Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sexism at Toastmasters

Happy... One of those rare occasions when I was not addressed MTM
I'm a toastmaster for a good four years. Every time my name is called out, with the prefix 'Madam Toastmaster' I take a second to respond. And when I see my name written MTM Nisha, I think it's landed in the wrong inbox.
Like when I graduated to 'aunty', I asked the husband, "Do I look like one?" It was only after I had my baby and her friends started addressing me 'aunty' that I felt comfortable with the title as a requirement of culture, tradition, respect, generation lapse...
But I still can't fathom why MTM? Don't I look a woman? If that's so, why not Gentleman Toastmaster (GTM) for men? And what about transgenders? Imagine addressing them LTM, GTM, BTM...how regressive!
Similarly, MTM is plain sexist! Period. I am glad to see changes in the collective conditioning, sporadic though.

This is similar to how a married woman who is not employed is called a ‘housewife’. We have mortals who believe women who do not earn a living do no work. Changing their rusted mindset would be a herculean task. So how about a change in addressing women instead?
If a married woman who stays at home is called a housewife, then one who goes out to work should have the name of the organization prefixed to her name. Fair enough?
A married woman employee should be called AppleTech wife, Vidya Bhavan wife, Hotel Chin Chu wife…
It has more than one advantage. If you do not like your spouse’s name or are tired of your family name, voila! you get a new name. You can change it every time you switch your job. What more, you would come up on internet search engines more often. Easier way to virtual fame, too.
Now, if you aren’t comfortable with numerous others sharing your nomenclature, then you may zero it down to the unit of work in the organization and vet it down further for more specific names. For instance, if a married woman employee of, say, AppleTech finds it too general, she can opt for Software Development wife and if she finds that widely used as well, then settle for Boss wife! Mr. Stephan wife! Dr Shinde wife… or MS Robert wife, MS Meera wife…
How ludicrous! Hello, I am married to Sachin and am Mr. Stephan wife! Or Hello, I’m married to John and am MS Rachael wife!” I’d love this one the best… "Hello, She is my wife and Mr. D’Souza wife.”
Aww! Let me stop lest your imagination runs wild.
Least of all, revising a woman’s title will certainly cause cultural shocks, as we are used to boys being called Master and when they grow up addressed as Mr., while a female starts off being a Miss then a Mrs. followed by being a Ms.
If a man can be called Mr. irrespective of his marital status, why should a woman be Mrs.?
Now, think of this, a woman in a relationship with a married man is called his ‘mistress’, while that male will still be a Mr. The suggestion I got when I bounced the thought off was to call such men her ‘mattress’.
It simply gets murkier, if we analyse the nomenclature we are handed down. Suffice to say, it's a hu-MAN's world!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Menstrual day off...

Courtesy: MorgueFile

I am a woman. The type you see in your homes, on streets, at groceries, hospitals, malls, parks...at your workplaces. I am not a superwoman. I do the dishes and laundry on some days, squirm and hoodwink the husband into doing it on other days. I am that woman. A normal, common woman.
I earn my keep with pride like most of my breed. I am dedicated, determined and responsible. I put my head down and work five days a week. Almost. Most of the months. Yes. I miss a day or two depending on when Grand Aunt decides to visit me. If she drops in on the weekends I treat her like The Queen. And she lets go off me like a Princess. 
We don't need your sympathy or pity. Least of it your understanding
If she arrives on weekdays, I go down on my knees and pray she adjusts. I tell her I am a normal, common woman who needs to get up at dawn to set the day for my child before reporting to work as the sun rises. But she refuses to pay heed. She's a supernova demanding my undivided attention. A martinet who squeezes my insides oozing the last pint of blood from me. Drains me out exhausted. I lie with a water bag, hands between my legs, curled like a newborn, whining. Not done yet, she decides to pound my back. I roll over wrestling her with pillows. She takes her wrath on me as if she's long last gotten hold of the most wanted criminal in this galaxy who had been on the run.
Submissive, I accept defeat. That's the only trick to handle her. Like you would to your boss - 'Yes boss, yes boss, three bags full boss'. So I pop Ponstan, hold my breath and let her unleash her temper.
Once she makes peace with me, I get up, hug my child and my man and procced to shoo the wolf off my door. I am duty-bound to quantify the leave taken. What do I fill in? A sick leave? I didn't consult a doc. I wasn't medically ill. Do I trade in those extra hours I slogged on holidays then? Is that fair? Or do I write-off from the accrued annual leave? Probably compassionate leave? Options are many. I'll write-off any type of leave and as many a number. Loss of pay? I'm ready for that, too, if only I am allowed to play the submissive prey with peace the following month, without being made to feel guilty of choosing to stay back on a particular day, of not having announced my absence in advance, of not being responsible enough...
Sexism and feminism - a bloody combo deriding womanhood
Listen folks - gentlemen and graceful women [yes, women, too. I've had the luck to work with a few holier-than-thou souls] we females menstruate. For some among us it's crazily painful. We get knocked off our senses. Sadly, we are not blessed with the power to select those days. So if it happens to follow a weekend or a public holiday we are not nursing a hang-over or biting out white lies to go shopping. We are just trying to cope with our biological system. Our life.
We don't need your sympathy, empathy or pity. Least of it your understanding. For you simply cannot understand. Period. Yes. It's also called that. The next time you hear this word, remember not to judge the woman who says it.
And you female employees - those of you who manipulate the system in the name of changing sanitary pads - stop it now. NOW. Show some respect to your own selves, if not to your breed.
So how about Menstrual Leave - a viable solution? I can already hear mademoiselles screaming sexism and others feminism - a bloody combo deriding womanhood.
Please, let us just be. Let the common, normal types bleed in peace.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Who ‘killed’ Dalit student? Stop howling to see the truth

In today's Hitavada
I will be accused for saying this. Nevertheless. Rohith Veluma ended his life. Right or wrong we are nobody to decide. It was his decision. Period.
Why did he do it? Who pushed him into doing it…? Indeed, valid questions but asked out of context. And debated without real reason.
When I was a student, there was the Mandal issue. Who was that youngster who self-immolated, by the way? And that Iron Lady of the North-East now, what’s her name?
No one debating Veluma’s suicide will get to see the truth. No politicians, no educationists, no media personnels, no laymen fixated to their TV sets in their living rooms… None will see it.
Because Veluma was not as a scholar. He was a Dalit scholar. Because people he allegedly offended are not mere authorities. But authorities of THE party. Because notes he wrote to the vice-chancellor were not mere words  communicating his distress rather notes of insubordination and arrogance.
Read people. Read his notes. He hasn’t held anyone responsible. In fact, he has requested to let his funeral be silent and smooth. “I am not hurt, not sad, just empty…” he wrote.
Every once a while such births happen to shake mortals out of their indisputable fiefdom. To wield that blow on the heads in order to shove the filth from inside their cells. But sadly, they collectively garner more of it from one another in such aftermaths.
Who pushed him to death and why they did so are the two burning residues left of the tragedy apart from the unsurmountable loss to Veluma’s family. Pointless and useless queries. Sheer waste of time. Absolute dishonour to the departed soul.
Who pushed him? – He himself. Literally and figuratively, he pushed himself to the extreme.
Why? Is a relevant query if only the answer is sought without bias and beliefs.
But all we hear in investigative analysis is dalit, discrimination, dalit, discrimination and more of it peppered with red-tapism and call for ousters and resignations. By the Vice-Chancellor given the sack or the Ministers stepping down or the Prime Minister taking moral responsibility, none will get to the truth.
By forcing action in the name of delivering justice, we are only stoking more of the same emotion – ego and elitism -  in the so-called ‘culprits’. If only protests, punishments, Constitutional safeguards and Acts would protect lives in our country such incidents would not have happened.
With proof these definitely haven’t worked thus far, can’t we for a change be silent. Let the News Hours across channels be mute. Let students walk in silence without a word or gesture across the length and breadth of our nation. Let politicians turn up in assemblies and parliament and sit without uttering a word.
In silence let’s all ponder LIFE. Respect at least the young man's last words. "I have no complaints on anyone... I feel a growing gap between my soul and body..."
This is all life is about folks. The core desire in humans is love and peace, because we are primarily peaceful, loving souls. Not power, ranks and names.
This is ‘WHY’ Rohith Veluma left us. Can you at least send him off peacefully with love?
Stop howling!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Stop playing victim

Talking of herself.. as always at the recent TM meet

There was this baby who had so small a mouth that her mom teased that she used a big spoon to feed so that it widens up a bit.  As she grew up and was teased for being silent, she believed it was because of her tiny mouth.

She was a girl who was so quiet that her relatives alleged she was indifferent and arrogant.

She was a youngster who was so self-conscious that her acquaintances said she was a bad example for growing-up girls.

She is a woman who is still considered ignorant by some friends who ramble on non-stop.

She is a woman who is still called intense and private by her bosses and colleagues at work.

She is a woman who has been pushing her own boundaries…

I’ve been with this person all along. I know how she felt every time she was labelled; every time she was laughed at; every time she was ignored; every time she made an effort to be included…

I know how far this woman has come…

Today she CHOOSES to vehemently refuse to talk if she can’t add value to the conversation – no matter what she is called. Today she is adamant NOT to interact with people who DO NOT VALUE her – no matter what she is called.

Today she is so comfortable in her own skin that she speaks for herself, about herself and for all those who take the shape of the bottle they are forced into.

Stop demeaning yourself by morphing to fit into another’s image of you!