Monday, March 30, 2015

Criticizing Criticism

Straight off this is about the women's empowerment video by Vogue starring Deepika Padukone etc.

Straight off, I liked it. I liked the camera work and aesthetics of it. I liked the attempted intent/message in it. And of course, I liked Deepika Padukone in it also. Because I like her way too much and I am hugely biased.

Yeah so that's out of the way.

This is actually not so much about the video as much as it is about the criticism against it. Of course, in today's day and age of when outrage on anything and everything in social media is the new fad, the criticism had to be expected. But some were so freaking ridiculous, it actually got me off my laziness of typing and brought me back to this long forgotten blog simply because I had to express my opinion somewhere. 

So let's get to the more ridiculous "offences" of this video straight away.

One of the first points raised was "Hey, because this message was by Vogue and it is their marketing strategy, they only want you to buy their stuff and you shouldn't fall for it." Yeah, because, hey, a marketing strategy by Vogue or Elle or even Victoria's Secret for that matter, using words like "empowerment" and "choice" should not be believed and even if they say good things you have to keep in mind that it is to sell their products. Oh! the evil plan behind it! Marketing their products by talking about empowerment! And have you thought about the fact that whether or not you like the video, you still have the "choice" to buy these products? They are not "cheating" you, you know.

Of course, the whole question of morality! How can we ever let that one go. "To have sex out of marriage" oh Whoa! really?! Because in India everyone is so moral and right that how dare Vogue even mention this?! Well, here's how. She said "choice". Maybe, you are not okay with it and I am not okay with it. But maybe the point is someone out there is okay with themselves and their partners doing what they want. We can't accept it and we can choose to hate it but it IS after all their choice. Why are we assuming that they are talking about adultery or cheating at all? Maybe they have a sexless marriage and who are YOU or I to judge the right or wrong of someone in that situation? Or  maybe they are unhappy but decide not to be separated for a zillion "moral" and "societal" reasons (read that as fearing the judgement of the likes of you) and so find whatever solution suits them. Or she knows her partner loves someone else and she deserves some love too or whatever other many hypothetical situations. Why assume that they are okaying cheating at all? Cheating is the highest form of disrespect one can feel. Ask me about it and I can tell you tales about why I am a single mother for the last 5 years. But what if there are a hundred ways either one of the two partners are being disrespected or hurt or abused or not even being acknowledged or if it is some kind of agreement between the two. I don't know what is right and wrong. But. I know enough to not judge that choice because I don't know that story. (Shit! Now I am branded immoral for life! :D)

Another problem of course was with the "size zero or 15 bit" and you know why the criticism was especially ridiculous? Because this was the logic of it. Deepika shouldn't have done this ad. Because, Deepika acts in the Kellogs ad that talks about losing weight and regaining shape in two weeks?! Or in the garnier ad? Or that, and this is the BEST bit, she dates only "good looking" (very very subjective because I don't think that way about Sid Malya or Yuvraj or Ranbir Kapoor, for that matter) men.
Oh! the irony! you say? Hey! it's her "choice" I say. "She" (read that as any woman who) wants to lose weight for her friend's wedding? Her choice. She wants to look fairer (And I am so against the whole fairness thing, my complexion is evidence to that), but it's still, her choice. She likes her men to look "good", her choice. The point here isn't to be one way or the other. The point was simple - the girl has a choice to what she wants to be and an outsider doesn't get to criticize her personal choice like YOU seem to be doing in that response. Have you considered that we live in a day and age where parents constantly criticize daughters to eat less, to get thin, to look pretty and so forth? Yeah, there is a thought behind that. HER choice. Simply, if a woman does want to look thinner or fitter, that's also her choice. Why assume that that is a message to get anorexic, woman?!

Another one was that she said "You are my choice. I am not your privilege." and the criticism? That that one should go two way. Of course, I agree that that should go two way. But why was the message necessary and more woman oriented? Because, guess who is treated like a privilege in this country more? Like a property, to be exact. Even today, I personally know very well educated guys from decent background who don't flinch while saying "I want my wife to be a virgin when I marry her because no one should have "owned" her before". Yeah. She is not a person. Just a package for that thing he alone is born to "own". 
Guess who is still given a choice about their own life decisions and who is not? Guess who is forced more for a hundred zillion things to do and not to do? Oh for Heaven;s sake, guess whose "right" (not even choice) to be even born is taken away in unimaginable numbers. Of course it should be everyone's choice. But this just happened to be a more "Give the woman also a choice" message. That is like saying why are all the "prevent rape" ads more women-centric. Indeed, they shouldn't be. Boys get raped too. Don't you think they deserve protection?  It is all okay to create Hoo-Haa and find things to criticize every word that is said out there. There is no justification for why the talk s always about protecting or giving right for "only women".  Just that women do get raped a lot more and women do get subjugated and their rights taken away a lot more. But, under all regular "I am not here to criticize everything" thought, it would be fair to have a message out to save everyone and make everyone a choice for everyone. This one just happened to be about women, like most of the "equality" and "gender rights" messages usually are.

And oh! again. To have your baby or not. Okay. Have you ever stopped to consider that most of the (no matter how lame) "women empowerment" messages are not for people like you or me who, thank heavens for that, are from way more protected and empowered background than a vast majority? That women are still married off as little girls an forget given a choice, but FORCED to bear multiple children? Or that a woman who gets pregnant out of wedlock decides to keep the baby when the guy doesn't want her and should be given a choice to do that. Or simply that she is addressing the society against the stupid prejudice that every woman who does not become a mother is "incomplete" in some way and/or something is wrong with her? Maybe she AND her partner have decided to not have a baby and she is addressing her in-laws and parents who only and always criticize her (never the "beta").  Once again, the point is not that a woman should always refuse her husband. No. The point is simply that the woman should "ALSO" be given a choice. After all it is HER body. She shouldn't be forced or criticized for what she wants with that body.

Another one of the most ridiculous flaws about the video was that it was made by almost all men, that is written, directed and produced by men. Yeah because when men make a video on giving women choices we are taking away the choice from women to make similar videos. And instead of being happy that we have men who do stuff like attempting women-"centric" videos, we somehow see it as anti-empowerment. Yeah well, that one is so stupid it doesn't even warranty a response.

Of course, there were more. There were so many about the things that were "Not" said in the video. How the video was lame in not mentioning the more important things like career and work and medical problems and discrimination but instead only mentioned things like choices about sexual orientation and stuff. Erm, yeah that's the point about choice. People can make videos about whatever aspect of a topic (in this case the aspect of "choice" among various topics related to empowerment). People make videos about preventing rape, about what to wear being a woman's choice and not a license to be raped, about career choices or the choice to be a stay at home person (not using wife or mother. Just a person), about equal pay among genders, about medical problems and what not. This one was someone's choice to be about "Choices" like body image issues and sexual orientation and whether to have a baby or not and about feeling like a queen in her life. So what? Why would you criticize their choice for a subject of their video? 

The whole point is to be given a choice. What people do with the choice they have, whether they take the "right" path or "wrong" is for them to decide.  Everyone  must have the right to do what they choose to do in life and then suffer the consequence of that  choice. The whole point is that no one should go around defining how people of a certain race, cast or gender should live. It's is person's perogative to choose.  Just as when we raise our children.  We can teach them about "right" and "wrong". And once they grow up, we can hope they make the right choices. But we still can't force them to do one thing or the other. But we have to five them the right to make that choice and hope for the best.  Well, enough said. 

And, if you haven't seen it yet, this is the Oh! So offending video by the Oh! so wrong people:

Thursday, July 10, 2014


No no! This is definitely not a preachy post teaching moral values and spewing the advantages of being nice. Quite the opposite actually! Basically, a post asking people to stop living their lives out of a sense of obligation. I am rather tired of this phenomenon where we do everything out of "courtesy" ALL THE TIME.

Okay, let me try and begin at the beginning. I am someone who always believes that it is important to be nice, to be courteous, to put others first, to show compassion and consideration, these are after all the traits that make us human. However, things have taken a downturn in these last few years in a very weird way. I say weird because these days I see courtesy being used as an obligation or rather like being held at gunpoint. Courtesy has turned into nuclear power, a good thing used for very bad ends.

Once again, getting back to the beginning (Oh this is so tough!). The other day I heard a parent tell a child, "go meet your grandmother, it is not nice manners to refuse to meet aged relatives." Really? Nice manners? If I have grand children ever and if my son needs to tell them to come meet me because of manners and courtesy, I'd consider myself such a failure. No kid, don't meet your grandparents because it's a "nice thing to do", go meet your grandparents because you love them and you want to meet them. And if you don't, then there is something the matter with the relationship you shared with them and that's okay in one case. But, do not meet all your grandparents only because you are expected to!

And we start this ingratiation training so very young, don't we.We as Indians do everything for "courtesy", "because that's the right thing to do", "Social norm", "please your parents" and a billion other variations of these reasons. And basically when I say everything, I mean every damned thing regarding living our lives.

So, finding the right person to marry at the right age, having your first kid at a certain age, then your second, then the decision to stop having kids and so on and so forth, are predefined by social/familial expectations. And I would be labelled a rebel for thinking or trying to convince anyone that these are some of the most personal decisions of our lives. In fact, majority of the kids in India have been socially conditioned by their early teens to believe that prearranged everything is the normal way of life and thinking/acting otherwise causes major disappointments from family and friends, close ones to have-never-heard-of-before, no matter how happy or successful you are in your chosen way of life.

Basically, our life is hardly OUR life. It is just an opportunity to show how courteous and considerate we are of people's expectations of how we must live it. In ways and manners that really don't affect them at all but are purely only OUR life decisions, living up to their expectations still matter. 

Very selfless in a manner, this tradition of ours. So the parents' expectations aren't really for their own benefits and the kids' actions are not for their own benefit either. Very sacrificial, and yet, doing no one any good. Bravo!

This doing things as a courtesy for these mystic "others" has trickled down into our social structure and mental makeup so very much, we can even see this in how people treat their own professions. Yeah, personal decisions for other's sake wasn't good enough. 

To begin with, most career paths are chosen by parents even before the kids are born. But that's not where I am getting at. Look at our attitudes towards "work". The driving force behind work is "We need to have a job that pays and is good enough to be publicized and garner social approval". People who follow their passions are also rebels. I have heard the phrase "married to their jobs" thrown around in great aplomb. I ask you this, when you say married to your job, do you mean I am passionate about my job, I love it, I am dedicated and get great joy from it, it is very fulfilling; Or, do you mean, I am married cos this was what was charted for me, this earns money for me, I come here and do what needs to be done and it keeps bearing me fruits in terms of promotions and bonuses (first kid, second kid and so on). 
I mean are you in love in this marriage or is it another of your functional Indian marriages, this work of yours?

How many employees do we meet who are dedicated, excited and passionate about what they do? Who are pleased to see a client not because it means a better incentive but because it means they get another opportunity to present their skill set and enjoy doing it? No, they treat you with courtesy, they earn their salaries. Because that is what they have been expected and conditioned to do all their lives without a second's thought about what they are really getting out of this for themselves. Be passionate about your jobs, be a workaholic if you will, be married to your jobs and definitely earn great money, but all I ask is love what you are married to and whatever your reasons, do it for you, for your reasons.. Get something out of it by the end of it all which is not just "I am fulfilling the expectations of my family".

I wish we could teach our kids that it is not selfish to be passionate and to love who/what you have decided to be dedicated to. My biggest wish for my kid is he never do anything in life because he feels that he owes it to me or anyone else. Oh! hell, I'm an extremist when it comes to teaching him to be courteous and compassionate and nice. I will do that to the best of my abilities. But, my only wish in his personal or professional life is he be happy, truly, completely happy with whatever decision he makes. If being single is his things, so be it. If not, I hope and pray he finds a person who can love him, treasure him and make his world that much of a better place, and he theirs. And no matter what he chooses as a profession, that is one choice I want him to take only for himself and never feel obliged to please me or this damned "society". And I also truly hope he and all the kids of coming generations learn to chose a career based on passion and interest and whatever their priorities are, even if that is money, but not based on anyone else's expectations, as a courtesy to them.

Teach your kids the slightly more difficult things like love and respect. It is easier to teach courtesy, cos hey, who can't say " this is what is expected of you by the world". It is just a slightly more polite variation of "because I told you so". But we all know what good comes out of shortcuts and taking the easy way out, especially with child rearing.

So really, teach your kids to love. Love who they are, love what they do, love the people around them so that they want to do the right things by them out of this love, and not out of fulfilling expectations.
Teach your kids to be nice and polite and less rude, because it is so wonderful to be all those thing and it keeps everyone, including themselves happy. 
Teach your kids compassion towards animals and old people and little kids. True compassion, not just manners and courtesy. 
Teach your kids to definitely consider others in situations where their actions might directly impact/affect others, because that is how you care and help. 
I think all these go a long long way instead of teaching your kids to do things because of courtesy or because it is "the right thing to do", because they are obliged to meet expectations.

Meeting your aged grandparents, getting married to the right person, loving and caring for that person, being true to them because you love them, being nice to others because you love and care, getting a job you love and doing it happily because you enjoy it (and I include earning money and living a good life as part of it because where is any happiness if times are always tough), . Basically, living a life being true to themselves, not just out of a sense of obligation.

In short, teach your kids to be happy and from there, to make others happy. Not to make others happy out of courtesy and be miserable in the process. That simply sucks, this generation of make-believe "courteous", miserable youngsters.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Of Givers and Takers

So many times people think not having someone in your life is the loneliest, most painful thing in the world. Really lucky people, those. In other words, the "takers". Now let me tell you what is much, much worse than that kind of "loneliness". It is being surrounded by people and still being neglected, being all alone. This happens because, unlike common belief, loneliness is not about the number of people you are surrounded by. It is, in reality, about the number of people you have who are willing to spend a little amount of time and attention on you. The "givers". Givers of love, care, attention, happiness, a reason to smile, a reason. When you are surrounded by all those takers in your life and spend most of the time feeling empty and disappointed, more is definitely NOT merrier. It is just lonelier. More so, because it is very human to expect a little in return and when people trash the smallest of your expectations, it is painful.

The thing about intrinsically happy and strong people (these are the kind that naturally are givers) is that despite getting angry and upset at not getting a thing back, they are unable to stay that way for long. AND, most of the leeches in their lives are people amazing at spotting this "quality" from a mile. So, these takers have learned that even when the other person is upset at you for not bothering with any amount of care, attention, or just bothering to keep yourself peppy and happy to be with, you can still continue to NOT give, because these happy people have an automated make-everything-alright system that kicks in in minimum time and restores their happy, giving nature. You can then just saunter in with "hey honey, how you doing" and that's it, life is all hunky dory again, for you. Amazing system you have got yourself going there. Unfortunately for you, it only lasts till the person has hurt too much for too long at the shameless negligence and finally realized that this whole system is simply a burden and pointless to them. Don't forget, they are nice, but they are also strong. They will move on. And they have very little to lose considering they
never had much in the first place.

In fact this reads just like the story of my marriage, and especially of the one and a half years AFTER I pointed out to my loving husband how I know about his affair. He had so much confidence in my perpetual giver status that he thought it was okay to carry on with it for another year and a half, giving me absolutely no apology and  zilch efforts to make it up to me; and then, after she went her way, to actually come back and ask me to join him especially cos it is good for the "Kid". Yeah, just like his affair and negligence was. And the point to note is that I still GAVE him an year and a half to simply show me a little effort. Sigh! No wonder everyone that comes and goes thinks it's quite okay to walk all over me. I will simply keep trying.

Now that I am seeing a new phase of this trend set in, I have learnt a few more things about this parasitism. I realize that the stronger and intrinsically happier you are, the more difficult it is for the other person to prove their worth in your life. If most of the time you are quite capable of finding the reasons of your happiness and strength from within, what role does the other person have really? They then have to do so much more to earn all that they are taking from you so they don't end up feeling like burdens and disappointments over time. They HAVE to be givers too.

And nothing can be more beautiful than two givers meeting. The flip side is, nothing can be more devastating when one of the two turns. After many heartbreaks and disappointments, you meet someone who FINALLY gives you all signs of being a lifelong giver, just like you. Everything is rosy because both have reached a point where they are tired of being walked all over, and so, both are grateful that the other person is ready to reciprocate. And this makes both want to contribute more and more. It couldn't be a better equation. All is beautiful and magical. Till, suddenly, one of them passes over to the other side. i.e., they see the convenience in finally stopping all efforts from their end and to just sit back and leech. An actual lifetime giver is not capable of stopping. It's like an OCD. So even when you realize that the other has stopped, you are incapable of 'being in' a relationship in your head and not give them all your attention and care and thoughts. So, you go on and on and on giving, all the time hoping, waiting that they will restart, the magic will be restored, but usually only end up hurting yourself more than ever before. Cos taking is like a bad bad addiction.
And the worst thing is that despite the hurt and disappointment that surpasses all failures ever before, you feel unable to let go because this is one person with whom you had actually, finally, seen the magic, known the possibilities. And yet, after all your efforts, talking, conversations, reasoning, pleading even, to try and get that magic back, if the other person has nothing better but reasons, for not so much as moving a little finger to try and get that magic back, what other options do you have, really.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


You needn't always think of things from another person's view. Everyone is human. You will usually only think of the good things you have done or the bad things you have suffered. 

But, when you know that you have done the worst possible thing to someone, hurt them and treated them badly for years together, and yet you think it's okay to shout at them when they react to your callous selfish disrespectful abandonment of them, you really need help. 

If you can't find in yourself enough remorse and humility to at least realize that since you have done so much wrong, the other person is bound to get affected and react and the least you can do is handle that reaction, if not apologist and promise to make things better, then I don't know what kind of human are you.

Never Say I am Wrong

You needn't always think of things from another person's view. Everyone is human. You will usually only think of the good things you have done or the bad things you have suffered. 

But, when you know that you have done the worst possible thing to someone, hurt them and treated them badly for years together, and yet you think it's okay to shout at them when they react to your callous selfish disrespectful abandonment of them, you really need help. 

If you can't find in yourself enough remorse and humility to at least realize that since you have done so much wrong, the other person is bound to get affected and react and the least you can do is handle that reaction, if not apologize and promise to make things better, then I don't know what kind of human are you.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Him, Life.

Here I was, slinking along the edges of my life the last few months, trying to make the best of what I was left with, hoping to blend in, hoping He would have forgotten about me and not take notice. Hoping He would let me be, let me just quietly exist, simply get along.

And Bam! out of nowhere the spotlight is on me all over again. He has his full attention focused on me and here I am, a sitting duck, still trying to get along cos that is how He is. He doesn't let you stop. So I am trying to get along hoping his gaze passes me without much damage but they have already started. Those disasters, one after the other. My constant companion. The gift of His attention.

The worst part is the double edged sword. Despite wanting terribly badly that I were in a position to wish/hope/pray that He just completely stops, just pushes me out of His conscience, His world, I cannot. I cannot wish that. Because if He ends my presence in His world, that would mean a terrible disaster to another little life. And then a series of disasters. And then him wishing that he could slink away from His attention as well. And that is something I would never want for the little him. I want to him live his Life to the fullest. To enjoy His life's attention. To be in His good books. To be His best friend.

And so, here I am, slinking along the edges of His attention, His worst enemy that He loves to hurt.


She wondered whether to bargain or barter with him. Bargain would mean rape of her body and barter would mean selling of her soul instead. Physical pain or emotional hurt was the question. Her dilemma.