And You Thought Sons Are Preferred Because They Are Special…

That Feminist Life

Heard about violence against women in India? I bet you did. But men are not having a great life either. Find out the TOP OPPRESSION on Indian Men.

Since last few years, heart wrenching crimes against Indian women have come up in the media and brought India under the spotlight of international shame. While 92 women are still raped everyday in this country, there is no doubt that women’s safety is at high risk. Domestic Violence, stalking and other gender based crimes are highly prevalant in all cities and villages.

However, overlooking at the larger state of this nation, one could assume that while women are oppressed under the patriarchal society, men must be enjoying a great life. Or at least this is how it seems or is certainly easier to tell ourselves.

This is hardly the case though. Truth is always disturbing, uncomfortable and no one wants to talk…

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And You Thought Sons Are Preferred Because They Are Special…

Heard about violence against women in India? I bet you did. But men are not having a great life either. Find out the TOP OPPRESSION on Indian Men.

Since last few years, heart wrenching crimes against Indian women have come up in the media and brought India under the spotlight of international shame. While 92 women are still raped everyday in this country, there is no doubt that women’s safety is at high risk. Domestic Violence, stalking and other gender based crimes are highly prevalant in all cities and villages.

However, overlooking at the larger state of this nation, one could assume that while women are oppressed under the patriarchal society, men must be enjoying a great life. Or at least this is how it seems or is certainly easier to tell ourselves.

This is hardly the case though. Truth is always disturbing, uncomfortable and no one wants to talk about it, so I decided to go ahead and do the messy work of shedding light on that. This is in no way any comparison of men’s pains with those of women.

Infanticide or preferential killing of the girl child in India has risen in alarming numbers so much that the ratios of the entire regions have flunked. A girl child is NOT preferred, we got that! A baby boy is however welcome, we know that too J

Allow me to mention a shameful statistic here:

More women (81%) than men (76%) showed a preference for sons.

Can you guess why there is a preference for sons?

One of the top reasons is because he will earn money.

It sounds pretty natural and normal but it is far more twisted than it sounds.

In most families, men are the sole breadwinners. This makes them responsible to feed several mouths for their entire lives.

With the rise of the middle class, the unbearable income inequality and materialistic/capitalistic society, men feel the heat to not only feed those mouths but also maintain the family’s so called status.

If they earn a meager wage or take interest in social causes instead of working 9 to 5 at a corporate firm, they are ridiculed by their own parents, wives and siblings. Their worth is defined by their salary. No matter how young, dumb or impolite a guy is, as long as he belongs to a rich family, he will get the best girl he puts his finger on.

On the other hand, guys from the struggling class demand everything from a house to a vehicle from the girl’s family as dowry because they feel they deserve to get stuff in return as this is their one and only chance and achievement. While guys demand dowry and shamelessly feel they deserve it, girls are not innocent either. They give their fathers a hard time if they do not build a heavy dowry for her wedding. I have seen girls blame their parents for their divorces because they forgot to add the ‘power steering’ feature in the car they put up for her dowry.

Other men I see who flee to foreign countries for work, they are so disheartened with their families, they accept that they are nothing more than money making machines for their families.

They have to put up dowry for their sisters so they squeeze more out of the bride’s family and thus the cycle continues.

The twisted and sick way our society works has made men the donkeys that only exist to earn and pay our bills. Hence, they resort to violence as and when they please and barely ever say it out loud that they are struggling with financial issues. Not every guy is a millionaire but every family has expenses. Women, especially housewives do not see the world the same way men do (mostly)…

Status, wealth, competing with neighbors’, showing off in the social circle and among relatives is one of the most common cultural traits of Indians (sorry but the truth hurts).  Poor men are being shredded. They are preferred on birth not because they are god’s special little people; only because they can be turned into personal ATM’s for their families.

The Way Out

Gender Equality is only a word unless we take actions. As a woman, I recognize this pressure on men to earn and feed the entire family by themselves. This is not about thinking ‘oh poor guy, you have to wake up every morning and go to work’.  It is more like ‘hey, why don’t we both wake up and do the jobs we love, come back home, cook a lovely meal together and watch TV’.

I can speak on behalf of men that they don’t need our sympathy for being the breadwinners but they would certainly appreciate if we stop comparing them to other wealthy men, stop nagging them to buy the most expensive dress in the town, may be work from home or find a job, talk about our finances wisely with trusted bankers, stop asking AND offering dowry to show off how wealthy we are and finally stop preferring male child just so he would bring in cash.

When we speak of dowry, people see it only as a women’s issue but it is much more. It is after all the father, the sole breadwinner who pays for it. Isn’t that violence against men?

When Little Boys Bake Cakes, It Smells Revolution….

The first foggy and chilled morning of 2014 in Lucknow, I was pacing nervously in my bedroom at 3.30 in the morning. I had a workshop to deliver in five hours and I was still not prepared completely. After a short nap, I woke up exactly around six and began dressing up.

The school in the morning reminded me of my school days. Luckily, a school friend; Ruchika and a cousin Ajmal, accompanied me to the school- Dr Virendra Swaroop Public School. When we were in school, mornings like these were lazy and a lecture in the auditorium was not welcome by our faces.

I therefore began my workshop by asking “what is the best thing to do on a foggy morning like this?”

Different responses poured in when one student shyly said “sleeping.”

The moment everyone laughed, I got assured that I broke the first barrier; I made them smile! J

The discussion progressed from Human Rights to Gender Inequality and then to Gender Stereotyping.

To my surprise, the participants responded with enthusiasm and the fog, the cold and the laziness didn’t matter anymore.

I was surprised at myself even that I didn’t take a second look at my script that’s how much I was into the discussion. And I was also surprised that the students did not seem to drift apart at any moment throughout the workshop.

Crucial issues were raised when a young lady questioned that why do boys make comments on her physical appearance as it’s not their matter… To this, a fantastic teacher responded “because they have nothing else better to do” and we all applauded her spontaneity and logic.

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The event had many such highlights which are all part of the documentary film; (work in progress). The interview with the teachers after the event however brought the results in day light.

A Home Science teacher enthusiastically came forward to share her feedback. She pointed out that after this workshop, boys who usually made fun of the Home Science Class, did not only participate in the class but also learnt how to bake cakes while promising to try it at homes!

Thus, there was an instant outcome- the stereotype around cooking and baking was broken and young boys could see past the ‘man’s job-woman’s job’ gender box.

We all know kids are impressionable but this little incident made me believe that children at this age are extremely eager to learn and it is easier to convince a young boy to cook and clean than to convince a 35 year old man to do the same. Young children are open minded. They have still not seen the restricted walls of the society.

This made me believe in my work more than ever. I am sure that most of these children may not even remember my name but I, like most other adults present there, think that they will remember the message I conveyed.

The mission of Project Ground Zero couldn’t have been fulfilled in a better way. It is after all creating change from within. These kids proved how simply possible it is to break the stereotypes of millions of generations and do the right thing.

A journey of a million miles begins with a single small step. My journey has begun. I don’t know how much gender equality would I see in my lifetime but I am confident that the revolution has begun.

When these children grow up, they would not repeat the same mistakes of the generations before them.

The world is not awful because of the bad people. It’s awful because the good ones stay quiet when they should have spoken. I am hopeful that these children would be among the ones who speak up.

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Long live GENDER EQUALITY!

What Does the SLAP on Gauhar Khan Actually Mean? Is Indian Democracy a JOKE ?

What the Media reported-

Gauhar Khan was publically hit on the face by a man who claims to be the best muslim man on earth probably which is why he thought that he had the right to ‘slap’ a woman because her dressing is not ‘ISLAMIC’.

Objectification and sexualisation of women in the media around the world is an issue which needs a lot of debate and social change but harassing women in public is absolutely NOT the answer.

In general, Muslims feel that women like Sania Mirza or Gauhar Khan who gain fame and celebrity status are public property who they can make comments on. On this news, millions of muslims, many I know personally were happy and said that it was a good thing because these women are ‘out of line’. According to them, this is not how ‘a muslim woman must behave’.

On this I wonder,

Muslim men police around Muslim women to NOT wear skimpy outfits. But it is OK for Muslim men to watch non Muslim women wear skimpy outfits and become objects of their pleasure? What sort of Islam is that?

Women are considered a (public or private ) property of men who they can:

  1. control- don’t go out, don’t see a man
  2. harass- go out in a typical Muslim locality like Aminabad and you would know what I mean
  3. objectify- they dance like hell on songs like Sheela ki jawani because women are like objects of desire for them
  4. use- go make me tea, give me leg massage, go make me lunch
  5. violate- rape, stalk or beat up women as and when they like

NOW CONSIDER THIS—-

Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan are Muslim actors too. Shahrukh married a non-muslim woman while Salman is well known for drunk driving. Other Muslims like Fardeen Khan and his dad Feroz Khan have stripped women off in their movies. But you will never see a Muslim ‘SLAP’ these men in public because ‘they do not act the way a Muslim should’.

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The problem in India with both Muslims and Hindus is that due to strong patriarchal beliefs, men tend to think that they are the ‘GUARDIANS’ of religion. They think they have the right to police others and preach religion and culture to women of their faith. Recently an incident at Lucknow Uinversity had the same outcome where some women were speaking about women empowerment and were harassed publically by ABVP guys claiming to be the guardians of Indian culture. BULL SHIT!!!

What I fail to understand is that why people don’t see this as VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN?

Why is it OK to publically harass a woman in the name of religious policing but somehow heroic for a man?

Why don’t people see that this is part of the same rape culture that blames the victim for the crime?

In this chaos, some people go as far as to claim that the actress did this for TRP! (seriously, no comments!)

Men in India believe that it is OK for men to whore around and beat up women in public. Not surprisingly, many women breathing under the same patriarchal darkness believe the same.

Keeping religious policing aside for a minute, India is the largest democracy in the world, as we know it. But in reality, I fail to see how INDIA can ever claim to be a democratic nation other than in papers.

The true meaning of a democracy means equality and freedom at the core. I fail to see the equality and freedom in Indian culture at large where women are disgraced in public for their choices.

Why do men feel priviledged enough to act like GOD in order to preach values?

Why can’t women chose for themselves?

Why aren’t other men not pointed, blamed or harassed when they do not conform to the religious or cultural values?

Harassment and violence is not what a progressive democratic society must use in any ways.

However, when harassment also reflects INEQUALITY, its time to feel ashamed of the way we think and react to events like this.

Thus, let me define DEMOCRACY for those of you who thought Gauhar Khan deserved the slap:

If Shahrukh married a non muslim woman, it is absolutely within his rights to choose whoever he wanted to marry.

If Salman wants to drink it is absolutely within his legal rights to do so as long as he doesn’t drive and kill.

If Fardeen wants to dance around in whatever movie he wants, it is upto the censorship to decide whether it must be allowed in cinema or not.

If Gauhar wants to wear whatever she likes, it is absolutely within her legal rights. It is her body, her life, her choice. If Muslim men don’t like it, shut your eyes and change the channel.

PEACE OUT!