Saturday, May 31, 2008

2 topics... rants and an observation

WARNING: Long post!

These 2 topics have been to death by all the bloggers I read... opinions have been expressed very clearly by some of my favorite bloggers: Mad Momma, Chandni....

The first one is of course the dreaded "M" word or to put it blatantly - Your monthly periods...
I read the posts linked to MM's post (written so long ago by her!), there was her opinion stated very clearly, Chandni's anger (Can I take the liberty to say anger here?) and I also read Lavs post about how she supported the whole isolation thing...
Now, my 2 cents worth - let's just say - that we grew up with both acceptance and indignation over this weird practice...
My dad's family is pretty orthodox - which means lots of practices, "sitting separately" during periods - my granny used to say - u emit a bad aura during this time - so, because she had done some puja - she wouldn't be coming anywhere near someone having her periods!! Now, I actually don't know the whole story because I don't remember it and it had pissed me off so badly that I didn't listen to my mom repeating the story!! (read: repeating only! not advocating it!!)
When, we were in 6th - I remember my mom also used to practice this isolation for 3 days, though she hated it and it pissed her off big time - just because she didn't want to hurt my granny's sentiments (whatever!). But, as we grew up, i.e. it became more difficult for dad to manage with my half-hearted help and i wasn't following it, frankly because - we hadn't told anyone that I had started my periods at a very early age!
So, she stopped after a year or something, and my granny used to think that she practiced it even when she wasn't!!!
Dad agrees that it was/is totally ridiculous, but mom didn't go into the puja room during those 3 days - for hers and dad's sake... we sisters also didn't enter the Puja room during the 3 days as well - this is still followed without any fuss... but, I still pray to God during these 3 days, put my namaskaras as always... No one has said don't do that, don't touch this...
My grandparents, close family still don't approve that there we don't practice this isolation... all my cousins, cousins' wives, aunts all follow this practice...
But, no one dared broach this topic in front of my dad (they were basically scared of him and his decision was always the rule!!)... My dad never encouraged this practice, neither did he like it nor did he ever discuss it or let anyone else discuss it!! His reasoning has always been more scientific than religious for most matters. So, we grew up quite normally without "sitting" during period times!!!
But, I know plenty of women who follow this and I remember my dance class mate - R.
She actually thought she was "impure" and emitted "bad aura" during these times!!
Me and my friend Shasana - we used to listen open-mouthed to her words and me as always used to get enraged at her thinking and Shasana always used to tug my hand tell me to shut up and that its no point arguing about it! Because this thinking had been wired into R's brains!!!
Do I think its discrimination that women follow this - SURE... but not much can be done can it? ... why? its women who force other women to practice this!
First we as women need to stop discriminating ourselves, then we can ask the rest of the world to stop... the problem is at home first - fix it there and then talk about your work place, men, govt, world....
Stand up to your family first - that's the most difficult part. My mom always says - You know you are right in a difficult situation when you see that no one supports you outright!
Tell your MIL/FIL/SIL - that you don't practice it and if it hurts their sentiments so much - you wont visit them during these 3 days (I'm not saying this is any better, but its a step)
Make sure your husband supports you - that's in your hands how you learn to deal/manipulate/twist your husband!!!
You know, we had gone for a function at my aunt's place - now these people are very orthodox and all that... So, my sis-in-law has a son - this is how she reprimands him if she finds him playing with the broom - "put that down! you are not a girl"
See, this is the logic/thought she is feeding her 5 yr old son - now, don't tell me this doesn't matter!!!
When, sitting for lunch that day - I was hungry and my husband wasn't - so, he told me - you sit and eat, I will eat with your mom, sis in the next round... So, I got ready to eat - but, this sis-in-law of mine, stopped me and said - "what? you are eating before your husband?! don't be ridiculous! let him eat first" So, while I sat fuming silently and hungry, my poor husband was forced to eat when he wasn't hungry - he ended up feeling guilty that he was eating when I was hungry and with a bad tummy!!!!
So, could I have argued with her there - saying this is discrimination? Sure, but, what good would it have done?? I would have been the Witch there!!! I will avoid going to their place in future - that's about it... They will say - you are spoiling our daughter-in-law with your bad thoughts. Right. So, I will take my bad thoughts of equality and respect elsewhere.
These people believe that I had a horrible family because *gasp* I work and *gasp* *gasp* - my husband pampers me and listens to me!!!
But, there are others - my cousins - who have grown up in small towns, in difficulty - aiming for a life like ours - filled with independence and love... So, its nice to know that your influence on others is working - but, in small doses...
(the above real life incident doesn't have anything to do with Periods, but its been mentioned off-tangent as part of the discrimination thingy examples!)


The second is the whole "change your name after marriage thing"
Recently, a friend of mine, reformatted my resume saying that if I were to look for a job elsewhere, my resume needs to look better. Right, really appreciate the thought, but he changed my name to "Mrs. Pixe Husband-name"
Oh! This irritated me so.. much!! I asked him outright - what put you under the assumption that I have changed my name?
He asked me in an incredulous tone - you married, so your last name should be your husband's name! Why haven't you changed it??
I asked him - what the fuck are you talking about?? I am me! Before marriage/after marriage - I'm the same Pixie - my frigging name doesn't change and my husband is not my identity and I am my own individual!
He laughed and said "poor husband".
I told him - fuck off - my husband loves me and my name - he has not asked me to change it, he doesn't care about name changing and besides, that's MY decision - not anyone Else's...
He was surprised and said - no wonder you agreed to his proposal!

Why? Why does this small deed piss me off so much that I have used the F word on my blog!

This is my reasoning -
I am a separate individual and my identity comes from my parents - and not my husband.
We share a life and one day - share our love thru another human being - our child.
I am NOT part of my husband - we SHARE. We have come together and created a world of our own together.
My friend laughed at me and told me there is no point in arguing with me.
Yes, we are not speaking to each other now.. I am too pissed to talk to him. I also canceled the dinner invitation I had extended to him...
Go on, call me childish if you want. But, I am like this only!
Another friend said - just because you change your name to your husband's doesn't change the person you are. I just couldn't explain to her how important my name is and how much part of my identity my name is... I am really unable to put my feelings into words about this - my name.
My cousin changed his wife's name to something to start with A because his name starts with A. I still call her - by her name -the one her parents kept. That pisses off everyone in her family! (yes, the same sister-in-law I was talking abt earlier in the post)
Gwad, I seem to have attached too much importance to people I don't even remotely like!
I'm gonna stop talking about them NOW.

Kannada speaking/understanding readers of my blog: Have you heard the songs from the movie - "Aramane"? Awesome songs!! :-)

That's signing off on a cheerful note after all the ranting!!!

Edited to add: My thoughts about the entire Periods isolation thing -I wrote what I saw and grew up with - I think its ridiculous to say that one's "impure" and u emit bad "aura" during your cycles...
I don't know - maybe I was off-tangent, but elders sentiments shouldn't be hurt - but, there is a limit as to what you need to deal with... and what works for your family doesn't necessarily work for others. So, forcing one to follow certain things - in the name of sentiment - that's emotional blackmail.
Alright, will stop here now! This topic has been beaten to death enough times!! :-)


illusionaire said...

Being brought up with 3 elder sisters and a horde of cousin sisters living in the same colony (neighbors), I was exposed to the world of M at a very early age. Being the only boy around most of the time, I was always the one sent on an errand to buy “biscuits” (that was the code word for sanitary napkins) not just for my sisters and cousins, but even for my mom and aunties!!! And like a good boy I always used to comply, until I went away to a boarding school in Kolkata.

And during school days, I was in 10th std at Montfort School, Yercaud TN. The school (residential boarding school) had just reopened and one of my friends from the girl’s school SHY (Sacred Hearts, Yercaud) suddenly remembered she’s out of the stuff. Since the girl’s hostel was strict, they were not allowed to leave the hostel once they registered. So it was up to me to buy the stuff for her. By 10th std, all of us (the guys) were embarrassed to buy such things, yet I went to a shop, mustered all my courage and whispered to a woman standing there, “stayfree”... “stayfree”... “STAYFREE”. Turned out she was a customer!


Regarding the eating habit, I guess that’s a culture habit. In our Mizo culture, the entire family along with the servants and maids eat at the same table at the same time, each eating the same food. So imagine my surprise when I was in a boarding school in Kolkata and once stayed for the weekend at my Marwari uncle’s house (local guardian). Forget the servants, the wives themselves didn’t eat with us (it was a joint family). I ate along with the men and children while the wives continuously fried chapattis on the spot for us to eat. It was only after we’re done that the wives ate. That was my first inter-cultural shock.

Anyway, since you rambled, I rambled too :-) hope you don’t mind. Regarding the name change, again in our culture it is not in practice. We mizos have just two names. One main name (or two for those who include an English name), and a clan name which people hardly use nowadays. I don’t. My name is just Vanlalruatkima (yeah yeah, I can see you smirking :P ). The children take the clan name of the father, but the mother maintains her clan name even after marriage.

Maybe you can tell your hubby the next time about the Mizo tradition. Lolz.

Or better still. You can tell him about Khasi tradition! According to the Khasis (Meghalaya), the husband moves in to the woman’s house after marriage and he takes the surname of the wife! Even all the children take the mother’s name. Now how about that for women’s lib? :-)

Galadriel said...

i will not say anything about the periods thing, much has been said and done. i don't want to raise another whirlwind here. suffice to say that i disagree with you, but being born under the sign of the scales i have always worked an intermediate solution that does not compromise either psyche. i do not sit in isolation, but i do not visit temples either. i do all the household chores because it keeps me on my toes and healthy. at the same time, i respect others' sentiments regarding this and i do not mess with their heads. if the elders of my house desire it, i will do it. fortunately, none of my elders have ever forced anything upon me so i consider myself lucky.
as far as the name-changing goes, i see what you're saying about maintaining your identity. but here, again i will choose a middle ground. i would like to keep both my own name and my husband's name. my parents have made me everything i am today, but my husband will be my companion for the rest of my life. my reasoning is, i will be spending much more time with him than i have with my parents, growing all the time, so my husband certainly will have a contribution to make in terms of the person i will be say, 10/20/50 years from now. how then can i not acknowledge his contribution?

Pixie said...

@Galadriel: But, where's the disagreement? I was trying to say the samething... that we grew up with moderation... the not going to temples, or into the puja room is followed without fuss... but, my prayers are my own... personal. isn't it?
I think we are saying the samething - maybe I haven't written it properly? will re-visit my post...

@Illusionaire: Ramble all you want!!
I read about the Khasi tradtion first on your blog!
I am not sure if its really a culture thing - I mean - we don't follow it at our place...but, we are such a minority amidst my huge family!

Niveditha Sunderraj said...

Well I agree with you a hundred percent. Nobody in my family has ever asked me to do it, and I seriously don't give a rats ass about sitting aside...
In the earlier days the tradition began with an entirely different purpose. The women were asked to sit aside because otherwise they would work and get themselves tired. As you're already losing so much blood in your body, you'll only get weaker, that was the intention.
But back then there were lot of women in the family and they could manage even without one woman. And none of these women worked/studied, so it didn't really matter.
But in today's world, there is only one woman who has to do the cooking and cleaning in the house and she has to go outside to earn too... If she has to sit aside for three days, who'll do the work?
This practise is absolutely not feasible, but the old, orthodox (read:uneducated) still insist on the younger generation on practising it.

And the fact that you've to eat only after your husband does and change your name after you get married is a whole load of bullshit!
I mean grow up... You're in the 21st century! Not in Neanderthal times. Nobody even expects it these days. It's all a matter of choice and practicality
It was a very well written blog :)

claytonia vices said...

This discrimination is very predominant even now! I have seen it in many families...

I felt so good to read illusionaire's comment regarding how even servants sit on the same table and eat at the same time... in A.P. even now women stand aside and serve while the men hog...

churningthewordmill said...

pixie...that was one looooong post! i do agree some of the things u have written... social change of any kind needs to begin at home.. its easier to tell all n sundry they need to change but its hardest to get yourself and your own ppl to change..

Just a grail said...

Pixie - wow. First of all let me point out for the like, one millon and seven hundreth time that I just love you and I think you kick ass and did I mention I wished we lived closer??

OK, the period thing? I was totally ignorant of the fact that being isolated still occurred. I personally think it is deameaning as is having the women wait to eat after the men. I grew up watching TV commercials showing women they could have their period and still do anything they wanted even go horseback riding!!!! if they bough a certain product. You just take some ibuprofen and go on about your business, it is simply a part of life, a normal bodily function.
I agree with you as well about the name change, if that is what you want great, if not that is fine too.

On a side note... Illusionaire, you crack me up!!!!

Just a grail said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Pixie, I agree with you wholeheartedly. And I commend your conviction and courage of having your own mind and doing your own thing. Of course the bringing up has done its job too, but you've stood up for yourself despite surrounded by orthodox people who intend to force stuff down your throat, not realizing they are only suffocating you.
I absolutely hate the eat-after-your husband thing. I wonder how you managed to oblige. I would go out and have something else. Can't manage to stay on an empty stomach.

Pixie said...

@niveditha: thank you :-)

@Grail: I think you rock as well! :-)

@Vicky: yep... I know!

@churningthewordmill: yea - way too long!!

@Anon: thank you. and it becomes easier when u have supportive parents/spouse - so, it wasn't and still isn't bad at all... :-)
Please do leave your name next time! :-)

ray said...

Hi ,

I was reading ur blog posts and found some of them to be wow.. u write well.. Why don't you popularize it more.. ur posts on 'my take on everything' took my particular attention as some of them are interesting topics of mine too;

BTW I help out some ex-IIMA guys who with another batch mate run where you can post links to your most loved blog-posts. Rambhai was the chaiwala at IIMA and it is a site where users can themselves share links to blog posts etc and other can find and vote on them. The best make it to the homepage!

This way you can reach out to rambhai readers some of whom could become your ardent fans.. who knows.. :)


Phoenix said...

Women, women's enemies in our society...from dowry to foeticide...

churningthewordmill said...

u r tagged!

chandni said...

interesting thoughts there....I dont believe in not hurting the elders sentiments though...each one is an individual and has a right to decide his or her own course of action...if someone wants to do it even after I've told them not to, fine...but no one should push their opinion on me.

In other news, am gonna be in bangalore at the end of this month!

rayshma said...

i just read lavs' & loca's post on this.
honestly, i feel educated. i didn't know about isolation. and never would i practice it. d only time i was told that i cudn't take part in a pooja was after marriage by an elder rel of vin's... at that point of time, i found it weird. but i was only too happy to not attend. honestly, for me... poojas are a waste of time. but that's my personal opinion. similarly, if someone else believes in isolation and wants to follow it - so be it. why judge, rite?

i agree with you on the name-change thing. i will remain me, no matter who i marry. my kids - if & when that is - will have my hubby's name. simple. no way would i ever detach my dad's name from mine. i'm willing to make compromises. this is somehow, not one of them.

the mad momma said...

well hon - you've referred to my post and obviously agree with me.. so nothing to add there.

two things that others always use as an argument

not hurting an elders feelings - being old is not an achievement. they are just people who have lived long. it doesnt automatically make them worthy of respect. u have to EARN respect and i have plenty of youngsters i respect.

so if i have to choose between my principles and hurting the feelings of an older person who is perpetuating what i think is crap - there is no question what i will choose! the fac that they are perpetuating nonsense means i dont respect them anyway.

two - the surname thing. yes, the parents made u what you are and u will live with ur husband and he will contribute to the person you will be over the next 30 years. by the same token - you will contribute to the person he will be in the next thirty years. does he take your name ?

to my mind its not abt ur parents name or ur husbands. its just that marriage is a contract that allows us to live together socially and legally.

your name doesnt change anything. it serves no practical purpose to change it. and all emotional arguments to change a name are applicable to both sexes.