Are You Celebrating Valentine’s Day With The Wrong Person? These 5 Facts Will Answer Your Question.

Yes, it’s February. The month when the snow starts to melt and the layers of wool from our bodies drop. With all the pre-Spring chirp in the air, there’s also thoughts and plans for Valentine’s Day.

For couples its about planning what to gift, how to celebrate, where to visit… is that a proposal I smell (wink wink) and for the single ones its either a night at home watching ‘Orange is the new black’ for the 11th time

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OR a brunch with family and friends.

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Now, I’m not going to educate you about the history and significance of St. Valentine and the importance of this adorable day (I’m guessing you already know about it)but I’m going to talk about LOVE in a very different light.

LOVE is the cure for all aches and what we all seek. Without LOVE, there would be no art, no songs, no poetry and no humanity. But there’s more to LOVE. Before you set out your LOVE plans this Valentine’s Day, spend a few minutes to pause and reflect on these aspects of your relationship…

1- LOVE has no dark sides but people certainly blame LOVE for their darker side.

Love in the purest and simplest form of emotion is just that; LOVE. When people in relationships become jealous, aggressive, possessive, outrageous or even criminal… its not LOVE, its their insecurities. Even if you were not in this person’s life, they would still be this insecure person and someone else would be the victim. Or probably you experience those insecurities and blame them on LOVE.

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Reflect. Ask questions to yourself. Do yourself a favor this Valentines’ Day.

2- LOVE is one of the single biggest MANIPULATING factor in abusive relationships.

As mentioned above, LOVE itself is the most awesome emotion that exists but LOVE is used in abusive, unhealthy relationships to manipulate the poor person who believes that their perpetrator loves them. If you are being hurt and pained in your current relationship, stop for a moment and ask yourself this;

Would you still be in touch with this person if this person wasn’t your spouse or partner?

Usually, when we get even the slightest of insult or disrespect from a friend or family or acquaintaince, we abruptly react and either confront or never see them again. Why then in the most important relationship, should one be bullied and hurt? If it HURTS, it isn’t LOVE SWEETHEART! You gotto move on.

3- LOVE needs to be explore, investigated, understood and practiced. 

OK, I’m not saying that an illeterate person cannot LOVE and all literate ones are LOVE gurus. I’m also not saying that it takes a PhD in Lovology to be in a relationship. But I’m suggesting that there are 3 factors here; you, the other person and the glue called LOVE. Although it sounds weird but self awareness is NOT something we learn naturally. Most of us rank extremely poor in it. Here’s a quick rapid fire:

Who are you? (not your job, not your father’s kid, not your degree, just you)

What is it that you want from life?

What makes you feel loved and why?

These were just a few points to get you thinking. Now the other person… you can spend an entire life getting to know someone and still know only 20-80% of them. Unless the other person trusts you enough to unravel theirselves, you would never know who this person is. How can you LOVE someone who you don’t even know?

Lastly comes the emotion of LOVE. Human Psychology has made several scientific advancements in the filed of LOVE and actually there’s a lot that we can learn.

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I suggest read books on self awareness, relationships and love.

The more you educate yourself, the better are your chances of experiencing LOVE, the real deal, the true thing…not a CHEAPER FAKE COPY!

4- LOVE has some accompanying buddies without which LOVE is NOT LOVE. 

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Think of the following words-care, trust, respect, loyalty and humility. These are like the 5 pillars of LOVE. Even if one of the pillars is missing, you are not experiencing LOVE. These are actually very good red flags or indicators in abusive relationships. Ask yourself if your relationship has all 5 of these pillars.

5- If all year your relationship has been in the dumps, Valentine’s Day will not change that.

Valentine’s Day is not about flowers, cards and candle-lit dinners. It’s about the above 5 pillars, remaining sturdy, ALL 365 days a year. I know a gentleman (if we can call him that) who abuses and swears at his wife all year round except for 2 days; Valentine’s Day and her birthday. In fact he throws a great party, invites his kids and grand kids and showers his wife with gifts and the most special treatment that makes other women feel how deeply this man loves his wife.

TRUTH?; It’s all for 24 hours, twice a year. Once they come home from the restaurant, he is back to swearing and beating his wife. But its nice to show off to others what an ideal husband he is.

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If this sounds like your story… please beware. It’s a horror story and the sooner you end it, the better it is.

In conclusion, I want to say that LOVE is out there, even if you don’t believe it now. No relationship is all roses and chocolates either. There will always be arguments, tiffs and getting mad and heartbreaks.

But if there’s no heartbreaking, how will there ever be HEART-MENDING?

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The one that mends your heart is the LOVER you need to be with.

Do celebrate Valentine’s Day, but don’t be so desperate to celebrate it with the wrong person. You deserve better. Like Jenni says:

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With Love and Peace,

Shahla

Even Women Are Not On Women’s Side (3 Evidences)

There are two major assumptions about women in our society:

The first one is:

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And the second is:

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The TRUTH:

Good women that support others (both men and women) exist AND so do awful women exist who find happiness bringing everyone down.

However, as a feminist, it seems so logical that as a woman I’ve got to be on MY side, right? How can I be a woman and NOT be in support of equality for womenkind! Totally absurd.

But as absurd as it sounds, there are women that I come across everyday who not only have no idea how they are being oppressed in the name of tradition, religion and trends… they actually are high on victim blaming for rapes and domestic violence. One might expect women to understand the pains of other women simply because their experiences might be similar and hence they might have compassion.

But as much as its wrong to assume that all women are enemies of each other, it’s also a mistake to assume that all women would understand each other’s troubles and fight for equality.

Millions of evidences exist, here are three:

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Read this: 9 Female Celebrities Who’ve Bad-Mouthed Feminism

The second is:

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And last among the million others is because:

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If that wasn’t the case, this show wouldn’t be so famous in India. Read Why I Stopped Watching Comedy Nights With Kapil years ago, here. More like Patriarchy Nights With Kapil.

Friends, in a misogynistic society, we all need to develop our critical thinking skills and EDUCATE ourselves about things that make an impact on us. Women are half the humankind, why would we not support their equality and human rights, regardless of our gender?

If you do come across such demeaning jokes, messages or incidents, please do your due diligence and become an active bystander. Begin by learning from videos like this:

What to do when you see gender violence around...

Please share your thoughts and stories.

Love,

Shahla

3 Reasons The Bhilai Gangrape Victim Committed Suicide And Many More Will

In case you didn’t see in the news, a victim of gangrape from Bhilai has committed suicide after constantly being tortured and denied justice by our great Indian Legal Justice system.

You can read the whole story here but in short this is what happened:

This poor girl was gangraped by a doctor and two police constables and was harassed post rape. They blackmailed her saying they had made a video of hers while she was drugged in the hospital and after being constantly failed at her court hearings (guess what- the judge was absent in all five of them) and being discouraged by her lawyer, she finally ended her struggle and left behind a suicide note that says at least now people won’t call her a prostitute. 

No one in the world can imagine her pains and pangs of her trials that led her to end her life. Most people will judge her and immediately say blunt things like “only cowards suicide” or ” she should have fought for justice” bla bla bla.

But the truth is, no one commits suicide for fun. Here are 3 reasons why I believe she committed suicide and I request you to honour those reasons too.

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1- Double PTSD

Rape itself is an extremely traumatic event whether or not it involves physcial injury. Research says that different victims have different reactions to rape. The most common one that the society expects a victim to have is to cry and isolate herself from the world. Though it happens but not always. Many victims do not cry much. Many are in shock. They have a cold, frozen face and they disassociate themselves from the reality. Several other things happen that are summed up by medical professionals as the PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In a Indian society though, one PTSD is NOT enough. The victim is forced to shove another dose of PTSD down her throat by the society that taunts her. It takes a long time and therapy and support usually for a victim to come out of the first trauma. But when the people around do not let you come out of it, you’re in for a double dose.But why does that happen, don’t we all have sympathy for rape victims now? That brings me to my second point.

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2- Condemning Rape For The Wrong Reasons

Can there be wrong reasons for condemning rape? Yes, most certainly. Indians condemn rape because it is an act of taking away a woman’s honor or dignity. The phrase ‘izzat lootna‘ literally translates to ‘looting or robbing one’s honor’. 

The act itself is hateful but believing that a woman’s honor can be taken away by a jerk and after the rape her honor is lost forever is ridiculous and outright caveman thinking. If anything, the rapist looses his honor for doing such a henious crime.

Rape is wrong because it’s inhuman ; that’s reason enough. Adding all this useless baggage of honor and dignity only increases the trauma of the victim and makes a mountain of an already big cancerous mole. By hating rape for the wrong reason, you’re NOT helping the victim in anyway.

3- Hypocrisy of Indians

Being an Indian myself, I cringe at comments and rape jokes from friends and family. No matter how much you explain, people plainly refuse to see the connection between all the misogynistic comedy, the sexist attitudes and the oppressive cultural practices they follow blindly. When they see a rape news, they would all abuse the system, sympathize with the dead victim and feel sorry for her family. But when it comes down to taking action, NO ONE even sees the need to react.

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Whatsapp groups are filled with rape jokes. How difficult is it to realize that rape isn’t funny. But people- including women, share and laugh like it’s so normal.

This so called funny act from Comedy Circus featuring superstar Govinda as judge for example-

One guy cries and says “my girl friend’s honor has been looted”.(rape)

Police constable replies “you must take revenge”.

Guy responds “I’m blind, I’m thinking of rather taking PAYMENT”. 

Watch the clip here from 5:25 to 5:45. The title of the video says BEST OF KRISHNA AND SUDESH! Ya, this is the best we can expect from Indian men, right?

The noteworthy thing is that this video has more than 3 MILLION Views, more than 3100 thumbs up and 159 comments, NONE of which got offended by those lines…???????????

And you’re telling me these people have sympathy for rape victims? Or this society has any support or place for a victim to survive?

No wonder she committed suicide and I wouldn’t be surprised if every one of them did because that is the kind of environment they are forced to live in.

We can put rapists in jail but what punishment is there for the society that perpetuates rape? That laughs at such disgusting and offensive jokes about the most chilling crime that can be done? 

Hence that poor victim from Bhilai wrote in her letter that now they won’t call me a prostitute. Imagine the extent to which women are forced to go to prove their innosence and that’s how men see the act of rape- something that can be compensated like a commercial transaction?

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These 3 million people who laughed and moved on- what if their moms had been through rape, would they ask the rapist for payment?

Why can’t their bodies tremble and fists tighten when it comes to other women? Are other women not human? Why should a female be related to you and only then you would feel sympathy for her?

Unless we begin seeing each and every female as human first, there is no shock if more victims keep ending their lives.

If you want to do them a favor- PLEASE STOP LAUGHING AT RAPE JOKES AND TAKE A STAND WHEREVER POSSIBLE, TO RAISE YOUR VOICES AGAINST SUCH CRIMES. 

May her soul rest in peace.

Peace and love,

Shahla

 

 

 

 

17 Great Reasons Why You Should Come Out As A Feminist in 2016

Feminism is about EQUALITY of all humankind, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, age, ethnic origin and income, KEEPING in mind that minorities and some genders have been prone to more oppression and unequal treatment than the others.

It’s important to note the last point because this is the most usual and actually lame argument of a non-feminist person; “why are you not a humanist or equalist?”

Anyway, this post is about reasons why you must come out as a proud and bold feminist if you’ve been thinking about it for a while now and don’t have enough arguments to be convinced. So here it goes:

1- On a global scale, out of 1,000 people, 504 are men (50.4%) and 496 are women (49.6%). Wouldn’t it be stupid to hold almost half of the world back just because they come with eggs and ovaries?

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2- Out of this 49.6% of women, on a global scale, women don’t earn anywhere near what men earn at the same level. (I’m not quoting the exact numbers because this inequality differs from country to country and industry to industry. For example, women in the third world countries face a lot more inequality than those in the first world because of orthodox and outdated traditions).

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3- In every single country on the planet, from little foetuses to grown elderly women, females are raped, beaten up, murdered, assaulted and threatened, merely for being women. In India alone, millions of female fetuses are killed plainly because – it’s a girl!

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4- And where women are raped and assaulted, most of the times, they get punished, abandoned and further hated by their own family members instead of sympathy and support.

Wouldn't it be stupid to hold almost half of the world back just because they come with eggs and ovaries-

5- Because you may be a woman or in someway related to one. What happens with women on this planet IS YOUR BUSINESS! It directly or indirectly has an impact on our world, our society and the way things are.

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6- Because women are highly objectified in the media, merely for sexual imagery and male gaze instead of their talent or contributions. Pick up any magazine and you’ll find a male celebrity in a suit and a female in bikini or just plain nude.

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7- Because women are still BLAMED for rape and assault despite several law, science and pscyhology research proving that rape is a crime and a criminal must be punished for it, not the victim. There’s no such thing as ‘she was asking for it’ because even dead women within graves and babies in hospitals are raped. No one ever asks for it.

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8- Because while we proudly teach our daughters to be bossy and dominating like our sons, we don’t teach our sons to be sensitive and caring like our daughters. Yeah; like its such a bad thing for a man to be caring and sensitive…Isn’t that what every single woman finds the sexist in a man?

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9- Because it’s way more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in a war torn country.

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10- Because it’s high time we stop excusing men’s behaviour as ‘BOYS WILL BE BOYS’. If men are so weak in controlling their actions and their judgment can be easily manipulated, then they must all be banned from every single parliament around the world and every single board position.

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11- Because it’s easier to be hated and ridiculed by your friends and family when you point out that rape jokes or jokes that demean women are not funny.

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12- Because girls are constantly pressured by media and society to objectify their bodies and held to impossible beauty standards while at the sametime being labelled as sluts and fake for using make up.

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13- Because academic fields like STEM, law, finance and several others actively discourage women students by propogating false beliefs such as ‘girls can’t do maths’, despite Maryam Mirzakhani. (Mic drop)

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14- Because the world needs more people that can understand the struggles and oppression that patriarchy causes against men, women and the whole society.

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16. Because FEMINISM IS A BY PRODUCT OF PATRIARCHY. If patriarchy wouldn’t exist, so wouldn’t feminism.

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17. Because  Justin Trudeau!

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So, there are actually a million reasons why now, more than ever, you must begin speaking up when you hear jokes that demean women, whether it is online or offline, begin treating ALL women with respect not just because you’re related to them and apart from women, LGBTQ and all people every where need love and respect…

But most of all-

If you’re not part of the solution, you ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

Merely blaming the government and the rapists is NOT enough. If YOU care about it, open your mouth and let your voice be heard; even if the scenario is on a silly WHATSAPP group.

Best wishes and peace,

Shahla

XOXO

 

The Damn Indian Wedding Season: 8 Excuses To Pressurize & Manipulate Single People To Get Married…

I have seen Reese Wither-spoon and Katy Hie-gel romantic comedies as much as the next person. Sharukh’s romantic gestures and Hugh Grant’s soulful eyes  bring tears and choke my throat as much as the next persons but that doesn’t mean I must jump into marriage with the next Melvin that asks me out.

Winter season in India means two things:

1- Lavish, show off weddings and

2- Ruining lives of all the single people by making them feel guilty. 

Now, if you don’t know a lot about the Indian culture, you might ask, why would you feel guilty by being single. It’s your life after all, you making any personal decision doesn’t impact anyone but you.

But that’s NOT the case in my society. I NOT getting married is apparently causing insomnia to my parents, their neighbors, their friends, the far off relatives who I haven’t seen in last 8 years, the street dog, the local laundry lady, the house help and every single thing that moves in 2000 mile radius.

The 8 most common excuses used by family to manipulate you and emotionally blackmail you into getting married are extracted from a real conversation. Tell me how many have you come across?

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I believe whether it is the decision to marry or divorce; it must be self motivated without doubts, fears and obligation. That’s it. Is it really such a difficult thing to understand?

To Dream Or Give Up- Mindy Project Just Got A Little Too Real

Can ambitious women ever have a good family life?

Last night’s episode of The Mindy Project got a little too surreal.

I’ve been a long time fan of the show and was always able to relate to the character of Mindy Lahiri in many ways.

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After the glorious and fun dating phase ended, the show descended into the more serious and deeper problems of a matured, grown up couple.

Now its all about baby responsibilities and adjustments. While marriage is something Mindy always wanted, now that it’s happening… it’s taking a toll on her. 

Yes, its easy to say that now we live in a liberated society where career women exist and several cool companies like Netflix are making it ever more possible for parents to juggle work and family.

But I suppose, you reach in that stage once you find a guy who is willing to be half responsible for a baby. May be, it’s just me but I don’t know how many men in general are happy to clean up baby diapers while mommy is away? If you have one, you’re really fortunate. But I’m sure there aren’t many. At least not around me, so before you judge me to be sexist; just assume I’m unfortunate.

So what about the rest? Should we compromise and give up on our careers and dreams to stay home and make babies?

Or do we stay single and may be adopt or make one with a donor, as and when we might like?

More importantly, why wouldn’t men want to take half the responsibility of raising a child? I asked this question to few and most of them said “that’s what my father did. That’s how the grand father did. They never got involved with anything baby. It was all the mother’s job”. 

To that I said “your grandfather and father used to ride horses and donkeys, why are you driving cars then?”

As usual, the conversation pretty much either ends there or gets messy. You know that stage when someone know how stupid they sound and they have no logical reasonable explanation but they rather stick to their self illusions rather admit they need to change.

It’s all about convenience, isn’t it?

Just because it is convenient, you are driving a car and not riding a donkey like your grandfather.

But raising a baby is inconvenient. It needs patience, sleepless nights, hard work… so why don’t we use the same old tradition,woman’s place and all those bull shit excuses and simply don’t partake any role in parenting.

There are dads that I see who flaunt their fatherhood on social media profiles boldly. And it gives me hope… hope that not all fathers are too distant, too manly, too aloof to be dads, not just fathers.

My mother stayed at home by choice and father participated in raising us despite working. I guess when you live in another country away from your family then its only the two of you who have to be there. You cannot rely on your mother-in-law or sister-in-law to help out. Hence the dad has no excuse but to be there. That worked out greatly in our favor but dad has participated equally in raising my little brother even when things changed. He wakes my brother up, gets him ready for school, drops him, picks him, arranges his school things while mom helps with homework and other regular chores. And its perfect…

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When Danny was giving Mindy a hard time for starting another business venture, she did her best to explain that the kid will not be neglected. And if Danny was so worried, why doesn’t he give up on his career and stay at home! That’s where most men falter, because they have no other excuse but the same old, I’m a man and I can’t stay home. Well, why should she?

I loved the movie The Intern starring Robert Di Nero and Anne Hathaway in which her husband is a stay at home dad despite being previously a super successful professional. Having a partner who understands your dreams and is willing to see you fly, is such a blessing.

The Mindy Project has been my super fav show and I’ll continue watching it but the problems are getting too serious and I really hope to see some good resolution of this career or home dilemma, the character is currently facing.

Love,

Die-hard fan of TMP 🙂

My brother died in Paris | Jack the Lad

It made a lot of sense. Selective grief for humanity isn’t humanity.

Jack The Lad

My brother died in Paris. My sister died in Beirut. My daughter died in Afghanistan. My son died in Baghdad. This is how heartbroken I feel. There is no need to say that you care only for one country and not another, and there is no need to say that one tragedy is worse than another. When one person dies, we have all been killed.Give your prayers for Paris, give your love for Beirut, give your tears for Afghanistan, and give your heart for Iraq. When it’s a time of mourning, don’t make the argument about what was posted on Facebook or social media.

We all have the same enemy, and it is the cowards and the monsters of ISIS. If you want to express your anger, they are the ones that have attacked us.

I know that we all feel like that we are living in terrible times, and…

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PM Modi’s speech – Text book definition of ‘othering’ of women

This Is My Truth

If there’s one politician I absolutely loathe it’s the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Besides his chequered history as Gujarat’s CM under whose watch thousands lost lives and yet he never even said, “Sorry, my administration failed”, I just find him extremely loud, crass, dishonest and downright creepy. The moment I hear or see him on TV my peace of mind goes for a toss, and so I never actually hear or see him. I change channel. I never saw any of his speeches until today, when I watched the speech at the launch of Prime Minister’s gold scheme.

I heard him today because he was making these terrible blunders one after the other and I was noting them down and wondering how much worse would it. Where he go wrong? He used gendered language.

“In India, women don’t have anything, house, car et all in the name of husband or son…

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Why I Stopped Watching Comedy Nights With Kapil?

Recently I read a post by Kiran Jhamp called Alarmed By A TV Show : Patriarchy Nights With Kapil? on the Women’s Web website. The post reminded me why I stopped watching the show long back.

Almost two years back, in 2013, a Punjabi friend of mine asked me curiously if I had been watching Comedy Nights With Kapil Online. (We both are in the UK, we watch it on laptops, not the TV).

I didn’t know what it was about but the way she talked about it made me definitely curious to try it out. I did. But for very short time.

I would be lying if I said it did not hook me. The characters, the jokes, the set, it’s all a fresh approach to comedy from the monotonous comedy shows with one stand up comedian and 3 judges.

But it didn’t hook me long enough and I quit watching the show after just a few episodes. I had been meaning to write about the reasons but for some reason it slipped and reading this post by Kiran pushed me to give my specific reasons.

1- In the episode where Sonakshi Sinha is promoting some movie, a random guy from the audience asks her boldly “when are you going to loose your weight”?

This horrifying question coming from a random man in the audience is not surprising considering Kapil and Siddhu constantly mock over weight people in the show; mainly in the audience. To me this is astonishing that how can a random man try to fat-shame an actress on a national platform and not get social bashing for his stupid question. Why would this man or any man or WOMAN for that matter, consider that it is OK to point out/mock/ask such a question to a woman on the stage?

2- Secondly, as Kiran mentioned, the constant put downs by Bittoo of his wife are truly annoying. Is that how Indian men feel manly or proclaim their manhood; by making fun of their wives and her family? No wonder Indian guys think it is ‘normal’ to abuse swear and mock the girls’ family. Personally experienced; whenever I was on the girls’ side in a wedding, it was always humiliating. And we wonder why that is… why gender stereotypes are so deeply ingrained in our society…

3- Thirdly, the norm that Bittoo can and does flirt with every woman he can while his wife cannot and does not ; shines light on the double standard of the patriarchal society we live in. Why is monogamy just for women? And sorry if this feels like a feminist rant but it is about equality. Why isn’t a married man equally looked down upon for hitting on women as is a married woman? Forget about married woman, even single women are not allowed to flirt and date and choose their own life partners. Forced weddings, honor killings and domestic violence is rampant in our communities and it all begins from a joke- an innocent looking, sexist, demeaning joke!

4- Fourthly, the character of BUA is funny but in a very demeaning way. Don’t get me wrong. I have seen and loved Upasana Singh from the movies and her comedy is always flawless. I specially loved her role in Andaaz- Priyanka Chopra stared movie. And she is doing a great job in this role as well. But the role itself is portrayed as that of a desperate to get married spinster.

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Single women in our society already have their plateful with their own struggles. But families watching this and society subconsciously getting this idea that single women are desperate and worthless- is way more damaging and actually a huge obstacle to the advancement of women in India. Read my post Why Are Single Independent Indian Women An Eye Blister For Their Families?

I totally agree with Kiran’s take on how much impact these TV shows and entertainment have on our way of thinking and living.

Hence I stopped watching Comedy Nights With Kapil as soon as I got annoyed and realized these are patriarchal jokes mocking women wrapped in a new cover with different faces.

Would it shock you if I tell you that when I want to watch and enjoy some real comedy stuff, I watch

Ye jo hai zindagi (1980s)

Ankahi, Tanhaiyyan, Angan Terha (80s,90s Pakistani comedy dramas) The jokes are not only humorous, they also provoke intellect and appeal to your real fun side. You’ve got to watch it to believe it.

and most recent ones Big Bang Theory, 2 Broke Girls and The Mindy Project. Although have raunchy, edgy comedy but still not sexist, racist or demeaning to women. The latter two, both actually have women in the main lead. Try them out.

From some of the comments on Kiran’s post, I can see why people try to say things like “lighten up” or “it’s just an innocent joke” or “Kapil also gets mocked at” etc.

This is a very common reaction from PEOPLE WITH PRIVILEGE. In pure psychological or psycho-social terms, its called A BLIND SPOT!

It’s a situation when you cannot see your own biases because you may be standing in a privileged position. Look at this for example:

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Yes Bittoo Sharma gets mocked at but NOT for his gender or marital status. And mostly by the end of show, he gets his fame status back.

May be this will help:

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(comic link)

Good luck and if you watch Comedy Nights With Kapil….. I feel sorry for your sense of humour and  as Kiran said- it’s more like PATRIARCHY NIGHTS WITH KAPIL!

Arios!