I’m privileged.

IN MY OPINION.

There’s a man who is my brother, I just don’t know his name.
But I know his home and family because I know we feel the same.
And it hurts me when he’s hungry and when his children cry.
I too am a father, and that little one is mine.
It’s about time we begin it, to turn the world around.
It’s about time we start to make it, the dream we’ve always known.
It’s about time we start to live it, the family of man.
It’s about time, it’s about changes and it’s about time.
It’s about peace and it’s about plenty and it’s about time

John Denver

Let’s do a small activity  before we start off this blog. Add a point for everything you have or for every activity you’re able to do.

Subtract a point for every activity you can’t do or for everything you don’t have-

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Not in my name!

When they use my name to kill a boy

A boy with hopes

A boy with dreams

I say “don’t use my name”

 

When they use my name to add fuel to flames

Flames of violence

Flames of intolerance

I say “don’t use my name

 

When they use my name to discriminate

Boxes of race

Boxes of religion

I say “don’t use my name”

 

When they use my name to justify murder

A murder of another human

A murder of humanity

I say “don’t use my name

 

When they use my name to torture people

People with love

People without laughter

I say “don’t use my name”

 

When they use my name to launch weapons

To start mindless wars

To kill little children

I say “don’t use my name”

 

When they use my name to divide society

Building walls of hatred

Building walls of greed

I say “don’t use my name”

 

When they use my name to oppress another race

Without compassion

Without a conscience

I say “don’t use my name

 

When they use my name to start making us hate

Making us hate our brothers

Making us hate our sisters

I say “don’t use my name”

 

But if they use my name for love and peace

To bring together communities

I’ll gladly let them use my name!

 

Background- 

This post has been written in honor of Mahatma Gandhi- A true champion of love and non-violence!

Genocides,wars and massacres have always been carried out in the name of innocent citizens.Extremists have always used religion, race, creed and nationality to justify violence. This post is on behalf of all the people across the world who are ashamed of the killings, discrimination and bloodshed which has been carried out in their name!

Stand up and tell the world, you don’t support violence and hatred!

Screenshot_20180728-160139~2“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind” – Mahatma Gandhi

 

Is Feminism Anti-Men?

Is Feminism Pro-Women ? Or is it Anti-Men? Is Feminism against Men having any rights? Is Feminism only about Women wanting to become better than Men?

True Feminism is bringing Women up, it’s not about putting Men down! True Feminism cares about both Men and Women equally and asks society to treat them the same.

Feminism simply asks society to give Women the same rights,respect and privileges which Men have always had.

Feminism has nothing to do with trash talking Men or claiming Women are better than Men, there are plenty of Men out there who proudly wear the badge of being a Feminist(John Legend, Harry Styles and Chris Martin being some famous examples!) Yet there exists a huge movement which has always been critical  of Feminism, historically those opposed to Feminism were quite scared of Women voting or stepping out of their houses to work (or Women having more freedom in general!) but in the 21st century skeptics of Feminism aren’t just concerned about Women moving away from their traditional roles but many argue Feminism would alienate Men and deny Men the respect they deserve. Many argue Women have already been given rights and privileges and there isn’t any need for Feminism anymore. A contrary and diametrically opposite movement has arisen which demands for Men to be given more rights and respect instead of their female counterparts. Many Anti-Feminist Movements have caught on asking for Women to ‘obey’ men and start becoming more ‘feminine’ ( Yes, I’m talking about the 21st century here!)
Let’s now ask a few simple questions and try to understand why Feminism isn’t Anti-Men:

Can Women vote?

A  Feminist would say yes, Women should be able to vote, if Men can be given the right to choose their leaders then why not Women?A Feminist however wouldn’t say Men should be denied the right to vote and Women alone should get the right to suffrage!
Should Women be paid the same wage as men for the same work?

A Feminist would say yes, simply because both Men and Women would have put equal effort into their work and they deserved to be paid the same, a Feminist however wouldn’t say Men should be paid lesser than Women to reverse a historical wrong!

 

Should Women have the same freedom as men?

A Feminist would say yes, Women should have the freedom to do what they choose to do– what they wear, where they go etc. A Feminist however wouldn’t say men shouldn’t have freedom and Women alone should be free to choose what they want.
Should Women be allowed to have careers ?

A Feminist would say yes to this. Women too have the ability to develop skills and should be allowed to put these to use, a Feminist however wouldn’t say Men shouldn’t be allowed to work and Women alone should be allowed to work or that Women work better than Men and therefore Women should work while Men stay at home !

 

Should Women alone do all the housework?

A Feminist would say no to this, Men and Women should be free to share the household work, a Feminist however wouldn’t say Men should do all the housework and Men alone should be responsible for cleaning, washing, cooking and so on.

 

To sum the above five questions we raised, it’s quite clear that Feminism stands for equality and empowering Women to spread their wings, it’s a far cry from the meaning many of us have envisioned. Feminism doesn’t try clipping the wings of Men nor is it a systematic campaign against Men.

I often get asked the question “Why are you a feminist, you’re a guy aren’t you?” While answering this I always try highlight the atrocities Women have faced over the years at the hands of society (many of these still happen unfortunately) and I can’t help mention that while these atrocities were going on,what if a few more Men stood up and raised their voices, wouldn’t society have woken up a little earlier?In the 21st century a time  where casual sexism is on a high, it has become very important for me to always mention that I’m a feminist. I do this in solidarity with the millions of little girls who see their brothers go to school while they learn how to cook, I do this in solidarity with the thousands of Women who face discrimination at workplaces, I do this in solidarity with the Women who aren’t given any respect, I do this in solidarity with the beautiful girl baby who was born happy, but she didn’t realize her birth was frowned upon.

 

There has always been a trend over the years (which has caught fire in recent times) where any issue concerning Women is always rebutted by an issue faced by a Man.Don’t get me wrong here,Men do face a large platter of issues including sexual assaults which require urgent attention as well, however to say that simply because Men face issues as well, the issues Women face isn’t serious enough is quite wrong.Let’s be honest here, if someone is trying to bring out these issues only when we discuss about Women and Feminism, they don’t really  care about Men and the issues they face, they care more about putting an end to Feminism. One cannot override issues Women face by using the phrase ‘what about’.If someone genuinely cared about men’s issues, these issues would have been raised by them at all forums and at all times, not particularly only when issues faced by Women are being discussed.

Women deserve the same respect, rights and freedoms which men have always had, it’s about time we started treating them as equals and it’s about time we all identified ourselves as Feminists. It’s about time we started raising our boys to respect Women and treat them with dignity, it’s about time we empowered our young girls to spread their wings and reach new places. It’s about time we stopped blaming Women for the length of their skirts and it’s about time we started making our cities safer for our Women. It’s about time we break the ‘traditional’ role of Women and start giving them the right to explore the world and while we are at it, it’s about time we paid Women the same as men.It’s about time we all stood up for gender equality. it’s about time we make workplaces safe for Women. But most of all it’s about time we raised our sons  and our daughters to be proud feminists, because Feminism has never been nor will it ever be Anti-Men.

This post has been written in honour of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian Feminist and  Author. Her writings have deeply influenced my idea of Feminism. She has taught me to become a fighter for Women and the issues they face and has made me realize it’s not just Women who have to be feminists but rather We Should All Be Feminists .

 

“We teach girls shame. “Close your legs. Cover yourself.” We make them feel as though being born female they’re already guilty of something. And so, girls grow up to be Women who cannot say they have desire. They grow up to be Women who silence themselves. They grow up to be Women who cannot say what they truly think. And they grow up — and this is the worst thing we do to girls — they grow up to be Women who have turned pretense into an art form”
Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieScreenshot_20180723-144545~2

 

Be fair. (A post in honour of Nelson Mandela on the occasion of #Madiba100)

Is it really fair that we tell a girl she doesn’t have a chance at life simply because she isn’t fair?

For all those confused at the above statement, it’s a simple yet powerful statement against the fair skin industry. Now what exactly is the fair skin industry? It’s pretty much the beauty products you see in your supermarkets which eat off the inferiority complexes which people have.

By constantly telling us that our skin isn’t ‘fair’ or ‘white’ enough, the industry has managed to create a division between the ‘fair skinned’ and the ‘dark skinned’ with many in the latter wanting to join the former.In India for example advertisements run day long promising young girls fairer skin in just 7 days ( and men too!)

This racist narrative has created ripples among Indian society (and many other countries as well) with dark skinned girls being seen as inferiors to their fair skinned counterparts, this trend has caught on with men as well and a wide range of creams and beauty products are now  available for men to change their complexion as well!

In certain cases, dark skinned girls have been shunned by family and even rejected by suitable grooms! Growing up, terms like kaka (crow) and junglee (a derogatory term for those who belonged to tribal communities) and of course many were even called Africans! Many matrimonial advertisements in newspapers  ask only for fair skinned women to apply!

There is a dire need in many countries for products which prey off our insecurities to be completely banned, but as long as society keeps reinforcing the message that dark skinned people aren’t good enough, there will always be a market for these creams.

Now, one could simply argue “why should women even buy these products” or “it’s a choice they make to become fairer” but those who understand the problem will tell you, it’s much more than just simple choice. From the moment you are born with a darker complexion, society starts grumbling about it, women are denied respect and suffer from silly skin colour bases prejudices throughout their lives, the beauty creams act as means to escape this constant glare of society and become more ‘respectable’ or ‘beautiful’ people. This obviously is quite wrong but put in simple terms- many people view these fairness creams a key to get them out of their cages, even if its only temporary.

There however is an historical narrative to this as well, the lines between ‘black’ and ‘white’ were drawn much before.  The slave trade, The Apartheid and the Racial Segregation in many countries (which eventually lead to the civil rights movement in the US) and the general oppression of dark skinned people who were seen as primitive and dirty by imperial powers across the world have laid the base for racism to grow over the years.( in Colonial India for example, the parts of the cities where the Europeans lived was called the ‘White Town’ and the parts inhabited by the Indians was known as the ‘Black town’ )

These historical wounds haven’t been cured yet and racism is quite honestly omnipresent.Those who have darker skins have always not just been socially shunned and oppressed but in many cases have been denied economic and even political opportunities. Interracial couples are awarded with judgemental stares and frowns.

In one instance, I happened to hear a woman tell her son, pointing at woman who had a darker complexion than her husband- “wonder what she (the wife) did to deserve such a fair husband”.With the rise of social media, racist comments against people who have darker skins have adorned the walls of facebook and twitter, it almost feels as if the divide between fair and dark skinned people is only going to increase with social media advancing.

There have been many genuine movements throughout history  (which many of you would be familiar with) both in the West (focusing on removing discrimination against ‘blacks’ and ‘whites’ and in the East (encouraging people to feel comfortable in their own skin colours and removing inferiority complexes largely reaffirmed   through European Imperialism). Modern day movements too have focused on various aspects of this racial divide, including economic and political issues which dark skinned people face across the world, in India for example many campaigns have popped up calling for people to stop using fairness creams but somehow our mindsets haven’t changed.

Let us be honest here, no one is born a racist, people are taught to hate another race or they are made to feel inferior because they aren’t a part of a superior race. It’s going to be a long and hard battle for racism to be removed from our societies completely, we need to socially shun and rehabilitate racists and we need to teach our children to start viewing the world much differently than we viewed it. Of course social media websites need to have stricter controls and there needs to be a mass movement against racism and hate, but all this cannot happen as long as all of us start changing our mindsets. We need to educate ourselves on the many incidents where racism has triumphed and we need to start discussing why hate isn’t a solution.

Some may tell you racism has reduced or it isn’t there anymore, but as long as society still divides itself into ‘white’, ‘brown’ and ‘black’,  there will always be racism and those with darker skins will always find it hard to embrace the way they look.

Lastly always remember, being dark skinned isn’t a crime, but being a racist is one.

My personal appeal to you all-

If you have children, teach them to be loving and compassionate to all people regardless of how they look. In my opinion, teaching them not to be a racist is as important as teaching them to eat by themselves.

If you have a child who isn’t ‘fair’ according to society’s standard, teach them to embrace their skin colour and to be proud of who they are.

If you feel you need to use fairness creams, trust me they do no good, they may lighten your skin color but they’ll never make you happy.

Let us all take a pledge to boycott fairness creams.

If you have a moral conscience, stop being a racist and realise it’s your heart that matters, not your skin colour.

I end this with a small tribute to Nelson Mandela, I’m posting this on 18th July 2018, the 100th birth anniversary of Madiba.

Madiba was always my hero, I have always had a picture of him in my room and I cried quite a bit when I heard he was no more.It was his message and teachings which has inspired me to fight for good always.

His biggest win wasn’t getting freedom for South Africa or removing The Apartheid but was his forgiving spirit once he was freed from prison. He called for love and unity once South Africa was free and called upon all communities to live together, his message has bound South Africa together in harmony, love and tolerance much after he retired.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

mandela