C for Chivalry

Chivalry refers to the courteous behavior extended by men, especially towards women. It is a custom followed from the medieval times. Back in the day, it was easy for a man to be courteous. Women were homemakers and always had to fall back on the men to bring in food, love and security to the house.

Times have changed, and so have the equations of men and women in our society. At least in the urban jungles. Women earn their own money, drive their own cars and there is nothing for which they have to depend on the men. Men and women no longer get married to procreate. And that is where, this whole generation is confused about whether chivalry is acceptable or not.

While the women may be independent and all that, they are still trying to break through the glass ceiling when it comes to dealing with men in the real world. And because of that, most of the women find it presumptuous or even hypocritical to accept any kind of chivalry from the men. To accept a man’s offer to drop her home late at night might expose her physical vulnerability as a woman. And so the woman carries on alone, albeit unsafe. To make it in a man’s world.

Some men have been rejected and often ridiculed by women at their acts of chivalry that the men completely swear off them now. I don’t disagree with them. And I do believe there are a few good men out there.

Ladies, my point is, by accepting a ride back home (assuming you will be safe) is not a weakness on your part. It is an underlying societal menace. And anything that keeps you safe is worth it. And the men, who offer ladies their seats, open the door, pull out their chairs, you rock guys! We have a very few of your species left. Make sure to woo the girls, true chivalry and all, and spread the love around. God knows we need it.

Chivalry is Cool ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Women and (anti)feminism!

As I grow older with each passing day, I realize how difficult it is to be a woman in this world. And no, I won’t start talking about women abuse, female infanticide and bride burning – typical women abuse at the hands of men. The culprits here are the other women. Women, I see, are extreme and quick to judge other women. And hence I have come to believe that a certain part of abuse in our society goes on only because there are other women out there who are watching you move every muscle and quick to pounce on any step that seems non-committal.

Slowly, I understand how strong women have to be especially the ones who are celebrities or in limelight.
The cleavage is judged – too high (trying to act Sita), too low (they all are whores!).
The hemline of the dress – too short (why is she wearing it anyway!), too long (she’s such a matron!)
The makeup, the shoes, the career choices, the personal choices – everything!
Too many boyfriends – these girls are like that only. No moral character!
The ones that don’t disclose their personal life – As if we don’t know they are sleeping around with everyone that can help them with their careers!
The ones who loose baby fat quickly – Isn’t that SO wrong? Why do they have babies when they can’t even take care of them?
The ones who don’t – What is she even thinking? Look at her…looking like her husband’s mother!

One would think this kind of bullying existed only for the celebrated celebrities. But no sir. All of us women are made to feel like “celebrated”, albeit in a twisted way!

I have friends who work in the same company as their husbands or have similar work schedules. Yet they go home and manage the house including cooking the meals. Now, if the two people involved here are happy doing it, where’s the problem? With the other women of course. They will be quick to judge the husband, “all men are like that”, “girls have to do all the work after marriage” etc etc.
There are some like me who prefer to relax, read and write after the office hours and H is absolutely fine with it. We have a maid who cooks for us. And yet, I hear this all around, “Haaye, you don’t cook for your husband?”, “You don’t make him breakfast?”, “You don’t give him lunch?” I mean as long as my husband and I don’t have a problem with the “setting”, why are all the other women so concerned? I am termed lazy, someone who doesn’t take care of the husband too well. All by other women of course. In this case, there hasn’t been a single man who has told me this. Instead, they have told me that I am very lucky to have such a husband. I agree sir. No doubts about that. Now why can’t our women be like that?

And then there are the interminable comparisons. She does xyz, why don’t you? She doesn’t do abc, why should you? Why o why is it so difficult to understand that all of us are different in our natures and probably want different things from our lives. And hence we don’t do xyz or want to do abc. You don’t know a f***ing thing about anyone’s journey of life. How they reached where they are right now. Probably they had/not had to take some pretty tough decisions. You can’t question choices. There is no right or wrong. They are all individual prerogatives. God made us a certain way for some reason. Let’s respect that. Can we, please?

And then the unsolicited advice. Please cut us some slack ladies. If we want it, we will ask for it. Like you don’t dole out your extra cash, it would be such a relief if you stopped doing that with the stash of free advises you carry around in your secret armor and fling at unsuspecting souls. The unmarried will decide when they want to get married, the married will decide when they want to have a kid, the pregnant ladies can decide what kind of food/exercise/doctor/medicine is best for them, and parents can decide if they should have 2/3/4 or more number of kids. You know what? It might come as a shock, but no one really cares about your advice. So please. Save energy. Yours and mine.

Off late, I have this feeling over and over again, that our fight for feminism is against our own self. Against our own. Because for them, nothing is ever right. It’s either wrong or grossly wrong. May be they need to learn that my choices suit me best. It, in no way, says that if you agree with my choices, you should do the same. It means that there is a certain way of doing things that works best for me and you are happy to know that. It might/might not work for you. May be we just need to learn to appreciate the good things in our and others’ lives and just keep the not-so-good out of focus. I am not sure if that is feminism but that’s definitely a key to being happy! Let us be fabulous women and not wo(e)men!!

 

Soldiers wanted – Men who can let women be !!

I am sure all of us have seen and loved the Gillette adverts which promote the “Soldier for Women” campaign. Although its a sad thing that it has come down to this. That the whole of mankind and the womankind is sweating it out to save women all over the country from certain animal like men.
And so when I had to write about the special man in my life, I knew it had to be H.

For all the years that I have known him, I always liked the fact that he respected all women in general, and would not make any disparaging comments about any women in a way of objectification, something that I have heard most male friends/colleagues/acquaintances do. They may say that its all harmless fun but excuse me, I beg to disagree. I find it quite down market and cheap.

But there was always one area of this whole issue about women safety and eve teasing that H and I never agreed on. He always said that women should make a hue and cry about if anyone acts fresh with them. I said it was no use, since nobody comes forward even if you shout (not true now that the whole country is in a state of high alert about women safety). He said most eve teasers would get scared/feel embarrassed if shouted at in public, and might not repeat the act in future. I thought they might develop a silent grudge in their heart and become a stalker or one one of those acid-throwers. He said there was no point in being insulted and getting used to it, and then cry about it later. I always said that it was easier said than done. He probably didn’t understand a girls’ apprehension of drawing unnecessary attention towards her. And so we had our differences.

After the recent gang-rape and murder stories doing the rounds, I was asked to be at high alert at all times. I drive with my car windows all rolled up and locked, carry a pepper spray in my bag at all times, and majorly try to avoid any desolate places all by myself. And the old debate also resumed, since many a times, strange men pass some lewd comments on the road, and if I tell H about it, he doesn’t take very kindly too it. A couple of weeks back, we both were in Connaught place (C.P., New Delhi) for some work. After finishing work, we were just taking a stroll through the inner circle when a harmless looking guy crossed us. Before I could even realize what was happening, I felt a sharp pain and a moment later I realized that I had been groped. I turned back, and he was walking down the road as nonchalantly as ever. As expected of me, I just cursed and ,mouthed some expletives under my breath. H sensing something amiss questioned me and I told him what had just happened.

And the next thing was straight out a movie scene from Bollywood. H ran after that guy and pushed him on the road. He cursed him with all his expletive strength acquired in 28 years, kicked him with all his might, landed blows on his back and even slapped him. I was shivering meanwhile (And this was kind of pay back time for all the time I have been mean to the ladies who have played the damsel in distress ๐Ÿ˜› )
Anyway, during all this chaos, some 10-15 people had gathered and everybody started cursing the guy and somebody suggested he be handed over to the police. The accused guy by now had started crying and his statement had meanwhile changed from “galti se ho gya (happened by mistake)” to “sorry, aage se nahi karoonga” (sorry, will not repeat this in future)

And that day I realized that my hero did walk the talk. Someone who believes in doing the right thing. And standing up for it. I even joked about it saying that if he had done this before we were married, I might have thought he was doing this to pataao me ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜‰ (Ain’t I mean?)

I, for worse, cringed at the blatancy of it all. That a girl, in a crowded area, at 7 in the evening, walking alongside a 6 ft tall guy, and still some guy has the b***s to feel that he can get away with his monkey business. But, for the better of it, I learnt a lesson for life. Silence might be golden, but sometimes golden is not the need of the hour. Speaking out is essential. Speak up ladies. Meanwhile, let the men be the soldiers of the country who can stand up for the women with courage and integrity.

A Women’s Day with a difference!

Trust Indiblogger to come up with something unique and spectacular every time I wonder, what next? or what can be better than this? On Women’s Day this year, Indiblogger and Breakthrough came together to launch the award winning campaign “Ring the Bell” in India. It’s a call to men and boys to come forward and take action to stop violence on women.

The evening started with the special guests of the evening Sir James Bevan, KCMG, British High Commissioner, Rajan Anandan, CEO, Google India, Rahul Bose, actor and activist, Bollywood ringing the bell. There was a small talk between these corporate biggies and two rural women leaders who came forth with some real issues that they face while rehabilitating women.

Rahul Bose ringing the bell!

 

Sir James Bevan ringing the bell!
The panel discussing women reforms and issues
That’s Rajan Anandan, CEO, Google India ๐Ÿ™‚

And then came the first high point of the show, a performance by Mahabano-Mody Kotwal. It was raw and electrifying, and so much that I know that I am definitely reading the Vagina Monolouges next.;-)

 It was now time for a performance of the band “Swarathma”. Hardly anyone in the audience had heard them before. But by the end of the performance they had a fan in each of us. That the performance was rocking, hip, classy and etc. etc., is to put it subtly ๐Ÿ˜‰ H bought a CD of their album, and we have been listening to them in the car since. Trust me, they were GOOD!

Members of Swarathma band performing
That’s the whole band together, taking a bow.

The second high point of the day was a conversation between Rahul Bose, Anoop Johnson, co-founder, Indiblogger, Ryan Mendonca, advertising professional, and Advaita Kala, author and award winning script writer. The theme was “Portrayal of women in film, TV and Advertising”. It was all great, except that it was too short. With a topic like that, I had expected some disagreements between the highly opinionated participants, some fireworks, but sadly enough, that didn’t happen owing to time constraints. But it was an experience listening to these stalwarts nonetheless. (Although, ever since that evening, there is strong brouhaha over one of Rahul’s statements, and you can even check that out on the front page of today’s Delhi Times).

That’s Rahul Bose, in one of the candid moments, explaining his point!

 

The stunning Advaita Kala

 

The panel discussing “the objectfication of women”!

My day also got luckier as I got clicked with Rahul and Advaita. I even got the chance to have a little talk with her and tell her that I just loved her book. She was such a sweetheart and indulged us gracefully ๐Ÿ™‚

And just how a fitting climax should be to such a fantastic night, it was time for another international star Anushka Shankar’s performance. Although truthfully speaking, I ain’t no expert in music, and neither did I understand what ragas she was playing. But even to a novice like me, the music was enthralling and divine. Not only did she look stunningly beautiful, she played even better. You just had to see her playing the sitar, and the way her fingers coursed over the instrument. It was an experience. To cherish. Forever.

 

 

 

I am not really sure how much of it all really made sense, or if it will actually bring about any change in the whole drive for women. But nevertheless, I have to thank Indiblogger profusely who always give bloggers like us these amazing opportunities to meet our stars, engage with them, and get enough food for thought to form our opinions!

Will the Real Men please stand up?

Even as I write this, there are thousands like me and you who are out there on the streets of New Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Simla, Mumbai, Patna and various other states in India for they are angered. Nirbhaya or Damini or whatever name you want to call her with, the girl who was brutally gang raped in Delhi in a moving bus last week finally succumbed to her grave injuries today. Her death has instilled a fear in each one of us that we could be the next.

Even as her death is deeply troubling, so are some other issues that have happened since the incident.

I wrote about the gang rape just after it happened, and the article and my subsequent post on FB saw a lot of men taking offence.

They said I was attacking their gender.

Why didn’t I write about the cases where women harass men and even kill them?

That women are misusing dowry laws to take advantage of men.

A virtual reader Partha goes on to say that “Whatever has happened in Delhi is barbaric (if true and no media exaggeration)”.
Partha also says that “on one hand women always object to objectification and on the other hand they want to look sexy and wear all those revealing clothes to show off how independent they are. If men look at them or call them sexy that becomes harassment for them. If men do not look at them, those become impotent.”

I was quite mortified after hearing Abhijeet Mukherjee’s comments on young women whom he called hypocrites because they held candle light marches in the day and wore make up and went to discos at night. He also called the women “dented and painted”. A few hours (and possibly a kick in the ass) later, an apology was issued by the President’s son and the way he said “I want to withdraw my statement. It was not meant to hurt anyone’s sentiment” clearly showed how it was just a cover up and he was completely unapologetic about it. But it did give us a fair amount of idea what kind of minds are ruling our country. But then, we have known that for a pretty long time. We are not new to moral diktats from the police or the govt. like “she invited rape by dressing in a certain way”, or “by being out of the house after 9 P.M.” and so on and so forth.

But what really churned my gut was when some fellow virtual people started attacking me for my blatant article which said that โ€œanatomically having b***s doesn’t make you a real man. If you are a real man, learn to protect and respect your women. Otherwise you are just another animal. One that needs to be herded and chained and invariably killed one day.โ€

I still stand by it. And I also want to address the above questions one by one.

Attack on a gender: 

Now, I am really confused here. Are women raped by women? No. Raped by men? Yes. Who am I targeting here? Men. Isn’t LHS = RHS? What gender am I attacking? I am just stating the facts.

Itโ€™s quite sad that because of a large population of indecent, lewd, uncultured men, a whole gender is being targeted here. BUT. If you are a real man, I expect you to understand that. I didn’t expect some of you to have such shallow egos that got hurt at the mere mention of rape. Did you ever think about countless women who have to experience something as horrendous, then face police and system apathy and get on with their lives?

YOU come out of your cozy bedrooms and get real.

2) Why didn’t I read write about the cases where women have harassed women? 

Tell me, if your house was on fire, would you call up the fire extinguisher first or get your faulty plumbing fixed first?

The point I am driving at is the country and it’s women are facing an unprecedented number of sexual exploitation cases in the form of molestation rapes, gang rapes and forced prostitution. In this regard, a lot of laws have been made and maybe a handful of women misused them for their own benefit. But does that take it away from the real issue its brutality? Don’t you realize the gravity of the situation, if gangrapes start happening in the heart of the city, inside public transport ? What is the working class women supposed to do? Sit at home, to defend her honor? Not venture out of the house at all?

I did say in my article that we need the strictest punishment for the culprits. So what’s wrong with it? I still demand it and I stand by it!

And we HAVE to address and fix this issue; before we go on to amend the existing laws at a human level and not on a gender bias.

3) Mr.Partha or whoever you are:
You don’t quite believe in all the cases of women harassment that media has reported because you think that they are possibly dented and painted too like the women of this country.

You seem to be a spurned lover whose advances got a sharp reaction from a girl. Let me tell you something. The way you have the right to look at a girl (to admire or to scorn at her), the same way, the girl has an equal right to either allow your advances or put an end to it. Be man enough. Learn to take it in your stride.

If your ego is the size of a dinosaur, itโ€™s better to turn to men who will understand your signals better. May be you will never have to “prove” your (im)potency to anyone, ever again.

People like these guys have no right to tell us women what we do/don’t do right! Even if a women walks naked on the street, NO man has to right to force himself on her. We live in a civilized society, not in a jungle, where you pounce on anything that looks like a prey.

I don’t know if capital punishment is a deterrent, or chemical castration is, or efficient policing and fast track courts et al. What I do know for sure is that if all the men around us pledge to protect us, to see us as equals and not as objects of sexual gratification, this country will be a far better place to live in. Where no mother will ever have to loose a bright and brave girl like Nirbhaya at the hands of drunk and perverted men.