Feminism Isn’t Just A Word

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When I was employed, I was getting paid what I thought was a significant amount of money. But then they hired a man who was working under my supervision but got paid more than I did. “Experience” they called it then. He was new to the industry. His experience wasn’t in the same field. But I thought it acceptable until I found myself in the same position, switching careers and still getting paid less.

I’m quoting that as an example because I want you to know, I understand the word feminism. It’s not JUST about the pay gap. Like I said, it’s an example. And I couldn’t be more happier to live in a time where #MeToo has happened and voices are being heard louder than ever and women are being acknowledged, not dismissed.

But does everyone truly understand the word Feminism?

I know a whole lot of feminists who understand that word and who I look up to for various reasons including this. But then comes the bunch. The bunch that this blog is about.

I’m not a submissive person. I can’t “Yes, Sir” to anyone at any moment in my life. This might even become the death of me. But I like it when the man I’m dating is the “Man” in our relationship. I like it when he makes the final call. “Take my words into consideration and make a good choice.” I’m okay with this. Actually, I’d choose this. I’d rather not be burdened with it all.

I dated a very emotionally unstable man for a significant period of time. I dealt with his mood swings and was there when he needed me and waited to be needed again when he threw me away. I understood why he acted that way and I understood what he needed from me. I made the choice to stay. Given the chance to do it all over again, I’d still choose the same.

I can’t stand up for myself. I’m terribly shy and anxious in a confrontational situation. I’d rather text my emotions than talk them. I don’t like being hated and I definitely do not like it when someone is mad at me. I’d choose to apologize for their fault because that’s one less person who holds negative emotions towards me.

I like having a career. I want to make a lot of money. I don’t like the idea of depending on anyone else for my needs. But if I ever needed to stay at home for my faimly, I’d do it without second thought. It would be the most obvious choice to me. I may not enjoy it all the time, but I wouldn’t regret it at all.

Which of these above factors make me a non-feminist?

Because isn’t that a major point of everything that’s happening right now? GIVING WOMEN THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE? The choice to marry. The choice to earn. The choice of clothes. EQUALITY & CHOICE. Allowing me to choose what I want without being ridiculed or looked down upon for it?

And if I want to choose to be a “homemaker” or a “submissive” or an emotional punching bag to a very disturbed man, isn’t that my choice?

Women, not all but the many I’ve come across, have this textbook definition for being a feminist – Independent – Financially and Emotionally, Unforgiving, Strong and if you go by Jyothika’s version – wears Aviators and climbs on lorries. But I’m none of those things. I’m independent to a point but I like needing him when I’m miserable. I like that he can say, “Hello” and my world is okay again. I like forgiving people even when they’re not apologising. I like being a little weak and wearing my heart on my sleeve, even if I know the other person is an asshole.

We are struggling so hard to get men to treat us as equals. But some of us forget that in that need, we’re taking away the choice from ourselves. We need to be united to get to where we need to be. But we’re squabbling on the inside because we don’t all understand what we’re even fighting for. To so many, it’s a label that makes them relevant. “I’m a feminist,” is something that makes them a part of the conversation. But what’s the point if you don’t understand what the conversation even is?

She can be a feminist and a housewife. She can be a feminist and in a shitty relationship. She can be a feminist and a stay-at-home mom. She can be a feminist and absolutely emotionally weak. She can be a feminist and extremely apologetic. SHE CAN BE A FEMINIST AND STILL BE HERSELF.

Because Feminism isn’t just a word. It isn’t just a label. It’s very real and very important.  And to those who got it right the first time, good for you and thank you!

To those who constantly pick on other women with, “Please! You don’t get to call yourself a feminist!” – Seriously, go take a class and educate yourself while the rest of us fight the battles for you.

Let’s Talk Marriage

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Yep. It’s that time of my life. Not the time when I’m getting married. But the time when everyone around me starts piling on the pressure about it.

I’ll start our conversation with this – I’m ready. I’m ready to go learn to live with someone. I’m ready to share my life with someone. I’m ready to have good and bad days and work our way through this insane universe while standing by each other even on the days we don’t want to.  I’m ready to start planning a wedding that will happen at least one year away. I’m ready for it all.

But I’m not ready to choose the person that I will get married to.

I know, I know. That’s the most important part of it. It’s all about the person. But here’s my problem – If I make this choice, I can’t change it. Ever. And the truth about life is, every choice we’ve made is somehow permanent, in reality or in our memory. But my choices in the past have never tied me to a person for eternity.

If I choose one person, even someone I love, I can’t take it back. And everyone rushing with their advice about how it doesn’t matter in life how carefully you pick because you can’t predict the future and how human beings change with every tide – Yeah,I’ve heard it. I understand it. And I’d totally take that gamble if I’m only looking for a husband.

But I’m not.

Because this person I marry is not just a husband. He’s not just going to be “the man I’m married to.” He’s more. SO much more. He’s my family. He’s my hug on a bad day. He’s my best friend when I’m fighting with my real one. He’s my coffee buddy every morning. He’s my companion when I’m sick and old and fragile. He’s the father to my children. He’s their “good cop” because I’m a control freak with a combination of anxiety and OCD. He’s the calm to my never-ending storm. He’s their shoulder and mine when our hearts break. He’s my person.

And I get one shot to choose him. One shot. To choose the person that will influence every decision there is to make about my future.  And I’m not ready for it.

“But you’re 25! You’re an adult!” Says who?!

If my maturity is defined by a number, we don’t need life experiences and life lessons, do we now?! “Just wait till you get older! It’ll come to you.” Seriously? I feel like the adult in this conversation right now.

But honestly, how do you choose?

“Oh, you just know,” is not an acceptable answer. I don’t know. I’ve never known. I’m terrified. I have anxiety. Even if I know, I’m afraid I don’t know well enough. I’m afraid it’s wrong. I’ve known things before, gone with my instincts and messed up terribly. How can I be sure this isn’t one of those times again?

So I did what I do best. I asked someone, “What did you ask her? What made you think she’s the one?”

He gave me a list:

  • Career
  • Expectations in her marriage
  • Likes
  • Dislikes

And.. I just sat there, staring at that answer for a while. I didn’t know what to  say because it seemed so… less.

Here’s what I thought I should start with – What do you do from the moment you wake up until you fall asleep – On a working day? On a weekend? On vacation? What’s your lifestyle like? What do you want our lifestyle to be? Do we watch movies every weekend? Do we stay in on Sundays? What are your questions for me? If I need you, would you drop what you’re doing and come to my rescue? If I need a day off, will you take care of the children and work from home? Can we split the house expenses? Can you deal with my need to plan every last detail about everything? Will you fuel my wildest ideas and craziest dreams? Will you understand my love for surprises but my inability to deal with them? Will you put up with my need to know the ending before watching thriller movies? Can you promise me “us” time everyday? Will you cook on alternative days? Will you go grocery shopping with me? Can we have a snack drawer? Will you take me out for midnight food cravings? On a weekday night? Can our children be vegetarians even if you’re not? Can I take over the closet in our room because I have too many clothes and nothing to wear?  Can I choose our home decor if I promise not to let our room turn pink? Can I cry my mascara into your new white shirt? Will you hug me even when we’re fighting? Will you find me beautiful even when I’m sitting with messy hair in the middle of chaos after yelling at you for no reason other than the fact that I’m PMSing? Oh! And we’re going to adopt pets. LOTS OF THEM! That’s cool, right?!

And after he answers all this, I still have that burning question running in my head – “What if he changes his mind about it?”

Because arranged marriages or love, they’re still human beings. And there’s almost 7 billion of them on this planet. You need to choose one. This person, his past, his present and his future will help determine whether your kids are going to Harvard Law or sitting behind bars. How do you choose him?

What do you look for? What lifestyle is acceptable? And what if mine changes? What if I grow up and become a different person who wants different things? I used to love H&M and Forever21. I’ve wasted so much money there. But I don’t shop there anymore. Three hours, a documentary and some Google research later, I couldn’t bring myself to buy fast fashion anymore. Three hours to change something I’d done for a lifetime.

What if everything I love changes someday? Will he still be the right person or me?

“That’s the main question to be answered. That’s when the soul searches as to whether this is an age phenomenon or is this my phenomenon. Answer that.”

– Sai Krishna

But how do I know? And the unknown is the scariest of them all.

It’s funny when everyone around you wants to talk about getting you married. They talk about how you’re old enough to find a groom. If you can’t find one, they’ll find one for you. But the thing about all that is – they’re not really talking bout marriage. They’re talking about a wedding. They’re talking about finding a man and tying the knot. And they’re right. I am ready to have a wedding.

But the problem is what comes after. And in their need to see me as a bride, they forget –  After that one day of dressing up and celebrating, there is still the rest of my life.

And I’m not ready for that. I’m not ready for a marriage.

Why isn’t that okay?

“I ______ You”

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If I were to ask you what the three most powerful words in this universe are, you will probably answer “I Love You.”

And I would disagree.

I Love You – They make any relationship special. They make any moment so important. They make you feel on top of the world.

I Love You – What if I told you there’s something better? That there’s something more important?

I recently stumbled upon the wedding video of Colleen and Joshua. For a very long time, I thought I was the only person who believed in those words. Who knew how they made every other sentence in this entire galaxy seem so irrelevant. And then I heard Joshua’s wedding vows.

Because..

Love. He can love you and still not be with you.

Love. She will love you and still marry him.

Love. They love you but still won’t want you.

Love. It’s not the most powerful word.

Love. It’s not enough.

They still have to Choose you.

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On your worst day, when you’re stuck with the flu and your loved one has to be elsewhere, it is not love that keeps them by your side. It is the choice that you are more important than anyone else. Because there isn’t a sentence in this world that will matter as much as – I Choose You.

I Choose You. In sickness and in health.

I Choose You. For better or for worse.

I Choose You. Since the day you were born until forever.

I Choose You. Despite your flaws and your shortcomings.

I Choose You. You’re not my best friend, you’re my sister.

I Choose You. You were a parent when we had none.

I Choose You. No matter what the world comes up with.

I Choose You. Despite the rest of the human population.

I Choose You. Even if she’s better.

I Choose You. Today. Tomorrow.

For the rest of my life,

I will always choose you.

Choice.

It’s everything.

 

Why?

Why did you do it?

Why did you choose to be you for the first time?

Why did you make me want to pull all my walls down and open my heart up to you?

Why did you make me want to believe in fairytales?

Why did you let me fall for you?

Why did you say no to being mine?

Why did you break my heart into a million different pieces day after day?

Why did you hang up when I needed you the most?

Why did you walk away when I wanted you to stay?

Why did you tell me about this girl you spoke to at night that you really really liked?

Why did you make me feel like I was her?

Why did you ask her out when you told me you weren’t ready when it was me?

Why did I cry like the world was falling apart?

Why did you feel like the only lifeline that could’ve saved me?

Why did that feeling fade away?

Why did you choose to leave?

Why did I want that distance more than you did?

Why did my love for you get buried under a life I wanted to build for myself?

Why did everything become nothing but a memory?

Why did I have the ability to choose me over you?

Why did that choice feel okay?

Why am I okay?

Without you.

With me.

A Chance To Dream

Last Monday, my father and I had a conversation about people struggling to chase their dreams. ‘Opportunities are created, not handed.’ But exactly how true is that statement if some of us don’t even get a shot at creating an opportunity?

On Tuesday, I went to see a movie with my friend. I’ll admit – I cry at movies. But surprisingly, I didn’t cry during this movie, I cried an hour after I reached home. The movie was called Jeeva. The story of a boy who dares to dream; the typical parent that says he can’t do it and a society that thrashes him for trying. As it was a movie, there were way too many nice people but that isn’t the case for everyone.

I am privileged to have parents that sent me to school. I am privileged to have parents that don’t depend on my earnings to put food on the plate. I am blessed to have parents that said “Ok. You can chase your dream. If you fall, know I’ll pick you up and push you forward again.” So many would kill for this life..

“Mahendra Singh Dhoni” – MSD – Captain of the Indian Cricket Team. I say his name with pride because I love him as a player. But there is a kid in my city, about 11-12 years old. When you ask him to say that name he will say it the way we say our deity’s name. With respect, energy and power. Because the man that is nothing but a cricket player in my eyes is that little kid’s idol. MSD is everything that kid aspires to be. MSD is the reason that kid wakes up at 5a.m and rushes to the beach with a bat in his hand to play the game he hopes to one day play for a living. MSD is the man that kid hopes to one day be.

And I don’t want to be the one to tell him that the dream he dares to dream of every night, the passion he feels when he lifts that bat, the joy he feels when playing – it’s not going to last forever. Because there will come a day in his life when he will stand in front of his parents and say – “I don’t want to get a job. I want to be a cricketer. This is my dream.” and his “practical” and “logical” parents will tell him “That is the most ridiculous thing we have ever heard !”
“But I want to be like MS Dhoni !”
“You’re not MS Dhoni. You go get a job and make a living for yourself. Be practical.”
“This is what makes me happy.”
“Happiness. You think if I’d chosen to be ‘happy’ you would have had the opportunity to stand here and argue with me? Go to those placement interviews. Get a job.”

His parents are not wrong. Every parent across the world struggles to raise a kid. To put them through school and university. To get their feet on the ground and have them move forward. It is never easy to watch your child make a career choice that might end in utter disaster. But that is the problem.

I meet a lot of people. When they tell me what they do for a living, I always ask – Is this what you want to be doing? The answer is always yes. So I ask again, “But if you could turn back time, you’re 19. You can pick any career you want to. Nobody depends on you. Is this what you would want to be doing?” I watch that person squirm and ask to talk about something else or tell me “It’s irrelevant to be talking about now.” But why does the next person not have the right to chase his dream?

Parents are taught to ‘let go’ of their kids after a certain age. ‘They can take care of themselves now. It’s ok to let go.’ I have watched my parents struggle with the concept. To them I will always be their little girl. But they took the chance.

I am not the next JK Rowling. I am not writing the next New York Times bestseller. But I know. I know the joy of sitting in a class and studying exactly what I wanted to. I know the joy of being able to excel in it because I loved it so much. I know the pain, the sleepless nights, the non-stop tears and the broken heart when I had to make the decision to drop out and give up on something I loved. And today, I know the peacefulness I feel deep inside me every time I sit in front of this computer and begin to type. I know the joy and the emotions in me when I write the title to this post because it may not be a publishing house, but I at least have a platform to do what I love.

One of my favorite quotes in life – “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” I’m fully aware that people might be suicidal when their dreams crash. Not everyone is strong inside. And I don’t have an answer when someone asks me “What if I let him/her do what they want and find them used and dead?” But I want you to take one second to think to yourself, “What if they came out with flying colors?” Precautionary behavior is never wrong, but telling them they can never make it, is.

That kid’s parents are not wrong. But they’re not right. He is not MSD. He will never be. But you know what they failed to think of? Yes he might fail, miserably. Or ten years later there will be a writer sitting on her bed in tears as she writes..

There is this kid in my city, about 11-12 years old. When you ask him to say the name, he will say it with respect, energy and power because.. that man, that man whose parents let him chase his dreams, that man is everything this kid aspires to be..

“Every child has a dream and every dream deserves a chance”