R & S – Rape & Stigma

Rape has pretty much become a word that is used in general conversations these days. All thanks to rising crime rates and the inability of the government or the police to curb it. And, of the course, the inability of the male population to control their wild untamed libido. The worst part is that most of the accused admit that the rape was not only an act of forced sex, but majorly a power play. They wanted to show the women where she belonged. As much as the society is progressing in terms of men women equality, people like these are pulling it back in the opposite direction as much.

There is another aspect of the rape phenomenon that is happening these days – the blame-the-victim game! I think it started with some moron saying that girls out on the streets past a certain time of the night were inviting troubles. And then the mockery never stopped. Someone said, it was the jeans and revealing clothes that were the cause of men raping the said women. Then someone said Mobile phones were responsible. Another one said chowmein was. A political honcho said boys tend to make mistakes. And that they should not be hanged for them. Another one said, the girls are an equal participant in the act, and hence they must be punished too. Well, to say the least, I feel disgusted. I don’t want to comment on the above remarks and give them any more attention than they have already been given.

As if raping a woman wasn’t enough to snatch away her basic right to say no, to be the way she wants to be, the society attaches all the stigma to the victim. And the accused have an easy run getting a bail, and leading a normal life.  Why does a woman who was raped and brutalized has to spend the rest of her life fighting the stigma and being called a rape victim? And the accused always gets called by his name. It is high time that the women be accorded the basic respect they deserve. The least we can do is, not to rob them off their identity for the rest of their lives and accord them a generic and very demeaning “rape victim” tag. And apart from improving the men’s mentality about women and punishing them, it is the guilty who must be referred to as a rape accused for the rest of their lives, if they are not hanged, so that they are the ones who are looked own upon, and are not allowed to lead a guilt free life after destroying someone else’s

Being a Woman…

I had done the Being a Man post long ago. And had thought about doing this post soon after. But somehow, it didn’t happen. Majorly for the reason that women are too versatile to be taken up completely under a single post. And so I never got around to it. But off late, there have been so many things happening around, things that I have gone through myself, things that my friends are going through and it doesn’t make any sense. Or is it only me? And opposed to the funny Man, this Woman is pretty serious.

There are a couple of female friends who have apparently turned a “marriageable age” according to the parents. The girls believe otherwise. They are pretty happy with their single status and no-responsibilities-for-a-while life. Quite visibly, the parents and daughter have a difference of opinion here. But what completely evades my sane mind is why the parents choose to convince the daughter of their own opinion in an almost abhorring way. And no, I am not talking about some remote village in Haryana or Rajasthan, but about parents who always instilled confidence in their daughters that they were no less than a boy, had every right to good education and were brought up to be smart, confident and financially independent girls. And suddenly, these parents wonder about the fate of their girls if they weren’t married at a ripe age. What would the society say? They purposefully make her believe that she is indeed a burden on their shoulders until she goes off to her marital home. WHY????? I am not even trying to take any sides here, because 18+ years is a valid age in our country to get married and who am I to question it. But why are the girls always shoved onto someone else as a responsibility when they can clearly be on their own very comfortably? Isn’t there a better way to make them understand the point of getting married at an age their parents deem fit? Or do the girls have no choice at all? She can do everything like a boy, and still be a responsibility? I wonder how a stranger is ever going to treat your daughter as an equal when you so visibly don’t.

Another couple of friends have that someone special in their lives, but are finding it difficult to convince their parents of the same. Now again, I wouldn’t want to start the Arranged marriage v/s Love marriage debate, as different things work for different people. But what I clearly find distasteful is the way parents want to stick to the conventional way of Arranged marriages, wherein they are made to act like the ladkiwaala whose sole job is to appease the ladkewaale’s demands. The girls of our generation have been brought up with a mindset of boy-girl equality and no dowry policy. How do the parents even think that these girls can go on and live peacefully with such guys and their parents? Even if the girl doesn’t want to get married to such a moron to defend her parents’ honor, she is not allowed to do so. After all, appeasing the groom’s family is the norm…isn’t it? We are confused. If the norm of killing the girl child at birth wasn’t followed, then surely this doesn’t need to be followed too..isn’t it? What’s the point of making her aware of her choices and then denying them? Wasn’t she better off not knowing them? Isn’t ignorance really a bliss? Are you really that desperate to get your girl off your back that you are ready to pay any amount of money and goodies to a complete stranger to make way for her into their homes and lives?

I feel sorry for women who have been relegated to such behavior, spanning generations and across centuries. But I feel worst when I see parents doing it to their love-you-till-death “ghar ki izzat” daughters, who themselves are well read and in tune with the times. I know we have come far from those days when the girls were not allowed to study nor do anything of their own free will. But at that time, at least the people had some logic behind their behavior. They didn’t let the girls out of the house, the girls obviously didn’t know the kind of opportunities that existed for them outside the four walls of the house and were content with the house work. But it’s really worrying to see parents who have let their daughters let go so far and suddenly want to go all traditional when it comes to marriage and even expect the daughters to do a complete U-turn from their beliefs hitherto, and conform to the whims and fancies of a stranger and his family.

It would be an understatement if I said a woman’s life was tough. It was perhaps my naivety that I thought that girls were meted out an equal treatment in today’s world. Have you ever imagined what a girl would feel like when she is made to believe that she is only a responsibility on her parents? And when she does get married, she is always the outsider in the husband’s family. Is there nobody she can actually call her own? Somebody who will lover her for her person and not just doll her up so that it would be easy to get rid of her, the burden that she is? Will this regressive behavior meted out to girls ever go away? For no reason do they say, “Charity begins at home”. Perhaps some “new-age” parents do need to learn from the age old adage.

More than anger, I feel extremely frustrated and saddened. And lonely. 

And perhaps, that’s the reason why some people feel sad at the birth of a daughter. Because they understand that apart from fighting the demons of female infanticide, eve teasing, molestation and her physical vulnerabilities, she will also have to face the trauma of always being a burden on either her family or her husband, and still feel like she belongs to none in the world.

Quoting a few lines from one of my favorite books “Gone with the Wind” that aptly sum up what I feel about a woman’s life:

“Her life was not easy, nor was it happy, but she did not expect life to be easy, and, if it was not happy, that was a woman’s lot. It was a man’s world, and she accepted it as such. The man owned the property, and the woman managed it. The man took the credit for the management, and the woman praised his cleverness. The man roared like a bull when a splinter was in his finger, and the woman muffled the moans of childbirth, lest she disturb him. Men were rough of speech and often drunk. Women ignored the lapses of speech and put the drunkards to bed without bitter words. Men were rude and outspoken, women were always kind, gracious and forgiving.”

Poll khul gyi or really?

I have done a poll after a really long time. Not because I didn’t have any bright ideas, but because the poll option in Blogger wasn’t working. And so, I broke up with it and hooked up with PollDaddy. And I really liked it because it has way more options than the Blogger one. Anyway, I digress.

So this time, the poll question was “Why do you think people get married?” And no prizes for guessing, I really found asking myself this question after writing this post. I mean, why take so much pains for manaoing your parents to agree to a love marriage or go adjusting and living with total strangers in an arranged? When all you could do with your time and money is sleep, watch movies, read, and shop and have fun! Why this pressure to get hitched and settle down? And yes, it really is settling down because you are down and out with all your energy zapped because of the zillion responsibilities that come with being married. I think that the debate should ideally be “Marriage v/s Single/Live-in”. But whatever. And so I decided to ask this question to you guys. And as always, was I surprised.

The results look something like this:

And at least I had thought our generation didn’t fell prey to this “don’t know and doing it because everybody else is” and got married for some reason, even though that reason may be dowry, sex, love, or societal acceptance. Our society isn’t really keen on live-in relationships even though half the world I know is doing it. Live-ins are quite the ‘settling up’ thing as you get to stay together with your partner with the all perks of marriage without having to take care of the baggage of relatives, attending parties/functions of both the sides or trying to impress the in-laws. It’s like living the best of both worlds. But I think our society is really sadist in a way that people got married to get what they wanted and they make sure that nobody else gets it easy! It’s like, making you realize the importance of your action by having to pay for it! How mean!

 

But having said that, that’s a long road ahead and nobody knows in today’s world who’s going to remain married for how long. People change partners as quick as jobs and clothes and there’s nothing that can keep them together if they don’t want to, not even a marriage certificate. And that again brings me to the question, why do we get married? With all that fanfare? The phenomenon that has given rise to the dowry system. And dowry deaths. I mean, if you really need to change partner, why invest so much money on dikhaawa and marriage and dowry. Live with whoever you want. Live as long as you want to and then move away, without ugly divorces. But I guess the social bondage that comes with a marriage gives people the much needed blanket of security.

Interestingly, an equal number of people voted for Love and sex. WOW! Love equals sex? hmm…believe our generation to be practical and blatant. And how! But at least we are honest about it. But guys, seriously, a free advice here. If all you want is the four letter word, take my word. Marriage is the last thing you want. 😉

There are hardly any takers for the other options. Our fast-food generation doesn’t seem to believe in the institution of marriage, and neither do they see it as an emotional retirement plan. At least I thought that if you could somehow resist the temptations of marriage, you could do well for yourself only up to a certain point. But at a certain age, you need to have someone who would love you enough to find beauty in your wrinkles or poetry in the way you wobble without your walking stick. 

And now the most interesting part of the poll. People had a chance to write in their views too if they didn’t agree with my options. The top 5 happen to be:

1) To bring more complexity in their lives 😛
Haha…completely agree. Bang on!

2) Because their parents won’t let it be any other way!
Hmm….quite true…isn’t it?

3) To alive the ancestory (family) given name
Really??? To have kids? Please go watch Vicky Donor my boy! 😛

4) Social pressure on a girl
Or even a guy for that matter. *Sad but true!

5) To live with the person you love for the rest of your lives
True my friend. But the irony of life but Love is the most expensive thing you can ever afford in your life – in terms of money, energy, relationships and emotions involved. Choose wisely 🙂

I don’t know about the guys, but the real reason I think girls get married is for a wedding dress. Don’t we girls just love to shop till we drop? And what better way to do it other than marriage? And get drowned in the endless world of buying sarees, suits, bangles, necklaces, bindis, purses, and what not! And the effing wedding dress. I mean, pray tell me, why otherwise would any sane person wish to end her own life with responsibilities of managing a household, of being the perfect wife, DIL, and various other relations that come with the package? I think we are a narcissist lot who enjoy all the attention that comes with being a bride. I think the marriage industry is also to be blamed for it to a great extent. They have kind of romanticized the whole thing so much that girls all over the world have unrealistic expectations from it. Marriage in a real world means something else altogether. And just for the clarification, I am not cynical about the whole marriage thing. I am just trying to paint a realistic picture here. I think most people get married for the whole romance thing. It feels so good to be doted on at by all and sundry, laden down with gifts, parties thrown in your honour everywhere. Its like, you become the centre of universe for a couple of days. But that’s that! Some days later, it is someone else’s chance and you look around the money wasted on decoration, jewellery, clothes and food and have no option but to sigh!

 

I say everybody should get married at least once! Nobody is a success at it but then, you can always become a philosopher… 😉

Do Fairness creams actually make one Fair ?

Ok. So I am writing this post from the posh new dust-free keyboard of my own laptop. YES! I have been gifted a brand new laptop by

H

. Yayyy! I am super happy because that means that now I have My own laptop to carry where ever I go, and write whenever I want to. So no more sneaking on blogger from office, and no waiting for the laptop to be free. After all, creativity cannot be scheduled. It just spills over at unearthly hours. And now I have my own gadget to channel it, just the way I want.

So, coming back to the point,  the other day I was just browsing through the infinite channels on TV, and counted that on an average, every second commercial on TV is for a fairness cream. You have one for men, for women, unisex, teens, preteens, kids, infants, anti-ageing, spot-free, wrinkle-free and what not! Not only does that make your life and bathroom almirah cluttered with so many of them, even trying to choose one could give one, moments of anxiety and restlessness. But the point is, do these things actually work?
I mean, forgive me for sounding cheesy, but do fairness creams actually make you fair? And by fair, I don’t mean only the gorapan, but also the quality of being unbiased (fair) in your life? Sorry for the lame analogy, but I couldn’t help but think about the theory of beauty being only skin deep et al.We, as a nation, are obsessed with the firangis’ white skin, but aren’t we as a nation also looked upon as the land of beauty, principles and knowledge?
I look around myself, and find the 7-yr old and 17-yr old put on the ‘creams’ and make up, and trying to look like 20-somethings. And  37 and 47-yr oldies putting on different creams and make up to look like 17. All this while the 27 year old revels in her beauty and youth and uses creams to make 27 stay for another 10 years at least. Wow! Seems like only the youth is living in the present, while everybody else is in denial of their preteens, teens and middle age. In today’s world, is beauty really, only skin deep? Do we judge people only based on their skin color, or by the brand of clothes/shoes/watch/fragrance or worse still, their pay packets? Whatever happened to the old world thought of looking beyond a person’s outer appearance into their beautiful and gentle soul?
These days, I increasingly find myself amongst people who are judgmental, comment loosely about others’ life without even realizing for a second what their life journey would have been and even have the guts to talk about rights and life-is-not-fair-to-me without knowing the basic facts about their so-called ‘rights’. I refrain from giving these crackpots a piece of my mind at the fear of sounding judgmental myself. I think “Self realization is the best realization”.

And then, I had this funny thought which is why this post was written in the first place. What if we could have a fairness cream which not only made our skin tone lighter, took away blemishes and wrinkles, made us look younger, but could also beautify us internally? Science has made so much progress and Man is everywhere he has no business being in. Why can’t these guys make creams that not only have lemon extracts and aloe vera but also a spoonful of Baba Kaamdev’s yoga techniques. The ultimate 2-in-1 method of being gori and fit! Or may be sprinkled with Posho’s teachings for the more intellectual ones. So when the next time, somebody in my vicinity tch-tches and says, “I think he is gay!”, I would (not snicker) put on my best smile and suggest them to use the new Advanced Volay cream with Sri Sri Kavi Shankar ji’s blessings to make their mind and thinking broad enough to accept a person with a different sexual orientation as a normal human being!

PS: All the characters’ names are ficitonal and resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental. ;-))

Prerna – An inspiration for the journey of Life!

I have taken numerous trips to this place over 2 years. By bus, auto, bike and a chauffeur driven car. It didn’t matter how I reached. It just mattered to be present.
I landed up here because I loved Mathematics and I wanted to contribute to the society. And so I turned into a Mathematics and English teacher on the weekends, for

Prerna

. Prerna, as an NGO, supports bright students with a not-so-good financial background to continue their studies with scholarships and free tutions.

This was a journey I had always thought would be fulfilling and satisfying for me as a human being, for being able to give back something to the society. It was anything, but that. What I got to learn from that experience, and what I gained was more than I would have given to the students in those two years.
Initially, I was a little apprehensive about ‘teaching’ classes XI and XII, as they are supposed to be these rowdy teenagers, who give a really tough time to the ‘teachers’, what with flying airplanes, asking stupid questions and talking back! And this wasn’t even a proper school where I could punish them or call their parents over for disciplinary issues.

But my first class was a complete U-turn from what I had imagined it to be. I had the sweetest kids in my class. Their faces or behavior never gave away the plight back home, even if you didn’t take into account teenagers minus their flashy dresses and gadgets. Even though their family income was meager, their dreams weren’t. The fire in their bellies that urged them to work hard and achieve their dreams left me speechless. I cringed at my 22 year old self, of how ungrateful we were, of all that we had, when we were in school. We never took advantage of the opportunities we got in life, we took everything for granted. And here were these kids, who hardly knew if they would be able to continue their studies in the next semester or class, and still turned up for their classes unfailingly every weekend to make as much as of the situation as they could.

Joining hands for a better future!

We also had parents of these kids come over at prize distribution ceremonies, to make them understand that their kids held a lot of promise, and that they would be the ones breaking the cycle of poverty for their families. Once we asked the mother of the boy who had topped the state boards to speak about how it felt. All of us were in tears as she explained how the times had been so trying for the family, as she was the only earning member and had three kids to support. The boy would help his mother as well as study late into the night. The promise her child had, gave her a hope that all the hard work she was doing was worth it. We also had a girl who had won a scholarship to go NASA for a 3-day educational trip. I couldn’t help but admire the zeal these kids had.

We also had a guy, among ourselves, who had graduated with Prerna’s support and was working with a top IT firm. He too turned up all weekends, be it rain or shine. He even donated a part of his salary every month to his true alma mater. My learning just never stopped there.
This journey is something that I will not be able to forget my entire life. Even though I could not continue with Prerna because I left the city, it has taught me a lot of lessons for life. It showed me an altogether different world that exists outside our comfortable homes, AC cars and fancy offices. It taught me to be grateful for everything that I have, had or will ever have. And no matter how big I grow in life, I will always remember to give a part of it back for somebody who might not be as lucky as I was, but is definitely way more talented than I am.
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