Toxic Masculinity in Sports

Toxic masculinity, wanting to succeed at any cost and the enormous pressure to live up to the image and reputation can make us cheat.
I, like millions of people across the world, have grown up admiring the way Australia plays its cricket. The Australian cricket teams of the past never gave up…no matter how tough the situations were (or atleast that’s what I felt while watching them on my television as a teenager). There was a pride in the way they played and most of them were champions who would stretch their limits to redefine what’s possible. People like Adam Gilchrist inspired me to take on challenges in my life with aggression and passion. But after reading about Steve Smith’s and other Australians’ account of ball tampering, I’m wondering if it is a case of toxic masculinity.  When there is a culture of toxic masculinity, you don’t accept failures with grace…because you want to be always “macho” and ” be in control”. You are not allowed to feel vulnerable because that would be “weakness”. You have to succeed at any cost because failing would mean that you are not worthy. This kind of a culture works when success comes your way but when you are no longer at the top, you feel ill-equipped to deal with the reality.
It’s good to have the passion to win but when you are down to cheating, there is something wrong with the culture and the mindset. Maybe it’s time we stop admiring toxic masculinity in Sports.
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Abuse and logic

#Abuse can be systematic but it is not logical. Unfortunately, the victim of the abuse tries to tell himself/herself that what’s happening to him/her is logical. At first, he/she feels that that there he/she is doing something which is “wrong” with him/her and therefore, he/she deserves to be abused (that’s the logic in his/her head). If he/she is lucky enough, he/she will realize that the abuser does the same thing that he/she supposedly doesn’t “like” in the victim. For example: A husband may say that “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” and abuse the wife for a messy house but the wife may (luckily) ask herself why he pisses on the roadside if cleanliness is indeed so important to him. If the victim is lucky enough to reach this stage, he/she will realize that there is actually no logic (that doesn’t mean there is no pattern) to abuse. However, he/she will start looking for reasons behind the abuse (logic again!) and try to sympathize with the abuser. While there are many reasons that turn a person into an abuser, the victim needs to ask one question: “If bullying/insert any other reason is indeed the reason behind his/her abuse, then why hasn’t that reason turned every other bullying victim into an abuser?” The answer is of course, complex. People react to pain in various ways, one of them which is abusing others. However, using logic to justify abuse is dangerous. It is good to empathize with abusers but it’s dangerous to believe that it is your responsibility to “change” them. Most abusers don’t change because they are irrational or to put it in other way, they have their own “logic” which is mostly illogical/irrational. If you are a victim of abuse, the best thing you can do is distance yourself from the abuser. It is not your job to change the abuser. You can of course try to get them into therapy and make some efforts but remember that abusers don’t understand logic/have a twisted sense of logic.

Human Library Mumbai

Prejudices are everywhere…they are within and around us. What will you think about a man who was born in a Kotha? How will treat a lesbian who had a crush on her class teacher? How will you perceive a 23-year-old woman who tried to kill herself multiple times and failed? Yesterday,I listened to these amazing stories at The Human Library’s event at Barrel and Co. The concept is that of a library where humans are books who tell their life stories to people who want to hear them. These are ordinary people…we don’t know their names. But like each one of us, they have a story of fighting against the odds stacked against them. I walked out blessing the person who thought of this amazing concept, the wonderful organising team and the people who have the courage to share their stories with strangers. Thank you for challenging our prejudices. Thank you for embracing the weird and the unconventional. Thank you for the openness.

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)

Disagreement

If you grew up with a parent who acted like a dictator and didn’t let you express your opinions freely, then five things happen:

1. You become a people-pleaser because that is the only way you could escape the wrath of your parent and get love from him/her. Children need their parents’ love for survival and so, you learn to keep your opinions to yourself because it is a question of survival.
2. As an adult, you will start believing that any kind of disagreement with your friend, your partner, your colleagues or your boss is a threat to your relationship when in reality, disagreement is a part and parcel of any relationship. You start panicking during any kind of debate/discussion because you have been conditioned to believe that to be respected and loved, you need to agree with the other person.
3. You live an extremely stressful life because on one hand you want to be authentic as a person but on the other hand, you feel as if your survival is under threat (no, disagreeing someone shouldn’t feel this way). You don’t want to have any conflict outside but oddly enough, you cannot escape the conflict WITHIN you (the conflict between authenticity and people-pleasing)
4. You become vulnerable to manipulation. When manipulators know that disagreement scares you and that you are a people-pleaser, they will try and get the things that they want by employing cunning tricks.
5. Sometimes, you start behaving like your parent! You cannot stand disagreement and bully others who have a different opinion. But the problem here is the same: You didn’t get a chance to express your opinions freely and so, you want to inflict the same pain on others.
If you are someone like this, then here’s something that you ought to know:
1. If someone threatens to break ties with you merely because of a disagreement* or merely because you have a different opinion then most probably, this person is manipulating you.
2. Mature people disagree in a healthy way. They don’t abuse or shame others while disagreeing. Some people start personally attacking you while disagreeing, which is a sign of insecurity.
*There are some conditions though. Sometimes,the opinion is too extreme. For example if someone says that rape is a victim’s fault then maybe, I will break ties with him/her. This can be tricky so use your judgement and intuition.

Children and reality shows

My father always wants me to sit with him and watch a dance reality show where children compete against each other. He is awe-struck by the brilliant dancing that is on display on the show. I have never understood why I am repulsed by shows where children are pitted against other. But today, I kind of understood the reason (do correct me if I’m wrong here).
What we learn in childhood shapes our adult lives. A major problem that we as adults face today is that we base our self-worth on external things. That’s because since childhood, most of our parents have rewarded us when we are better than others, not when we are better than our previous selves.
Childhood is a time when parents need to communicate (verbally and non-verbally) that they love us…even if we are not popular, pretty, famous, talented, intelligent, etc. Parents who fail to do so end up raising kids who go through life searching for validation. A lot of them become people-pleasers.
Childhood is a time when we learn to indulge in joyful activities.Childhood is also a time when children get the time to explore their curiosity.With competition, joy and curiosity are lost and children start looking at things they love as a means to an end.
Healthy competition is a good thing and it can certainly bring out the best in us. One may even argue that competing at an early stage of life will “prepare” children for the big bad world. But I am not convinced that this is the case. Unless the parents of the contestants are enlightened souls, the competition will do more harm than good.
P.S. Maybe this is the reason why Finland doesn’t have exams till the age of 16.

Being a part of #Pari

Went to watch #Pari with a lot of expectations. However, I was disappointed with the movie, not because it had zero masala, but because it had no direction whatsoever. There are few things that are worth mentioning:
 
1. It’s really cool that Anushka Sharma decided to produce this movie. It may not have turned out great but it takes courage to experiment. As Cate Blanchett once said, “If you are going to fail, fail gloriously.”
 
2. Women are expected to always smile more, look pretty and eat less. In #Pari, Anushka hardly smiles, has bloody and pale face and has a voracious appetite. She is not “lady-like”.Take that!
 
P.S. It is also a personal failure of sorts. Most of the stuff that I wrote for Pari’s promotions was rejected. But there is something about people who relish challenges (Like Anushka and Virat)…their energy and determination is infectious. Towards the end of the campaign, I found myself embracing failure. Indians have a low tolerance to failure…but I hope we start taking more risks, experiment more and see failures as challenges.

Fiction, non-fiction, Choices, etc

There was a time when I wanted to read all the “classics” (fiction) before I die. I also wanted to watch a lot of acclaimed movies. Of course, I enjoy reading and watching movies, but there was also FOMO. This FOMO drove me to read some classics and watch some highly acclaimed movies. I also tried to write fiction and failed miserably.

In recent times though, I have realized that I love non-fiction and that it gives me immense joy. Of course, there are always some fiction books and acclaimed movies that I read and watch every now and then, but I think I know what I like (atleast for the time being).
It breaks my heart to think that I might never read Game Of Thrones or complete the Harry Potter series. I might not belong to the amazing worlds that science fiction writers create. I might miss out on great cinema. I might not root for any fictional character. I might not cry for or laugh with a fictional character. My FOMO is quite high but somewhere you have to accept yourself. We are here for a limited amount of time and trying to do something that you don’t fully enjoy takes away precious moments from us. If you are like me, you might feel ecstatic after reading an obscure and ridiculous book about the way this universe works. If you are like me, you might miss out on reading Nobel Prize winning authors. But life is all about making choices. We all are different and we simply don’t have the time to DO EVERYTHING in life.

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!