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It All Started With A Big Bang!

It’s hard being a woman. The whole multi-tasking thing is starting to fire on us in a beeg way and I have a sneaky suspicion that men are sniggering at us from behind their hands (or err, gadgets).

For starters there is the image of the modern, intelligent woman. Some slogging, plodding and hard work bring us the degrees and promotions. That ought to be enough to cement the image, right? Wrong! One must be a good conversationalist as well.

Now this being a good conversationalist business is tricky. What does it mean anyway? Be an entertainer? A good listener? A confident talker? A jocular being dropping witticisms with every eyelash flutter? And all of this while ensuring said eyelashes don’t drop into the food, lipstick doesn’t get onto teeth during self-induced laughing bouts and ‘statement jewellery’ doesn’t get entangled in the tablecloth, the waiter’s tie or the door. Flashes of skin must be accidental and with a large majority of us regular women are; only with us they take the form of embarassing wardrobe malfunctions and not the fantastical literary ‘accidental flash of skin’. Difficult indeed, being a woman.

Then there is pressure to be a good date. Yes, make no mistakes, women suffer performance anxiety too. Yes, I know there are enough of men who will turn somersaults on the tops of the incomplete Mumbai metroworks if they think they can ‘win’ the attention of a girl they find hot. But what after that? Even the most aesthetically sensitive man will tire of looking at a showpiece. Therein begins the pressure to be good-looking, well-groomed and smart.

This is particularly difficult for women like me who very reluctantly don the garb of chickdom. Dressing up nicely is about as far as we’re able to go. But after that, the same forceful opinions and loud declarations backfire. Well, they never really get us brownie points and in this case we go from being branded ‘rabid feminists’ to ‘arrogant bitches’. Whatever.

Okay, okay, time out. So how does one set aside all the high drama and clashes and conflicts? Dating must be fun too, right? Let’s see, what are the common points of interest?

Books are out for a large number of people, at least in this city. The ones who do claim to read are mostly doing it for the impression, but that’s for another rant. I set my cynicism aside and dived into a genre I thought sounded promising. Graphic Novels!

“Comics.” I am told curtly, a steely look coming into the hitherto worshipful eyes. From there it only goes downhill as I blab on a bit about Fables and Sandman before being run over by a barrage of Superman, Batman and other superhero trivia. I’m relieved I didn’t mention Spiderman (actually Spiderman Loves Mary Jane); he might have thrown something at me!

How about movies? We already know how that turns out. Television seems to offer a safer ground. Reality TV is what everyone claims to hate but secretly watches, one finger always on the remote, when they’re alone. Chicks lurrve Sex & The City, guys are maniacal about Star Wars (and sometimes FTV, or if they’ll admit it, regional channels after midnight). I am about to throw up my hands on yet another possibility when I quite inadvertently hit upon an answer.

“Sheldon Cooper. Amazing. Hmm.” I say, a dreamy look coming into my eyes. Of course that’s my weakness for condescending geekboys (cue Jupiter Jones).

“Sheldon Cooper. Indeed.” He agrees.

We look at each other over the glasses of rum (another thing we have in common..but more on that another time) and grin. And suddenly I know I’ve accidentally stumbled onto the common ground.

Why is this show so popular? Let’s see. It’s four superbrainy (and nerdy) geekboys who live next door to a dumb blonde. Well, not exactly. Only two of them actually live there, the others just keep lounging around. They sit around tossing phrases like ‘Doppler Effect’ and ‘Vector co-ordinates’ to each other, playing one-upmanship games of job importance and prowess with the ladies and slobber over the girl next door in her tiny shorts, who does *wonder of wonders* smile at them and even joins them for dinner sometimes. I can see why this appeals to the boys.

On the other hand, I don’t think Penny is actually dumb. She isn’t a brainiac like any of the boys but she’s sensible, funny, friendly and nice. Yes, she’s easy on the eyes (tele-symbolised by tiny clothes). But she doesn’t carry a diva attitude even with the salivating boys next door. What’s more, their boasting and intellectual showing-off rarely bothers her and more often than not, she’s the one who really gets what’s going on. A la ‘Boys. Will So Be Boys. Hmph‘. Heh, she’s already got our sympathies. But hang on, she doesn’t need that. That’s one girl surrounded by four guys, all smart, interested in her and willing to do everything from fix up her creaky door hinges to be guinea pigs for her cocktail waitressing. They hit on her (gently, geekboys are nice that way) but they’re nice to her. They even let themselves get roughoused by the bulldog boyfriend who hurt her. Okay, who’s the smart one now? That’s the girl we all want to be!

For all that it could seem to be about a semi sci-fi, fantasy geekboy story, The Big Bang Theory is the battle of the sexes at its finest. Four men and one woman and guess who is winning? That’s enough of ego massage for even the most rabid feminist side of me.

On that note, I’d like to thank the makers for bringing out a spectacular show and also facilitating enough of gender-common conversation for dates and more. It certainly started with a big bang!

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Not A Nice Girl

I don’t think niceness is a virtue. In fact I think all of those paragons of this insufferable attitude should be locked away in a deep, dark dungeon till all their niceness is dried away from them. Only then should they be allowed to mingle among human beings.

There are no brownie points for being nice. At work, in dating or in relationships. If you really do like the other person, then it doesn’t take an effort to be civil to them. Politeness is probably the most that’s required and that too only at work. And in non-professional relationships, the formality of being nice is an imposed distance. After all, would you keep up a pretense with a close friend? I subscribe to the come-as-you-are school of thought that says that a real friend will never burden you with inane thank yous and certainly not expect you to dress up in attire or behavior for them.

Am I advocating rudeness in non-professional, social conversations, then? Well, look at the alternative. I’d rather have someone tell me that they don’t like me or even just avoid me rather than go through the torturous rigmarole of the kind of behavior that I call ‘air-kissing’.

It started of course with an observation of the habits of those curious creatures that inhabit the third page. The pasted-on smiles, the ‘Lurrve-your-look-darrling-isn’t-that-last-year’s-dress’ attitude, the petty sniping, the honeyed words followed by poisoned actions….didn’t it just make you want to throw up? It did, me. Till I discovered that just like their clothes, the glam-set simply displayed the most ostentatious of what is otherwise common to most human beings. We’re all guilty of the soul-crime of niceness.

Oh and by the way, isn’t it interesting that the adjective ‘nice’ is more often than not appended to the female of the sex? Yup, I received those stringent lessons in Nice-Girl behaviour, same as my counterparts world over. My plaintive ‘but why?’ never got an answer and I was only told to shush up and learn to be a Nice Girl.

Nice Girls don’t protest. Nice Girls don’t talk back. Nice Girls don’t ask questions. Nice Girls are cowards.

Nice Girls don’t raise their voices. Nice Girls don’t laugh too loudly. Nice Girls are seen, not heard.

Nice Girls don’t get into fist-fights with boys. Nice Girls don’t get into scrapes with boys. Nice Girls aren’t human girls.

Nice Girls don’t swear. Nice Girls don’t drink. Nice Girls don’t smoke. Nice Girls are virgins. Nice Girls are repressed.

Nice Girls are polite. Nice Girls pay compliments. Nice Girls don’t tell you they loathe you. Nice Girls lie.

And the not-nice girl is supposed to be the vamp?????

And, don’t even get me started on those that use niceness as their most diabolical weapon, weaseling favours from others, playing on people’s guilt and stealing their approval or at least their agreement. Bloody mercenaries, I say hang them all! I’d imagine that true goodness of character comes from being, not from screaming out to the world about being good. Once it is shoved down the throat in the manner that Nice Girl behaviour seems to warrant, then it’s a compulsion, the sort of way a thug might slam you against a wall and demand that you treat him with respect.

Niceness is just the easy way out for people who don’t want to deal with the inconvenience of dislike, indifference or disrespect. Oh okay, I’ll concede, some of them aren’t all that bad. In fact I find I’m constantly having to tell friends to ‘quit bothering being nice’. This isn’t a clarion call to being boorish. But really, some of this niceness brainwashing has gone in so deep that it turns into masochism.

Just to re-iterate:

You do not have to do anything that you don’t want to. Doing something you hate, because you’re scared that the other person will feel bad is simply succumbing to emotional blackmail. Do that simply to be nice…but remember, you aren’t being nice to yourself, then.

I practise this as far as I can take it. Sure, people don’t always like the things I say (I’d hope not…they weren’t intended to make them feel good!!!) But there’s no doubting where I stand. And in my mind, any human being deserves the basic courtesy of knowing the truth. If a person can’t handle that…well, they can go get their wussiness pampered elsewhere.

* Incidently this post lay in my Drafts for a long time because I thought it wasn’t ‘nice’ enough. Someone called me a goonda recently and I almost didn’t defend myself. Almost. Because I was being too nice. Gah.

Not A Nice Girl

I don’t think niceness is a virtue. In fact I think all of those paragons of this insufferable attitude should be locked away in a deep, dark dungeon till all their niceness is dried away from them. Only then should they be allowed to mingle among human beings.

There are no brownie points for being nice. At work, in dating or in relationships. If you really do like the other person, then it doesn’t take an effort to be civil to them. Politeness is probably the most that’s required and that too only at work. And in non-professional relationships, the formality of being nice is an imposed distance. After all, would you keep up a pretense with a close friend? I subscribe to the come-as-you-are school of thought that says that a real friend will never burden you with inane thank yous and certainly not expect you to dress up in attire or behavior for them.

Am I advocating rudeness in non-professional, social conversations, then? Well, look at the alternative. I’d rather have someone tell me that they don’t like me or even just avoid me rather than go through the torturous rigmarole of the kind of behavior that I call ‘air-kissing’.

It started of course with an observation of the habits of those curious creatures that inhabit the third page. The pasted-on smiles, the ‘Lurrve-your-look-darrling-isn’t-that-last-year’s-dress’ attitude, the petty sniping, the honeyed words followed by poisoned actions….didn’t it just make you want to throw up? It did, me. Till I discovered that just like their clothes, the glam-set simply displayed the most ostentatious of what is otherwise common to most human beings. We’re all guilty of the soul-crime of niceness.

Oh and by the way, isn’t it interesting that the adjective ‘nice’ is more often than not appended to the female of the sex? Yup, I received those stringent lessons in Nice-Girl behaviour, same as my counterparts world over. My plaintive ‘but why?’ never got an answer and I was only told to shush up and learn to be a Nice Girl.

Nice Girls don’t protest. Nice Girls don’t talk back. Nice Girls don’t ask questions. Nice Girls are cowards.

Nice Girls don’t raise their voices. Nice Girls don’t laugh too loudly. Nice Girls are seen, not heard.

Nice Girls don’t get into fist-fights with boys. Nice Girls don’t get into scrapes with boys. Nice Girls aren’t human girls.

Nice Girls don’t swear. Nice Girls don’t drink. Nice Girls don’t smoke. Nice Girls are virgins. Nice Girls are repressed.

Nice Girls are polite. Nice Girls pay compliments. Nice Girls don’t tell you they loathe you. Nice Girls lie.

And the not-nice girl is supposed to be the vamp?????

And, don’t even get me started on those that use niceness as their most diabolical weapon, weaseling favours from others, playing on people’s guilt and stealing their approval or at least their agreement. Bloody mercenaries, I say hang them all! I’d imagine that true goodness of character comes from being, not from screaming out to the world about being good. Once it is shoved down the throat in the manner that Nice Girl behaviour seems to warrant, then it’s a compulsion, the sort of way a thug might slam you against a wall and demand that you treat him with respect.

Niceness is just the easy way out for people who don’t want to deal with the inconvenience of dislike, indifference or disrespect. Oh okay, I’ll concede, some of them aren’t all that bad. In fact I find I’m constantly having to tell friends to ‘quit bothering being nice’. This isn’t a clarion call to being boorish. But really, some of this niceness brainwashing has gone in so deep that it turns into masochism.

Just to re-iterate:

You do not have to do anything that you don’t want to. Doing something you hate, because you’re scared that the other person will feel bad is simply succumbing to emotional blackmail. Do that simply to be nice…but remember, you aren’t being nice to yourself, then.

I practise this as far as I can take it. Sure, people don’t always like the things I say (I’d hope not…they weren’t intended to make them feel good!!!) But there’s no doubting where I stand. And in my mind, any human being deserves the basic courtesy of knowing the truth. If a person can’t handle that…well, they can go get their wussiness pampered elsewhere.

* Incidently this post lay in my Drafts for a long time because I thought it wasn’t ‘nice’ enough. Someone called me a goonda recently and I almost didn’t defend myself. Almost. Because I was being too nice. Gah.

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