keep thinking to ourselves how dominating and oppressive we are, while oh our poor husbands!
Therefore, the next time you see someone posting a meme like this of false arguments painting women as oppressing men, call them out, share this article with them. Tell them why this is wrong and why sharing this is gaslighting women into becoming their own barrier so that we become the submissive, complacent girls taking oppression from patriarchal systems instead of questioning them.
I have no doubt in saying that women can also be evil, women can also be the abusers of their husbands, rape children and murder people. Women are capable of causing all kinds of harm and in no way I am claiming that women are always innocent and can never be found guilty. What I am saying though is that the systems and institutions in our capitalistic and patriarchal societies, whether it is the institution of marriage or workforce, they all inherently favor men, put women under blame and risk and the data shows crimes like rape, domestic abuse, stalking, female genital mutilation, forced pregnancies, forced abortions, forced marriages, giving up of education or career etc happen to girls and women way more than men. Data shows who is vulnerable and who is better off.
Help fight these problematic, misohynistic rhetorics, one meme at a time!
Being a single mother is hard.
Better take abuse from one man instead of a hundred more who will see you as a target after you get divorced.
You should think of the kids.
Why don’t you try praying or istekhara?
Why don’t you do wazeefa and fast for 21 days?
Did you do dua taveez? I know a baba who can help.
Three years is a short time to ask for a divorce.
Why don’t you slap your husband harder and show him whose boss?
Divorce is disliked, try being more patient.
What would people think?
How will you pay for your expenses?
But your husband has rights over you.
A woman can fix her abusive husband by being more patient and kind.
Your love will change your husband into a better man.
Getting divorced over silly things (abuse) will make you regret.
These are just a few of the things that I hear from young women who are trying to get out of abusive relationships. I’ve been researching and writing books about domestic abuse and other gender based violence for over ten years now. And through my blog I act as a first responder, kind of a counsellor to women and also men, in abusive relationships. For many of them, a divorce is the only option left.
Divorce is a blessing. The right to get divorced is an eminent right given to women through law and Islamic law or Sharia as well. And a woman doesn’t need to prove her grievances or justify herself to anyone for it. The Prophet even suggested women get a divorce for something as insignificant as “I don’t like my husbands face”. The reason he allowed divorces even in such cases is because he was aware that for a relationship to be healthy and happy, there needs to be enthusiastic participation from both sides. And you can’t force someone to love you to carry out a relationship. Before the modern European enlightenment theory became a thing and women’s right to get divorces became a law, Islam allowed for this provision long back.
Unfortunately though, most of the women in abusive relationships that seek my advice have one common problem: THE AUNTIES!!!
These middle aged or older women who themselves have happy and healthy marriages (often) think of themselves as the epitome of wisdom. They think they can impart their patriarchal, condescending and patronising rules about marriage and relationships to the younger women. This is so disturbing because for a woman to reach that decision of a divorce takes hours and hours of tears, decision making and heartbreaks. She’s given millions of chances to the husband to improve and be a better man.
NO WOMAN JUST WAKES UP ONE MORNING AND DECIDES TO TRY GETTING A DIVORCE FOR THE FUN OF IT; iTS NOT BANANA SPLIT ICE CREAM, IT’S A DIVORCE!
Your assumption that the woman applying for a divorce is stupid, impatient, thoughtless, reckless and irresponsible is extremely harmful and straight up GASLIGHTING.
Why do you assume to know what’s best for her after spending an hour talking to her when she’s spent her entire life with herself and she’s not know what’s best for her?
Why do you keep talking about your successful marriage when none of your life advice is applicable in situations of abuse?
If you were lucky enough to have a man who didn’t abuse you, it’s not because you are brave or strong or some kind of freaking miracle on earth; it’s just a matter of luck. It’s just a chance , a gamble of sorts. No woman makes a husband abusive. And no woman can stop a man from being abusive.
My blood boils when I hear and see all this so-called wisdom older ladies try to impart to younger women about ‘fixing abusive men’! The burden still falls on women’s shoulders. So the burden of failed marriages could go to women who just didn’t have enough patience or who were too stupid to know better.
And while we are on the subject I also hear plenty of bullshit wisdom about ‘being equally violent’. As in, if your husband is slapping you, why don’t you slap him back or throw a slipper on him and teach him a lesson. Again, this can only be spoken by someone in a position of privilege who doesn’t have a clue of how abuse works. So I’m going to make it clear.
No dear aunties, women shouldn’t hit men in response to their violent outbursts because:
A- in a physical confrontation, men being the physically bigger person will almost certainly always win
B– by giving this advice, you are literally signing a death warrant for the woman because angry men have more often than not, killed their wives in physical confrontations
C- in India and Pakistan, most such abuses happen in sasural or places where the husband has more power and privilege. There are people who will take his side not hers.
D- what kind of example are you setting in front of your children who watch their mom and dad hitting each other?
E- in the court of law, if your husband paints you as a violent abusive woman, you could lose the custody of your children.
And abuse isn’t just physical. There are multiple kinds and all are perfectly valid reasons for a woman to want to get out of that relationship. Hell, even growing out of love for no reason at all is a valid justification for getting a divorce instead of cheating or staying in an unhappy relationship.
We get that your generation took pride in staying in married relationships no matter how rotten they were. No wonder India has the world’s lowest divorce rates. But that’s not something to be proud of. It simply means that enough women aren’t in a position to choose a happy life for themselves. We get your obsession with marriages and dastoor but us younger women are changing things. I don’t expect you to study the whole academic literature on abuse but I at least at the very basic level want you to understand how insulting and offensive you’re being when you jump in with your old fashioned, toxic and patriarchal views on divorces.
Divorce is hard enough as it is. We don’t want you to make it harder for us. As older women, we want you to be the shoulders we stand on and can progress in life. But instead you become the pillars of patriarchy guarding and protecting abusive men , throwing young women under the bus so you can gain some brownie points in this patriarchal society for being the ‘woman who keeps her husband happy’ or ‘woman who keeps the family together’. Whether or not your husband was abusive, whether or not your married life was difficult, you can’t unload your reasoning on women who are trying so hard to not waste their lives on losers. Just because you were privileged enough to not understand what abuse is or just because you put up with an abusive man, neither gives you the right to push young women into unhappy marriages.
Also, if you can learn how to use Facebook learn how to Google types of abuse and what not to say to a woman seeking divorce. Take more responsibility for being a woman. If you all had fought for better rights for wives and raised better sons who don’t treat women as their property, maybe we won’t be having this conversation at all.
Also note that I specifically didn’t address this to mothers. Because I’ve concluded that when you don’t know the first thing about a woman’s life and still go on to presume she should stay with the husband to ‘keep the family together’, I’m pretty sure you’re going to manipulate your own daughters to stay with abusive husbands because in their case you’d also want to avoid the ‘log kya kahenge’ stigma as well as the financial responsibility. May God have mercy on your poor daughters. And may you start to have mercy for victims of abusive marriages.
The standup comedy scene in India is less than a decade old and has gotten mixed reactions from people. Despite the abuse, troll, and death/rape threats it has been exploding. Since the biggies of AIB got into trouble for sexual harassment, things have been progressive even more than they were before. Amidst all the crapload of Kapil Sharma type stale jokes that worked in the 90s or early 2000s (and for many people they still do), the standup circle has been comparatively woke. Women have had a fair share of troubles making a name in the industry but some men have done some good some great things to make the space as allies and talk about social issues.
Realizing your privileges and punching UP is one of the core features a good comedy standup should have. Men having a bad reputation for crashing women’s voices and trolling them is way too common. Here are 5 men that have done some good work:
1- Sanjay Rajoura
Sanjay likes to see himself more as a satirist than a comedian. He says in interviews that he rather angry as a person and most of his work is him ranting and criticizing the power structures in Indian society. He constantly talks about caste, creed, religion, and other forms of discrimination that are either too sensitive or too political for other people to talk about. And he talks about these with such finesse and excellence it makes him a precious jewel for this generation of Indians. Here is one small clip.
2- Karunesh Talwar
Recently some old tweets of Karunesh were doing the rounds regarding the caste system and apparently he was being trolled. If it were up to me I would rather keep my focus on his work that he has put out in the last few years. And that is because power structures for the privileged people don’t become visible or apparent until late in life. Where I grew up, I was sexist, racist, homophobic and all kinds of discriminatory not because I was a bad person but simply because I was unaware of how the society works. Once we reach a certain age, we do become accountable for our privileges and are in a better position to question our upbringing and values. From what can be seen in Talwar’s works, he does talk sense. He deserves to be respected for that.
3- Punit Pania
OMG Punit Pania, there is so much about this one. I think he is one of the most underrated comedians of the Indian standup scene. His jokes are slow-paced but hit you like a wall of bricks. His voice is almost monotone in nature, he won’t enact much, his body language rather somber and non-dramatic. But he is one of the true intellectual comedians. His satire, his take on political and social issues are just phenomenal. In this clip, he talks about how Indian boys are pampered and smothered with love that ultimately ruins their personality when it comes to entitlement.
4- Kunal Kamra
He is the king of truth bombing and no words will measure his talent. He has been the opposition leader, the revolutionary leader, and the icon for protests in an informal way. Though his standups are mostly anti-government, he often takes stands for women-related causes, especially when comedian Joshua was being trolled by right-wingers. Kunal understands privilege and power structures and you will hear him only punching up, punching India’s most powerful.
5- Daniel Fernandes
This is a tortoise for me. His sets from the beginning of his career were different; many were ok jokes and many things I wouldn’t agree with or laugh to. But Daniel has stepped up his comedy game a lot in recent years. He is one of those men that are not faking it or pretending to have it all. He talked about his depression and mental health in a comedy set; now that’s something you don’t come across every day in a comedy routine. But other than that, his discussions on women, religion, and power structures, social injustices have all been enlightening. He has a very distinct aura about himself; he is chill, calm, and non-dramatic but he will say the keenest things. He is also a true intellectual comedian and most of what he says is based simply on logic and decency. He is the kind of guy you would want to be friends with.
While idiots would think Feminism is all about MAN-HATING, it is a breath of fresh air to see men being decent allies and using their space to break down patriarchal structures of power that ultimately hit both men and women. Kudos to these guys and I wish more comedians jumped on the woke train.
The year is 2020.
The month is April.
Last month in March when the lockdowns began one after another in almost all countries of the world, things were different.
For ease of understanding, I say let’s divide the world into 3 categories of people:
Since I mostly interact with the middle category of class, I am going to talk about this class among which I have noticed a weird strange phenomenon.
So when in March 2020 when the lockdowns began, people saw the opportunity as an untimely vacation. Some were looking forward to the nonstop sex they were going to have, others were excited to play video games all day. Women knew the amount of housework/unpaid domestic labor that’s up ahead and probably puked (I am assuming).
But I digress.
Nonetheless, there was excitement.
You could see celebrities learning how to wash a mug.
Others were throwing work out challenges so that when in summer, finally the lockdowns ease, you could come out with a sculpted body.
Some idiots were busy making the same whipped up coffee Indian moms have been making for decades, calling it Dalgona or something.
Others were showing off their singing, guitar playing, dancing and other talents online in the effort to stay relevant and entertain the bored people.
Then there were the ones baking bread for the time cause of the shortage.
And then the school going students trying to figure out online classes and sticking with the homework.
The bitter Ph.D. and Masters students super excited about the number of papers and thesis chapters they would be finishing amidst the lockdown, hoping this isolation would finally get the distractions like Money Heist or McDonald’s Drive Through to stop.
It seemed like this pandemic is some sort of talent or productivity competition and you had to come out of it as the best version of yourself or Ryan Gosling or Kiera Knightly.
Just by the time the third week began, things began to feel different.
All the sex that was anticipated once now feels like another chore; who is going to wash the sheets after and who is going to make the condom run to the local pharmacy amid the lockdown and streets becoming a Police State. Just too much trouble to go through for a few minutes of pleasure.
And all the recipes and grand baking and cooking techniques, well let’s just say peanut butter or grilled cheese sandwich and for Indians- dal chawal roti is all you can depend on because of the food rations and poultry supply being halted.
The dancing, singing, and other talents are better now when you lie back on the couch and someone else dances for you.
Forget the frothy coffee that was giving you the arm pains, just get the coke out of the fridge or drink cold milk if at all available.
That’s where we are at. All the plans you made, all the futuristic goals, didn’t stay. Guilt has taken over now because all the things you planned and the commitments you made to yourself, you realize you are slacking behind and missing deadlines…
There is anxiety. Some days you just wake, stare at the walls, eat, play with your phone or watch FRIENDS on repeat, and go back to sleep again.
You are getting frustrated with your spouse and the kids are driving you crazy.
The thesis and research plans…went out the window.
And there is more guilt coming in when you see your friends’ insta stories from morning to late night, working out 5000 crunches, baking French pasty from scratch, taking 15 online courses, while dancing to Nimboda Nimboda and playing the guitar with another, ending her day with 3 courses of Italian meal and is on the way to win the Nobel this year for her research in Quantum Dynamics specializing in atomic optics of the alien ants she found in her kid’s poop.
You want to scream but you can’t because every-fucking-one is home and can’t handle a volatile, anxious being around losing their shit.
I get it.
That’s close to what happened to me. And now I know why that is happening with me and I know many of you; because of what this Psychologist said:
This is our brain’s very natural reaction to the pandemic out there literally taking thousands of lives.
So its OK if you didn’t finish your thesis or complete those online courses you signed up for two weeks ago.
Its OK if you don’t want to make fancy meals and some nights just eat out of a container.
Its OK if you only played video games all day.
Its OK if you put on a few pounds of weight due to the emergency chocolate, and the anxiety chocolate, or the ‘Im-bored-chocolate’ or the pandemic chocolate or the chocolate stolen from your kids or spouse, or the therapeutic chocolate.
In fact, my favorite YASS QUEEN Jameela Jamil said it best:
I would echo her end message: BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF.
If you can manage to do all those things, meet your deadlines and goals… GREAT! More power to ya.
But if you can’t, then please don’t kill yourself with the guilt and get into a spiral of anxiety and depression.
We don’t need to come out of this pandemic with trophies or whatever, we just need to survive it. The rest can wait.
Sending you my best wishes, stay home, stay safe, and have a blessed Ramadan to those of you fasting from tonight onwards.