Women’s Hostel and a rambling thought process

I clicked on a video- a movie “from back home” and ended up watching the entire movie because I wanted to find out what happens to the protagonist, a girl.

So, the video is where a young girl is searching for an apartment (she is supposed to work in IT) and she checks out a house wherein the landlord/a middle aged man not only refuses to let out the apartment to her but also adds, “But aren’t there enough women’s hostels out there for girls like you? Why ever do you need to rent out an apartment alone?”

I expected the girl to just be sad or cry or just not to say anything. But he looks at straight in the face and says “I’m allergic to women’s hostels” and walks way.

Screenshot 2017-06-04 20.15.13

The fact that women (-working women-) invariably end up in women’s hostels tells us that our cities and the society are built for men. Women are supposed to stay at home under the protection of the family (of course, the male members) and that she belongs to a gender ill equipped to handle life alone with out men and cannot protect herself from the evils of the world. She also ends up giving up to temptations like, oh no ‘lust’! She needs men and older wiser women to help her keep her legs closed and vaginas locked up.

And then times changed. And here we are, talking about gender equality and women’s liberation. Actually its getting a bit stale, this whole thing with gender equality, isn’t it?But then why are women who move to cities for work still living in hostels? Makes you wonder.

I personally HATE hostels. I have been through them. And I’m never setting foot in another one. I have experienced the insane curfews. I have heard about worse ones (where a member of the family has to sign a letter for the girl/woman to stay out after 8pm). I have seen how the matron looks at you when wear just a hint of make up when you go out. It is obvious what goes on in their minds, isn’t it?

As a woman there is NO necessity to walk out of your family home. Even if you do, it is ‘enough’ to get a basic degree and get married to a random guy your family finds for you (who is also often a creep who most probably has no clue what/ where a clitoris is). Sorry, but I digress! Lets not start with men and clitoris, another story of its own!

So back to what I was saying- there is absolutely NO necessity to get a job let alone a career (as P says ‘jobs for women and careers for men’).

Are you a woman with job/career and want to rent an apartment = slut! Period.

But then there is a way to redeem yourself! Work hard! Go to University! Get a degree! Work even harder! Get a great job! Have a career! Make be make lots of money! Own your life, professional and personal. Be responsible and or squander all the money! And you still don’t want to be a slut/whore?

Despite achieving all of the above said, you need to go back home and marry the above-mentioned creep (your parents find for you). Listen to him. Keep feeding to his ego. Voila!  There it is! A simple solution.

You are welcome.

-P

 

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Feminist in love

Did I mention I am a feminist? Yes. I am! I am completely unapologetic about it as well. And I am in love. I am in love with life and living, with friends and food, with travel and people, with work and fun…and most of all, MEN.

Can the two coexist you ask. Can there be a non-bitter feminist you ask. There can be, I say!

noun fem·i·nism \ˈfe-mə-ˌni-zəm\

Definition

1:  the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

2:  organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

 

For thousands of men and women out there who could be feminists, but are not. Who would prefer not to be associated with the word or anything to do with it because of what a feminist is expected to be like. I want you all to stand up for women all over the world. Raise your voice against injustice to women- be it at home when your fathers disrespect your mothers, when your mothers treat your brothers better than you, when your teacher treats boys and girls different and so on and so on. Every time you stand up for women, it makes a difference. Every time you speak out against suppression it creates change. I want you all to call yourselves proud feminists. Do not be afraid to like and want sex. Do not be afraid to refuse intimacy, if you do not want it. It is about creating a world where women are free to choose. Now while we do all that, we can still live and love. You can still get married, have children, quit your jobs and choose to put family first. You can be a feminist despite all of that.

 

While we are at it, I will now introduce C- a dear friend and colleague, a feminist. C very rightly pointed out that feminism is not about creating brand ‘women’. C believes that feminism is definitely not about getting all women to have careers and strive for the same things. Very convincingly, C made me understand that strong women do not have to do identical things or aspire for the same kind of success. That we should leave for men to do. Women do not have to become like men. However, women need to be treated like how men are, like individuals, like human beings. We should keep fighting until we get there.

A life of feminism and love- like ‘I will never put up with sexist bull#$#$ anywhere anytime’ feminism. Like ‘Everything looks colourless, you can’t eat or sleep without that special person around’ love.

-S

A cold evening

She wasn’t really sure. Where did she stand? Where was she positioned? How was she positioned in this great world? She liked it simplified. Her problem was that she didn’t know how to define herself. Not to identify her to others, but to herself. It mattered. She would like be known as someone who was so and so. She wanted someone to define her like they define people in books or newspapers. Then she would know.

Her background was confusing to her. Was she upper middle class or rich? To the average European she was an immigrant from the third world. An immigrant looking for better ‘quality’ of life. Despite the fact that for the average European it might be difficult to believe, her family was ‘affluent’ back home. She had quite a comfortable living.

But then what was she doing here?

There she was. It was cold. It was drafty. She put her hands in the pockets of her heavy coat and squeezed them hard. It had been a hard day at work. She was still struggling with the new language. It was tough communicating with people at work. She felt stupid. Her co-workers thought she was stupid. What was it that made her stand muted as a stone when she was a little bit unsure of something?

She wished she could speak loud and be confident at work, as she was when speaking about things that inspire her in a language she was fluent in. She looked around. It was 5 pm and already dark. The crowd of white men and women.

She didn’t want to be an immigrant. It was such a damning word. She didn’t leave her country to be an immigrant. She left, or so she thought, because she wanted to be a woman of the world or a global citizen. She wondered. How did she end up here? – A small railway station on the outskirts of a town. In Europe, she felt as though it was completely deserted every time you got out of a city. Was it because she was used to seeing humongous numbers of people everywhere in her own country? She didn’t know. As always she didn’t have the answer.

pickerimage

She was becoming more and more unsure of things. Unsure of her goal, of what she wanted in her life or where she was going. She looked around her again. The average white crowd. For they were just that. And to them she was the immigrant. For she was just that. You get what you give. She wouldn’t see them as anything more.

She wanted to blame someone. She needed to blame someone for the cold that was biting her toes through the shoes, for the stranger that she had become. A stranger in this strange land and a stranger in her own country.

No! She will not think this way anymore. It was too depressing. She told herself that it was her choice to be here, in this strange land, to stand in this railway station in this cold.

And so she stood.

                   -P

Trying to live up to the brown girl expectations (or not)

What does it mean to be a ‘good’ Indian woman? What does it mean, as a woman, to belong to Indian culture?
We want to be women that belong to the Indian culture, while we also have opinions and a mind of our own. Is that too much to ask? Is that even possible?

twowomen pic1Art by P 

In our opinion, Indian culture as it is commonly defined today is so steeped in sexist and discriminatory bull$*#& that it is almost impossible to see what lies underneath, if anything all! Would there be anything left in the culture once we remove the sexism, misogyny and discrimination?
As Indian women living abroad, we have often felt like outcasts, like traitors of the culture every time we speak our minds; hold ‘radical’ views; speak of sex, speak of dating; decide not to have kids; have kids without being married and the list goes on. We know that this is not unique to the Indian community. Indeed, it is hard to hold any of the above views and belong to society in general. But there is something about framing it as being against the ‘culture’ that stands out in the Indian context. This framing, we believe, is what makes the struggle different.

Sometimes we wonder if all this is in our heads. But then again, don’t you know when someone is judging you?

Don’t get us wrong – this makes us sad! There are times when we yearn to be part of the community. And believe me, we have tried- Hanging with other people of our own castes (yeah, don’t ask, that happens a lot more than you think in the Indian community); going to we-speak-the-same-regional language-party; more ‘liberal’ get-togethers. The problem you ask? We were ourselves and said ‘controversial’ things, acted with a little self-respect. The result – being labeled ‘loose’ and ‘easy’ women, women you can harass and make passes at because she has/ had a boyfriend before, women who will sleep with anyone because she has already slept with someone.
If belonging to the Indian culture means having to fit into a frame of the ‘ideal’, we would rather not belong. If we are going to be judged by our marital status or opinions, I reject that ‘culture’ and want no part of it.

If you happen to read this blog and have had similar experiences, leave us a comment! Can’t wait to share the bitterness.

If you happen to read this blog and disagree with us or want to call us names or mindlessly defend Indian culture, leave us a comment as well! There is nothing like letting people prove how stupid they are than simply letting them speak their minds.

– S

Why blog?

I’ve been discussing with my best friend of 13 years the ‘whys’ and ‘why-nots’ of wanting to start a blog. It was more for her since she obviously has a more globe trotting and interesting life than me. But it seems like she is not doing that and since I too have lots to say and lots of opinions to give (one of the ‘why-nots’) I decided to do the ‘pillaiyar suli’ (பிள்ளையார் சுழி) as they say in my mother tongue.

                                                                                                -P