The Sexist Stereotype of Women’s Obsession With Shoes Needs to Die. Here’s Why.

How many times have you been criticized for buying shoes and bags?

How many times did you yourself think you are crazy and obsessed with shoes and bags or any other such item?

We live in a society that is literally built on targeting women and using any and every opportunity to label women as crazy, psychotic and obsessed or worse money spenders because women in many households in the past and even today are not earning money, so they obviously do not understand the ‘value of money’ (or so they say).

BREAKING NEWS:

It’s a horrible stereotype that needs to die. 

Have you ever in your life, on TV, on social media, in films or in general conversations, heard about men’s obsession with sneakers?

And I’m not talking just about a pair of jogging shoes… I’m talking $800 and up shoes that go up to $8000???

If you haven’t then check this out:

So, when I saw this TED talk, the first thing that came to my mind was that how come I have seen women criticized for buying shoes countless times but not once have I ever heard someone criticizing a man for owning $800 plus sneakers or owning more than 500 pairs at a time?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that owning 500 pairs of shoes is a great, a healthy habit or spending $800 on a pair of shoes is a wise decision. Not talking about its value as an investment either.

And I don’t even want to go into the morality of how much difference could be made in someone’s life with that kind of money. Because we live in times where the self comes first and owning a lot more is rewarded while owning too little is mocked.

But what behooves me is the double standard of it all. The hypocrisy and audacity of men to mock and criticize women when you are no better.

We all have passions, (hopefully, that rely less on addiction and hoarding) but nevertheless, we do have things we love and like to collect. That’s awesome.

Yet, blaming women for liking something while calling your ‘hoarding’ a passion and a hobby is beyond disgust.

The next time you hear this stereotype, please show this video and level the playing field in the area of shoe obsession and money wasting.

Hoarders equality!

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I Had Never Told Anyone ‘You’ll Die Alone’ But Today I Did & I’m Not Sorry

It takes a lot of anger and outrage to yell at someone “you’ll die alone”.

I have had my moments of rage, sparsely scattered throughout my small life but I have never ever hated anyone that much to say such a mean and cruel thing to someone.

Today I did, however, break my rule and said it. And I am not sorry at all and the reason I am sharing this with you over a blog post is:

1- Misplaced blame makes you say things you never thought you’d say.

2- Once an abuser, always an abuser. 

So, let me cut the suspense, if you are a regular reader of my blog, you know this guy.

Yes, this is the idiot stalker I wrote about in the past and also shared his stupidities in a video. 

He got married about 10 months ago. For some weird reason, he contacted me on my work email from his work email to tell me about that and asked me to speak to his fiancee. I asked him why and he never had a proper response but he kept insisting that I just introduce myself to her as a friend. I didn’t.

Last month, I got an email from him saying he was very depressed and in a lot of trouble.

I got worried and asked what was up.

Drunk as he usually is, he blurted a lot of bullshit about him loving me and all. And then he insisted again that I talk to his wife.

It was the middle of the night in India. I was confused, why would I talk to his wife.

Then he revealed a little.

He said that she and he had a fight and she was in the room either sleeping or pretending to be asleep. He asked me to talk to her and calm her down or something.

This was all totally weird but considering how some strange woman was locked up in a room with this psychopath, I really got worried about her.

I instantly told her that it was not my place to say anything but if she isn’t alright, she could share. That night our talk did not go too far but I got the jist of it.

He is a drunkard, abusive, narcissistic asshole who is beating his wife since day 1 of their honeymoon. 

The next day she got in touch with me privately and told me several other dirty secrets of his house that I as a friend never knew obviously. But those were the things about his background, why he has become such an asshole and the role his parents have played in making him that misogynistic monster– all credit of which goes mostly to his mom.

My heart broke into a million pieces listening to her pain. Ultimately she asked, what should she do. She was at her parents home that night because the fucker had fractured her wrist in the fight from last night.

I suggested what any sane, logical person would. Either seek professional help, set boundaries, give him a deadline to control his alcohol and abuse OR simply walk away from a marriage that is literally breaking her bones.

Through these last couple of weeks, she gave him chances and he has failed to keep his promises for more than 120 minutes!!! That is how long-lasting his sanity is.

Anyway, the reason that blew the handle and made me say the worse of things is because of what happened last night.

At about wee hours of the morning, Indian time, he was calling me.

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Look how he is attacking me ‘teaching his wife’.

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My DP these days btw is about divorcing in order to not set a wrong example of marriage in front of your kids…Something like that. It pissed him off as expected although it was not directed at him.

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The audio I forwarded him is the one in which he was blurting out that he loves me.

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These images fully opened are below once this conversation finishes.

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I feel weird now but I totally lost it when he tried to blame me for trying to create a rift between his wife and him and now that I encouraged his wife to stand up for her rights, he is attacking me saying my intention is wrong.

I had no faith in him and never expected any sense of decency from him anyway. But the only reason I spent my time speaking to his wife is that I can empathize with that poor woman trapped with him in this abusive marriage. 

And this is the second woman whose cries I have heard this past week who is being abused by her husband.

Should I feel sorry for these abusive morons who abuse these innocent women?

Nope. I don’t. 

I really never thought I would ever say “you’ll die alone” and other mean things I said above… but this was the height of my patience.

I have tolerated a lot of BULLSHIT from this moron in the past that I have shared in the blog and video, but the most I did then was just BLOCK HIM.

But getting to know how he is abusing his innocent wife, I cannot ignore his stupidities and simply block him without giving him a piece of my mind.

BTW below are the images I reminded him of who is in love with whom.

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Turns out, once an abuser, always an abuser. And that marriage and commitment do not change violent, abusive men.

 

Men Are Angry & It’s Killing Them aka Heart Disease. Here’s How To Help.

We live in a society that idolizes angry men.

Just look randomly at a bunch of men’s magazines. How many do you see smiling and happy?

Its considered sexy on men to be angry, gloomy and gangster.

While this look may work on a magazine cover or a seductive perfume ad or a movie poster, but in real life it is killing men.

Penn psychologists did this amazing research study in which using big data, they analyzed what words people use on their social media and is there any link between those words/moods with heart disease.

I know it sounds like two different things but stick with me. Here is the word cloud that suggested the most used words from men’s profiles.

men

Notice the use of cuss words. Overall the use of these words does not suggest positivity or a beautiful, meaningful life. In fact, from this word cloud alone, we can sum up what we have taught men:

1- Use cuss words and be angry at petty things, that will make you look masculine.

2- Guns, warfare, military type hobbies or interests that will perpetuate violence.

3- Competition and fight are good but not sharing and caring.

This worries me deeply for my unborn sons. I do not want to raise little boys to be violent, disturbed little creatures whose only self-worth depends on being hurtful to others and themselves.

On the other hand, let’s see what the word cloud from women’s profiles indicate:

women

Looking at the word cloud we can see these are the things women care about:

1- Relationships

2- Loving, caring and doing things to keep up the home.

3- Shopping because let us be honest when women take care of the kitchen and the household, of course, they are the ones who pick groceries because they would know what to pick for the day to day running of the household.

4- Food. Women like to express there love for food.

5- Feelings play a big part there. And positive feelings of happiness and joy.

Now let’s look at the link:

heart

The world oppresses women in many different ways but can we just agree that TOXIC MASCULINITY is literally killing the men in our lives and can we stop idolizing angry men already?

How many male suicides is it going to take for people to realize that boxing up your emotions and not sharing will ultimately kill?

If you are a guy who has some worries or just feel angry and depressed, there is a lot you can do.

Firstly, you can join a local support group or a FACEBOOK group where you can share and listen to others in a similar situation.

Secondly, you can seek proper therapy through a certified professional.

Thirdly, if it all seems too overwhelming, TALK TO ME. Yes, I am a non-judgmental stranger who has a solid background in emotional trauma and is also a student of Positive Psychology. I am not going to be a replacement for a therapist but can be a listening ear, sometimes that all we need- to be heard!

Got a #MeToo Story? Here’s What To Do According To A Criminal Psychologist

#MeToo has been exploding in India lately and has already shaken some very solid foundations in Hollywood, academia, and journalism worldwide.

I have not met one woman in my entire life who has not faced some sort of sexual harassment in her life. These experiences worsen among women of color.

New advancements have been rising yet most of them are ineffective and unhelpful to the survivors of assault.

When it comes to sexual harassment reporting and suing, one of the major obstacles that can make or break your case is the reporting of the assault. Julia Shaw, a criminal psychologist in her TED Talk recently shared some life-saving information on the best way to report and take action after going through an assault incident. You can watch the talk here but in a jist, this is what you must do or in other words,

How to turn your memory into evidence:

Get into an isolated location and write these things down immediately even before talking to anyone because judgment and reactions can tamper or distort your memory.

1- Timing- write about the incident as soon as you possibly can.

2- Type- a handwritten note won’t have a date and time like a note on your phone or computer, that would later be crucial in your testimony. So use technology to your advantage. Make it time stamped.

3- Relevance- write down things most relevant to your case. It is easy to get distracted and write an emotional account of what happened because of course, it is an emotionally overwhelming experience. Yet, try to think of the most relevant details that can help your statement.

In other words, this is a list of things that your note would need (a screenshot from Julia’s TED Talk):

julia

Julia says just as easy it is to write it at that moment, it is incredibly easy to forget as time passes. Also because our brain is such it tries to block out the bad memories to survive. Hence, she introduced an ANONYMOUS ONLINE REPORTING SOFTWARE called SPOT!

Please check it out and introduce it to your workplace and try to get it integrated. If your employers are genuinely interested in taking a stand against sexual harassment, they will make good use of it.

We all think sexual harassment is never going to happen to us until it does. And I know how scary, confusing, humiliating and stressful it is to recall what happened and process it.

Yet, it is high time the perpetrators have been taking advantage of the silence of the less heard in the workplace and SPOT is a weapon that can help survivors deal with their pain a little better.

I hope it helps survivors and makes positive changes in organizations.

3 Happy & 3 Sad Feelings About #MeToo Reaching Google…

So, today:

#googlewalkout #google

Google employees walk out to protest alleged sexism, inequality

As I watched the news pouring in, I had strongly mixed feelings.

The sad part first- 

1- It makes me sad to see that in 2018 women are unsafe in the worlds most highly rated and recognized corporate organization. Not just unsafe but also not equally paid.

2- Its also sad to see that the internal policies and corporate cultures aren’t inclusive at all because if they were, this protest would not be needed.

3- The problem of sexual misconduct and gender pay inequality is universal across the globe, which means not one country, not one culture, not one office is immune to these issues.

The happy part is-

1- Googlers saw this as not just women’s issue like most of the society typically sees it but they saw it as a worker’s issue and both MEN and women walked out in protest. I can’t express how much admiration I hold for men who are true allies when it comes to sexual violence in society. I know, this is the basic standard of behavior, men wouldn’t get any brownie points if they came out in support of climate change. But sadly, our society is in such a place that it is so rare to see men taking accountability and for once not siding with the bros and standing up for what is right.

2- No particular location of Google office decided to ignore this in order to save jobs or get in the good books of the senior management. In my book, Lean on What, I have written in depth about how power dynamics within the STEM fields play a role in keeping women oppressed and how their only option is to quit. No person wants to talk let alone protest on these issues for the fear of losing their jobs. The fact that Googlers all over the world participated in this protest is a sign of pure revolution and a positive one.

3- If giants like Google will start taking sexual assault seriously and pay their employees equally regardless of their gender, the rest of the world might follow them and even if at a glacial rate we see change, it is still worth it.

Google’s reactions and the efforts that are being put in place now some relief and if there is follow through, this would be a true leadership move on part of Google.

Respects to all Googlers around the world who walked out today and created history.

1 girl lied=Never trust any woman but 1000 men rape= #NotAllMen [Kudos Hypocrites]

Ever wondered what it feels like to be a woman?

This morning my Facebook timeline showed a post about some girl in Goa who did not accept an apology from a man who sexually assaulted her and taught him some kind of lesson.

2q

My post, however, is not about that girl but some guy who made the most intelligent comment you will ever read on the internet:

1q

Out of a 1000 molested girls, if 1 or 2 lied, men are finding it hard to trust women!!!!!!!!!!!!!

giphy

So based on this logic, because few men were sent to jail for rape, isn’t it hard to believe all men?

And anytime a woman blurts a single word, there comes the storm of #NotAllMen

From the day a girl is mature enough to take instructions, she is told to stay away from guys, not trust men, don’t party with them, don’t hang out with guys…

And when you ask why then you are told: “because all of them want only one thing from women- SEX”!

And God forbid someday a girl comes out with her #MeToo story, all she hears is how she might be the deluded one.

Kudos society!

Assuming Megha Sharma (who undressed in the viral video) is a liar, The Mumbai Police is Still Guilty, Here’s Why.

A video was posted online on several platforms yesterday in which a model living in Mumbai, named Megha Sharma can be seen undressing in an elevator when the Mumbai Police is forcing her to go with them.

Here is the video with some commentary from The Lallantop.

Megha also posted this:

megha

There is another video going viral from the same night in which it is clearly visible that while the security guard is sitting peacefully, Megha can be seen charging at him violently while he is trying to defend himself. This was from a CCTV footage so there is no audio.

The saddest and most disgusting part about the incident is people’s reactions and ugly comments on social media platforms including the worst vile and moronic rhetoric going on over Twitter where so-called men’s rights activists are making a full-on mockery of what happened.

And since she is a model, of course, her right to privacy, right to her body is in the public domain and people can share her video in the undergarments and mock and jerk off to the cries of a woman, simply because she is a model, right? I mean WTF is right to privacy for a woman who chose to be a model? #sarcasm

These are the same people who search for Sunny Leone’s videos on Google and despise her outwardly to appear morally superior and chaste.

These are people that have not bothered to Google the dictionary meaning of the word ‘FEMINIST’ and go on to disregard and attack the term in every way possible.

Before I move on to the core of the post, let me share about who ELSE STRIPPED TO GET THEIR VOICE HEARD…

In Munna Bhai MMBS, the old man whose pension is not being given since ages, strips in front of the government officer and he gets his pensions ultimately.

In Begum Jaan, Vidya Balan does the same in order to save a younger girl from rape.

In real life, Telugu actress Sri Reddy stripped when she was sexually harassed by some powerful men in the industry and despite her complains, she was being ignored.

In 2004, several women in Assam held a naked protest in order to raise their voices against the Indian Army personnel that had raped them.

Whether these public strippings were fictional from films or from real lives, NONE OF THESE WERE PUBLICITY STUNTS AND NEITHER THEY WERE DONE HAPPILY IN ORDER TO SEDUCE OR GAIN CHEAP THRILLS.

When someone is harassed and humiliated to the point that they see no other alternative, they are drawn to something like this.

Not knowing Megha personally and only based on Megha’s post, here is what I think-

Megha is seen charging at the security guard. Megha claims in her post that the security guard misbehaved with her while he claims that Megha asked him to get cigarette’s for her and when he denied, she got angry and violent.

Let me scream it out in typed words as loud as I can, either way, THE POLICE IS NOT PERMITTED TO FORCE A WOMAN TO GO TO THE POLICE STATION WITH THEM WITHOUT THE PRESENCE OF A FEMALE CONSTABLE & especially NOT AFTER 6pm OR BEFORE 6 am. 

If Megha is lying about being harassed, then the police could simply ask her to come along and on being refused, they could either have brought in a woman constable or return after 6am in the morning as THAT WAS HER OWN ADDRESS. Where could she run off to and for what? A petty disagreement?

For all those people/idiots who think Feminism means supporting only women regardless of the crime/guilt of women, please read a book, watch some TED talks and if you can’t do any of that, just do us a favour… stay away from commenting on things you aren’t equipped to comment on.

If Megha was lying and she is really guilty of attacking the security guard, she must certainly be dealt with the proper punishment just as any other person would. There is no doubt about that and any person who claims to be a feminist would say exactly that.

But there is a better way to deal with a suspect when she is a woman and the Mumbai Police has clearly violated the SUPREME COURT LAWS by not providing her with a female constable and refusing to let her go when clearly she is in a very distraught condition. 

In the videos where she is screaming, her voice made me shudder. She is in a very bad state and none of the men there were being cooperative. What would it take for them to call in a female constable or walk her up to her apartment and wait outside the door until further help arrived?

People commenting called it drama, publicity stunt, the same things they called Dr. Blaisey Ford and Serena Williams last month.

Her body language, her voice, and her state are of utmost panic and she is trying to keep it together with the utmost effort. If anything would have happened to her, such as a nervous breakdown or a breathing irregularity, anything, she could have lost her life and no amount of sympathies and apologies from the Police later could make up for it.

You think I am exaggerating? Just Google the term ‘Police Brutality’ and you will find insurmountable cases where the police have treated suspects and often innocent people in an animalistic manner and people have lost their lives.

As I said, even if Megha is the guilty one here, there are better ways to handle the situation. For all those assuming a feminist would blindly support Megha simply because she is a woman… here is a question-

Let’s assume for a second that Megha IS guilty of charging violently at the security guard. 

Does it mean she should be hanged? Harassed? Humiliated?

CRIMINALS AND SUSPECTS HAVE HUMAN RIGHTS.

And Megha, even if guilty, is not a murderer or a rapist.

I am sure the Constitution has a proper punishment and fine for anti-social behavior and Megha could be punished accordingly but what the Mumbai Police did is beyond words.

I don’t want to quote The Geneva Convention in length here but in brief-

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (commonly known as the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT)) is an international human rights treaty, under the review of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.

I wonder what sort of training, gender sensitivity classes or police brutality seminars or critical suspect handling codes of conduct these Mumbai Police personnel are given.

But from the video, this is evident that whatever is given, is not enough.

AND…

If Megha is telling the truth and the security guard first assaulted her, then I can only send her my sympathies and pray that all of you who gave her a hard time and now mocking her, calling her derogatory names because of the undressing act, I pray may you never be in her shoes. Cause you won’t be able to handle it like she did.

 

Why looking at wedding pictures on Pinterest causes me anxiety

Pinterest is a wonderful home for everything beautiful you’ll ever find on this planet- both human-made and natural.

When I discovered Pinterest it was to research for ‘what to wear to an interview’ search.
I found great stuff on that.

My search also extended in the later days to heavenly travel destinations, magical baked goods, makeup tricks, writing and blog related info and ultimately wedding outfits.

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A wedding is a large area. First I drooled at the long flared wedding gowns, then at the lavish wedding venues, creative wedding decorations and then the iconic and signature- couple photos.

It’s addictive. Looking at two flawless people madly in love with each other in moments that are sacred is just magical.

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Once you start looking you just can’t stop. The lovely poses, the creative shots, the look in their eyes… what’s not to like.

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I admit. My eyes were glued to my screen for hours spread over months. But as much as I loved admiring those pictures, I noticed a deep feeling of anxiety and restlessness after.

Let me explain my situation a bit first.

I’m 30 plus now. When I was 20, I was one of those girls who wanted to have the most lavish wedding ceremony with a loving man and I’d dream endlessly of how I would be the best wife on the planet. I would watch some of these TV soaps featuring the all-sacrificing wife which I now think are ridiculous and stupid.

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But that time I would see myself as the all loving and epitome of sacrifice wife whose sacrifices and dedication would make people drop to her feet in respect.

And then my elder sister got married and things changed. I saw the real side of the struggles from planning a wedding ceremony to actually living under the same roof with a man you now call your husband.

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To be honest, I didn’t have the best example because the guy my sister married was an asshole in every sense of the word. Up until now looking at my father, I had only seen men as humans. With that guy, I saw how men can be monsters. From verbal abuse to physical and from the direct attack’s on her to public shaming of my family, he did it all.

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The impact of all of that on me was so profound my own relationships suffered and I broke off. Since then I’ve been so cautious that I don’t believe any man easily when he shows interest in marriage. Being cautious is one thing but I also wonder if I am now commitment-phobic because this idea of staying with one person forever just sounds like a lot of pressure.

What if he changed, what if he turned out to be a jerk? What if he cheats or lies?

And it’s not just about that.

These days the pressure to be perfect is so high it’s exhausting.
All these people posting pictures on social media with their spouses and kids… it’s an extreme pressure to look happy and picture perfect all the time.

From looking at my sisters’ experiences in both her marriages, I fear if I can keep up that fake image of marital bliss in case I’m unhappy. And even if let’s assume my husband doesn’t turn out to be a jerk, people still argue and sometimes won’t be feeling that Pinterest worthy romance towards each other. What happens then?

The financial aspect of this marriage business is also soul-crushing. The best of the best venues, dresses, camera crew, makeup staff, and interiors are free on Pinterest. Looking at those luxury things for hours makes you want to want them. But affording those things is a whole different story.

To be able to afford that, one needs to be a millionaire easy. Even the most budget-friendly weddings aren’t cheap. And realizing that you can’t afford those fancy things adds to the layer of depression and resentment.

Then you start to question your life choices and financial stability. And that reminds you of the family pressure who wanted to see you married six years ago. Whose hopes are on you and you’re scared to death about accidentally bringing another jerk home who doesn’t respect the family.

Oh god, can you believe we started at Pinterest, innocently browsing some images and we ended here in a mid-life crisis?

(Lucky for me, I am more attracted to intrinsic values than extrinsic material possessions and trophy spouses, hence able to maintain my mental well being, otherwise, I may have robbed a bank or married a wealthy jerk long ago and may have already killed myself with the pressure to keep up the fake image of happiness).

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Does Sexism Hurt Men? Yes says Emmanuella in ‘The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder’

It’s a treat day for my lovely blog readers.

Today we chat with Emmanuella and her inspiration behind her latest book ‘The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder’.

So, let’s get to it.

Who is Emmanuella?

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Emmanuella Hristova was born in Oakland, California and grew up in the Bay Area. She is the third daughter to Bulgarian parents who immigrated to California shortly before she was born. She began drawing at the ripe age of four and studied fine arts for five years in high school. There, she received many art accolades including a Congressional award for her piece Boy in Red in 2009. In 2015, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley. She began writing poetry at age twenty-four when she was in graduate school. She earned her Master’s in Education from the same alma mater in 2017. Emmanuella spent two years as an English teacher in Richmond, California. During that time, she self-published her first poetry collection: The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder. Currently, she is writing her first novel. She speaks English, Bulgarian, Spanish and is now learning French.

What’s the book about?

“The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder” is a collection of poems that explores a tumultuous year of love, heartbreak, and all kinds of unimaginable loss. Emmanuella’s debut poetry book documents the birth and death of a relationship, and the death of her sister. Each poem is an emotional time-stamp that plunges the reader into the depths of the author’s feelings as they burgeon and wane. The book reads like a diary and chronicles the boundaries of the things that we all feel: passion, heartache, and pain that gives way to hope.

So, what did you personally learn in the process of writing this book that surprised you?

A surprising outcome of sexism is that it negatively affects men too. Patriarchal ideas that construct gender roles and subsequent societal expectations constrict male emotional and personal expression.

For example, society defines women as the more emotional gender, thereby expecting their emotionality while constricting men to emotional repression. In addition, because traditional notions of masculinity dominate that of femininity, emotional expression is often seen as a sign of weakness. Especially when experienced by a man.

Have you ever heard that argument that women shouldn’t be or aren’t world leaders because they’re more emotional? This argument exists because of the subtext: emotional expression is female, a male is better than female, therefore emotional expression is less than or weak. And God forbid a man to be “weak” as this contradicts a principle of hegemonic masculinity: that men dominate over women because they are “stronger”. Thus, gender expectations create a dogma that men are not supposed to express their emotions. They are taught from a young age, to suppress them. Men don’t cry. Crying is for little girls. Crying is for pussies. Even when you’re sad.

There is a tiny ounce of truth to the difference in emotional expression between the genders. In most female brains, the corpus callosum is larger than in most men’s brains. The corpus callosum is the bridge between the right and left hemispheres; it links the emotional parts to the linguistic. But warrants communication differences, not lack of emotions. What this signifies is that for most women, communicating about feelings is easier as there are more messages passing between the two spheres. It may be more difficult for most men to communicate their feelings—they’re at a loss for the words. But this doesn’t mean emotional bankruptcy. Men are still emotional beings, as much as women are. Feeling and expressing emotions is just a part of being human, and for society to mandate how and why we are to express ourselves solely based on our gender is both counterintuitive and mentally destructive.

In the United States, studies show that older men become, their circle of platonic male friendships decreases. Because men are not supposed to express their emotions, especially among each other, they’re forced to seek an emotional outlet through a female partner. This is both expected and encouraged for men, who often state that their best friend is their wife. On the contrary, women often have a female best friend separate from their husband.

Thus, women enjoy plenty of emotional outlet through romantic and platonic relationships with both genders.

However, it’s here that men are the unlucky ones. Decreased friendships and human contact lead to higher rates of depression, violence, and suicide. Which, is evident in the Western world as men are three to four times more likely to commit suicide than women.

Sexism and hegemonic masculinity can affect so much more than mental health. Hegemonic masculinity demands compulsory heterosexuality. As a result, alternate forms of gender expression and sexuality are often discriminated against and marginalized. No homo, bro.

It’s tough to be a girl. But under the patriarchy, it’s tough to be a boy too.

Why did you decide to write a book on this topic?

upon walking down the street

UC Berkeley needs to cool it down

with the construction—not because of 

the noise, the smell, or the blatant

inconvenience when walking; but rather,

because only by walking 

to the bus stop on southside I pass by 

three construction crews, on a daily basis. 

All eating their lunches,

who stop simultaneously to watch 

me walk from one corner of the

block to the other, leering, as if

they’ve never seen a woman before, as if

my existence was solely for 

their viewing pleasure. As if

the entire sum of my being as a

human was my breasts, legs and ass. 

When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, a young woman I used to mentor gave me a green Moleskin notebook. She told me to document all of my adventures. My undergraduate graduation characterized many changes in my life, and at the time I was working out my own definition of feminism. I decided to start writing a book about feminism and Christianity. But what began as short musings about sexism jotted down on the BART train, eventually became woeful poems about oppression, harassment, and assault.

And then, two months later, I fell in love for the first time. I never decided to write my poetry collection; it came out of me, rather. I documented the relationship from beginning to end, birth to death. I wrote to express my feelings and sentiments. It wasn’t intentional. Pent-up emotions swelled up inside of me and they didn’t have any place to spill other than onto blank pages. Eventually, that green Moleskin became a chronological account of one of the darkest periods of my life.

What’s the book about and who would benefit or like to read it?

The poems in The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder is about love, heartbreak, depression, and grief. The collection begins with the relationship—falling in love, hesitation, turmoil. Eventually, I chronicle the end of the relationship and dwell on the breakup. Two weeks later I find out my sister is dying from stage 4 cancer. And depression unfolds as a result.

Although I began writing about sexism, I chose to leave those poems for the final chapter. There, I tackle sexual harassment, sexual assault, and oppression. The poems move through all the emotions I’ve felt as a result—torment, sadness, anger and reveling glee. The final chapter is dedicated to grieving and healing women:

The aftermath.

For crying girls everywhere,

hiding in the bathroom stall.

May you find your healing. 

This chapter begins with one of my favorite poems to read aloud: upon diluting myself, which is about how women are forced to suppress their identities in order to navigate a male-dominated world. Thus, “diluting” their spirits in the process:

upon diluting myself

I am a woman.

I dilute myself in order to survive;

I suppress myself, recoiling into a tight ball

to not threaten the more powerful sex

so they don’t realize that

the most beautiful part of me is

my brain and not my body,

my thoughts and not my tits,

my heart and not my hair,

my feelings and not my face.

 

The chapter continues with February 15thmen make me feel uncomfortable, which is about being touched without consent or solicited on the street. The next poem, upon walking down the street, was the first entry in my green Moleskin.

upon being a woman is the longest poem in the whole collection, and it’s the most personal. It’s a documented account of (almost all) sexual harassment and assault I’ve experienced since I was a child. When I was still starting out in graduate school, I read an anonymous poem on Huffington Post about a woman recounting the first time she was coerced into giving a blow job and vomited. She must have been six years old. This poem compelled me to write my own, but I started recounting backward. I begin as an adult, and every oppressive or violent account with a male makes me feel smaller until you reach five-year-old me. I’ve never been able to read this one out loud, it’s that personal.

February 15thdo they make makeup for crying girls? follows. This poem is about the right to grieve: whether it be about loss, heartbreak or oppression. Women don’t need to smile all the time or be pleasant. We can cry, and we will cry damn it:

 

Do they make makeup for crying girls?

The kind of mascara I can

wear to my sister’s funeral,

where I don’t have to fear

the black tracks running down

the smooth skin of my 

cheeks, marking the years I

will spend crying for her absence.

 the day

The final poem, here’s to the woman, is the second poem in the collection written in response to International Women’s Day. This one leaves wallowing in the past. It looks forward to the future: one in which the woman is recognized. It’s a reflection of my current voice which includes admonition, anger, and strength:

 

here’s to the woman

One day in the year cannot

truly honor and recognize the amount of

unappreciated work that women

actually contribute to the world.

But we can try; so,

here’s to the woman:

Here’s to the single mother

working 1+ jobs to support her family;

Here’s to the woman pioneering

in a male-dominated field

while facing discrimination,

belittlement and/or harassment

and still shows up;

Here’s to the woman who

gave up a career to raise her children;

Here’s to the woman who

put off starting a family

to pursue a career;

Here’s to the grandmother raising

her grandchildren in retirement;

Here’s to the mother who

left everything in her home country to

provide a better life for her children;

Here’s to the sexual assault survivor who’s

asked, but what were you wearing?

Here’s to the woman who

pursues an education—despite the

the physical danger it may put her in;

Here’s to the woman who’s

told she’s not

pretty enough

she wasn’t asking you;

Here’s to the woman who’s

told she’s too pretty to do that

but does it anyway. 

Here’s to the woman who

speaks out against sexism

while being challenged

and still speaks;

Here’s to the woman whose

societal contributions are overlooked

because she was not born a man.

Here’s to the woman.

Thank you.

Links to my book: 

iBooks

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Bookshout

Lulu

Social media links & website:

My website: http://www.ehristova.com

My Insta: http://www.instagram.com/emmy_speaks

Amazon author page: http://amazon.com/author/ehristova

Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/ehristova

It Takes a Village To Raise a Child, Also to Abuse One: Talking to Farzana Gafoor About Hush Hush

Farzana Gafoor is a documentary filmmaker based in London and the guest on my blog today. Her documentary Hush Hush is based on the issue of Child Sexual Abuse in India. Below is the trailer that was released recently.

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Considering how rampant the problem is and yet how slow our corrective action is towards it, this documentary is set to reveal some uncomfortable and ugly truths.

Let’s hear it from Farzana:

  1. Tell us about this documentary in brief.     The documentary shares the stories of survivors of CSA and creates awareness on the misconceptions the society has on Child Sexual Abuse. We have interviewed a psychiatrist, a therapist who share their insights on this issue. We also interviewed an activist, Insia Dariwala, who assist in housing and helping victims of CSA.  It is highly important to hear the variety of stories and circumstances that these individuals who come from all walks of life on how they have coped, survived, in a positive and meaningful way.

 

  1. What made you approach such a serious subject   This is actually my second film on CSA. The first one was an experimental film, Phoenix, where I had actors play the role of survivors. And post completion of the film, I still was not satisfied as I wanted to meet real survivors and share their stories with the world.  And also this comes from a very personal experience. It is disheartening, especially to know that many cases involve very young children. We have to start educating children about “good and bad touch” at an early age. To tackle child sexual abuse the focus must be on prevention and awareness. Many in our country are under the impression that boys don’t get abused, its only girls. We forget to protect our boys when both male and female children are equally vulnerable to be subjected by this kind of abuse.

 

  1. What were your challenges while working on Hush Hush    The biggest challenge that I thought is that I would never be able to find a survivor or a victim who would come forward to share their story in front of the camera, especially in India.  But I was completely wrong. I got in touch with one of the survivors who ended up introducing me to a pool of other survivors from his support group. And they are the strongest people I have met by far. It amazed me to know that there are survivors out there who are waiting to share their stories so that this brings about a change and other children do not have to go through what they have been through.

 

  1. What were your learnings or lessons that you didn’t expect prior to beginning this project?Through this documentary, I met the founders of a Survivors support group, Bola, who themselves are survivors. As of now, the shocking fact is that they are the only support group of adult survivors of CSA in India. With India being such a huge and populated country and a lot of CSA cases happening at an alarming rate and it really shows a lack of awareness. For these survivors, it wasn’t about getting back at or seeking justice against their perpetrators, it was more about transforming themselves from a victim to a survivor by accepting that this wasn’t their fault and by getting the right help and therapy they need.  In some cases, when a child goes through such a traumatic experience, the brain could suppress the memories of the trauma and he or she could go on about their adult life without knowing that such an incident happened to them. I learned this by meeting one of the survivors who had his memories of his abuse come back to him only at the age of 25.

 

  1. What solutions or changes you think this issue needs?Definitely more awareness programs. Just as how much important it is for a child to learn math and science, it should be the right of a child to be aware of this issue. And also for parents to know how to deal with it. The schools should have awareness programs like good touch and bad touch for the children accordingly to different age groups. Most children who have been subjected to such abuse, grow up thinking it is their fault and they had made a mistake. Someone needs to assure them it wasn’t. There should also be a process in such a way that when a child cannot confide to his or her parents, they should be able to talk to another trusted adult, for example, the child’s teacher. In that case, school teachers should be trained as to how to deal with children in these kinds of situations.

 

  1. When is the documentary coming out and where will it be available for viewing?We are looking for a good platform to release the documentary hopefully by the end of this year.