Would You Like To Have A House-Husband?

A friend of mine wrote a lovely article about how a woman was being pressurized to give up her job to take care of the child once her maternity leave was over. She made her husband and mother-in-law realize that the joys of parenthood do not discriminate between mother and father. The husband stepped in, and decided to be a stay at home dad while the woman resumed work after her maternity leave. In this case, the woman was earning more than her husband and it made no sense to her that she should give up her career.

I have also written about how men should participate in the household work and parenting. “Help out” would be a wrong term because it makes it sound like it is not their responsibility. Ideally, it is a shared partnership and both of them should contribute equally.

But what if the man stays at home full time while the woman works? Is it just the society that looks down upon that kind of an arrangement?

Do stay-at home dads feel under-valued in a society where “providing” has been a man’s prime responsibility?

A lot of men complain that the pressure to provide and support is solely on them. If they choose to prioritize family over career, this would also be frowned upon by their wives. There would be taunts, and comparisons with other men who are ‘doing so well’.

When we can appreciate women working full time, why can’t be appreciate men staying home full time and taking care of the home?
Feminism helps women and men because it helps break gender stereotypes. Yesterday, the last contestant on KBC was a lady who works while her husband takes care of the home, and their child. Mr. Bachhan applauded him. He said it is great that this man “allowed” his wife to achieve her dreams!

I was disappointed. I thought this whole “allowing’ business was done away with Farhan Akhtar in the movie, ‘Dil Dhadakne Do!’ Anyway, that is not the point I am trying to make in this article. I want to ask women would they prefer that their husbands become stay at home dads or household husbands? What would be their reasons?

My question is:

Would you like to have a house – husband? Which one of the following is the closest to your view?

1. Wow! I would love to have a house-husband! Where can I find such a guy!
2. I think husband and wife should both work and share household responsibilities. One person staying at home full time does not appeal to me.
3. I would not judge anyone. I respect househusbands and housewives. But personally, I would not want a house-husband for myself because I feel it would lead to ego clashes, insecurities, self-esteem issues and unnecessary pressure on me to excel in my career!
4. Men should be earning! Women already go through a lot of physical pain during pregnancy and childbirth ! It is not fair! This kind of arrangement should not be encouraged!

Difficult Daughters And Loving Mothers

Some time back, my sister and I were having a discussion on marriage vows.

“For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish”

We said how difficult it is to commit to another human being like this – for better or for worse?  Is it even possible to love another human being so unconditionally? Our parents teach us that it is.

I do not know what makes my mother continue to love me when I get from bad to worse! What I do know is that even at the age of 29 I can throw tantrums because mothers can’t break-up with their children.

Few years back, I was crying about something to my elder sister. She tried to console me with reason. It did not work. She tried to give some positive examples. I got even more angry.  No matter what she said, I continued to be hopeless. Finally, she said that I need to STOP, because it is very upsetting for her and my parents when I cry like this.

“This has happened to me! You won’t understand! Only I can understand! I am the victim here! Not you!” I snapped.

“Nothing can happen to you alone! Whatever happens to you affects the rest of us! And maybe I cannot understand. But you don’t understand either how painful it is to watch someone younger than you, who you love, suffer, and not being able to help them!”

How tough it must be for parents?  I don’t know what it must be like to constantly worry about a grown-up child. To keep telling them that everything will be okay when in your heart you are too scared to imagine that it may not? To feel like it is your primal responsibility to protect them and make them happy, and yet feel powerless because the universe does not care. Or because God does not listen.

How do they deal with it? How does a mother feel when she cannot really make things right for her child? Maybe she can solve the manageable problems first. She can cook her daughter’s favourite dish. Or tidy her wardrobe. She can still do whatever she can in her human capacity to make life easier and better for her child. And the thing with mothers is that they keep doing it. For adult children. Then their children. How exhausting it must be! Both physically and emotionally!

I have blogged about this before:

Just a couple of days back, my mother had packed my tiffin box with fruits and salad. I got busy with work and brought back the food home, untouched. After dinner, my mother started eating the leftovers.

“How come you are eating the pomegranate, I thought you didn’t like it. Never seen you having it.” I asked.

“It’s not that I don’t like it, slicing the vegetables and fruits is a pain. I give it to you and your father, but don’t bother slicing for myself.” she replied.

There are small (big) things that our mothers do for us. Sometimes it may be having the leftover rice for dinner because she is too tired after making rotis for the rest of us. Or maybe buying that ridiculously expensive dress that I was drooling at the mall, and then claiming that it was on a sale.

We notice that they do all of this. We just don’t thank them enough. If we did, how many thank yous would we owe them each day?  And who says I love you and  thank you every day anyway?  

P.S.

Today is my mother’s birthday. She does not check Facebook regularly. On her last to last birthday, I had to tell her that people have wished her on her timeline. She is supposed to reply or at least ‘like’ their post. She had asked me if she has to comment on their timeline or hers. On her last birthday, she had requested me to respond to all her birthday posts because what if she makes typos! I had refused. I told her she should learn. She will comment just fine. And she did. Perfectly! She has not subscribed to my blog because she does not check her emails. I doubt if she will read this post today. But I hope she does! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kangana Ranaut on Aap ki Adalat- Refreshingly Original And Honest

I have been a fan of Kangana Ranaut. Not after Fashion. Or Queen. Or Tanu weds Manu 2. I have been a fan of her since I saw her in Gangster, when I was in college. Her acting was unbelievable for a first movie. People would say, ‘What! She is a nobody!’

Her beauty was unconventional. So was her story. A nobody from Himachal Pradesh. Very beautiful. Very talented. But she could not speak English. She was not a star kid. Nothing unusual about that. There are examples of non-star kids who have done well in Bollywood. The unusual part was that she did not care to be in the good books of the star kids and their parents!

Today, after watching her in ‘Aap ki adalat’ with Rajat Sharma, I am more in awe of her than ever. There are parts of interview that I just loved:

1. Nepotism

All famous and non-famous people have shared their views on her remark in Koffee with Karan that Karan Johar is “the flagbearer of nepotism”. People said that so many non-star kids have also done well. Sure! Ultimately talent matters. But do we really believe that people who are not from the filmy background get equal opportunities as the star kids? Star kids get a lavish launch with the best directors. They have friends and contacts from the industry. Even if their movies flop, they can always get re-launched with a home production. They are from the industry. Yes, there may be more expectations from them, more comparisons with their successful parents, and more pressure. But does that compare to the struggle of a 17-year-old girl who leaves her home in Himachal Pradesh with no connections in Bollywood? Someone who makes through an audition only because of talent, while supporting herself in an expensive city like Mumbai? Are star kids really on the same level as the millions of nobodies who go to Mumbai every day to try their luck? At the least they are financially secure, and have their parents to offer them guidance and second chances.

2. Her stand on fairness creams and item numbers

She does not endorse fairness products. She does not act in the raunchy item numbers that objectify women. It is remarkable for a country where even men advertise for fairness creams and do not care about its impact on society.

3. Controversy with Hrithik Roshan

At some point in the show Kangana said that Hrithik promised to marry her, but did not. Because of him, she ended up not marrying somebody else either who was willing. Now she is 30 and still single! Even celebrities think like this? I thought this was a very middle class feeling.

She said a lot on the show about the controversy involving Hrithik Roshan. I do not want to comment on it. Relationships are complicated even for ordinary, middle class people. It would be beyond complicated when famous people are involved, where the man is married / getting divorced, there is a legal notice with emails accusing the girl of being a psycho, and the whole world having an opinion on it.

But, assuming she was saying the truth, the letters she had written to her lover at that point were released in the public domain. She was threatened that her private pictures and videos would be released as well. I don’t know in what context such an invasion of privacy can be justified. She had filed a complaint in the Women’s Commission who also did not bother because the other party was more powerful. If a successful, rich, famous woman also does not get help in such situations, I don’t want to imagine the plight of the common woman.

Kangana said that she loved Hrithik at that point of time. He had initially told her he would never marry her, because he was already married then. But after his divorce, he did consider it.

I do not understand why so many women date married men. It is not good for the man’s marriage. It may never turn into a marriage for the women either. It may happen for celebrities because they have a lot of money. But ordinary men do not prefer to divorce their wives, leave their children, pay alimony and child support to their ex-wives and marry the woman they were dating with no serious intentions. They let the affair go on till the time that the woman is not demanding commitment. When she does, things go wrong. Yes, some may decide to end their marriage. But it is really the best choice to make as a woman when it results in breaking a family? Because love just happens? Great! If you believe in love, then there is hope. Go make it happen with a single man. (Of course I am not blaming the woman solely. It is the man who is committing adultery, but since I am writing from a woman’s point of view here).

I would like to believe that Kangana is telling the truth. But it does not matter what I think. We do not know what really happened. I wish people would stop maligning her by calling her “drama-queen” “cheap”, “attention hungry” “crazy” etc. Let us give the benefit of doubt to both of them!

How come people are so easily accusing her of lying for publicity? Do they know her personally? Because she is a woman? Because she is not part of the “cream” of Bollywood? Because she is outspoken? Or because she is successful in spite of all this? Famous people probably do not support her because they do not want to mess with the big people she speaks against. Ironically the same people get upset when she talks about Bollywood’s nepotism and favoritism!

Kangana, you are fearless. You speak your mind. It is not easy to speak up against people who run the industry in which you work. But you do it anyway! For every 10 people who like to demean you, there would be one woman like me who looks at you and says, “Wow! Finally somebody who is original, and honest!” You must continue to be yourself for the millions of women like me. Not every woman works in movies. Yet, she must have gone through something similar:

The one who has left her hometown for employment but is on the verge of giving up and packing herself back.

The one who has a job but does not know how to deal with group-ism and sexism at work.

The one who was in a relationship that was later denied by the man.

The one who has been called psycho by ex/current boyfriend because he could not find a better reason to dump her.

For all the women who may not have supportive parents, good relationships, money, great contacts or friends but only their work, and their conviction in themselves to become somebody from a nobody. We may not quite there yet, but we have started our journey.

And we need more women role models like you because we have no reference to deal with these situations.

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Indian. Female. Single. Do You Know Her?

In some parts of the world, being single is just a relationship status. In India, it is defiance. Especially if you are a woman, in your late 20s or older. In a culture of ‘chat mangni and pat byaah’, facilitated by family members, distant relatives, enthusiastic neighbors and well-meaning strangers, being single is an abnormality.

Read the full article on Sheroes

Mera Kuchh Samaan

Mera kuch samaan tumhare paas pada hai…

I don’t know what made me want to watch Izaajat now. Maybe because all the songs from the movie are on my pen drive, and I listen to them on my drive to work every day. Or maybe attending Gulzar Sahab’s poetry session at the Poetry Festival recently. After the session, I had looked at some of his books. There was one book that had the lyrics of all his songs. I could just read that book forever.

I knew the story of the movie though, despite not having watched it earlier. I usually do not like knowing anything about a movie before I watch it. But it is hard to not know the story of a classic movie that was made three decades ago. I had even read the story online few years back, probably in the context of ‘mature cinema’. I already knew that Rekha’s character was already remarried, and her husband would show up in the last scene. I also knew that Anuradha Patel’s character would be dead. How? Because every time a motorcycle song scene comes on television, my father says,

“Woh kaun si film thi, jismein heroine ka dupatta gale mein fas jata hai, bike pe?”

And my mother responds for the nth time, “Ijaazat!”

Woh shakh gira do, mera woh sama lauta do

I loved Hindi songs even as a child. My knowledge of old Hindi songs was much better than my peers. One time I was playing Antakshari with a friend. I must be nine, she would be around seven.

“Shuru karo Antakshari lekar Hari ka naam, Ma,”
she emphasized pointing to me.

“Mera kuch samaan”, I started singing, but was interrupted by her laughter.

“This is not a song!” she said.

“It is a famous one! You have not heard!!”

“But how can it start like that?”


“It does! I have seen it too! A lady leaves some of her stuff at a man’s house. So, she is asking him to send it all back!”

“Okay. Funny song! Why can’t she just pick it up herself? Why sing a song?”

“She has a long list of things. That’s why.”

Weren’t those years blissful when that was all these songs meant to us?

Patjhad hai kuchh… hai na

But a few days back, when I started watching the movie late night, I could not watch beyond the song. I was in tears, and had to stop. After a couple of days, I continued from where I left off.

The movie is poetry on screen. I cannot think of any other movie that has handled a love triangle so beautifully. I sympathized with all three of them, though Naseeruddin Shah’s character probably only in the last scene when he looks like a lost, lonely child. All three characters were respectful of each other. Sudha (Rekha) was a self-respecting woman who would not tolerate her husband’s adultery. Maya (Anuradha Patel) was passionate, independent and impulsive. She never really got over Mahendar (Naseeruddeen Shah).

Ek sau solah chand ki ratein, ek tumhare kandhe kaa til

No amount of sex scenes in our contemporary movies can show love and passion the way this movie did without showing anything. It made me cringe all the more at the current movies, which do not put any thought into the characters. In Ijaazat, it is very difficult to blame any of the characters. They were all so well defined and developed. I felt for all of them.

The songs are absolutely mesmerizing. Katra katra, Chhoti si kahani se, Khali haath sham aayi hai, are all awesome though Mera kuch samaan is arguably the best.

Mera woh sama lauta do

Ultimately that is what life comes down to. Time passes. Relationships end. The only thing that is left is memories. Cruel, stubborn memories that are like a disease that refuses to go. I don’t know how a haunting song like this can bring pain and comfort at the same time. But it does.

It is magic.

Toilet Ek Prem Katha – Don’t expect women to “adjust” to crap!

Watched ‘Toilet – Ek Prem Katha’ yesterday. In the interval, I told my mother,

“They should have ended it here! Very effective message!”

Story so far:

Not so educated boy meets brilliant girl. Gets attracted because she is interesting. Marries her but then expects her to adjust for the most disgusting reasons. Why couldn’t he just marry a like-minded woman (read no mind woman). What is this need to marry a smart, progressive woman and then expect her to transform to a couple of centuries back? She leaves him. Great story!

“How can they end it here!”
Mother said. “He should be given a chance to improve things!’

So there it was. In the second half of the movie, our lover boy tries to convince his father and society and does everything possible to educate people on the issue, and ofcourse get his wife back.

Here are things that worked very well for me:

1. Yes, the issue was sanitation. But there was more. It was about changing the mentality of society. Understanding that the culture card is used for the most convenient, selfish and hypocritical reasons. “It is not about shauch, but soch!”

2. Women have accepted patriarchy. They do not speak up. They are themselves responsible for their state.

3. Jaya (Bhumi) says that she has lived a certain way all her life. Why should she change now after marriage? Don’t expect women to “adjust” especially to crap! (Pun intended)!

4. In one of the scenes, Akshay Kumar says (forgot his character’s name!) that if they do not build a toilet in their homes, no woman would survive in their families. All men would remain unmarried. Great message. I am glad that this was the message highlighted. It was a breath of fresh air for a society that always talks about women remaining unmarried if they don’t do this, do that.

5. Best point of the movie – We must first acknowledge that there is a problem! Change, reform is all secondary. We are so complacent, blissfully living in filth in our environment, and our minds.

6. For all those upset that this is a propaganda movie – Yes, a certain government had initiated the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. It is one of the best things that happened to India. Why are we complaining if the movie is giving credit to them for their work?

And lastly, women one advice on a lighter note:

Before you marry a man, please make sure you go check out his house.

What Are You More Afraid Of – Ending Up Single, Or Being With The Wrong Person?

When I was young(er), I used to obsess with my looks when I would be meeting a guy for the first time (or maybe first few times). It did not matter whether it was a date, or a meeting with someone for an arranged marriage.  I would wear high heels trying my best to camouflage those 5 feet 2 inches. I would struggle with those curls, which made me look so unruly. I would ensure that my eyebrows were perfectly made, even if it meant running back to the parlour within a week.

If I would not hear back from the man (this kind of thing happened in the arranged set-up), I would analyze the things I said, what I ordered, what I wore and how much I ate. I would try to figure out what was it that didn’t work, (even if I myself had no interest in meeting that man any further).

Cut to few years later. I am on the verge of turning 30 and single.

My visits to the parlour are restricted to once in two – three months.  I am more concerned about being regular at the gym.   

Those eye brows – Oh they hurt like hell! My benchmark now is Krooh Singh to determine when they have grown too much.

Those heels –  I can’t manage them for more than a couple of hours. I am short! Nothing can change that. So why torture myself.

The hair? – I am just glad that it is still with me, and has survived brutal, frequent blow dries, and smoothenings.

No, I am longer afraid of what a man thinks of me when he meets me for the first time. I am no longer afraid whether he would like me.  I am only afraid of whether I would like him. I am afraid that I may like him, but then he would turn out to be a jerk. The kinds I have dealt with in the past. The chauvinist. The abuser. The philanderer. The fake feminist. Or a combination of all of these. The kinds I write about. The kinds who are the antagonists in my stories. The ones I ask women to be beware of.

Is this what elders have always been afraid of which is why they want girls married early?

Marry in your early 20s! Once you are older, you will become too stubborn about what you want / don’t want!  

Is it because it is more difficult to fool me now?

A close relative had set me up with a man who said some things to me, which I found extremely misogynist.  It is difficult to explain to someone 30 – 35 years older than you, why you did not like someone they thought was perfect for you.  I tried to explain myself, that I did not like him although he may be a good person. It reminded me of a scene from the movie, ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’.   Priyanka Chopra’ character says that she does not have the feelings for her husband, which she should have. Her mother- in-law replies, “Haan, but problem kya hai?”  Ranveer Singh’s expression was priceless.

The relative was trying to be kind and patient, by allowing me to justify why I did not like a perfectly good guy (according to him).  I was waiting for a “But problem kya hai?”

Instead he said, “Well, he could not like something about you too.  It is not like you are Queen Victoria!”

No, I am not Queen Victoria. But I think of myself as a progressive, loyal, caring and intelligent person.  Decent enough to be a companion for someone. Would I compromise on these values that I am looking for?  Absolutely not! It is not like I am asking for good looks or money!

Let the 30th birthday come along! I am not afraid. Let me be single for some more time. I am not afraid. Sad, maybe but not afraid.

The only thing I am afraid of is ending with the wrong person. Again!

Lipstick Under My Burkha – Just Let The Women Be!

I finally watched the “lady oriented” movie, ‘Lipstick under my Burkha’. For those of you who do not know, a copy of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) letter to the film’s producer Prakash Jha had stated as follows:

“The story is lady oriented, their fantasy about life. There are continuous sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society, hence film refused.”

Needless to say, there was an outrage. How can a movie be refused for being “lady oriented”, when movies such as Grand Masti, Kya Supercool hain hum and other rubbish that is male oriented and objectifies women is normalized?

I had shared an article on this sometime in February. The response was mixed. One gentleman has directed a question at me:

“Tanvi Sinha, would you show porn to your children, if not then how can you support a movie like this?”

I may not show porn to my future children.  But that does not mean that they would not watch it themselves eventually. Speaking of children…

Recently, I was trying to watch a movie on Netflix with my sister, 9 year old niece and mother. Father was also around in the living room, but busy on his laptop. I checked the parent guide for a particular Hollywood movie, and confirmed that it did not have any nudity.

The movie started. A woman took a home pregnancy test. She told her boyfriend she was pregnant. Ten minutes into the movie, my mother felt uncomfortable. This was Netflix, uncensored. Who knows what would come next? I was strategically reminded that ‘Dhishoom’ was coming on Star Gold.

I complied and disconnected Netflix. We started watching safe Bollywood. A pretty girl appears in a bikini. Varun Dhawan’ character is lusting at her, trying hard to look at her face while admiring her breasts.  There are some cheap jokes. There is a song “Janeeman AAh, Gale lag jaah” with some weird moves.

Everybody is comfortable now.  Good old Star Gold.  We are assured that there would be no nudity. We are watching what we have watched for years and normalized. Objectification of women, women fantasized from the man’s point of view, women not having any mind of their own, cheap jokes with double  entendre. Yes, all this is acceptable to show our children.

Coming back to the A rated, lady oriented movie – I completely enjoyed watching it. The script was crisp. The performances were outstanding.  Here is what worked for me:

  1. Ratna Pathak as Buaji is awesome. In an effective scene, a woman talks about looking for a bride for an old, widowed man. “35-40 saal ki ladki bhi chalegi!” Men obviously have needs. They can remarry at any age, to any age. But how can a 55-year-old women possibly have any desires?

2. The youngest female character in the movie, leaves home in a burkha only to change to jeans, in college with bright red lipstick. How many women do we know who did that in college? I even know older women living with parents who leave their homes completely covered , and end up changing into short clothes at pubs / friends places.

3. Konakana Sen’s character gets raped every night. Her husband is abusive, chauvinistic and a philanderer who is least bothered about her health. He has never heard of foreplay and does not believe in protected sex. However, she catches him romancing another woman. Seems he does know how to make a woman feel good! Just that the wife is his property, someone who does not deserve that affection.

4. The fourth character was the one I could not relate to at all. She runs a beauty parlour, and plans to start a business with her photographer boyfriend while being engaged to a stable, nice and boring arranged marriage guy. I did not like her character, and her scenes in the movie.

Now, coming back to the things that people have raised objections to:

  • Ample smoking scenes including the one at the end.
  • A confused woman cheating on her fiancé with her boyfriend
  • Some graphic scenes that may not be the most tasteful
  • Audio pornography?

Every time a movie like this is made, people attack feminism. Women empowerment is not about having sex, smoking, and getting pregnant before marriage. Okay!! I do not support adultery, cheating and smoking. But who said this movie was about how women should behave? Maybe it was just meant to be watched as a story from a woman’s point of view? Did we not see the warning, Smoking kills?

Another point of criticism was the ending. The women do not really do anything drastic to change their circumstances. They in fact seem to have conformed to patriarchy. In the last scene, they just all get together to express their disappointment about how dreams remain dreams. Reality is so different. But doesn’t it make it more realistic? Do we not do that in our daily life? With all our problems, shattered dreams, and unfulfilled desires, we share our feelings with our girlfriends and get a moment of relief.

What other movies have dealt with women’s emotions and desires, maybe with lesser visuals and more ‘seriousness’?

  • Remember that speech of Tabu’s character in the movie Astitva?
  • Nafisa Ali’s track with Dharmendra in Life in a Metro

What could have been a different ending:

  • Konkana divorcing her husband?
  • Ratna Pathak giving a speech on widows’ happiness like in movies such as Baabul?

Maybe. But no, this was not that kind of a movie. Every movie is differently made. Maybe in two hours, that’s all they wanted to convey.  Maybe it would have been boring if it went on and on with an ‘empowering victory’ for every character. Maybe they just wanted the women to be. The characters were real, and they were doing what they could in their own capacity to empower themselves. There was no conclusion. There was no preaching.  It was meant to be more entertaining, and I did enjoy it. Most people I know who watched it liked it too. Why can’t we accept it for what it was?

Maybe if we had 100 movies like this, “lady oriented” we would not have put so much pressure on it to be necessarily empowered. But we don’t. We have very few, and when we do we somehow want to justify it was worth so much of rebellion with the CBFC. It should earn its place with something useful for women like  – employment, voting rights, driving rights, rising against domestic violence?

Do we put so much thought into our regular ‘normalized’ , senseless Bollywood rubbish? Why did Badrinath gag his would be Dulhaniya in the trunk of his car? Why do our heroes smoke? Why is it cool for them to have multiple girlfriends?  No! it is just a movie, after all. If we do attack these movies, we are told: Why do feminists have to get so serious about everything? Where is their sense of humour?

So there. Women need not be fantasized. Women need not be idealized. They are regular human beings. Just let them be….

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