The Reading List For The Manly Feminists ;)

This reading list, as demanded by Rakesh (the lecture follows soon…) and Freespirit, has mostly best sellers, popular and light reading. (Though some might make you cry).

Please do add more to this list, any books related to women that inspired or moved you…?

1. Alice Walker’s – The Colour Purple – Can a story that begins with incest, forced marriages  and domestic violence end in a way that you close it with a smile and a wish to reach the sky? My kids read this one after their tenth board exams, during the holidays. It was upsetting in the beginning and I had to hint at happy ending to make sure it was read at all.

2. A Thousand Splendid Suns  Khaled Houssini A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to the post-Taliban rebuilding. It shows so simply what happens when religion takes over common sense. The contrast in life styles of  two neighbours, and how much (Or how little?) human happiness depends on individual freedom. We hear of such stories all the time from our maids but we pay no attention, when you read it like this, it sinks in. ...the teenage Mariam — the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy man, who is ashamed of her existence — is quickly married off to a much older shoemaker named Rasheed, a piggy brute of a man who says it embarrasses him “to see a man who’s lost control of his wife.”

3. Panchali’s Mahabharata (A Palace Of Illusions) Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni – It’s good to see how a woman with Panchali’s intelligence must have coped with being forced to live her life with decisions made by maybe those who feared her power…. We also read more about Karan, and Draupadi’s crush on Karan, always my favorite amongst the Pandvas. No literary work, but interesting. I prefer this version.

4. The God of Small things – Arundhati Roy A brilliant book.

In one scene, this little son of a divorced mother living with her rich parents, is told by the old household help that they are a burden on his grandparents, and he, used to such compliments, says, “Et tu Kanta bai!”

Race, colour, gender, caste, class, marriages & divorces,  love, child-abuse, sexual harassment, some gentle laughter, two lovely kids all make it an amazing read.

It’s so typical of what we see (again without seeing) all around us –Marriages where there is no companionship but the couple lives together, daily battering and no option but to bear it, and an Indian mother’s emotional dependence on, and obsession with sons. Men’s needs. And women’s needs… read if you have not already read this one!

5. Princess by Jean P. Sassoon –( Princess: a True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia)  Imagine a bright, intelligent woman trapped in a life where she must follow rules made by those, often not half as smart – just because they are men, including a spoilt brother and an uninterested, selfish, autocratic father. And if this woman believes in justice, what does she go through??? Read to find out.

This book is about an anonymous Saudi Arabian woman. Total control over the lives of half the population, by the other half of the population, in the name of protecting them from the harm that can come from their provoking the other half of the population … Very informative.

6. Daughters of Arabia is a second book by the same author, in this one she talks about her daughters, and what the terribly restrictive life does to them, even though they are rich. Also about her relationship with her all powerful husband, and her mother in law who can never be wrong in her husband’s eyes; about her household help, from Philippines, and sexual abuse, with no hope of justice.

7. Not without my daughter- Betty Mehmoody – Made into a movie too, but the book is better. When we are born into a sexist society, we accept (or at least get used to) discrimination.

This American woman marries a man from Iran and they go for a short holiday to Iran. They stay with his  unwelcoming joint family, and she must cover her face and hair. And then her husband tells her he has no intention of ever going back to the USA, or letting her go back. The laws in Iran apply to her, because she is his wife, any decisions related to their daughter also can only be taken by this man. The American Embassy is ready to help her get out of the country– but she must leave her daughter behind. She doesn’t of course…

Why I like this book is because sometimes even today we hear women talk of too much equality and they equate equality with manliness… I think they must read these books to see why we need to be strong.

8. Sister Of My Heart – Chitra Divakaruni Banerjee Is about India of today.  Sex selection, mystery, suspense, arranged marriages, girly secrets, an oppressive joint family, the requirement for a married woman to be a mother, and only of sons.

What I loved is the subtle ways she has shown of how two different kinds of mothers choose two different kinds of futures for their daughters. This book is also about possibilities. What I didn’t like .. well read, it!!

9. Chocolat by Joannne Harris I just finished reading this one, it’s absolutely amazing in it’s simplicity, and it’s defiance of unnecessary expectations and stereotypes. Although the beautiful village and all those chocolates are set in France, this story could be happening in India. I loved this one, it’s been made into a movie, but the book is what I recommend.

10. The da Vinci Code- Dan Brown – I know there were protests, but I saw the movie – it’s nowhere close to the book. An amazing book.

What does the Bible teach about goddess worship and women as preachers and church leaders? Is God masculine or feminine? …Did Jesus and Mary Magdalene marry and have children? Was Mary the head of the church?

11. The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood‘  The women are called Ofman, so ofsanjaydutt, is Manyata Dutt, ofsanjaygandhi is Menaka Gandhi, only they do not have their own names…

In the world of the near future, who will control women’s bodies? Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…. ” —The Publisher.

12. Chronicle of a death foretold -Gabriel Garcia Marquez is an account of the killing of Nasar, who was stabbed to death by twin brothers Pedro and Pablo for a perceived offense against the honor of their family. Their sister Angela had been married to a wealthy young man, then returned to her family during the night when he discovered that she was not a virgin. (All of this is revealed in the first chapter, so no spoilers here.) It’s a brilliant account, an eye opener, a Nobel Prize (1982) winning work of fiction by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

13. Cider House Rules When Homer Wells, an orphan in an orphanage, reaches a somewhat mature age and it becomes apparent that he will not be adopted another time, Dr. Larch, who’s grown fond of Homer despite his best efforts to remain unattached, decides that Homer will be of use as long as he’s around. Homer becomes Larch’s assistant, and after being educated by Gray’s Anatomy and Larch himself, becomes something of a quasi-obstetrician. Homer’s unease regarding abortions — he believes that fetus’ have souls — forces a wedge between the two men, who have acquired something of a father/son relationship.

The book is much better than the movie.

Edited to add

Sraboney adds

Amy Tan’s ‘Joy Luck Club’

Pearl S Buck‘s Good Earth, reminding me of (I am mixed up, read these long ago, please do point out if there are errors!)

Peony About an abandoned/orphaned girl bought by a caring family, as a play mate for their son of the same age. Peony also learns to write poetry and falls in love with the boy she grew up playing with, but she is just a slave and he is to marry a first-daughter from some rich Chinese family.

And another one of a dainty Japanese girl wooed by and married to an American Officer during the World War, goes with him to America, has a child, disapproved of by his mother (I remember her saying, ‘the way they breed , we will have a slanting eyed grand child every year‘), abandoned in a strange land …

Allytude adds

The Second Sex, for non-fiction readers, available online at  – http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/ethics/de-beauvoir/2nd-sex/index.htm

Pavilion Of Women, by Pearl S Buck About this woman who finds a concubine for her husband, and no it is not a saas-bahu sort of story. She looks for someone who would be easy to control, not intelligent, and not too good looking. There is a Christian priest who visits this Chinese business family, and how he influences their lives. One scene that moved me was when she forces a husband to help his aging wife during labour…

Pixie adds, ‘Girls Of Riyadh‘ – (I haven’t read, would love a review Pixie!)

Smita adds, Waiting room by Anupa Mehta

Sandhya adds, Twentieth Wife, by Indu Sundaresan

Jinu adds,

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Devil adds,

Manjula padmanabhan’s Escape

Free Spirit adds,

Sylvia Plath and Maya Angelou

The Awakening by Kate Chopin,

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquirel,

Mayada by Jean Sasson

Mosaic by Soheir Khasshoggi.

Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho

Where do they go away?

Just an old man crossing the road, shopping bags in hand, hesitating in front of the car,

Made my eyes fill up.

I wanted to walk with him while he crossed the road

He had to be more than 74.

Men more than 74 do live.

They shop, they walk.

They nag their children.

They call them all the time asking them to Google the new medicine they have been prescribed.

They trust their children more than the specialists.

Or they look for excuses to call them.

They call to ask if their married-and-mother-of-two daughter had got back home safely after her first drive on the highway.

They always have the answers.

They know what to do, when the steering wheel is jammed…

Once he called and mentioned some pain.

When he didn’t sound annoyed when I showed concern, I should have guessed.

But I never thought.

The calls reminded me to be more regular with the gym, not to inherit carelessness.

They force their daughters to get a paper and pen and write down the names of their great grandparents.

The ones who had to leave Kashmir in a hurry

Of a great grand mother who brought her baking skills and mouth watering recipes with her from there,

For a forever hungry grandson

Who years later, when he has restrictions on his diet,

Would describe to a non-foodie daughter

The huge oven in which she rolled arbi leaves

And stuffed them with …

I have forgotten what the stuffing was,

And now there is no one to tell me.

He had talked of how he had run after the tonga carrying his mother away, at the age of five…

All those December holidays when I had the first choice of New Year diaries and calendars

In exchange of copying all the addresses from the last year’s diaries

I continued to do this all my life;

Later I had to check his hotmail account,

And respond to his emails, response dictated over the phone

I did it out of habit,

I thought it was just a continuation of a chore I had done all my life…

I didn’t notice how I had never before checked his mail, only updated his address books.

I once chatted on MSN Messenger with my siblings pretending to be dad,

Who thought then why he had difficulty writing his own mail?

When he and his walking friend,

Like two little boys, tried making Grilled Fish in their never used microwave,

Me dictating the recipe over the phone

They made an absolute mess, finally eating a home delivered dinner of grilled fish and French fries 🙂

My vegetarian mom disapproved.

but I delighted in and defended his love for food.

He held ice cream eating competitions amongst the grand children.

How do you think of such a person as old?

When I locked the car keys inside the car,

On a hot summer afternoon, in a new city, feeling lost

He showed me how to open the lock with a 6″ scale, on the cell phone.

Once in South Extension a cow had come running, chased by someone.

And I screamed,

Dad came in between, as expected, as taken for granted that he would…

So wasn’t it natural that I never noticed he was aging?

Not even when I opened a Flickr account for him,

And loaded his collection from his young Photography Club days.

He said

You think you will keep me alive like this?

And I laughed, “What  a nautanki-party we are  Papa!”

I was reassuring him, because it’s all a state of mind,

If you think you will live – you will live.

But we read about how we fool ourselves the fastest?

It’s true.

He wanted to talk about his younger years…

He wondered if the way we didn’t know of our great grandparents, maybe my grand children will never hear of  him…

He was thinking of death.

And I told him some grandparents are never forgotten.

I told him what his grand children thought of him, how he was their hero..

I know I was always there,

There when he spoke so often of death.

Of friends no more.

When his sister died, he said she was younger.

He asked if it was going to be his turn next.

He was laughing I thought. I never thought he meant it.

I teased him about how many ice creams he would eat at my daughter’s wedding.

I wasn’t comforting, I believed that.

He called all the time,

He called when friends visited, while I shopped, drove, attended PTAs …

He knew what I cooked each day

And complained about how my mother won’t let him eat forbidden Butter Chicken or Gajar Halwa.

Or he’d call to say, like a naughty child,

How he ate salted, fried cashew nuts he wasn’t supposed to

Delighting in sincere concern!

He who was too proud to tolerate sympathy,

And he who had never any patience with advice,

Would discuss in detail my ideas of how to eat healthy but tasty sweets…

And yet I didn’t see the changes.

His talk of his childhood,

Of his regrets

And his pride,

And the things he gave up to raise us well…

His photography, rowing, athletics, horse riding, dramatics, reading and writing…

And I listed out which of his grandchildren had inherited which,

Especially the youngest who can eat without pause.

No regret there, I know I was always there,

And it was not out of any sense of duty.

So I heard his delighted laughter, at the mention of the youngest grandchild… while loading the washing machine.

I asked for advice while shopping for electronics

I called him when asked to pay a fine (He said throw the money on his face.)

I complained about Indian schools

And discussed Lalu’s Railway Budget and Cricket…

But I never got to say good bye.

Now that he is not there, I can see so much more of him,

In all that is missing.

I got a call from Reliance Communications, asking if I had some problem with the service.

I thought it was a sales call, but then she said,

“You’ve not been using the phone, ma’am.”

 

(This post started as a post about my mom, about how she was coping without dad, in response to Solilo’s beautiful post about senior citizens.)

The Blogger’s Spouse

Shail calls him Lord and Master

Roop calls him Pati

Solilo’s is The Other half

Mad Mamma’s The Other Adult

IHM never settled for a name…

Unmana calls him The Guy,

Chandni’s spouse is called The Boy

Ritu calls him her Ex 🙂

Dipali’s is the Senior Resident… SRE

Aneela’s is G’man

Hitchwriter claims he’s made her a star!

What bigger honor for a blogger’s husband or wife,

Than to know that they are a part of our blogging life

Cricket was never a bore,

But IHM loves IPL much more

Ever since she’s created a blog…

The husband is never accused of being a remote hog!

Please rhyme your comments 😉 if possible!!



Girls these days….

1.Guilt

Niece 8, asking, ‘You never, ever get angry with your kids?

2. Pride (mixed with the realization that somebody needs a shaking.)

Daughter says, ‘I can’t feel strongly about feminism ma, I haven’t seen any of this discrimination you talk about …’

3. Helplessness

A friend’s daughter, “Whatever they say aunty, we may be good at studies, equally independent – everything, …but for our parents we are still girls… we can never be equal to boys…”

(Just like that in the middle of a random conversation about something unrelated)

1. To the niece.

IHM: “err umm I don’t like to, but sometimes I do… err umm…”

Accusing, stern eyes, “What can make you angry with them?

IHM: Err… (really lost) … err sometimes they get late for school, if I don’t pretend to be angry they’ll miss their bus, then we have to drop them…and then on top of that she says, I should let her drive!”

“Maybe it’s a trick so that you let her drive! You should let her drive.”

IHM: “But she needs a license M!”

Serious, considering eyes: But what’s there to be angry in this? You can explain this nicely also?

IHM: I should you know, normally I do… only rarely sometimes if I am angry, or tired …

Serious, grandmotherly eyes: You should sleep in time.


2. To the brat (daughter): A long lecture, and a reading list.


3. To the friends’ daughter: (very casually) Yeah I know…we went through a lot of this too, but ended it with our generation, mothers have more power than they realise, nice weather, no?? We can change the thinking of a generation… you will be in a position to put an end to such discrimination in your immediate family, don’t let this continue… Cute hair clips! …Biases can actually even strengthen us…

If only I didn’t know and like her mother, I could have said so much more.

But now I do talk to her mother about a whole lot of things including how my mother sometimes confused me, with talk of independence within limits, equality but not too much equality, ….about how girls need even more support… about how a girl’s tattoo, and noodle straps, don’t necessarily clash with her dreams of a happy, bright, independent future, where marriage is just one of the nice things, (not the reason for her existence).

I wonder how else could I handled it, specially the last one…

So What Are You Emotional About?

One to Ten Of What I consider an Emotional Atyachaar.

It’s a good idea to count to ten, before reacting, when you are really angry. Although I am not short tempered, I do need to count to ten…

1. When I hear someone say a victim of sexual assault shouldn’t have been dressed the way she was or out at that time etc.

2. When someone defends any kind of violence against innocent/unarmed citizens.

3. People getting upset over what any other adults are doing inside their own homes or bedrooms, Gays, Lesbians, Shahrukh Khan smoking inside his own living room/make-up van, Pubs/markets being told to close at 9 30pm/girls being told how to dress/what to drink. When I hear of victimless crimes being called crimes at all.

4. When somebody implies laws (POTA, TADA, MISA, NSA etc) that give our representatives almost unlimited power to jail any citizens without trial, will cure terrorism. Isn’t there a risk of fake encounters and random citizens being declared terrorists?

5. When somebody defends Fundamentalism. Many people think Fundamentalists actually care for god or for any religion.

6. When somebody gives “It’s always been done this way” as the logic for doing something! I prefer common sense above tradition.

7. When somebody says Hurt Sentiments are reason enough to kill innocent people or even to destroy property.

8. When being good and god fearing gets mixed with rituals and how much time and money you spend praying, singing bhajans, visiting temples, chanting shlokas, fasting etc.

9. When somebody tries to tell me that because we have lived in the cities and studied in English Medium Schools/Convents we do not understand why violence, rioting, gender bias, fundamentalism, prejudices, etc are a justified in ‘real India’ is. When all logic fails, imply there are some unexplainable reasons which only the semi-fundamentalists, literate-bigots and misogynists understand.

10. I did not need to count to ten when Sher Khan (our cat) stood outside my son’s room and meowed for the door to be opened (shut because the AC is on, temperature 41-43 degrees Celsius), and then within minutes he cries to be let out. I had to get up in between typing this list, at least seven times! Nothing he does irritates me, in fact he can relax and sooth frayed nerves.

I was tagged by Homecooked and Mandira to do the One to Ten Tag, Mandira demanded I Twist The Tag, I hope you like this twist Mandira : )

I would like to know what makes them angry enough to count to ten. Is it power cuts and bad roads, or too much salt in a favorite recipe, lying children or venom spewing politicians…

I am tagging some bloggers who are really cool headed and some others who claim to be looney : )) I believe we are what makes us EMOTIONAL.. lt’s get to know you a little better!

  • Kislay (You will have a tough time choosing just ten?)
  • Chirag (I don’t remember any angry posts so I wonder if anything makes you see red!)
  • Yogesh (Culture or violence, or a culture of violence!?)
  • Chikki (This is inspired by your post on what gets us emotional)
  • Vishesh (Knowing how you see God…)
  • Surbhi (Gender bias or ..)
  • Biju Mathews(You sound cool headed but there’s always something that gets our goat!)
  • R.V,
  • Trailblazer (Media?!!!)
  • Sunder
  • Spontaneous Mini Cruelty to animals?
  • Athira
  • Devil Incarnate ….
  • aneri_masi (My guess: Gender Bias is amongst the ten things)
  • freespirit
  • Manish (Cruelty & violence?)
  • Shraboney Ghosh …Lots of things : )
  • Solilo – I can guess some of the things, but would like to read…
  • Ajit (Does anything make him see red at all??
  • Vimmuuu (One of the funniest commentators I have seen, what makes you angry?)
  • Mr Balvinder Singh (I am sure even his anger is logical and coolheaded)
  • Kochuthresiamma p .j
  • gunmeen

What I don’t like about being a mother.

What I don’t like about being a mother.

Fussy eaters,

Messy rooms,

Too much TV, too much face book,

Too much junk food…

Walking bare foot …

Long hair,

A dislike for cleanliness

Muddy shoes on the carpet

Tears and tantrums

Stitches on the chin, cold, chicken pox and sprained ankles

All are a part of growing up?

Woolen jacket left at home on a cold day,

Forgetting lunch boxes at home.

Acne and dandruff.

Staying up till late,

Full dinner plates stuffed in the fridge with red gravy tricking into everything else…

Pizza for breakfast, Pepsi instead of milk,

Clothes on the floor, smelly socks in the study table drawers

All these don’t upset me.

But I don’t like being a mother when there are riots in the city.

Last minute waking up to school projects,

A ten year old prepared for Maths on the day of History exam.

New water bottles, endless thirst, and a wet kitchen floor.

New bicycles and scraped knees.

Skateboard practice in the living room,

Football in the kitchen

A yet uncut birthday cake all over a new dress.

Licking cake batter perched on the kitchen counter.

Books forgotten in the balcony during monsoons,

An ironed bed-sheet thrown on the dining table to create a doll’s house underneath

Finding a personal diary on the sofa, with complains about your disciplining.

Letters to Santa asking for a forbidden Puppy.

Egg in the wardrobe to make it hatch.

Old videos of two sulking faces, refusing to pose.

Cards proclaiming undying love to Papa, all incorrectly spelled.

Almost toppling you, with violent hugging.

Long, lanky, awkward arms

On stage singing out of tune.

Singing louder to the whole building from the bathroom.

Picnics in the society park and a favorite basket left behind;

A summer camp most hated and an old camera lost forever,

Trying to light a camp fire inside a quilt.

Dance classes, music classes, karate classes, drama classes – left half way because of boredom.

Fancy dress parties, and hating the outfit!

Refusing to get out of the swimming pool.

Wanting to drive today because ‘all friends do’.

Tasting turpentine at 15 months.

Crying because the home work is not done …

Crying because the biggest enemy has scored more…

Laughing hysterically because the sibling is clowning foolishly ..

I think I like everything about being a mother.

Except the helpless feeling you get when you feel this world does not deserve children. Meaningless violence, wars, rioting frighten me like they never did before.

I don’t like that about being a mother.


Monika and Goofy Mumma tagged me write this post about What I like best about being a mother. Thank You for tagging me!! I love all Mommy tags, but I changed this one slightly 🙂

I would like to pass this tag to

Imp’s Mom

Varunavi

Solilo

Happy Kitten

Shail

Usha Pisharody

Prerna

Abha

The Ruminator

Amrutha

Sandhya

Mampi

Ritu Harish

I would also like to pass this tag to some great dads in the blogosphere,

Rakesh

Masood

Hitchwriter

Charakan

Mavin

Mr Gopinath

Mr Balvinder Singh

Mr Joshi

The Besotted Prince And The Beheaded Princess.

Were we ever a peaceful nation : (

The Prince of Handa was a reluctant soldier. After endless goodbyes he sent for a souvenir from his new bride. Ashamed of his cowardice she sent him her head on a silver tray.

I wonder, if the King, sick of her power over his besotted son, cut off her head and sent it to him…


55 WORDS FICTION

A literary work will be considered 55 Fiction if it has:

Fifty-five words or less (A non-negotiable rule)

A setting, One or more characters, Some conflict, and A resolution.

(Not limited to moral of the story)

Sex Education has nothing to do with Blue Films.

One day my kids came from the park and wanted to know if what their friend A, then 11, had told all the kids in the park was true. What A had told them would have put a B Grade movie director to shame. My first thought was to call her mother and give her a piece of my mind. I had told my kids how the baby first looks like a bean, then a lizard… and I had shown them pictures of a fetus growing in the womb, even talked about the Sperm and the Egg, and but I had totally avoided the question, asked once and then forgotten, about how does the sperm reach the egg.

Well, now someone else told them, and this was definitely not how I would have chosen for them to learn!I had talked to them about child abuse. They knew they could say NO to anybody picking them up, touching them or talking to them in any way that made them uncomfortable. They also knew that the parts of their body covered by their swimming costumes were not ever to be touched by anybody (except mother while giving them a bath etc or a doctor if required). They knew even the most respected relatives and teachers had no authority to talk or touch in any way that made them uncomfortable. And most of all they knew they would never be blamed if something like this were to happen. They knew they could come and tell me anything.

Yet when they did I was taken back. What do I tell them now …? Do I lie? Call the other mothers and ask them how they were handling this? I remember being uncomfortable and vaguely talking about the necessity of love and marriage, of AIDS and babies requiring two loving and devoted parents, also about rules of living in a civilized society… I remember thinking my reaction should not frighten them into not asking any questions when next time there is something they don’t understand or are frightened of.
Here’s what I remember saying.
1. What she told you is true; it’s normal. It’s very personal and people, always adults, generally get married first. No adults other than your own parents can talk about this to you.

2. Yes this is how babies are made.

3. Yes even some unmarried people might do it, but generally that is considered very wrong, because…

4. Because… we fear what would happen to the baby who is then born. Babies need two parents to love them? Also we feel that the two people must love each other first. (Avoided moralizing).

5. We also fear AIDS – a very serious illness, which has no cure. There is a risk of other infections also.
6. If one of them does not like it and still the other forces them then it is wrong. It’s called rape. If someone does that they can be punished by being sent to jail.

7. There are emotions involved and that might lead to complications. I also talked about babies who are abandoned because of premarital sex. And about social stigma attached to it. (Just some facts, no moralizing.) And how love and respect, and commitment, makes for happier relationships.

8. The school had discussed changes in their bodies, I also talked about it.
I realised this became an opportunity to build trust. In the following years they continued to ask questions that were often shocking, but it was a relief that they were asking me and not someone in their peer group.
Many parents fear this openness might make the kids learn too much too soon, but we don’t really need to tell them more than what is age appropriate. Some kids may never ask, but that doesn’t mean they do not know.If we don’t tell them, their friends, advertisements, movies, magazines etc will- we may not like what they will learn from these sources.
In no way has this openness made the children too ‘liberal’. Even some rather conservative school teachers have remarked on how ‘innocent and open’ they are. I think they are innocent because there’s no guilt involved with the knowledge they have. They know everything they should know- and they have learnt it from the one source that truly cares about their well being- today- (not just about their next life, which they probably don’t care for) and I think they find that very reassuring.

I fear moralizing because that can make any teenager worth their salt suspect our motives. So I would talk about hygiene and better life, and not about goodness and purity. Also when we know they are assaulted with so much information, and misinformation from every imaginable source the last thing we would want is they consider us too priggish to care for our opinion. I don’t think anything could be worse, because then they will just stop talking to us.

Also if values and morals are brought into something I would rather, I be the teacher. I definitely want my kids to grow up with my values, without having any guilt associated with everything that stands for fun. (Clothes, grooming, just hanging out with friends, parties, dancing etc also fall in this category.)

When later I did call one of the mothers to ask how they had handled it, I found this child had not told her anything. She said, her daughter had no idea about ‘these things’, even if there are any ‘indecent scenes’ on the TV she quickly changes the channel.

I did not ask her if she wondered how the child knew which scenes were indecent (She would have said it’s instinct?)

Many of us believe that we can protect our children better by keeping them ignorant, but the only choice we really have is how they learn. Whether they learn or not learn is not an option, either we tell them, or their half informed peer group would.

Sex education does not mean teaching them sex before marriage is good. Children need to know about sexual abuse, they should know they can complain without fearing being blamed for it. As they grow older they need to know that they are ‘normal’ and any changes, physical and emotional are natural, and if there is something wrong they should be able to recognize it and take appropriate action, and not go through hell not knowing what to do. One cursory glance at any Agony Aunt columns will show us what kind of misinformation thrives when ignorance is considered safer.

Girls should also have someone they can speak to. Remember Maggie of ‘Thorn Birds’? Our government schools need female counselors for girls, preferably medically trained with instructions to keep confidences. If some of the victims in recent cases of incest knew there was someone they could speak to, they would not have suffered for so many years.

They also need to know about AIDS, and how to avoid it. We hear of women infected by their husbands, and I have had two maids with AIDS widows in their family. AIDS is more wide spread than we realise. I read a post by Malayalidoc (a doctor) where the abuser, a father infected his daughter, but everything was hushed up.

Our fear of sex education has created a situation where everybody except the victims knows what the dangers are. Education is one field where uneducated politicians should have no say.
I remember reading an interview where some ministers objected to sex education and they mentioned blue films.

“The issue rocked the state Vidhan Sabha when members ….alleged that ….it was a “planned attack” on the Indian culture. A time may come when blue films will be screened in the name of AIDs awareness programmes in the schools.

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Related Posts:

It’s child abuse, not an ‘affair’.

Cee Kay’s post on shock proof parenting. (by CeeKay)

A substitute for sex education. (by Naive Indian)

No to sex education. (by Smitha)

Hot, Gorgeous, Showy and Flamboyant.

An Indian Summer 🙂

What did you think? ROTFL

Thought I’d share something I really love about an Indian Summer- apart from chilled mango shakes, chilled water melons, stinking, tasteless papaya, refreshing Rooh Afzah in milk, panna, nimboo pani, long afternoons spent reading with a jugful of chilled rooh afzah mixed with fresh lime and ice cubes, ….long siestas and longer evenings ….

Will not talk about the load shedding at the time of elections 😉

At my grand parents house, we used to sleep on water sprinkled terrace, I loved those cool white sheets …And we used to try to scare each other by pretending to be ghosts by throwing those sheets over us and then we’d get extremely scared ourselves. Back then we were only interested in peepal trees for the ghosts that we believed lived there. Mango, mulberry, jamun, guavas were of some interest too, but I don’t think we cared for any of the trees I love today.

These gorgeous Bougainvillea flowers seem to require no care, they drape beautifully over any trees, walls, fences and survive, actually thrive in the scorching unbearable heat.

Bougainvillea

Chandeliers of Amaltas or Laburnum will continue to decorate our roadsides, drains, abandoned, dusty uncared for gardens and wilderness till end of May.

Laburnum (Amaltas/ Cassia Fistula)

This beautiful tree with purple/violet flowers is called Jacaranda. I know one that is home to many birds, and I have seen and photographed a hummingbird, bulbul, sparrows, Munias, a crow’s nest, noisy Warblers, gorgeous Green Bee Eaters, Greater Coucal etc on one tree!

jacaranda

And the most flamboyant is the Gulmohar. It’s also called Flame of the forest , because the orange-red flowers spread all over the trees do look like fire.

Gulmohar

Makes one see how much sense Sher Shah Suri had when he got shady trees planted on the sides of the roads, all those years ago!

Elections are testing times for the Loyal Indian.

IHM: Isn’t this outrageous?! Saying computers cause unemployment?

SP Supporter: They are right you know, one computer does the job of five men – every time a computer is introduced, five men lose jobs!

IHM: Technology has created jobs too! If somebody wants office jobs then they better train to use computers, in fact computer training centres also create jobs. Technology has touched everybody, even the vegetable vendor and the dhobi; in Kerala fishermen have cell phones when they are at sea…

SP Supporter: The human touch is gone, we are surrounded by machines! What will a poor unskilled, unemployed man do with technology, if he has no food to eat?

IHM: There aren’t better ways to create jobs? How about multipronged growth? And we need technology even for better health and security! You think ATMs should be replaced with queues in banks to create more jobs? These guys will take us back in time…

SP Supporter: He did not mean it, he has been misquoted.


Conclusion – If he said this he is right. If he is wrong then he must have been misquoted.