Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Minor Matters

Another Women's Day has come and gone with its share of surveys and soundbytes.
'Crash', a movie exploring racial tensions just had won the Oscar.
'Brokeback Mountain' has lost it out after winning all the other major awards. And right now its all poised for an Indian release.
Whats the common thread here that connects them all...
Nothing much. Just some minor matters!

35 million women are missing!!

I didn’t get the thread. I read on. According to CSI, projecting the country’s rate of growth from that of the 50’s, the figures fall short of 35 million women. Where did they end up? The statistics were pretty hazy on the issue. But there are the usual suspects.

A lethal dose of chemicals finding its way through the uterine chambers, to an unsuspecting prey, which has just mutated from being an amorphous mass to something with a sex tag.
Migratory birds – Peddlers of flesh and fun who got lost somewhere in the huge chasms of demographic borders.
Malnourished girls, wistfully eyeing the morsels of their hormone-wise better off siblings. Eyeing the extra rotis and sabzi gracing his platter and having sense enough not to comment on that.

The sound of bursting cylinders and the smell of burning linen saris have more or less subsided but the traumas and taunts live on in true Indian tradition.

35 million missing in 55 years! With the zeal of a newfound interest in numbers, I did the mathematics. Its 636363 numbers a year on an average. That’s what I call perfect symmetry. A clear pattern with ominous overtones.

When it comes to the fairer sex, pattern is always a touchstone.
There’s a pattern to their single-minded methodical pursuit of goals unlike the impulsive brilliance of the darker sex.
There’s a pattern to they way the fall in love and fall out of it.
There’s one in the way they empathise with the set characters of K-sagas in the telly world, and eventually grow out of it.
There’s even a pattern to the celebrity suicides which always turn out to be women coping with a high pressure lifestyle.

And these patterns, percentages and pie charts come into the picture when March 8th looms around the corner. When the Shobha De’s, Oprah’s and Ellen de Genre’s of the world draw sharp contrast with their tale of woes of the next door servant girl Kamala or the nameless flower-seller at the city junctions.

How relevant are these opinion pieces? Do they do justice to the role of being eye-openers or is it just clich├ęd verbosity to cover the 6”X3” column in the centre spread in the general spirit of the day?
Does it give fodder for the MCP’s to reexamine their ideologies or does it give a fillip to the bra-burners to revamp their agendas? Maybe both. Maybe none.
Some say you don’t need a single day to sing eulogies on womanhood. Some say a single day could be a start. Agree with both. Agree with none.
Bravos and claps for the hefty gift to the girl child in Budget 2006. Boos and catcalls for the still pariah figure of 33%. A pattern exists in this paradox too.

Minority matters are ubiquitous. Therefore minority MATTERS !
Be it ethnic, racial or sexual in nature.

The frontrunners in this regard were the blacks. They had a well-planned strategy, massive campaigns and charismatic leaders. The beginnings were quite modest. They pushed the envelope and outlawed the word ‘nigger’. African-American became the sanitized version. They slowly but surely defined themselves with their vigour and redefined themselves with their humour, music and dance forms. All’s not hunky-dory for them too. The Ku-Klux-Klan maybe extinct but racial tensions continue to simmer. The thermostat is in the ‘sim’ mode owing to their efforts in being part of the mainstream, in being colourful threads in the social fabric, by working hard, delivering good work and rising to the higher echelons.

The plight is sadder for the sexual minorities. Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transsexual (GLBT) community has been fighting it out for decades. For them, revealing their true selves is tantamount to being branded social outlaws in the least and being potential victims of hate crimes.
Matthew Sheppard, a 22 year old, was beaten to death for no fault of his, for the crime of possessing a genetic trait or a sexual preference, by a couple of homophobic youth. When the murderers themselves confessed that the victim had made no sexual advances at them (not that the act of murder would be condonable then) and that they had done the deed in a fit of something called ‘social justice’, there were thousands of Americans up in arms to defend their action. And the sad part of it is that the incident was not in the Victorian era but as recently as nine summers behind. Fuehrer Hitler had sent the gays along with the Jews to his death chambers. The Jews got a better deal later on. But for the gays of the world, Hitler lives on.

The gays of India have the Damocles’ sword of Section 377 hanging over their heads-a law that threatens to punish their natural instincts. The society watches on through a smoke glass and sees the stereotype of effeminate gays and dyke lesbians and then pretends not to see even that.
I’ve always believed that as long as one doesn’t encroach into the freedom of another, everyone has the right to follow their preferences and lifestyles.
I’ve got gay friends and I’ve seen their eagerness to watch a Brokeback Mountain (and unsure whether it would be a mutilated and ‘social-friendly’ version that would get screened in India). For them, the movie is tremendously important as it tells their story; as it gives creative expression to their longings. And they want the world to see it, to understand that they are no different from anyone else; in the weak hope that things may change and the world would be a bit more tolerant of them. When a community seeks redemption through a singular movie, you can perceive their plight.

These friends of mine were all set to pop beer bottles when Brokeback wins the Oscar.
I don’t know whether the beer bottles ‘crash’ed or remained unopened as the Academy settled for a dubious upset. There is no conspiracy theory here. ‘Crash’ is a classic but many say, it still falls behind Brokeback Mountain. The Academy doesn’t question its cinematic brilliance.
The reason for the upset could be the sense in giving the nod to a movie which everyone can relate to, though I’ve heard love is universal and Brokeback with its theme of unredeemed love, even more so.
Or the reason could be that Brokeback raised eyebrows by being ‘different’ and the largely conservative Academy intelligentsia thought twice about endorsing a movie which goes against American social mores. They billed the movie brilliant but when it came to awarding the movie, they couldn’t push themselves to the act. And as they didn’t want a stain on their liberal tag, they settled for a safer bet in ‘Crash’.

I saw the wistful look in the eyes of my gay friends as they smiled sheepishly; as if they didn’t expect anything better as snubbing was status quo for them. Despite that, it seemed they had silently hoped for a personal win. I made a date with myself that come March 10th, I would hold hands and give them company and cheer along as I watch their movie. Don’t need to get sentimental. The film is a classic I’ve heard.

And when I heard the news item on Tripala Kumari, an 18 year old girl who was killed for resisting the Draupadi-act, of sharing wifehood with four brothers, I realized that the plights were the same. Its just the premises that change.
Society hasn’t learnt to ‘live-and-let-live’, to respect a fellow human for what he/she is as a whole and to stop nitpicking at the oestrogen in your body, the pigment levels in your skin and the sexual trait in your genes. I dare say, much dubiously though, that times are changing and it’s high time it did.

As March 8th dawns, while the girls get busy celebrating their day, while the second citizens of the societies toil it out through another day and while the Indian gays do the last digits of their ‘Brokeback countdown’ as they call it, I, being the incorrigible flirt at heart forget the other two for the time being and wish all you beautiful ladies out there a wonderful Woman’s Day.
Let the day bring tidings of good times ahead.
After all the partying, before you wind up for the day, say a silent prayer, thanking God for creating you as the wonderful being called Woman.
And if you still feel you’ve been given a bad deal, just thank your fortune for sparing you the triple threat of being born a black lesbian!


D said...

Jedi, well I totally agree with you and though reluctantly will vouch for equal rights among all sections, you mentioned...but than we cannot analyse these problems in India on the same lines as In US or Europe, let me dare to present my differences-
a. Women- Ok, give them 33% reservation, teach morality in school and do whatever you can, but the way Indian society is balanced, it will not work out, when we talk about changes we talk in our prsent scenario, i.e of metropolisis but can you expect a change in village of Bhatinda, where they have 2 marry the four brothers coz land problem or a SC/ST women raped in suburb of Andhra coz she entered the temple. I hope you know that under the Panchyati Raj system there is a reservation of seats for women but than in reality its their husbands who rule....I am not being pessimistic just saying we need to think differently, India do not need Socialism we need Gandhism, if any!
B - Homosexuality- Boss in a country where people take arms against a obscene scene, remark (from both community), purdah is still prevalent and honour killings still heard of....its a long way and than what about all those who are of this community but forced into marriage and so?
......anyhow as you said -"Some say you don’t need a single day to sing eulogies on womanhood. Some say a single day could be a start. Agree with both. Agree with none."

Known Stranger said...

wow.. what a post.. wow.. mind blowing.

Vijayeta said...

Very thought provoking, indeed! There are times i do wonder, even though we are becoming more aware of women's rights in all the "obvious" issues... What about the glass ceiling women face at the workplace? And worse still, the portrayal of women in our media. Why doesnt anyone seem bothered about that uber-regressive image? Why're all high-achiever women shown in a slightly negative light always in our soaps and films?
It's worrying, 'cos a large part of our population does believe in those ancient value systems...
Oh! And a Happy Women's Day to you too :)
Looking forward to yr comment you said twice :p

lash said...

was this all hiding inside you?? oh my god. i read it twice. and i would want to second this -There’s even a pattern to the celebrity suicides which always turn out to be women coping with a high pressure lifestyle.

lash said...

triple threat of a black lesbian woman!!! brilliant!

ursjina said...

brilliant one..esp the black lesbian one...

gearhead said...

It was you ....
You were the guy/gay that we all were trying to figure out in Blackhole.
Now I know...

Wonderful blog !!

Id it is said...

Brilliant write up!
As for 'Women's Day'...greetings to those who feel the need to be acknowledged and recognized for who they are, and on one assigned day!
I wonder if there is such a thing as 'Men's Day'?
As for greater tolerance within the human race, we'll have to 'break backs' of many a 'mountains' to make that happen. Until then it'd suffice if "Brokeback Mountain" were screened in at least half the countries across the world.

Heidi said...

Thought provoking ..women do not need a day to celebrate womanhood..the problem lies in the mindsetr which can be changed if society takes the initiative and it is we who form the society..

have to add ..really witty way of putting across the most gruesome ironies -black lesbian woman..brilliant stuff

jedi said...

Thnx a lot for all those wonderful comments

In the reverse order...

@lash & gearhead..

Mode 1: REACTING-THE SERIOUS WAY: Thnx bros for the positive part in ur comments. I know the comments were in good humour and iam not reacting to tht. But still i feel, thru those comments u just justified wht i had written.Does one get branded a terrorist when he writes a piece on terrorism? Then why the double standards?(of course,of course.. all in good humour,i know)This is the exact reason why people refuse to speak about such issues. I mean, come on man, we know these issues are real and it needs to be discussed.And if our generation with all the sine-qua-non facilities at hand dont do tht, dont know who will. In the cities over the world, the youth r taking a stand and trying to rectify the mistakes of the past. The least we can do is to have a matured dialogue or debate,whatever be the case, rather thn making it all into one big joke. lash, ive deleted the final comment of urs. Sorry. Lets not play pathetic games of 'guess-who-is-gay'. We can do better than that.
Mode 2: REACTING-THE 'CHADDI-BUDDY" WAY...grrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!

@id it is..ive heard tht a men's day is celebrated in some nations (with skewed sex ratios) on sep 29th. not sure. can hear the tigresses growling at tht:)and about the sexual minorities, i guess any start is a start.

@ known stranger, nut-khat, ursjina.. Thnx once again. U people rock;)

@ Vijayeta.. U stole words from my mouth. I missed to mention the depiction of successful females in soaps. U r bang on.

@ D..Agree with u. We need region-centric solutions. The Andhra case u mentioned only proves the point. Thts why a mass movement of some degree is required. But then its back to the classic 'who-bells-the-cat' question.

Wild Reeds said...

Brilliant writing. Really.

quills said...

Very beautiful thought provoking and timely post. Look forward to reading more of them.

Sanjay N Lulla said...

Thanks for the visit. I had written this poem somewhere in August 05 had not even heard of BBM back then :)


Sanjay N

smriti said...

numbers do put things in perspective, don't they. wonder where my 35 million sisters are.
thanks for writing this.

Maya Cassis said...

it's time people start really ring out female foeticide out in the open.
I also lost a good friend to dowry death.

illusion said...

True, society hasn't changed much...just the times have changed...women today also face the similar problems which they did ages ago. Even the so-called independent and educated lot have to bear the brunt of being "women". This scenario will change with a change in attitude...of the one who bears it and the one who has it....I believe you will not be able to rise until and unless you come out of that victim and minority set-up....Give it a thought...

Goes without saying an honest post...thnks for such a lovely post.

opinionatedinjerzee said...

hmmn... interesting.. provokes the mind!

jedi said...

@Smriti.. U r right. Numbers do put things in perspective. And tht makes me one big stats-buff.

@wild reeds & quills& opinionatedinjerzee.. Thnks. Grt blogs urs. Keep it coming.

@sanjay.. Tht was a beautiful poem indeed. Others do make it a point to check it out.

@mayacassis.. U r right.Issues gotta be discussed and debated. no doubt on tht. And the pioneers should be the 'victims' i.e the affected community.

@ illusion.. " with a change in attitude...of the one who bears it and the one who has it.."
"you will not be able to rise until and unless you come out of that victim and minority set-up"
SO VERY TRUE.. I think u just summed it up purrfectly!!

D said...

Jedi, than again we end on the same note what Lash' rehorts in most of his pieces, that we are the so called losers, everytime we look at each other and ask "who-bells the cat", well lot of people are trying it, and we are blissfully unaware, its not mandatory that we should wait until someone comes or like you do not know where to start from, its more like the willingness to actually do it, to be honest I am not willing, if I look deep inside, and than perhaps all we can do is just write...

ursjina said...

wher hav u gone missing??..:P

boogersdelhidiaries said...

Very absorbing post. worth every minute of the time spent in reading it.

jedi said...

@ D.. U r right. Its the willingness tht counts. N coming up with such a statement, u shudnt have closed it with the sigh stating tht "perhaps all we can do is just write...". Writing is in itself a powerful medium of awareness. The only prob is u need a platform in a large scale.

@boogersdelhidiaries ... Thnx bro. Grt blog urs. N thts not a courteous "passing-back-the-compliment".

@ursjina.. grt to hear frm u. was tied up with life in general. Will be coming up with one soon.

Nasir said...

Great Post,
Really if Women Enjoy their day Out(AS Womens day) Men Enjoy rest 0f 364 days as theirs....

Id it is said...

No new posts in a while?

illusion said...

jedi...too post kab?

D said...

Lost Bhai.....Kya CAT/, whtever, I personally hope you doing good and post soon...

Anonymous said...

Best regards from NY! »