Friday, March 15, 2013

Chetan Bhagat - his sanctimonius post, his veiled misogyny, and my response.

Chetan Bhagat, of Indian literature fame, has recently written a blogpost entitled, "Five Things Women Need to Change About Themselves". (Incidentally I found out from one of the comments below that the Times of India also picked up this blog and printed it on the 10th of March, 2013). I really shouldn't care, and a part of me agrees with some of my friends who have said that we, of the more discerning taste, really shouldn't pay him any attention. But, he gets attention. He is just exceptional at PR. He found a void in the world of English literature in India and worked on filling it, got himself a voice and is now using that voice to its greatest potential. He has some hold over the Indian youth, who voraciously read every single one of his books and claim to be a part of the following that he has garnered. That's the problem. The most devastating thing to me though is that by all accounts women make up a significant part of this group.

So, even though I don't have a voice, I as a member of  "women kind" will air my grievances about Bhagat's post.

In Bhagat's defense he did start off by writing a cursory paragraph telling men how to treat women, except at one point he says, "... we as Indian men, have a long way to go before our women can be proud of us." Our? Okay, I may be nitpicking here, and so I'll let this one go and not try to explain to him how misogynistic his perception that Indian men have some sort of proprietary right over Indian women is. Anyway, I digress. I now submit the following responses to each of Bhagat's 5 recommendations to women.

1.  According to you, Mr. Bhagat, the first behaviour that needs to end, is that of women judging other women.  Do you really think that only women are judging other women on the basis of superficial characteristics? How many times have we seen in Bollywood movies that the actress who weighs 5 pounds heavier and/or has dark skin and/or has short hair is playing the role of the lovable nitwit best friend? How many times have we, Indian women, been ridiculed for being too skinny, too fat, too dark, too round-faced, too flat-nosed by our family members, in many cases our own mothers?  Well educated men in every part of India will turn down marriages/proposals simply on the basis that the girl is too dark. So, let's not kid ourselves by pretending that women are victimizing other women, EVERYONE is victimizing women on the basis of appearance. To be fair this is not just endemic to India (although the problem is more severe and in-your-face in India) but women are judged by everyone else (including other women) for their outward appearance everywhere in the world.

2. Apparently women are too "fake" - Mr. Bhagat, in this day and age we all are. Everyone needs to be fake, lie through their teeth, and pretend to laugh at funny jokes their boss makes in order to get ahead in the world. If you aren't fake, you won't get ahead. It's as simple as that. If everyone would say exactly what they were thinking, at exactly that time, then we all would be abrasive jerks. And we all hate abrasive jerks, so we can't be that.  I'll forgive you for this one though, because you've been a famous author for so long now, that you may have forgotten how the real world works.

3. Women need to stand up for their property rights - I agree with you on this. However, you fail to understand that most Indian women inherently place family and community at a higher level than wealth and property. If she is to choose between not losing the relationship with her father or brother, and gaining equal rights to paternal property she would much rather give up the latter. Its not about selflessness, its about value. And in India where property squabbles take years and decades of family feuding and wasting away in the courts system - a woman has much better and far more important things to take care of. I would think that it is preferable to change the system from the other side, where a father would never question the equal right his daughter has to his property, and where a brother would never even place his right to land higher than his sister's. Why not start with changing the male chauvinism when it comes to property rights? It's been a long time since 1828 when Raja Rammohan Roy demanded equal property rights for women. Why is it taking SO LONG?

4. Women need to have ambition and a fire in their belly? - Really now? I mean, I can quite proudly say that I am one of those who have overcome a lot of adversity to get where I am today, but never for a moment will I ever dare to be so sanctimonious as to suggest that women who can't, don't have ambition. What is Malala supposed to do? Learn from the internet or walk to the border? And, you Mr. Bhagat who have spent absolutely no time as a woman, let alone an Indian woman, are going to come out and teach women about ambition? What do you know about what it takes to claw your way out of systemic misogyny and paternalism? Secondly, your suggestion that, only when Indian women will achieve a certain level of success will they be able to command the respect of men, is so far out there that I don't even know where to start. How about teaching men how to respect women irrespective of a random definition of success? I really do wish that you would have better outlined what your definition of success is, because then, I would have demanded an answer to the question, "why can't a woman's success be defined by raising brilliant, respectful, and well rounded children?" 

5. Last but not the least you bring up some convoluted argument about self worth and relationships. You begin by saying, "Being a good mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend and lover are extremely important." Umm why? When was the last time you heard a man being defined by the relationship he has with other women? When is a man defined as a "father, husband, son and brother"? And then you go on to speak about sacrifice and how a woman must be selfish. Has it been so long that you have worked in the real world Mr. Bhagat? You must be too busy writing your books to notice that women in India are still today being victimized for being selfish. Women get their shit beaten out of them (pardon my french) for wanting to have a career and be a loving wife and mother. Have you ever seen how women are labelled if they are single and career oriented? They are then too strong willed to find a husband. A strong-willed woman at work is labelled a "Bitch" because she knows how to assert herself. If she's not a "bitch" and wants to go home to be a mother and cook dinner for her kids, then she is too complacent to "really want it". Don't you get the feeling that a woman can never do anything right?

Mr. Bhagat the overarching problems of misogyny that I have tried to condense into a rant and outline above are not specific to India at all. Us, women deal with these problems everyday everywhere (definitely more in India though - cloaked in that ugly facade of tradition). The real answer to the problem is here: we need to work towards making society more open and welcoming to women and more conducive to a woman's idea of a balanced life. You see, women would rather not give up the traits that make us who we are. We would rather have both - a career and a family. We would like to be assertive without being labelled a "bitch". We would like to be able to choose whether or not to have children depending on who we are as individual persons. We would like to be able to be comfortable in our skin. We would like to be able to have the option of not sacrificing our relationships with our brothers to stand up for our equal right to property. We would like to be able to exercise our simple right to choose.

So the next time you try to change women, Mr. Bhagat, look in the mirror at your own "kind". Try to understand why it is that men are the ones who are always standing in the way - why it is that the brothers don't understand their sisters, why the fathers don't value their daughters, and why the husbands don't support their wives. Because, when we fix the problem in one generation, when a son watches his father respect his mother, he will learn to respect his sister, wife and daughter too.

I end by acknowledging my awesome brother, and my amazing husband. Life would be a load of crap without their respect, support and love. Oh, and to all the women: all the phenomenal, wonderful, and strong women, Respect.

74 comments:

  1. you literally thrashed Chetan's blogpost.. feel bit sorry for him.. poor soul haha :D

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    1. I will be so appreciative if he does manage to read it and learn from it. I posted it on his blog as a comment. :P

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    2. I'm posting it as a reply, tweeting it out to him and posting it on his fb fan page as well. That jackass needs a dose of it. Would appreciate it if you could help.

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    3. rsrikanth05, Thank you for your support. It means a lot. But, trust me your posts will get deleted as soon as they are seen. :D

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    4. Not on Twitter. I tweet, and if you can get others to join me, then more than enough.
      Here is a link to one tweet. I'm gonna bombard him with such replies and get my friends to do it. If he admits his mistake other 'famous' men might too.
      --Cheerio,
      :)

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    5. Sorry, forgot the link to the tweet: http://twitter.com/rsrikanth05/statuses/314429833323110403

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    6. I like your idea of using social media for sure.... maybe we can come up with a hashtag which would both address the concerns we have generate an interest in the problems that exist in his post.... do you have any ideas?

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    7. Plenty of them. A few years ago, we used #changeIndia to highlight issues such as jilted boyfriends throwing acid, and honour killings. We could do something similar. :)

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  2. Nice repartee, Rini. A few other observations, if I may.
    1. Chetan in his post repeatedly uses the expression "our women" (at least on two occasions right in the first couple of paragraphs), I reckon this was deliberate, so your point is not pedantic, but well argued.
    2. Note that he switches between women and ladies, and he is addressing "ladies", not "women". This indicates his hidden assumption that in this case, he is going to address a specific subset of women defined by the society as "ladies", not just any woman in general.
    3. He considers statements such as "Men need to see women as people, not objects ..." and so on as "male bashing". Why are these statements "male bashing"?
    4. As he identifies himself as a "man", his analysis of women's behaviour therefore should be a "man's" gaze of female trait. So, going by this, when he analyzes what women think, he is faking. Yet he advises women not to fake.
    5. Finally, he does not realize that there is after all, a "Men's Day", held on the 19th November, of each year (why November? that's another story)
    This guy is a jerk.

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    1. Arin da, thank you for reading this and adding your thoughts. I've had a fair taste of the misogyny doled out by his followers since yesterday. Most of my comments have been deleted. I'm going to get this out there somehow.

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  3. First of all, I don't believe writing five books has made him an expert on women and women's issues. Echoing the sentiment of a friend, if he is this concerned about women's rights in India, he should acknowledge a gap in his understanding and read up a little. The time taken to read stuff up would have been time better spent than what it took him write his "rave" blog. The voice of Indian youth that he wants to be is part of a carefully marketed strategy whose finest contribution is towards the sale of his books.

    Second of all, every single point he has raised is normative and cliched to the point where someone can close their eyes and rattle them off. Yes, we need to stop judging women, women need to learn to stand up for themselves, not to fake, not to do a hundred other things, just not five. My point is, not only women need to do this, every one on the planet needs to do these. However, where is the novelty in this?

    Last, and probably not the least important point is, this sanctimonious tone doesn't go exactly hand in hand with the stuff he puts out in his books. His male characters are shallow, often giving in to gender stereotypes themselves, and his female characters are manipulative and does everything that he advises women not to do.

    Finally, like his books, this post of his is an example of instant-feel good gratification and nothing else.

    Rini, well written and I hope my comment will find a place in your blog, unlike the otherone, where a voice fo dissent is most unwelcome, however, terms like "Feminazi" are well allowed to stay put against women who stand up for themselves and say their mind. I think followers of CB just want us to be good women, and listen to "our men" about what to do and what not to do. Putting your toe out of the line, is definitely not one of our exalted virtues.

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    1. Simantini, Bhagat's misogynistic followers have been silencing my voice since yesterday.... But Im not going to let up. Let's see how far this goes. :)

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  4. Dear Rini,

    Thanks for your response to Chetan Bhagat's blog post. Just so that you know, if you do not already, that Mr. Bhagat's post is not limited to the e-domain, but has also found its way to Indian households through The Times of India, probably on a date close to the "Women's Day". That is how I read it, not through his blog. Now I completely agree to your comment - "He is just exceptional at PR". May be you should post your response in form of a newspaper article or letter to the editor as well. All readers of Mr. Bhagat's post/article ought to see this.

    Best regards,
    Sourav

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    1. WOW. thank you for letting me know. Do you know if the TOI published version of his nonsense is available on the internet? I will definitely send this in to the TOI. You know I posted my blog twice now in the form of a comment, with a link to my blogpost and twice it has been deleted by moderators. The amount of unfaltering loyalty to his misogyny is making me even more upset. thank you for your support Sourav, and your suggestions. I'm on it. :)

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    2. deleting any post that does not praise bhagat is a cowardly act rini. we need to keep on posting. thanks for starting this. i will request everyone who feels the same to voice his/her opinion.

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    3. Rini, the deletion of your comment by the moderators may (and I use that term loosely) have been a result of your including the link to your blogpost. I learned recently that many hosts consider the inclusion of one's own blog post in one's comment a form of advertisement and prohibit the whole comment for it. When you try the commenting a third time, perhaps you could omit the URL and see if that gets you through.

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  6. You seem to be in a foul mood. I mean, SERIOUSLY foul.

    Your points are valid, each and every one of them. They have also been powerfully penned down. Now all you need to do is to reach out to him.

    Use social media, or use your contacts to reach out to Chetan Bhagat's audience. The guy gets off by projecting himself as "the voice of India's youth". That has to end.

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    1. Abhishek da I have been trying for the last hour to figure out a way to submit my blog in letter form to TOI, the feedback form does not work and I can not find an email address for the editor. On top of that all my posts in comment form have been deleted off of several websites and facebook. Its pretty awesome.

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  7. rini, very well written and all extremely good points. i am so glad that you are trying to post this on TOI. hope you succeed - this is very important - to me and to all women of india - and for all men of india.

    mr bhagat needs to stop thinking that he has the god given right [read entitlement] to pick up his pen and start advising women on how they can improve so that he and other men can love them. nobody asked him for advice and no one is waiting impatiently for his approval and love any time he pleases. rather he should go home, give a rest to his pen and think..really think how he and his fellow men can treat and think of women as his equal - in every respect and ways. they are not mothers, sisters, daughters, objects of pleasure and/or rage, a marginal group who needs their pity - they don't require your chivalry or your advice - they are just as much human beings as you are - with all the rights and respects you deserve - equallly.

    or is it that the men in india do not think they deserve a lot of respect, and so cannot give it to others? see mr bhagat - the problem is much more deep rooted than you can ever think. and please don't start blaming women for it again - look within yourselves - the history of men in south asia, especially india.

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    1. I Pishi, Thank you for your comments! Agreed 100%. Check out the original blogpost, the one that I have linked to in my blogpost and scroll down to the bottom to read the comments. You will see many women are thanking him for the valuable insight that he has provided to them about how they should be behaving. I honestly don't know where to begin.
      Also, it seems that he is a major financial contributor to TOI and therefore toi may not be interested in printing a proper response to his blogpost. Well, that's what I've heard, but I'm still hoping.

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  8. that's so ridiculous rini, how about complaining about TOI on fb if that is true? i would like to help in this if i can. let me know if you think i can be helpful.

    i also feel bad about the indian women's groups who have to work in this atmosphere all the time. they do not seem to have any voice at all, not that it is their fault. i have experience of how the whole indian community/society try and make hurdles for any work that does not comply with the narrow ultra conservative social attitudes. this is the root of all our problems.

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  9. i hate to think that empathy is only a quality practiced among the marginalized, and worse still, the marginalized marginalized, and so on. But ultimately it's another example (i think) of weaker parties trying to stamp out the power they perceive. Fellas, stop trying to hide the women. the women will win.

    p

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  10. Rini Di,

    A wonderfully crafted response. Following are my personal thoughts after reading your post and Bhagat's post.

    Bhagat essentially asks us to give him the benefit of doubt when it comes to his intentions with the piece, since, by his own measure, he seems to be undertaking a dangerous task by prescribing courses of action to women. I tend to be generous with benefit of doubt when it comes to intentions. Even if I give him that, however, I have some qualms.

    First, he practically begins with saying, "Yes, men have to change, but we suck, so why don't you women take the responsibility instead?" The exact quote from his post is: "Yes, we men have to learn. However, the stubborn, fragile and pampered Indian male ego is a tough nut to crack." To me, after "Yes, we men have to learn," there can be no "however," there can be no tempering of that requirement. There can be an "In addition" but no "However."

    On the first point, I agree with both you and him in certain ways. I agree with you that women are judged superficially by everyone, not just women, and I agree with him that women are PART of the group that judge women. So, as a human being, I'd like everyone to be less judgmental of everyone, that includes everyone being less judgmental of women, which in turn includes women being less judgmental of women. Given that the purpose of his post was to be a set of prescriptive actions for women, I see his focusing on the narrowest of these versions. However, I think focusing on that aspect of it is what is narrow minded of him. I think a better suggestion to women might be to slowly but surely, and perhaps painfully, learn to ignore others' (men's, women's, aliens', whatever) judgment of them, and be themselves anyway.

    I suppose the second point is similar to the first, where Bhagat chooses to focus on women faking as opposed to human beings faking. I agree with you on this point. Bhagat's style of presenting this issue falsely (fakely?) suggests that men do not fake.

    On the third point, I am willing to cut him some slack, only for the reason that he does not imply that fathers and brothers do not have a role to play in fixing this very practical and consequential issue. He seems, rather, to say that "Screw what the men do. Just stand up for yourself anyway." Of course, you have taken a more holistic perspective, which is healthier in general. I think both what you and he recommend should happen together. One without the other will allow an imbalance to perpetuate -- either strong women fighting against prejudiced men, or well-minded men respecting property rights of women who don't understand those rights.

    Not much to say on the fourth, except I agree with you wholeheartedly. I don't believe any other human being, Indian, non-Indian, man, woman, whoever, has any right to tell someone how to live their life. Constructive suggestions from near and dear ones aside, no one should be told what choices they OUGHT to make.

    As for the fifth, Bhagat's characterization of relationships in general involving "drama" along with the rather obvious fact that relationships involve both men and women should have clued him in to the fact that this "drama" is not one-sided. What needs to be rectified is the association of this "drama" (per Bhagat) and "bitchiness" (per you) to women alone.

    All in all, his sanctimonious tone based on some unknown amount of experience with and knowledge of women is blood curdling. Even if his "intention" is good, his ignorance causes is irksome.

    Kudos on a cogent and articulate response to him.

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    1. First, he practically begins with saying, "Yes, men have to change, but we suck, so why don't you women take the responsibility instead?" The exact quote from his post is: "Yes, we men have to learn. However, the stubborn, fragile and pampered Indian male ego is a tough nut to crack." To me, after "Yes, we men have to learn," there can be no "however," there can be no tempering of that requirement. There can be an "In addition" but no "However."

      ^^^^^^ LOVE THIS.

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  12. [Deleted previous comment to get rid of embarrassing typo.]

    There doesn't seem to be much that I can say beyond what has already been said here. For the record, let me write again what I told you elsewhere after reading your brilliantly scathing post, Rini.

    Some men find it incredible and unacceptable that women, too, have choice, and that their lives do not necessarily revolve around the whims and fancies of the menfolk.

    If I consider one good thing that Chetan Bhagat's stupid post has done, it would be that it has gone a long way to reveal the regressive, sexist arseholes who ordinarily hide behind a façade of intelligence.

    And like you, Rini, I, too, am firmly of the opinion that remaining silent and ignoring this kind of idiocy are never the best course of action. Silence often translates to a tacit consent, and that is unacceptable.

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    1. "Brilliant"? Hardly. "Scathing!" HELL YEAH!!! :D

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  13. all over the world and in every society, traditional gender roles have been created and maintained by patriarchy. it has been implemented to create a power relationship between two genders for the benefits of one gender -- not the other, no matter how many arguments and how much brain washing have been created to successfully make the 'lower' gender believe it and internalize it (mother sister and daughter roles, janani ... swargadopi goriashi, women are parts of the power and wealth goddesses and have to perform a role of sacrifice and slavery to be able to keep that heavenly positions and so on and on and etc etc in our society only (the others have their own). and we have believed and internalized it and have been acting accordingly. now a self appointed adviser has taken it as a mission to advise us out of it? also, with a laughable preamble to make us believe he accepts the men's role in the distress of women? no way! we have to deconstruct everything he says because each of his points reeks of condescending male superiority which no woman in anywhere in the world needs or should accept, let alone indian women. each of the points bhagat mentioned was created by men for women. women act the way they do with other women? we were taught that we have to fight against each other for men's attention; we don't have much ambition? well, do i have to elaborate this point? even now in so called modern india, how many women get the 'permission' to go for their dreams? in all the points bhagat tried to make he reeks of patriarchal chauvinism and he is worse then others because he is veiling it under do-gooder air, under the psedu-intellectual air he has. i am so glad rini has acted on her conviction and wrote this post. i hope we all do. thanks rini. the worst thing we can do is not protest. anywhere in the world wherever women have some stand - came because they protested, they spoke up. let us do so also for the indian women.

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  14. also want to mention that we have the risk of being called 'feminazi's in certain blog post where any post/argument against the 'super-benefactorness' of chetan bhagat usually gets deleted!

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    1. Thank you I Pishi for all your thoughts. Couldn't agree more!

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  15. I've said this before Rini, but Mr Bhagat's spiel, bestowed upon us poor, hapless womenfolk from his ivory tower of male privilege doesn't even deserve a well thought out response. But good on you anyway. It's so obvious Chetan Bhagat doesn't know the first thing about the patriarchal system in which he has flourished because all he does in his piece is perpetuate the patriarchy by assuming some inherent authority to "tell women what to do" simply because he possesses that y chromosome. Don't even get me started on his 5 points. I can't even. Just, no.

    But again, good on you for speaking out.

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    1. There is another Bhagat about to be unleashed on the world btw. :D

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  16. Rini, seriously good writing. Unfortunately, populist quantity trumps quality in most cases. It stinks how they are trying to silence your voice - have you had any luck with TOI?

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    1. nope not yet! :D but thank you for ALL your help!

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  17. Hey.. if not Times of India, why don't you submit this on Kafila? They will surely publish it and also you can just email them this. http://kafila.org/submissions/

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    1. Hello Sukhi, Thank you for your suggestion. You are right, another fried of mine has directed me there, but they don't repost previously posted blogs, even though they may be posted in a personal blog. I think, if I don't get anywhere with other news sites, I will rewrite something and send it in to Kafila.

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  18. Wow! As I finished reading this beautiful piece, I heard Aretha Franklin singing,"R-E-S-P-E-C-T!"

    Bra-vo!!!!

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    1. Thank you! I did have that song in mind when I wrote that last line... :D

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  19. I am not a fan of chetan bhagat and i have read the blog in TOI.
    i didn't take it seriously cause he writes shit all the time and i find him to be a self righteous "Bitch"! BUT i must say your writing is no less "misandrist" than his "misogyny"!! :D

    "Be able to defend your arguments in a rational way. Otherwise, all you have is an opinion."

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    1. Oh gosh. How you are wrong. I LOVE MEN. I'm sorry you feel otherwise. I guess all the men supporting my post hate themselves and other men as well, huh?

      Since you quote Savant and seem to imply that I wasn't rational, I'd like to know which of my points you found irrational. This is just in an effort to improve my writing. Thanks.

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  20. I just started reading your post and felt I must comment only after the first paragraph. When you say

    "Okay, I may be nitpicking here, and so I'll let this one go and not try to explain to him how misogynistic his perception that Indian men have some sort of proprietary right over Indian women is. Anyway, I digress."

    Nitpicking is fine, and this is a relevant point, so I don't think you were digressing at all. However, what I do think is that you got it totally wrong. When he says our women, he means Indian women because in the first part of the sentence he identified himself as an Indian man. While it is possible to deduce that the adjective 'our' was a reflection of a mentality, common in men in that they feel that they possess their women (in many cases is not far from truth, even in the FB, twitter generation ... now I digress) ... but in this case I felt it was pretty unambiguous. Perhaps you would have had no objections if he had written "Indian women have a long way to go before they can be proud of their men" ... but now I am nitpicking :)

    Now back to the rest of your post ...

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    1. Hello Siladitya,
      Thank you for coming here and taking the time to read my thoughts. I do sort of agree with you on some level, which is why I didn't include that "nitpicky" point in the more important part of my post. However, as one of the other comments has pointed out above, he does use the word "our" more than once. Secondly, I do think that this mentality is more common in men than it is in woman. I mean, let's just look at the facebook twitter generation. How many times have you seen a man/boy would reflexively refer to his wife/girlfriend as "his" woman, without such implicit prejudice (he may not really think of the woman as "his") as opposed to the opposite? In my honest opinion this is part of the problem. Anyway, but this is splitting hairs over what my perception is of Bhagat's statement, and I did not want to put words in his mouth, I stopped short. :)

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    2. In almost all cases where I have been introduced to a couple, it came with "Hi I am ..." followed by "this is my wife" and I never got any vibe other than "they are a couple". Now I have never heard the reverse where a wife introduces herself and goes onto say "this is my husband" ... I can nitpick why but that's a different can of worms.

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    3. I've introduced my husband as "this is my husband so and so". :) but saying "this is my wife", is different than this is "my woman" or "my girl" is it not?

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    4. True and now that I squeeze my brain, I do recall having heard my female friends talk about their current, prospective (or even at times imaginary) love interest as " ... my man ... " but never the phrase "my woman" from a male friend. Perhaps I was hanging out with the wrong people :)

      This is not to say that I disagree with your assessment of things ... merely narrating my (from what it seems now) unusual experience.

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    5. :) Disagreement is welcome and beneficial to a hearty debate! These issues are important and we need to be more open to discussing them.

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    6. Excellent point. Excellent post, Rini. Just one aside -in Spanish, the colloquial term to describe to describe "wife" is "mujer" which is also the common substantive for "woman"...guess 700 years of eastern cultural creolisation is what requires to be imposed on all Anglican and Germanic languages, what? BTW, once again, excellent post. Excellent points. Please keep up the good work. Vox populi....

      Satrajit Sanyal

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  21. I read Bhagats's post couple of days back and have been wondering since then why no body has questioned it. How can we digest such message silently. Thanks for giving words to my thoughts.

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    1. Thank you for your support. :) I appreciate it. Please do forward this around. I hope other people will find their thoughts in my words and come forward. Our voices need to be heard.

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  22. <1/2>
    Hey Rini,

    Well, I shall start by saying that I am no fan of Mr.Bhagat. Rather, I detest his books in a way that they are anything but "literature". And yes, he has got absolutely no right to tell you(plural) what to do and what not. Oh wait, Article 19 of the Constitution says that he actually can. Now the decision of accepting/rejecting things that he said is entirely yours. So why raise hell saying in your comment that "Who are you or Mr Bhagat anyone to tell me what I should do with my life?" Just give a deaf ear to it and things are solved.

    "Our Women" here stands synonymous to Indian women, if that isn't apparent. Won't you refer to as Indian men as "our men" collectively? This is not to exercise any kind of right on women, but to make them closer and more attached to the men. Much the same way as you would proudly declare the Taj Mahal, Jama Masjid, India Gate etc. as "Our Monuments". You don't own them, do you?

    "ridiculed...by our family members, in many cases our own mothers?"
    this is exactly what Mr.Bhagat is trying to point out, if you read his blog with a bit more attention. Women already have to face a lot of problems and difficulties for the society and it's structure. So why do women need to add to those problems by ridiculing other women on the basis of their superficial appearance?
    Quoting Mr. Bhagat, "As a woman, it is tough enough is to survive in a male dominated world. Why be so hard on each other? Can you let each other breathe?" Of course men are judgemental about women equally(which again is a matter of disgrace), but women can avoid adding to the woes by not doing this.

    "Faking".. Yes, you are right. We all do that sometime or the other. We all hide/manipulate/change our feelings and emotions, to suit the surrounding. But at the cost of changing our own selves? Certainly not justified. Quoting Mr. Bhagat again, "Who are you? And why can’t you be that person?" all he insists is that women should not give up on their individuality and their personal likes/dislikes and should take every opportunity to express them.
    "I'll forgive you for this one" --> Yeah, please. He desperately needs it.

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    1. Thank you for reading my blog and commenting on it. I will aim to answer all of your questions one by one.
      1. Actually no, Mr. Bhagat doesn't have the right to pontificate to women about how they need to behave in order to fit whatever the hell fits his bill of success.
      2. And no, I have NEVER come across an Indian woman writer refer to Indian men as "our men". Its a general perception problem. Its an idea, its the way men have been traditionally viewing women. Its not an idea that is endemic to only India, it exists everywhere. Its the same idea that leads to rappers referring to women as "my girl" "my bitches". You see, women don't generally do that.
      3.You absolutely did not understand my point on the judgement factor. So, I won't bother repeating myself. I'd request you to read that section a little more carefully.
      4. All I can say is that if Mr. Bhagat can make a claim about "not faking" and stand by it, Ill personally apologise to him. But since, that won't be possible, Ill stick to my point.

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  23. <2/2>
    "Property" - I entirely support your view on this that male should understand and treat their daughters as equal heirs to their property just as their sons. But, this point on Mr. Bhagat's post was more of an awareness for women. He's not blaming women for the biased distribution of property in our country. Instead, he is requesting them to know and claim what is rightfully their's. Did you ever see the "Jago Grahak Jago" awareness campaign on TV? Do you go about blaming the Govt. that instead of changing the system, it is requesting us to stand for our rights? Sounds lame, doesn't it?

    "Ambition" - Why are you even trying to define success differently for women? why can't we have an equal and global definition of success? You yourself are creating a difference, and then you come about shouting for equality. What Mr. Bhagat tries to outline here is that women(specially in the rural areas) have been moulded in such a way that they really do not think beyond getting married at 16, raising kids and cooking for their family. They need to come out of this streotype, by dreaming bigger and working towards achieving them. Adversities? yes, there will be. But we need to work our way through that. The revolution must start somewhere. Stop misinterpreting him by saying "only when Indian women will achieve a certain level of success will they be able to command the respect of men". All he tried to say is that if a woman is more educated and doing bigger(I choose not to use 'better' because they already are doing too good) it will automatically bring them more respect and obedience. Now stop being too naive. Even you know who is going to get more attention, if Hillary Clinton and your domestic help decides to visit you on the same day same time(you may not accept the fact here, but that hardly makes a difference).

    "Relationships" - When was the last time you lived your life as an Indian man? Clearly you have no idea that we Indian men do take pride in being a good Father, son, husband etc. We do measure our success on the basis of our successful relations. And you must be too busy criticizing him to figure out that he actually understands the fallacies and pitfalls, and he is doing nothing but requesting women to break free. To overcome these things. Yes, even men need to change their point of view. And that is the very first thing that said in his blog. But women must also put in a conscious effort. He just outlined the fields that require a bit more effort than the countless others.

    Your post is clearly a attack to Mr. Bhagat for attack's sake. In the last 2 paragraphs of your blog, you said exactly the same things as Mr. Bhagat did, of course using different words and make it slightly lengthy. You failed to understand the subtle message that Mr. Bhagat's blog carries, and took it as an attack on women, when it actually is just the other way round.

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    1. Your point about property is well taken. But, there is a problem. Throughout the history oppressors have remained safe with the knowledge that unless the disenfranchised claim their rights they won't have to afford them their rights. If you read my paragraph carefully you will see how I have framed it. It shouldnt be the woman's job to claim her right to property (as BHagat suggests) the onus should be on the person who is keeping her from it. It should be illegal to victimize the woman. This has been going on since 1828, and seriously its TIME FOR IT TO STOP.

      I won't talk about Ambition and Relationships with you. You don't seem to get my point and so again Id request that you take some more time to read the premise of my post. Its about choice and how a woman should have the choice to do what she feels is right for her. Success can not be defined by someone else, and Bhagat, a man, definitely can not define it for women.

      Lastly, I dont have any reason to attack Bhagat personally just for the sake of attacking him. I have much better things to do with my time. I'm glad that you feel that you have the capability of understanding the subtlety in Mr. Bhagat's post. On the other hand, I'm pretty secure with the thought that I am academically and intellectually quite qualified to catch even the subtlest hint of misogyny in a piece of writing. I have tried to show you and others that this post drips with sexism and misogyny. If you think otherwise you are dead wrong.

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  24. Excellent I completely agree with u. U gave a good tharashing to that fake, wannabe politicial, self professed intellectual, I-Know-It-All attitude, trying to look diplomatic when he is full of misogynistic feelings and chauvinism and himself is a great fake. Just a PR prick, self delusional, overbearing. Let me confess even I was deeply pained/astonished/hurt to read his article and thus the ranting.

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    1. Thank you so much for your support. I hope that you will continue to forward this on to other people. I really hope people who think that Mr. Bhagat did a favour to women, get their hands on this and read it. Maybe I can contribute to changing a few minds. :) The thought of Chetan Bhagat becoming an Indian politician is a thought that threatens to keep me up at night. Seriously.

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  25. Hi Rini,

    What really bothers me is not so much this idiot and his article, but the fact that your comments (and maybe many others) were deleted repeatedly. For now, I've shared this on fb. Let me know what else we can do...We must find a way to get TOI to print comments and letters in response to this article.

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    1. Thank you so much your help Vidula. Please keep on directing people to this, do whatever you can to spread the message. I particularly want Chetan Bhagat's followers to read this and think. Even if this can help to change a few minds, I will be more than happy. :)

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  26. To all those, like Mr. Chetan Bhagat, who dare advocate what women should change or do to "earn" respect of "our society" and "our men", here is a small message from a man who feels pity for himself to be a part of the same society.

    She smoked, she drank,
    She cursed, to be frank,
    She violated society.

    She dreamed, she aimed,
    She rejected, and maimed,
    Norms of the society.

    "Bitch" - she heard,
    "Slut" - she was termed,
    Truly tolerant, our society!

    One day came, six of them,
    Well-bred to tame,
    Guardians of society.

    Raped, ravaged, clawed,
    For she had flawed,
    Justice of society.

    No complaints made,
    Every witness said,
    "She violated society".

    Naked, mocked, bled,
    Our Motherland laid,
    Violated by society!

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  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  28. I'm around so many people who agree with Chetan Bhagat. My frustration is the inability to explain that the differences are not in the intentions but in the subtlety (or that's what it seems like) that they somehow need to "teach a woman how to gain respect". I don't think I can write as cohesive a response but I can't iterate how many comments I've heard in working in a primarily male dominated industry that reflects exactly what you have pushed back on in this post.

    It's an amazing response. I've shared it on facebook. Let me know how else I can help!

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    1. Thank you so much meera! I really appreciate your response. I feel exactly the same way you feel and I'm glad my words were able to reflect your thoughts. Thank you also for sharing it, since no Indian media seems to be willing to publish this, social media seems to be the only way to get this out there. :)

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  29. hahahahahaha - i love your writing! i am a tourist in india these days, and i just happend to find one of his books, thinking i had found another excellent writer from india, i started reading earlier today. i was shocked to find out he is so popular in country that has produced so many excellent writers?? his opinions on various matters seems like they're written by a precocious teenager suddenly realizing "ooops, seems like the world isnt fair....hmmmmm"... how can this man be this popular? like, seriously?

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    1. Yes, your frustration is exactly what us of the more discerning taste wrestle with every time we think about Chetan Bhagat and his writing. He is extremely intelligent, and business minded amongst other things. He figured out that the youth of India today face a unique set of problems which need representation in the written world. He's tapped into that void and made a great brand out of his very inadequate writing skills. It really is a travesty.

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  30. thank you for your reply, wish you and all women of india the best in the struggle for equality!

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  33. Thank heavens that I came across this blog post. Someone posted Chetan Bhagat's blog post and was all praise (SERIOUSLY??? Are people that guillible?) and I've been raging since then. I am relieved to see someone put many thoughts that I've had into such eloquent words! Thank you so much!

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  34. (Not sure why my comments don't get published. This is attempt 4)
    Hi Rini,
    Thanks for your article. Even I didn't like Chetan's original article, & said so in my comment on his blog. What I especially didn't like was: 1) The assumed premise that Chetan is an expert on women and qualified to advise them on what to do with their lives (which is BS). 2) In his second point, he implies that women have to "dumb themselves down" to be accepted by men. This is ridiculous. I don't know any such women, and really have to wonder whether Chetan is out of touch with reality. (Something you mention in your blog, too).
    Regards,
    Zack Slater.

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