This wasn’t a perfect Valentine’s month. But then, last February was and look how that turned out. Still, I got through it (this one and last year). The journey back to life is neither neat nor straight. At least it wasn’t boring. Here’s what kept me company along the way:
- A truly howl-a-rious thought in tweet via Chandani Agarwal.
- A year ago, I struggled with the burden of the label ‘fiance’. Now I find other people have felt the same burden of the even heavier label of ‘wife’. An interesting perspective gets added by the gay community reclaiming some of these words.: ‘Labels of Married Life, in a New Light‘ (via NYTimes)
- Books and dating – my two favorite topics!: ‘What your Bookshelf says about you to a Date ‘ (via HowAboutWe)
- This sounds like a relationship-in-denial to me, but what the hell? ‘Flirtationship’ is a great word!: ‘20 Signs You’re in a Flirtationship‘ (via Thought Catalog)
- I’d love to know who agrees with this: ‘What your favorite sex position REALLY says about you‘ (via HowAboutWe)
- In my teens, I’ve been pressurized to wear a dupatta ‘properly’ (read: across both shoulders with the bulk of the fabric hanging down covering torso) in Chennai. In the same conversations, I was also told the value of ‘addakam’ (loosely translated as restraint in Tamil) to a woman’s character. I see the connection in this piece, do you?: ‘Tied up in knots: The many meanings of the dupatta ‘ (via The Sunday Guardian)
- Stereotypes. Entertainment. There’s a connection, isn’t there? This is a comprehensive breakdown of every female stereotype and pop culture examples of each.: ‘The Female Character Flowchart‘ (via Overthinking It)
- A common theme in popular fashion poses is to portray the woman as ‘weak, slightly insane and even deranged’. Yolanda Dominguez’s project ‘Poses’ captures real women in daily situations in these poses to highlight this fact.: ‘What Model Poses would look like in Real Life‘ (via Messy Nessy Chic)
- If it’s written by a woman and talks about love & relationships, it’s ChickLit. And what if it’s written by a man?: ‘Women in Love, Only if You’re DH Lawrence‘ (via Annie Zaidi).
“Women writers could go out and wrench such columns for themselves by building a body of work in non-fiction that makes them difficult to ignore. That would mean hardcore research. That would mean a lot of time and energy taken away from creating fiction. This is not impossible to do. But given that their male counterparts get away with merely having opinions, it is also not fair.”
This Telegraph article made me laugh. I quote:
“You have beautiful eyes” was by far the most used compliment, picked by almost a quarter of all men, but only the third most successful.
The least used line was “You have beautiful ears”, which was also the second least effective line … except in the Netherlands and Portugal, where it proved the most popular.
I also winced through every item in this list on The Frisky of the worst pick-up lines ever. Then I got to thinking about the notion of pick-up lines. Is it an entirely Western concept? But no….our desi boys have their own version of it and it’s the only one they have! Guess what it is?
I’m practically de-sensitized to the trash overload from the television set. After all..
But every now and then there comes along something that makes me sit up and take notice.
It would have been a normal, frenzied rush-hour day just like another. And a TV schedule of saans-bahu soaps jostling with fudge-eality shows, squeezed in between commercials for insurance policies, shampoos and perfume-smelling detergents. And then it happened.
60% of women call in sick from work on a bad hair day!
…the colourful screen proudly proclaimed to me. Followed by a flood of digi-enhanced, branded-director-signature-style glossy images before you could say SEXIST!!
And the commercial signed off with a serene-faced, funky hair-styled Habib telling you not to worry about your hair anymore.
I don’t. After all I’m apparantly so stupid that I fall for that and pay for it as well. So now you can come and insult me on my face.
What, me worry? I just think, chronically.
60%…that’s nearly two-thirds of all the working women I know – friends, colleagues, bosses, peers, clients, teachers, doctors, air-hostesses, news readers, nurses, shop assistants, call center workers, hotel staff, salesgirls, women security guards, policewomen….shall I go on? So Habib tells us that more than half of this lot calls in sick when they don’t think their hair looks right.
Well never mind. I’ll just end with asking if a man thinks you are so frivolous, would you let him touch your hair?
Note: I’ve seen this ad aired just once. It would be good to know if anyone else caught it as well.
I wanted to write this last week but I’ve been running late on a lot of things and just haven’t had the time. Nnnneeeaaarrrrrggghhh.
Now usually I like to be this one foot here/the other there sort of person who expounds on the scientific reason behind certain superstitions, the validity of ‘old wives’ tales’ etc. But Karva chauth has me stumped. I mean…???? We’ve done away with Sati (at least by law). Now what the hell is starving the woman for the man all about?
Note the following:
The ritual signifies extreme love and devotion to the husband, as evidenced by the wife’s willingness to suffer for his well being.
Are we in India of 2007, honey? I have absolute respect for all religions and I think anything that makes life worth living to you, is well, worth it. But religion is craftily intertwined with some social rituals as well. A few have been weeded out, thank heavens. But some others like Karva chauth remain.
I wanted to puke when I saw a TV show last year with some of television’s stars going all coy over their ‘love for their husband’ and how it was possible to get through the day because of this devotion. Zoom in on beaming husband. Huh.
I remember as a kid, meeting one of dad’s business acquaintaces with his family in some fancy restaurant. He was accompanied by wife, two daughters and one niece. Daugher no.2 was sulking because she wasn’t being allowed to eat. Why? Oh, nothing major, just the routine, ‘so that she gets a good husband’ fast.
I have zero use for this ritual and honestly don’t even want to try to understand anyone who encourages its existance – men or women. I’m not particularly a foodie but starving oneself for some hoped future result just does not make sense to me. A fast once a week or longer is considered a cleansing experience for the body. Ah well, not in this day and age of junk food, unhealthy dining, sedentary worklife and zero exercise.
I’m asked why I should care and that other people can do what they like while I’m free to eat. Sure, lurve. Except I’m still appalled by the idea that a 10-year-old girl is forced to starve for a day to ensure a good husband. I’m aghast that my generally delicate friend lives on polluted air, even if only for a day while her ‘khaate-peete ghar ka’ husband lives through another gastronomic delight. And what ‘even if only a day’. I’d like to see a man do that for his wife for a day.
Oh yes, there are those couples where the man fasts as well. And what, pray is the use of that? Why not both eat like everyday and be happy. There are enough of people going hungry because they don’t have a choice. It seems criminal to practise starvation as an affectation. I’m not asking for Sata-Savitras either.
My dear friends, my poor dear friends that suffer the agony of matrimonial match-making! Aside from the usual agonizing boy-meet-girl-over-tea/coffee ritual, there’s the incessent pressure pressure PRESSURE from the rest of the world.
The prospect’s education (pedigree), employment, family background, hobbies and friends are examined in great detail. And if 3 of these fit then voila!! We have a match!!!!
Attraction has no place in this discussion. Like the father of one of my friends once said,
Arre beta, yeh sab kuch nahin hota! When I was your age, I wanted to marry Hema Malini but see, I married your mother instead!
Ah well, and how does one argue with logic of that sort?
My most recent friend-victim sniffs,
Attraction??!! Try telling that to them. A good family and education is more than 90% of it and then even if there is even 5% attraction…WHAM! Close the deal!
Awww…in consolation I replied,
Like the perfect receipe for onion sambar? Ah, but sambar isn’t sambar without the sambar masala powder!
I think I’ll use that in one of my own arguments next time. Sounds a helluva lot better than…
I won’t marry someone I can’t imagine sleeping next to (and with) every night (and some days)!
…and it might actually work the next time mum tries to shove a mustachioed Mani Idli-Iyer at me.
DNA carried a news article titled ‘Adolescent boys, not girls, are bigger victims of forced sex ‘ which said,
“According to a study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University of the US, 15% of boys and 3% of girls reported that someone forcibly tried to have a physical relationship with them.”
The numbers look suspect to me which may be because female respondents have been more reluctant to talk than males, thus skewing the statistics the other way. However, it raises an important point.
Men are the victims of sexual crimes as well. That’s obvious at an intellectual level. But take a minute to think of the gamut of horrors that are encompassed in this: child abuse, date rape, harassment at work, non-consensual marital sex. I’ve been very vocal about the tragedies of being a woman and vulnerable to all sorts of dangers. On the other hand, men aren’t completely insured to these same dangers, are they?
What’s most chilling is the thought that these dangers exist without a comparable level of support. If a guy broke up with his girlfriend, citing ‘too much of pressure for sex’ as a reason, how many of us would take him seriously? If a husband were to report trauma caused by marital abuse and non-consensual sex, who would believe him?
Let’s get closer home. Say you know a couple. And let’s say one of them meets a third person of the opposite sex who starts paying them a lot of attention. These affections may not be reciprocated and there is bound to be some strain in the couple’s relations as a result of the third person. Now if it is the girl who is party to unwelcome affection, a brisk, “No thanks. I’m not interested” usually sorts the problem out, failing which there’s always, “Get lost, creep! I have a boyfriend”. However, if it is a guy who is the object of a new girl’s attention…..ah, didn’t you just stop and think, “Lucky dog!”? Hmm, I did too. And that is exactly the point. Since we assume that any kind of female attention is an enjoyable experience for a man, we can’t conceive the idea that it could be unwelcome and even traumatizing.
Don’t get me wrong, attention is la-di-da for all of us, but most of us are practical enough to realize that it could jeopardize other aspects of our lives. So a girl can easily shrug off the attention…it is the ‘right’ thing for her to do after all. But what does a guy do? Being rude to a woman makes him look caddish, spurning affection makes him seem cold. And heaven help him if girlfriend is the jealous, non-understanding type.
Now the above has actually happened to a couple I know. As it turned out the woman in the couple ended up taking matters into her hands and going out to war with the other woman. The man breathed a sigh of relief. But the couple has also started avoiding certain places and occasions where they are sure to meet the other woman. The other woman hasn’t been deterred in her activities however, and proceeds on smoothly with her life like nothing happened. This is one time I do not sympathize with my sex.
This has still been a fairly safe situation, with one woman playing the perpetrator and another woman riding to the rescue, in the proverbial knight-in-shining-armour manner. However, what of situations where this isn’t possible?
At schools and hostels, who is taking care of little boys from the ‘inappropriate’ advances of adults and….would you believe…their own peers?
Within marriages, is there a way for the husband to seek help in case he needs it? I’m hardly surprised now that men seemed to more and more petrified of commitment than ever.
At adolescence, boys are learning to drive, to drink, to try and get girls into bed. Someone may also be teaching them safety regulations, how to deal with hangovers and seduction techniques. How about self-defense?
Women are no less corruptible than their male counterparts. In the cubicle space of shattered glass ceilings, who is ensuring a safe, harassment-free workplace for male newcomers?
While these times may be long in coming, they’re headed our way, for sure. If women aren’t sex-objects, playthings, showpieces, trophies and dumb bimbettes, we aren’t all paragons of virtue either. The very same temptations to evil lie before us as well and who is to tell…when faced with an opportunity and virtually no chance of being caught, if we wouldn’t take it up ourselves? The average woman is no more an angel than a man. All we all are, is human.
Of note, I’m not minimizing the risks faced by women, indeed not. All I’m doing is pointing out that men are vulnerable to some of these too and in some ways the risks are higher since they have even less of our sympathy than the female victims. While we raise our voices to protest the crimes against women, we speak for empowerment and independence, are we doing so at the cost of making men ‘the weaker sex’? I don’t like the thought of that either. And worst of all, I realize that this is little more than idle intellectualizing since womenpower is the way the tide is turning, even if drowns out some basic rights for men in the process.
If any of my readers are surprised by this post, well, don’t be. There are men I love and care for, after all. And I fear for their safety and peace of mind, just as I do for my own. I’ve often thought that it would be more practical to have a son since being a girl is fraught with so much of agony. But then…I think….I can teach my daughter to take care of herself, and where I don’t, the world will provide ways to support her. If nothing else, I can bring her into a world where she will be heard. I am not sure I can say the same for a son.