Experiment: People’s reactions to ‘Everyday Sexism’

I carry a book everywhere I go because 

a. It makes me feel safe

b. I want to read as much as I can

I am currently reading a book called ‘Everyday Sexism’. I didn’t want to test or judge anybody..that was not my intention (Okay, okay, I was judging people a little bit). But somehow, the book has gained  popularity amongst my colleagues. It slowly became an experiment…I began to understand others by the way they reacted to the book on my desk. Here are some of their reactions:

Colleague 1: What is this book? OMG..’Everyday Sexism’ (in a mocking tone). It’s pretty deep, huh? 

Colleague 2: Everyday Sexism..what is this about (this person seemed genuinely curious)

Colleague 3: This person just looked at the book, looked at me and went away

Colleague 4: ‘Baap re’ expression

Colleague 5: WTF expression

I guess I will be soon labelled a ‘Feminazi’ đŸ˜€ (I am a feminist and I don’t care if it is an uncool thing).

Expecting others to change…

Until the last few months, I believed in changing myself ​instead of trying to change others. It is a nice philosophy but I now realize that it has a lot of limitations. This philosophy makes you responsible but you end up blaming yourself for something you are not responsible for. I now realize that the problem is much more complex and that the philosophy is pretty dangerous. If you were raped or sexually abused, you will end up blaming your clothing or your behavior! If you face sexism at your workplace, you will end up doubting your talent.This attitude will also affect your mental health. Hence, it is important to question others’ behavior when it is necessary. There’s nothing wrong in expecting others to change (at least when it comes to social issues). As long as this expectation doesn’t harm us (and as long as the expectation is not unfair), we should push for change.

Rape jokes are not funny!

 Reducing rape to a joke trivializes the crime and desensitizes the society. We have evolved in many ways but our brain is still pretty primitive. We still make the most simplest of associations: when we hear rape jokes, we tend to associate rape with something ‘light’. So think twice before laughing at rape jokes.

Using rape as a metaphor is equally dangerous. The ones who do this are trying to define someone’s harsh reality through their imagination.

Introversion and brainstorming

I’m an introvert and I work at a place where there are regular brainstorming sessions. Brainstorming is a wonderful concept but it is a nightmare for introverts (I have a feeling that brainstorming was invented by an extrovert). Introverts derive energy and ideas from solitude. When they are in groups, they are often overwhelmed by the stimulus. The introvert spends his/her energy in dealing with this stimulus and hence, there is not enough energy for ideas. So what is the solution? Should we scrap the brainstorming sessions? IMHO, the answer is no. A better way to brainstorm is letting people work alone for a while and then getting together to brainstorm. This way, introverts get the time to come up with creative ideas and the organization can get the best out of the introverted employees.

Intellect v/s Ego

Ego operates on “I have to be right/I am right” principle. Intellect distinguishes between right and  wrong.
Ego destroys natural resources because of greed. Intellect warns us about the imbalance in nature and urges us to protect the natural resources.
Ego wants revenge. Intellect warns us about the dangers of seeking revenge.
Ego is afraid of seeing help. Intellect understands that the importance of seeking help (sometimes).
Ego wants to work at the expense of physical and mental health. Intellect distinguishes between passion and obsession.
Unfortunately, the world is lead by people who are driven by ego.

I have mental health issues and I see a therapist

Yes, you read that right! I suffer from social anxiety disorder but that’s not the focus of this post (I will write about it in detail in future). The whole point of this post is: Why are we ashamed of talking about mental health? We don’t feel this kind of shame when it comes to physical health but there is something about mental health which makes us talk in hushed tones. I hope someone reads this post and decides to talk about his/her mental health issues.

So here’s the thing: I’m an adult and I have mental health issues. I have started visiting a therapist and I’m NOT ashamed of talking about this. Dr. Brene Brown says that shame thrives in secrecy. So if you have mental health issues. please seek help. Don’t be afraid of feeling vulnerable. If you are an Indian then you will find it really difficult to afford and find good mental health care providers but don’t lose hope. If you are an Indian then you will be discouraged from visiting a therapist but I urge you to trust your instincts. Don’t compare your life with your parents and brush off your issues. You live in a different world and your issues are different. They lived in simpler times but you don’t. Don’t let the older generation gaslight you. Try to challenge their views on psychology/psychiatry/psychotherapy. Stop using words like “mental” and “pagal” in a demeaning way because it creates a culture of shame. Accompany a friend to a therapist/psychiatrist/psychologist because it’s tough to find support when you are facing mental health issues. Last but not the least: Love yourself. It’s a cliche but don’t ever underestimate the power of self-love. Society has conditioned you to hate yourself. Rise above the conditioning. Use your intellect and do what’s best for you.

Blog Update

I used to write here regularly. This place was and still is sacred to me. But off late, I’m finding it difficult to find words to express myself. A lot has changed in my life and I’m struggling to make sense of these changes.

I remember the day I started this blog. I was unemployed and was in depression. I just woke up one day and decided that I will write everyday. I wrote for more than 300 days that year. It slowly helped me get out of my depression.
 There are few people who read my blog regularly. If you are one of them, then I want to thank you for following my blog. I have learned a lot from your comments and also from your blog posts.I cannot promise regular content but I will try my best to revive this blog.
Thank you.

‘Purity’ in art

Before you judge an artist for his/her work, it’s good to remember that we all need money to survive. Getting paid for your creativity is both a boon and a curse: On one hand, you can do what you love but on the other hand, you have to ‘manufacture’ ideas like factory workers. The idea of ‘purity’ in art (i.e. art unaffected by commercial stuff) is noble but human beings are not perfect. Let’s celebrate artists who dedicate themselves to excellence but let’s not burden them with our obsession with perfection.

The problem with our reactions to sexual harrassment allegations

What is common between Woody Allen, Donald Trump, Casey Affleck, and Arunubh Kumar? All these men are famous and all of them have been accused of sexually harassing girls/women. We still don’t know whether they are guilty or not but what’s frightening is some people’s reactions to the allegations. Some people have dismissed the allegations saying that the women who have spoken up are doing it for ‘publicity’ and ‘destroying’ careers of talented men. I would like to ask these people to just look at the facts. Have these allegations destroyed any careers? Donald Trump is the president of the US. Casey Affleck just won a fucking Oscar. Woody Allen is regarded as “one of the greatest filmmakers of all time”.

Some have commented asking why these women didn’t speak up before. These people need to understand that speaking up against sexual harassment is not easy. And when the person in question is a powerful man, the odds are completely stacked against the woman. So please think before commenting about sexual harassment and invalidating a woman’s sexual harassment story.

Dealing with shame

Shameful things are so embarrassing that even thinking about them makes us feel ashamed. So we push all the shameful things to the corner of our mind. These accumulated things affect our self esteem and make us feel less confident. One way of dealing with shame is writing down the embarrassing things. Thoughts move at the speed of light but when we write, we instruct our brain to find the right words and this makes us feel in control. By expressing our shame through language we are making it a little “normal” ( as language is a socially acceptable thing).