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Thursday, January 17, 2013

A not-so-feministic post by a feminist

Disregarding all my grace, I heaved myself awkwardly on a friend’s bike’s strangely high pillion seat. He took off in full speed. As the wind hit my face hard, and tears ran sideways and flew out of my face, I took a second to figure out what I could see on the pavement on my left: A candle-light march. I did not need to be told why; It was all India had in mind. I got a glimpse of a placard saying “Women are not objects of sex”. In a second, we zipped past and the protest was nowhere in sight.

Through the ride, while I was trying to keep my highly tied pony-tail from staying horizontal cause of the wind, I pondered over what the placard said. I wondered if that would ever change or if it could. I still wonder.
Source :

Let’s not talk about rape or any kind of abuse here. Men who rape are cruel, cold-blooded, callous, animals. Let’s talk about humans, not them. Let’s simply talk about how women are viewed in our society.

We women, we blog, rant and grumble about how it is impossible to take a stroll on the Indian roads without being scrutinized head to toe, in detail, by random scoundrel-like fellows. We get infuriated at the men, at their uncouthness and at our own helplessness. I grit my teeth when people blame not-so-much covering clothes. I hate that our attire should be a criterion, but I quite know it is and hence dress consciously. We all put away the dresses and tank tees while in a conservative town/area to avoid the stares. But otherwise, we dress at our own accord. There is life back in our wardrobes; nothing beats the feeling of walking into a party all dressed up and feeling good about it. Now which girl would disagree? But, hang on, did someone tell you that men in the city don’t check girls out? NO. You know for a fact that they do. You know so well that the well-dressed gentleman who apologized to you more profusely while handing you your clutch that he never caused to drop in the first place than you would have if you had stepped on his toe with your stiletto’s heel, was simply trying to hit on you cause of how hot you looked in that dress. Still, you smiled back; you did secretly enjoy the attention, didn’t you? You still wondered why all men couldn’t be as chivalrous. You dressed up to feel good or because you love and want to flaunt your new dress or cause you wanted to look as good as your girlfriends. You might not have dressed up to grab the attention of the good-looking man at the bar. Yet, when your girlfriend told you that her guy friend finds you sexy, didn’t a small tiny tiny bit of you feel ecstatic? No you certainly did not want to have sex with him. But it did feel good to be attractive and surely it did feel good coming from a guy. Now, let me you get reminded of the man in a lungi who earlier that day, loudly, with no intention of not being heard, articulated “ey itemmm daa!” and then jeered at you along with his friends. It disgusts you, the mere thought. Has it ever occurred to you that it’s just the sophistication in the former that comforts us women? Men are the same, everywhere.

Men in small not-so-modern towns don’t exactly get to see women attired skimpily or very fashionably. Women in these places usually adhere to the town’s not-so-modern expectations. A woman who walks the road bravely dressed in shorts on a summer morning will naturally cause more than a head to turn. You’d get the gaze not just from the men, the women too. However, for a city bred man, a woman in a halter necked top would be nothing new. He’d ‘ve mastered a way to scan the vicinity sub-consciously and put in some effort to look only in selective cases.  Even in those cases, the man would look in a way where either the lady’d never realize or she would and would covertly relish the attention. Try a bikini in a city and see how many eyes follow you; even the sophistication will evaporate then. Or walk into a pub on ladies’ night and see how many men wait outside and request random girls to help them get past the bouncers posing as a couple. Why would a man want to pay for a couple-entry ticket to a pub on ladies’ night, knowing every drink would cost him? Quite obvious, isn’t it? Let’s leave aside random men; our own guy friends check girls out all the time, don’t they? Mine do it so religiously like it’s some duty earmarked to them by manhood. I sit with them either bored or I join them, only I check out the woman’s outfit. It’s fun, sometimes. We all have such friends and we find it perfectly okay. Yet, we complain when the roadside men do the same.

My point of contention here is that all men are the same; we know it. We are comfortable with the more sophisticated ones for they never make us feel violated and unsafe. They never make us wish we had a blanket to cover ourselves up. We secretly seek the attention of the sophisticated men but we want the other ones to look away. And that, well, is probably asking for too much.

Probing further, almost every man watches porn, your brother does, your friend does, they all do. I’m not saying women don’t, but that’s irrelevant here. Porn’s easily available everywhere. EVERYWHERE. It’s legal too. Now doesn’t porn objectify women in a sexual way? Of course it does. And do we women particularly want to illegalize it? No, because most of us believe it’s normal for a man to want to watch this stuff.

When Katrina dances singing “I know you want it but you’re never gonna get it, Tere haath kabhi na aani…… Duniya yeh saari mere ishq ki hai deewani”, we dance along, we sing along. Clearly we aren’t going to demur at this, how can we forget freedom of speech? We are broad-minded and progressive, it’s cheap to even wonder if this is okay. It doesn’t matter if she objectifies herself in the song. It’s just a song. Only, there some men who know they’re really never get it, and can’t take their eyes off a woman when they get a chance. But forget that, let’s dance to ‘Shieela, Shiela ki jawaani…”.

Some men who have no exposure to such women in real life, can’t help that they look at women around in a sexual way, more so if there is exposure of skin. It’s natural that a woman loves to bring out her grace, beauty and elegance in the way she goes about things. And it’s natural that men are attracted to women, more so if she emanates poise and good looks. I’m neither saying porn should be illegalized nor that item numbers should be banned. I’m not saying women shouldn’t dress up the way they want, I love to dress up too. I’m simply saying women have always been objectified. That doesn’t mean any man can have sex with a woman when it isn’t consensual. It simply talks about how a woman is viewed in our world : a sexual object. Knowingly or unknowlingly, we ‘ve accepted it and we object to only some aspects that we don't like. This is reality and it might just never change.

Or it just might, some far away day. We need to stop doing a lot of crap that we do in the name of culture. We need to demystify sex. We need to stop rousing curiosity by giving sex the notorious importance that it's given today. It shouldn’t be a taboo subject at all. The stereotypes associated with women should be disregarded.  People have to stop stopping boys and girls from hanging out together. It’s important that everyone understands and learns to handle people of the other gender. No that isn’t bad culture; it’s such misinterpreted ideas injected into our minds that have gotten us here. Let’s focus on the right things and let’s hope to see some change some day.

P.S. :  As mentioned earlier, nothing can justify any act of abuse of any kind. No man has the right to cash in on his physical strength to exploit a woman verbally/physically/sexually. What is a world that makes half its people feel unsafe and afraid?! Let’s fight for our cause and not give up till we feel safe. Till that blessed day arrives, let’s walk around with peper-spray (

P.P.S. : The ideas in this article are inspired by that of a friend. I denied and got angry when I couldn’t refute his arguments. It took a lot of self-debating to convince my feminist side that he was quite right.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Interview : Sruthy Venky, Miss Madras 2012

My interview with Miss Madras 2012 - Sruthy Venky got featured in Dashing Magazine's January edition.
Click here to read the interview. Page 22-26.

This is my first attempt at this. I'd love to take feedback of any kind.
Thanks in advance.