The problem with shaming women who are not ‘financially independent’

Some feminists go overboard with the whole ‘independent woman’ thing. It’s great if you can be financially and emotionally independent but not everyone can achieve this. For example: What if you are differently abled or a transgender? Let’s say you have a job as a software engineer and then you decide to get a gender reassignment surgery. Is there any guarantee that your employer will accept you? What if you lose your job? What if your employer accepts you but your colleagues bully you and you suffer from depression?
What if you are a differently abled woman? What if you want to be financially independent but people are not willing to give you a job?
 
The problem is with the notion of ‘independence’ itself. While I understand the importance of financial independence, we have to relook at the whole concept of independence. The truth is we all are interdependent. Maybe you are a self made woman who learned everything through YouTube videos but someone made those videos, right? Also what about YouTube that made it possible for the people to upload and you to view the videos? What about the people who made it possible for you to access internet? In short, we all are interdependent. We can of course celebrate our achievements and success but let’s not shame other women for not being ‘independent’.
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Power of conventional beauty standards

I always knew that I am not beautiful. I was okay with this fact. I also accepted the fact that I am not thin. It is not a big deal. I thought I had accepted myself, successfully, but conventional beauty standards are so powerful that they influence you in subconscious ways. So even though I never obsessed about my looks and my weight, I obsessed about other things…I obsessed about how creative I am. This might look harmless on the surface but after contemplation, I realized that I was overcompensating. Deep down, I believed that I am ugly and that the only way I can find acceptance is through my work and my creativity. So I constantly put myself in a race…I always wanted to be better than others when it came to creativity. While there was a desire for self-improvement and passion at play here, there was also insecurity: If I’m not beautiful and if I’m not thin, then I have to be good at something else, so that people don’t mock me. There was a fear that if I’m not beautiful or thin, people might not love me. I wouldn’t admit this to myself at first but this is the truth. And this is the truth of many women. While men also face different kinds of pressure, there is more pressure on women when it comes to how they look, how they dress up, how much they weigh etc. Even if we are not thinking about the way we look, we are thinking about it, subconsciously. Centuries of conditioning won’t vanish in a few days, so I guess the first step is to be aware. And it helps to remember this kickass quote from someone: “Pretty is not the rent you pay to exist in the world as a woman.”

 

 

 

Fat-Shaming

‘Fat’ is not a derogatory word. Fat-shaming is dangerous for your mental health. Anybody who mocks you, laughs at you, body-shames you and says that his/her intention is good is fooling you. Do you really think that shaming someone can help them lose weight? Even if that person takes it up as a challenge and indeed loses weight, what about his/her mental health? Bullying and body-shaming may be the tactic used by the previous generation, but in today’s world, it has negative impact on our mental health.
Scientific studies and science doesn’t exist in isolation. Society’s bias often creeps into it. For example: There was a time when homosexuality was considered a psychological disorder but Psychology doesn’t say the same thing anymore. Obesity is unhealthy but being fat doesn’t necessarily mean you are unhealthy (Science keeps finding new facts from time to time so please have patience). BMI is considered important but its validity has been questioned. Even if we assume that being fat is unhealthy, remember that fat-shaming is unhealthy too. Have some compassion. Stop laughing at fat-shaming/body-shaming jokes. Stop being a bully. And if you are REALLY concerned about people’s health then why don’t we see you shaming smokers in the same way?
P.S. Please don’t comment that I’m against losing weight, because I’m not! All I am saying is that what people do with their bodies is THEIR business not yours!

My struggle with body hair acceptance

I looked at my forearms in the mirror to see if my body hair was visible. I used to shave but because of my sensitive skin and PCOD, hair removal became extremely painful and stressful. Since the day I heard about waxing and other methods of hair removal, I felt there was something wrong with the compulsion (not the hair removal itself) and shaming of women’s body hair. I never understood why men were not shamed for body hair. My intuition always posed these questions but the peer pressure was just too much. I mean, I didn’t want to be mocked and alienated but at the same time, I wanted to listen to my intuition. The inner conflict made my life hell. There were times when I cried.

It was then that I discovered Feminism. I read about Harnaam Kaur and other body hair activists. And since then I haven’t tried to remove my body hair. This is extremely risky…in both professional and personal life but when you have so many awesome women for inspiration, there’s no looking back.

Shaving or waxing is not wrong. If you want to do it, please do. But think before shaming women who don’t shave/wax. Ask yourself why you don’t apply the same rule to men. Why is that male colleague with hairy legs normal (in a creative ad agency) but a female colleague with unwaxed hands, filthy and disgusting? At the end of the day, it’s about choice: some women wax, some women don’t. Both deserve to live without being shamed. And if you wax because of peer pressure…you deserve to live without being shamed too.

Some things that some feminists do that completely baffle me

1. Use ‘dick’ as an insult. If you get angry when ‘pussy’ is used an insult then you should also stop using ‘dick’ as an insult.
2. ‎Mocking men who are “girly.” It’s 2018 and some women are still stuck with gender stereotypes. (Yes there are feminists who do this!)
3. ‎Say that trans-women are not women
4. ‎Expect feminists to live up to the feminist ideals ALL the time, which is not possible.
5. ‎Laugh at jokes involving violence against men (example: When Kangana Ranaut “jokingly” said that she should have beaten her ex-boyfriend up)

Kya kare kya na kare yeh kaisi mushkil hai!

If a girl wears a short dress.

Society: Where are your sanskaars?
If a boy harasses the girl wearing the short dress.
Society: She was asking for it.
If a girl who was harassed complains immediately.
Society: You look like a slut (as if “slut” is an insult), you were asking for it.
If a girl who was harassed gathers courage and speaks up after a long time.
Society: Why didn’t you speak up earlier?
If a girl who was harassed doesn’t complain
Society: See, it is your fault!
If the girl who was harassed is “attractive” and was wearing Western attire
Society: You are a slut. You were asking for it.
If the girl who was harassed is “ugly” and was wearing traditional clothes.
Society: You are a behenji. Who would harass YOU?
If a girl leaves the office early
Colleagues: I wish I were a girl! I would have left early too.
If a girl stays at office for work till late night
Society: If something happens to you, it’s your fault!
If a girl talks too much
Society: We can’t stand girls because they talk too much
If a girl doesn’t talk much
Society: Hey, why are you so quiet? Women are supposed to talk a lot! Be feminine!
If a girl wants to become a homemaker
Society: Tu toh pati ke paiso pe jeeti hai.
If a girl wants to be financially independent.
Society: You are selfish.
If girls demand separate ladies compartment
Society: You want equality and yet you want special privileges
If girls share the compartment with guys and if a guy harasses a girl
Society: It’s her fault! Girls should sit at home.
If a girl dresses up to impress boys
Society: If something happens to you, it’s your fault!
If a girl doesn’t dress up
Society: Girls MUST impress boys. That is the reason why you are alive!
If a girl dresses up for herself
Society: You are so selfish!
If a girl obsesses about her looks
Society: Girls are so self-obsessed!
If a girl doesn’t obsess about her looks
Society: Be feminine! Act like a girl! You have to impress guys.
If girls are against girls
Society: Girls can’t stand together!
If girls support girls
Society: Feminazis!
P.S. Girls, no matter what you do/what you wear, there is absolutely NO ESCAPE. As you can see, society gives contradictory messages to us, so that we are forever stressed about some IDEAL, which cannot exist (as it is full of contradictions). Doing what you love is difficult and stressful but listening to these endless contradictory messages is injurious to health!

Why Ranveer Singh’s dressing style is revolutionary

I have never understood the fixed notion of ‘gender’. In my teenage, I wondered why women can wear pants but men cannot wear skirts? I never dared to share these thoughts with my friends or family because I didn’t want to be mocked for having such weird thoughts.

Most men are afraid of associating themselves with anything feminine because in a patriarchal society, femininity is inferior to masculinity. In a culture where people say stuff like “Ladki hai kya? Mard ban, be a man!” or “Haath mein chudi pehenke rakha hai kya”. it is difficult to find men who embrace feminine things like nose rings or skirts. It takes guts for a mainstream Bollywood actor to be associated with feminine stuff. It takes guts for a mainstream Bollywood actor to say in his interview that he is hyper-sensitive.

We always think of revolution as something ‘big’. But revolution is also about the small choices that we make everyday. By choosing to embrace things that are associated with women, Ranveer Singh is changing the world, one outfit at a time.

Who are the people whose opinions matter so much to us?

We always worry about what people will think about us but we hardly think about who these “people” actually are. If we analyze deeply, we will find that we are mostly, subconsciously/unconsciously trying to impress white, heterosexual men. We might say that we want to impress our neighborhood aunty but let’s analyze: What if this aunty has a dark skin color and what if she is fat? What if she  is “unattractive”? What if she had body hair? What if she is a lesbian? Will her opinion matter so much to us? Now notice how the beauty standards are constructed. A conventionally beautiful woman is thin, fair-skinned, has no body hair, etc. So we are not looking at the neighborhood aunty for who she is…we are actually looking at her from the beauty constructs of white, heterosexual men.

To the Indian women’s cricket team

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Dear members of the Indian cricket team,

No matter what happens today, you all are an inspiration to us. I have seen you playing World Cup matches in front of around 10 people in the stadium. I have read about female players who had to stay in hotel rooms with cockroaches. I have read about the battles you fight every day to be taken seriously. I have read about the sexism that you face everyday. I have read about your low salaries. I wonder what keeps you going. Then I saw your eyes and got my answer: It is your passion. Your passion for the game. Your passion for excellence. It is your passion that has got you through the dingy hotel rooms and the step-motherly treatment. I hope things get better for you all (and also the women’s cricket in general). All the best for the final!

To people who blindly follow Science

Scientists, dietitians, and doctors are also influenced by patriarchal culture.They are not Gods. They are subjective human beings who are conditioned by the society. A good example of this is the way some doctors fat-shame their patients.

Don’t be like religious fanatics! Be skeptical. Do your own research and be aware of bias. Remember that even the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association had once declared homosexuality as a disease!