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Things that matter

Writing about anything and everything that matters to me.

Month

February 2017

SLUT!

Hello people of the internet.

Let’s stop slut shaming women who have sex.
Stop writing things like “what a hoe man.”
Stop calling her reaction and worry as “sympathy seeking” because thanks to assholes and judgmental people like you, SHE WAS VERY SCARED.

MAYBE you need to start TALKING about sex. And condoms. And abortion.
TALK.
If you’re a parent or an elder sibling, teach the young ones.
If you’re working for some school or can bring some change, DO IT.

Suicides ARE NOT a joke. If a person is traumatized enough to kill herself instead of seeking help, YOU AS A PART OF THE SOCIETY NEED TO UNDERSTAND YOU’RE WRONG AND NEED TO CHANGE.

Also. All the idiots who told me I’m supporting “unprotected sex”, I’m not. -_-Have safe sex. Don’t have sex. Have kids. Don’t have kids. Just stop dictating things and try to help.

Abortions are scary and thanks to the society it is scarier.

MAKE PEOPLE AWARE AND DON’T JUDGE. KTHANKSBYE.

#YESALLWOMEN

1. When I was 6, I took part in some competition and the photographer for the same was asked to prepare a portfolio. While changing my clothes, he pressed my chest area and told me to call them booboos.
2. When I was 10, while playing in the park, a random man came and told me I look sexy and that he watches me every day there.
3. When I was 11, a friend’s elder brother wanted to play “rape games” as a part of the chor police regime. The idea was to have a woman grabbed and pushed till the good cop comes and saves her.
4. When I was 13, my “boyfriend” thought it was his right to shove his tongue down my throat so I can have my first “kiss”.
5. When I was 16, a man in the metro stood way too close and sang “tere masst masst do nain”. I freaked out and deboarded. He followed me till I reached home.
6. When I was 18, a date thought my opinions were a turn off and if I shut up and listen to him, my life would be better. To prove his point, he thought “choking” me while making out would be hot even when asked to stop.
7. When I was 19, a man in the very crowded blue line metro pressed his erect penis against my butt. When asked to move he apologized and moved a little. After five minutes, his hand slid up to my front and he groped me. Whatever happened after that, three people asked me why I was in the general coach and not the reserved one.
8. Same year, while in a new city, an auto wala took me to a random street and was masturbating while driving. Once I realised this, I asked him to stop, left the area but realized that he was following me.
9. Last week, while sitting in central park, a random man walked up and told me I look hot. And I was scared. Not flattered, scared.

All these incidents are real.
I haven’t even included the daily stares or the comment karna or whistling.
I haven’t included the horrific incidents I’ve heard from my friends and family.
I haven’t exaggerated anything.
I haven’t included the blatant sexism or the online harassment I’ve dealt with.

The point of listing all these is definitely not being the “victim”. I want you all to understand that when somebody is talking about harassment, it isn’t a joke. I remember all of these and so many other things VERY clearly. So when I say they scar people forever, they really do.
Since this justification was oh so important for most of the ignorant people who were shouting about “not all men”, here. I don’t care if all men aren’t rapists or sexists. I really don’t care. Because THAT IS NOT THE POINT. But you need to get out of your privilege bubble and LISTEN to people who are talking about these things.
Because as a woman, I AM SCARED TO DO SO MANY THINGS THAT I REALLY WANT TO.
The fear is real.
Just like most of the incidents.

WAKE THE FUCK UP, PEOPLE.

#YesAllWomen

(P.S. I urge all women to talk about their experiences out loud because you deserve to be heard. I understand talking is not the only solution but it is a start. Also, anybody who wants to share or discuss this not online but with somebody, I am here to listen. 🙂
And please don’t ask me what I did to “save” myself later or what happened in most of these cases. Thank you.)

Mother

My mother moved to Delhi right after she got married, around 25 years of north Indian lifestyle changed her a lot. She’s still the Saurashtrain chick who left Gujarat but obviously has a Punjabi flavor in her now. The difference is clear in her dialect, ways of cooking and so much more.
She has gotten used to talking in hindi. So even when many of our relatives talk in Gujarati she prefers hindi conversations.
My grandparents had many transfers, but they finally settled in Surendranagar. So for my mother, Surendranagar is the place most of her childhood and youth memories revolve around. It is the place my mother met her best friend, it is also the place she met my father for the first time.
Going to the same house that she remembered as “Amidrishti”, one could see the excitement and love in her eyes. She remembers going to school on a cycle. She remembers the paan waala mod. She also remembers the kuldevi mandir visits. She remembers the saree bhandar, she remembers almost every happy sad memory of her childhood. One of the weirdest things is to see your mother revisit her childhood and youth because you can’t imagine her being young and stupid.
My mother’s accent, language preference and mood, all changed as soon as we reached Surendranagar. Even though my mother is not the sentimental emotional kinds (explains why the wave of nostalgia calmed her down and didn’t make her cry), I rarely see my mother so peaceful.
My father, who lived around her house for a while before they got married, remembered everything. It was so clear that 25 years of marriage and love isn’t always apparent but in moments like these you see how they remember everything about each other, they’ve literally seen each other grow up.
For my mother, her roots remind her of the place she rose from. The struggles they faced and lived through. There are rare moments she talks about her childhood and tells us about the communal violence, or the love she got from everybody because she was smart and pretty or how she woke up at 4 am to study but always slept again because it was too cold or she didn’t want to study.
My relationship with my mother is very complicated and strange. We’ve always called each other frigid, emotionless, selfish women but then again, we love each other. And even when there are so many differences, it was beautiful seeing her feel young and emotional again.
It makes you wonder how difficult it is to leave a place you identify as home, it took her twenty years to come back to this place.

Twenty years to reach back home.

Parents wrong sometimes

My mother always keeps raving about how safe Gujarat is, especially Ahmedabad. This has always been her number one argument to why we have deadlines at home or why all of us should move to Ahmedabad. At some level even I believed that maybe Gujarat is safer than Delhi which is infamous for all the crimes, especially against women.
I visited my aunts and uncles (all in Gujarat) after around eleven years. Meeting my younger cousins, I had assumed that they have an amazing life here in Ahmedabad because they can all be out till 2 am without any issues (according to my mother). Loving the idea of partying with my cousins, I asked them about places in Ahmedabad they go to at night. Both my 23 year old sister and 16 year old sister told me that their parents don’t “allow” them to go out for such “useless” things.
More than safety, the concern is of the parental control in the lives of children. I have a strained relationship with my own parents because of this issue but the reason these people fail to actually talk about anything with their parents is the idea that every argument is “disrespectful”. I have always wondered why these conversations are avoided and why people don’t even consider this issue important enough to talk about.

1. Talk about toxic parenting. It is an issue and we’re raising rebels without a cause who have been emotionally manipulated from a young age. Believe it or not, these things shape the lives you lead.

2. Physical violence is not the only form of violence that demands attention. If parents use “love” as a weapon to silence the child, it is emotional abuse.

3. Stop making “obey your parents” a thing.

4. Freedom is a basic right, not a privilege that is “earned”.

5. If your child is old enough to vote, they’re old enough to make certain descions too.

6. Having constructive arguments at home is important.

7. Respect is not equal to full mindless submission.

8. The point is not to make the parent the bad one and make stupid life choices that damage your relationship with the world and them.

9. All “I hate my parents” are not teenage tantrums.

10. Hating your parents because they don’t accept your gender identity or sexual orientation or career decisions or anything, IS REAL AND ALRIGHT.

All said and done, don’t take your parents for granted. Love them and let them love you. But let’s make a conversation with your parents a normal thing where you can actually TALK.

Reminders

1. You deserve happiness. All of it.
2. All things are not your fault. Sometimes things don’t work out, some things aren’t meant to be, you’re allowed to make mistakes. Let it go.
3. You don’t need to fit in the societal ideal of beautiful to be beautiful. YOU are beautiful.
4. Don’t be somebody’s “pretty girl” because you’re so much more than just pretty.
5. Your radiance can light up the entire sky, believe me.
6. It is okay to let alcohol swim in your veins at 3 am while you’re sitting alone and wondering why you feel the way you do and why nothing seems to fill in the void in your heart. It is okay to scream and cry and throw things.
7. Sometimes, love will not last forever. Sometimes, the one you love will not love you back. Sometimes, the one that sets your soul on fire will be cold as ice. Sometimes, you will face rejection. Sometimes, you will see love fading away. It happens. But don’t let this stop you from loving. Love, proclaim your love, let love be there for you.
8. Do not romanticize the pain, the sadness and the loneliness. Don’t romanticize broken hearts. Don’t romanticize the feelings that let you destroy yourself for somebody else.
9. I know it is hard and sometimes seems to be impossible, but, love yourself. It doesn’t matter what you look like or what you’re currently feeling or how somebody you trusted and loved left and made you feel. Love yourself. Don’t bring others down to feel better about yourself.
10. It is okay to question your sexuality and gender. It is okay to not choose a “side”. It is okay to be yourself. Don’t let your genitals define you.
11. Be afraid but don’t let fear control you.
12. Tell your friends you love them. Because lovers come and go. Friends are there for you, forever.
13. Believe in yourself. You’ll be fine. You live your life. You don’t know what life is and what will happen in future and it is fine. You’ll be fine. Live your life enough to be sure that you’re living with no regrets. Kiss people. Try new things. Be dramatic. Do whatever you think will help you love and be yourself. Live.
~ 13 things I preach but wish to incorporate in my life.

Sadness

The alarm goes off, you don’t want to get up. You sleep more for a while. Think about the things you “need to do” and get up anyway. You wear the same old clothes skip breakfast because you’re late, shut your mind off because your own thoughts distract you.
All you think about is getting back to your bed because you’re tired. Physically, maybe not. Sleeping for 12 hours doesn’t change anything but you haven’t been able to sleep for that long in so long. Maybe this is the worst kind of tired because all you want is to slip back to thoughtless pits where you don’t know what is happening.
But you keep looking for something to look forward to and nothing makes sense to you anymore because all the TV shows or books you liked don’t give you pleasure anymore and going out seems useless too. But there are times your friends say something and you smile but as soon as that moment passes, so does the happiness. Nothing changes.
People keep telling you how it could’ve been worse. So you think about the better things like that one person who loves you or how your parents are sometimes proud of you or how you’ll receive the shoes you ordered in a day. But these thoughts don’t make you feel any better because you’re numb. And this numbness is always translated to ungratefulness. “Such a bitch for not acknowledging her privilege and crying all the time”.

You feel worse for complaining ALL THE TIME. You always turn down invitations because you don’t want to make plans, always force your laughter, always attend enough number of events to make people believe you’re okay. But this doesn’t help because you didn’t CHOOSE to be sad. You wouldn’t choose to be unhappy and hopeless and so numb all the time.
You believe there is only one way to push the sadness away. Purpose, a successful relationship, money or friends. But you can’t find purpose of you’re in bed all the time. You can’t find love if you feel too worn out to meet new people. The sadness gives birth to more sadness and you’re stuck in the loop.
Maybe some day the sadness will go away, but I know. I know, it will always come back.

Feminism is so stupid. (JK)

A lot of people complain about the misguided “feminists” and the “reverse sexism” this leads to. Most of the social movements that demand change have a group of haters who don’t intend to make things worse but don’t want to be an ally simply because they don’t agree to some things done by some people.
To cut out the arbitrariness, let’s talk about feminism. Even though we have a group of people who want to Shun the patriarchal ideology that obviously suppresses both men and women while completely forgetting other possible gender identities, most people want to stand for “equality” and not feminism.
I don’t agree to a lot of things many people do in the name of feminism, but at the same time invalidating an entire struggle just shows how little you care when the issue is not about you.
Here’s the thing, your support should not be based on whether or not an individual is nice to you. Movements like feminism and black lives matter (etc) are about ensuring basic human rights for everybody, it is about the equal rights.
Being an ally or a supporter is about the movement and not about how polite the supporters are to you. IMG_20161103_144927.jpg

AM I PRETTY?

 

Looks,appearance,clothes,size and all these peripheral things hold immense importance in this day and age and affect each one of us,knowingly or unknowingly.From birth we see beauty ideals on TV and in our toys and thus start considering it ‘normal’.[

For example,Barbies. Many young girls believe that every normal girl looks like the doll,that the Barbie figure and skin are imperative.These perceptions form unknowingly.

 

How many of us have complained about our size, looked at the mirror and seen an ugly person stare back? At least I have.I was reading about ‘ugliest woman on earth’.She is anorexic. When she was 12,somebody called her ‘too fat to exist’,and that changed her. One small comment spoiled this woman’s entire life. She can never be okay,never truly live. It’s saddening to see young people ‘striving for the perfect body’. Wasn’t childhood the period of innocence when all we cared about was what to play and eat?

Media plays a major role in setting up this mindset. Ads have only airbrushed photoshopped thin women and muscular men,and when we look at them and compare, we realize we look different,not “desirable”,perhaps. We have constructed some unwritten norms about the way a person should look,what is ‘attractive’ and what is ‘ugly’.

 

So what is body image? ‘Body image is the picture we have of our bodies at rest or in motion at any moment. It is from internal sensations,postural changes,contact with outside objects and people,and our emotional experiences and fantasies’ (Freedman 1998, Salkin 1973). According to Hutchinson (1985), body image includes feelings,attitudes,and beliefs about our bodies. Basically,it is what we think of ourselves and what image of self we have in our minds.

Symmetrical features,voluminous hair,long neck,busty and voluptuous or totally skinny girls are what media projects as beautiful.All the airbrushed models give complexes to women, young and old alike.One in four adolescent girls have admitted that they follow a diet.For young men; tall,dusky,handsome and strong,groomed the ideal. However,these pressures are mostly linked to depression in case of women because of the constant ‘need to look sexy’.

While the media portrays this image of perfection,we feel the need to conform to it and every time we see ourselves in the mirror, all we see is our imperfections staring back. We are too fat,too thin,too dark,too short or too anything that is not perfect.

But who gets to decide what a “good” body is? The very flesh and blood you occupy is a social construction. Does body image issue depend on our gender? Yes.

We become aware of our looks and compare ourselves to others from a very young age.

Children (2-12):

By the age of two,a child has a clear sense of ‘me’.They start recognizing themselves in pictures and in the mirror while developing a sense of pride and shame. By four,they are able to compare themselves to others.By eight, the child can compare the self to all the peer members and they start evaluating themselves in four categories: Academic,Social,Athletic and Appearance.

In the age group of four to six,the child starts thinking about their weight and shape.They also understand the social rejection to ‘fat’, are concerned about their clothes and hair.The kids in this age group want to ‘grow up’ and their sense of grown up life is seen from their TV shows and toys.Girls desire to be thin and have long hair like their barbies.The boys aspire to be muscular like their action figures.Recent studies reveal that roughly 50% of children in the age group of six to twelve are dissatisfied with their bodies.

Children are influenced by parental comments,toys,peers too. There is a concurrent relationship between these factors and body image.Take media, for example,We see in films how thin women are always attractive and muscular men are desirable.Generally the unattractive characters are fat or underweight and unintelligent and antisocial.The peer in this age generally have a negative effect on the child’s self-esteem.The parents also tend to unintentionally affect a child’s perception towards food by controlling the eating habits and making the child believe that fat is bad.

Obese kids are more dissatisfied with their bodies and have established anti fat biases because of the society.Children as young as 4,refuse to choose a chubby friend.This being particularly dangerous because young children may grow up feeling constantly excluded. The only way to protect young children is teaching them autonomy,to reject the thin ideal and learn that the images projected are not always real.

 

Adolescence (13-19):

Girls-

Adolescence is the period when hormonal and physical changes occur.Around 70% of the girls want to be thinner as they think it will make their life better.Larger girls are more dissatisfied. This is when most of the girls start fasting,dieting and using laxatives. Many girls even take the drastic step of getting surgeries.Such dissatisfaction harms them both physically and mentally. The most common disorders in such a condition are Anorexia and Bulimia.

Physical changes include acne,increased hair growth,breast growth,widening of hips and menstruation. Due to manifold physical changes,there are many emotions that a girl struggles with. Joy,fear and shame;all occur simultaneously.There is also a consistent need to ‘fit’ in and there is a fear of having no control over their body. Peer acceptance is very important too.The body image stabilizes over time and they feel comfortable in their own skin.

Boys-

Most of the boys prefer being ‘lean and muscular’,influenced by the media.Boys suffer from ‘reverse anorexia’.They might end up using protein supplements or exercising excessively. The pubertal development is generally positive for them as they move closer to the societal ideal of ‘perfection’. However,some boys might hit pubery later than their peer members and this may create a problem. Thinking that they’re ‘weaker’ than their friends makes them feel insufficient. Such dissatisfaction may lead to alcoholism,using steroids, and aggression.

In many surveys it has been found that most of the boys have a positive body image or are neutral. The stigma against fat and underweight people persists. Girls are more dissatisfied than boys.

 

Adulthood (19 onwards)

It is only recently that researchers started focusing on adulthood. The general pattern of growth shows that in adulthood,we gain weight,have saggy skin.

There is a social pressure to maintain youth,especially on women,the reason cosmetic industry survives. Wykes and Gunter claimed that young and white women were attractive and old women were asexual and depressed,according to the media.

While all old women are shown in a bad light,old men(fifties) are still ‘sexy’ and have young women swooning over them (eg: George Clooney). But even the men suffer ridicule at seventy,they are incompetent and pathetic.

 

 

Contrary to what media shows,in reality, women are more satisfied with their body image when they are sixty(and more).Research shows that women in the age group of sixteen to sixty three are mostly dissatisfied with their bodies.In eighties,women are more satisfied because old age makes them more realistic. As women grow older,they realize that looks don’t matter. It was also found that their role models are age appropriate. As women are older instead of believing that they don’t look good enough,they think that they ‘look good for their age’. Such realism is positive for their body and self-image.They also don’t have appearance anxiety and the only reason they want to lose weight is for health reasons.Surprisingly,women in old age are more satisfied than the men.

Men in fifties want to be slimmer and look younger.But this dissatisfaction is lost once they reach their sixties. After their sixtieth birthday,men are satisfied with their bodies and believe that they are good looking.

 

 

But,so what,right?

From the age of four we see our body ideals in front of us and want to conform.Changing the societal ideals is not very easy but it is never too late to take a first step.

We need media literacy to let our children know that whatever media shows is not always true. Advertisements generally Photoshop/airbrush the images and nobody is perfect.

We need to encourage body positivity movements and make people realize that everybody is beautiful and size doesn’t matter.

Media needs to break the stereotypes and take the first step towards a big movement that shuns societal ideals.

 

Remember,we should not want to be the same as others and we should not want others to be the same as us.We should glow and shine in all of our differences,flaunt them fabulously for all to see.We need not conform.

Don’t be ideal,be you.

Your relationship is not normal

AN ABUSIVE PARTNER DOESN’T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THEIR ANGER; THEY HAVE A PROBLEM WITH YOUR ANGER.
Being angry in a relationship is a basic right. In the conventional ideal relationship, ideals that are mostly imposed on women, your voice shouldn’t rise and your blood shouldn’t boil. The privilege of rage is reserved for the man mostly. Your outbursts are jammed down your throat by “declaring” that you’re crazy, insane. Then the anger is easily used against you to prove what an irrational person you are.
Abuse can make you feel stupid, insane and crazy.
You may develop physical or emotional reactions to swallowing your anger, such as depression, nightmares, emotional numbing, or sleeping problems, which your partner may use as an excuse to belittle you further or make you feel crazy.
There are no easy answers. “But your partner is so mean”, I know but they’ve been good to me. “They do it because you don’t react”, but I react and assert myself many times. “Leave, you deserve better”, but I can’t. Their friends get involved, relatives get involved and make a sorry spectacle out of them, and you feel bad. You feel as if it was your fault and you should be more understanding.
Being in and out of relationships and seeing the relationship dynamics around me has made me realise that what people see is just what they believe. It is very easy and convenient for the people to label the “louder” one as the abuser or to victimise the woman or the “weaker looking”. Most relationships are destroyed because of unsolicited opinions and most abusive relationships survive because the “public” makes you look crazy otherwise.
The emotional trauma changes you as a person. It has long lasting effects. Often, survivors have had their experiences denied, trivialized, or distorted. You need to say: This did happen to me. It was that bad. It was the fault & responsibility of the partner. I am innocent. Trauma is personal.
There’s a thin line between care and abuse, and there’s no official definition for it. Only the two people involved in the relationship have the right to define these things.
Emotional abuse is not limited to anger, it is also about the passive aggressive comments, checking phones, imposing trust issues and many things. What may be normal for you may aggravate your partner. So if your partner wants some privacy, trust them. Stop asking for passwords to “prove” their loyalty.
It is the little things that count.

(P.S. Without denying the presence of male emotional abuse, I personally believe that the number of women facing emotional abuse is higher, considering how easy it is to label a woman crazy and “feminazi” and insane. It is the females who have been taught to question their feelings and anger. If you have friends in a relationship, please stop asking the woman to “control her anger” because more often than not the “impressionable” mind of the partner starts believing that yes their partner is too dominant and starts victimising the self along with abusing the “angry one”)

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