Saturday, December 23, 2006

subversion and the politics of power

If Men Could Menstruate
-- Gloria Steinem

A white minority of the world has spent centuries conning us into thinking that a white skin makes people superior - even though the only thing it really does is make the more subject to ultraviolet rays and to wrinkles. Male human beings have built whole cultures around the idea that penis envy is "natural" to women - though having such an unprotected organ might be said to make men vulnerable, and the power to give birth makes womb envy at least as logical. In short, the characteristics of the powerful, whatever they may be, are thought to be better than the characteristics of the powerless - and logic has nothing to do with it.What would happen, for instance, if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not?The answer is clear - menstruation would become an enviable, boast-worthy, masculine event:Men would brag about how long and how much.Boys would mark the onset of menses, that longed-for proof of manhood, with religious ritual and stag parties.Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea to help stamp out monthly discomforts.Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free. (Of course, some men would still pay for the prestige of commercial brands such as John Wayne Tampons, Muhammad Ali's Rope-a-dope Pads, Joe Namath Jock Shields - "For Those Light Bachelor Days," and Robert "Baretta" Blake Maxi-Pads.) Military men, right-wing politicians, and religious fundamentalists would cite menstruation ("men-struation") as proof that only men could serve in the Army ("you have to give blood to take blood"), occupy political office ("can women be aggressive without that steadfast cycle governed by the planet Mars?"), be priest and ministers ("how could a woman give her blood for our sins?") or rabbis ("without the monthly loss of impurities, women remain unclean"). Male radicals, left-wing politicians, mystics, however, would insist that women are equal, just different, and that any woman could enter their ranks if she were willing to self-inflict a major wound every month ("you MUST give blood for the revolution"), recognize the preeminence of menstrual issues, or subordinate her selfness to all men in their Cycle of Enlightenment. Street guys would brag ("I'm a three pad man") or answer praise from a buddy ("Man, you lookin' good!") by giving fives and saying, "Yeah, man, I'm on the rag!" TV shows would treat the subject at length. ("Happy Days": Richie and Potsie try to convince Fonzie that he is still "The Fonz," though he has missed two periods in a row.) So would newspapers. (SHARK SCARE THREATENS MENSTRUATING MEN. JUDGE CITES MONTHLY STRESS IN PARDONING RAPIST.) And movies. (Newman and Redford in "Blood Brothers"!)Men would convince women that intercourse was more pleasurable at "that time of the month." Lesbians would be said to fear blood and therefore life itself - though probably only because they needed a good menstruating man. Of course, male intellectuals would offer the most moral and logical arguments. How could a woman master any discipline that demanded a sense of time, space, mathematics, or measurement, for instance, without that in-built gift for measuring the cycles of the moon and planets - and thus for measuring anything at all? In the rarefied fields of philosophy and religion, could women compensate for missing the rhythm of the universe? Or for their lack of symbolic death-and-resurrection every month? Liberal males in every field would try to be kind: the fact that "these people" have no gift for measuring life or connecting to the universe, the liberals would explain, should be punishment enough.And how would women be trained to react? One can imagine traditional women agreeing to all arguments with a staunch and smiling masochism. ("The ERA would force housewives to wound themselves every month": Phyllis Schlafly. "Your husband's blood is as sacred as that of Jesus - and so sexy, too!": Marabel Morgan.) Reformers and Queen Bees would try to imitate men, and pretend to have a monthly cycle. All feminists would explain endlessly that men, too, needed to be liberated from the false idea of Martian aggressiveness, just as women needed to escape the bonds of menses envy. Radical feminist would add that the oppression of the nonmenstrual was the pattern for all other oppressions ("Vampires were our first freedom fighters!") Cultural feminists would develop a bloodless imagery in art and literature. Socialist feminists would insist that only under capitalism would men be able to monopolize menstrual blood . . . . In fact, if men could menstruate, the power justifications could probably go on forever.If we let them.


This article originally appeared in the October 1978 issue of Ms. magazine and was included in one of Steinem's many books: Gloria Steinem, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions.
[NY - NAL, 1986 (updated second edition by Owlet Books).]

Saturday, November 25, 2006

THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT/INDIA

in short* :

The Domestic Violence Act introduces into the existing law the following concepts:

· The civil wrong of domestic violence;
· The right to protection against domestic violence by obtaining protection orders, residence orders and monetary relief orders.
· The right to be informed of the accessibility of such orders and the services of accredited service providers; and
· The right to reside in shared household.
The Bill defines domestic violence "as any act, omission or conduct which is of such nature as to harm or has the potential of harming or injuring the health, safety or well being of a women. Such violence could be physical, sexual, verbal, mental or economic."
It protects a person against violence in a domestic relationship i.e. a relationship either by marriage or birth or consanguinity or custom or cohabitation.
A person aggrieved can obtain the following orders:
· Protection order
· Residence order
· Monetary relief order
· Temporary child custody order

She can approach the Court by filling a petition listing out the details of her case and asking for the orders that would protect her from violence. She can obtain an order even in a pending suit or criminal case such as divorce case or a criminal case of cruelty. The person aggrieved can insist that a court while granting bail to the respondent impose conditions, which would protect her from violence. If for any reason she is unable to move the Court, a petition may be brought by a person authorized by her or an NGO or a protection officer.
The Court can grant immediate relief and confirm it after hearing both parties

A protection order prohibits the respondent from:
· Committing acts of domestic violence.
· Helping someone else commit such acts.
· Entering the office or house of the person aggrieved.
· Communicating with the person aggrieved.
· Selling of property or emptying bank lockers and accounts.
· Causing violence to people assisting the person aggrieved.

By a Residence order, the Court may pass orders in relation to the "shared household" such as:
· Helping the person aggrieved to remain in the house.
· Preventing her from being removed from the house.
· Prohibiting the respondent from entering the house.
· Restraining the respondent from selling or giving the house away.
· Restraining the respondent from giving up his right or claim in house.
· Directing the respondent from finding an alternative house for the person aggrieved.

A Monetary Relief order entitles the person aggrieved to meet the expenses incurred by her in meeting her needs and the needs of her children, if any including money to meet:
· Loss of earnings.
· Medical expenses.
· Maintenance, including for the children, if any.
· Loss on account of damage or removal of property.
· Compensation for the domestic violence inflicted upon her.

An order is valid for two years and may be renewed thereafter. Breach of an order is a cognizable and non-bailable offence punishable with imprisonment upto three years or fine, which may extend to Rs. 20,000 or both.
Such offence may be tried by the Court which had passed the orders whose breach is alleged.
The bill contemplates two institutions
The Protection Officers and Accredited Service Providers .The former shall be in charge of coordinating the responses of the police and various registered service providers such as shelters, hospitals, counselling centres, rehabilitation centres and legal aid offices. The State shall frame rules for the accreditation of these service providers.
The person aggrieved can file a petition where either she or the respondent resides or where she suffered the domestic violence.
The Bill provides for mandatory counselling of the respondent and even joint counselling with the person aggrieved if she is agreeable.

*editing credits to a friend who does not have a blog and thus cannot be linked:P but if said friend is reading this and wishes to be acknowledged by name, please contact me and I shall do it :)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

diwali thoughts

If you're a devout Hindu, and someone mistakes you for a Muslim, you'd be offended.

If you're a devout Muslim and someone mistakes you for a Christian, you'd be offended.

If you're a devout Christian and someone mistakes you for a Hindu, you'd be offended.

But that's not the point. The point is that when a religious festival is around the corner, you make it a point to wish people around you. "Happy Diwali," I am told. I usually just say "Thank you."

I don't know what else to say, without offending the person who has just wished me. After all, it was just a simple good wish.

But I'm atheist.

And it HURTS MY SENTIMENTS to be mistaken for religious.

Monday, October 09, 2006

lose yourself

"I write. I write that I am writing. Mentally I see myself writing that I am writing and I can also see myself seeing that I am writing. I remember writing and also seeing myself writing. And I see myself remembering that I see myself writing and I remember seeing myself remebering that I was writing and I write seeing myself write that I remeber having seen myself write that I saw myself writing that I was writing and that I was writing that I was writing that I was wrirting. I can also imagine myself writing that I had already written that I would imagine myself writing that I had written that I was imagining myself writing that I see myself writing that I am writing."

Salvador Elizondo / The Graphographer

Sunday, October 01, 2006

who i am

44 years old. Male. Married. Two kids. That's me.

So now I've broken my silence.
Now you know a little more about who I am.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

my grandmother

she died on this date 4 years ago.

we had a pooja today.

i think about her everyday. there have been times when i've had violent spells of missing her. there are all the things she made for me when she was alive which i refuse to throw away. and also this curious habit i developed of refusing to kill mosquitoes and flies. i seemed to have developed it after she died. i understand that she needed to leave.

and then this prayer meeting. we've had one every year on this date to honour her memory. the first year, i was petrified of attending it. i was scared of re-living the memories it may bring back. i was scared of watching everyone cry.

it's rather curious how expressions of bereavement subside over time. this year i felt it was my duty to be there. it wasn't about memories or intense emotions or anything else. made me think a lot. it's more of a ritual now. dry duty. or a blunt pattern. if i was dead, i'd rather my friends/family perform a remebrence service whenever they really, really missed me in the vacuum that death creates. for the feeling of me, not for the sake of keeping a date.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

women and children

No, really. What IS up with that phrase?
What is the difference between the two?
Are women as vulnerable as children?

Is that it?
Really?

Why?

...and why not "men and children"?

does that make you uncomfortable?
does it sound wrong?
how does it make you feel?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

at the movies

I was at a movie last week.

There was one scene where one of the characters, this really dorky looking guy with a hat, walks into a restaurant and asks the crowd in general "Have any of you read books that have then influenced your lives?"

One man in the crowd raises his hand and says "I read Lolita and ever since then I have been molesting teenage girls."

Everyone in the theatre burst into laughter.

There was a row of five young women sitting together.

There was no laughter from that row.

Silence.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

saas-bahu

I am going to call him Mr.X.

He lives in my nieghbourhood with his wife. This couple had 2 or 3 children - i seem to forget the number. All their children were male.

Mr.X and his wife prefer to hire domestic help to do cooking/cleaning/washing etc.

Every time a maid is hired in their house, Mr.X rapes her. She then leaves. A new maid is hired. Mr.X rapes her. The cycle repeats itself.

When Mr.X's sons were old enough to get married, their mother insisted that they set up independent homes with their wives. None of Mr.X's children stay with him any longer.


His wife knew about his habit. Who knows, may be she has even beeen raped by him herself.

By insisting that her sons set up independent homes with their wives, Mr.X's wife has ensured that her daughters-in-law remain safe.

*****
There are so many stories about hostile relationships between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. This is a true story that challenges the stereotype and this is why I thought I would share it with you.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

just our regular twenty-first century ad

A man's world.

But a woman's home.

(Found on a print campaign for Godrej cupoards, beds, and electrical home appliances)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

it now works

I fixed the problem with the link in my previous post. so if you couldn't access it previously, try again now - it works :)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

useful link

I remeber that a while ago i wrote a post on street sexual harrasment and this one person called libran lover simply kept missing my point!

His point: when men sexually harrass women they are simply expressing a basic "natural" sexual urge.

My point: sexual harrasment of women is a LEARNT behaviour which is possible in a gender unequal environment that teaches men that they are stronger/more powerful than women thus giving them the "right" to sexually harrass women.

My argument may not have been all that coherent. But recently I came across this post and the writer has some very well articulated, clearly expressed observations on sexual harrasment. Go read: saucebox.almeidaisgod.com/?p=85

Thursday, June 08, 2006

+91-991100-5744

Beware if you receive calls or text messages from this number. It belongs to a desparate loser who is known to stalk women.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

the princess, the frog

This is a foward that I got the other day. An old fairy tale re-visited. Enjoy :)

Once upon a time
>>>>~~~~~~~~>>>>
in a land far away,
> >> > ~~~~~~~~> >> >
a beautiful, independent,
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
self-assured princess
> >~~~~~~~~> >
happened upon a frog as she sat
> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
contemplating ecological issues
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
on the shores of an unpolluted pond
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
in a verdant meadow near her castle.
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
The frog hopped into the princess' lap
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
and said: " Elegant Lady,
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
I was once a handsome prince,
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
until an evil witch cast a spell upon me.
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
One kiss from you, however,
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
and I will turn back
> >> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
into the dapper, young prince that I am
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
and then, my sweet, we can marry
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
and set up housekeeping in your castle
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
with my mother,
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
where you can prepare my meals,
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
clean my clothes, bear my children,
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
and forever feel
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
grateful and happy doing so. "
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
That night,
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
as the princess dined sumptuously
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
on lightly sauteed frog legs
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
seasoned in a white wine
> >> >~~~~~~~> >> >
and onion cream sauce,
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
she chuckled and thought to herself:
> >> >~~~~~~~~> >> >
I don't freakin' think so.
>>>

Monday, May 29, 2006

...

A woman's body IS HER OWN.

NOT the State's.
NOT God's.
NOT her husband's.
NOT her family's.
NOT society's.
NOT the preists'.


So.

If she wants to get an abortion, so be it.

*********
India has an appalling sex-ratio. Abysmally skewed in favour of MEN.
Sex-selective abortions are not right.
Sex-selective abortions ARE the problem.
Sex-selective abortions are the problem of
the State
God
Husbands
Families
Societies
Priests...
...and women themselves.
***********
The SOLUTION IS to IMPLEMENT the current laws as per the Indian constitution that pertain to abolishing sex-determination clinics.
**********
The SOLUTION IS NOT to ban abortions.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

did you know that

women can piss standing up? my sister tried it and told me that it is entirely possible :)

Monday, May 08, 2006

BOOKS

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time/Mark Haddon
  • Introduction to Psychology/Clifford Thomas Morgan, Richard A. King
  • Through the Looking-Glass And What Alice Found There/Lewis Carroll
  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd/Agatha Christie
  • Mahabharata retold by C.Rajagopalachari
  • Prelude to the Foundation/Isaac Asimov

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

what set me off...

I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT take this anymore. I know that I have been carefully restraining from writing anything concrete in this god-forsaken blog for fear of exposing my secret thoughts to the eyes of random strangers, but this I absolutely CANNOT TAKE anymore.

This post is for all those who believe that when a man sexually harasses a woman, he is simply giving outlet to a basic sexual need and does personally mean any harm to her…

Since all women I know, ranging from my 65 year old cook to my 15 year old sister, get sexually harassed in streets and public places, I would have to agree that most men when they sexually harass women are not really THINKING about the INDIVIDUAL woman as such, but are instead merely looking to enjoy a sexual experience and give outlet to their urges.... Infact, many of us believe that the reason for eve-teasing in India is the lack of an alternative, appropriate social code of expression of sexuality i.e. the concept of an unmarried couple dating is still, in many parts of India, a social taboo. This then “naturally” seems to be the reason why men make lewd comments at passing women, sing songs at passing women, whistle at women, make weird kissy-letchy noises at women, stare and undress women with their eyes, brush past women, rub themselves against women, grab women, feel up women...
all because there is no other appropriate social code for their sexual outlets. If this seems to be the case, then WHY DONT WOMEN SEXAULLY HARASS MEN IN PUBLIC PLACES AS WELL? If men have sexual needs, surely women must be experiencing them as well, otherwise the concept of hetrosexual lovers in a relationship would not exist. If men in India are forced to live in a socially restrictive environment that stigmatises romantic and sexual relationships between unmarried people, and are thus "forced" with no other alternative but to sexually harass women in public spaces, how come Indian women don't sexually harass strange/unknown men on the streets as well?

This is the reason why: Because sexaul harrasment is a crime, NOT based on a man's sexual urges that seek outlets in socially restrictive environment but about POWER.
In a comparatively MORE GENDER-EQUAL society (like Norway, Sweden, or the Netherlands, or the US, for instance) where sexual relations between unmarried people is an accepted social practice, incidents of eve-teasing are relatively less.
If the environment in India was more GENDER EQUAL but remained socially restrictive as regarding sexual relationships between unmarried people, WOMEN TOO WOULD BE ABLE TO SEXAULLY HARASS MEN IN ORDER TO GIVE RELEASE TO THEIR PENT-UP SEXUAL NEEDS.

Sexual harassment is a crime that gets condoned because it is based on the existing POWER RELATIONS in a society. It is NOT based on the social practice of stigmatising sexual relations between unmarried men and women which is believed to lead men to find "alternative" means for expressing their sexual urges by harassing women in public spaces.

Think about it.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

why my blog no longer sucks :)

because I have FINALLY been enlightened on how to do the links :) (a big thank you to m.)
so now even though i am still wary of the whole writing-my-private-thoughts-in-a-public-space deal atleast i have some good links :) yay!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Friday, March 17, 2006

grapes and slinkys

hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmMMMMMMMMMMMM
am stil fed up w/ the current display on my blog. am also disturbed that no thoughts of mine once expressed onlione will be mine alone. but i am not in a bad mood. i like green grapes but hate black ones. i also like rainbow coloured slinkys and i really really want to own one.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

ressurection

I revived the egroup! FINALEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!
The weather rocks. Holi will be here, it is raining, SERVE YA ALL RIGHT!!!

Friday, March 10, 2006

am thouroughly sleepy after a spot of meditation. i thought it was supposed to enlighten and energise my being :P

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

oof ya!

the only thing good about this blog is the red font. EVERY THING ELSE SUCKS. why do i have to use blog formats created by others????????? someone tell me how i can make my own.