Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tell Me Your First Love Story

Hello, everyone.

Before you read any further, let me tell you that I'm not feeling especially romanti today. That's not what this is all about.

This is about a short series of drawings I've been planning to make. It's titled 'First Loves' and I'm collecting everyone's first love stories in order to compile it together to make a novel. It's gonna take a long time, but I'd be really happy if you guys shared your stories with me.

Leave your stories in the comments section along with your email. I'll choose the stories I find most interesting and contact you when I have made the drawings.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Some Things I Don't Understand Simply Because I'm a Woman

1. If a woman wants to wear a burqa, how is that anyody else's problem?

Remember when French president Nicolas Sarkozy was all for the ban on burqas and face-coverings? I would've understood if the key argument here was the matter of safety as not being able to see someone's face makes it difficult to identify someone. But the key argument was that of individual freedom. The freedom of a woman who is covering her face.

A few months ago, my friends expressed remorse after seeing an exceptionally adorable girl of about three years of age wearing a hijab. And I simply didn't understand why. Kid's wearing a hijab. How is that any different from a kid wearing a yellow sari on Saraswati puja or a Brahmin boy having his head shaved during his thread ceremony? Isn't the little girl, by wearing a hijab, only representing Islamic tradition? And she was smiling and happy, so why did my friends (who were men themselves) so upset?

Is it because we've long been conditioned to believe that a burqa is a system imposed on a woman, and it is a symbolic equivalent of suppression? Is it because we subconsciously believe that Islam itself wants to keep it's women from being free? Is it because our brain's really are that discriminatory even in a world where we have the means and the freedom to interact with any religious group in the world and lean their point of view?

So here's what I don't understand: why are men so free about expressing their opinions on the burqa, when, like menstruation and childbirth, they can never fully understand it? Why don't women- especially Muslim women- equal participants in this world? If burqa wearers impose bans on non-burqa wearers, how is that somehow worse than the ban that is placed on them? How is this ban truly secular when it clearly inhibits the freedom of one religious community from upholding their traditions (it must be noted that face coverings are actually nowhere mentioned in the Qu'ran, and are more of a community-based tradition)? And if men in power go about deciding whether or not a woman should wear a burqa....well, what women's liberation are we talking about?

I guess I don't understand simply because I'm a woman.

2. Why is watching a 'chick flick' considered the same as being an emotional fool?

My father watches action films. They are films where muscular men with no discernible acting talent go about shooting people, blowing up buildings, chasing each other and driving insanely expensive cars (and occassionally downing shaken, not stirred, martinis).

My mother watches soap operas. They are TV shows in which people come back from the dead, villains enter families to turn everyone against everyone against everyone, the men never actually go to work an are always present to deal with kitchen politics, and women are always decked in gaudy, traditional saris.

I can't help but see the similarities between the two.

Both focus on the bravado and struggles of one man/woman. The villains are almost always just evil for evil's sake. They're both highly improbable- you can't just turn over cars in the middle of the road (at least not without serious legal repercussion) and you can't fool a whole rich family into believing you're pregnant with their heir (at least not without serious legal repercussion, because don't rich families have lawyers to make this kind of stuff go away?). Watching men chase each other is no brain food, same as watching women backbite against each other isn't exactly intellectually stimulating.

Yes. Both my parents watch dumb television from time to time. And I don't judge either of them for being worse than the other.

Then why does everyone else? Entertainment mainly targeted towards women is obviously panned by society. Why is the term 'chick flick' offensive? It's a movie for chicks. So what? Just cast Meryl Streep or Deepika Padukone or whoever's the leading Bollywood gal at the moment and you've got a smash hit! It's as if people think that if you are a woman, and you like a book or a movie that doesn't push any feminist agenda or intellectual thought, and is only just fun, you are clearly doing something very wrong.

On the other hand, Pyaar ka Punchnama is clearly not wrong.

I guess I don't understand simply because I'm a woman.

3. Why can't we talk about periods?

When I was thirteen, a very unfortunate incident took place in our school. A couple of boorish boys opened a girl's bag without her permission, found sanitary napkins, held them out to the whole class to see and most of the boys just treated it as a joke and laughed. The girl was traumatized. She was new to our school and this was the welcome she got.

Yeah. Girls get periods. If you're a guy, you probably found out all about this when you were fourteen and by now it's common knowledge to you. And if you're girl, well, it's happening to you. So why is this such a hush-hush secret?

I mean, we're talking about everything else. Pornography masquerading for film is running successfully in a theatre near you. You can talk about terrorist attacks, rapes, murders, everything! But not menstruation.

Okay, so maybe you don't like to share your bleeding calendar with men because it makes you uncomfortable. It's going to take a while for us to get over that, and I understand if some of us want to keep some things women's only. But why can't we discuss these things among ourselves? Why can't we be loud when we're discussing it instead of speaking in hushed tones? Why can't mothers teach their sons about menstruation and a woman's privacy instead hiding everything from them?

This one I really don't understand.

4. Why are only beautiful women considered to be the ones who can do no wrong?

Aishwarya Rai is frequently called The Most Beautiful Woman in The World. Emma Watson is one heck of a gorgeous ex-Hermione Granger. Both of them can't act.

I mean, seriously. They're beautiful but they can't act. Aishwarya Rai was never the best actress around. Emma Watson barely has five minutes of screen time in movies like This Is The End and Bling Ring, but she's advertised as the main attraction. I almost feel sorry for these women. Oh, the pressure of impressing when you really are just a mediocre actress!

My point is that it seems to me that the most conventionally beautiful women in the world can never go wrong.  They're the one's with all the perks. On the other hand, it's not the same with men.

It's not just film stars. Even sportswomen suffer. Only the pretty ones gets endorsements, which is partly (or maybe wholly) the reason behind the unpopularity of women's sports. if you're a tennis player, a badminton player, a gymnast or a hot swimmer, you can be the face of any brand you like. But not if you're not aesthetically blessed or into sports that don't allow for flattering (often revealing) clothes on field.

Why is this happening? Why does Lena Dunham have to write and direct and act and basically have to spend a lot of time being awesome when when Blake Lively can be just as famous without having to do as much?

I guess I don't understand because I'm a woman.