The Awkward Feminist & Friendly Fire Feminism

For the past seven months, I’ve been hosting weekly Instagram Lives – unscripted conversations with various people on themes of mutual interest. It began as a pandemic need, to feel human connection even if only via the internet. I’ve felt so shriveled and starved by the lack of conversations in the past year. I thought it would also be a nice way to rejuvenate my XXFactor self – the side that’s whacky, fiery, fun and also earnest & revolutionary about gender politics. My Live this week was with someone who over a decade ago, read my blog and insisted that I was feminist even as I argued that I wasn’t. What a full circle! The video of our conversation is over here and it’s themed ‘The Awkward Feminist’.

I found myself re-living conversations with other feminists, notably this toxic group.

Among the many things I’ve learnt from that experience, it was to fear weaponised jargon. I once wanted to see feminism be as cool, as comfortable an idea as violent filmstars, misogynist Whatsapp jokes and unhealthy beauty standards. It is starting to be. And I’m realising that anything that becomes popular lends itself to the basest behavior. Popular feminism today is about gaining social value by attacking other people.

I’m happy the feminist cause expanded to highlight LGBTQIA, race & caste aspects. I also understand why mental health has become such an important cause for the world. We are grappling with realities that the generations before us never dealt with and at least some of that is caused by feminism challenging traditional status quo. But I don’t know how helpful it has been to conflate mental health activism with feminism. Because of the nature of mental health (& illness), it needs more structured learning than feminism. For example, feminism is often boiled down to “equality for all people”. Mental health can’t be brought down to a catchphrase and it would be a disservice to it to try. That’s how ideas like ‘toxic positivity’ and ‘trigger warnings’ get mangled into weapons of aggression, rather than tools of self-reflection & healing. ‘Anger is valid’ which originated as a way to acknowledge difficult emotions rather than suppress them, is used to justify violence and pass on the cycle of abuse. I am no medical professional but I can’t imagine that it helps anybody’s mental health to externalize aggression & wreak destruction.

A fashionable cause is a direct path to social value via outrage. This means the focus is on creating drama rather than reflection & personal growth. We position ourselves as heroes by casting someone as villain. Aggression has replaced introspection. And where does that leave feminism? It doesn’t. Anyone who intended to explore how they could be better and do better is gunned down in the rush for cool woke points. I always believed jargon is the refuge of weak people and cluttered minds. This jargon comes with the extra protection of fascism where saying “I’m triggered” or “You are problematic” shuts down all conversation. A battle of words was always going to be won by the better orator. But how did this become a battle against our own kind, allies and other feminists?

I wonder now if feminism becoming fashionable is a good thing, after all. It gave us wokebros. It also gave us violent crusaders who don’t care about the damage they cause. I call them friendly fire feminists. Shallow outrage & drama reap social rewards. There is no room for different expressions of feminism. How can one person (or group) claim to be the gatekeepers of an ideology? That’s what the worst organised religion offenders have done and that’s why they’re ‘problematic’ (a word I heartily loathe since it absolves the speaker of having to justify harassing or cancelling). Aggression overrules compassion and is poised as an expression of independence. I could argue that aggression itself is counter-feminism since it’s cruel, selfish and focussed on causing damage. Toxic masculinity prizes these traits and patriarchy puts a premium value on them. So to embody them, no matter what label you call yourself, is to uphold patriarchy. Friendly fire feminism is not feminism.

Some of the most thoughtful people I know stepped back from the cause. Because they don’t want to be attacked anymore. This is sad because this retreat is from attacks by other feminists, not the original enemy – patriarchy. This is devastating and a major blow to the cause of feminism.

One step in my feminist journey was to try to make feminist messages more accessible. Asking someone to change their lifetime status quo is big. And patriarchy & discrimination are not restricted to bloody battlefields. They permeate every aspect of human living, from our language to science to social structures to rituals to humour, food, body language and more. Doesn’t it make sense for feminism to do so as well? I found Instagram to be a fun, (mostly) non-threatening way to engage with other people. I regularly post questions & polls, often on the theme of the upcoming Live. It brings in so many insights, so much authentic sharing and is also a lot of fun! This week I asked people about their idols who had disappointed them and about ideas that sat in their grey areas of feminist/problematic. I uncovered some deep and conflicted feelings about sexualisation, quota systems/affirmative action, Rupi Kaur, JK Rowling, Kim Kardashian and more. We all need safe room to be able to examine how we feel and how can we do that if we fear attack?

As protection, I felt the need to issue the following announcement before my Live. This doesn’t come from consideration, it comes from fear. Fear that my Live will be hijacked by overzealous trolls trying to prove how feminist-cool they are by cancelling me and attacking the others in my Live trying to safely explore complex ideas. Friendly fire feminism is a bigger threat than patriarchy since the latter is more easily identified & blocked.

I’ve always been a feminist, even when I didn’t quite embrace the label. Accepting the label of feminist meant opening up to a lifetime of learning. I will always grapple with grey areas & have to face up to my latent prejudices. This is true of us all. While there may be a place for the jargon-wielders and the fervent mobs, there has to also be a place to champion vulnerability. There has to be a place to model peaceful resistance to wrong. There has to be place to express fun that isn’t misogynist, humour that isn’t violent, empowerment that isn’t angry. There has to be a place for me. There has to be room for awkward feminists because I think we all are.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

To The Guy Who Likes Long Drives

Dear ‘I like long drives’ guy,

This will be the one and only time the word ‘dear’ will ever be used in our conversation. We both know you think that saying something makes it true so try being quiet for once. That’s a more honest representation of who you are.

We need to talk about this long drives fetish of yours. By ‘we’, I mean I because of course you think a conversation involves only you speaking. But I’m in the driver’s seat and you know the rules about disturbing the driver. So yes, car fetishes. What, you don’t like my calling it a fetish? You got your idea of romance off a car advertisement. Let’s not even get started down the road of used car salesmen. No, let’s not even go down there.

What’s that? You thought listing ‘long drives’ on your dating app profile would make you sound cool? And just what makes you swipe right on women’s profiles? Ah, how they look. Is that why your profile has the following pictures:

  • a long range shot/weird angle showing your right ear
  • a famous landmark shot at the most well-known angle
  • a quote about hearts, friendship, love, life that Hallmark greetings made their fortune off in the 90s

Enjoying long drives is not a personality trait. It’s not even a hobby. Not in India and boss, how often do you drive internationally? It’s not even a masculine thing. I know lots of women who like driving and they don’t act like it’s a thing that people do together on a romantic date. I know you think the front passenger seat is made for female butts but bro, a steering wheel is made for any kind of human hands. And we’ve established I’m driving this. But unlike you, I’m willing to let my passenger be something other than a silent object. I’m not a collector; I don’t even like stuff on my dashboard. So tell me, exactly what about this experience makes you think it’s an amazing offer to a woman you don’t know?

It can’t be the conversation. Those can be had literally anywhere. But in a car that you’re driving, you get to shut the other person up, right? Shush, don’t touch the driver. So yes, you were saying? The umm, aah, uh.. Yes, that’s what I thought. Don’t bother whining that you’re bad at speaking. A car is not a translator.

It is however, a trophy. That’s it, isn’t it? If it wasn’t, you’d be fine having a date in an Uber. Ah, there’s the rub. A car is a trophy where you get your prey (uhh…date) in complete seclusion and totally under your control. I grew up in a time when one of the first SUV models was inadvertently rebranded ‘the kidnap vehicle’. No, you don’t remember that?

Aww okay, let me play you a song I think you’ll like. This is how I think of you.

Sincerely yours,

The reason I swiped left

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

In The Court Of The Bombay Begums

If you haven’t already seen Bombay Begums, consider this your spoiler alert. I approached the show with trepidation and a lot of thoughts. For one, it falls squarely into what I recognise as a Netflix India formula. A cast made of a yesteryear star, a sprinkling of Bollywood also-rans and a variety of character role new darlings. Queer people (and bi women are cutting edge because gay men are so passe) and a precise/antisepic quota of cultural differences for ‘diversity’. Gratuitious nudity & sex scenes that go on forever, around 1/3rd into the start. Lots of dark interiors with an occasional too-bright scene (usually an unpleasant situation) and soft-focus (blurry) shot to convey relief. Yes, I have been watching A LOT of Netflix in the past year.

raniLet’s start with the prime Begum, the one in all the promos, 90s bad girl Pooja Bhatt. My generation saw her enter public limelight as a mere teenager and thanks to the movies she was cast it, her trajectory as a spoilt/confused adolescent, a pampered diva (Poo but from the 90s) and some kind of awkward young woman not very comfortably cast in the traditional glamorous/sanskari Bollywood heroine mold. The last I heard of her is that she moved on from a rollicking and very public sex life with numerous starling boyfriends and married the Haryanvi farmer from the MTV promos. On one hand it’s startling to see her play the dignified CEO, Rani. On the other hand, the composure that is hard won, the quiet inner turmoil, the shrewd/soulless compromises, the jaded emotions feel real because we remember a younger Pooja Bhatt. I have no idea if this is how she is in real life but it would make sense to me if she was.

I remember steeling myself not to faint or double over in menstrual pain while making an important presentation. I was surrounded by men circling like vultures, waiting to pounce on the slightest stammer or hesitation. At one point, I said, “I’ll hand it over to <vulture colleague> for his thoughts” and bolted to the bathroom to puke my guts out. Then I washed my face, took a deep breath and walked back in, with a mug of coffee pretending I’d done it on purpose. All the times Rani masterfully tides over hot flashes to push through the boardroom made me feel seen, heard and most importantly, lauded.

Rani is not so much a grey character as a complex depiction of Strong Woman. She’s not damaged or broken but she isn’t quite whole. She is hyper-functional, never once losing her cool but we see the toll it takes on her health, her relationships and sense of self. She looks sore from carrying wounds that will never heal. She hasn’t made peace with her past as much as struck a kind of grim truce with it. And that’s real.

two

It made me really happy to see another depiction of the strong, successful corporate woman in the form of Fatima. Like her, I’ve struggled to look for mentors. I have also grappled with the guilt of not having it as bad as the women before me, anxiety that I’m not doing better (or for that matter, even average), been bewildered at how little the conventional gender expectations fit me, been a success in things that I’ve wondered if they were worth it. All the regrets as well as the helplessness that regret would be a part of any scenario, no matter what decision was taken, that’s Fatima. It wasn’t comforting to see it spelt out on screen but it was relief to know I haven’t been alone.

Shahana Goswami is a brilliant casting choice, especially fresh off her role in A Suitable Boy. After playing the flighty, society madam, she brings real dignity & restraint to her performance. Fatima (BB) & Meenakshi (ASB) both have adultery play a big part in their storylines but it is as if one is watching different people and it never occurs to you to compare because they’re played by the same person. I don’t know if every woman who has worked in a cutthroat corporate environment can relate to these two characters but I could. I could see myself in scenes of both these women.

I only want to mention the child character Shai because she’s presented as one of the ‘begums’ of this story. She wasn’t memorable except for her annoying voiceover narrating between scenes. What 12 year old talks like that? I can’t see the sense of depicting the inner lives of complex adult women in the writings of an unrealistically articulate brat. I think she’s less a character and more a prop to detail Rani’s life.

lilyI quite enjoyed Lily and her cheery, never-say-die personality. But I am aware that her story looks exactly the way someone like I would think of it. I only have hearsay references for what life really looks like for a single mom commercial sex worker in Mumbai. I have a feeling she was in the story to ensure that it was taken seriously and not written off as a saga of ‘high-class auratein’. I’m not sure it does people like her justice but it probably was a valiant effort anyway.

Which brings me to the character that troubles me the most. Ayesha *deep breath*. I loathe this character so much, I got into a bad mood every time she appears on screen. She’s exploitative, inept and entitled. She sleeps with anyone who can help her but considers herself superior to Lily who does the same but also bears social judgement. Ayesha enjoys the privilege of middle-class respectability but doesn’t value it in the least. She smokes up in her PG accomodation that doesn’t allow it, sleeps with the ex-boyfriend she’s staying with even as his girlfriend sleeps in the next room, leads on a colleague so she can live with him but also cheats on him. She carries out the same horrible behaviour in her workplace, getting fired for ongoing ineptitude, being reinstated in a bigger role, sleepwalking through the work & pretending she’s destined for better things. The only people she values are the ones that draw clear boundaries with her – a lesbian friend who sleeps with her but tells her they’re not exclusive and a senior manager who takes sexual favours from her in return for a (completely undeserved) promotion.

ayesha

I needed some time to digest the story because of this character, so visceral were my reactions to her. But now I’m realising it’s because she represents a very uncomfortable question. Does any woman, whoever she is, however she is, deserve rape? Can we consign such an unlikable character (and similarly real people) to that horrible fate? She falls prey to a system designed to exploit her. The moral policing that calls any independent action, rebellion. The objectification that reduces women to their bodies and their bodies to sex objects. The rape culture that prizes aggression in men and victim mindsets in women.

As far as female archetypes go, if Rani is the Queen Bee, Fatima the Rising Star, Lily the Amazonian Warrior and Shai the Fragile Princess, then Ayesha is the Professional Victim. She is not a good person or even a sympathetic one. She has no redeeming qualities. The best we (and other characters) feel for her is pity and even that is easily gone when she blunders into her next selfish move. She’s not a begum and never will be. But she’s who most people become when faced by life’s hard questions. Being a woman, makes these questions harder, louder and many more.

This wasn’t intended as a review so I won’t post any recommendations to watch or not. But if you have seen the show, post a comment. I’d really like to hear more thoughts on this story and its characters.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

A Good Conversationalist

I haven’t been writing about men or dating much, have I? The last year has forced me to sit with myself, without everything that I thought was my life but which were actually coping mechanisms. Stripped of those, what did I have? Lots of wounds. I’m glad 2020 is over.

I’ve been back on and off the dating apps sporadically. It’s a thing I do when I’m feeling slightly hopeful about life and to build on that seed. I am a gardener after all, and I tend to think the best things always have a chance of bearing fruit if given a little time, attention and watering. But I’ve also been isolating a lot more than the average Mumbaiker. I’ve always been super responsible. And after three years of relentless family health issues, panic scares & more, I’m not easy to carelessness. There are times I resent it and others where I’m thankful for a valid excuse to stay in and not be part of other people’s noise.

I’m realising I tire really easily around other people’s noise and other people are noisy. In their uncontrolled, unmanaged feelings. Men are the most of this since they’ve never been allowed to or required to own up to their own feelings. It’s hard enough to look at a man beyond his misbehaviour. Because I can see where the misbehaviour stems from and have plenty of burn marks from having had empathy, I feel further muddied. It’s cleaner not to engage or not engage too much with men in romantic contexts, where the universal assumption is that I’m required to be punching bag, mommy substitute, sex toy and therapist all in one.

I’ve been thinking about all of this a lot more. Truly acknowledging my scars. Prising loose all the gaslighting about how I should be over it, how I’m a strong woman and this shouldn’t affect me, simultaneously how all men are like that and also not all men. Accepting that I am correct and in my right to write off the male gender. That has let me understand the empty space under all that.

Is it loneliness? Yes, there is that. But it’s not as much as might be imagined. Always, when one thinks of the price to be paid to remedy that (and I’ve paid a heavy price with abuse, violence, assault), it feels like a minor need that doesn’t merit it. But past that I found something else. A desire for companionship. Not a need. Companionship isn’t a solution to loneliness. It is a different bird altogether. What does that require? Someone whose company is inspiring, entertaining, relaxing, fun. Company, not a crutch or a cage. And that’s when I reinstall the app.

With this approach, I find myself less brittle when on the apps. Make no mistake, the DM sliders, the inappropriate messagers, the offensively rude, the condescending misogynists continue to exist. I continue to weed them out. I even let myself feel rage about them, about the male species, about patriarchy. These rages are lingering less. I’m not feeling the need to uninstall to escape the horrors as much because they don’t horrify me as much.

Right now, I’m having three or four nice conversations. I don’t think about any of them when I’m going about my day. But in moments I’ve set aside for social leisure (as opposed to reading leisure, walking alone leisure), I find myself tap-tapping a witty comment, a new thought, a curious expression of interest. After all, good conversations are inspiring, entertaining, relaxing, fun. And men are some of those people with whom I can have these conversations.

Maybe you can only converse with others when you’ve first spoken to yourself a lot.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Is This Feminism?: Women’s Day

This is a Women’s Day post.

Does that make me a good feminist or a bad one? I’ve called this day a marketing ploy. It is. I’ve been offered gigs around this day. I’ve taken them. My most famous poem (albeit not my favorite one) is about feminism & was performed on this day (albeit not for the first time). I regret nothing.

Will I avail of discounts, of pink themed offerings? Yes, I will. It’s been a hard year & I could do with being pandered to. Is it capitalist? Yes. Is it feminist? I pay for myself, I know I am doing it & I consent to it. And that makes it feminist for me.

Is it privilege? Yes. Privilege is not unfeminist. Shame is. Guilt is. Lack of self-respect is. Even if they’re inflicted by someone else. Precisely because they are inflicted by someone else. Why should someone else get to decide how you feel or how I see myself? Take it back. Take it all back. I will not apologize for who I am. Not today, not ever.

Am I cashing in on my gender on this day? Hell, yes. Systems are oppressive till you figure out how to work them. It doesn’t show great returns right now but some day it will. Each day I invest my faith, my self-assurance and today I reap a tiny return. Self-interest is feminist. So is vision.

If today the patriarchy wants to cleanse its guilt, let it. It’s only a bribe if you have to give something in return. You don’t. Not your self-respect, not your validation. Happy YOU day, every day.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Romancing A Girl Who Is Too Much

Lavasa, 2011

I think I can only experience romance when I feel happy. I can only play the games of flirting when playfulness is possible. I can only smile at the mirth of charm when I’m just looking for an excuse to smile anyway.

That’s why love becomes a common destination for romance. True love. And that’s only possible when you feel loving & lovable. This is a hard thing to feel, when you’re an independent-minded woman with a strong sense of self. Because most interactions are about gaslighting you, shaming you, harassing you, caging you into smaller versions of yourself or worse – someone else’s idea of who you should be.

Where are the love stories for women who like being the hero? What odes are written to the girl who talks too much & too loudly? What romantic gestures are planned for a damsel who doesn’t fear distress? What proposals are made to a woman that’s got better things to think about than pandering to an ego? How can romance have one set definition when its very purpose is to make a person feel special & desired over all else?

A romance, like Cinderella’s glass slipper, cannot be forced onto someone it doesn’t fit. But that doesn’t mean tiny glass slippers are the only footwear a girl deserves. Bring me a good ol’pair of walking shoes and bring them with a pair of wings. And I’ll show you romance can also be in adventure & flight.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Valentine’s Day Farce

Whew pink season is over, what a relief!To paraphrase Mad Men, romance was invented by capitalists to sell more stuff. Valentine’s Day single-handedly created an economy of greeting cards, pink teddy bears & red hearts. Nothing wrong in these, of course. But let’s not pretend it’s something else.



It hit me yesterday. Some of the worst friends I’ve had were women who promptly stood me up when a boyfriend showed up. SATC, that holy grail of 90s pop feminism pays lip service to the romance of girlpower but has a protagonist that consistently misbehaves & takes her supposed friend-soulmates for granted. Old-fashioned romantics use romance as an excuse to behave badly.

Toxic setups are glamorized by romance, like “you & me against the world”. Baby, I call abuse priming. “I’ll walk out on the whole world for you” is not loving. It’s insecure, weak & poisonous. Are you going to trust someone who easily flakes out on their world? That’s not love, that’s addiction & it’s nothing but ugly.

I think romance gives people an easy shortcut to buy their way into the illusion of security, a screeching shrill ILOVEYOUILOVEYOU to drown out self-loathing.

I’ve had a fairytale proposal, down on bended knee, under the stars, by the sea on this very day, in fact. The same person constantly told me I was stupid, deliberately damaged my prized possessions, poisoned my friendships, cheated on me, routinely humiliated me in public & battered me more than once. A person who loves you doesn’t do any of that. Not even one of that, not even in lesser measure. These are acts of hatred.

How shallow to think love could be bought this easy, tax not included. Or for that matter, security or validation. No, those are things you create for yourself & hope that they don’t get stolen from you by monsters wielding a gaslight called romance.

And when they do, pick yourself up, heal, blink, paint on a heart & smile because you love yourself and that costs nothing. Or everything.

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This is part of a series called #ARomanticLife exploring our ideas of romance, its media depictions and how they impact our lives. There are also posts over at my other blog The Idea-smithy and two Live conversations (Rajni Arunkumar, TJ Coulagi)

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

The Romance Gardener

I found my kinship with green things when I was 8, watching fascinated as baby shoots poked out of the mud laid on a try, where I’d sprinkled mustard seeds a few days earlier.

About 10 years ago, a doctor having his yard renovated, handed me a sprig of ajwain, saying it would aid the cold I was having if I put it in my drinking water. Instead I stuck in a pot, layering mud I scratched off the ground. That herb parented the many plants that have kept my company & given babies that I gave to select people to start little green paradises of their own.

You might think a love of green things would include flowers but oddly, it didn’t. Flowers were things I saw enchained in garlands at weddings & political functions, strangled into wreaths or bouquets for sombre occasions, reminders of rules that were oppressive.

At 28, a boyfriend told me white lilies were his favourite flower. I was charmed by this glimpse of tenderness in an otherwise brutish masculinity (boys’ school, engineering college, investment banking). I sent a modest bouquet of 3 white lilies to wait for him at his office desk on Monday. I received an angry call from him calling it inappropriate & me, desperate.

Years later, I shared this story with a healing group. They awwed. 3 men of different ages approached me later to tell me not to be stopped by this. Men like nice things too, they said, it’s a lovely gesture. I began tentatively taking flowers to some people I trusted. A single gladiola with lunch, a pair of yellow gerberas while dropping off a book.

5 years ago, as I began processing old hurts, I realised my garden had never had flowers. It was now a thriving Eden of sturdy herbs, proud vegetables & an occasional succculent. Like me, it was strong, resilient, protective. But it wasn’t gentle, cheery or inviting. That’s the domain of the flower, the plant kingdom’s personal mating call.

And so, tentatively, I welcomed romance, the very idea of it into my garden & my heart.

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This is part of a series called #ARomanticLife exploring our ideas of romance, its media depictions and how they impact our lives. There are also posts over at my other blog The Idea-smithy and two Live conversations (Rajni Arunkumar, TJ Coulagi)

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Can Masculinity Be Safe?

A lot of straight women feel safer around gay men. It has felt, I’ve thought, like having a girl best friend but who can drop me home when it gets late. Yes, that’s shallow. But also, what does it say about masculinity (since straight men have led the charge on how that’s defined)? It says masculinity means it’s unsafe for women.

So why does a gay man feel safer? Because he isn’t trying to prey on my body. The subtext is that what a man wants, he takes, consent regardless. It’s safer not to anger or disappoint a man. It’s safest to not be wanted by masculinity.

How do straight women reconcile this with feeling attraction & wanting reciprocation? Affection itself feels unsafe; sex like an evil place.

Can we not expect self-control & something it’s contingent on – self-respect in men? Not in a world that says ‘boys will be boys’ & excuses their misbehaviour, teaches them that they will not be held responsible for their actions. Not when men who show compassion & consideration are shamed for it.

But women are overwhelmed by the same conditioning too. How do we make sense of a man who doesn’t make us feel unsafe? We’ve spent too long being told that attraction must feel dangerous, romance must be predatory. How do we respect a man when we’ve been taught only fear for the male gender?

I think it starts by remembering that every adult holds responsibility for their actions. That things like respect, trust, attraction happen between human beings, not gendered boxes. And that these must be earned, not assumed.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

The Feminine Side Of A Man

I’m told this means traits like gentleness, delicacy, modesty, being nurturing. Why are these feminine? The argument goes that biological roles dictate these gendered traits. But who says decisiveness is not a maternal (supposedly feminine) trait? Or the ability to adapt & compromise doesn’t align with the hunter instinct (traditionally masculine)?

I’ve grappled with my gender identity since my personality has been described as ‘ladkon ke jaisa’, ‘tomboyish’, ‘as if I’m a man’. The subtext being that my BIG personality & my vocal, confident, take-charge behaviours are masculine. I don’t think genitalia comes with personality attachments.

There’s a big problem with seeing human qualities as gendered. We are constantly shocked to find them appearing in bodies that we do not expect. Every gendered quality is a good one – assertiveness, gentleness, courage, resilience, determination, adaptability. They’re only turned into vices when we encounter them in people we don’t expect to find them. A confident woman becomes a bitch. A sensitive man becomes a weakling.

I wish I could say I’m free of these but I’m not. I don’t know how to respond to gentle men. True, I haven’t met many. But also, being a more assertive person myself, I may miss quieter aspects of other people’s personalities. It’s not helped by the fact that men feel the need to hide this since it’s supposedly ‘feminine’ behaviour.

My own traits are mine; they are not borrowed from another gender. Thus, I return to pondering what the feminine side of a man is. Any thoughts?

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

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