My Prejudiced Thoughts; Sexism, Body Shaming
Gender Inequality, Gender Spectrum etc are being spoken of more extensively these days. June being the pride month, I see rainbows everywhere. Like my sister said, even if it is only a marketing gimmick, it’s still better than not talking about it at all. Lots of violence against women is being unveiled. Especially in Kerala, the last two months have had tides of news of rapes and domestic violence and everyone is discussing them everywhere. There are posts in which I saw a lot of men explaining why feminism is important and that is reassuring. I myself have been sharing stories and writing posts about why Feminsim is important now than ever.
Amidst all this, hullaballo, one fine day, I caught myself thinking a rather prejudiced thought and I felt guilty about it. I thought that I was a bad person to have had that thought. But then I realized. The first thought was beyond my control. It was what I did with/after the first thought that determined what kind of a person I was. I caught the thought. I asked myself if it was an acceptable line of thought. I realized that it wasn’t and right there I had taken one step to being a better person. That is not all. The next step is to deliberate on how to change that thought. But that is a discussion for another day.
During all these years, even as I fought patriarchy and got labelled a ‘feminist’ with contempt (Of course I am a feminist!), there were/are a lot of things I did, said or thought that stemmed/stems from patriarchy. Today, through this post, I have decided to compile all those thoughts here because I wanted to both call my old self out and pat my current self on the back for having come this far:
- “Stop behaving like some girls do!”, I told this to a male colleague when he said/did something unpleasant. I was assigning gender to certain unpleasant acts.
- “I am not like other girls” or the joy I felt when people told me appreciatively, “You are not like other girls”. The problem with this is, the society has defined a set of rules for women and the ones following the rules are the ‘right kind of women’. It questions women’s choices and freedom. We are pitted against each other while the truth is that we’ve all had chains to break, our own share of problems to face and we all have bloomed in our own way.
- “Grow some balls!” I told this to a male friend as a joke. I have heard even recently people talking about ‘Spineless men’. Certain characteristics decide whether or not a man has spine! The concept is ridiculous. Look at it literally! Who decided that certain qualities in men and their spine (or balls) was interlinked? At some point, it was given an unnecessary amount of weightage and it was used to mock men, their choices and helplessness!
- I am dark complexioned. I grew up listening to a lot of colorism. There was a phase where I kept saying that the color did not matter. I’d see dark complexioned people and say, ‘She is beautiful because she has a beautiful shape and beautiful features.’ But later I realized that I was doing to fat people what others did to me because I was dark skinned. Color didn’t matter, shape didn’t matter, size didn’t matter.
- Man! She is fat! Why does she wear such clothes? – I have thought this to myself many times.
- She’d look better without make up.
- That lip shade is too bright on her.
- “He looks like point five/9”, insinuating that someone looks like a transgender. Growing up, this was a classic insult that made everyone else laugh. We as eleven-year-olds would throw the words ‘Shikhandi’ at each other after we came across it in our Hindi classes. There were multiple issues with that. We were generalizing transgenders on the basis of looks and we were making a mockery of them. In the span of 20 years, at some point, I stopped using this reference and we all have come a long way from there.
- But then, when I noticed that 2 male friends always hung out together, I called them gay. The problem with that was, I called them gay as a mockery and while it was taken in a fun spirit by everyone present, it was so so wrong to the LGBTQ community. I was setting a bad example too. I realized this with a jolt of shock the other day.
- She’s beautiful. If only she wasn’t so fat, she’d have been more beautiful.
- Whenever a car or bike is not following the road etiquettes, I am automatically inclined to check the gender of the driver/rider and think to myself ‘Oh! It’s a woman. That’s why!’. I am furious when a man criticizes a woman’s driving because she’s a woman, but I recently caught myself stereotyping women and realized that the prejudice has actually seeped into me.
- “They don’t look compatible. She looks like she could be the groom’s mother!” I said this about a school friend who was getting married. She was on the heavier side compared to the groom.
- “You like Yellow? God! You have such a terrible taste!”
With time, sometimes immediately after I thought or said them, I realised that all these conversations/thoughts were wrong. In many of these cases, I have had the sense to not insult people to their faces by voicing my thoughts (or so I think as far as my memory goes). That’s the first level of courtesy we should try to have; to not question or insult their choices.
We can then try not to dwell on how we feel about their choices because it really has nothing to do with us. We all blame the society for the way things are. But after a point of time, we really cannot blame the society for injecting these thoughts into us. Because we have the option to unlearn. If we don’t do that, it’s completely on us. I have a long way to go and I still am working on many of my thoughts. I will in future say things that are wrong and later on, I will realise that, regret and try to change. I know that I am someone who introspects and progresses, and that is what is important.
What are some of the thoughts that have crossed your minds that you’ve changed or have been trying to change?
This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon.