Sunday, September 11, 2016

Lets be the change we want to see.

This conversation is important for obvious reasons. Yes, I choose to call this a conversation, not a blog post. If this post catches you nodding in acceptance or tugs some strings in your heart, it will obviously become a conversation between my pen and your heart and I hope it does.
America or India, we have a very long way to go before we call ourselves a progressive civilisation. Globalization has helped people like me understand that the situation is just about the same everywhere. The US Presidential elections and the way Brock Turner case is turning out to be so nauseously similar to Nirbhaya are so telling of the place that women have in the society as of today. Irrespective of culture and country, when assault happens, it is so convenient to say that the woman asked for it. Nirbhaya was out for a movie with a man and Brock's victim was drunk. As if these are reasons enough to violate a woman's body in the most horrifying ways. I wouldn't wish such torture even for the perpetrator. An eye for an eye would make the entire world blind. And NO, locking up girls or asking them to not look pretty or asking them to cover up is not the solution. 
The only two definite long term solutions that I can see: 
1. Inspire more and more women to ignore judgement, accept responsibility for their own lives and live it up. Yes, there is something definitely intimidating about strong and strong / badass looking women ( Weird but true, I certainly get lesser stares at the gym since my short haircut! ) 
2. Get more men into the conversation. The kind and good men of the world (there are many) need to get vocal and dismiss their misogynistic male friends, stand up for the women in their lives, including their mothers. Understand that it is NOT okay for one parent to treat another like a doormat and the only people who can intervene are the children. If the father treats the mother like shit, stand up for her, even if it means fighting the father. If the sister is treated like shit by his brother in law, don't ask the sister to adjust for the sake of family honour. When a girl dumps your friend, don't gang up with him to call her a b****. Say NO to marital rape, domestic violence and abuse. If a friend gets assaulted, stand up for her. It is excruciating to go through abuse and unless we have more men talking about it, the world will remain where it is. Guys, your sisters, daughters and wives have the same anatomy too. Why wait until something happens to them?
The more I think about it, the more I believe EACH ONE of us is responsible in some way or the other for the mess that we have created. As women, we have either been submissive or ignorant and as both genders, we have deliberately chosen to turn a blind eye to the day to day atrocities all around us. 
We all react where there is a rape - but unless we act by making small lifestyle and mindset changes, our roads, trains and public places will remain unsafe, our girls guarded, our mothers ill-treated, our female friends touched inappropriately every single day in public transport, our DAUGHTERS and SONS molested by unknown men and paedophiles and they won't even tell us about it because 'cultured Indian families won't discuss sexual issues', our wives condescended at work because she is a woman, our country considered as one of the most unsafe places for women in the world. 
What are we going to do differently, from TODAY? 
I pledge to stand up against atrocities in my own way, whenever and wherever I see it. I pledge to bring up a good young man into the society. I pledge to impart proper sex education to my child as a responsible parent. I pledge to inspire women to stand up to themselves. I pledge to help well meaning men understand how they can help. 

Lets be the change we want to see.

P.S: This post was what triggered me to write:

Monday, January 18, 2016

Respect, Sunny!

What an amazingly strong woman! Total respect, Sunny Leone.

I happened to watch the interview this morning. Even as I was watching it, myriad of emotions engulfed me, leaving my angry and helpless in the end. I had to document this emotion so that I get enough drive in the near future to do something about it.

(For those who are unable to watch the video, here is a quick note: Bhupendra Choubey interviewed Bollywood actress Sunny Leone on CNN IBN. He presented the most misogynistic set of questions to the star who was earlier in the porn industry.)

Read on.

In a country,

that reeks of marital rape, molestation, child sex abuse and what not in every nook and corner,

-where people conveniently feign ignorance and say 'oh not in my family, we would rather choose to stay blindfolded monkeys',

-where men are absolutely devoted to their wives and wouldn't lift their heads to see another woman and yet 'Sunny Leone' remains the most googled name,

-where hypocrisy is not just a state of mind but a way of life,

-where infidelity is unheard of in one's own circles, yet statistics reveal a mind boggling number of men and women cheating,

-where generations of women are conditioned to think that only men have a sex drive and worse, do not know what it means to have an orgasm,

-where Indian porn movies 'do not exist' and such stuff is done by the 'bad' people in the West,

-where politicians hold moral high ground yet are ironically caught watching porn during work hours,

-where people debate about capital punishment for rape and yet fail to see where the root cause lies,

it is not surprising that men like Bhupendra can get away after insulting an individual with the most obnoxious set of questions on mainstream media.

I would still not blame or judge these people. The root cause of all the hypocrisy in our society, in my humble opinion, lies in the upbringing. Generations of us, especially women, have grown up to a moral conditioning that expects us to not even talk to the other gender, dress down to not attract unwanted attention, held responsible if the spouse strays, shamed if she strays. The men have it worse - they are brought up by these sexually and emotionally insecure adults. Generation after generation, hypocrisy is being passed on as a genetic rubber stamp.

In a society like India, it takes a lot of courage on a woman's part to stand up for herself. Been there, faced that. For example, when I started my travel company, I was judged left right and centre - how will your son cope? Oh, you will keep travelling all by yourself, huh? Who will take care of your family? Why do you want to do this? In the initial days, I would sometimes let these comments affect me but eventually I realised that trying anything out of the norm will certainly draw mixed reactions and I need to understand how to smile, brush off and keep moving on. The irony is that the woman is lauded if she is going 'onsite' on work, but judged when she takes a break and travel to reclaim her own space.

Considering how difficult it is to deal with these reactions and still stay strong, I can't help but admire this woman's composure through out the interview. Despite the reeking misogyny of the questions, she held her head high and answered them with total honesty and courage - something near impossible to do, especially when one is being insulted and taken for a royal ride on mainstream media. She is probably the most level headed and emotionally intelligent woman I have come across so far.

What she does for a living is her choice. What she chooses to do or how she wants to lead her life is none of anyone's business. If we can give asylum to a convicted bank robber and heroin addict and embrace him whole heartedly as 'Shantaram', why can't we accept an ex-porn star who now wants to enter mainstream cinema? If she acts badly, that's a different thing altogether.

For all those questioning her choices in life - Just ogle at her if you want to, dig her videos up in privacy and leave it at that. If you want to take the moral high ground, first do the impossible - stop watching porn today. Will you or rather, can you? Then, keep your mouth shut.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

One Angry Indian Woman

16th December.

3 years ago, this day changed the course of my life. So unfortunate that it was a horrific incident that had to put the change in me but the anger has still not died. I had sleepless nights most of January and Feb 2013 because of this. A fellow sister, judged, raped by alcoholics and thrown on the streets.

What a world are we living in? Why do we judge so much? Why do we and who are we to moral police anyone? Why is there a dearth of empathy when it costs nothing to show compassion to a fellow human?

I have to vent my anger. In a positive way. Hence this poem. This applies only to those regressive men and women who moral police and I am NOT trying to box everyone in that mould. I have come across some amazing men in my life and my life wouldn't be complete without them. I am trying to be a humanist here, more than a feminist. So I request you to read this, with empathy.
Her death should have a meaning. It should signal some change in the positive direction.

My death deserves a meaning

That fateful night, I was cowering with fear,
Holding on to my life, so much so dear,
Praying for help, pleading for mercy,
As I was being punished, for alleged heresy.

Coy, happy smiles, walking hand in hand
Turned brutally bloody in this judgemental land,
Moral monsters, policing in the dark,
Left me engulfed, in terror so stark

Woman, don't you dare, breach the rule
For your thoughts, are just for us to ridicule,
Stay wrapped up, cross your legs tight,
Don't dare to open up, even when in delight.

We are your world, we are your people,
We are your society, we render you cripple,
Live by the rule, love by the rule
Sit by the rule and stand by the rule.

Oh fellow being, can't you hear me?
I'm as human, blood and flesh as thee,
Same breed of emotions, running in my veins,
Why is it, only I should hold back the reins?

As I die here, I long for the day,
When girls like me see the light of day.
Laugh and sing, dance and love,
Without having a dagger, dangling from above.