Monday, 13 October 2014

Because You Are Not Good Enough

Because You Are Not Good Enough
Ladies!! If you think you are happy with the way you are, grateful for the talents you have and believe that what's inside matters the most, the brilliant fashionistas are here to prove you wrong!
You are not good enough! - that's the tag line and the fashion statement of an apparel company that has invented thigh gap jeans for ladies. Yes, your thighs shouldn't touch when you wear your jeans. It's not feminine enough. It doesn't define beauty.

At "Thigh Gap" your jeans come with a small wooden stick that you can jam between your upper thighs to create a beautiful (read: painful) gap between your legs. And they're on sale for only $69.99!

Play this video to see this ridiculous idea for yourself. 


After all, we are living in an era where the modeling companies are trying to bring plus size models into the industry. Feminism is surely witnessing the impact of enforcing equality for women and accepting women in all sizes.
Thigh Gap
That is also a sign of modern women choosing to dress the way they want and stop giving a damn to the fashion industry.
Businesses are trying hard to dictate how we live life and they seem to be inventing crazy ideas to keep the oppression strong on our society. They surely know how to play the game pretty well.
On the other hand, what are we, as the consumers supposed to do? Dress the way we want and create or own fashion statement and identity for ourselves. That's the day we will see industries designing clothes according to our needs.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Maya Angelou and The Hidden Past


The world was saddened by the demise of Maya Angelou a few months ago. She was a great leader, a brilliant teacher and above all, a wonderful soul who had so many stories and life's lessons to share with us. Admit it. We actually learn about people more when they are gone. Their good and bad deeds would turn into topics to discuss for the next few days.

Maya Angelou was no exception. She passed away at the age of 86, leaving behind her glorious life as a legacy. The media did a commendable job in highlighting her achievements but what amazes me is the fact that the media glorified the 'good stuff' of her life, the 'past' that we would be proud to talk about, the stories that would earn her more 'respect' and the talents she had that left the entire world amazed. 

What about the past that made her into who she was until the day she died? What about the 'least glorified' stories of her life? The untold mistakes that made her stronger and wiser?

I'm not very sure how many of you had actually read Maya's books. I came to know that she was one of the most successful non-fiction writers after her death. (Shame on me on not knowing this earlier! I know. I will be buying those books soon! *excited* ) Maya Angelou had a very challenging life. She was raped, she was a prostitute, she smoked pot and took drugs. Throughout her life, she was a strong advocate for the underprivileged people. She stood against racism, sexism and other ugly forms of discrimination. In an interview with her, she had explained what it actually feels to be doing something that may be wrong in the society's point of view.

I agree that she had lived life to the fullest and nobody would have preferred talking about her as a prostitute in the wake of her death but ignoring her past as a sex worker, a night club dancer and a madam for lesbian prostitutes simplifies her legacy. This issue was debated by Aya De Leon on Huffington Post. Maya never felt intimidated by her past. She chose to embrace her past, forgive herself and learn from the mistakes. There are lessons she learned from the journey of her life. Her past defined her life and herself.

Her past itself also advocates for prostitutes, lesbians, gays and feminists. Unfortunately, the media did not discuss her struggles as much as they embraced and celebrated her achievements and this is actually an issue that we should address. When someone is walking out of their 'not-so-nice' past, turning over a new leaf and looking forward to living a meaningful life, why do we choose to encourage them to erase their history?

Failure leads to success and success is celebrated but nobody values failure. We are living in a society that is highly judgemental. We are expected to find the route to success without failing because people don't accept mistakes. As soon as we know someone has erred in their life, we quickly judge them, label them, degrade them and undermine their quality of life.

One of Maya Angelou's autobiographies, "Gather Together In My Name revealed her life as a sex worker.
“I sat thinking about the spent day. The faces, bodies and smells of the tricks made an unending paisley pattern in my mind. Except for the Tamiroffish first customer, the others had no individual characteristics. The strong Lysol washing water stung my eyes and a film of vapor coated my adenoids. I had expected the loud screams of total orgasmic release and felt terribly inadequate when the men had finished with grunts and yanked up their pants without thanks.”
I must say that we hesitate to accept women's past as compared to men. This double standard has been around in our society for a long time. As a result, women erase the black marks in their lives and avoid being discriminated.

Do you celebrate your past without prejudice and let people know who you are for real or do you think it is necessary to safeguard your darkest secret in order to allow the society to let you live life peacefully? 


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Friday, 26 September 2014

Review: Belonging by Sameem Ali


I finished reading two books in just two days. I made a review for "Daughters of Shame" written by Jasvinder Sanghera in my previous post and this one is for Belonging by Sameem Ali. 

Daughters of Shame and Belonging are two books about #forcedmarriages and coincidentally, these two books were written by Asian women whose parents hail from Pakistan and India. Jasvinder and Sameem's parents migrated to the Great Britain where the ladies were born. 

when I put down Jasvinder's book, I went to my shelf and picked this book up. As I started reading I realized that the story is somewhat similar and it took place also in Britain. Then I knew that forced marriages and honour killings are REAL and these horrible crimes are still happening today. I like the way the story is narrated in "Belonging". It is very engaging and believable. Sameem grew up in a children's home when she was young where life as a kid was beautiful for her and the rest of the kids. When she turned 7, her parents came to take her home and that's where the not-so-nice life started. 

She was basically treated like a slave, forced to do all the housework, forced to marry someone in Pakistan (one of her uncles had unsettled debts and to settle it off, Sameem was forced to marry one of his sons). She never knew what marriage, sex and pregnancy were at the age of thirteen but she was pregnant and had a child at the age of 14. 

Sameem was mistreated by her own family and it is really sad to know that the society still thinks that girls should not get proper sexual education. She never knew that women will go through menstruation and she was not even explained about it after attaining puberty. The society is cruel towards women as we are not even allowed to explore our own bodies and the way they work. We are not supposed to fully mature sexually because knowing what's happening to our bodies would educate us on how to protect ourselves and that would mean less control for men on women. What a shame!

This is an excerpt from the book that makes my stomach churn!

" Mother decided that she could fix the stutter by cutting the skin under my tongue, which she told me was pulling my tongue down in the wrong way. She shouted angrily at Hanif to help her, and the two of them laid me down on the kitchen floor, and told me to open my mouth. I was confused but did as I was told. In Mother's hand was a razor blade, the kind found in an old-fashioned razor. I stared at in horror. "

We have seen gradual improvements on racism, gay-lesbian rights, and many other issues plaguing our society but it's sad to know that we are still battling the war against sexism in 2014. It's sad to see Emma Watson being threatened online by some jerk who thinks he could leak her nude photos and humiliate her.

It's not just the UN ambassador's responsibilities to fight for justice. Let's spread awareness and make this place a better place for women and men. If we continue to portray men as rude, dominating and evil, when are we going to see the gentlemen around? 

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Monday, 22 September 2014

Daughters of Shame: A Review

Daughters of Shame
If you have never read any books written by human’s rights advocate, you should add this book to your TBR list!
I have read the first book written by this author (Shame by Jasvinder Sanghera) and I must say that domestic violence and child marriage are REAL and the pain can be very tormenting even when the victims are no longer abused.
In her first book, she wrote about her childhood and how she managed to escape the forced marriage. I’ve learnt about the Asian community living in the UK through this book and how the girls face similar issues at home.
In this book, she had shared some of the women’s stories whom she is helping through the community-based organization in the U.K by the name of Karma Nirvana. Jasvinder is the founder of this community and she voices out for the victims of honour-based crimes in the U.K.
It is absolutely saddening to see so many women and men who have fallen victims to one of the most atrocious form of crime among the Asian community. Girls as young as twelve are sent back to their parents’ country (which is usually India and Pakistan) where they are forced to marry men twice their age. These girls were often abused and tortured; treated like slaves and their children suffer the consequences of not having educated parents to care for them.
Girls who go against their parents’ wish were often killed by their own families in the name of honour!
I applaud the work being done by Karma Nirvana and Jasvinder Sanghera as the U.K. has enforced the Forced Marriage Act to protect underage children and adults from forced marriages and honour-based crimes.

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Friday, 8 August 2014

I Have A Dream And I Want To Live It


You and I, we all have dreams. We all want to live the life according to our own ways. We refuse to have our rights ripped off right in front of our very own eyes. We all want our freedom. We want the need to be respected for who we are and the choices we make. What happens when someone tries to snatch these needs away from us? We'd definitely refuse to budge and fight back to retain our dreams. 

Unfortunately, the world is made of some people who think that they don't just own the rights to decide their own lives, but also the lives of others. This young lady's dream was shattered by a man who thought he owns the right to decide how a girl's life should be. This incident happened in New Dehli; one of the largest cities in India. 

Acid Attack Fighter Laxmi
Acid Attack Fighter Laxmi

This is Laxmi, the Acid Attack Fighter, and this is her story. (quoted from her Facebook page)

My name is Laxmi. Read my story. I'm one of you. In fact, I am like you. I was young and beautiful and I had a dream. Even when I was studying in a Delhi school in Class VII, I would spend hours singing. I'd recorded my songs and sent them to talent hunt competitions. I was waiting for a call from 'Indian Idol'.
I'm from a poor family. My father worked as a chef in a South Delhi home. I became friends with another girl in the neighbourhood and her brother soon started proposing to me. I was only 15 and he, 32 years old. On April 18, he messaged me: "I love you.'' I ignored it, but the next day he messaged again: "I want an instant reply.'' Again I didn't respond.
I kept screaming for help but no one stepped forth. Everyone ran in the opposite direction. I could feel my flesh burning and I covered my eyes with my arms. That reflex action saved me from losing my vision.
Acid corrodes quickly. Within a few seconds, I had lost my face, my ear had melted and both my arms were charred black. A politician's driver took me to a hospital, where I was to stay for the next 10 weeks.
I saw myself in the mirror at the end of 10 weeks and couldn't believe what the acid had done to me. The doctors had to remove the entire skin from my face and keep it bandaged. I've already had seven surgeries and need at least four more before I can go in for plastic surgery, provided I can afford it.
I learnt to live with the physical pain but what hurt more was the way the society reacted. My own relatives stopped seeing me, as did my friends. I stayed indoors for eight years and ventured out only in a ghungat.
My main attacker was out on bail within a month and he soon got married. He returned to a normal life within a month, but what about me? Nobody even wants to be my friend; how can I even hope that I'll have a lover or a husband?
I tried to pick up a job but nobody was willing to hire me. Some said: "People will get scared if they see you." Others said they will call back but, of course, the phone never rang. I tried BPOs, banks and beauty parlours but all I got was rejection. Nobody wants to hire acid victims because of the way they look.
But I ask you, is it our fault? Society accepts those born blind or those who are physically challenged. Why are we shunned? If you ask me, we are worse off than rape victims because with our faces burnt, we seem to have lost our identity.
I still sing. I love music. I love partying. I love nail polish. I design and tailor my own clothes. I have desires like you do, but I seem to scare off people.
The only support I got was from my parents, my doctor, my lawyer Aparna Bhatt and from the couple at whose house my father worked. They paid for my surgeries and are still in touch with me.
Even while my parents were coping with the attack, my brother came down with tuberculosis and my father died. I was shattered for the second time.
In the instant that my father died, I had to carry the burden of being the bread earner for the family. My mother has to constantly be by my brother's side and feels really upset that she cannot spend time with me.
I gathered myself together and pursued my case in court. My lawyer had filed a petition in the Supreme Court, asking for a ban on the sale of acid.
Slowly, I started getting in touch with other victims, most of who are blinded or have lost their hearing. Each one of us is poor and cannot afford multiple surgeries.
You can't bear to look at us but we don't have the money to buy ourselves new faces. My friends - yes, I've made new friends and they are all acid victims - are mostly blind.
You stare at us and gather your children in a hurry, hoping they haven't got scared just looking at us. Why don't you tie a band around your eyes and see how dark it gets.
That's how dark our world is.
I hope you never have to inhabit it, but I do hope you understand it. Don't give me the strength if you can't, but don't try and break my confidence. I've just learnt to move on.
I started an online petition and was happy when 27,000 people signed it. I went to the home ministry to submit it to Sushil Kumar Shinde. We waited for three hours but he didn't have even five minutes for us. I had to finally ambush his car to hand over the petition.
Nahim Khan, the man who had attacked me with acid, had to go back to jail after the court awarded him a seven-year sentence. He will be free in two years and continue with life. But my scars will remain forever..
My legal fight will continue. The Supreme Court has ordered states to pay Rs. 3 lakh as compensation, but what about our medical costs - some of us need to undergo 30-40 surgeries? What about jobs? How about sensitising the police force and trials in fast-track courts?
Even countries like Bangladesh have implemented stringent laws to deal with acid crimes but India has resisted it for so long. So many could have been saved. I need your help. We need the government to compensate us too. What about so many of us who are still suffering. Should the law not be with retrospective effect?
I have a dream and I want to live it.
   
Today, Laxmi continues to fight for women's rights and campaigns against Acid Attacks in India where the poor regulations of acid sales contribute to rising number of acid attacks. Laxmi was one of the recipients of the International Women of Courage 2014 award. 




Being a female in a male-dominated society has made survival harder. When something goes wrong to the girl, the society talks about her appearance, her behaviour, her dressing sense and everything else she does but nobody investigates on the actual cause of the incident. What women can do to protect herself is actually very limited when the she has no control over how the others (men) behave at large. We are taught to uphold modesty at all times but what's the point of women minding their behavior alone when members of the opposite sex remain assholes all the time? 

Domestic violence takes place at every corner of the world, in different forms. Probably the differences in cultures across the world result in the variations of social issues we all encounter today. But what's certain is the fact that we all understand what is it is like to have our rights violated, despite the cultural and language barriers. Watch this explanatory video.


I too, have a dream To make a change in the society we are all living in today. I do know that there are numerous challenges to face in order to be who I really am. It's my dream and I want to live it. What's yours?

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Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Apparently Brazil Got Raped Last Night !


I wish I could blog as many times I want in a day! That happens if only I could kick all other work aside. I come across at least one news in the headlines of a local newspaper or on my Social Media news feed that would certainly piss me off and makes me wonder if the battle against sexism ever works. 

So, last night's (depending on where you are) match saw Brazil as the host of the FIFA World Cup 2014 ending their journey in the world's most prestigious football match. Yes, it was a bad loss. They were defeated by Germany by a score of 7-1. It's was a joyful moment for the entire fan club of Germany and they took this victory as an opportunity to humiliate Brazil widely on social media. 

Just google out this hashtag #brazilraped and you will find out how many idiotic fans are actually celebrating the defeated opponent by coining the term 'raped' to humiliate them. Are rape victims supposed to be humiliated? Is rape even a reason for celebration?

I urge you to check out the posts about the match happened less than 12 hours ago on your social media stream to see if you have any sexist friends. I spot a couple of them and I also had a Facebook page moderator criticizing this act of complete stupidity. 

You would be surprised to know that people actually welcome this lame joke and think that it is okay to post such thing online when in reality we are actually supporting the idea of shaming victims of sexual violence.  


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Monday, 5 May 2014

'Breast Ironing' In Cameroon To Avoid Rape and Delay Puberty

Mothers ‘iron’ daughters breasts to delay puberty and prevent rape
We all know that every society deals with its own issues of discrimination against women. We have societies dealing with rape in night clubs, child bride issues, the 'dowry' or 'wedding gift' custom, birth control and abortions. But in Cameroon, little girls go through hell in the name 'protection' by their very own mothers.

Rape and child pregnancies are very common in Cameroon and mothers over there decide to iron their girls' breasts to delay puberty and prevent rape. So, flat breast don't attract men! Meh! It is a new tradition due to sexual violence in Cameroon where girls will be forced to get their breasts ironed as early as 11. They would simply grab any objects, heat them up and press it on the girls' breasts. These girls cry so hard but all their mothers say is that it is for their 'own good'. Good? So, has the rape cases drop over the years? 

What happens to these girls as they grow up is horrifying as they develop diseases due to this practice. Some have cysts, some have infections and some have their breast looking extremely bad and non-symmetrical. The psychological disorder these girls develop is even worse. They grow up to feel bad about their appearance and the trauma remains in their heart, forever!

There a now a group of women activist with more than 10,000 members are now fighting for the younger generation and the campaign is showing positive results as the percentage of women affected by this practice has dropped to 12 from 25% in 2006.





It is obvious that we all should stay united in fighting for the rights of women and any form of injustice. Are you girls aware of what's going on around the world? Do they know how to protect themselves from men who sweet-talk? Do you teach them to become women who knows their worth? 

Do your part today. Let's do not let another generation of women to define their worth based on their looks or approval from men. 


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