Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Why Men Should Not Shout At Women

Mannequins at a shop in Kolkata: Free to use and share with credits

I think i can call the week that went by the 'guilt week.' I felt i had lied at therapy the previous week. Not lied, per se but had withheld information from my therapist, Ish. So the entire week i kind of spent in feeling guilty about it.

I had smoked at the wrong time that day. Ish got the smell of cigarette and asked me how many i smoked in a day. I told her that Inji had also been asking about my smoking of late. In fact on one of the days following the session, i got reprimanded by another lovely woman too in a WhatsApp group. Inji blasted me for spending so much money on cigarettes. It's interesting how people who know me use feminism to make me stop doing bad things.

The damn problem is that they are always right.

I would like to tell you how it is. I am an addict. I have been smoking for 8 years now, if not more. In all those 8+ years, there has not been a single day i haven't smoked except for the time i spent at hospitals - a total of two weeks, at the most. I was in hospital both the times for attempting to kill myself. The second time, the withdrawal symptoms made me realize how bad my addiction had become. I texted a man who had raped me asking if he could let me know how i could smoke inside the hospital. One of my classmates smuggled cigarettes for me and i took one or two puffs in the bathroom with a smoke alarm and it felt like oxygen. 

Smoking is not on the agenda in my therapy sessions with Ish, as she kind of regretfully repeats every time the topic comes up. I have no reason to write about it in here - when these notes are read out to her in every session. Yet, i write so that i can tell you how horrible it is to have an addiction, especially smoking.

I am someone who does not like getting a cold because i feel that my body is gaining control over me. I hate diseases, disorders etc. I hate it that Calico gets migraine attacks and that he has found no cure for it. My body is the place where i exercise a lot of control, sometimes punishing it - something that is on the agenda and we have talked about it earlier too. I think humans are all powerful because they have absolute control over themselves and can make decisions and all that. Yeah and yet, i let a substance - nicotine - control my life. That's how pathetic an addiction can be.

Now how is this a feminist thought?
How is it not?

Women taking care of themselves is the primary condition for feminism. With that decision comes everything else. For this, you need to be completely independent. This does not mean that like how i do, you should refrain from asking for help or refuse to take help at all. It means that you should be self sufficient and your body should be self sufficient to fight because yes, we will have to fight. So when you punish your body with such things as cigarettes and unhealthy eating habits and all those things we women constantly do or don't do saying 'it's okay,' you are letting patriarchy win.

The only problem here? I know all of this and still smoke like a chimney. I know all of this and have unhealthy eating habits. I don't care about myself at all. The least of all my physical health.

I keep telling myself that i will die (kill myself) at 40 or something and that none of this matters.

So yeah, this rant was to say that smoking is the shittiest thing that can happen to anyone.

During therapy i noticed how Ish used a technique that Inji often uses on me. She tried to slip in the topic of my eating while discussing something else - smoking, i guess.

Ish said that she didn't know where the session was going. Nor did i. I never think of it, actually because i expect Ish to guide me through the path she decides. Anyway we discussed the incident with Deep that i had written about. 

When Deep got pissed with me, because i threw his shoes out because he refused to clean up after himself, i had got scared. Ish asked me questions about anger that made me reflect. I had not thought about it. But before that i understood something. A man is not just a man. Every man is patriarchy.

Allow me to indulge. I asked Ish repeatedly why i got scared when Deep got angry even when he had absolutely no power over me. He was staying as a guest at my place in Bombay. He wasn't paying rent and the only thing that let him stay here is the fact that he, me and Vai Vow are acquaintances. Not even close friends. So what was the big deal!

Ish told me that i had got scared because he was, after all, a man. He was bigger and stronger than me. He had patriarchy on his side. This answered a lot of questions for me. It was magical and exhilarating. My fear was not personal. It was very socio-political.

Of course i would be scared of being alone with a man twice my size and god knows how many times my strength. Am i not aware of this, as a woman? Yes, of course. The fear that most women have that they are going to be pinched in the breast when a man passes close to them on the road - i know that. I know the fear when i think someone is behind me and i slow down to let him pass so that he won't attack me from behind. Of course the culture and social location would affect the way your mind protected your body from harm. This is exactly why as a response to what Deep did, i went to my room - the only room that can be locked from inside in my house, and sat there. I typed a long message on the group that i had created to make both the men in the house and especially Deep clean up after themselves. After doing that i stayed like that for some time and then felt a little better and went out and made Deep and myself tea.

This is why men, if they really want to embrace feminism and get rid of the patriarchy in them, should realize that their body language is important, that if you're even shouting at a woman, it is building a power equation right there - one that's not right at all.

But during therapy, i felt so good. When there is just you saying your opinion and the world is telling you that you're wrong, there will be one tiny voice somewhere saying 'i think she has a point.' That's how it felt. After coming back from therapy, i told Deep that we spoke about him. Told him that his days were numbered. He joked around but i felt he had got the point. Later, i spoke with my partner too, about the same. I felt so much better, i can't describe it.

He told me that he was surprised when he saw that Deep was walking topless in the house after taking bath. Anyone who knows me would be surprised. I hate seeing topless men. In fact Cheta and i have said this many a times right in front of Deep. And you know when else this had happened? In Trivandrum. When i was with Sal. He had taken off his shirt and i had not objected. When Inji heard this, she said 'ugh'. 'Ugh kunji, ugh' she had said. 

I felt so happy that i had spoken to my partner about this problem. In detail. Isn't it amazing when people love and care for you! I wish i could be like that to Mother. Alas! She pushes me away mercilessly.

So the guilt part -

I have flashes of having sex during certain time of every month. Most of the time i only see my partner but sometimes, even acquaintances turn up. I fucking hate it. It applies to people whom i am just okay talking with. It doesn't take much for me to dream about them kissing me or something. Physical attraction was a thing in my life and i feel guilty about it all the time.

Ish asked me if i got angry with people, often. She reminded me of the assignment i never managed to complete. The picture postcard to people i was angry with or had hatred for. Me getting angry was common, i thought. People getting angry with me - yes, over political differences. But i do know that i fear anger very much. From my sister and Mother. A lot. Oh when Mother calls me in a certain tone, i immediately get that she is going to get angry with me and then get the feeling that i get - the one where a fireball starts swimming in my heart or stomach.

Ish had noticed my nail biting and had asked me when i had started it. I told her that i have been an arduous nail biter from ever since i can remember. It had never even occurred to me that i deliberately bit my nails (even toe nails) till the point they bled and that it was self harm. No, really, it had not occurred that i was harming myself. Just saw it as a habit.

Ish also asked me if my partner had gone to a doctor. I told her that he hadn't. She asked me if there was any change in the way we had sex after he and i had spoken about going to a doctor etc. I said no. I told her that 'What did Ish say' had become a goodnight kiss kind of thing as seen in Hollywood films. We laughed. I also told her that with the new job i had taken, i would have to travel a lot but i had made sure that i would be back in Bombay for at least one day a week, for therapy.  'And your partner,' she added. It was hilarious. I have a feeling that spouses of patients and therapists never get along. Yet,

when i told him that i had reported to Ish that nothing had changed in sex, he hesitated for a while and confessed that something had. He had lost confidence and stopped himself from trying to penetrate me, he said. I just told him that it looked as if Ish could read his mind. 'I am never going to see her,' he said, and i laughed again.

Extremely excited about the shoot coming up.

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