Archive for the ‘Psychology’ Category


 

 

We may protest and debate and reform our laws and policies… We can make an issue out of it and soon forget about it. But is that enough? Where is the root of all this?

We live in a society where the very mention of the word “sex” causes us to shy away. Talking about sex openly is still a taboo. We are taught as if it is something that has to be suppressed. We are expected to remain chaste, naive and ignorant about sex till we are married (or at least till the age of 18). Come on… One of the rapists was a minor…!!!

We live in a society where we receive little or no sex-education at school… where premarital sex cannot even be mentioned without hesitation, How is it any different from any other human sensation and instinct? Hiding it or shying away from it causes more curiosity and hence its unwanted after effects. Philosophically speaking – what we resist, persists.

We live in a society where poverty, illiteracy, abuse and violence etc. are too rampant to rear morally sound people – to produce sensitive human beings. Blaming the culprits or even hanging them is not going to solve anything.

We live in a society where an unmarried mother is questioned about her morality. Don’t we know that a male plays an equal role in human reproduction? We live in a society where there is tremendous gender bias… where we find only female feminists. Even they are looked down upon as dogs that bark for no reason. To liberate females, males have to be liberated as well. Blaming men for oppression or blaming females for accepting it will lead us nowhere.

Why live in denial?

And today I “shamelessly” write this for you to read it and be “shamelessly bold” enough to share it, only if you agree to it.

 

 


 

 

I was about 14 years old when it all began… All my girl friends started to thread their eyebrows. I could not help noticing how artificial it looked – the clean distinct line of eyebrow hair above the eyes. Some would even sneakily use their dad’s razor to shave off hair on their arms and legs. I could feel the prickly hair that emerged afterwards when I accidentally brushed against them.  Back then I was too busy in my own happy world to try these things on myself.

It is really surprising to see teen girls and young women spending so much time, energy and money on so called grooming up. Why is body hair in woman considered so repulsive? And how do these young girls get so inspired to bear the pain of plucking out the innocent little hair off their body? It has nothing to do with health or hygiene. It is a deeply rooted psychological issue in our society. A hot female model or a film celebrity is always the first idol every young girl aspires to become. Their hotness is portrayed by impeccably airbrushed breasts, waist and hips… not a trace of body hair is to be seen anywhere. Not a single model or celebrity has body hair or bushy eyebrows! They are the ones who promote all sorts of hair removing products and flawless skin.

Peer pressure is another big reason. No kid is appreciated for being different. They immediately get tagged as weirdo or a geek. Some have that natural individuality in them but this does not last long. Ridicule, constant reminders and standing out distinctly from others can be uncomfortable to the toughest individualistic person at times. And at that tender age, all they want is to fit in. They do it because everybody else is doing it. This is an unconscious choice that every girl makes.

Men have their share of body hair – much more than a woman does. Apart from arms and legs they have hair on their chest and bellies! Why isn’t anyone advising them to wax it off? The same hair removing products can be applied to male bodies as well… aren’t they? Body hair in men is considered a sign of strength, manliness and even erotic. Young men are repulsed by body hair in females. Exposure to porn is immense and the idea of a female body is completely distorted by this. Women portrayed by porn and the media are so unnatural. And hence every young man today desires a flawless woman. And many women give in to their partner’s desires to achieve that desirable look – being body hairless is one of the major steps. Bikini waxing is gaining more and more popularity among young women. Is there any woman who really enjoys this painful process?

Luckily I wasn’t sucked in by fads or trends or whatever you wish to call it. I never cared if my eyebrows were thick or uneven. I tried avoiding skirts and shorts as much as I could. But I love to wear them! Why should I care so much and compromise on the type of clothes I like to wear? The weird looks by men and women definitely make me feel conscious at times. I try not to care. I actually don’t care. Especially, when I see women staring at my legs with surprise, I give them a smile. I do not understand why can’t they love and accept themselves and others the way they are? Do they stare at men’s legs (ten times hairier than mine) in the same way? I am what I am… I do not need to peel out my skin or put layers of makeup on my face to make myself look beautiful. I feel confident and beautiful from within and that is what really matters. I do not have to follow any trends to make myself feel confident. I have taken this conscious decision to stay natural and remain a non conformist in this programmed society.

I do not want to tag myself as a feminist. Why use that word at all? I am a normal girl who wants to live a normal and natural life unaffected by the psychological, cultural, social and emotional maxims of the society.

 

 


 

 

I see her every day. She lives just on the other side of the street. I can see her through my bedroom window, through my kitchen seal, from my balcony and veranda. In fact, I see her every time I look out of my one bedroom apartment. I have invaded all her privacy. It’s not intentional though. She is fair and thin, quite frail too. Wrapped in a 5 yard cotton sari she looks beautiful, a pleasant disposition. Occasionally, when our eyes meet we smile at each other. Her deep eyes are beautiful, although hidden under the dark circles. She must have been really beautiful when she was young… I’m quite sure she hasn’t crossed 30 yet.

I do not know her name. I do not understand her language. She must be a Tamil or a Telegu. We cannot communicate in words. But how does it matter? I understand her smile, her silence, her laughter and her innocence. She is a mother of three beautiful children. The eldest daughter would be around twelve, the middle one about five and the youngest son is still a toddler.

By the time I wake up in the morning she would be done with her cooking, washing and cleaning. She makes her husband, her kids and herself ready for the day ahead. For work, she wears a shirt above her sari and wraps a long piece of cloth around her waist. This enables her to keep going for the physically rigorous day ahead. She is a strong woman who is fully capable of taking care of herself. She works as hard as her husband does and earns as much as he does.

A hard working independent woman as per today’s standards, ain’t she? What’s there to write about her then?

Well then, she has moved in here two months back with her family to work at a construction site.  To construct the new building coming up just opposite to my house. She lives in a small temporary house made of bricks, tin and plastic sheets. She doesn’t have a kitchen. She cooks under the big tree in front of her temporary house. She does not have a stove, not even a kerosene one. She collects dry twigs and branches after her 9-10 hours job at the construction site. Her kids help her with that. I have never seen her complain or shout at anyone. Her male chauvinist husband hardly lifts his backside after he is done with the daily construction work. She toils hard under the burning sun during the day. She toils even harder under the halogen bulb of the street light at night.

I am a working woman too. After 8 hours of office I am left with no energy or enthusiasm to finish up daily chores. I have a gas stove with two burners, a microwave to heat the food stored in the refrigerator. I have a washing machine and a dishwasher too. I have electricity and 24 hours running water. Yet, I end up eating outside spending few hundreds every day (this amounts to her two – three days’ wages). I wonder how this superwoman handles everything all alone.

She is 30 with 3 kids. She must have been married when she was about seventeen… an age when I was could think of nothing but school, friends, table tennis, computer games and books. Today I am 25, still marriage doesn’t interest me. Here, I have the choice to decide my life. The contrast in our lives is startling. I feel bad, deep inside it hurts. I sometimes thank the almighty that I was born in a well to do family.

 

A commotion on the street startled me today evening. It was dark and the halogen bulb of the streetlight wasn’t too bright. I rushed out to the balcony. A male voice was shouting at somebody. I could not understand, he was yelling at a dark figure in some south Indian language. Three small figures ran out towards the street. As they passed the street light I recognized them. They were her (construction workers’) children. The eldest one was carrying the toddler and the five year old hold tightly on to his sister’s skirt as they ran out of the house.

The husband was yelling at the hard working wife. He was angry, very angry. I could feel that. And in an instant he ran, caught hold of her hair, dragged her out of the small house and started beating her. The three children stood away from the scene. The toddler started to cry seeing his mother being beaten up, while the second child watched in horror. The eldest seemed unperturbed. She must have been used to seeing this. This was a normal thing to her and she had accepted it.

The mother hollered for help. No one opened the doors of their houses. I was watching from the balcony. My heart wrenched with pain. I wanted to rush down the stairs and help her somehow. A part of me cried “She is a human… a woman, just like you. She has a heart, a soul… HELP HER.” She must have her dreams as well – a new sari for her, new clothes for her children, a kerosene stove, a mosquito net, a good meal for her family everyday…

But my head controlled my legs. Was I being practical? Where did the human in me go for that moment? I was witnessing domestic abuse, verbal and physical abuse and doing nothing about it. A woman was not standing up for another woman. I rushed back to my room, closed all the doors & windows, pulled the curtains and sat quietly after creating a pseudo calm environment… as if nothing was happening across the street.

I am ashamed of myself, my practicality and my loss of humanity.

Ironically, I was also a victim of emotional abuse that went on for years. Despite being an educated, independent and confident girl I was caught up in the web. It took me time to realize that demeaning, name calling, yelling, jealousy, doubts, isolation from friends etc. wasn’t a sign of healthy and nurturing relation. Realizing abuse  is just the beginning. To cut the chords and break away is an even tedious and emotionally exhausting task. Thanks to my upbringing and access to right information at right time that I rescued myself. I was fortunate enough that I could get right counseling to help me get over the scars of abuse.

It takes time for wounds to heal… It is like starting to grow all over again… taking baby steps to see what it is like to be the master of ones own life. It’s like starting to live all over again… to begin everything from scratch and rebuilding the life – brick by brick.

Who shall tell the hard working construction worker that she is being abused, that her rights are being violated, and that her soul is being ripped apart. She will cook for him tomorrow morning and start the day as if nothing happened. She has accepted that it is a part of normal life. The young daughter has accepted it too. She will think that abuse is normal and shall accept abuse from her future husband without any complaints. She will never know what a healthy and happy relation or marriage is like. The younger ones – the fear the horror has already taken a toll on them. Their little eyes & hearts have felt and seen such heinous act… a raging father, mother’s cry for help, the pain… will their scar ever heal? Can we expect them to grow up into emotionally healthy young men after such a damaging and scary childhood…