Category Archives: Battle of the sexes

Good ol’ Women vs. Men pow-wow

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.

An Evolving Friendzone

Should gender matter in friendship? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself my whole life. After all, gender is a social set of rules (a construct as some call it). Some people follow the rules more vehemently than others. Rules exist to contain & direct human behaviour and almost always they make life easier for some, at the cost of others. It means our lived experiences are very different because even as we share a planet, we inhabit very different worlds.

Friendship is my favorite bond with other people. I love that it allows for affection, inspiration, companionship, shared ideas, varied experiences & just fun. It’s the relationship with the fewest rules & most flexibility to accomodate individual preferences & personalities. But the rules of being a man also dictate the rules of being a woman. So my very identity is challenged by associations with men.

I’ve seen my male friendships evolve in 15 years & it’s not just because I’ve changed. Men used to vehemently reject me unless I embraced the role of sex object/sexless punching bag. Friendship was treated like an insult, something I couldn’t fathom since men seemed to be such good friends with other men. Feminism helped me identify ‘the friendzone’ as the entitled, misogynist concept it was.

In my 30s, younger men became part of my worldview (as they became adults). They make for more meaningful friendships. We talk about about work that inspires us, love that moves us, art that touches us, experiences that pleasure us. I am an actual person & not just a service role in these associations (though yes, I sometimes fall into being ‘mommy figure/therapy person’ roles). I don’t know how much of it is because they don’t see me as a desire object because of the age difference & how much is evolving masculinity. But it’s different & I like it.

Friendships with men are still different because of their worldview. What’s changed is, friendship is possible now.

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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.

Men Who Feed Me

I had a bad relationship with food & men. Being female meant being food provider. Social rules turned to acid in my stomach. Eventually they’d pour out of my mouth as bilious words, undigested pressure. I asked shaadi boys if they could cook before their moms could ask me. No answers.

I had a boyfriend I’d meet in hipster coffeeshops that boasted antique furniture & wine lists. He introduced me to rose wine, said he was bisexual, and that it was a test. Clearly I passed. The first time I stayed over, I awoke worried. I could play the part of stylish date but the morning after? Relax, he said, I’ll make breakfast. What would he present? Silver cutlery? Obscure Swedish fish? He brought out toast covered in melted cheese, topped with raw capsicum. I hate capsicum. “Is it ok?” he asked, nervously. I took a bite. It was horrible. “Lovely” I said. There’s more to romance than taste.

A friend & I went to lunch. He placed an order that prompted me to say I was a small eater. Even for a guy with huge muscles it seemed A LOT. I smiled, remembering a college superstition that a man’s appetite is an indicator of his libido. 30min later, I realised I’d eaten all his food. He grinned. He’d heard the superstition too. He’d send me pics of his cooking when we couldn’t meet.

“Spend the day with me at home” said another date. He spent the afternoon cooking as we talked. He let me chop garlic. Come evening, I said I was hungry. The slowcooker would need another hour he said. I settled for leftover beef. When the slowcooked chicken ishtew was ready, I was still eating. It was a quiet pause after the drama of beef. As I chewed, I found the salt. The onions he shooed me out of the kitchen for so he wouldn’t have to see me cry. The garlic I’d chopped. I looked up. The cook must be fed with validation. “Perfect” I said. He’d ensure there was beef each time we met. That act of consideration sweetened the bitter words that passed between us later.

Learning to receive was a gift that opened me up to the joy & generosity of someone cooking for you – traits I never associated with men. Men & food feel more wholesome now.

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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 Thousand Apologies

After I asked women to share instances when men apologized to them, I realised something stood in the way of men and the word SORRY. I want to believe men are as rational & feeling as women and can see the damage done by not taking responsibility for their actions.



So what makes it possible for some men to get past their conditioning, to value a woman’s feelings more than the ego they’ve been taught to nurture & take responsibility for causing hurt? I asked men. The answers brought me much insight into the act of apology.

It’s a learning process for men. As girls, we’re taught to fear many things, which also means to know the price of things. Because boys are brought up without being held accountable, the idea that there are consequences doesn’t occur. By adulthood, the inequality felt by girls has become the rage of women.

The men who do care & feel (which I want to believe is most) feel hit by a ton of emotional debt. A lot of men’s answers to my question were about being apologetic, in general. Not apologising for specific actions. I realised this is a distinction many men have yet to make.

To a woman receiving this, it sounds like shame, not apology. Shame is not useful in remedying a situation. Our own conditioning makes us want to protect men from feeling this uncomfortable emotion. During great upset, it’s awful to feel compelled to take care of someone else when one is wounded, especially by that same person.

When I’m hurt by a man, I want to hear him apologize for that action. Not for existing or for being a man. It’s why I ask “What are you sorry for?” I want him to take responsibility to set things right. I do not want to take responsibility to comfort him, to teach him what his feelings mean. Because that’s not fair on me, already hurt. Because it’s exhausting. And because in most cases, my hurt goes unresolved while he assumes the situation is ‘solved’ because he said sorry.

I don’t need a thousand apologies. So what does a woman need when a man hurts her? That’s the stuff of another post. Leave your thoughts in the comments because I’m still pondering this.

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A THOUSAND APOLOGIES After I asked women to share instances when men apologized to them, I realised something stood in the way of men and the word SORRY. I want to believe men are as rational & feeling as women and can see the damage done by not taking responsibility for their actions. So what makes it possible for some men to get past their conditioning, to value a woman's feelings more than the ego they've been taught to nurture & take responsibility for causing hurt? I asked men. The answers brought me much insight into the act of apology. It's a learning process for men. As girls, we're taught to fear many things, which also means to know the price of things. Because boys are brought up without being held accountable, the idea that there are consequences doesn't occur. By adulthood, the inequality felt by girls has become the rage of women. The men who do care & feel (which I want to believe is most) feel hit by a ton of emotional debt. A lot of men's answers to my question were about being apologetic, in general. Not apologising for specific actions. I realised this is a distinction many men have yet to make. To a woman receiving this, it sounds like shame, not apology. Shame is not useful in remedying a situation. Our own conditioning makes us want to protect men from feeling this uncomfortable emotion. During great upset, it's awful to feel compelled to take care of someone else when one is wounded, especially by that same person. When I'm hurt by a man, I want to hear him apologize for that action. Not for existing or for being a man. It's why I ask "What are you sorry for?" I want him to take responsibility to set things right. I do not want to take responsibility to comfort him, to teach him what his feelings mean. Because that's not fair on me, already hurt. Because it's exhausting. And because in most cases, my hurt goes unresolved while he assumes the situation is 'solved' because he said sorry. I don't need a thousand apologies. So what does a woman need when a man hurts her? That's the stuff of another post. Leave your thoughts in the comments because I'm still pondering this. 🎶: A THOUSAND YEARS: Sting #IWear #SareeStyle

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Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

I asked women to tell me about a time a man apologised to them. Genuinely, taking responsibility for his actions/words, acknowledging damage done.



I received one story about an apology followed by remedying the situation. Another spoke about apologies becoming excuses to turn the blame onto her. One spoke of a true apology that nevertheless saw a repeat of the bad behaviour later, followed by more apologies. One said she couldn’t remember but she was sure she knew some men. If it’s so hard to think of a case, doesn’t it mean it’s too few and too little?

I received a lot of responses from women saying they had NEVER received an apology from a man and did not believe them capable of it. Which is what I want to focus on because that is the majority.

When I watched the film Thappad, I kept thinking “He didn’t apologise.” Not once. Yes, he’s a nice guy. Yes, he doesn’t do this all the time. But he did it that once and he never apologized. Everybody around colludes in ensuring he never has to. So the victim has no choice but to resort to the extreme of divorce.

Was it too much? Perhaps. Who is to blame? The person taking the action? Everyone who left them no choice? Or the person who created the issue in the first place who has still not taken action?

You cannot grant forgiveness to someone who isn’t sorry. And when forgiveness is demanded, it makes it hard to feel even empathy. An insult becomes exploitation.

Ever heard “Angrez chale gaye, sorry chod gaye”? Notice how it’s only used when uppercaste, wealthy men are called to account? Sorry is just a word in one language. But taking responsibility for oneself is universal to the act of being human.

We need to normalise men saying sorry. So many women lace their speech with “Sorry but…” apologising for existing, that it is a trope now. And so few men have apologised in their lives that most women can’t even remember a single instance. How is love, trust or respect to happen without it?

The test of a man is his willingness to take responsibility especially in a world that tells him he doesn’t have to.

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SORRY SEEMS TO BE THE HARDEST WORD I asked women to tell me about a time a man apologised to them. Genuinely, taking responsibility for his actions/words, acknowledging damage done. I received one story about an apology followed by remedying the situation. Another spoke about apologies becoming excuses to turn the blame onto her. One spoke of a true apology that nevertheless saw a repeat of the bad behaviour later, followed by more apologies. One said she couldn't remember but she was sure she knew some men. If it's so hard to think of a case, doesn't it mean it's too few and too little? I received a lot of responses from women saying they had NEVER received an apology from a man and did not believe them capable of it. Which is what I want to focus on because that is the majority. When I watched the film Thappad, I kept thinking "He didn't apologise." Not once. Yes, he's a nice guy. Yes, he doesn't do this all the time. But he did it that once and he never apologized. Everybody around colludes in ensuring he never has to. So the victim has no choice but to resort to the extreme of divorce. Was it too much? Perhaps. Who is to blame? The person taking the action? Everyone who left them no choice? Or the person who created the issue in the first place who has still not taken action? You cannot grant forgiveness to someone who isn't sorry. And when forgiveness is demanded, it makes it hard to feel even empathy. An insult becomes exploitation. Ever heard "Angrez chale gaye, sorry chod gaye"? Notice how it's only used when uppercaste, wealthy men are called to account? Sorry is just a word in one language. But taking responsibility for oneself is universal to the act of being human. We need to normalise men saying sorry. So many women lace their speech with "Sorry but…" apologising for existing, that it is a trope now. And so few men have apologised in their lives that most women can't even remember a single instance. How is love, trust or respect to happen without it? The test of a man is his willingness to take responsibility especially in a world that tells him he doesn't have to. 🎶: SORRY SEEMS TO BE THE HARDEST WORD: Elton John #theideasmithy

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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.

Bon Feminist!

Are sealions good to eat? How about sadboi trolls? Incel brodudes? Interrupting shitposters?I thought about my claim that my feminism eats these guys on toast then realised it was time to diversify my feminist palate.

Poached MRAs

Let’s start with breakfast, my favorite meal of the day. Thanks to my nighttime go-to-hell-attitude, I’ve said something that draws in that aggrieved breed called MRAs (Men’s Rights Activists), crying about how haaaaard it is to be a man. They tend to be fragile, thin-skinned, full of golden privilege that they hide. Just like an egg.

The worst kind of lockdown man is a lockdown MRA complaining about having to *gasp* clean his own house. And the easiest kind of lockdown egg is a poached egg.
Ingredients are just one egg + a cup of water. Takes under a minute to prepare & another minute to clean up, since there are no grease stains or chopping boards to wash. And it fills you up enough for a couple of hours at least.

Set a small bowl of water to boil. Work up your head of steam so you can blow off several MRAs in one go. When tiny bubbles rise, swirl water clockwise. While it’s swirling, break egg on side of cooking range (not the bowl, it rocks & breaks the egg) and drop a NOBODY CARES into your replies. Drop contents of egg into center of swirling water. The swirling motion keeps the egg white from spreading around, forms into a tiny galaxy shape. Thank you, centripetal force & MRA self-centeredness.

Time to take egg off flame & drain the water. When it looks like the water is almost gone, plop into a katori. Slightly watery but that doesn’t affect the taste & is worth it to have an unbroken yolk. It’s easier to clean than dried up yolk. Dispose off eggshells and MRA sputters with mute button.
Sprinkle a little salt on top and if it’s available, a sprig of coriander. There! In the time it took to write this, I could have poached an egg and zinged a couple of men’s rights activists. With a dash of #YesAllWomen women spice.

Mansplainer 🍆

The substantial Mansplainer is best kept for lunch. Sneak in breakfast before he tells you how waking early will make you prettier & advises you on eating based on his WhatsApp University degree & extensive Wikipedia experience.

Mansplainers are glossy on the surface because they’ve figured out how to speak to (and over) women. Their thorny selves can prick easily. Hello, 🍆. Or aubergine, brinjal, baingan, they’ll have you know. When life gives you 🍆, you haan baba & make a hack babaghanoush.

Don’t slice the tip. Mansplainers may fall apart if you castrate them (women with brains=castration to them). Hold upright, smear 1tsp cooking oil over glossy skin. As mansplainer holds forth, remember to smile. Make a shallow incision lengthwise, ask a polite question. Make 4-5 similar incisions at regular intervals as mansplainer explains your life. Still holding the tip, place him…errr, the 🍆 on an open flame. It’ll take him awhile to realise you’re roasting him. Just keep smiling.

As he starts to deflate, you’ll see the insides of 🍆 turning brown. This is the time to poke holes – in his arguments & into the 🍆. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If he gets a second wind, let him continue roasting. In the meantime, you can do these as you wait: Squeeze a lemon, throw in arguments he can’t refute. Dry roast jeera for 10sec on open pan, list your facts. Stop as he starts to sputter. When you take the 🍆 off the flame, let it & your deflated mansplainer cool for awhile.

In your blender, toss in roasted jeera, lemon juice, salt and depending on how vindictive you’re feeling, a dab of pepper or chilli powder. When things have cooled enough for glossy skin to flake off, you can slice it away. Dump his roasted insides into the blender with the rest of the ingredients. He should have given you enough material to decimate every incorrect fact, every unverified observation and the real zinger – chopped garlic and a dash of “You get so emotional!” Pairs well with parathas or khakras. Serves one smug feminist.

Sliding into Dinner

If like me, you’re prone to theatricality, man misbehaviour decimation will have drawn in suckers for punishment – the DM sliders. I’d love to joke about mini-burgers, about screenshot skewering and more. But after a day of jhaadoo-pocha-bartan-kapde & men getting in the way, it’s time to wind down. So I’ll just do my part cleaning up the digital space I inhabit and my insides that have picked up irritants through a spicy day.

Curd rice is the answer to all evils. I’m Tamilian in this one regard only where I could live in hostile conditions, suffer through unaccustomed weather, unknown languages & strange environments as long as I have a plate of thayir-sadam to eat.

Curd is set in the night with the day’s leftover milk. The best accompaniments are sundry other leftovers. Warm milk just enough to be able to dip your finger in. Pour it into a fresh container (or katoris for single serve curd portions). Add a tiny dollop of old curd to this boiled milk – 1 tbsp for 1/2 liter of milk or just enough to sit on your fingertip, for each katori. Your curd should be ready the next morning and is best kept in the fridge, ready for the night. I let the DM sliders accumulate in my inbox to be tackled together rather than have them intrude into my mood all day.

Rice can be boiled in an open saucepan till you can see the grains turn into the plump, soft rice you like to eat. While you’re waiting, report each DM slider. A little salt added to the water will go a long way in taste. And if you screenshot before you report & block, you’ll have a backup case built in case the DM slider resurfaces.

If you’re feeling upto extra effort, chop up a carrot or cucumber and toss it into the curd rice. And let your DM slider know they’re being inappropriate before reporting-blocking them. Consider it your good deed for the day.

Any spicy/savory food is good accompaniment to curd rice. Salted mangoes, pickles, leftover vegetables, residual gravy, male misbehaviour you’ve tolerated through the day. Put them together, toss them into curd rice.

Bon Appetit!

*Written for @alphabetsambar#LitLab: FoodStories.

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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.

One Of The Girls

I used to think of myself as ‘one of the boys‘, because I didn’t identify with how femininity was practised around me. I wanted to own my intelligence, my independence and strength the way I saw only boys do. I walked, talked and dressed in a close approximation of my male peers – dirty jeans, chunky boots and a loud voice steeling myself to incorporate crude speech. I didn’t get a lot of acceptance because gender roles are too deeply embedded in people’s minds. Other girls still saw me as competition for their boyfriends and the boys treated me like I was a defective female.

Once I started working, I was able to experience my personal power without having to dress it up so much. People took me seriously and held me as accountable. Through my 20s, I was able to embrace my softer side – sitting with my legs crossed, caring for my appearance, smiling over snarling, compliments instead of sarcasm. I had discovered I could be/do these without giving away my power.
Now I meet more women who practise my kind of femininity. Not the coy, simpering, bitchy-to-other-girls, defining oneself by one’s boyfriend/husband kind. But smart, independent women who don’t feel the need to hide it or tear me down. They’re also emotionally aware, not just apeing ‘maleness’. This kind of femininity is more acceptable now.

Occasionally a woman expects me to be her knight in shining armour – this is the old toxic femininity, acting helpless + expecting women to do all the work. It’s not perfect.

But I have more fulfilling conversations with other women now than I did before 30. Careers, health, poetry, architecture, sexuality and yes, men too – we talk like two humans would, not like scripts mouthed by strictly controlled prisoners.

Men, in comparison are rarely this interesting. There are exceptions but they’re a scant few. Conversations wth men often have to be ’emotionally dumbed down’. It’s tiring and not worth it when there are other more evolved humans called women.

I’ve come a long way from ‘one of the boys’. Right now I’m every bit a women’s woman. Or maybe, I’m my own person.

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ONE OF THE GIRLS I used to think of myself as 'one of the boys', because I didn't identify with how femininity was practised around me. I wanted to own my intelligence, my independence and strength the way I saw only boys do. I walked, talked and dressed in a close approximation of my male peers – dirty jeans, chunky boots and a loud voice steeling myself to incorporate crude speech. I didn't get a lot of acceptance because gender roles are too deeply embedded in people's minds. Other girls still saw me as competition for their boyfriends and the boys treated me like I was a defective female. Once I started working, I was able to experience my personal power without having to dress it up so much. People took me seriously and held me as accountable. Through my 20s, I was able to embrace my softer side – sitting with my legs crossed, caring for my appearance, smiling over snarling, compliments instead of sarcasm. I had discovered I could be/do these without giving away my power. Now I meet more women who practise my kind of femininity. Not the coy, simpering, bitchy-to-other-girls, defining oneself by one's boyfriend/husband kind. But smart, independent women who don't feel the need to hide it or tear me down. They're also emotionally aware, not just apeing 'maleness'. This kind of femininity is more acceptable now. Occasionally a woman expects me to be her knight in shining armour – this is the old toxic femininity, acting helpless + expecting women to do all the work. It's not perfect. But I have more fulfilling conversations with other women now than I did before 30. Careers, health, poetry, architecture, sexuality and yes, men too – we talk like two humans would, not like scripts mouthed by strictly controlled prisoners. Men, in comparison are rarely this interesting. There are exceptions but they're a scant few. Conversations wth men often have to be 'emotionally dumbed down'. It's tiring and not worth it when there are other more evolved humans called women. I've come a long way from 'one of the boys'. Right now I'm every bit a women's woman. Or maybe, I'm my own person. #theideasmithy 🎶: RESPECT – Aretha Franklin

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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.

Different Languages, Same Alphabet

Play a game with me. Ready? Pick any one answer:

QUESTION: What do you call a guy who makes a call at 1:30AM stoned and drunk to a girl who said she was having a bad day at 11:30PM?

A. A thoughtful, considerate, caring person who is taking time off partying to help someone in need.

B. A booty call.

If you picked A, you’re either a) a guy or b) a girl who has been told by a lot of men that you’re a princess who will be looked after so long as you’re patient because all men are brave, thoughtful and here to serve you.

If you picked B, you’re a woman. You may have once been the princess detailed in A but you’ve been disappointed too many times.

Game Over.

There is a fundamental difference in how men and women construct a story based on the same sequence of events. The thing is the women who pick B are doing so based on undeniable patterns they’ve lived through. While the men who pick B are doing so, wilfully ignoring patterns they’ve themselves contributed to because it’s inconvenient. Well, maybe I’m just biased and that’s not a good thing for a game designer or a quiz maker.

I’ve had a few conversations this week with men I’m close to – articulate, thoughtful, intelligent men. One of them insists on tailoring our interactions to contract-level precision, complete with ‘Clause B states this’ style references. This is how he understands boundary-setting. He’d be appalled if I called it a loaded term like ‘tone policing’ but that’s how it feels to me. Another apologises every time he doesn’t have a solution for something I share. He thinks this is how he should be a feminist ally. I don’t know how to explain the distinction between empathy and blind agreement, between taking a stand and playing hero.

All of them say “I didn’t realise you’re waiting for me to do this.” about while also asking me to trust them. How to do this without opening myself to accusations of being controlling and mistrustful? I thought we’d agreed on this, now I’m supposed to deal with their disbelief that I’d actually expect them to follow through?

When I talk to one of them about the communication breakdown I’m having with another man, thinks that man is immature, emotionally limited and other such things. It wasn’t till I heard this denigration of the same behaviour in other men that I realised these statements were being made only to please me.

How do you talk to someone who is eager to please you but can’t hear a word of what you say? Me? I’ve screamed and yelled and raged. It is frustrating, especially when it feels deliberate. How is it possible for intelligent humans to completely miss what you’re saying? It seems like that can only happen if they’re not listening.

And yet, why does my validation and pleasing me matter so much? Please don’t comment telling me that these men want to sleep with me and will say what they have to for that. For a fact, that’s not true of some of them and I don’t care to explain how I know. Oh and also, that’s what one of them says about every other man exhibiting the exact same behaviour as himself.

All I know at the end of this frustrating set of interactions is that men and women don’t understand each other at all. It’s like we’re speaking two different languages that just happen to have the same alphabet. We’re coming away with entirely different conversations in our head. How then, can understanding happen?

Anybody? I’ll wait.

Image by MoteOo from Pixabay

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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.

Living With The Struggle

The struggle is real.

This is the struggle to see men as worthy of empathy. No, they do not make it easy. And everyone and their brother and misogyny-internalised sister collude to shame me for not feeling more empathy. Who will explain that empathy cannot be forced? That shaming and attacking only create fear and resentment, not love and trust.

I’ve been watching the Netflix series Living With Yourself and all I can think of is, so he got bored and decided to create two of himself? WOW. I’ve been part of some conversations examining my past. I’ve managed to create some objectivity and see that the monster’s actions were results of his own damaged psyche, possibly very real mental health issues. Except, how convenient – when a man is hurt or ill, he gets to violate a woman. And she gets attacked for bleeding. Again, WOW.

The rage of women works very differently from the damn-the-consequences bluster of men. It’s slow and quiet and permanent. I don’t know if I can ever go back to respecting men. I can see the men around trying and failing miserably. I can see how desperately they grasp for validation from me, for help from anybody. And I can’t bring myself to care. And without respect or caring, there can be no empathy.

Much of the time I feel peace and balance because I have a clean, tidy life that needs minimal engagement with men. That which I have to, is codified into rituals and time-bound interactions. It’s convenient and it’s temporary and shallow. What lies beyond that? Irritation, horns-honking, nails-on-chalkboard jarring irritation.

I get a number of DMs from strange men commenting on my lipstick (at posts that are about life and emotions and love) and when I can summon up the energy, all I wish is that their eyes be donated to sightless children. There’s the frequent MRA that attempts to be relevant by telling me women do this too and I can’t even be bothered with telling him he’s wrong.

What an exhausting world. This struggle is real.

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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 Work First, Fun Later 30-Something Guys

I’ve noticed a pattern in the last few men I’ve dated, echoed also in some of my male friends of similar age. They open with WORK FIRST. They’re managers, they’re artists, they’re performers, they’re entrepreneurs, they’re chefs and architects and engineers. They’re all about how what they’re doing is priority, how it’s super important and how it will always justify standing you up, keeping you in limbo and more.

Don’t get me wrong. I like ambition and drive. I enjoy focus. And these are not bad men. I can see they genuinely believe what they’re saying. They also all come with transformation stories of how they used to be XYZ and how they’re trying to be better men.

It’s just that I’ve lived this life more than a decade ago. And even back then, I didn’t have the option of prioritising one over the other. I had to be good at work. I had to fit beauty, grooming and hygiene standards. I had to be a dutiful daughter, niece, granddaughter. I had to be the razor-sharp brain, the fire-in-belly corporate shark. I had to be marriageable material. And I had to be the fun, sexy date and eventually the prize girlfriend who listened and challenged but never competed. I’ve had three major careers and several boyfriends. I couldn’t have done all that without ambition or focus.

I realised yesterday that 20-something men are commitment-phobic for different reasons from 30-something men. Men in their 20s saw women and dating as fun. It was theirs for the taking, they were out of the strictures of college and their targets were being pressured to please men (with a view of landing a husband). They saw women as a buffet. Why settle on just one when there were so many up for the grabs and when they could walk away leaving behind what they didn’t feel like continuing on their plates?

30-something men in contrast, have usually gone through a few relationships, maybe even a marriage or live-in or two. They’ve been called to account to pay bills, to answer to bosses and investors and clients. And more recently feminism has them worrying about #MeToo, about alimony payments, about pregnancy scares. It’s suddenly hit them that relationships are work, that women won’t stay mute objects and that inconvenient things will happen if they just stumble around in the blind pursuit of fun. Work in contrast is single-minded. It’s easier to chase the tangibility of career goals than live in the amorphous, ego-defeating world of human relating. So it is Work First, Fun Later.

Image by 【中文ID】愚木混株 【Instagram】cdd20 from Pixabay

They still think they get to pick one thing to do at a time and the world waits patiently till they’ve figured out whether they want to do it and how to do it. And they’re refusing to acknowledge that relationships, sex and dating were always going to involve work, hard work. The work of undoing years of brutish callousness, the work of learning to listen and care about the wishes of another person, the work of remembering that they are not the center of the universe and living with the reality that nobody, absolutely nobody has to care about them.

I can see some of them realise this in flashes and then it’s like the realisation is too big and scary to cope with. So back they go to Work First, not from pure passion but because it feels like a safer refuge than a world that demands a lot and promises nothing.

I’m trying but I’m finding it very hard to feel empathy for this man. After all ‘demands a lot and promises nothing’ has described this very man my entire life. My generation of women, we’ve lived this life for more than a decade and are reaching a point of asking whether men are worth it. We’ve also survived divorces, live-ins. And we’ve done it while juggling bully in-laws, the glass ceiling and the violent face of the male ego. So umm, yawn.

Yes, there is the fact that younger women are turning adults. And the slightly sharp 30-something man realises that all he has to do is turn his sights towards the younger woman. While the younger women today are woke-r and slightly better equipped to question patriarchy, the fact is, it’s still going to take years for them to develop the kind of resilience and strength to challenge exploitation. So on to another decade of today’s 30-something men finding a different base of prey while telling themselves they’re ‘adulting’ with their careers.

None of this has much to do with ambition or focus. And it’s got everything to do with avoiding responsibilities, a trait that isn’t particularly conducive to either ambition or focus. It’s anybody’s guess what kind of work this breed of man turns out while managing to blunder through another decade of women.

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