It Is Your Choice. But, It’s A Very Poor Choice Of Words.

MyChoice

“My Choice” has been an abused and overused response from “Generation Y” for anything that doesn’t adhere to the conventional standards of behavior which has been set by the earlier generations.  Now when these 2 words are preceded with the words “My Body” then it is bound to ruffle some feathers especially in a conservative society like ours.

Vogue magazine came out with a video under their ‘Vogue Empower’ initiative series named “My Choice” with Deepika Padukone as the protagonist and as many as 98 other women including celebrities from the film industry like Anupama Chopra, Zoya Akhtar, Nimrat Kaur etc. The video aims to bring awareness to the cause of women’s empowerment nationwide. It is ironic to see a fashion magazine and celebrities from an industry who make their money by reinforcing sexist standards of beauty on women preach about women empowerment. The video was probably made with the right intention but the execution of ideas and the statements used turned out to be rhetoric and didn’t drive home the point which I believed the video was supposed to do.

If the execution of the video was poor the reactions and the responses to the video were equally immature. There is no doubt about the fact that some statements in the video like “my choice whether to have sex outside of marriage” do not reflect the true essence of women empowerment at all but just to take a few excerpts out of a video and blowing it out of proportion was not a very mature thing to do. My interpretation of the video’s intended message was that there should not be different guidelines for women and men in the society. A woman should have the choice to wear any kind of clothes she likes; she should have the choice to binge on any food she likes without bothering about her figure; she should have the choice to marry as per her own conditions and whenever she is ready; she should have the choice to love temporarily, or to lust forever. What our society does is denies her that choice.

The angst of the people might be justified if you consider specific statements from the video but as a message in its entirety, it was a pretty strong video. What surprises me is that statements like “having sex outside of marriage” and “to have your baby or not” boils the blood of certain sections of the society but when Vogue Empower had shown a commercial titled “Ladke nahi rote” starring Madhuri Dixit which ends with a shot of a man about to tear up while hitting his wife, there were no reactions from anyone whatsoever. If the bloodied face of the girl being a victim of domestic violence from her husband didn’t instill a chill down your spine but rather an innocuous remark by a movie celebrity did, then I believe we all should take a strong and hard look at ourselves in the mirror. The “My Choice” video was only a logical extension to the “Ladke nahi rote” video where it was further re-iterated that instead of binding women to rules and restrictions, it is necessary for us to educate the men to learn how to respect women and give them equal rights.

It is also the responsibility of women to treat this “equal rights” terminology in the right manner. Yes ladies, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too”. Women shouldn’t use equal rights or special privileges granted to them at several places, according to their own convenience.  In fact, I believe that everyone should be treated as equal. If we can’t resist on judging people then we should judge or evaluate everyone on the same framework. Why can’t a man cry? It is perfectly natural to cry. Why can’t a girl dress as she likes to? It is perfectly natural to groom yourself to look the most delightful. Let’s learn to respect the women in our lives; because lack of doing so has caused all of this malice.

Let’s encourage efforts towards woman empowerment even if the message is not conveyed in the subtlest manner possible. To Vogue, I would say, “It is your choice” but as the Joker from the Dark Knight would say “It’s  a very poor choice of words”.

Advertisements

Not Beautiful Enough

The phone rang, her first call
She said hello
and you knew you were falling
Her voice
The sound of her laughter
Her sleepy good morning wishes

That you had never
Seen her, touched her, felt her
It never mattered
For, you had felt her soul, her being
She was perfect

What a farce!
A heartbreak so pure
She came, in person
But what did you see?
Dark like the tribal women they’re afraid of
Hair with no shine
Not the most beautiful smile either
A little fat maybe?

Disappointed, disillusioned
Poor little you
Fooled by a lady
Not so beautiful too
Beauty as society understands it
Beauty as you understand it
She wasn’t beautiful enough for you.

Her intelligence, her words
always baffling you
The kindest, most humane
Serene, the tranquility of her self almost unbelievable
But did it mean anything at all?
After all, she wasn’t beautiful enough for you.

You broke to shreds, she healed you
You raged like a violent ocean, she calmed you
You laughed like a child, she laughed along
You were lost, yet never alone
All ceased to matter now
For you wanted beauty, but she wasn’t beautiful enough.

You in all your fair glory,
much wiser now
A frantic search for tranquility
only leads you to chaos
You keep looking, waiting
Your desire to find something real
Only met by pretence

You think of her,
the only thing true
You hope, but you know
she has risen, flying on
Busy painting the world
with the fire within her;

Such an air of nonchalance,
that you could never see
She wasn’t beautiful
She was a fuckin’ masterpiece.

Of Mirrors, Beds & Curtains

chess-floor-funny-joke-mirrors-amazing-wallpaper

I twisted my head to the right as I observed the 9 year old boy in front of me do the same. But he seemed to do it towards his left. I remembered what we had learned in science class yesterday- our images in the mirror display left and right in reverse to our relative movements. The mirror was rectangular in shape, the long length ensuring the mirror’s longevity with my growing age. This made we wonder, why doesn’t the mirror perceive top and bottom in the reverse directions? Why doesn’t my reflection get smaller as my body gets bigger? I noted that down as a possible question I can ask the teacher tomorrow. In the mirror, I could see two other people behind me. They were discussing whether to buy furniture made of teak wood or medium density fiber board. ‘Teak wood’ I could speak in a flutter, but it was difficult to learn the other word; I always end up messing its letters. I know their correct positioning in my mind, but whenever I intend to speak it, they somehow jumble with each other. Father says it will get better with time, but mother is always worried about me. But then again, I’ve begun to realize that she is a worried soul in general. The other day I overheard her crying on the phone. I didn’t want to overhear the conversation, but some of the words just fell on my ear as I passed by. She was telling the other person that a particular ‘he’ has not responded well to the treatment, and that she sometimes worries whether things will ever improve. I wonder who she was talking about. I wonder about a lot of things, it’s like my brain has a life of its own. Things go around it in circles and circles, sometimes only breaking to form bigger circles. But within these circles, lies an effortless clarity of thoughts. It is as if the complexities form a network of the most simplified shapes and sizes. I’ve tried explaining it to the teacher and sometimes also to my father. But like with other things, I can’t really describe my thoughts as I perceive them. I looked at my notepad, mother made sure I wrote a lot of things in it. I had written on it a reminder to ask the teacher the mirror question. I looked back into the mirror; my parents seemed to have made a decision. I couldn’t help but admire the ease with which they could argue over such an insignificant matter. Didn’t they care that their image in the mirror performs differently on the vertical and horizontal axis? I think it was because they had already figured out these onerous questions, and hence were now worrying about the more trivial aspects of life. I hope one day I become as knowledgeable as they are, and then use this intelligence to contemplate the colour of my new sofa. I looked at father and wondered if I should just ask him the question right now. After careful thinking, I decided against it. He always encouraged me to think for myself, and I knew he would ask me to do the same now. He doesn’t understand that I can’t figure out everything as he can, and the curiosity of waiting just kills me. But if I mention my impatience to him, he will stress even so more on asking the teacher. No wonder the teacher pays extra attention to me in the class, I’m sure mother and father put her upto it.  My eyes shifted their view to the wooden bed that lay beside the mirror. It was a simple box of wood with nothing but black straight lines to beautify it. It wasn’t flashy, but I like it when things are ordinary. Also it cost less, way lesser than the beds mother had chosen for me. They didn’t appreciate my choice, but like always, they let me buy it anyway. It wasn’t the simple design that troubled them; they were instead against my choice of the bed size. I wanted the queen size, the one that’s meant for one person to sleep alone. They wanted me to get the king size, so that I can eventually share my bed if I have to. But I don’t need someone to share my bed with me. For every sleepless night I’ve spent in my old bed, I’ve also had one where I had a wonderful dream. And I couldn’t explain it to them, but I don’t intend on sharing these dreams. Like father always says, I have to be able to do things on my own. It is how we face our fears and shape our challenges that define the person we see in the mirror. I don’t want mine to have a looming shadow over it. I want my mirror-image to be the reflection of who I am. The worries of my mother, the ideologies of my father and the supervision of my teacher need not be reflected alongside me. Father and mother had now moved to the curtains section, and I knew this was my window of opportunity. I took out the pen from my pocket and starting writing, on the bottom-left corner of the bed, my right to its possession. The new wood was tough to scratch through, but I managed a neat job. The bottom-left corner of the bed now read- “MY DEB”. I smiled at the perfection of my work. I put the pen back into my pocket and proceeded towards the curtains section. I had to make sure I get curtains that have straight lines on them.

– Tushant Juneja

When we help people, we do not necessarily make it easy for them. Because while we are simply helping them cross a road, they are lowering their ego and hurting their self respect by accepting their need for help. So remember, sometimes their acceptance is their thank you.