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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s talk about the FATHER first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT THE MOM:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are CURRENTLY UNDER LOCKDOWN RIGHT?

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hatred, of course, is dumb and blind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me get straight into the points:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3- Lack of communication 

This is key.

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

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

All women are different.

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

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

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

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

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

It’s all there.

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

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

A Feminist’s Opinion on ‘Should Nirbhaya’s Mother Forgive The Rapists of Her Daughter’?

So, only if you live under a rock you may not know about the rape of an Indian student in 2012 that sparked international outrage and brought India to a halt. The media called her Nirbhaya.

Recently, a Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaysingh advised or urged Nirbhaya’s mother to forgive the rapists which of course and very rightly outraged the lady.

Where does a FEMINIST stand on this?

There has been a long-standing debate on the topic of capital punishment/death penalty and whether or not such punishment would discourage future rapists.

Time and again through data, this has been proven that the DEATH PENALTY DOES NOT DETER RAPE. 

If anything, the death penalty will punishment will make things worse because now the rapist will not only rape but also murder in order to avoid any witness. The recent incidents of setting rape victims on fire is the direct consequence of this because the rapists know their DNA could be extracted. Hence the motivation to end the victim’s life is way stronger.

HUMAN RIGHTS activists and Feminists have long stood for the NO DEATH PENALTY argument because of the above reasons.

Dumb idiots who do not want to understand the full argument, immediately brand these Feminists as terrorist sympathizers or somehow think that human rights activists want to save evil people.

That being said, what this lawyer Indira Jaysing has said about forgiving Nirbhaya’s rapists is the most insensitive and outrageous thing she could have said.

First of all, it is shameful enough that it’s been 8 years and the rapists have not been punished yet.

To add to that pain, this weird notion in our society about ‘forgiveness’ is actually an extremely toxic thing to say to a rape survivor or their family members.

See, this is not Saudi Arabia where according to Sharia law if the family of the dead person pardons the murderer, the punishment is either reduced or written off.

Secondly, there is law in India. Whether Nirbhaya’s mother forgives the rapists or not, a crime has been committed and the criminals deserve the strictest punishment for such a barbaric act. The law does not run on the whims of people’s feelings.

Thirdly, in Feminist literature I often read this idea of ‘forgiving your rapist’, in fact, I have written about it in the past from my post about the famous Netflix show 13 Reasons Why. 

What I learned from Feminism is that there is absolutely no need to ‘forgive your rapist or abuser’ in order to move on. 

One therapist I was speaking to actually told me that if you have bitterness inside you or have feelings that you don’t want to face then you cannot heal. Your first step should be to face those feelings and forgive the people who wronged you.

SHE COULDN’T BE MORE WRONG!

Speaking with other learned and respectable therapists I learned that forgiving someone is only and only up to the person who has suffered the pain and in order to heal from that pain, there are plenty of other ways and ‘forgiving’ is NOT one of them.

Being a Human Rights lawyer, Indira Jaysing has not only spoken out of turn but she has emotionally abused the sentiments of Nirbhaya’s mother.

Indira Jaising is an Indian lawyer who is noted for her legal activism in promoting human rights causes. In 2018 she was ranked 20th in the list of 50 Greatest Leaders of the World by Fortune magazine. Considering her accomplishments and sensitivity on gender equality and human rights, this is shockingly upsetting that someone like her has spoken these words. 

If it was anyone else, dismissing it would be easier but considering her stature, this is unbelievably shocking.

I would argue against the death penalty in general but in this case, I won’t,  considering the barbarity of the act. But not in a million imaginations I would ever consider it OK to tell Nirbhaya’s mother to forgive those monsters.

Also, tomorrow even if Nirbhaya’s mother does forgive them for some unknown reason; the law still has to take its course. 

They did not have mercy on Nirbhaya while shoving iron rods inside her, they knew what they were doing. They deserve way worse than capital punishment.

 

7 Reasons India’s rape problem is not going to end at least not in our lifetimes (Telangana rape case)

Apologies for sounding pessimist but I will rather be real than weave a fairy tale idealistic world in which India is a nation where women are safe and sound. Sorry, no sugar coating from me.

The recent rape in Telangana of a young vet doctor has caused an uproar in the media these days. In 2012 when Nirbhaya happened, I began my blog, wrote my first book and I became a staunch advocate of women’s rights and violence against women. In the last 8 years, I’ve written and made plenty of videos on the issue yet not an ounce of change has happened on the ground. And considering the culture, it doesn’t seem like the changes would be visible anytime sooner. Here’s why:
1- the glorification of rape and harassment in our movies and pop songs
Sanjay Rajoura, satirist best pointed it out when he shone a light on the most loved, most heard songs in Bollywood. From ‘chumma dede’ which was the first gang rape song to the ‘tandoori murgi’ song lets just admit that our cinema and TV have failed women greatly. And not just women it has also failed men taking away their humanity and instilling these ideas of rape and harassment as ‘romance’.
Just look at Yo Yo Honey Singh’s songs and you would wonder how is this guy not banned from making these super misogynistic songs. But when you look at the people obsessed with him and dancing to his tunes, you would know how things work in our society. Sure then, please stop complaining about harassment then.
2- young boys raised with toxic masculinity in which power and control over the other is taught
Taking forward this impact of cinema, boys need better parenting. But NOOOOOOOOOOO boys will be boys, superior and power-hungry. Look at how our media is obsessed with the 56-inch chest of the PM. Unless one is going to wrestle in a match or model for CK, I don’t see why his chest size is worth noting. But the more this toxic idea of masculinity is imbibed in our men, the more they think that being a man is about exercising your power on the vulnerable.
3- lack of proper sex education that teaches about consent and safe intercourse
I begged my mom and sister to speak to my pre-teen little brother about sex. I sent books to help them manage the subject. But neither listened to me. And a few months later they catch him looking at porn on mom’s phone. And of course, even then the reaction was absolutely the opposite of what was required. And the awful thing is that they are among the majority of parents in India who never speak to their children about safe sex practices or the concept of ‘consent’. Jamila Jameel said it best that learning about sex from porn is like learning driving from Fast and Furious movies; its a fucking terrible idea!
4- disbelief and belittling of rape survivors
Unless a woman is dead, she is a liar. Let us be honest here when was the last time a woman talked about surviving rape and she was believed? Just admit it, ours is not a society where a survivor of rape is trusted or healed.
5- lousy legal and police system that doesn’t respond on time or appropriately
In Telangana case, had the police reacted on time, they would at least have found her injured body, she may not have been burned. How pathetic is the police that tells a frantic mother that her 27-year-old daughter may have eloped but not possibly a victim of rape? Our courts do not do a better job either. If you somehow make it alive after an attack like that, you probably will be ripped to pieces trying to get justice.
6- government patronage to rapists
Chinmayanand, Kuldeep Singh Senger, Gurmeet Singh… need I even say more.
7- generic treatment of women as second-grade citizens
Women in our society are meat. Made to be used and consumed. Women empowerment is only lip service and political tool. No one is bothered about keeping women safe. We are half the fucking country and yet, no one is bothered. Women themselves are not bothered. I personally know of women who will blame the victim of rape after an incident like such surfaces. What do you expect from a society like this?
I am not saying that rape and harassment only occur in India. They happen worldwide but the barbaric brutality in which women are mutilated and burnt alive is certainly not seen much elsewhere in the world.
Kathua rape victim was an 8-year-old who was drugged, starved for 8 days, raped constantly inside a temple by several men and then finally killed by smashing her skull. Sounds normal in any sense?
The Unnao rape victim is struggling to survive while her almost entire family and lawyer have been killed by the suspects who have government patronage.
Another 6-year-old child today was raped and strangled by her school belt and left for dead.
These are not just rapes, these are incidents of absolute brutality.
And to top this all up, the top porn search from India today the Telangana victims rape. Yes, more than 80 lakh people searched for this rape video to jerk off to the cries of a helpless and vulnerable woman before she died.
Huh, you telling me this society will change?
Sure, fool yourself if you have any hope from this society. I know it won’t, not for a long time.

Sanjay Rajoura Is the Indian Feminist Man Every Woman Wishes Would Have Around

Sanjay Rajoura. The man.

This recent stand-up video from Aisi Taisi Democracy is a total hit.

In the video, Sanjay talks about super uncomfortable issues like #MeToo, toxic masculinity, sexism, blaming women for awful habits, the self entitlement of Indian men and a whole lot of other things.

In fact, this is less of comedy more of hard-hitting satire.

The rare thing about Sanjay Rajoura is that for as long as I have watched his videos, Sanjay has actively used his male privilege in the INDIAN society to raise awareness about women’s sufferings. He has spoken about derogatory customs and traditions that keep the Indian women oppressed while thinking they are being the ‘good girls’.

I have met Indian men before that claim to be feminists. But 2 minutes into a conversation with them and I realize that they caught the word feminist from some celebrity social media account or some trendy T-shirt and that is all they know about feminism. They have neither read nor researched a single problem of a woman’s life yet have distorted views and often long misogynistic attitudes.

Watching Sanjay in this video, seeing him using his space and privilege to self reflect and talk so blatantly about the rotten habits of Indian men, without pulling any punches is a rare thing in the Indian stand up/ content creation scene.

We need more men like him who acknowledge their gender and caste privilege and have no hesitation in accepting the oppression and persecution of others by their class.

Before you start the #NotAllMen argument for the millionth time, yes I know not all men Sanjay refers to are molesters, rapists, and sexists. But that is not the point.

That never was the point.

The point is that ALL MEN have been disproportionately advanced at one place or another due to their gender, such is the Indian society and most of the world too.

Thanks, Sanjay for such honest self-reflection and commentary on your species 🙂

In a Country Where Religious Fundamentalism Encourages Men to Rape Minorities is Quitting Bollywood Over Religion That Big of a Deal That it is a Topic of National Outrage?

The Unnecessary And Stupid Outpour Over Zaira’s Retiring from Bollywood Shows How Much India Loves Hating Women.

I seriously just hate to write this post because this is soooooooooooooooooo lame that I have read so much unnecessary outpour that now I am forced to write this as an intellectual and a Muslim Feminist.

Just look at how many comments have these posts drawn:

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And look what matured senior people from Bollywood like Raveena Tandon and Anupam Kher have said:

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So, is it right to hate Zaira over her decision to quit Bollywood?

Abso-freakin-lutely NOT!

She is going back to or being forced to go back to regressive Islamic tradition.

She never said so.

She is supposed to be an icon of women empowerment. By quitting over religion, isn’t she harming the cause of women empowerment?

No. She has been an icon, yes, but in a nation where thousands of parliamentarians have RAPE cases against them, we cannot put the responsibility of empowering the entire womenkind on one 18-year-old girl.

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Also, who says she cannot empower women by doing something else? Can’t she be a doctor, a social worker or whatever else and still continue to empower women?

But the RELIGION interfering with her Bollywood career is a sign of regressive thinking?

NO. Please bother to read her post and understand that she has talked in her post about the ‘spirituality’ of Islam. She mentions her about her ‘iman’ and peace. Who knows maybe being in the limelight at such a tender age, getting all this attention and success, taught her something about the importance of other values or the lack of some sort of peace that she misses because of the attention. She has already achieved plenty by the age of 18 that most people strive for until their 60s. Therefore her maturity about her career should be given due respect too.

Or let’s call it being stupid. So what? When you and I were 18, haven’t we ever made any stupid decisions? She has her whole life ahead of her. Maybe someday she will realize that she enjoyed acting more than other things and she may come back to it. Whatever the case may be, it is absolutely her prerogative to decide.

Would you say the same if a Hindu girl quit Bollywood?

My argument is not based on specifics of a religion but the independence to chose for herself. So it would be the same, regardless of what the religion may be.

So, after quitting Bollywood, would Zaira be the best Muslim, an icon for piety?

Absolutely not! Allah alone can judge people and to be a good Muslim is to be a good human being. Me or you or Zaira have to practice compassion and kindness in our actions, which can be practiced as a poor person and as a wealthy successful Bollywood actress as well.

Those Muslims who are praising her for somehow practicing modesty or ‘being meek to patriarchy’ PLEASE STOP. Don’t make this about your belief that women must stay indoors to be respected. By saying things like that you are demeaning the entire womenkind and the Muslim community as a whole.

She could have faded away simply but why did she make this public announcement?

In an era where people are literally sharing information about what they had for breakfast, you want to blame an 18-year-old girl for sharing a major life decision?

Plus, her decision was a simple Facebook post, not a press conference or a media interview that it drew so much undue attention. Her intention may have been to announce her decision to people who are close to her or who follow her or even those write cinema news. Whatever, but seems like she wanted to let people know that she didn’t become invisible because she was bad at her job or wasn’t getting any offers. She is the one to quit despite being an award-winning actress.

Would you quit a job and let your friends or family think that you were fired or simply unemployable? Of course not. You would want them to know it was your decision.

Her bringing Islam into her decision reflects that she is trying to be a good Muslim which begs to ask if other Muslim actors in Bollywood are bad Muslims?

First of all, no, she did not say anything about other Muslims in Bollywood.

Second of all, I don’t think Bollywood would be the same without Muslim artists. From Dilip Sahab to Shahrukh Khan, from Nargis to Huma Qureshi, Bollywood is an epitome of religious diversity. Being a good Muslim or a bad Muslim means nothing if one is not a good HUMAN BEING.

Each human being interprets and practices religion in their own way and the Holy Quran allows that. The Quran and all the Hadith and Sunnah lay out a ‘way of life’ for its followers in order to live peacefully and have virtues like compassion and patience in times of distress.

The primary line that most extremists would conveniently forget is ‘there is NO COMPULSION IN ISLAM’. None of the prayers or anything matter if you do it out of compulsion rather than free will and love for God.

Also, this line was written because times go by and today the Quran is a book from another century. Times change and so have the meanings and interpretations. For instance, there is mention of treating your ‘slaves’ in a just manner, several times. But in this century, slavery is illegal. So, as common sense would suggest, the rule would apply to any person working under you or anyone from a poorer income/background.

Whether art does not mix with Islam, is an old debate that has been going on for centuries because it serves the extremists. It helps them create fear and hatred.

The reasons Zaira quoted though are more spiritual, rather than fundamentalist.

But let’s assume for a moment that they are fundamentalist, so what? In a nation where fundamentalists, religious extremists literally murder minorities in the name of so-called ‘god’, should our focus really be on a teenage kid quitting Bollywood?

If Sania Mirza wearing skirts for her matches is not wrong in my eyes, if thousands of Muslim artists working in Coke Studio are not bad Muslims to me, certainly one little teenage Zaira choosing NOT to be in Bollywood does not make her a target for outrage. My Feminism won’t be INCLUSIVE and INTERSECTIONAL if I did not respect Zaira’s choices.

The maturity that I acquired by being a Feminist is that I would respect people and their life choices, even if I would not choose that for myself.

For example, prostitution.

I personally would not do sex work. But that does not mean I can disrespect or look down upon those who do or mock some woman on the corner of the street for doing so. I would rather go my own way or if I feel weird, I might bother to ask if she was a victim of human trafficking, if she needed any help from me etc.

But what I would never do is call her names, mock her or feel superior because this is life and no one knows when tables might turn.

I have therefore learned to RESPECT people who are making their life decisions which I may not personally make for myself and having the maturity of giving them time and space to deal with their shit in their own ways.

So, FFS, chill and leave Zaira to discover her own life and her own path and find a better reason for your outrage.

 

 

Muslim Woman MP + Hindu Husband + Indian Parliament = Disaster

Recently, a Muslim Woman by name called Nusrat Jehan was voted to be one of the MP’s to the Indian Parliament among few others. Kudos for female representation in politics.

But since she is married to a Hindu man, she is being trolled and while they agree on nothing but this they agreed on that this woman deserved to be trolled.

Hindus trolled her for her Western outfit that she wore a few days ago.

Muslims trolled her for wearing saree and sindoor and her marriage to a Hindu Man.

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Although, the validity of those Twitter trolls is questionable it would be far fetched to say that Indian Muslims are so secular that they won’t flinch their eyebrows on the concept of a Muslim woman marrying a Hindu man.

Whatever, but here are my two cents on the debate:

India is a secular country.

Any woman living on the land of India can wear whatever she pleases and marry whoever she pleases or not marry at all.

Muslim clerics giving her lessons in Islamic studies, trying to ‘educate’ her or basically patronize her, giving lessons in ‘how to dress like a Muslim woman’ really should stop propagating this line of thought because besides being a Muslim, they are also Indian.

Indian Muslims are different from Arab Muslims simply because our identity was created on the values of secularity and religious tolerance and acceptance.

There is no compulsion in Islam by the very definition of it but very conveniently men forget this part.

An Indian woman, whether she marries a man of her religion or that of another, has the right to do so under the Indian sky and when you try to lecture her for her choices, you are violating her constitutional civil right.

Plain and simple.

She can be barely Muslim, namesake Muslim, practicing Muslim or a Non-Muslim.

It’s up to her.

As the lady Fatima in the debate show said that this is a Muslim women’s issue- it certainly isn’t.

The one thing that united INDIAN MEN both HINDUS AND MUSLIMS across India is their MISOGYNY AND SEXISM.

No woman has been spared from their filthy graze, patronizing remarks and excessive trolling online and offline.

Rahul Eshwar made a point about people in public life developing a ‘thick skin’ because trolling is part of being in the limelight and suggesting we all take PM Modi as an example.

I want to bang my head on the wall because I don’t know if he is pretending to be an idiot in order to trivialize the issue or if he genuinely can’t differentiate between gender-based oppression- sexism and generic critique.

PM Modi is criticized on his silence on the oppression of minorities, the financial massacre that was demonization and a million other things. Not for what he was wearing or being tagged as a male prostitute which these women were called.

Can’t you see no difference in critique and personal gender-based attacks?

I am not saying women must not be criticized but criticize women for their work and when you say they are incompetent don’t dare say that all women are incompetent.

I personally hated how Hema Malini took some photos in the fields right before the elections and when asked about the work she has done for her constituency, she said that she doesn’t remember.

I shared plenty of memes myself because that is an abuse of power. Critique her all you want but for her and her work alone.

Don’t attack the entire gender, don’t say she is incompetent because she is a woman and when criticizing her, only focus on the work, not what she is wearing or the way her hair looks.

It’s not rocket science. If you want to see the difference, you really will.

 

How Women Find Excuses to Dismiss My Belief Against Domestic Abuse

Men and women have almost equal contribution in the fucked up mess that our society is today.

Undoubtedly, men have played a prominent role as aggressors and oppressors, while women have been the oppressed ones, historically and statistically speaking.

But in most people’s minds, women’s roles in perpetuating misogyny, domestic abuse, and even rapes have been downplayed.

Women make excuses for their abusive husbands, sons, and brothers, among many other awful things that contribute to the oppression of women.

The funny thing that I want to discuss in this article is how while discussing domestic abuse, women dismiss my advice or warnings to suit their narrative.

WHEN I SAY I AM IN A HAPPY RELATIONSHIP WITH A MAN:

Speaking as a feminist who has a man in her life who respects and loves her, my advice or whatever statement I make in a discussion is dismissed.

They say I have a good guy, the rest of them are not like him and since I don’t know what an abusive relationship is like, I cannot understand the risks of living a single woman’s life and which is why they would continue to live with an abusive man.

WHEN I SAY I AM A HAPPY SINGLE WOMAN:

They say that I am a man-hating feminist who never wants to be associated with a man. Over the years I have been awarded many other such titles, dominating feminist, a competitor of men, delusional woman who thinks she does not need men blah blah blah.

I have been in both situations, single and in a relationship.

And not for one second I changed my core belief that

A MAN THAT DOES NOT RESPECT YOU OR TREATS YOU AS HIS EQUAL, DOES NOT DESERVE YOU. 

Domestic abuse has many aspects and leaving a spouse or partner you love/d is never going to be easy. I never said it would be.

But is it easy to be with a man who can break your skull any moment with a bat?

Technically speaking, almost nothing in life is easy. But instead of finding ways to bring down women who claim to be a feminist and advocate equal rights in a relationship also, not just on paper in society, maybe focus on the reason why you are NOT A FEMINIST.

Feminism to me is religion, it is logic, it is common sense. A way for society to move forward and accept all humans as they are. Just because you have failed to Google a simple definition of what ‘feminism’ is, does not mean I would not call myself a feminist to save me from your judgment.

I have the deepest of sympathies for any person, any gender who is in an abusive relationship and needs help. In fact, this blog is for such people and I get queries from all over the world, from all sorts of people seeking advice. I have studied the topics, researched them and written books on them. So, I know my shit. I know what I am talking about.

But these women defending the abuse and saying ‘this is what marriage is’ and ‘I am putting up with this for my kids’ is a total disaster. Instead of defending abuse and abusive men, break the cycle of abuse by not making your kids watch you get beaten.

And I will always be there to help.

Me, the openly feminist, man-hating single woman. (#satire)

 

Would A Low Income Husband Really Follow Around His Famous High Profile Wealthy Wife? Thoughts on Netflix’s ‘Always Be My Maybe’.

Netflix has been doing a good job in terms of creating content with diversity and woke perceptions in general.

The latest movie, ‘Always Be My Maybe’ is one such example, staring Ali Wong and Randall Park.

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We have seen these two several times before but rarely as the protagonists of the story with their own fully developed characters. So, absolutely refreshing to see talented and amazing actors like them to come on full display rather than remain side pieces. Their acting was on point, the screenplay and story were entertaining and very millennial, very relevant for 2019. All the side characters were also funny, smart and did an amazing job at moving the story forward.

The theme though, which rarely is seen in English films or any cinema worldwide for that matter is that of a middle-class man, dating a high profile celebrity woman.

The film does a good job of showing how the two different lifestyles just don’t mix and the clashes are hilarious.

Marcus is a very vanilla, very sweet but scared man. Maybe losing his mother at a young age made him stay comfortable by his dad, in that very same neighborhood. He is a talented singer but lacks ambition. He doesn’t want to try new things, do anything adventurous or take any chances.

Sasha, on the other hand, is a celebrity chef who is innovating traditional Korean/ Chinese cuisine and taking it to the next level where a plate costs four figures worth of money. She does not like to stay in one place, she takes chances, she is successful and does not apologize for her money or fame. With all that fancy, high profile life though comes a lot of pretentiousness. She herself has that regular girl vibe but to be at that level of success and deal with a wealthy clientele, she has created a fake fancy version of herself that she blends easily with her real self. She has felt neglected as a kid when her immigrant parents used to be busy working and she had to look after herself. That seems to have made her stand for herself in a good way, though she resents being neglected as a kid.

Sasha and Marcus were neighbors and as kids and had grown fond of each other. So there is already a pre-existing affection there. Maybe this is what holds the story together because otherwise, would we believe that a celebrity hotshot chef is with a middle-class man?

Don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying that no wealthy high profile, famous person has ever dated or married a person who is not as famous or wealthy.

What I am saying is that how many times have we seen this for real or in TV and films as fiction? I personally am aware of plenty of women who were great at studies, got amazing grades, medical and engineering degrees and today I see them washing their husbands’ underwear and dishes. If this was just a one-off instance, then I might tell myself it is no big deal. But the cases I see are about 98% approximately.

Speaking of films and TV, we have always seen the wife or girlfriend following the man around. The guy is the one with an important career or a mission. And the woman is the cheerleader standing on the sidelines. Women have always been nurturing wives and mothers who are just a piece in the success of a man.

Take Julia Roberts’ two films for instance.

In Notting Hill, she is the celebrity, the rich woman falling in love with the regular guy Hugh Grant, who plays the role of a book shop owner. The theme of her fame and wealth is constantly in conflict with the man’s ego. Just look at the question on the poster- Can the most famous star in the world fall for the man in the street. Wow. Have you ever seen this question where the man is famous and the woman is from the street? Barely ever, because that is the NORM.

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In Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts is playing the role of a prostitute who is picked up by a wealthy Richard Gere for a night that turns into a week and they fall in love. The wealth and fame of the guy is no impediment to the woman there. She is thrilled at the amenities and luxuries. In the end, you see her going along with the wealthy guy without there being any conflict with her ego or self-respect.

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People say that our media and entertainment is the mirror of our society. It is hard to say that we have these unsaid rules that the man has to be wealthier, taller, older than the woman, were created by media or society first. But they certainly exist in both realms.

If not, why do I constantly hear  ‘no man wants a woman that successful, so dial down your ambitions’? And if and when a woman is more successful than a man, why is the world judgmental and harsh towards the man? Why does the man himself feel small and unappreciated or grumpy about not being in the spotlight?

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Marcus has no ego issues or does he? He feels bad when Sasha refers to him as a ‘regular’ guy, holding the purse of his woman while the world’s eyes are on her.

But you also see him not choosing to follow Sasha to New York simply because his only family, his father, his friends, his band, his dads business, everything required him to stay where he was.

I guess we can say it’s both and it takes a while for him to get used to being OK with standing on the sidelines.

My wish is that there were more men out there who did not crush their women’s ambitions and do not make this an ego or manliness issue that their wives earn more than them.

This theme was slightly discussed in The Big Bang Theory where Amy and Bernadette discuss hiding their money or awards from their husbands so they do not feel that their wives are more successful than them. Similarly, at one point when Penny makes more money than Leonard, he gets weird too.

Time and again we see this thing. Men used to be the breadwinners for their families while women stayed home, cooked and made babies. This was in the past though.

While all our entertainment is highly tilted towards this ‘men being the breadwinner’ narrative, the millennials have made some strides in changing this. The film ‘The Intern’ starring Anne Hathaway and Robert DiNero was one such for instance. Anne was a founder of her fashion brand and her husband was a stay at home dad. And they were happy with their arrangement because it worked.

I cannot put enough emphasis on the importance of changing this ‘man is the higher one, guardian, head of the family, breadwinner’ narrative.

Girls do much better than boys at school, we have seen this for several years in several surveys. Yet by the time they reach college or graduate, their numbers in the workforce decline drastically.

Motherhood takes its toll at one point and lack of proper maternity policies are also to blame. Everything is rigged in favor of male employees. When they make bigger families, they are given more benefits, higher positions and are seen as stable people, as seen in plenty of films and women, on the other hand, are penalized for having babies.

Netflix and a few other movie makers are changing this narrative, whether it is through subtle rom-com type films like ‘Always Be My Maybe’ (which isn’t a serious, in-depth feminist film of a woman’s fight or struggle) or more serious ones here and there. As a woman, I can only hope that this narrative seeps in the societal expectations too. Serious films on themes like this have their own space. But plenty of people get sidelined or purposefully dislike such films as they see it as ‘women-centric’ (which for them is a bad thing). Hence this idea needs to sneak in mainstream films, all kinds of films, like parents, hide medicine in a banana to feed their kid.

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Social changes like these move at a glacial speed and in a world where little girls are exiled to huts while on their periods, one might be thankful to be in some part of the world where we at least get to go out and work. But we cannot get stuck with being satisfied with the crumbs of societal respect. Many men I know, send their wives to work in the garb of being progressive, while their true intent is to benefit from her salary because of the inflation in the economies all around the world. But they show off and applaud themselves that they ‘allow’ their wives to work.

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These same men also flirt with other women because, after work, this wife of theirs comes home, helps kids with homework, cooks food and goes to bed late at night after putting everyone to bed. So, while the man is ‘allowing’ the woman to work outside the home, the entire household is still the wife’s responsibility. The poor woman who was earlier handling all household chores and was the primary parent and primary caregiver to the elderly is now also laboring outside the home. How is this of any benefit to her?

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This Netflix film was an entertaining light note romantic comedy but I think the themes were such that we need to discuss and ponder over and urge people around us to move towards valuing women’s labor in the way Sasha’s work is valued. She is unapologetic about her ambitions, her success, her money and doesn’t give up on that crucial part of her just because the guy is too egotistical to deal with it. Successful women often are put in that spot where they are forced to choose between love and ambition.

Ambition ain’t going anywhere but if the guy really loves you, he would NEVER put you in that spot. Just saying.