Monday, 5 June 2017

Meri Beti Sunny Leone Banna Chahti Hein - Ram Gopal Varma

Meri Beti Sunny Leone Banna Chahti Hein, is a short film, posted on YouTube, by director Ram Gopal Varma.

The title of the film is intriguing, and makes you instantly click on it, at the same time making you wonder what the message behind the video is, because our intuition and socialisation tells us that nobody would literally want to be a pornstar, by choice.

Except that’s exactly what the film portrays. A girl in conversation with her parents, trying to convince them that she wants to be a pornstar.

The intention of the film seems to be two-fold:
First, to argue that an individual’s career is a matter of choice, irrespective of what people’s opinion about that profession is.
Second, to argue that a woman’s sexuality needs to be celebrated and expressed, not hidden and supressed.

However, the arguments put forward in the film, are arguing less in favour of choice and the right to express one’s sexuality, and more in favour of the right to have sex in exchange for money, not because of need, but choice.

The girl argues that “Pornographic videos make crores of people happy.”, and “just like everyone in the world sells something in exchange for money, Sunny Leone sells her sex appeal.”

However, giving arguments in favour of the porn industry, is not capable of overshadowing the adverse impact of pornography.

The temporary pleasure to crores of people is also accompanied with a steady diet of pictures, videos, fantasies, that degrade women, and often portray them as objects to be fucked or played around with.
Pornography reinforces stereotypes of what constitutes “real sex”, and that sex is only the thrusting of the man’s penis into the woman’s vagina. This heterosexual act asserts the primacy of the penis, and renders the experience of the woman irrelevant.
It also reinforces images of what is expected from a man and woman during sexual intercourse.

Women have reported experiences of being made to do humiliating and painful things, just to satisfy fantasies that are planted into men’s heads through pornographic videos.
There is also the pressure on women, wives, girlfriends, to accept that their partner watches porn, otherwise they would be labelled as “jealous”, or “not cool enough”.

The question we need to ask is whether Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution i.e. freedom of trade and profession, also includes occupations that cause real tangible harm, to individuals other than those who are in that profession.

By the logic of the film, that is promoting the choice to be a pornstar, a killer should not be punished, he was simply exercising his freedom of profession when he chose to become a murderer.

Ofcourse, the reaction of the parents in the film isn’t a logical refutation of the arguments made by the girl. They tell her that “She is mad”, ask her, “What will people say?”, and inform her that “Nobody will marry you.”. Although, this reaction is an accurate representation of what parents would say if such a demand was expressed, the film failed to do what it intended to do.

A majority of the comments under the video are asking Ram Gopal Varma how he would feel if his daughter wanted to become a pornstar. The emphasis on one-sided arguments in favour of the right to sell one’s body for sex, takes away from the intended message.

The discourse it has generated is primarily about pornography, and not about the right of a woman to choose her own path, even if it may deviate from the normal.

Hamblin, Angela (1983`Is a Feminist Heterosexuality Possible?', in Sue Cartledge and Joanna Ryan (eds) Sex and Love: New Thoughts on Old Contradictions. LondonThe Women's Press.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017


How to ask the right questions.

I aspired to be the head girl of my school when I was just in the fifth grade. The position holder was chosen by the Principal, and all of us had noticed a pattern. The head boy and head girl were the best orators, the best debaters, the best public speakers from that batch of students. So a culture of privileging the students who were good debaters developed in our school. I achieved my dream.

I chose to pursue the liberal arts in college, because it allows the most room for a critical, deliberative, and questioning spirit. My decision was based on a genuine love for the subjects of political science, sociology, psychology, and economics. I often wonder whether this love is manufactured, a product of the privilege social sciences and debating enjoyed in my school. But either way, I’m now stuck doing political science honours, and manufactured or not, I quite like the product.

If you think I can teach you to ask the right questions, then I suggest you stop reading, because I’m in the same boat as you. In my quest to learn this art, I ventured into the debating society of our college. I was instantly awed by everyone’s brilliance and also experienced what an inferiority complex felt like for the first time. But my resolve to master the art of critical thinking and debate like a pro stood faithfully by my side. Quite aware of my inadequacies, I still went for tournaments, lost, but returned for practice the next day. Am I any good now? No. But am I better? Definitely.

Somewhere along the line, I started noticing how some people were ‘naturally’ good at debating, and substantiating their arguments with enough to convince the other side. It made me ask myself why I’m trying to develop a skill that I don’t have, while maybe missing out on an unexplored creative potential.
On other days, I tell myself that no one was born good in a field, they probably work damn hard to be as excellent as they are. Maybe I should just read more. But am I trying to develop the right skill? Being intellectually smart can get you a lot of validation, from teachers, peers, friends, and family. But so can being the best in any other field.

Which makes me question what my truest passion and desire is. Sleeping. But even that can get tiring after a while, I swear. I honestly have no idea. And truth is after this I’ll probably go back to reading that article on Justice by Maureen Ramsay, like every other sincere student in my class is doing.

That’s my little rant for today. I know it’s not offensive or sensational enough to invite emotionally charged comments, but if you go through these weird quirky thoughts, and feel you’re no longer alone, then I hope you find some solace in that.

Have a great day!

Friday, 29 July 2016

Don't get bitter, get better.

I started going to college a week ago, and I fell in love with everything from day one. The faculty is brilliant, I’ve made some of the most amazing friends, and our seniors are incredibly sweet and helpful. During the course of the week, I also discovered how talented everyone around me is. Everyone is not only academically brilliant, but also exceptional at dancing, singing, acting, or debating. And that made me feel really inadequate and useless. I started wondering if I would ever find my place in college, and find something that I’m actually good at. Every individual is a unique combination of personality traits and qualities. The result of comparing ourselves with others leads us to forget our own unique capabilities and we start wanting to be good at the same things others are good at. But what if I don’t have any unique capability? What if I’m an average human being who can do everything but is good at nothing? If you’ve ever had these thoughts, then you my friend are not alone. An identity crisis during various phases of life is only natural. What matters however, is what you do to solve and overcome this crisis.

So I changed my pattern of thought. I looked at YouTube personality Lilly Singh aka IISuperwomanII. She is great at what she does. She has built a community of caring, supportive and passionate individuals. But she wasn’t born with 9 million subscribers. She started her YouTube journey with the objective of making herself happy. And she works very hard every day to achieve her objective.

I realised that nobody is born talented or brilliant. Each individual works on themselves every day. It could be something as simple as reading a newspaper that adds to their knowledge, or putting on music and dancing their heart out.

So instead of getting bitter, I have decided to get better. It sounds easy to do, but if I think about it in a practical sense, then I need to have a proper strategy. What makes me happy? What areas do I want to improve on? Should I try everything, or choose an area of specialisation? These are some of the questions I need to ask myself and find answers to. But most importantly, I need internal motivation. I need to maintain a positive outlook that helps me learn from failures, rather than let them defeat me. You can join me on this journey as I try to find clarity amidst constant confusion. Or you can begin your own journey of self-discovery and progress. But most importantly, remember to enjoy the process!

Monday, 27 June 2016

Simple Ways to Stay Away From Your Phone

"I'm too busy working on being better than I was yesterday."

This quote has been my phone wallpaper for the longest time. I look at it, feel extremely inspired and energised, but then five minutes later I am scrolling through Facebook and killing time.

The world today is full of inspirational quotes and wonderful people. We read these quotes and meet these people. We are determined to change our lives for the better. And yet, comes tomorrow and I am back on WhatsApp, talking about things of the past or future. As fun as it is, I know in my heart that I am spending my precious time on things that do not add to my growth and happiness.

So what do I do? To get out of the endless trap that WhatsApp and Facebook have caught me in.
The first step is realising that I can do it. My life is in my control. Facebook is the same for everyone. Yet the amount of time spent on it is different for everyone. This clearly indicates that the relationship between the Internet and me is determined by my actions.

The second step is realising that we have developed a habit of scrolling through Facebook. More than half the time our minds don't even register the content we are going through. We do it because it's easy. It allows us to escape responsibilities that need to be taken care of.

However, we also know that habits are formed by repeatedly carrying out the same action. Which implies that habits are formed over time and therefore can also be changed over time.
So how do we change this habit?

One possible way is that we restrict the amount of time spent on our mobile phone. I know from experience that this can be highly effective for a short period of time. However, if we want long term success, then we'll have to add another ingredient.

And that ingredient is to find an alternative. Something that you are really passionate about. Remember when you used to spend hours reading? Remember when  day and night were no longer of consequence because The Chamber of Secrets had been opened again and you couldn't wait to find out what happened next? I remember it too. I ache to be able read like that again, To be lost in the magical world of emotions and words.

However, every time I try to read, I am constantly distracted. Why? Because my brain has developed a habit of being distracted by my phone.

Small steps. That is how I will proceed further. Today I will read for just 15 minutes. That's 15 less minutes spent on my phone. Tomorrow, I will read for 30 minutes. That is 30 less minutes spent on my phone.

I am consciously making a decision to change my life for the better. And I know I don't have to do it alone. We can do it together. Small steps only. For every child learns to take small steps before it is ready for the giant leap.