09 December 2014

'boys don't cry'

i was so happy to see this new #vogueempower ad on indian tv the other day, about changing the way boys are raised, in order to eliminate domestic violence. the ad goes through many situations in a young boy's life, where he is consistently told that 'boys don't cry'. it ends with him as a young man, trying to control his emotions while twisting his female partner's arm. 

the ad is a refreshing change for indian society. i have two boys, and i will admit that i am terrified of them growing up in this patriarchal society, where they are already being told that they shouldn't cry or freak out 'like girls', or shouldn't dress like girls or play with 'girly' toys. this is a society where violence against women is always prevalent, both physical and emotional. where swear words/phrases are largely gender discriminatory. where the phrase 'be a man' has overt sexual innuendo involved.

the ad also recalled another awesome video by always, on doing things 'like a girl'. that video is one we should all watch. seeing those little girls run, throw and punch made me feel so proud and sad at the same time. they were not doing these things 'like a girl', i,e. badly. they had so much confidence. and yet, this taunt will at some point come to haunt them.  the message at the end is simple: 
I mean, yes, I kick like a girl, and I swim like a girl, and I walk like a girl, and I wake up in the morning like a girl because I am a girl. And that is not something that I should be ashamed of, so I'm going to do it, anyway.
i am glad that these videos exist, that some are even indian made, and i hope that by the time my boys are old enough to understand these films, the gender balance will have evened out more..


02 December 2014

to honour hearing

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” King, a great champion of nonviolence, wasn’t advocating rioting, but rather honoring hearing. 

Even long-suffering people will not suffer forever. Patience expires. The heart can be broken only so many times before peace is broken. And the absence of peace doesn’t predicate the presence of violence. It does, however, demand the troubling of the comfortable. When the voice goes unheard, sometimes it must be raised. Sometimes when calls for justice go unmet, feet must meet pavement. Sometimes when you are unseen, you can no longer remain seated. Sometimes you must stand and make a stand. 

No one of good character and conscience condones rioting or looting or any destruction of property. Those enterprises aren’t only criminal, they’re fruitless and counterproductive...

But people absolutely have a right to their feelings — including anger and frustration. Only the energies must be channeled into productive efforts aimed at delivering the changes desired. That is the hard work. That is where stamina is required. That is where the long game is played. 

As the old Negro spiritual proclaims: “Walk together children/Don’t you get weary/Oh, talk together children/Don’t you get weary.”
these words could describe violence and conflict almost anywhere in the world. they sound vaguely like all the statements and analyses and press releases that i work on at an asian human rights ngo. in fact, they are part of a piece about the reaction to the shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer in missouri, usa. it was not the specifics of the case that struck me however, but these general words. 

to listen and to speak: both are important, and both must occur equally. and so we go on, working hard, playing the long game..


i miss hugs. adult, girly, i-know-where-you-are-coming-from hugs. toddler hugs and kisses are awesome, and definitely lessen all heart sores, but today when a friend sent me this adorable image, i felt the pang of missing girlfriends. all those friends i left behind, all those friends who have moved away.. all those hugs that i can no longer reach for.

technology is awesome. but at times, i want a real hug.

#microblog mondays