Monthly Archives: March 2013

Warrior Woman

I think a lot of women are programmed to play Florence Nightingale. That’s why the idea of the tormented, disturbed man fascinates so many of us. It’s a cringe-worthy but true fact that the protagonist of the bestselling ‘Fifty Shades of Grey‘ is nothing more than a self-obsessed, abusive, damaged man. But curiously, he’s the modern object of every woman’s fantasies, toppling the pale vampire and six-pack-ab’d werewolf. Houston, we have a problem. Half the species has been programmed to be self-destructive. The half that’s responsible for creating the remainder of the species, by the way. RED ALERT! RED ALERT!

Seriously though, I’m deciding now that when a man tells me that he’s ‘broken’, I’m going to take it at face value and say goodbye. No more playing healing touch, no more shoulder to cry on. Go heal yourself, damaged goods. That’s what I do when I’m hurt.

Why has it taken me so long to realize something? So caught up in the quest for perfection we are but it’s perfectly acceptable for a man to be imperfect. What’s more, his imperfections are celebrated and paraded around to draw in every available female in close proximity to heal and nurture.

On the other hand, who heals us when we’re broken, disappointed, battered, hurt? We face judgement, censure, harassment, unrealistic expectations, unsurmountable physical & emotional burdens. It’s also ingrained in us to compete with and tear down each other rather than support. So life is quite literally, every woman for herself.

And if I can pick myself and move on every single time on my own, let the man bloody do it too. To hell with the sweet nurturing female, tie that trapping stereotype to a stake and run her through with all the things that men claim damage them. I’m shaking off the shackles of womanhood. Goodbye and good riddance. And welcome Warrior Woman.

Xena, holding her chakram

Xena, holding her chakram (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Sex Stuff

Some home truths about sex.

It is open to a wide variety of interpretations. That completely depends on you and your partner. And each of you may have a different take on it, in which case, God help you. It could or could not be a lot of things.

Commitment. A bribe. A transfer of respect. A power game. Love.

Then there are things that have got nothing (or should not be allowed to have anything) to do with it. Whatsoever.

Good looks. Religion. Rebellion. Alcohol & drugs.

It hurts. A lot. Physically, sometimes. Emotionally too. But most of all, in what a surprise it is. There’s much that you never understood, no matter how many books you’ve read, how many conversations you’ve been a part of. There’s much that will surprise you, no matter how much you’ve already had before. And anybody, anytime has the potential to surprise you. That surprise is not always a good thing, even if the sex is. You never realize just how much of your belief system is founded on certain assumptions of sex and sexuality, until they’re broken.

Everybody has a problem with sex. This is because everyone has problems. And it boils down to this. It’s a fundamental need, for one. But it is also the most fundamental way in which we relate to each other. It’s practically the building block of civilization. We spend our lives trying to figure out how to deal with life and to journey through the madness that is each other. How could those problems not turn up in our sex?


Sex (Photo credit: danielito311)

These problems do not mean that sex will not be pleasurable. But there’s much that gets released other than key fluids during the most intimate act two human beings can share (apart from childbirth). Fears, repressed notions, hidden states of being – yes they’re all in there imprisoned inside you. And guess what, with sex, you’ve gone and peeped into the dungeons. You may even let one or two escape by mistake. And that’s problematic.

These problems don’t go away by having more sex. Or by having sex with a different person. Or sex in a different way. Or with having sex at all (if you haven’t before). Or for that matter, abstaining from sex. You’re going to have to figure out the best way to deal with those problems and not let your sex life become a problem as well.

Stuff happens when you have sex. Something shifts within. Some things get released and other things take their place. You feel better for awhile. Scientists tell us that’s endorphins. You may go through the gamut of guilt, shame, fear, wonder, awe, affection, confusion. If you don’t feel anything at all, then you’ve got the MOTHER of all problems. Please see a doctor and sort it out. This problem may be the worst STD of all.

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of a bad experience relating to sex (peer pressure, abuse, rape), then that experience is going to stay with you. It would be comforting to hear that everything will get sorted out and you’ll never remember it again. That’s a lie. The truth of violation or violence or both will never be erased. It will be there with you, right in your bed with the blankets and sheets and the other person. But, as with every other fear, you can learn to live with it and not be stopped by it. Yes, this is possible but don’t make the mistake of expecting that life will deliver that justice to you on a platter. It won’t. As unjust as the past may have been, it will still, unfortunately, be up to you to get past it and build a better world for you to live in.

Never let somebody else’s judgement, morality or ideas cloud your ideas of sex. It’s just not worth it. Taking on someone else’s notions is like throwing a little carbon monoxide into an already foggy, smoky place. Also remember that as a member of this society, certain things are defined as legal, ethical and decent. Be aware of those boundaries and for your own sake, respect them. But inside your mind, run free because if you don’t, you’ll inevitably lapse outside and that’ll be a lot worse.

It’s not really that different from life. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not worth the price. You pretty much won’t know for sure till it’s all over so try to relax and enjoy it.

Sometimes Does Yes Means No?

Our population figures tell us that Indians are having at least as much sex as the rest of the world. Not all extramarital pregnancies are the result of rape. And from a purely scientific point of view, if there are so many conceptions, the number of sexual intercourse occasions has to be at least the same, if not higher. Let’s just face the fact that India has sex and needs to deal with all the issues and questions that come up with it.

I’ve generally steered away from getting too close into the bedroom in my writing and so sue me, I’m Indian, it’s ingrained in me to never publicly acknowledge sex. But we are in the utterly ridiculous state of gangrapes, burgeoning population rates, teenage pregnancies and child abuse so I think it’s time I stopped being coy. I’m talking about this.

I recently read a post on TheFrisky by a guy who was left confused by an almost-hookup with a girl who didn’t say no but didn’t exactly seem amenable either.

Flashing as flirty a smile as I could muster, I asked,

“Is everything okay? Are you cool with this?”

Her response wasn’t quite what I expected:

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just do what you need to do.”

This particular statement wasn’t spoken with annoyance or frustration or impatience. It also wasn’t spoken with any enthusiasm whatsoever. It was the most matter-of-fact, emotionless comment I had ever heard from someone I was in the midst of undress with.

Awhile ago, I also heard about an incident between two people I know. There was alcohol consumed and some hooking-up done. Later though, the accounts varied. The girl says that she was taken advantage of. The guy says that she was perfectly conscious and never once stopped him or said no. The girl says a combination of inebriation and shock worked against her.

And a few years ago, I was in a steady relationship with someone who wanted to go much farther and faster than I was comfortable. It caused a lot of problems for us. From the outside, it’s easy to say, “He was a jerk. You should have left him then.” But what makes it so difficult is that these moments don’t occur all the time. In a relationship, there are good moments of shared intimacy, laughter, fun and even love. And bedroom conflicts tend to get categorized with all other things that couples argue about. In this case, I gave in a lot of the times just to keep the peace. Those were the times when my Okays were really Nos.

In a more recent relationship, I was shocked to hear my partner tell me, that he felt he couldn’t always say No to me. It was a conversation that changed our relationship. I never felt comfortable around him again, always worrying that I might be unknowingly transgressing into predatory behavior that men are usually accused of. It opened a whole new dimension to an already complex issue. What about those times when a guy wants to say No? Is this solely a female prerogative?

Interestingly, the same morning that I read TheFrisky article that got me thinking, also brought me this other study by PsychCentral that talks about how people routinely keep up small deceptions in relationships. Ordinarily, much of these gets written off as compromises that one makes in a relationship. When there’s tension and bad blood, you can bet it infects everything in the relationship. Routine adjustments that we make everyday suddenly seem like severe compromises. And since sex isn’t something you can separate from the rest of the relationship, the murky depths suddenly fall into focus. The already grey area of relationship interactions is further complicated by the extreme intimacy and thus awkwardness, shyness and silence that couples and individuals maintain over sex.

And finally, as Indians I think we’re already experiencing the consequences of being caught between the devil and the deep sea. On one side, a repressive social structure that doesn’t allow us to even think about these things. On the other, an increasingly bigger-better-faster-more global village where we’ve access to ideas, actions, social systems and behaviors that require us to be prepared with these notions.

I carried a fair bit of guilt for a long time simply over being physically intimate, a fact that I think the guy used against me when he told me that this was  road of no return. Even today, a lot of Indians believe in virginity, rape victim blame and condemning the sexually active as ‘promiscuous’.

All the above mentioned relationships ended and on sour notes, ranging from acrimonious break-ups to a loss of job in one case. It’s serious enough for us to need to talk about this. I don’t really have an answer. Realistically, how do we protect ourselves, first from unwelcome encounters and second from falling victim to misunderstood intentions?

A World Of Pain

A thick sheet of plastic over a boiling cauldron of black, festering poison. That’s me. A year – that’s how long it takes to grow this.

I’ve been in a strange mood all month. I lost the entire month of February, being unwell, asleep and drifting in disoriented confusion through questions like,

“What are you going to do next?”

I don’t know and I don’t even know to explain how or why that is the case. Having been a burning force of desire all my life – bottomless want for a goal, an object, a person’s affections, an intangible like attention – has driven me and taken me to achievement as well as over the disappointment of not achieving. Now, I just feel empty. Desireless is dead, as far as I’m concerned.

But today somebody asked me, in a way that I had to answer because I knew the answer and I couldn’t lie,

“How are you?”

And all at once that non-biodegradable, suffocating sheet of plastic formed a little hole and a stream of blackish hurt came oozing out. I talked and talked. And he replied, stopping only when he saw a tear ooze out of my right eye. So I continued talking.

I’m so angry. I’m so, so angry.

I’m angry at myself for having being compassionate and kind and loving to somebody who only treated me with condescension, hostility and cruelty. I’m angry at the utter coldness that must have fueled this big tamasha that was done only to buy my silence for a few months more. I’m angry at the sheer viciousness that plotted setting me up in order to dump me publicly in the most humiliating, debilitating way possible.

I’m raging at so-called friends who shut me up by lecturing me on dignified silences, on the crassness of public whining and the censorship of my writing. I’m burning at the faceless groups of people who banded together with him, making my utter humiliation complete.

I’m seething at the roles of strength and endurance and patience and forgiveness and maturity that I’ve been forced into playing. I’m screaming at the gag orders, the handcuffs, the closed doors on and to my pain and expression.

I’m bursting with shame and indignation and fury at the thought of him speaking for women’s rights, against violence towards women, against homophobia. I’m biting on my tongue and choking back the bile when I hear about the accolades that his art gets when he performs ideas that I fought to bring into his consciousness, even words that were mine that he’s mouthing. So shamelessly. So remorselessly. So much without a conscience.

I’m beaten into submission by the sheer irony of life. A year to the day, he’s out celebrating accolades for something I first pushed him into pursuing. And surprise, surprise – it’s an event in honour of Women’s Rights. Life, you make me want to slit my wrists right now.

Is there no justice in the world? And if there isn’t, damn you for wanting me to crusade but only politely, for wanting me to champion causes being hypocritically championed by such offenders, for wanting me to be the Stepfordian crusader even as I bleed. Damn every single one of you.

I am in a world of pain, that’s how I am.

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