Don’t be a Bystander…

“Stand up to ignorance, because if you don’t, the ignorant will run free to spread ignorance like a disease.” ― Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

Don’t be a Bystander
Stand up & fight for her…

Don’t tell her what to wear,
Eat,
Or Do…
Stand up for her instead…

Sometimes she’s tired
Of all the touches, glares & weird grins…
Fight for her,
When she can’t, for herself…

It doesn’t matter where she is,
In crowds or secluded places,
It isn’t her fault…

Actually, it’s never her fault…

Tell her she’s strong
When she’s not…
Tell her you’re with her
No matter what…

Tell her to hit & kick & shout & scream
When they use her body
To boost their ego,
prove their “manliness”,
and satisfy their so-called “needs”…

Tell her it isn’t her fault
Till she believes it,

And, you believe it yourself…

Learn what’s truly right & wrong
And Fight for her,
When she can’t, for herself

 

 

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I’m Fine…

“We mistakenly assume that if our partners love us they will react and behave in certain ways – the ways we react and behave when we love someone.” ~ John Gray

“I’m happy dad.”

“You’ve taught me right mom.”

“Yes, dad I have not given them any reason to diminish our family’s reputation in anyway.”

“Mom, you were right when you said I can’t wake up anytime I want & I’m the one who has to take care of the home.”

“No dad, he wants me home by tonight. He doesn’t like when I stay here.”

“Yes Mom, I give him everything he wishes for. He says I take of all my duties properly. Tee-hee”

“No dad, he wants some help with buying a house… It’s for your daughter & her family’s good only!”

“Yes mom, he says you should be gifting me more gold so that he can save for our future kids”

“Dad, you should’ve taken care of your retirement funds before, we can’t help you right now”

“Mom, can you please come over & take care of your grandchild. Mummy has a ‘kitty-party’ today.”

“Yes dad, mummy has given us permission to visit you”

“No mom, he has said he has an unscheduled meeting today, so he won’t be joining me. You can just pack the extra food”

….A few years later…

“Hey! It’s been so long… Everything here… yeah… I don’t know… Everything is fine, I have done everything right, don’t speak to any friend apart from you, worn the right clothes, spoken the right words, cooked the right dishes, listened to everyone, I’m the perfect Daughter In Law (according to my ‘mummy’), cut contacts with all my guy friends, left my job, my husband thinks I’m a good wife who follows all her wifely duties perfectly, followed every ritual & prayed, basically everything my parents have asked me to do since I turned 16 but somehow I feel stuffy.I feel like I’m living a hundred different versions of myself except the one that is truly me. I have forgotten who she is now but anyway to honestly answer your question, “How am I?” – Well… I’m fine; just perfectly fine…”

This is for your Own Good…

“Justine, whenever someone says “this is for your own good”, it’s a guarantee they’re about to cause you some kind of damage” – Lisa Klepyas

She kept pounding on her bedroom door till her hands started to bleed. She could still feel the stinging feeling on her cheeks where her parents slapped her.

She soon heard a scuffle of someone near the door. She knew it was her brother. Hope filled her heart as she screamed his name. She heard the retreating footsteps trace back to her room. Before she could say anything, he repeated the sentence created by words that felt like knives tearing through her heart; “This is for Your Own Good.”

She committed a crime unforgivable by the ones she thought loved her unconditionally. She fell in Love. Through her tears, she smiled as she thought of him.

But the crime was not just that she fell in love, but that she fell in love with a ‘wrong’ man. A man, who is well educated, looked alright & whose best feature was his big, beautiful heart. He has a smile that could melt the hardest of hearts. He loves her as though she was the only one person he ever knew in this world. But he was ‘wrong’ because he belonged to a caste lower than hers.

She thought back to what her parents & uncles said; each word like bullets to everything she believed in.

“You are superior by caste, how dare you even ask to get married to someone below your stature. What will the society say? This is an insult beyond all imagination. Just because we gave you the freedom to study & work, this is what you give us in return? You fall in love?

These aren’t the values we brought you up with. We always taught you to be a nice girl. One who does everything we say. What happened to you suddenly? We sacrificed so much for you, how could you say that you would get married to someone of your own choice!

We gave birth to you so we are the ones who will decide who you can get married to.

You have brought shame to our family. We were so proud that our only daughter has studied this far & is working. Mr Rathod was so jealous that so many good & rich families were asking your hand for their sons, even NRI boys.

Now who will get married to you?

You better get married to someone we say otherwise you will have to walk over our dead bodies before you reach the wedding mandap…”

She was so scared. One moment she was a free, independent young woman, who along with the others in her other world, fought for equal rights for every individual human being & here she was fighting once again but this time for her own life. She couldn’t even believe that she was in a situation like this. This was beyond all rational judgment. And the fact that her own brother was supporting them was something she couldn’t digest.

Did she really bring her family shame? Did she really commit such a horrendous crime? Did she deserve every slap & whip she got?

What did she do wrong?

She thought of this, days later, as she walked into the room she was to spend the night with the stranger her parents forced to get married to. This is all just a bad dream she tried consoling herself carrying the customary glass of milk inside.

She saw a big lump of her ‘husband’ on the bed & was about to sleep when she felt a breath of hot, moist air on her neck. She pushed him away out of spite, anger & anxiety & he responded by slapping her which shocked her beyond anything she could comprehend.

She just let go, as he rolled on top of her, waiting for the all the “good” in her life to begin.

Living in the Prison of Freedom

“You’re still in prison if you do nothing better in freedom.” ― Toba Beta, Master of Stupidity

There is a story about elephants and their owners in Africa. (Refer Link)

An elephant can easily uproot huge trees with its trunk. It can knock down a house without much trouble. When an elephant living in captivity is still a baby, it is tied to a tree with a strong rope or a chain every night. It is the nature of elephants to roam free, thus the baby elephant instinctively tries with all his might to break the rope. But it isn’t yet strong enough to do so. Realizing his efforts are of no use, it finally gives up struggling. The baby elephant tried and failed many times, it will never try again for the rest of his life.
Later, when the elephant is fully grown, it can be tied to a small tree with a thin rope. It could then easily free itself by uprooting the tree or breaking the rope. But because its mind has been conditioned by its prior experiences, it doesn’t make the slightest attempt to break free. The powerfully gigantic elephant has limited its present abilities by the limitations of the past—hence called, the Baby Elephant Syndrome.

Unlike the elephant in the story, she knows she is free. She is free to do or be anything her heart desires but she is still bound by self limitations, conditions set by some outside forces (read: society) & some heart wrenching experiences in her past.

She is free to make her own choices but they have to be taken as soon as possible. She is free to do as she wishes but just for the next year of her life. She is free to work where she wishes to, but just until she gets married, then she needs to leave everything & follow her “partner for life”.

She has so many amazing qualities, just like the grown up elephant in the story does but the power of herself limiting beliefs prevail over all her good qualities & stops her from doing the things that she knows are best for her, the things that would make her happy.

One of the biggest factors that stop her from living is Fear. Fear to do something beyond what the society expects of her, Fear of going against the society, Fear of Failure, Fear of being left behind, Fear that the society would tell her that they were right all along, Fear that her time has run out, Fear that she would be left all alone in this world.

Instead of trying to do something that would benefit her & make her happy & proud, she settles for things that are mediocre. Some part inside of her always thinks, is this it? Is this why she was sent to this beautiful planet? Is this her life purpose?

She lives in a prison of her own freedom.

The only way she can break free from this prison is to find the strength to fight those beliefs that have been ingrained in her since her childhood. She needs to be aware of her weaknesses & not let them stop her from being the best person she can become.

Humans are exactly like the elephant except for one thing — she can choose not to accept the false boundaries and limitations created by the past. (Refer Link)

A Response to a Message I received…

“I think fitting in is highly overrated. I’d rather just fit out… Fitting out means being who you are, even when people insist that you have to change. Fitting out means taking up space, not apologizing for yourself, and not agreeing with those who seek to label you with stereotypes.” ― Golda Poretsky

Just a few days back, I received this message on a popular messaging service – a forward, for Women’s Day/Week.

This is what it said:-

“A lot of men think they are doing women a favor by asking her hand in marriage, but let’s think about this:

She changes her name,

Changes her home,

Leaves her family,

Moves in with you,

Builds a home with you,

Gets pregnant for you,

Pregnancy changes her body,

She gets fat,

Almost gives up in the labor room due to the unbearable pains of child birth,

Even the kids she delivers bear your name.

Till the day she dies, everything she does (cooking, cleaning, advising you, ensuring you can be relaxed, maintaining all family relations, everything that benefit you ;Sometimes at the cost of her own health, hobbies & beauty.

So who is really doing whom a favor?

Dear men, appreciate the women in your lives always, coz it is not easy being a woman.

Being a woman is priceless

Happy Women’s week

Rock the world ladies.”

This is what I would like to say to the one who composed this & to the ones who believe this to be true.

This forward sends a wrong message to all & this is why I think it does.

First of all, no one is doing any favors to anyone by getting married. People get married because they want someone they can share the rest of their life with & both would support each other by helping each other become the best versions of themselves. Reasons like “My father asked me to” or “Finally, I can get laid” or “This way I get freedom” etc are superficial & generally marriages based on such reasoning don’t last long & often leads to disastrous results like messy divorces, abuse & depression.

When she gets married and “leaves” her home, she leaves it so that she & her husband can move into a place of their own & build a home. Yes, I agree there are many cases where the husband still lives with his parents but again, these are choices that need to be made by both the wife & husband beforehand.

When she gets married, changing her surname (& in some cases, the name) isn’t necessary. If she doesn’t wish to change her identity, she cannot be forced to do it. (Here is an article written by Khushi regarding this: Link)

When a lady gets pregnant, I doubt she does it for the husband. She doesn’t become pregnant but “they” do & they do because they both want to be parents & raise a child & become a family. While we are at this, there are many drugs & procedures available to ensure that you don’t give up on the table while giving birth to your baby. Again, you are not doing a favor to anyone by doing this. You can always choose not to have a baby or opt for adoption.

The statement in the forward implies that people have children to satisfy the society.

Apart from that, the other things mentioned; cooking, cleaning etc are household chores that both should share. For example: If the wife has made dinner then her husband can lend a hand by cleaning the dishes.  Neither is it a sin if the man does work in the house nor does he become any less of a man. (Here are two articles written by Bharat & R’s Mom on Gender Stereotypes: Link & Link).

If she does these chores to satisfy her husband & the society then she is doing everything for all the wrong reasons. Ultimately activities that aren’t self-satisfactory tend to backfire.

A woman (actually any human being for that matter) should be able to choose to do what makes her happy. If she wants to be a homemaker, someone who works from home or someone who is more career-oriented then she can do it of her own free-will.

She isn’t doing anyone a favor by choosing to be someone who puts others needs before her own & destroying her self-worth & self-esteem.

If you say being a woman is difficult – it maybe so but being a man isn’t easy either. He has responsibilities of his own that have been forced upon him ever since he was a child. Men, at least the ones I have come across, aren’t always emotionally resilient either. They face daily problems of their own & can’t cry or vent it out because of this society that has taught him not to cry because “He is a MAN”. (An article regarding this)

I would say in this day & age, regardless of what gender you are, life can be difficult. It always has its ups & downs. It’s all on how you tackle the difficult situations that arise & the choices you make that would define how difficult or easy your life would be.

The reason I am writing this today is because small messages/forwards like this enable & justify all the wrong that is happening in our country today. Women have to go through so much trouble & sacrifice all their dreams, wishes & things they like to do or wear just because they got married into families who raise men to believe they are entitled to all of this & that they don’t have to sacrifice anything for the woman they are married to just because of the sexual organs they are bestowed with.

I don’t want our future kids believing that women are only meant to do the things mentioned above & they definitely shouldn’t do it if the others expect her to. They & their respective life partners must equally adjust & live like a team.

Being a woman maybe wonderful but it doesn’t mean that men aren’t. There are so many men in whom I have seen a beautiful personality that justly proves that men are wonderful too & in some cases better than many women I have met. (I generally tend to judge based on the way they treat fellow human beings).

This message actually subtly insults both genders.

You can’t categorize just one of the genders to be priceless. There would be no man without a woman & no woman without a man. Every human life is priceless…

Disclaimer: The above post isn’t applicable to people who are forced into marriages by emotional blackmail or otherwise. It isn’t applicable to those who undergo abuse – emotional or physical at the hands of their spouse or in-laws. This is isn’t applicable to Male or Female Chauvinists. There may be certain points that aren’t applicable to those undergoing issues such as depression or anxiety disorders.