You’re Single? Stay Slim. Married? Put Weight On. Wtf Mom!

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.

You Want Socio-political (religious) Change, But Do You Have The Patience For It? (Saving Oppressed Muslim Women)

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.

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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).

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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:

  1. Belittling or condescending them.
  2. Telling them how you are the most evolved one and they are unevolved.
  3. Standing in direct opposition to their CORE VALUES.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

  • Google ‘Muslim Feminists’ in the world and pick 5.
  • Follow their work, their campaigns, social media.
  • Talk to other people about their accomplishments.
  • Watch their work closely and send them messages of encouragement.
  • Help them out in whatever way you can.
  • Join their campaigns if you can and help them out with strategies, resources or ideas.
  • Most importantly, INSTEAD OF TALKING OVER THEM, be an ally and let them be their own voice. 

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.

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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.

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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;

  1. Social change moves at glacial speed, so don’t expect things to change overnight.
  2. Probably in my lifetime, gender gaps won’t be closed and women won’t have equal rights as that of men.
  3. 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.

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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.

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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:

  1. Belittling or condescending them.

  2. Telling them how you are the most evolved one and they are unevolved.

  3. 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.

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Now also a thing to be noted is that this is a general approach to a tribal, uninhibited people.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

We Need An Honest Conversation About These Problematic Memes

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.

This is literally what Manohar Lal Khattar said this on the subject of women’s right to choose their clothes.

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.

Deliberately showing feminists in bad light.

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?

Adjustable man my ass.

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!

Dear Aunties, Can You Please Stop Gaslighting Us Into Fixing Abusive Broken Husbands & Not Getting Divorces

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.

5 Indian Male Comedians Who Got Feminism Right

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.

Quarantine #Guilt?How About No Dalgona, No Workout, No Studies, Just Surviving the #Pandemic For Now?

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:

  1. The wealthy class who are still googling where to buy Gucci face masks and Dior hand sanitizers.
  2. The middle class, both upper-middle class, and lower-middle class.
  3. And lastly the poor, the migrants, the homeless that are stranded without their daily wages, food, or shelter.

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).

womens work in pandemic 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.

BUT ALAS! 

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.

frnds

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.

multi

Enough!!!!!

 

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:

brain on yo yo

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:

jameela pandemic weight

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.

Love you.

If this lockdown feels horrible to you, can you imagine living in the same house with a rapist Chacha / Uncle?

So, a young woman reached out to me a night ago and shared her story anonymously.

This young woman is independent professional living in a metropolitan in India. As a child, she recalled living in a small village somewhere in central India in a large joint family.

From class 5th to 8th, she was raped by her chacha. As a child, she had no idea what he was doing but what she remembers to this day is the FEAR. He would draw her away into a room in isolation and make her do all sorts of nasty things. This chacha was one of those elderly respected people in the family who your parents make you feel scared of as this person may be strict or violent etc.

This girls’ parents also used to scare her with that Chacha’s name when they wanted her to do her homework or finish her food. Only, they didn’t know the real reason why she was scared of him. This man himself has two daughters slightly younger than her and a wife who he abuses, calls b-word, in public, so imagine the terror of this man.

At some point even when the abuse stopped, he never showed regret or remorse, rather to this date tries to make lewd sexual remarks at her when he finds her in isolation even for a moment. When she displays anger, he starts hanging around and forcibly touching her 6 years younger sister while giving her threatening looks (to convey the message that if she shows anger or opens her mouth, his next victim will be her baby sister)!

At this point, quite understandably you would want to know WHY DIDN’T SHE TELL HER PARENTS? I know because I too was curious if the family knows anything at all.

Let’s talk about the FATHER first.

No, she has NOT told her father and she probably never could. If her father ever came to know about this, there will be either one of these two situations and I want you to tell me WHAT WOULD YOU DO knowing these situations.

Situation A: She tells her father that she was raped as a child by her Chacha. He DOESN’T believes her because that Chacha is the man he knows from way longer and is the man around whom he has spent his entire life. He already thinks this daughter of his is rowdy, bold and angry so she is probably making this up to create a storm in the family. He forcefully arranges a marriage and sends her to the first bidder before this gets out and the family honor is ruined! Mind you this is upper caste, wealthy family in a small village where child marriage is rampant and this girl having an education and job in a metro city is already ‘too much liberty’ in the eyes of rishtedaar.

Situation B: Her father believes her! But then what? He might get angry enough to actually murder his brother? What then? Her father goes to jail and their family is scattered. If the father doesn’t kill his own brother, he has to hang out and live side by side with this man for eternity. Knowing that this is your daughter’s rapist, what father would survive and not get a heart-attack living in this situation?

To your surprise, she didn’t CRY while giving me details of the abuse and the things that bastard did to a 10-year-old child.

You know when she CRIED? While talking about her father.

She said that later in her teenage years when she got some freedom to leave the house on her own, she would often spend long durations outside the home and often come home at about 9pm.

Fro this defiance of house rule to be home before dark, her father would get angry and beat her up.

She thought to herself that first she was SAFER OUT IN THE STREET than in her own home where the rapist was a few feet away.

And secondly, getting BEAT UP by your father for 10 minutes is better than getting raped for another day.

She CRIED, telling me that when her father used to beat her up, she would have that pain stock up inside her but she would always be afraid that if she ever told her father the REAL REASON WHY she likes to stay away from the home, the SHEER GUILT would destroy her father, and she wept profusely.

To all the people in the HANG THE RAPIST BRIGADE… Just tell me this-

Knowing that the rapist is the victims’ Chacha, would the family let her REPORT the rape or would they make her shut her mouth?

NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT THE MOM:

For years she didn’t tell her mother about any of this.

Recently her mother has been convincing her to get married. For natural reasons, this girl, like every other survivor of abuse, has TRUST ISSUES as well as INTIMACY ISSUES.

She wanted her mother to understand that she needs someone who would respect her physical space and consent because if one more man exercises his physical power over her for rape, she would NOT be able to cope, she might even kill herself.

Her mother’s reaction was “ok, whatever happened is in the past, let’s not talk about it”.

There was no sympathy, no empathy, no disbelief or belief.

The girl herself has no idea why her mom acted the way she did and at first, instance neither did I.

But on deeper thought, I think it is about the concept of shame and honor.

She didn’t want to discuss or encourage her daughter to discuss this because she is aware that if such a thing gets out:

The father would have to either kill his brother or feel like a failed father by hanging out with the daughter’s rapist for the rest of his life.

Everyone in the large, high profile, upper-class Hindu family would blame the girl and she will be considered ‘damaged goods’ as they say in conservative societies.

Either way, this would NOT help the daughter in any way now that this is from the past. So, better swallow the pain. Also, there may be another reason.

She said her ‘BADEY PAPA’ and his team of cousins and friends GANG RAPED the poor Dalit woman who used to pick GOBAR at their place because they were all ZAMINDARS.

That poor young woman was paid off after she told about it to the son of BADEY PAPA and many other people and no one ever saw the inside of a police car let along with jail.

So maybe the mother knows how the men in this family treat women so better keep things hush hush and not draw attention to their daughter who would be tagged as the characterless, problematic, drama queen in the family.

So here is my QUESTION TO THOSE ARGUING YESTERDAY and all others in general:

You are CURRENTLY UNDER LOCKDOWN RIGHT?

CONSIDER IF YOU HAD YOUR RAPIST LIVING WITH YOU… WHAT WOULD THAT FEEL LIKE? KNOWING THAT YOUR RAPIST IS JUST A FEW FEET AWAY FROM YOU…

AND NOW IMAGINE IF YOU WERE 10 YEARS OLD AND LIVED WITH THE RAPIST AND WEREN’T ALLOWED TO GO ANYWHERE? What would that be like?

She cried and cried when I asked why she got beaten but never told her father why she was avoiding getting home. And then I realized and said “Beti ka DIL hai na”… No daughter wants to see her father live and die with a pang of guilt this big… The guilt that he failed to protect his own little princess from the monster that lived with them in their house. And this monster is still alive and lives with her parents and every time she visits home, she faces him. Still.

There is no GYAN and no discussion here today. I just want you ALL to imagine being in this girl’s shoes… Imagine living with a rapist who you can never complain about and never send to jail. Who still has so much power, he can threaten to rape your younger sister if you open your mouth. Just imagine being this girl. Imagine how she would have experienced ‘men’ and ‘sexuality’. What would she feel like if she ever gets in an isolated with any man? Imagine if she shared this with some man she trusted and he then used her trauma against her? Imagine living with a heavier than a thousand-tonne weight ON YOUR SOUL for the rest of your life. Just do that for today.

 

 

Dear ‘Liberal’ Men, When It Comes To Women, Most of You Are No Better Than Right-Wing Sexists #CyberAbuse

Muhammad Arif  says “I wish you get a husband like him…”

Maninder Pal Singh says “…from which state u want MLA ticket?”

Mahfooz Alam  is reminding her “you remembered girls’ phone tapping incident???”

Mustaqim Shaikh making another personal remark “tumhe modi ke jaisa hi pati mile”

Sadath Ali says “and bhakti k be seema hoti hai. desh jalra ha hai economy dubra ha hai. phir mi modi k pooja kara h ho. sharam karo behen sharam karo”

I shared an article in a progressive, liberal Facebook group that I am a member of.

The article was about trying to understand why Modi continues to win the majority despite having blood on his hands. The purpose of the article was not to blindly praise Modi but analyze the propaganda machinery that has worked tirelessly to create this larger than life image of a mere government servant.

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Hatred, of course, is dumb and blind.

Instead of reading the article and understanding the context of it, some morons began to comment as if this is a Modi praise article.

A young woman made some comments about other reasons why Modi lovers are such die-hard fans. And there comes the sexist tornado of personal remarks and attacks.

Thrice I had to intervene and beg the idiots to stop harassing this woman Priya Rai who was merely adding to her analysis of why Modi fans behave the way they do. But the comments kept pouring in.

In another incident, a young woman actively sharing her political (informative) articles in the group was targeted viciously. In one of her posts or comments, she was barely criticizing a political leader. Some idiot in the group took screenshots of it and spread it in some other propaganda group pro that political leader and claimed that this woman is calling for the assassination of the said leader.

Hate comments, death threats, and rape threats began pouring in on her DM and profile in hundreds.

Shit got so real, she had to de-activate her profile completely because it was being mass reported too and she could lose her account. She was told she could be the ‘next Gauri Lankesh’, the journalist assassinated in 2017.

Some idiot was asking her ‘rates’ claiming she was a prostitute.

At first, she took it as regular trolling, that we women are all too familiar with. But when she saw some posts with hundreds of comments calling for her lynching, she was scared beyond words can explain. She has not been able to sleep or work or focus on anything since.

When I asked, she hopelessly said that she does not think women will be safe on the internet ever and not just the paid trolls but even regular guys know how to shut women up too well by threatening them with rape.

Normally when I talk about cyberbullying or online abuse, I hide the names of the culprits but I didn’t on this post because this is a teachable moment. When you see this particular guy made such and such comments, you put a face to that faceless anonymous abuser.

As men, you have a responsibility to hold fellow men accountable since you jump so quickly on the #NotAllMen wagon. Not all men, right? So prove you are not one of them abusers. Show us, women, that you stand by us when we are harassed online or offline.

Yes, we know not all men rape, abuse or attack women with acids.

But most of you look the other way when personal attacks are made on a woman in a so-called liberal, progressive group.

And don’t even get me started on the sexist bullshit I receive on most of my posts. Rarely ever you’d see a guy standing up to the sexist trolls and that’s where the problem lies.

That is what you need to fix if you claim to have better ways of treating women in your circles than the conservative right wingers.

Dear Men, You Suck In Bed & Not In A Good Way: 3 Reasons Orgasm Inequality Exists in India

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So, us Indians collectively lost our shit (excluding me and others like me, of course), when we saw Swara Bhaskar pleasuring herself in Veere Di Wedding.

The same happened after the Netflix film ‘Lust Stories’ was featured in which one of the 4 stories was about an unsatisfied newlywed, trying to pleasure herself.

But this post is NOT about self-pleasuring, it is about ORGASM INEQUALITY and why it exists.

According to the Global Sex Survey conducted by Durex in 2017, nearly 70% of women in India don’t orgasm every time they have sex. … “Orgasm is still considered as a tabooed topic in Indian society,” said Bobby Pawar, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, Havas Group

Let me get straight into the points:

1- Slut-shaming a woman that says she wants sex or is unsatisfied

I remember some Anty of mine vaguely describing her newly-wed experience. As a bride, she was unable to consummate her marriage because they lived in a joint family. There was no privacy, and whatever little bit there was, it was barely enough to get the act done.

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Her husband would initiate the act, do whatever would grant him the quickest way to pleasure and runoff. I asked her why didn’t she initiate the act or get intimate with him and she looked at me with shock and horror.

“Are you crazy?” she said as she covered her ears and head in shame, “ladkiya kabhi khud thodi kehti hain ye sab”!!! She dismissed my suggestion.

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My teenage naivety wasn’t letting go, “lekin kyu phoopi?” 

She nodded her head with an eye roll “sari zindagi ‘behsharm’ hone ke taaney thodi sunna hai bitiya!”

What she was saying is that neither can a woman initiate the act of sex, nor she can talk about it or ask for pleasure because if she did, her husband would forever address her as a shameless woman, a whore, slut and other dirty words that are considered not worthy of respect in our beloved ‘Indian’ culture.

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I hope that this same burden of shame and guilt is not carried down the generations but sadly, the ground reality is that in many homes this is still a reality.

Until the day comes that we stop seeing ‘sex’ as something to be ashamed of and see it just as a need of the body, nothing can change.

The more we normalize it, the more men need to know that women are humans just as you and our anatomy require more pleasuring than that of men. I am not going to give a tutorial here on how to pleasure your woman but forget pleasure, the most important thing is to not humiliate her for having desires. 

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2- Lack of sex education or ‘sex-positive’ attitude 

Irony died a thousand deaths with this one- Indians, the people that literally wrote the book on sex positions, the Kamasutra, is one of the most sexually repressed people on the planet. Our attitude toward sex or sexuality is pathetic.

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We lose our shit on Valentine’s Day or even normal days when we see a young unmarried couple in a public space.

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Why is it a crime to fall in love? Why is it a crime to have relationships and get to know people?

Our parents’ generations were advocates of ‘arranged marriage’s and their lives were damn depressing. Except for my own parents, I rarely see older couples having great chemistry. If their relationship is that shitty in public, imagine how awful it would be indoors!

Our people have no concept of sex-positivity. They freak out when anyone even talks of sex education. They think sex education means teachers will tell children to go and have sex.

Until this bullshit ideology towards sex education changes, women are not getting a happy ending.

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3- Lack of communication 

This is key.

This is the missing element in most sexual acts that leads to Orgasm Inequality.

Obviously, when you see sex as something shameful and lack a healthy attitude towards sex, you will try to complete the act with the least amount of communication.

All women are different.

Different women enjoy different things and take different times to climax. Their rhythms also change according to their ovulation cycle.

If you don’t talk to her about her body, how would you ever know?

This is why so many women say that sex for them is not about the size but about what you do with what you got.

If you don’t know how to use it efficiently and properly, then your organ is useless for her, sorry.

Sex conversations can be awkward and embarrassing and challenging. This is why it makes sense to have sex with people you trust, understand and know they will respect your boundaries. Make safe words, follow her breathing, feel her body movements…

It’s all there.

So, there you go, I just told you how to NOT SUCK IN BED IN A BAD WAY.

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I wish happy endings to all the unsatisfied ladies out there.

India Is On Fire & These 5 Revolution Anthems Sum it All Perfectly

Music and songs are not just for entertainment or therapy, IT’S ALSO FOR REVOLUTION!

Don’t believe me?

1: Here is the first one called POORNA SWARAJ

Composition/Arrangement – RollsRoy’s and Abhishek Sekhri Lyrics – Sumit Roy and Aman Agarwal

Your soul isn’t on fire yet?

#2 on the list is called TUKE TUKDE KAUN 

Produced, Mix & Mastered – Seven & Seven Video by Nanu Dhanotia

Oh, that just makes my blood run at the pace of Fast and Furious…

#3 on the list is called THE SHAHEEN BAGH ANTHEM SONG

Written and performed by: Maaz Musik Music: Fifty Vinc Music arrangement: Suraj Music Mixing/Mastering: Ganesh Nair Concept: Shagufta Yasmeen

I dedicate the last two to Amir Aziz, an excellent revolutionary poet, and musician. Both his works listed here are deep, riveting and hair raising.

#4 is Amir Aziz’s ACHE DIN BLUES

#5 is Amir Aziz’s SAB YAAD RAKHA JAEGA 

These revolution anthems are the voice of the Indian on the street, the real person without the privileges of political power and corrupt money. The one fighting day and night to survive, the one whose very existence is about to be uprooted with the introduction of the NRC-CAA law.

The more power this fascist government exerts, the louder these voices chime in protest and that gives me hope. That tells me the fight isn’t over.

More power to these artists, please support their work by sharing it forward, funding their projects through crowdsourced platforms and if nothing, just send them a note of appreciation. To an artist, that means the world, that’s what keeps them going when everything feels like an end.

Inquilab Zindabad. Long live the power of people!