Feminism is a Bad Word!

Feminism ,in all its glory is essentially losing its shine.And I believe rightfully so!

If we  talk a brief walk into the history of the rise of feminism, the pioneers of it would put us to shame today. Whether it is the rise of feminism post Industrial Revolution or the demand for the right to vote through the famous Suffragette Movement, it has been the persistent effort of a few legendary and brave women who have paved the way for the future generations of women.And in an effort to ensure equality, feminism itself lost its purpose. Feminism ,mostly seen as a synonym for female militancy ,is today equated with a constructed synonym called ‘feminazi’- Yes, infamous reference to the Nazis!

While trying to ensure our ‘rights’ and ‘reservations’, feminism lost its battle with humanity.The goal was for equality and not dominance.And as they say, with rights come responsibilities, the feminism card today has backfired and how! Genuine crimes of rape and domestic harassment,of dowry and sexual violation needs the stringent of punishments.However, as we progress towards greater scientific and technological developments, the classical conditioning of the female class as the perpetual victim needs to change. The degree and brutality of a crime needs to be judged by the criminal, irrespective of his/her gender.However, in a country like India where women have been in a perennial position of suffering, violation and exploitation, have been used and misused as a license to harass people of the opposite gender.And if the discriminatory attitude of popular media and press was not enough, the onslaught of social media platforms and hunger for two minutes to fame has further motivated the ignorant onlooker to take up the law in his hand.

The observant reader would be aware of the piles of fake dowry case followed by exorbitant alimony demands have ruined the lives of men and their future prospects.The laws of consensual physical relationship, marital rape and domestic violence in India are in a nascent stage and hence very hazy.While crimes need to be dealt with an iron hand by the law, it is the duty and responsibility of the law to safeguard the rights and interests of all the citizens ,irrespective of their gender or the sympathy their gender can evoke amongst popular sentiment.

It is not the battle of the sexes. atleast not anymore.Whoever propagated the myth clearly lacked perspective.Well,after millions of years of evolution from caveman to civilised citizens, it is time we accept ,understand and probably admit that both the sexes needs to coexist (I am not going into the third gender,as it is an altogether different story and would require a separate article). And as co-partners and co-stake holders, both the genders need to be at peace with each other and amongst themselves.Yes, women are victimized,lynched,raped,molested,murdered,burnt, mutilated and along with the law, the mind too needs to be trained- trained to see the female form not just as an object of pleasure or purpose,but an object of dignity that deserves respect.No stone should be left unturned to drive home the message that violators will be sentenced to the most brutal punishments.However, what further needs to be ensured is that,only and only,the violators are punished,probably brought to the gallows.Feminists should ensure that the rest-the gentle,kind ,loving ones (there are lots) are not unjustly victimised.If that happens,it would turn to be the classic case of the kettle calling the pot black.

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The Laws of Fatal Attraction

The culmination of an article is a slow metamorphosis of thoughts, of actions observed and emotions withheld. Writing has never been a religious exercise that demanded certain words and pages at specific time intervals.Rather, it has been more like the end product of a thought that has lingered in my minds eye and is now ready to have a delivery.

We have managed to further decode the ‘once-indivisible’ atom, on the path to find a cure for AIDS and would probably colonise the Moon and Mars in a short while.However, what has defeated thinkers, philosophers, artists, writers, poets and even ordinary ,mere mortals is the whole paraphernalia around love.To this date,  people have been defeated in their quest for the questions that a broken heart leaves us with. We may pioneer in the field of genetic engineering and astrophysics, but the questions about love and longing, and the million other subsidiary emotions it evokes are still awaiting answers.

And one of the most famous yet under-researched area is the domain of unrequited love !I believe ,we humans, have a certain degree of perverse liking for misery and pain. Before you jump into defence, the perversion probably exists in the abyss of your subconscious! The quest for love at impossible place, amongst impenetrable hearts is probably a search everyone embarks on. And yet I wonder, what is it that attracts us like bees to damnation? is it the thrill of conquering the near impossible? Is the lust for the improbable a disguise of the self to elevate the esteem? or is it some kind of hormonal high  that makes it such a malaise?

The glorification of unrequited love, immortalized by popular media ,classical books and motion pictures provide a source of identification; a feeling of oneness in the experience of loss and longing. And even though it is mostly observed amongst adolescents and termed as ‘juvenile euphoria’ or a ‘crush’, it definitely can be manifested at any age. And with age, the longings can only grow deeper and darker.

to be aware that one’s pursuit for love is an exercise in futility can be self defeating.and yet, the colour of unrequited pain is not ordinary ,pale grey. the shades of such love can vary from pinkish grey ,to rosy grey and eve a vibrant glittery gray. The grief can seem surreal because the mourning is for the loss of love which was never possessed in the first place.And as realization dawns, a small part of innocence dies. The innocence that believes in true love and forever-after sheds a little skin and is replaced by worldy wise knowledge . As one learns to finally let go off things and people , a new kind of realization dawns in.Letting go off is never easy, especially if that humble heart once leap (and still does) at the sight of the object of affection.Letting go is never easy if  the deepest abyss of the mind still retains the pictures of hope you calculated in a moment of naive optimism.And yet, yet, yet, its time to let go.

Surrender ,probably , is the keyword.

Father’s Day and Gender Politics!

As Father’s Day approached, an uncle exclaimed – ” Year round I buy gifts for my family, now my family will buy gift for me – with my money !” Amidst the jest and playful banter, I realised that indeed there is something deeply hollow in a culture that ‘needs’ to reserve its dates to appreciate life and relationships . And if statistics are anything to go by , 94 million Hallmark cards were sold on Father’s Day in 2015 and the estimated profit from Father’s Day revenue is $15.5 billion in 2016. You, my reader, can do rest of the math.

While it is indeed a very kind and noble idea to engage in showing one’s love ,respect and gratitude , what is pathetically repulsive is the culture of commercialisation of relationships. Walking through the Coventry City Centre, it was quite an arduous task for me to navigate my way through the extremely seductive and inviting gift showrooms. Painted in the brightest colours and decorated with sparkling frills, each shop tried to  outdo each other in a screaming competition. With customised T-shirts, fanciest cards, gift boxes that looks more expensive then the gift itself and ofcourse,those who wanted to save the effort could buy luxurious trips, spa sessions etc. Well, again, there is indeed no harm to express your love and kind appreciation through  gifts that reflect your truest sentiments. what is essentially harmful is objectification of a Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Uncle’s Day and the lot. There ain’t anyone who does not love gifts and rightfully so but what one needs to be careful is to not lose the entire essence of such an occasion.

 

In present day capitalist economy, almost everything is in a constant pursuit of churning profits.We, as social beings, possess social identities and in order to be accepted in different social groups (family, friends, religion etc), we conform to group norms.The social identity theory is carefully manipulated by the gift and card manufacturing companies to sell us the idea that unless a celebration is ‘branded’,it probably is not a celebration worth speaking about. But if I was a parent, I would appreciate the effort of my child who baked a cake for me rather than just buy a customised cake from the poshest cake shop in town! living in a digital age, the pressure to live life is insurmountable. And on Father’s day recently, I scrolled through the profile pictures of all my contacts just to see how their father looks..well, is not it a trend today to show love by changing one’s ‘display picture’?. Instagram and Facebook are infested with Father’s day pictures and suddenly the competition has shifted to children to ‘buy’ a better father’s day than others.

 

well, the debate between have and have nots is ancient. People have spoken about less fortunate people who are not economically competent for such luxurious splurges of the rich.but again, capitalist economies are essentially characterized by the huge rich poor divide. nothing new ,right? wrong. it takes a conscientious person to think that beyond such blatant commercialisation of one’s most private relationships lies an even murkier side.

Have we ever stopped back to think, what about someone who could probably afford to buy the cake and card but do not have the ‘object of celebration’ to wish on Father’s Day? What about the millions of men who have tried relentlessly to experience the joys of fatherhood but have failed in their pursuit? In celebrating what we have, have we been way too brutal to those who are the essential ‘have-nots’?

The promotion of Father’s day with Blue, Brown and all things masculine and Mother’s Day with all things Pink,Purple and all things diabetically feminine , makes me rack my brains- is fatherhood and motherhood essentially a gendered concept? throughout my life, i have encountered people who have , albeit temporarily, donned the cap of parenthood- i grew with a father who very brilliantly slipped into the roles of a father, mother, sibling and friend ; my college lecturer who has been a pillar of constant support in all my academic , professional and romantic pursuits! The most important people in my life have transcended beyond their sexuality and gender. Like millions of single fathers, mine too made tiffin for me every morning and breakfast too. Rice , egg curry and a few pieces of the fried potato is what i essentially ate every morning because it was least time consuming. The smell of that curry still lingers in my nose and i would happily have it for the rest of my life.Period cramps were discussed in detail with the father and University applications were analysed with my lady lecturer.

To celebrate life and love is extremely important, to not be blinded by the gold dust of commercialisation is an absolute necessity. But what is the need more than a necessity is to be more humane, more sensitive and more aware of not just what we have but what the other does not or cannot have.And only then shall true humanity triumph, beyond the shackles of profit driven propaganda.

 

 

 

Loss: Sublime Affair, Is It?

For memory has a way of seeping out of the most tightly closed chambers of our heart . for a few fleeting seconds ,and then gone. The big black vacuum never gets filled again,rather its emptiness,that translates into nothingness and becomes internalised till it merges with your self.the grief over anticipated,carefully planned future joys abruptly aborted and the longings for past that never ever translated into a future.They are as much ours as are the residue in our eyes on the aftermath of teary bloodshed. Young and naïve, still in the cocoon : tragedy usually strikes when it still did not seem like a terror.Death,when descends,seems something new and dealing with death :A virginal affair. ballads on love and odes to death has been penned with equal vigour yet its only with age one deciphers the truest and humblest meaning of love, and life while death remains in a state of bleaky confusion .The loss is sudden, yet gradual event ,not  melodramatic or glamorous but yet a  metamorphosis of the soul and the body  .Life after a loss,does not seem too bad in the immediate aftermath. loss hardly seems like a threat, a change… after all the froth settles down at the bottom of life’s beaker and we come face to face with the loss of loss we are able to read cheap sympathies as attention of the cheapest class we would later detest.Loss is perpetual ,like the monotonous tick tock of a clock on a sluggish solitary midnight or the tap tap tap tap from the rusty watertap in an abandoned ruin…It is  grief which then graduates into a personal affair,that ultimately moulds and shapes. Grief needs to be  guarded fiercely, as private possessions rather acquisitions or conquests of honour,for it is the sense of loss and the idea of grief that has been instrumental in carving the finest steel .grief leads to catharsis and as the sweet ,little  world find its way to all naïvity and innocence,and as the cocoons are crushed and daggers are drawn behind  the pangs of unexplainable loneliness crawls like a serpent,threatening to choke  with its venomous bite.

Loss ,ultimately I figured out, is  a state of the mind,possession of the body – a state of illusion. Impermanence of life, and frugality of the flesh blinds ,trapped in a complex web of virtual reality ,the matrix of Maya only acts as a spoiler.And it is then that i am somewhat amazed and awestruck by the dexterity of the insignificantly humble spider,noiseless ,patient,attached yet so very detached from its web of matrix .Thus, loss, as i understand now,does not destroy .Loss is ultimately what stays, much after everyone left.

Cattle Class :Are We?

Each morning, as I dreamily open my eyes (I am sure like a million others), my hands stealthily reaches out for my most loyal and loving companion- my smart phone. It was just yesterday ,over coffee, that I had a Eureka-esque realisation that during my stay in England, my phone Pip has been my most loyal companion. Pip (also the name of the hero from  Charles Dickens Great Expectations) , too fuelled in me hopes high and mighty and hence the name!Scrolling through my newsfeed ,  the other morning , a news report of a woman being raped in an auto in Gurgaon (india)and her being infant killed failed to rouse any interest in my curious mind. . Bold headlines that spoke of how the victim carried her dead child in her arms in the Delhi metro to the hospital was also not met with any further  reaction. And as i browsed through my own profile, carefully looking at my profile picture , I smiled scanning at the host of notifications and went back to start my day.As usual. Well , if you think I am empty and hollow – think again. Ithink i am just a prototype of our hollow generation.

As I embarked on a moment of introspection, later in the day, I was filled with guilt and remorse. I hastily tried to allocate a few minutes to the story of the Indian woman who was raped – probably trying to compensate a sense of uneasy guilt and shame.I was feeling ashamed of my own ignored attitude towards the horrors of a raped woman carrying a dead child after being violated . I wondered at the lack of shock, disgust, fear, and horror.

Why did I not react to such brutality?Why did it take my phone battery to die and a moment of idle past time to register the horrific brutality of such incidence which afflicted a fellow sister? Have I become more immune to the violent world we live in? Above all, what will it take to shock the daylight out of me? When did the definition of shock and disgust really change?

and it was then when i realised that I, like millions others, have slowly lost our sensitivity. In a world where terror attacks are norm of the day rather than exception, and where women ceaselessly continue to be violated- i believe we are all in a process of slow desensitisation.The Nirbhaya rape case, that shook the conscious of an entire nation did nothing to deter the commitment of such heinous crime after that. While the internal organs of Nirbhaya had been mutilated through the use of a rod, the recent victim had to pay with the life of her infant child.is the desensitisation because of our knowledge of the apparent failure of the govt in tackling such issues?or is it because we as a generation have just learnt to shrug it of as ‘somebody else’s problem’. In both cases, there is a lack of agency and empathy and we need to acknowledge that somebody needs to bell the cat!

As a nation that has the potential of such global greatness, I hang my head in shame as my friends in Britain ask me to explain what is the entire brouhaha about ‘eating non vegetarian food’ .I struggle and stutter to answer how the meat of a particular animal have captured the imagination of the entire political class and a seemingly innocent and politically disinterested animal is now caught in the crossfire amidst the corridors of power. My personal opinion and religious affiliation, mind you, are absolutely private and not for public consumption.And it should be the same for every informed citizen. I shudder to think that as rapists turn Indian women into ‘slices of meat’ completely violating all standards of humanity , my leaders and policymakers decide to squabble about what ‘meat’ should be legalised for consumption .I am ashamed that we have a corrupted electoral process, vote banks that can be bought by distribution of cheap liquor, politicians that use religion as a brand to promote communal-ism, and above all , the growing sense of utter ndifference amongst the educated and preveliged.

Opinions of a billion people are two loud to ignore even if it is a soft whisper or murmur. The key is to not to disengage and shrug rather engage :the need of the hour is actively engage ourselves to change the obsolete political system and not necessarily through mouthing slogans or beating chests.The need is to be aware, to engage the self and be a vocal critic of the current crippled socio political climate.The key is to wake our self from our indifferent and lackadaisical attitude and  question – let not religion , caste, class dictate the choices of the educated class .Instead lets embark on a journey of enquiry  – of the self and the state of the state.

 

Jai Hind.

Whose Balance Is It Anyway?

Whether it is the nearby grocery supermarket or a high end cosmetic store , the ‘organic’ shelf usually has a tilted price tag.Just as ‘going organic’ , ‘being vegan’ etc have become buzzwords for the urban population , the very term ‘work life balance’ (WLB) has too become a much too overused word in the corporate world. Almost every organisation worth his or her salt  speaks volumes about ensuring a healthy balance for its employees and being an employee friendly place at its core. Flipping through glossy magazines (some quite reputable, some disputable!!) have led me to discover a very familiar pattern – the flag-bearers of work life balance, the sermon givers about a healthy work family domain and the chroniclers of the success stories of a successful professional and personal life – are mostly men (sometimes women) photographed in a few settings that can be again roughly categorised into

1)A sophisticated, glossy office, shining marble, expensive art work , fancy files, folders, lots of awards and certificates (doubt their authenticity) and the object of admiration smiling gaudily , transpiring his/her success story through his/her carefully manicured smile

2)An expensive mansion, happy spouse , smiling kids, wagging dog, and everything around emanating a stench of rich and prosperity.

The reader in awe, admires and aspires to attain , in his distant dream, to attain such a balance.However, i find such narratives of work life balance extremely imbalanced. The very term should be an all encompassing one, an all inclusive one.The glossy magazines, the media interviews, the whole paraphernalia revolves around the creme le da creme at the very top.

A documentation of the work life balance of those down the ladder is an absolute necessity.The struggle of the office peon walking the tightrope between juggling his 9-5 job, surviving the everyday struggles of travelling long hours to work ,the rising prices of food and poor job satisfaction levels. A study of the conflicts faced by the office cleaner who sweeps the office floors marbles and tiles sparkling before the ladies and gentleman can walk through them in their Gucci and Manholo Blahniks , her concerns about childcare, social support and emotional well being needs to be accounted. A balance in the study of the various concerns that impact employees personal and professional domains by researchers, academicians and the popular media is essential so that the term ‘work-life balance’ do not simply cater to the elite few. The abuse of the term to propagate the success stories of a handful of female CEOs in the country (mostly female) does not in any way empower the millions of Indian women toiling in the scorching summer in the agricultural field , often ending up being malnourished, unpaid and probably widows of farmers, women in the unorganised service sectors like domestic help, prostitution or even  transgenders deserve as much of an work and life balance as the HR executive in a sharp pant and shirt.The term should not be inclusive only to men who have made it to the very top, it needs to create an engaging narrative about the struggles of the ones who have survived at the very bottom- the manual scavenger? toilet cleaner?the security guard ? the autowala?

Lastly, the term work life balance itself should be aware not to classify itself as one of the high end, exclusive and hence an expensive state of psychological equilibrium, accessible only to the Nooyis, Kochaar’s or Ambani’s,In a capitalist, consumerist society if the overall happiness index of a city, state or nation is to grow,it needs ensure each employee, across sectors and grades, is leading a holistically happy life.

So, have you had your scoop of Work-Life Balance?