Here’s the long and short of it – I have recently joined an internet dating site and started dating. I am not exactly sure what I was expecting, but it surely wasn’t this. You see, dating to me has always had a nice (read: idealistic) ring to it. I never understood people who were frustrated by it. To me, dating meant choice. And giddiness. A space where expectations and desires could be communicated safely and without the fear of judgement.
I was definitely not prepared for the ritualized three step programme it turned out to be in most cases. It being ritualized meant that people came to it with their own expectations of the space or the interaction which they often felt justified in imposing upon my body-space.
This article was originally written for and published in the Unite Society website.
Yes, I am a woman who can read Fifty Shades of Grey without turning fifty shades of crimson. I have read erotica a lot in the past (grew up in the internet age, he-llo!). And although the hullabaloo around this series led me to believe otherwise, this is really like most other badly written erotica that are available online for free.
But here’s the catch. It’s not free. It’s selling out faster than Harry Potter. (Yes, people are paying for bad porn in the internet age.) And people just can’t seem to stop talking about it! On Twitter, on the Ellen Degeneres Show, with friends – you either love it or hate it, but you definitely talk about it. All the polarizing opinions around this bad soft porn novel smell of very good PR.
In the day and age of flash-in-the-pan trends powered by the all-pervasive PR and marketing teams, this would not worry me too much. As a feminist, what I do find worrying however, is what this discussion is doing to women and sexual freedom. Let me elaborate.
This article was originally published in the international affairs, politics and culture webzine Unite Society.
At a recent conversation over tea, an acquaintance of mine declared that he had lost all manner of respect for me. And for what reason? Because I vouched for the addictive nature of the popular TV show ‘The Vampire Diaries’.
I find this trend of trashing popular media commodities – TV shows, movies, books, celebrities, franchises – consumed mainly by teenage girls extremely worrying. More worrying is the fact that many self-identified feminists seem to be taking this stance. As a feminist blogger, therefore, I am almost expected to share this point of view. Continue reading
I had written a few months back about the sexism prevalent in women’s dress-codes at work. Perhaps today’s incident has put the issue more firmly at the forefront of my mind now. Dressing up for interviews is always daunting; and never more so when the brief is to wear smart casuals (its less of a dress-code and more of a quagmire that only the most practiced wade through without sinking on nine out of ten occasions) that also shows off my personality.
So I decided to risk it with my green skirt! Spring-time and eye-popping colours and all that. Of course I dressed it down appropriately with sober black shoes, opaque tights and high neck top and a jacket. Walking down the street I felt so dapper! That was until a hoot and a call of ‘Hi there, gorgeous’ hit my blushing earholes. Now, I am not usually the type such comments are often directed to. I, thankfully, pass by unnoticed when inappropriate and objectifying male attention is being doled out on the streets. So this not only caught me by surprise, but also made me doubt the appropriateness of my interview attire.
Was it the skirt? I fidgeted with it until it was as long as it could be. Stretch for me a little more, baby, there’s a good girl! Was my makeup too much? Blusher too dark? Heels too high? Bag too bright? What in the goddamn world was wrong with ME? I almost rushed back to my apartment to change. I felt obscene! (In case this sounds like an over-reaction, I was even followed to the tube station by this very ‘complimentary’ admirer.)
This reaction was compounded by the fact that my mother asked me to take a PICTURE of what I was wearing so she could see if the creepy masculine attention it attracted was justified or not. Bless you, mother, but I would please like to get out of the habit of chastising myself (my attire, behaviour, lateness of the hour I choose to return home) for what is obviously a type of behaviour that is intended to make me uncomfortable, and is hence intentionally anti-social and inexcusable. For the umpteenth time, ‘my skirt is not an invitation’!
(While editing this blogpost I noticed that I was all too eager to point out the specifics of what I was wearing in what I can only assume is a defensive attempt to avert blame. I do resent this self-censuring and self-policing impulse that, unknown to me, has obviously been hibernating within me, waiting for a catcall to surface.)
I have been following the conversations and controversies regarding Obama’s ‘The Life of Julia’ campaign introduced last Thursday with great interest. Ever since I read Latour’s Politics of Nature: How to Bring Politics into Democracy in 2010, I have been interested in topography of (or in) political communication. Obama’s campaign, with its savvy inclusion of technological objects and channels, is an interesting case study for this. So here are my thoughts on this: Continue reading
This post was originally written and published for the British cheeky feminist blogzine The High Tea Cast.
Those who know me, know that very little else on the internet gets under my skin as Brendan O’Neill’s articles. It might be because in his articles he inducts ideas I support in a logic stream that, to me, seems almost perverse and twisted. For that I say, “Well done Brendan”. At least you are helping me to think beyond the ‘left’ and ‘right’ ideological boxes that I long assumed the world’s opinions were divided into.
Take, for example, Brendan’s recent Spiked Online article on gay marriage. He claims that the issue of gay marriage is a bad idea, not only because it erodes traditional institutions in place (the classic conservative argument against gay marriage), but also because he doesn’t think ‘the gays’ actually want it because gay activists once campaigned for their right to live outside these institutions. He doesn’t think the gay marriage issue is ‘populist’ enough to be given much weight as there has been ‘no leaping in front of the Queen’s horse, for the right of gays to get hitched’. As is typical of him, he smells an ‘elitist’ agenda at play here.
However, I would really like to know where you get off dividing the (post) post-modern consciousness into ‘populist’ and ‘elite’. He blames conservative ‘political parties’ and ‘massive corporations’ as having an elitist interest in regaining their sanctity by rallying support for this issue. I find this quite problematic as by adding an elitist tag to a particular political demand he is downplaying its legitimacy.
This article has been published collaboratively by LSE Equality and Diversity and LSE Engenderings blogs to mark LGBT History Month 2012.
I kissed a girl. I liked it. Long before I had heard of lesbian sex or desires or even contemplated issues regarding sex or gender consciously. She was just a person who I found attractive and who had previously made me blush by publicly announcing that I was the prettiest girl in the class. The kiss, or the attraction preceding it, never made me question my sexual or gender identity. At that age we were already talking about the boyfriends we would have, and although a boyfriend was something I wanted, she was what I desired. Desired in a way that had more to do with the electricity in our mutual gaze and her ‘devil may care’ attitude than with an interest in her ‘lady bits’.
In later years, while reflecting about what this fact might signify about my desires and how it fits into the narrative that informs my sexual and gender identity, I realized that it is a representative slice of the fluid way I experience desire and project it on to the fabric of my identity. By then, of course, I had started to question and reorganise my experiences conscious of (and often rebellious against) the social concepts of gender and sexual orientation. Continue reading
A pencil skirt and pumps in the British winter? That’s right, I have been interviewing with some companies this freezing January. And as a part of putting my best foot forward, I have, of course, read through countless articles about what to do (or not do), say (or not say), and wear (or not wear).
I have never been one of those who cringed at the thought of donning a suit for work. In fact, being a young executive in a start-up digital media agency in the image-conscious Dubai, I have always been quite conscious of what my work wear communicated to my clients and co-workers. We are told to let out ‘femininity’ show through the severe lines of formal wear. But to beware of the occasional cleavage, distracting jewelry or a hemline that refuses to be shy.
In fact, in this rather scintillatingly written story about Debrahlee Lorenzana, is hidden a gem of conventional wisdom – women in the corporate world have been entrusted with the responsibility of keeping their ‘femininity’ out of their workspace. The repurcussions of not following this adage is seen as a moral panic caused by unruly female bodies in a workplace where men who carry out the important duties are too distracted to concentrate. It is our responsibility to cover up the offending body parts or risk being thought of as unprofessional. Continue reading
If you, like me, have followed the discussions and controversies around Kate Bolick’s article republished in The Guardian on 27th Nov, and have seen the battle lines being drawn around it passionately and with intense verboseness (examples here), you must be wondering why I am so late in jumping on to the bandwagon. Well, since the UKBA has decided to grant me leave to remain in the UK (and to work), I have been job searching ferociously, a priority which in my head easily overtook the niggling feeling that I should not neglect my blog in the process.
So here I am, about a week and a half late, trying to find a way to enter the conversation only to find that the various other voices in the medley have now made it a complex multifaceted issue that is tough to pin down. The fact that the original article itself did not have a primary strand of argument, and meandered into various interesting but confusing tangents, does not make this task any easier. I am therefore going to approach it in a way that I hope will be both manageable and interesting to my readers. I am going to isolate and tackle the issue in the article that rouse the strongest reaction in me given my current mental and situational disposition. I do not think this is her central argument at all, and you should read the original article and read the following extract in context. However, for the purposes of my argument, here we go:
“If, in all sectors of society, women are on the ascent, and if gender parity is actually within reach, this means that a marriage regime based on men’s overwhelming economic dominance may be passing into extinction. As long as women were denied the financial and educational opportunities of men, it encouraged them to “marry up” – how else would they improve their lot? Now that we can pursue our own status and security, and are therefore liberated from needing men the way we once did, we are free to like them more, or at least more idiosyncratically, which is how love ought to be, isn’t it?” Continue reading