Positive Female Role Models


Now that I have dissed on one of the feminist book of 2016  here, what are the alternative? What are the positive (female) role models I would recommend? These recommendations are not for females alone, it is for all genders.

Note – To be honest, I am unable to offer resources for people of all genders (like trans) or all sexualities because I have limited time and can only consume a certain amount of media (in terms of books, movies, blogs, and TV) and I will look for relevant resources should the need arise in my life.

Books

  1. Zita the Spacegirl series
  2. Delilah Dirk Series
  3. Giant Days series
  4. D.I Kim by Angela Marsons – Well, women have their demons too but smart, strong women for the go.
  5. Amy Stewart’s Kopp Sisters series –  I loved this one.

TV Series

Many of the shows I watch have excellent strong female role models (I am surprised as I thought of it for this article because I wasn’t analyzing it when I was watching them that way).

The Arrow – Felicity, Thea, Sarah & Laurel Lance, the villains – all smart, intelligent, funny, amazing women and some are lesbians/bisexual.

DC Legends of Tomorrow – Sarah Lance is a lesbian leader of the group. She is smart, strong and an excellent warrior.

SuperGirl – The main characters are strong women. There are coming out scenes and same gender relationships.

The Flash – Again, no shortage of strong, intelligent women with healthy relationships. There are 2 interracial relationships at the moment now. The women are strong, decisive, intelligent and give great advice.

Ash Vs. Evil Dead – Strong women. They are smarter than men actually.

Lucifer – Again, the women are strong with a better moral compass and all of this without hating.

Now that I think of it, there are so many healthy role models around. We don’t really need a book spewing hatred to teach feminism.

Baahubali 2 Wowed Me


Baahubali 2 wowed me but not mainly for the visual effects (which are great) or the fight scenes. I was bowled over by the portrayal of Devasena’s character and her love story with Baahubali.

There has been criticism of the portrayal of the love story between Shiva and Avantika in Baahubali 1. I noticed that Avantika turns from a warrior to a docile ‘my Shiva will do my job‘ after falling in love. Looks like the director did take note of the criticism.

Note: No spoilers ahead.

Why was I so happy? Because for the first time in a mainstream Indian movie:

  • The woman is the same before and after falling in love/marriage. She does not tone down in her retorts or become obedient and servile.
  • She dares to talk back to her boyfriend/fiancé/husband ‘s mother in front of everyone several times and there are no repercussions from her partner.
  • Her partner never once says – ‘You need to apologize  to my mom‘ or ‘She is like that. She is old. Forgive her and adjust‘. Not once.
  • The guy is a total momma’s boy from the beginning but he dares to oppose his mother in the court in front of everyone in support of his wife/fiancée/girlfriend.
  • He still stands by his wife even when his mom ignores him and stops talking to him.
  • Arrogance in a woman is not punished.

Usually, the only women who can get away with arrogance or talking back in Indian movies are villains or women who don’t get the guy in the end (think Padayappa). The lead women usually don’t talk back like that after falling in love. Of course, the rest of the movie goes into clichés like having men to the rescue and revenge.

The reason it is so ground breaking in my eyes is because everything from popular culture to our society don’t endorse or showcase such behaviour. It is always about respect and blind obedience to one’s parents. I have heard a lot of times about how Indian (and other Asian) sons do not support their wives or speak up for them in front of their families and instead tell their wives to adjust or along the lines of ‘sorry, I can’t do anything‘. Check IHM’s or Madh mama’s blogs for examples of letters from women whose husbands don’t support them and instead keep mum when it comes to their parents.

I tried to think of an Indian movie where a similar thing happens and I could not think of any. Do you think there are other examples in Indian movies where the lady is rude/talks back to her partner’s parents and still has her partner’s full support and is not portrayed as reformed or remorseful after that?

One Hundred Nights of Hate


I read this book – The One Hundred Nights of Hero (Early Earth) which has been highly acclaimed and suggested as the perfect gift for daughters for introducing feminism – One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenburg. This has been hailed as one of the best graphic novels in 2016 and has a 4.5 stars rating on Goodreads. To me, this is not feminism. This is more like a book written from the viewpoint of a man-hating lesbian.

The art work was okay. The stories were not that engaging. I was not dying to finish the book but I read them only because of Uncle’s critique of the book and he wanted me to judge for myself. Honestly, the book did not touch me.  The book is more of a reimagination of the creation story and Arabian nights.

My Critique of the Book

  1. The blurb on the back says that this is a book about love but the overall theme in the book was pure hate. I was surprised at the amount of hate emanating from this book.
  2. The entire book was about men vs. women. No cooperation. No kindness. I am not sure how we can spread feminism if we make an entire section of the society unwanted and unwilling to support feminism.
  3. The book perpetuates stereotypes of  women as dumb, naive, petty and mean falling for the first man who is nice to them. How is this even empowering?
  4. The book goes on and on about sisterhood. From my life experience, sisterhood exists but we cannot make an assumption that all women look out for each other. They are equally capable of betrayal and leave you in the lurch as much as any other gender.
  5. Open agenda against one gender.One hundred nights go hero
  6. The author’s attitude. When people critique her book as man hating, she uses it as an example and an extension of the men in her book on how they control women and lock them up and don’t let them read books.Isabel Greenberg Response to critique
  7. According to this book, the only true love is lesbian love.
  8. No healthy heterosexual relationships in this book.
  9. All the men in our lives are vile creatures according to this book

Do I really want my daughter to see the world this way? I will not prevent my kid from reading this book but I will not be gifting it to anyone. Instead I would love to discuss with my kid on how this is not okay. If an entire book were written stereotyping women and showcasing them as an evil gender today, it would not be acceptable (though there are several examples in history). Similarly, a hateful book about any other gender is also not acceptable. This is 2017 not 1373. If an agenda against homosexuals/bisexuals is not okay, then an agenda against heterosexuals is also not okay.

Sadly, books in favour of traditionally oppressed groups putting down and blaming the dominant group have been bestsellers and really popular. The popularity of this book reminded me of Susan Cain’s book – Quiet which blames extroverts for everything from the recession to wars and how superior introverts are. Something like this book.

Feminism does not mean hating other genders or blaming them for all the world’s problems. Instead, I would call this ‘placing women on a pedestal‘ syndrome wherein we start believing that the root of all evil is men and that women are incapable of any wrong. The truth is the world would not necessarily have been a better place had women been in charge because we are all humans and there are good, bad, ugly, mean, selfish, nasty, wicked people irrespective of gender.

The Art of Small Talk


I am so tired of the shit I have to hear in the name of chit chatting from absolute strangers.

As much as I do not like generalizing about cultures, I have experienced this here so much that I have now made a conscious decision to avoid initiating any conversations with people outside of the business I am there for. I loved to talk to people to learn more about their lives  and society but these talks have started getting on my nerves and I was pushed over the edge last week after hearing the same thing several times in a row.

I get this from everyone – people manning food/drink stalls, taxi drivers, doctors, people on the road asking for donations, people taking surveys at exhibits, workshops, at bus stops, in malls etc.

These are the questions and comments I encounter from people I have met for the first time in the name of small talk:

  1. Are you a citizen or a foreigner? In these exact words. Because they can’t tell. Uncle never gets this question because white skin = foreigner. How does this matter to a guy who is trying to collect donations for a charity? He told me he was trying to know me.
  2. Which country are you from?
  3. Why are you here if you are a foreigner?
  4. What kind of a visa are you on? The type of visa can easily help you determine my salary range.
  5. How long have you been here?
  6. Did you apply for permanent residence/green card?
  7. If it is a citizen, they go on to tell you to do this, apply for job here, on how easy it is to get a visa/PR, to keep trying blah blah. Unless you are working in the immigration or the highest levels of the government, I am not looking for advice from people who are not in the my/Uncle’s fields on job applications. You are a citizen and you have never had to apply for a visa here. You absolutely are not aware of the terms for visa application and when it is granted. I don’t know why people feel it is okay to give unsolicited advice. Like telling us, we didn’t get it because we did not try enough or do things properly.
  8. If it is a person who got a green card, they go on to make a judgement of your suitability for application of green card like they are the immigration officer. There are so many factors for getting one (none of it is listed btw) and just because they were lucky to get one 15 years ago, does not mean that the situation is exactly the same now. Also, people are shocked that I would even consider leaving the country because according to them this is the best place because they have a green card. They tell me that I should keep on trying forever until I succeed. Why the hell would we want to continue staying when one of us (I/Uncle) cannot get a visa long-term?!

I AM JUDGING YOU

Let me demonstrate some of the incidents where I am asked these questions.

Incident 1

I went to the doctor and she is east Asian and she told me she felt like a second class resident in Australia and so she took up citizenship here. She started advising me on how good this country is and why I should not move out despite that fact that we are having issues with getting visas. What  are we supposed to do? Become illegal immigrants? I didn’t point out the fact that she feels comfortable here because she belongs to the majority race here while I am not. It is quite easy for her to feel like a first class citizen because she is in the majority here.

Incident 2

I was walking by and there was this donation drive. A guy stops me and asks me if I am a citizen. Which visa I am on? What am I doing here? I asked him how all this was relevant to what he wanted to talk about? Oh, I was just getting to know you. I could see he lost face. How in the world does my passport or visa help you know me? It just helps you put me in a box, you will never take me out of. People need to get better questions to ask.

Incident 3

I was at a free exhibit, when a lady (clearly from a government department) asks me if I would take a survey on visitors to the exhibit. I was like okay because I am aware that they need  to show some data collection. The questions in the survey are

Q1 – Are you a citizen/PR/foreigner on visa A/B/C?

Q2 – Age? I gave a range and she wanted the exact age and she put an age she preferred. You ask any woman here her age and she will for the life of you never tell you. The moment they are over 30, they are start claiming  – I am 16/18 forever ha ha ha but they will not tell you. So, I don’t get how that question got an approval.

Q3 – How did you hear about us?

Q4 – Occupation? How does it matter for checking out a free exhibit?

Q5 – Your salary range?

I politely told her that she needs to provide feedback to her superiors that these questions are very invasive. How does my salary matter for checking out a free exhibit? That is so dumb.  She totally lost face.

How would she feel if I were to meet her on the train and start asking what her highest educational qualification was or what kind of house/flat she lives in because I can easily determine her wealth status from her housing type. Wouldn’t that be invasive coming from a stranger? She was like she would be totally fine with it (Asian justification tactic alert. Never admit the problem and make lame excuses). She tried to justify on how income correlates to mentality but I told her that income/education need not correlate to a certain mentality. Maybe it did, 50 years ago but not now. Some of the most racist/ignorant/crappy people I have met here are people who earn a lot and better educated that an average person. They have travelled to USA, Europe, Australia etc and yet are some of the most ignorant people on the planet while people who are not high earners (in their definition) have been pretty egalitarian and less racist. This is totally judging people based on their incomes and boxing them.

Incident 4

Even the library system flashes in capital letters that I am a FOREIGNER. It really flashes in large capital letters! Why does it matter? A library member is a member irrespective of their visa.

Incident 5

Taxi driver telling us that we should apply for this job here and there and that we should apply for green card in this way or another. He is not even remotely in our field.

I am so tired of such stupid invasive questions/comments from strangers when people in this culture will never reveal anything about themselves even if you have known them for months. For example, they will tell someone of their own race about their boyfriend but will never admit to you that a certain guy is their boyfriend. Instead, they will correct you when you say boyfriend and tell you that he is ‘a friend‘. My colleagues of 2 years will not tell me where they went for a holiday because I am not one of them #samerace. They will have bitter arguments with other colleagues but will still tell them about their holidays because #samerace.

All this coming from a culture that is so non-inclusive, you will never be in their insider circle even if you have known them for a bazillion years because you are not one of them. I don’t get why such a society feels justified in asking invasive questions.

I have been to several states in USA (not in the last 1 year) and I have had so many conversations with strangers without being asked once about my visa status. I find it ridiculous that I am asked that question regularly here, everywhere I turn from people who have no legal authority to do so.

I am sure that there are better ways to chat and get to know people.

i dont need to your visa

A Photo Essay: The Sleeping Cat


The Sleeping Cat #1
I was in a deep sleep
The Sleeping Cat #2
when I was woken up by a some noise
The Sleeping Cat #3
Bah! It was some noisy kid
img-20170420-wa0016.jpeg
Wish this human would cuddle me instead of taking photos.
The Sleeping Cat #5
Yes, please!
The Sleeping Cat #6
Human! Cuddle me here.
The Sleeping Cat #7
🙂
The Sleeping Cat #8
Wide awake! Nothing like a cuddle to wake you up and feel great!

News: Unroll.Me Has Been Selling User Data


Unroll.Me has been highly recommended in several blogs I follow for simplifying and managing your email inbox. Basically, it accesses your gmail and collates all the email newsletters you have subscribed to and then asks if you want to subscribe to them or unsubscribe. If you still wish to be subscribed, it collates them all in 1 newsletter for you to go through it at one go.

I have used Unroll.Me to unsubscribe but have immediately removed the app from my account. I am surprised and upset that user’s inboxes were scanned and data was being sold to various companies.

To be safer in the future, it is best to restrict access of third-party apps like Unroll.Me and Boomerang to your emails. They are free. Of course, they are going to earn money in some other way. Also, this opens you up to hacking and vulnerabilities that cannot be controlled by your email provider.

The NYT article is here. The Guardian article is here. I actually learnt about this yesterday when reading NYT’s article on Uber and its business practices. It seems less and less  like a nice company.

Note: Sorry about my long absence from blogging. I didn’t really feel like blogging due to some personal reasons. 

Review: Eco Essentials Sughandi Bath Powder


Updated on 9 Jan, 2017

I bought Eco Essentials Sughandi Bath Powder at Khadi Eco Basket in Secunderabad and was really excited to try it.

Ingredients: Indian sarsaparilla, Spiked Ginger Lily, Vetiver, Crape ginger, Wild turmeric, Dhumparastrum, Neem, Sandalwood, Tulasi, Rose petals, Green gram powder, other herbs etc. [See the photo below]

Eco Essentials Sughandi Bath Powder

Price: 50 rupees

Size: 100g

How to use it: Make a paste with 2-3 tablespoons of the powder with water or milk and apply paste all over body.

Texture: Not finely ground.

Smell: Smells nice and herb-like pleasant

Feel: I really wanted to like it but I did not like it on its own because it is coarsely ground and my skin felt like it was being scratched when I applied this paste and it hurt a little even though I had oil on my skin. I now use it mixed with finely ground green gram powder in a ratio of 1:1 which alleviates decreases the coarseness of the bath powder overall. I would not recommend using this particular bath powder daily because of its coarse nature but weekly should be fine only when it is mixed with finely ground green gram powder or besan (gram flour).

Attempt 6 – 9 Jan, 2017

I tried the powder on its own. This time, I did things differently. I made the powder into a more watery paste. My skin was throughly wet. Then, I rubbed the watery paste gently on my skin. It did not hurt.

Do note that it is better not to do it on freshly shaved/waxed skin or on areas with skin issues like blisters or cuts. Also, do not scrub too hard or use on dry skin.

Note: Herbal bath powders do not foam like soaps though there is little foam due to green gram powder.

Overall: 2.7 3.3/ 5