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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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We Need To Talk About Men’s Entitlement to Women’s Explicit Photos & Videos

“A recent study has shown just how common it is for teen boys to coerce or threaten girls into sending nude pictures: an analysis of 500 accounts from 12- to 18-year-old girls about negative experiences sexting found that two-thirds of them had been asked to provide explicit images — and that the requests often progressed from promises of affection to “anger displays, harassment and threats.” In an article about the study for The New York Times, psychologist Lisa Damour writes, “Teenagers are drafted into a sexual culture that rests on a harmful premise: on the heterosexual field, boys typically play offense and girls play defense… Most schools and many parents already tell teenagers not to send sexualized selfies. But why don’t we also tell adolescents to stop asking for nude photos from one another?”

‘Send Nudes’- A New Study Shows How Often Boys Pressure Girls For Explicit Photos

While I was ending school, personal mobile phones were becoming common and home video cameras were still a luxury for some but gaining a place in society slowly.

As the use of technology grew, so did the pressure from men. Sometimes this would be for sending explicit pictures, sometimes to do video chats in skimpy clothing and other times just sex chat with explicit language.

I always had reservations and never, ever gave in to such pressure simply because I am a shy person and never felt that the pressure and threats from the man in question were a reason enough for me to withdraw my personal boundaries. In fact, I blew off several guys who were pretending to be ‘friends’ but turned out were just perverts that today we call ‘fuck boys’.

Years passed and now I am in my early 30s.

But guess what?

The pressure from men has not gone down.

Recently, I was catching up after 10 years with a guy friend who I had never met but had text and Skype conversations with at times. This guy had revealed his liking for me in the past and asked if I would consider marrying him.

Considering that I am still single and have no plans to tie the knot, you can imagine how ridiculous the idea of marriage was to me back then.

Anyway, he got married and now has 2 young daughters about 6 and below, the pictures of whom he often shares on his timeline.

Catching up with him after 10 years on FB Messenger was a delight. I thought it would be good to know how life has treated him and exchange some grown-up talks on a lazy evening.

Unfortunately, he had different ideas.

For him, the conversation was about how awful his wife was despite working as a teacher and looking after the household chores entirely alone. And then it came down to turning the video camera on and posing.

I agreed to talk on a WhatsApp call after a ton of please..please and begging.

And while we talked he was worried that if he wanted to talk the next day, would I still take his call. Actually, his wife was visiting her parents for a few days and he wanted to make the most of his time by flirting with women.

The next day when he called, I was in the bathtub and when he began pushing for the camera, I told him I cannot and knowing about the bathtub his pervert inner self just jumped out of his balls and he began pushing madly to turn the camera on.

The guy is blocked till eternity so that was the end of that. But did it really have to go like that?

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Why do men feel it is OK to bluntly ask women to send nudes or sext or come on video and worse, why do they handle the rejection so bad?

The article I talked about in the beginning was about teenagers but even as grown-ups, that entitlement from men does not stop, does it?

And I have no words for the manipulation they try to trap you in when you say NO.

They will appear all sad and try to make you feel sorry and pity for them.

Then they will try anger and the ‘I won’t talk to you either’ threats.

And ultimately when they go out of patience, they even abuse and say all sorts of curses because they did not get their way.

We are talking about teenage men but grown-up men, father of two young daughters… when they have no respect for boundaries and exploit every second the wife is away to flirt and fuck with other women, what can we expect them to teach the younger generation of men?

 

 

3 Things Men Must Learn From Liam Neeson’s Rape-Revenge Fantasy and Racism Row

I’m sure you may have come across this news about Hollywood actor Liam Neeson’s comment on a movie junket about this deep revenge urge.

Basically,  a friend of his who was raped about 40 years ago had confided in him and Liam talked about his reaction to the news.

And his reaction had 3 major points:

1-The urge to lash out
2-The need to defend her honor
3-The desire for revenge

Before we go ballistic on him criticizing him, calling him a racist, let’s focus on the fact that Liam was not ‘caught’ being racist. He in fact admitted to having this hatred that he felt. There are 3 things to note:

1- Admitting the fact that this happened
2- Willingness to change and learn (still continues)
3- Sought help after

Trevor Noah has the most logical take on this issue which summed up to: people have taken it more seriously than they should because it’s Liam Neeson. Also, Liam going around saying he’s not a racist is just making it worst.
Of course, it was racism, hatred against the entire community for the crime of one.
Muslims would secretly be muttering “been there, felt that”!

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But the point here is that aside from the race aspect, the most important thing is absolutely undiscussed.
What help did he offer to that friend?
Did she visit the doctor?
Did she get the appropriate help from the police if she reported?
Could she report it?
What was it /would have been the consequences of openly admitting to being a rape victim?
How did his Catholic community treat rape victims and what help was provided?

Just like this incident, a million movies are made where the rape of a woman is used merely as a plot point that unleashed the wrath of the powerful male protagonist and women are reduced to mere props and eye candy.

What men need to learn from this incident is that this is NOT ABOUT THEIR REVENGE THEIR FEELINGS, THEIR HONOR OR THEIR WOMEN.

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It’s about the woman in question and for once in your lifetime just please take the backseat and ask what does she want. How she feels. What could you do to help?

Don’t make it impossible for her to share her pain with you because she may already be feeling guilty (as society does a very good job of blaming women for rape) , upon that when you lay the burden of a revenge murder or revenge rape on her, she may take her secret to the grave but never share it with you as she may fear you going to prison and that would also be somehow upon her.

Does that make any sense at all, guys?

What Liam did well was:
Admitting his act
Talking about bigotry
Urging to have difficult discussions on race and toxic masculinity
Willing to learn and look for the teachable moment

The 3 things you should thus learn from this incident are:

1- When a woman confesses her pain to you, keep your savior/knight in shining armor cape aside and just be there for her, empathize with her.

2- After listening, ask what she wants, what is her wish, how does she want to deal with it. Don’t force her to tell the police or family and neither force her to hide. Let her take the wheel of her life and let her decide what she feels is best for her.

3- Don’t lash out to hurt other people in order to take some sort of ‘revenge’. Not against the people of that race/religion and not against the women of the rapists family either.

I had a friend who once confessed to her husband about her rape incident and the husband was insistent that he will have revenge by raping the sister of the rapist.

Ultimately, it is an innocent woman who will suffer the consequences of a man’s actions. Please don’t fulfill your rape fantasies and justify them as ‘revenge’ for the pain caused to your wife/girlfriend.

Yes, it is awful to see your friend or wife as a victim of rape, traumatic even.

But remember you are not the primary victim here. Try to be there for the rape victim who actually suffered that trauma instead of acting out in a way that is the opposite of helpful.

Reacting to ‘Faye D’Souza & Barkha Dutt speak on India’s Me Too movement | Times Lit Fest Delhi’

I loved watching Faye and Barkha, two of my favorite journalists, speaking about #MeToo in India. Tavleen had some rather weird ideas about the movement and was brave enough to say them out loud in public.

Until the end though, she didn’t seem convinced, so here I summed up the objections and answered them in the most straightforward way possible in two sentences or less. She didn’t seem to get it but here is another attempt.

Why do women not slap a man who tried to kiss her or go into a room with a man where he is in his underwear?

Many do, plenty don’t. Its called the ‘freeze’ reaction. It’s the Neurobiology of Trauma. 

We had to go through Sati and the likes. And you young women can’t stop a man from kissing you. Why?

Every generation has its own problems. We didn’t have to fight for voting rights, doesn’t mean we don’t value them and doesn’t mean our struggles are less important.

City women are hogging the space with their unimportant agendas and protests against sexual harassment when there are issues like sex trafficking that are more pressing and need more attention. Why not focus on them?

It’s like saying when there are diseases like cancer, why are you researching flu drugs? Stupidity is all.

Why didn’t they just kick M.J.Akbar, why not get him sacked, why become a victim and use the ‘victim card’?

When you aren’t believing them now in this advanced age, with years of experience and professional history to their credibility… would you and others have believed them back then? Plus, there was no technology.

‘#Me too’ only empowers the elite class?

First of all, every woman in every class of society has a role to play in women’s rights struggle. And secondly, why don’t Tavleen and the likes of her do something for the non-elite and lead by example? Just because one lives in an apartment doesn’t mean she has to lay the onus of cleaning up the filth on women’s rights on the most oppressed women. What logic is that? Each person can play a role and its got to start somewhere.

Men like women. What’s wrong with it?

Like whoever you want but treat them like humans- with respect and decency. Akbar employed women journalists with the hidden agenda to hit on them and take advantage of their fragile advancement. Here comes the faux feminist the suffragists had warned us about.

Why are not men included?

They are. Watch Terry Crew’s #MeToo speech. And guess what happens when men come forward with their stories and who supports them? It’s people like you who mock men and disbelieve that a man can be assaulted and its feminists who stand with those men and fight for their rights.

Why didn’t women speak earlier?

Many did. They lost their careers, lives, trust in humanity. Plenty didn’t because they saw what happened to those who did and didn’t want to deal with the consequences. Plus, if you don’t believe them now, you won’t believe them in the past. You’d have found another excuse to discredit them. Why Didn’t Tanushree Speak Earlier?

Why doesn’t #MeToo recognize the difference between groping and rape and treat them both differently?

When has anyone ever said that a rape convict should get the same punishment as that of a sexual assault convict? The boundaries of what’s a violation and what should or shouldn’t be included are arbitrary in the movement but one thing that’s for sure isn’t arbitrary is CONSENT. Being groped or violated in other ways physically has life-long damaging impacts on a person’s psyche. Why is their trauma not worth our attention?

Why media trials? Why not just go to the police?

Oh yes, because we know how prompt and efficient is the justice system in India. Besides, if the #metoo was not a movement and had the media not talked about this constantly, would big shots like MJ Akbar ever be taken down? Watch SPOTLIGHT film to know the true powers of investigative journalism.

We all have women like Tavleen in our lives who will do everything possible to tear down other women instead of simply being empathetic to survivors. And they are such exhausting people to deal with because no matter how much you try and explain, they will keep changing the goal post of their argument and never admit that they are causing so much harm.

Tavleen claimed to have sympathy for the 5-6-year-old poverty stricken rape survivor but guess what will happen when such girl would go to Tavleen and share her story? She’d say “where is the proof?“, “why didn’t you kick him and slap him?”, “why were you alone with him, where are your parents?”.

When you say victim blaming statements like these, all the women around you are internally thinking they can never trust you with their traumas. You just don’t deserve it.

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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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.

 

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.

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.