Posts Tagged ‘right to equality’

Guest post by Veena Venugopal, a Delhi based journalist and author of the book ‘Would You Like Some Bread With That Book’. She is a contributing writer for Mint and Quartz:


To me, the most memorable scene in ‘Dev D‘ is the one where Paro takes a mattress from home and ties it to her cycle. When she reaches the edge of the field, she abandons the cycle, lifts the mattress on her shoulder and marches to the clearing where she lays it down and waits for her lover. There are no words spoken and the camera holds her face close. Her expression is one of intense seriousness. You can see her desire is a field force of intensity that fuels every step. She is determined to see it through, to let that desire take over herself completely; not surrender to it but to let it explode out of her. You know that when she meets Dev, the sex would be passionate and powerful.  And yet, in the south Delhi multiplex where I was watching the film, most of the audience burst into rapacious laughter. The women smiled embarrassedly at each other. Which made me wonder, why is female desire a laughing matter?

I thought back to the movie and that scene because even now, in the last seven weeks that we have talked about sex, sexuality, power, passion and crime, we are still, yet to talk about female desire. In the conversations about rape that we have had, there have been infinite references to provocation. That if women dress a certain way, they are “asking for it.” To my mind, what this means is that men don’t know when we are really asking for it. Because if I was “asking for it”, it would be a lot more than showing cleavage, or leg. If I am asking for it, dude, you will know it.

When did desire become a male privilege? There is so little conversation about a woman’s desire for sex that a lot of people simply assume it doesn’t exist. A Times of India article last month starts with this surprising headline, Women too have high sex drive. Did you not know that?  To my mind, understanding that there is such a thing as female desire is essential to knowing how we behave. There has, rightly, been a call for the Indian film industry, especially Bollywood, to introspect how it depicts its women. The whole “chhed-chhad” business, the near stalker-ish behavior that hindi film heroes indulge in does influence how men on the streets behave. That it gives that boorishness credibility. And eventually, the girl succumbs. What is important to the girl, it suggests, is acceptance. She does not desire. She does not chase. She does not acknowledge, even to herself, that she wants this man. She gives in, relents, submits.

Truth is, female desire is as much a brute force as male desire. Sometimes it takes us by surprise, often we relent to it. Some of us take risks to indulge in our desire. Some of us fight it, telling ourselves why this particular one is not good for us. It occurs to us just as randomly as it does to men. When we watch a movie, read a book, walk down the street, see someone hot, at the pub drinking, at the temple praying. Sometimes we fabricate it, filling our head with fantasies. Sometimes we deny it. Sometimes we fake it. Sometimes it’s a coiled spring. Sometimes it’s a warm breeze. But what is important for you to know is that we feel it. We know what it is.

In an early episode of Girls, one of the characters reads from a dating manual. “Sex from behind is degrading. He should want to look at your beautiful face,” she reads. To which the other asks, “what if I want something different? What if I want to feel like I have udders?” Because, you know, sometimes we do. In Saudi Arabia, where laughably a lot of people seem to think there are no rapes because women are “properly attired”, the intense segregation of the sexes makes us turn our desires to other women. Don’t believe me? Read Seba Al-Herz’s book, The Others. Because no matter what you believe, you can’t put a burqa on a thought or wrap a hijab around a feeling.

We probably don’t talk about what we desire enough. But we certainly think about it. So this will probably come as a surprise to you. When you proposition us, on the road, in the bus, or at a movie theatre, and we say no, we are not saying that we don’t feel any desire. We are simply saying that it’s not you who we desire.


Guest post by Zena Costa, independent mgmt sports prof & writer. 

Rage and chauvinism in Venus versus Mars can never benefit humanity as much as acceptance and understanding can. That gentlemen, is the truth.

After decades of liberation how many women can truly sing the freedom song? Where do we really stand? We are either worshipped or demeaned, placed on pedestals or shown the door. Everyday in homes where Namaz, Holy rosary or Puja are norms, a daughter is abused; a daughter in law burnt to death.

These contradictions co-exist and go almost unnoticed. The whole question of the position of today’s woman is so wonderfully confused that’s it tough to pin point where she stands. She is exploited; she is worshipped. She occupies positions yet she remains powerless. She has a strong identity but is too oft a non entity..And I bet this doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

In Indian women as in myself, I sense a gradual unleashing of Shakti; Of Apurva, Sakshi, Zen – a state of mind that allows women from diverse cultures to co-exist ,bond, flourish and fly. The working woman, the working mother, the working Indian single mother today is a special breed – an economic necessity. A reality, as important as the FD and LIC, whilst her independent status has given her sense of self-worth, it does little to change societal attitude.

Despite of all the masala and curry, most Indian men can’t seem to digest independent women.

An independent, creative, free-spirited woman merely exists, if not allowed to be. NO. I’m not suggesting bra burning…but the minute a woman steps off a carefully constructed ‘pedestal’ and asks to treated as an equal the entire ‘system’ is thrown out of gear .

Women who venture beyond get a raw deal. If you happen to be a single mother it’s often a rotten one. Cheap pot shots are taken about ”liberated” women and their ”granted freedom.”

But the truth is (and prevail it shall) that with Education (not just literacy!!) women have thrown off the yoke of Subjugation; She has flown from the golden cage and opted for the long and winding road . If a self-sufficient single woman chooses to marry or have children, it’s because she wants to, and not because she HAS to. Relationships of all nature are viewed similarly.

The trap of total dependency that caged so many can now imprison only the willing. No. It ain’t a cake-walk!!

An independent woman today is like a circus artist. Its takes grit, guts, tears, hard slog. It’s a matter of fine balance , to manage and live up to expectations at home, work and society ; To apply virtues associated with each and blend all into a meaningful whole-a daunting task indeed!

To do something because you believe in it and the self and not because you are conditioned to is a step forward. It’s a positive force that needs our male counterparts’ support to be directed at over all human development. She isn’t aiming at war. She seeks meaningful dialogue, fair terms sans weighted handicaps.

” Justice for Women” is not a voice of naive female optimism. It is one of reason and logic, Its my reality. I was born as free as my brother and it is my birth-right as much as his. No, I’m not a frenzied feminist. I happen to adore men. But I stand for women.

For my grandmother’s generation life without “Pati-Parmeshawar” (husband) meant “SATI” , my mother’s generation fought long and lonely battles for mine. At least in Goa this generation saw daughters as assets and not as dowry burden, and fought tooth and nail to ensure education for both son and daughter.

Mine is the generation that has the freedom of choice, should they dare to make to make one. And dared it has, to ask for the cardinal principle of the democratic set up – Equality of Opportunity.

I have made conscious choices ,so have my ilk. Some brilliant, some disastrous with the knowledge that we have a right to go wrong sometimes, without ignoring that we take responsibility for it- our disasters and our victories.

I have come a long way since that Goa girl applying for clerical post doting over  the British-Raj who was made to under-go medical and fitness tests to gauge whether I could withstand the ”rigor of typing”. Hadn’t they heard of  ”labour?”  YUP! childbirth. I passed with flying colours and I for one hasn’t let my Goa down.

As many other women, I, in the  ‘male-bastion’ of sports writing strive hard if not harder than male counterparts.

Us women have learnt to grit our teeth and endure, and triumph we shall! We don’t ask for gender sensitive special privileges (we don’t get them even if  we did), we ask that we not be type-cast.

All we ask is a field that’s fair. This is where you guys come in. Nothing is as futile as Mars and Venus locked in battle.

Rage and chauvinism can never benefit humanity as much as acceptance and understanding can. Are you guys willing enough to allow us to walk the same road as yourself? If I can drive your car, why can’t you cook in my kitchen?

Nature meant woman to be her masterpiece. We are the wind beneath your wings. If you guys will hold our hands, We can live on this planet and together, reach for the stars whilst waltzing to the music of equality, peace, tolerance and love.