There are ALWAYS two sides of people to a blaming game. One side blame themselves for the negative and thinks anything good happens just from luck. While the other side give themselves a pat on the back for the good times and quickly look for someone to blame their misfallings on. Either way, the blaming game is REAL.
But for just a second, forget your side of the blaming game. and think about this..
How many times have you heard the response “Because that’s the norm” for a “But, why are we doing this?”
This response has become so common that it is now a part of the norm itself. And how many times have you ended up doing something because oh well, you know, that is the norm, right?
This is a pretty unusual post, because I’m going to be talking about my mother here. But, I’d also like to say that it is not at all out of context, because my mom is someone who has stepped out of the norm, or stands out from the crowd, whichever way you want to put it.
My mom is 50 years today and I find this so hard to believe myself because she doesn’t look a day older than 25. But, that goes without saying for most of you who might know my mom. She has the most contagious smile and her eyes are always alive. Sometimes, I wonder how a woman so flawless came to be my mom.
My mom, you guys, does everything she loves to do and doesn’t think twice about it. She works 12 hours or more a day, sometimes weekends, but that doesn’t stop her from doing all the things she had dreamt of as a child.
About 5 years back, when my two sisters left the house for their respective careers, my mom decided she had to do something to distract herself from all the silence in the house. She had longed to learn classical dance ever since she was a kid and so, she took up classes at the age of 46, WITH a tight work schedule! She would come back home every Saturday and ask me to correct her poses or tell her how to perfect her steps. Even if her arms weren’t in the right posture or her feet were facing the wrong direction, you could tell that she was born to be a dancer just from the expressions on her face. How I wish I was still at home just to see her practicing her dance!
About a year back, I left home too for college and my mom decided to take up another loved passion of hers – Radio Jockeying! She didn’t tell any of us that she was applying for a post and finally, one day she just casually texts in the family group asking us all to tune in to the All India Radio channel in the night! Her voice through the radio hit us like a breath of fresh air as we heard the strong and clear voice we were so familiar with!
My mom does a million other things like yoga in the mornings, running marathons, interior designing for her close friends and the list is just endless. What’s crazy is that after all of this, she still manages to be the most perfect mother we could ask for.
She duly calls us all up everyday, whether it’s a 30 minute conversation with her asking us about our college schedule or our plans for the weekend or just a 2 minute talk asking us if we ate dinner…
Somewhere between my mom and me wearing jasmine flowers in our hair together before we went to sleep, to my mom cribbing about me constantly cutting my hair, a lot has happened. Or rather, high school happened. I don’t know when or how it started, but I do know there are a lot of unsaid things between my mom and me and a lot more things my mom has forgiven me for without giving it a second thought, just because I’m her daughter. To be honest, the society I was brought up in was very conservative and held too many traditional values. I know how hard it is to change a mindset when you’ve lived with it for more than 40 years. But, I saw my mom going against all odds and beating out all the norms just to protect me. She has stood up against people closest to her just to defend me. I might not have appreciated these things before, for I may have not known their value, but today, I do. And I cannot put into words how grateful I am for my mom.
There is nobody in this world I could possibly love more than her and I hope to God that she lives a fifty and more youthful years, while breaking more norms and making every jaw she passes by drop.
With a baby coming in the family, aka my nephew, I’ve decided to start a series of articles titled Gender EquaLITTLE, which will be about the many gender stereotypes we present to kids in the form of toys, books, activities, colors, and so on. This is the first article of the series – Of Boy and Girl Toys.
As a family with three sisters, every birthday (since as long as I can remember up to my double digit age) was met with piles and piles of wrapped gifts with fancy Barbie dolls under. My sisters and I would always end up frustrated because neither did we like Barbie dolls let alone dolls of any kind nor did we appreciate the fact that we were given all these pretty pink dolls just because we were GIRLS. Little did we know that it wasn’t our gifter’s mistake to stereotype gender and toys, but rather the way these toys were marketed or the way they were placed in the shop aisles…
Work is a major part of an adult’s life and adding play to it is a rare and welcome break. But, for kids, play is all they know and toys are what they are familiar with from the start and these toys become tools for early learning.
The type of toys kids play with make a serious impact on the way their brains develop, and it is important for us to define what toys are going to help them best, unstereotypically.
Before the age of three, these kids understand no differentiation of toys between boys and girls. But, between the ages of three and five, which is also unfortunately the age when they are introduced to more stereotypical toys, the kids have a clear idea of what their gender is and this becomes very important to them. When they see clearly divided aisles in toy stores with gender cues like pink and blue toys for girls and boys, they take it that they can’t play with the opposite sex’s toys.
When the toys are being marketed in such distinctive ways, it also becomes hard for the parents to broaden their minds and get their boys cooking sets or their girls remote cars. Even while there are parents ready to broaden their perspective, their kids end up paying a social cost for crossing these gender boundaries in terms of bullying.
Many people feel uncomfortable buying their boys pink toys or their girls toys that are labelled ‘for boys’. Many people are also completely ignorant of the stereotypes in the selling of toys. We often become blind to the fact that there are no pretty dolls or kitchen sets in the boys’ toy section or that there are no construction kits or race cars in the girls’ toy section. If never offered the options, a child may never know what he/she prefers or doesn’t prefer. These stereotypes teach the kids that ‘This is for girls’ and ‘This is for boys’ in much the same way as other stereotypical social rules like ‘Boys don’t cry’ or ‘Girls should always look pretty’.
While sorting out stereotypes around toys may seem like a small thing, we have to realize that both genders are missing out on one or the other skills by playing with toys assigned only to their gender. Playing with dolls and kitchen sets help the kids have conscious mental processes and connected thinking, while playing with construction sets and puzzles help in the conception of 3-D and future math and science abilities.
We’ve all eaten KinderJoy and we’ve all spoken against its sexist packaging. The one labelled ‘For Girls’ will always be in pink and have doll accessories as the toy and the one labelled ‘For Boys’ will be blue and have a car or an airplane inside. There have been a fairly large number of lawsuits against similarly stereotyping companies and the aisles in the toy stores are finally getting rid of their gender distinctions. Companies are now starting to make co-ed toys. But, the thing with these toys is that the companies making them are completely missing the whole point. Instead of having toys in gender neutral colors, we now see school buses and airplanes in pink! Why does a simple airplane which has no gender have to be imposed with a gender signifier?
The toy markets are not just overflowing with the toy color distinction, but also with princesses and superheroes. About 50 years back, toys made would have boys dressed up as working men and women dressed up as homemakers. In this era, where the number of women working outside the home equals that of men, toy companies started facing a backlash. While we may expect to see more toys which portray women working, we have somehow crossed over to making fantasy toysin the form of princesses and superheroes, presenting to the kids an unreal world. While kids enjoy playing with these fantasy toys, these also make them believe in roles that don’t exist. These toys are just versions of exaggerated masculinity and femininity. Unless you’re born as Meghan Markle (WE WISH), it’s quite doubtful that your kids will grow up to be princes or princesses.
So, what this post does is ask retailers to stop segregating toys under ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ and rather separate them as puzzles, dolls, science kits, etc and let toys be toys. It asks marketers and toy makers to stop making supposed gender neutral toys in stereotyping colors such as pink and blue. It isn’t asking for the extinction of dolls and monster trucks, but the same in EVERY color of the rainbow. All toys are gender neutral, only the way they are marketed makes them stereotyped. This post finally asks all parents and relatives and friends of parents with little kids to broaden your minds and give your kids the chance to choose the toys they prefer.
I hope that the next time you’re out to buy a kid some present, you’ll think of this article and buy what you think will help the child most instead of a doll for a girl or a car for a boy. The next time you see anyone saying that blue is for boys and pink for girls, I hope you’ll stop them. And the next time you ever talk to a kid, I hope you remember this article and let the kid know that every color is his/her color and every toy is suitable for his/her playing.
We live in a world where talking about something as natural as a woman’s monthly period is considered a taboo. We’ve grown up believing that the subject of menstruation should be kept private because talking about it is disgusting and inappropriate.
Imagine a world where a woman can freely bring up the periods topic without worrying about anyone reacting violently or countering it with a period joke.
The menstrual cycle is a bodily function as normal as sweating. So, why is that even in 2018, bringing it up among friends still involves awkwardness and self-consciousness?
The answer is that there are so many stories surrounding periods that are yet to be realized by a vast number of us that these are nothing more than myths and fables.
Every girl goes through a different experience when on her periods and generalizing all the side effects that girls go through ain’t possible. But, here are a few things you may have heard often and this blog is to clarify what is real and what is an imaginary story a couple of bored people came up with.
The stigma surrounding menstruation starts right when a girl hits puberty. Most have no clue why they’re bleeding from their vagina and are unsure if they should even tell anyone because they fear something might be wrong them (when in reality half the world’s population go through the same.) If they do know what changes they’re going through, they assume it’s wrong to talk or ask questions about it because of all the menstrual taboos.
Although we are in the process of becoming a society that doesn’t treat menstruation as an impurity, our minds are still blocked with mindsets. Women in a large part of India are not allowed to enter holy places or even kitchens in their own houses while on their periods. Even in my family (where I believe we’re all broadening our minds), my sisters and I were told not to accompany the rest of the family to the temple or even to our ‘pujas’ done at home. I used to hear stories of my friends who’d be barred inside rooms for three days a month, without going to school. All this because there’s a false notion that being on your periods makes you unclean/ impure.
Water, water everywhere:
Earlier, women on their periods were not allowed to take a bath for this time period as it would pollute the water (a sacred element). Gone are those days, but nowadays we’re asked not to enter the swimming pool, in relation to old superstitions. We wrongly assume that we’re asked not to enter the pools as the blood would spread all over the water. The truth is, you don’t even need to use a tampon or a pad as the water pressure in the pool doesn’t allow bleeding to take place let alone spread all over. So next time you’re at the pool, there’s no reason to stop with dipping your legs in the water!
Exercising those muscles:
It is believed that exercising or engaging in any physical activity during menstruation will increase cramps and bleeding. I’ve known many people during my school and college days who have refused to participate in sports meets because they’re on their periods (even after being selected/ after months of training). This is bizarre, because from my personal experience, I’ve always felt good after exercising. So, I read on it and turns out, exercise reduces your period cramps and makes you feel better cuz dopamine bruh.
The illegal goods:
Right from asking someone if they could lend you a pad to buying sanitary napkins at the grocery store, we continue to treat these completely innocent fancy pieces of cotton as illegal items. We whisper in random strangers’ ears while asking for this forbidden item and scrunch them up in our hand before anyone sees what it is we’re carrying. Or we make sure that the napkin packets are the first things we shove into our grocery bags. The fact that we all still do this is INSANE because pads/ tampons are no different from say wet wipes!
Periods are messy:
As untrue as many myths may be, this is as true as true can be. Periods are so messy, it’s super annoying. Those ads where they show girls doing adventure sports with white pants? Pulling off white pants on the first day of your menses without any hesitance is truly an achievement haha. Often, your bed is stained when you wake up in the morning and you have to change your sheets and scrub what seems like a hundred layers of clothing.
Use the necessities:
No matter how many taboos we dismiss, it doesn’t make it okay for us to let the blood from our vagina flow. It is necessary to use any form of absorbent material because at the end of the day, blood from any part of the body be it from your hands or knees or your vagina has to be covered/ cleaned to prevent infection or attraction of pests. If you feel you won’t be able to replace your pad or tampon regularly, there are other options such as menstrual cups, which need to be removed and cleaned only at the end of the day (and are also sustainable).
Taboos in the brands and ads:
The most used sanitary napkin in India has the name ‘Whisper’, which by itself creates a taboo around menstruation and influences women to not talk about their cycles. Sanitary napkin ads show the forming of a liquid which is blue in color (what is blue even) rather than red which creates false images in everyone’s minds and baffles them when they’re faced with reality.
Give us a break:
As someone who gets her periods only once in three months or so, I’ve had a lesser share of the bad side of menstruation. But, as a sister of one whose periods stretches on for months and another who would have three excruciatingly painful days in a month, I’ve learnt just how valuable menstrual leave can be. It is quite impossible to have your senses in the right place let alone manage to get through a day at work, when your cramps are unbearable. Menstrual leave is required at every workplace and hopefully, this becomes mandatory soon.
PMS is something that affects a woman right before she starts bleeding, and NOT when she is bleeding and is often misconceived. This is perhaps the biggest myth around menstruation. The verb ‘PMSing’ is super misused and I place a sure bet that every one of you reading this would have used it in places you needn’t have. Throwing this word around is the same as throwing around words like depression and OCD. Legit hormonal changes cause behavorial patterns and mood swings are an actual thing. But, hey, a tub of ice cream always helps.
Changing the way we see and treat women’s menstrual cycle can do more than just promote a healthier lifestyle for women—it can save lives. Imagine a world where you can bring up the topic of your menstrual period and you’re met with genuine concern and curiosity. Imagine a world where men don’t feel embarrassed at the counter buying their sister or their daughter a pack of napkins or tampons. Imagine a world where women’s emotions aren’t invalidated because of her PMS. Now, let’s try making that happen.
At the end of fifth grade, right about the time when I felt all grown up (cuz obviously sixth grade is the start of MIDDLE SCHOOL and if that isn’t adulting Idk what is lol), my parents decided it was time for me to be independent (at least in the way I travelled back from school). So, we put a stop to the school bus and every evening, my sister and I would travel back home together on the MTC public bus.
For anyone who hasn’t been on a public bus at peak hour, a few obvious things you need to know
You won’t get place to sit.
Even if there happens to be an empty seat, you will be pushed and fought with for it.
Don’t underestimate the no. of things the people standing will ask you to hold if you’re fortunate enough to land a seat.
Apart from these, there are a few other grossly obvious things that everyone in the bus knows is happening but pretends to be blind to it. Over the course of all the years I’ve taken the bus, I’ve seen and experienced so many things that have left me sick to my stomach
The boob pinching:
I’m pretty sure at least one out of every three women who’ve traveled by bus would have been through this. This happens more often in a crowded bus when you’re not sure who’s given you money to buy a ticket for them or who’s pushing you or who tf’s pinching your boobs.
The conductor’s job:
The conductor’s job is to give you tickets, let you know when your stop comes and maybe swear at you when you tell him you don’t have change. But, somehow, some conductors don’t think their job ends right there. They have some inner calling to go around fondling women’s breasts or thrusting the lower part of their body against a woman.
Where do the guys sit? I’ve had many of my guy friends tell me “It’s unfair that there’s one side of seats in the bus reserved only for ladies. So, how is this gender equality? It’s more like female bias.” Well, to all the guys out there who think so, here’s what mostly happens when a woman sits next to a man or vice versa on a bus. The man, pretends to take his phone out of his pocket or pretends to reach over and lower the window and somehow, just somehow, his elbow touches the woman’s breasts. The woman glares at him and the man tells her it was a mistake and apologizes. But, guess what? It happens over and over again and don’t tell us that honest mistakes happen that many times. I’m not generalizing against all guys. But, 70% of the times a guy has sat next to me in a bus, I’ve had to leave my seat and stand the rest of the way.
Once, on my way to art class, a guy sitting beside me on the bus, kept tilting his phone (which was playing porn UGH) toward me. I tried calling the conductor to tell him, but for some reason, he kept ignoring me. I finally got down at my stop and after walking about 5 steps, I realized the guy was following me. I began walking really quickly, but soon he was breathing down my neck, saying “I want sex” (BRO WTF). I panicked so hard, ran to a seller standing in the corner of the road and told him what was happening. When I turned back, the guy had disappeared (thank heavens). Public buses are so often filled with freaks which makes it super essential for us to know how to protect ourselves.
M for Masturbation:
About a year back, I saw a guy sitting in front of me in an almost empty bus, with his dick out. What was worse? People were walking past him and pretending like nothing out of place was happening.
Extreme levels of ignorance:
Even though all the above things happen frequently in buses, the people who witness it all happening seem to give no two shits. The conductors I’ve told (or rather tried telling) incidents about have either ignored me or have themselves been the ones feeling someone up or down. The ladies I’ve told on the bus have told me to brush it off cuz this happens everyday and there’s not much we can do to stop it – !!!!
It’s not enough for us to just know that these things happen if we’re going to blatantly ignore it. It’s ABSOLUTELY gross and freaking violative to go around pinching boobs or taking your dicks out on public transport. Whichever side you’re on, be it the side doing it or the side enduring it or even the ignorant side, make it a point to put a stop to any such thing you might see happening.
It’s pretty obvious that this is the topic that I would start writing with, because
A) I would give up anything INCLUDING pizza any day to wear what I want, when I want forever
B) I honestly think it’s more than time for most of India to stop being so backward, when it comes to clothing
C) I feel like some part of me owes this to the million pairs of cute AF shorts I own, that haven’t seen the outside of my house ever.
Please note that this is my sarcastic take to dressing in India. (You know those times when you’re SO sarcastic that people think you’re being serious? This could be one of those times.)
If you’re someone who’s been out with even a bit of skin showing (or maybe even not), how many times have you been persistently stared at on the road? Or how many times have you been asked to change your clothes because “What would people think if you go out dressed like that?” Or how many times have you been asked to push in your bra strap or a camisole you’re wearing underneath? Feeling ashamed of yourself and trying to put yourself in ‘the decent path’? Well, you OUGHT to.
To help, here are a few factors you can consider before figuring out what to wear.
How hot is it?
You may be sweating cats and dogs because the temperature outside may be boiling and it feels like it’s only getting hotter by the day. We know this, though; we’re literate and we’ve learnt about global warming and all that shit. The most sensible option would be a pair of cotton shorts and a loose top. But, who really cares about sensible? This IS India after all. You can’t go out wearing THAT. It’s okay if you’re going to feel hot, it’s okay if it’s gonna get stuffy and it’s okay if you’re not feeling very comfortable in a fitting embroidered salwar with about five other garments under (don’t forget the dupatta please – that would be the WORST thing you could do). Cuz really, your opinion doesn’t matter, you should know that by now. Don’t you?
The staring (and all else):
As mentioned somewhere earlier, you will know you’ve not dressed appropriately enough if someone is staring at you too long. It’s not their fault they’re staring. Your clothes are the reason, and changing them can solve everything, REALLY REALLY. If you’re in western wear, and they’re staring, change to traditional Indian clothes (let’s call this TIC cuz we’re going to use it often). If you’re in TIC, then maybe, your neck is too deep or your sleeves too short, or the fitting too tight. Quick, go change and GET A DECENT TAILOR.
Standard comfort level 10/10:
There is no question that TIC is as comfortable as it gets. I mean, when so many of our own people can literally sleep in their TIC, you can definitely survive a few hours in it. No matter your size or shape or comfort feel, you’ll definitely get used to it.
Respect your culture: Our culture is so rich, you shouldn’t think about dishonoring it. It’s our duty to stick to what was taught to our ancestors ages ago about clothing. We may have moved from sitting on the floor to eat to Lazy Suzy dining tables or from posting letters to freaking FaceTime and somehow moved backward from praying in temples to raping in them, but our clothes are something we just cannot change, even sometimes. Just keep repeating three words – Culture, Tradition, Powerless.
Traveling abroad?: If you’re going abroad, there’s frankly no reason you shouldn’t wear those horrible clothes you’re so fond of. You can freak out, a bit. But, don’t let anybody from your home country know what you’ve been wearing. Make sure any pictures you post on any of your social media accounts are well protected from those pictures of you with clothes so scarce, it’s equal to not wearing a camisole under your TIC (ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE).
Covering your unshowables:
Your bra (is it okay that I typed that) is not just another piece of cloth that covers and supports just another part of your body, no. It’s a garment that’s gonna initiate sensual thoughts in men and vile thoughts in women if exposed. If ever seen sticking out, you will not be living up to your role of a respectable woman. Also, never say the word bra out in public! Try substituting with B-R-A or simply ‘inner’. No one will give it a second thought. 😊
Male or Female? Btw, what’s your gender? Such an important thing to consider cuz girls can’t dress as freely as men, clearly. If you’re a man, you can chill out and do your own thing, bud. If you’re a woman, make sure you follow all the above points SINCERELY. It’s crucial for you to know that while it is acceptable for men to unzip their pants, while exposing their privates, on every other road to piss, it is NOT okay for you to let your salwar (I think we’ve clarified that this is what you’ll be wearing) fly above your pants in case some wind blows in your direction.
Anyone who thinks any of the points is or should be true in a non-sarcastic way should go back to the 19th century! P.S.: I really love TIC, but when I don’t feel comfortable in it, it’s my choice what I want to wear.