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What We Always Tell Them (The Perception of Manhood)

30 May

Sometimes I feel like I live with a tiger in my house.

I’ll wake up on days when both of my parents are home at the same time, and before I even go downstairs I can sense that the atmosphere is different. Sometimes shouting can be heard, sometimes stony silence. When I go downstairs, my dad will usually be planted in his usual spot on the sofa, staring at the television. My mom will be bustling around the kitchen, sometimes angrily muttering to herself. One wrong move, and he could be provoked. I never know if this will be the day the house is tense for days instead of hours again, if this will be the day they both scream at the top of their lungs again, if this will be the day he raises his hand again. Sometimes it’s once a week where I have to tip-toe around, listen carefully while in my bedroom, sit in the kitchen to make sure nothing serious happens.

But a man is not a tiger. Men are men; nothing more, nothing less. So what does it say about society when men are able to act like this, and have certain types of control over others, with little to no repercussions?

In Indian culture, it’s the norm that the man is more dominant in the house. Hindus will sometimes tout that “husband is God”. But this type of male-centered mindset is persistent across the globe, whether it’s to the same degree or much less extreme. Certain ideologies are instilled into men right from the start; boys learn that it is okay for them to play rough. They learn that they should be able to get what they want, and that a real man is confident and assertive. As the age old saying goes, boys will be boys.

This is a double-edged sword for them as well; boys are told that they can’t be emotional, and that they must be strong*. When you tell your son that boys don’t cry, he is forced to find other outlets for his emotions. Maybe he’ll see a violent television show, or learn from other boys at school, and just maybe he’ll learn to take his emotions out in aggression rather than tears. I have a genuine question for you: why do you think that 70 of the last 71 majors shootings were done by men? I’m curious. Why do you think that is?

On a side note, when I use the word ‘you’ in this post, it is not a direct attack towards anyone. This is a societal effect that bleeds through into all of us. The only way to combat it is through awareness and positive direction.

We are telling our boys the wrong things. They grow up thinking that they are entitled to certain things, whether it is success, happiness, or the hot girl at the end of the movie. They think they have to force certain emotions, the ‘weak’ ones, down into the depths of themselves, but that is where they could erupt in the worst ways possible.

We as a society have a tendency to label people who do awful things as monsters; we villainize them so we won’t have to acknowledge that they are human, and relate-able to us in some small way. We do this with rapists, murderers, terrorists, and more. We use words like ‘monster’ to relinquish any responsibility we had towards making someone the way they became. Rapists are not just creepy thugs who corner innocents in alleyways. They can also be boys in college dorms, brought up in nice neighborhoods by nice families. We need to start recognizing that people, perfectly sensible people that we know and love, can do bad things. That is the only way we will be able to start conversation with our boys and girls over what is right and what is wrong; when we realize that any child could become a so called ‘monster’ if we are not careful.

There is no white and black. There is so little, in fact, that sometimes I feel as though I am drowning in a sea of gray. Good people do bad things. Bad people do good things. And sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. If you have any young children in your life, cast away preconceived gender roles. Don’t let them fall prey to any stigmas, and always listen to what they’re feeling. Please, before you tell your boys to be men, think about what you want that to mean first.

*For the purpose of this blog post, I generalized boy’s/men’s individualized experiences based on overall societal constructs. Obviously many boys will not be taught things like “don’t be emotional”, but enough are that it needs to mentioned and discussed.

LGGT Glee?

13 Nov

Glee can be silly at times, it can be stupid at times, and it can be wrong at times-but even knowing that, I am sometimes still shocked by some of the things the characters say on that show, and get away with. Obviously characters are dynamic and not perfect, so it’s not a reflection of the writers when they say offensive things; but when the characters are not portrayed in a negative light because of what they said, or no one points out what was wrong with it, it comes across as an okay thing to state.

Glee has always been known to have a pretty harsh view towards bisexuality; an openly gay student (Kurt) stated that it was merely a transitional phase for gay students too afraid to come out fully, and was never corrected. Brittany, the first and only bi character on the show, was never fleshed out fully and her sexuality was more of a plot device than character development. But I was beyond appalled by the second episode of this newest season, 5, and more than that, I was appalled by the lack of response to it I saw in the general community.

In the episode, several comments were thrown around about bisexuality when Santana mentioned her past girlfriend, Brittany. This included her love interest stating how she thinks Santana could use a “100%…goddess”; so are bisexuals incapable of being in same-sex relationships because they are not ‘100%’ gay? Not a minute later, Santana states how nervous the new girl makes her, because she’s only ever been with bisexuals or girls looking for a fun experiment; note how bisexuals are compared to people exploring their sexuality or even just looking for a fun fling. It’s heavily implied that being with a lesbian will be the real deal, a stronger type of relationship, than one that could ever be possible with a bisexual.

Via zazzle.com

For those of you who know of Tumblr, you know how fans enjoy practically tearing the show apart whenever they find something dis-satisfactory or offensive (a gross generalization, I know). So I was surprised when all the negative stigmas Glee was portraying towards bisexuality were not even mentioned; I saw not a single post addressing this issue.

I thought the offensive bisexual stuff was over with long ago, but I was disappointed with how none of the things the characters stated were ever contradicted or addressed. Glee just has an overall offensive and superior view towards bisexuals, and I’m really disgruntled by how few people have commented on this.

Rape Me Once, Shame On You

9 Jan

Pretend you’re taking a test in class one day. You have no idea what the answers are, but the extremely smart boy next to you isn’t using his cover sheet; his answers are right there in front of you. I mean, you know cheating is wrong, you’ve been told that all your life. But it’s not like you woke up and decided you wanted to do it. Who could resist when the answers are right there? And everyone knows that that boy is smart; if he didn’t want to be cheated off of he should have thought to cover his answers. You don’t mean any harm, you just want to feel better about the test. He’s not gonna mind too badly, he helps people with their homework all the time. And besides, he’s practically asking for it.

Does anything in this situation seem off to you? Does it seem wrong as you read through? However it happens all the time: regarding a different situation.

Slut shaming is a huge problem nationwide. While America is decently ahead of other countries in terms of rape awareness, many are still shockingly ignorant to the horrors of rape and the atrocity of such a crime. Many have reverted to blaming the (most often) women for the rape, at least in part. What kind of clothes was she wearing, does she have many sexual encounters, how much flirting had she been doing? These are questions that people legitimately think should add insight into what happened and how badly the rapist should be punished. But I think they should not even be brought up.

It is never a person’s fault for being raped. A dress/skirt hemline will never go from ‘flirty’ to ‘rape me’ with a difference of an inch. If a man or woman gets raped while drunk, it is not their fault for not drinking in a ‘safe environment’ or getting drunk at all. Humans have self-control when it comes to raping; if they know it is wrong, they should not be given lenience based on how ‘tempting’ their victim was. Also, rapists are a small portion of the population who have serious problems, and by insinuating that any male will rape a woman if she is scantily clad is insulting to men, to be frank.

Rape education is being given though. It’s everywhere, but mostly just directed towards women. Girls are advised to not wear their hair in ponytails because someone can easily grab onto them. They’re advised to lock their car immediately after getting into it and never sit in a parked car alone. One quote from a list I saw included this:

3] If you carry pepper spray (this instructor was a huge advocate of it and carries it with him wherever he goes,) yelling I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY and holding it out will be a deterrent.

There are instructors…for classes on how to not be raped. Why are women the sole target of rape prevention techniques? Why is the sole mindset “how to not be raped”, like it’s something people should be actively doing at all times? This kind of thinking makes victim-blaming okay, because it suddenly implies, oh, perhaps this woman forgot to follow this certain precaution: why didn’t she follow it? And why are we as a whole ignoring that men might need advice on how to protect themselves too?

While rape prevention is important and should be taught, it is too focused on the potential victims. Some might say that addressing potential rapists is illogical, because trying to convince a bad person to not rape will never work. It’s as if a blanket statement exists that says ‘we’ll never get through to those psychopaths, so why bother’. But the problem can best be fixed by pulling it up from the root, before ignorance and bad thoughts can set in: by educating children. Rapists are not born rapists. They become rapists. Many people don’t want to discuss FLE with children beyond general anatomy, but they need to be taught about consent and the right to privacy regarding bodies. Perhaps it would prevent horrendous things from happening, such as this.

Society has painted a picture that if you don’t want to be raped, you need to do something about it. And if you are raped, then you must have failed what you were told to do. But rape is serious, and things like clothing choices aren’t going to stop someone who wants to violate another person. Slut-shaming is destructive to victims of rape, and it’s hurting them all the way to the courtroom.

Rape me once, shame on you. Rape me twice, shame on you.

When Your Mask Becomes Too Thick

24 May

So today I did something that I’ve absolutely never done before.

In all started innocuously enough; I casually mentioned to my friend that the only person who might be able to pick me up after school was my brother, since my parents were leaving today. I had already told her beforehand that my parents were going to be leaving town for a couple of days twice this year, this being the first. I told her it was for medical reasons, but she didn’t know the specifics.

My friends sitting at our table heard and asked why my parents weren’t going to be home, and started asking specifics. My closest friend, the one sitting next to me, had already found out the core of the problem two years earlier; that my dad had kidney troubles. I had to divulge the fact that he was being put on more donor lists and had to travel to hospitals in different states to everyone at the table. Then I had to sit there and endure everyone asking questions and asking if I was alright.

Don’t get me wrong; of course it’s a serious matter and of course I’m not happy about it. But as I sat there with a smile and waved each of their concerns away, they all stated the same thing. Wow, she doesn’t even really care. The thing is though, is that I have known about this problem for years. I have cried about it before, I have worried about it before, and I have pushed away the worst possibilities and chosen to in part ignore it and in part be optimistic. My parents like to keep the details away from me, and I let them.

But as I sat there, and listened to them tell me that it was okay and that it was okay to be sad, they forced me to think about it. They forced me to address something, that I only fret about once in a blue moon, right there at the table. They brought my attention to something I run away from, unless I’m in the safety of my room, hidden away from the world.

So I let them ask their questions as I mostly turned away and picked at my food, and they again noted that I wasn’t affected in the slightest. That’s when I got a bit concerned. Did they not notice how I was avoiding the situation and turning myself away? Did they not notice the extra sheen in my eyes, the giveaway that something was building behind them? Had my armor really gotten that thick that no one even noticed if anything was wrong anymore?

I am not the kind of person who openly shares deep concerns or emotions. I smile; everyday. I hide behind that smile. Maybe I think that if I just smile, everything will get better. And I never let it crack.

But today, a minute or two after attention had shifted, my friend turned to me and asked, “But are you okay? Really, are you okay?” I had been sitting there and letting their comments battle around in my head. My train of thought was getting out of hand and the inner turmoil was beginning. I smiled and then gave a little rueful laugh as my eyes started brimming with tears. Jokingly, I commented, “Too late now!”. And I started crying. Right in the middle of the cafeteria, in front of all of my friends. And I smiled the entire time, hastily wiping tears away as each of them escaped my eyes.

The thing is, it wasn’t even all about family troubles. Sometimes it feels like our bodies cease to communicate with thoughts; they just run on pure emotions. Small things build up inside until all you feel is a burning, or aching, in the pit of your stomach. And thinking about one bad thing is enough to get that ball of emotion raging inside of you, and that’s what can set a person off.

This week, I found out that I was rejected for a position I applied for. I took a practice SAT test and didn’t even improve since the last time I took one. My parents left for a three day trip. And as ridiculous as it sounds, a fictional character on a TV show got his future hopes and dreams crushed and all I could think about was how I could end up just like that. No plans, no chance at getting into a college like William and Mary or UVA, no leadership positions to put on my applications; nothing special about me. I have the confidence to admit that I’m good at a lot of things. Dancing, playing the violin, academics, writing. But I don’t excel at anything. I’ll never be the president or the leader or the master of a skill; I’ll always be in the back, simply adequate. When I used to approach tasks, I told myself that I would succeed but it would be okay if I failed. Now my mindset is I’ll probably fail, but hey, it’d be awesome if I actually succeeded. To be honest, my self-confidence has been shot for as long as I can remember. My social awkwardness, fear of basically everything, and insecurity have all stemmed from how uncertain I am in my ability to do anything or be anything.

I now sit here, typing (sorry, venting) all of my feelings before you as tears stream down my face as I address all of my darkest fears and insecurities. If one could express emotions as physical feelings, I would say anger is like a fire burning in your heart. Happiness is a lightness in your feet. And sadness is a drowning in your very own mind.

I’m so sorry for this ridiculously personal and angst-ridden post. This may make it seem like I’m chronically depressed or suicidal or something but honest to god, I’m not. I generally bounce between emotions often, so you can bet that in twenty minutes, I’ll be singing in the shower or something.

Are these emotions something that you guys can relate to? Have you ever realized that you’re so closed off from that world that even the people closest to you have no idea when you’re hurting? I’d love to hear your thoughts, and I hope you have a lovely day. And also, I’ve hit 11k views! I never would have imagined that that was possible when I started this blog a year ago, so thank you to all of my subscribers (who stay even when I never post) and random stragglers 🙂

Oh, and on a completely unrelated note, go wish one of my dearest friends happy birthday tomorrow (aka Friday)! Thomas, I really hope you don’t stumble across this post until at least Saturday so it won’t be a downer; if you do, sorry in advance!

Yo practico espanol; CUIDADOSO. ES MUY MALO

13 Jun

This is my miserable attempt to practice Spanish one day before half of my Spanish final exam. Below is my failed try to include 27 vocab words my teacher said we should know, randomly jumbled together to try to make a story (Edit: I’m going to be making sentences). I haven’t typed anything yet besides this, so I have no idea how it will turn out. I’m sure that if you don’t speak Spanish, copying and pasting this into a translator will give you some hilarious results. Also there’s no way to include accents; oh well. Enjoy!

Yo espero que un dia, la Tierra no tiene guerra. Solamente paz.

Si yo veo la luna, entonces yo estoy agotado.

Si tu no tienes una brujula, debes de estar perdido.

Es muy malo si tu das un paseo y truenos sucede.

Si tu vas para una cita con tu novio, los sentimientos bien poder aparecer.

Tu debes participar un una carrera; al principio podria dudar, pero una vez alli tu feliz. Cuando tu alcanzas el final, tu poder relajas.

Los maestros exigen que los estudiantes hacerle caso. Los maestros se quejan cuando los estudiantes estan entrometido. Los estudientos no entregan la tarea.

El bano es en el nivel tres, en el fondo.

Cuando mi padre tiene el gripe, yo me preocupo.

Para finalmente, mi favorito:

Cuando yo estornudo, mis huesos bailar.

Insight to Indian Life

13 Mar

This text is brown, just like me.

I’m a teenage girl who was born in the United States from two Indian immigrants. Some immigrants have stories of great accomplishment or terror; my parents have neither and that is something to be thankful for.

I have many things to say on the topic of Indians, so I’m going to limit this as an introduction; not to my culture, but to me. I can understand my parents native language of Hindi, but I choose not to speak it. For one, any accent I may have had has faded, making me sound absolutely ridiculous when I speak. Another is that a lot of people can’t understand what I’m saying anyways, and there may have been a traumatic childhood experience of my grandmother laughing at me when she couldn’t understand a word I was saying. (My grandmother doesn’t speak English). I can’t read or write Hindi but I may slowly learn later.

I eat Indian food almost everyday and I know how to make a decent amount of things. If you gave me flour, water, and yogurt, I could make a full meal, albeit simple.  I love watching Bollywood movies; it annoys me when they’re too corny/silly but it’s always fun. I have many things that I don’t like about Indians, and I also have many things I’m proud of. That can be saved for a later time though.

If anyone happens to be reading this or any of my other posts, let me know by leaving a comment. I would love to hear everyone’s input and opinions about my blog so far. Also, I feel like I should have a little closing catchphrase…the only thing that comes to mind is Natalie Tran’s “Stay well, eat fruit, and remember…” I’ll have to think of something.