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Baby Invisible

I hide when we make love
I hide the way refugees hide in their own country
I hide inside my body

It’s a nice body
It has the right curves, the perfect inches
It gets a part in every male fantasy that auditions it
But it leaves no room for me

He kisses me hard on the mouth
His hand reaches between my legs
This body responds on cue
It opens at the perfect angle
Makes the right sounds

All the while
I’m making space for him
Because a man
As a guest or an intruder
Is still an outsider to this body

He moves in at will
Overpowers my inside & my outside
I’m pushed into corners
Making things easier, softer,
more comfortable for him

When he finishes, I think it’s my turn
To recolonize my body
I start to reclaim my sensations
But his hand reaches for my breast
Once again the body obeys his command

So I tell myself
I will find my being in words
I’m a writer after all
But he rolls over & breathes peppermint-and-sex laced words
into my face

This question rises like a bubble to my brain
Explodes like a 100 firecrackers, bombs
It poisons my endorphin high
But he doesn’t answer because he’s asleep
He didn’t hear it because I didn’t say it

The last time he said I love you, I said why
And he said
Baby, you are wise, you are wonderful
You’re Superwoman with your red lipstick, your angry words
You’re my baby

These are his words
They leave when he does
My red lipstick smeared all over his body
What happens when he takes a bath?
Does this Superwoman run in the wash?

And this body that’s programmed to answer to his command
That responds on cue to his comments
Is just a colour-by-dots mass of cells
In his answer, in his words
I’m not me within my own body

But his hand reaches around this waist
And I’m scurrying to the crevices of my knees
Because those are places he never goes
This beautiful fantasy of his is pushing me into dark corners
And I’m a refugee, I’m hiding

Sometimes I bleed salt from my eyes
He pats my back, decides it’s PMS
And tells me it’ll be alright, baby.

Baby Invisible
That’s who I am
Hiding in the bylanes of my body
When he says


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.

Masters Of Sex: Wake Me Up When You Realise Sex Isn’t About The Man

I’m currently watching the TV series, Masters of Sex. It was the first show I began on Netflix when I first subscribed. I had to stop and move to other things that were easier. I’ve tried to come back several times and I think this time I’ll manage to finish it. I’m also reading the book that it’s based on, both versions being about the relationship between the two sex researchers Virginia Johnson and Bill Masters. The last time a show brought up so many thoughts was when I was being initiated into Cosmopolitans and Manolo Blahniks.

I think Masters of Sex in addition to taking on a very difficult subject also fell into the Season 2 trap of fizzling out after the first climax. The attempts at addressing racial discrimination, people of science against the might of money – none of these plotlines really worked. Having survived the subsequent season I have an idea why this happened.

Do we really need to know about yet another man’s daddy issues and how these are the reason (not gravity) that his organ doesn’t stand right up? Where’s the fun in labouring through yet another ponderous man trying to blame his infidelities, mansplaining, emotional stuntedness and instant gratification chasing on the people around? Bill Masters is not a likeable character and Season 2 rides on his cliched, boring, limited inner life.

This is especially striking because in the same frame is a character and storyline that’s solid gold waiting to be mined. Who is Virginia Johnson? She’s multiorgasmic, a divorcee, a single parent. Is she a gold-digger or a victim of sexual harassment? Is she brilliant or just great at faking it (and presumably convincing a qualified doctor to do so)? Is she that good in bed and if so, how? What paths led her to this place (inside her head, not just the superficial backstory she’s given)? What is her relationship with motherhood, her own reproductive system? We know her thoughts about sex and vaginas – or maybe not. Is she playing an elaborate game of agree-then-contradict to keep the interest of the one man who is her way out of a humdrum life? And why are these politics not explored better in a show that is literally about the politics of sex between two people who are studying, recording and analysing it?

The first season touched on some of these. It was also the first time since Sex & The City that I’ve seen a popular show acknowledge the

politics of the bedroom. What’s happening between Virginia and Bill is not an exception; it’s not ‘two fucked up people’ (that easy phrase that wrote off stories like Gone Girl). It is the truth of regular sex between regular people. People who are married. People who don’t love each other. People who use sex as an escape. Violent people. Traumatised people. Escapists. Survivors. People who don’t fit a box. People who can’t articulate their sexuality in a label. People who don’t know how to express love. People who are alien to the concept of human relating. People who are addicted to the endorphins. People who crave intimacy. Needy people. Distant people. Single people. Queer people. Cheating people. Religious people. People.

The third season attempted to steer us back into some of that but took the laborious route of nasty teenagers, whiny children, bored/cheating spouses and some casual lip service to current causes (race relations, queer representation). Still a whole lot of hullaballoo over a very boring, very self-obsessed, very dysfunctional barely human man. But the fourth season sees us back on the cutting edge stuff of fetishes, infidelity, traumas, ego clashes, gender politics and most importantly, how these play out in the bedroom.

I’m curious to know if my reactions are based on my gender and whether any male viewers agree with me. It’s not that men are not interesting in the context of sex. But this point of view, even this character is not new. There is nothing about this storyline that I haven’t already seen a thousand times over in popular music (both desi and international), Hollywood, gaming, poetry, books and theatre. We know the penis needs a lot of pandering and support and encouraging to function sexually. We know male dysfunctions are often psychological. We know of terms like emasculation and performance anxiety. What we don’t know is what’s going on in the female body? The vagina from whence we all came, she of the self-cleaning repute and multi-orgasmic ability – what’s up with her?

I was hoping Masters of Sex would answer questions like why are so many straight men fascinated by lesbian sex? The reverse doesn’t appear to be true with straight women salivating for gay sex. How about the overdone conversation around positions? Is there really a physiological reason that certain positions feel more powerful than others or it is just what we’ve been fed by the media and the big villain – patriarchy?

The researcher in me really, really wants to know and so does the woman.

Update: I’ve finished Season 4 and I unhappily report that it is a shameless pandering to current day political correctness. There’s a ghastly focus on gay/lesbian people and I call it ghastly because the portrayal feels so token and the ‘no conversion therapy’ message like they replaced scriptwriters with PR people.

I still do want to call out two things that really stood out for me in this show.

I loved that Season 3 addressed Margaret’s profound sense of betrayal while still feeling the need to be loyal to Barton. She even takes on the onus of the divorce by telling her daughter she was unfaithful, resulting in the daughter cutting ties with her. She takes on another unsatisfactory, demeaning relationship. And still, still Barton refuses to speak up. Which one is worse? – Outing someone or forcing someone else to suffer the punishment that would have been meted out to you? It’s not a question that the queer-friendly world I live in, likes to acknowledge. This is what I believe now. Outing a person is deplorable, an act of profound betrayal. But throwing someone else under a bus is also an act of profound betrayal. Being gay doesn’t make it okay to betray somebody. I’ve been facing this issue in a different cause (mental illness) and my stand is the same – nothing excuses a person from a basic code of respect and conduct towards other people. Your sexuality, your gender identification, your religion, your disability, your mental illnesses – none of these make it permissible to violate, abuse or harm another human being. This show was the first in recent times that appeared to at least imply this.

The other part that caught my eye was a scene with Virginia and a new male character. She rolls her eyes and says, “There it comes, the legendary XYZ charm”. It’s quite unlike her, the girl who seems oblivious to the unfairness meted out to her gender. She apologises shortly after, when said man helps her. But we also watch her crumble, bit by bit. She’s constantly being proven right and she’s constantly being attacked for it. I could so relate. All in all, for me Masters of Sex has been exactly like sex itself – so many insights, so much reflection but I’m not sure it has been worth all that.


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.


XXFactored Dec2011: Spanx, Girl Gamers, Period Jokes & Relationship Trends

December is the peak of my busybee season. So much has happened this year, as indeed, this last month.  I’m (pleasantly) surprised I managed to catch so much of good stuff online, as well.

In XX Factor news, longtime friend and well-wisher of my blogs, Meetu (also known as WOGMA) joined XX Factor as its newest guest-contributor, giving her own introduction with her first post ‘Mom-me‘.

  • Why Marriage Is A Declining Option For Modern Women‘ (via Guardian, link courtesy Gautam Ghosh)
  • Pick A Number‘: A hilarious point-scale of sexuality (via NewYorker)
  • A graph on how the sexes name colour – Do men and women really see colours that differently? Or are men just plain lazy? (via Venks)
  • The Top 10 Relationship Words That Aren’t Translatable Into English‘: Sex and the City gave us ‘La Douleur Exquise’ but who knew the deliciousness of ‘Retrouvailles’ or the sensuality of ‘Cafuné’? If you’re confounded, the article explains their meanings. (via BigThink, link courtesy Smriti Ravindra)
  • The Surprise Spanx Make-out‘: A fun read on the battle between getting help to look good & letting the world see that. (via Salon, link courtesy Lakshmi Jagad)
  • A dating site and my new project!: ‘Ten Things Men Should Never Do While Dating‘ (via LoveBeckons)
  • Biggest Relationship Trends of 2011‘: The accompanying images are more than half the fun! (via Glo)
  • She’s Got Game‘: I’m not the kind of girl gamer she talks about. But I’ve felt the same ‘You’re off your territory’ attitude in the comics section of bookstores. (via Michelle Oraa Ali, link courtesy Ashwini Mishra)
  • A way to get men to stop making those %^$ period jokes! (via RaggedTag)
  • A funny cartoon on haircuts, men and women (link courtesy BlogAdda)
* Images via Salvatore Vuono, Idea go and Paul Martin Eldridge on FreeDigitalPhotos

You can catch the links as they come in and even post your own to the XX Factor Facebook Page.


PMS: The Bogeyman’s Here!

Image via Microsoft Office

PMS: Three syllables that could rock your world. But what does this word mean? As a man, it is one of those words you never want to use to describe away women’s seemingly irrational behaviour. Unless you want to hear a very loud and shrill rant.  Or if you know the women I do, get a prompt kick in the crown jewels. For women, it is the constant irritation of dealing with pop culture and stand-up comedians love affair with PMS jokes.

But is the alternative to making crass oversimplifications, just shutting up? I think not. The fact is, in our increasingly politically correct world, we do not address some things just to pacify, well, the angry women. The women whose eyebrows go up when you mention PMS and tell you “Don’t even think about it!”

Now here’s my problem with that. Society and culture thrives on making certain topics taboo- female sexuality, periods, rape, etc.  When you cannot even talk about something openly, it provides a connotation of shame to it. How do you expect women to believe there is no shame in their being women when everything about their bodies is brushed under the carpets as ‘inappropriate’?And it is that culture that tolerates locking up women when they menstruate, treating them as social outcasts and of course dismissing them as professionals. For years, men thought women could not be involved in outdoors activities and professions because of- wait for it- menstruation!

This was fine in the world that was but it cannot be a part of the world the Modern Man seeks to build. In order to deconstruct what he has been raised to believe he needs to understand. So women can continue to be overly sensitive about words like ‘vagina‘ and ‘PMS‘ and god knows what else. But the Modern Man is not a gentleman. He is no knight in shining armour. He has little patience or indulgence for your baggage and who has been oppressing you.

The fact is, the more ‘secretive’ and ‘inappropriate’ any topic is deemed, the more power it has to dominate and repress people. So what we propose is this: rob it of its power by taking away the secretiveness. That is the key to a lot of the issues that come with the conversation on gender. It certainly is the key to this one.

And if you want, I can start. Men don’t hate talking because they think it’s a bore. Men hate talking because most women don’t really want to hear what they have to say. And ignorance breeds bigotry. Or in this case- sexism.

Mr. Garrison as a child, as seen in "Weig...

Image via Wikipedia

I will end with a quote from South Park by the delightfully offensive Mr. Garrison:

“I’m sorry, Wendy, but I don’t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die.”

Sure, you can call him a chauvinist pig. But what then? What then indeed.

Body Language

A colleague of mine from the Paris office came to visit and stayed in Mumbai for three months. We became friends and I was delighted to meet her again a year later. In conversation about the country she said she had fallen in love with, she suddenly remarked,

There are a lot of gay men in India!

I was surprised. We debated briefly on whether this could be possible. I mean, since human beings are fundamentally the same worldover, barring superficial differences of physical appearances, can something as deep-rooted as sexual orientation vary by region?

The debate petered off when it fell into the abyss of ‘Why does a person turn out to be homosexual? Heredity? Environment? A deviant childhood experience?’ Neither of us had enough information to make a call on that, and true to our analytical roles, we let it drop with a unanimous judgement of ‘Data insufficient’.

But I went back to her original assumption later and discovered that it boiled down to a laughably simple point. She said she kept noticing men all over the place with their arms slung around each other’s shoulders. At my confusion, she clarified,

In Europe, only gay men do that. Straight men never put their arms around each other that way.

It took me awhile to get over my surprise at that to tell her that it was common practice in India among men, straight or not and no one thought twice about it.

It was a telling point. Cultures vary and etiquettes differ. On one hand, the West is a lot opener about displays of affection between opposite sexes. So kissing, hugging and dancing are all regarded as normal where these would raise a few stares in most parts of this country. On the other hand, behavior between people of the same sex is rigidly demarcated in a way that it doesn’t even occur to Indians to think about.

After the above conversation, I’ve been studying how we behave with people of the same sex. There is a fair degree of physical contact between men, with the arm-around-shoulders being the most common one. A man riding pillion on a bike and scooter is at ease holding the rider by his waist or shoulders. Older brothers, fathers and authority figures express their role of ‘benevolent benefactor’ by the arm on the middle back of their protege. Friends will massage each others backs in a gesture that would seem quite erotic if they had been from opposite sexes.

Women with women are even freer. There is plenty of hugging and kissing in the more Westernized factions. And in the others, there is a lot of touching, of holding hands, of squeezing up next to, of putting heads on the other’s shoulder or lap. I’ve done it myself without thinking about it, for years on the end.

In fact the one interesting thing that came to light recently was when I realized that two women would not mind sharing a bed but a lot of men would be uncomfortable doing so. I don’t understand the reasoning behind this since the same two men would be perfectly fine with sharing their personal effects and talking about deeply intimate things that women would shy away from.

Body language is as nuanced and subjective as any of the verbal ones; possibly more since it is the one language that speaks only the absolute truth. This may be why the loose-limbed gesture that popular media often patronizes comes across as juvenile to real gay people. It could be why we occasionally blunder on the gay/straight perception divide and why ‘gaydar’ isn’t down to a precise science. And it may also point to the fact that sexuality isn’t a binary defined world (one or the other) but as fluid as our moods and passions.

Can A Straight Woman And A Lesbian Woman Be Friends?

That’s like asking if a guy and girl can have a platonic friendship, isn’t it? The question is given the possibility of a sexual/romantic connection, can a relationship exist even without it?

Okay, let me get out of the pseudo-intellectualising and go real-life. I do know some lesbians. One of them is a friend. She hasn’t actually ‘come out’ as they call it or even ‘confessed’ to me, if such a revelation can be labelled a confession (as if it were a crime and one should look shamefaced about it!).  Yet, I know. Don’t ask me  how. I’d be a terrible friend if I didn’t realise it. As it is, I’m probably not as great a friend as I ought to be if she hasn’t felt comfortable sharing the truth with me. Or perhaps it is just too personal, too precious to her to speak about it. Either way, I’m fine with it. After all, I don’t consider friendship as a permission to sit in judgement and I also don’t think that one’s orientation bears judgement by others.

So that’s as far as it goes regarding our conversations (or the lack of them) about her sexuality. However there are other things…undercurrents, emotions and grey areas. For example, how far do I go with my displays of affection? I’m a natural born hugger, I love hugging my family, friends and people I feel close to. Thus far the only complication has been with men, particularly the ones in my age bracket with whom there is/could be a a certain attraction. Like most other women, I’ve tried and tested the waters and reached a certain comfortable balance of physical promiximity with the various men in my life. Now we arrive at the new complication of having to consider the same thing with another woman as well.

Personally I believe that sexuality isn’t binary with a person being either homosexual or heterosexual (and how does that account for bisexualilty?) ; it is more like a range of shades and all of us fall somewhere along the scale. Oh perhaps we even move up and down the scale at various points in our lifetime. Note now I’m talking about orientation not actual action so for the more conservative-minded, I’m not accusing you of doing anything that could shock you. And if you follow my belief it means that each of us is capable of feeling attraction for any other human being, male or female at any point of time in our life. I’ve written about my own bi-curiosity (as Desiblogging termed it) before. I’m quite unabashed in my admiration of other women. But I find it stops right there and I have no desire (physical, hormonal or otherwise) to go any furthur than that. That in my mind is what determines my orientation and keeps me in the dating pool of male partners.

How do you distinguish the affinity and closeness that like-minded women share from sexual attraction? How far do you go with someone you think there could be a spark of attraction with? How close do you get to someone you suspect might be attracted to you?

And therein I find I’m back on the same territory as I was a few years back when I discovered the opposite sex, attraction and love. Friendship is so wonderfully simple but the hormones just come and complicate them all, don’t they?

To come back to the case in point, my lovely lady friend appears to be in a relationship as well. How do I know? No, she hasn’t mentioned that either but it is clearly visible to anyone who knows her well. I wish I could speak up and tell her how happy I am that she has found someone special. When her eyes light up at the mention of her girlfriend, I wish I could tease her and hug her in sheer glee. But I don’t.

I also wonder sometimes what her girlfriend thinks of me. Just as I wonder what the wives and girlfriends of my guy friends think of me and I walk around on eggshells until I’m totally, completely 120% sure that they have no qualms about my closeness – I wonder in this case too whether her girlfriend ever resents me or even, well, frowns a bit at our closeness. Oh well, I think not. She seems a good sort in herself and I’m guessing if I had known her before I’d have been friends with her as well.

So to answer my own question of whether it is possible for a straight and a lesbian woman to be friends. Yes, yes, I think so. After all, sexuality is physical and perhaps mental but friendship, love and loyalty come straight from the heart.

A Woman Among Men

I went out this weekend with friends in an age group ranging from 22 to 30. It was an evening well spent in the company of people who could be variously described as intelligent, witty, cute, silly and fun. And I was one of the only two women in the bunch.

Was I then ‘one of the boys’? No, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to that. Relationships, romance, love, flirtation and sex just make you view the opposite sex in a way that never quite leaves you.

Was I then flirting and being flirted with? Well, not exactly. I believe that there’s an underlying current of sex lacing every male/female conversation, irrespective of age, geography or relationship. It is after all an awareness of how the other person is different from you, in a complementary or an opposing manner (depending on a lot of other factors). But the conversation flowed easily around the table and across it jumping from movies to technology to other topics of common interest. It’s been so long that I’ve done this that I didn’t realize just how much fun it could be.

On a date or in a relationship…anytime where the situation is charged heavily by sexual electricity, I think it’s difficult to really see all aspects of a person. The attraction and all the rituals that we perform to sustain it and build it, seems to leave very little room for other things. Even in groups of people, you can tell the atmosphere is nearly crackling sparks, if its members are expressing their sexuality overtly or otherwise. All kinds of by-plays happen that overlap and occasionally conflict with each other. Emotions ride high in all directions and it’s a potentially explosive situation. Not that I’m saying that it’s a bad thing. I’ve enjoyed being a part of these for long enough and there’s much to be said for the mating dance in terms of its sheer entertainment value.

However, a different situation stands out simply because it is so different. There’s no heavy flirtation happening, no competition for attention, no charades. That’s probably true of the first few encounters of any group of people – at work, at school and college and even in social settings. However those first meetings are alternately charged with an acute curiosity about each other as well as a need to fit in or ‘impress’ the others.

This weekend party was one that had neither which is probably why I found it relaxing even in a noisy, smoky environment. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to be myself, not having to impress anyone. And alternately it was good to not have to keep judging various contenders for my attention, juggling them and playing them against each. Does that surprise anyone? Yes, I do it just as much as the next woman..or man for that matter. The party was great for not having to do any of those things.

All I was, was myself. A blogger, a twenty-something professional, an amusing conversationalist, a woman in the company of men.

Another step in being comfortable with your own sexuality is realizing that you need not use it all the time.

Birthday lessons

While on a nostalgia trip about this bunch, here’s another nugget.

It was the happiest of times and the whackiest of times. My birthday at an age when there were still ‘landmark year’ birthdays. The rowdy bunch, quite uncharacteristically nice, decided to throw me a party and do everything themselves. So here I was at 11 in the morning, sitting around in a vacant flat that belonged to someone’s uncle with a disused fax machine for company. It was a ‘come as you are since the birthday girl won’t bother dressing up’ thing.

What are we waiting for?

I demanded and was told that,

X, Y and Z are bringing the birthday cake.

X, Y and Z being my best guy friend/lurrve, best girlfriend and her boyfriend. So we twiddled thumbs awhile longer and wondered WTF are they doing, hatching eggs for the cake?

They finally put up an appearance two hours later, laden down with parcels. Gifts I hoped and I was dismayed to see plastic bags and old newspapers instead. Till they proceeded to demonstrate.

First, X dipped his hand into the plastic mess and came out with…a big carrot

Great, I murmured…what’s this….diet cake?

Just something for those long, lonely nights!!!!

replied Y with an evil grin. I sat up.

The next thing to emerge from the bag was a big cucumber with those tiny light-green spore-y things on it.

For dotted pleasure…!

said Z with a flourish.

So it continued for a few minutes. The plastic bag was dipped into and each time a new vegetable came up for inspection with a lascivious comment following. The last thing to emerge was a vile looking karela (bitter gourd) and the presentation was concluded with…

For extra friction!

And if that wasn’t enough, my birthday cake was chocolate slathered all over with vanilla icing and the words,

Happy b-day gal…beware of the white stuff!

I went off veggies for awhile after that. 🙂


The Male Mind

Maybe it isn’t a bad thing that men run the world. At least there are just two ways it can go – bad or worse.


Idea-toon:The Male Mind

Maybe it isn’t a bad thing that men run the world. At least there are just two ways it can go – bad or worse.

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