A lovely review of Boo in the Sunday Herald.

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The Married Feminist this week: Behind Closed Doors–Secret Superstar & Growing up with domestic violence

“The consternation and horror on his face grew. “Insu’s father was an engineer and still he was beating her mother. Even after being educated?”

It was a question I had no answer to. I could tell him about a friend who was beaten up so badly by her husband that her hand was fractured, and she had bruises all over her body. He bashed her head against the shower head and caused her a concussion. This was a man with an MBA from the US and in a very senior position in a financial firm. I could tell him about the professor in my neighbourhood, while I was growing up, a professor in a reputed college who ended his day on a regular basis beating up his wife while the neighbours who initially intervened, slowly gave up. I could tell him about a dear friend, well educated, highly placed, very beautiful, who wore thick concealer and dark glasses approximately once a month to work to hide the bruises her suspicious husband gave her in his drunken fits. I could tell him about a school friend who left her marital home overnight after her husband flogged her black and blue with his belt. She took nothing with her, just the clothes on her back, and her three month old in her arms. Her husband, third generation business family.

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It happens, I had to tell him, across the uneducated and the educated. That degrees were no indication that a man would not raise his hand on a woman, especially given the sense of entitlement that centuries of patriarchy had infused in him. Insiya’s father was not the only one. Behind closed doors, there were many more engineer sahebs who considered it their birthright to beat up their wives for misdemeanors as  minor as not switching a geyser on, or not putting enough salt in the food cooked.

Perhaps the most telling part in the movie was when Insiya told her mother that staying on would result in nothing but her younger brother Guddu growing up to be a fractional bit better than his father. The cycle of abuse would continue. This statement brought to mind a horrifying statistic that had been haunting me ever since I read it. In 2012, UNICEF released a Global Report Card on Adolescents. In it, were the shocking statistics that 57% of boys and 53% of girls in India think a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife.The report also stated, “Available data for developing countries show that nearly 50% of girls and women aged 15-49 believe that wife beating is justified… girls aged between 15 and 19 years hold the same views as women in the 45-49 age group.”

Read the entire article here

#Bombaywaali with Malishka

A fabulous evening with Malishka, live wire, girl of the moment, brave heart and inspirational woman, for SheThePeople.tv’s Bombaywaali this month, on Friday, Oct 27th at Title Waves Bandra. She sang, she made us laugh, and she gave us some excellent life lessons. For the video, check out the SheThePeople.tv FB page.  Some pictures from the evening here.

The Married Feminist this week on on Donna Karan, Women and Dressing Provocatively

A slight detour from the men and women and marriage circuit that this column normally deals with this time round. What has got me granny knickers all in a twist today is Donna Karan. For those of you who haven’t been following the news, this is about the spirited defense fashion designer Donna Karan put up for movie mogul Harvey Weinstein who has been accused by a number of women for sexual inappropriateness and outright abuse. Weinstein and his wife also happen to be dear friends of Donna Karan, for the record.

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To quote from the Daily Mail, “During a red carpet interview at the CinéFashion Film Awards on Sunday, the DKNY creator was asked to weigh in on the scandal hours after the disgraced film mogul was fired from his company. Unlike many Hollywood stars and celebs, Karan did not condemn the 65-year-old, who has been accused of sexually harassing multiple women over the span of decades, and instead pointed the finger at his accusers.”

“I think we have to look at ourselves. Obviously, the treatment of women all over the world is something that has always had to be identified. Certainly in the country of Haiti where I work, in Africa, in the developing world, it’s been a hard time for women.

“I also think how do we display ourselves? How do we present ourselves as women? What are we asking? Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality?”

“You look at everything all over the world today and how women are dressing and what they are asking by just presenting themselves the way they do. What are they asking for? Trouble.” she said.

This inexplicable show of support to the abuser and the level of victim shaming, given that she is part of an industry that has been built on commoditization of women as fashion plates, is astounding.

Donna Karan was slammed, rightly so, for those remarks. She apologised a day later, saying her remarks were taken out of context, but the damage was done.  In that one statement Karan had undone decades of exemplary work dressing women in fashion that was powerful yet feminine, a strong line of fashion she brought into the forefront that was powerful, confident, and yes, occasionally provocative. Some of them very provocative indeed. Did she intend, when she designed those garments, that women who would buy them and wear them were asking to be sexually assaulted?

Read the rest of the article here

Woohoo! Among the top 50 bloggers in India

I find myself listed among the top 50 bloggers in India, tucked away under the hunky Arunoday and above the immensely popular insta supernova phenomenon Rupi Kaur. It is probably the closest I will ever get to Arunoday in this lifetime, so let me relish the moment.

Thank you Femina. The blog is wheezing along asthmatically, with the occasional update when I remember to, but this is my equivalent of the Lifetime Achievement Award and now, ab bas, retire ho jao.

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In The Married Feminist this week: The Fund all women need

The Fund that we don’t talk about is the one we really need. Kiran Manral talks about the stories of secret savings in her column The Married Feminist

It’s been called by various different names over the years. The Fuck You Stash, the Fuck Off Fund, the Woman’s Secret Savings. And across continents, cultures, countries, married women have been known to keep away a hidden stash either in a bank account, or in cash, away from their husbands, whether in happy marriages or not. Money that was theirs to own and spend, away from the intrusive, controlling eye of the spouse. Money that gave them, whether earning an independent income or not, the financial security of some degree of financial autonomy, because of course, running a house, child raising and housework is still not perceived as work with value nor remunerated accordingly.

In the USA back in 1839, a set of laws called the Married Women’s Property Act empowered American women to assume a legal identity separate from their husbands with the freedom to own property on their names, and keep their salaries if they were earning an income, for themselves. Back then the banks had what they called a stocking room for their female customers, where they could go in and remove their ‘stocking money’ discretely, money they had stashed away to be deposited in their personal savings accounts.

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We all grew up with it,  mothers who had little plastic packets of saved money tucked between the sarees they mothballed, and the woollens they stashed away in trunks, taken out and checked ever so often to ensure the silverfish didn’t get at them. Perhaps many of us do the same, instinctively, keep some of our money aside, build up a nice little nest egg, “for an emergency.” Aunts who would keep savings at relatives’ homes to be taken back when needed, the maid who asked you to keep a bit of her salary safe for her in safe custody for her children’s school fees. If she took it home, there was no guarantee it wouldn’t be taken from her under coercion or threat.

Read the entire column here

Boo: 13 Stories That Will Send a Chill Down Your Spine

Delighted and honoured to be part of the superb anthology of spooky stories curated and edited by the wonderful Shinie Antony. I’m in some terrifyingly formidable company in this one.

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Here’s a bit about the book.

Thirteen paranormal tales, each uniquely haunting in its own way

Boo is a collection of well-crafted spooky stories about a he-ghoul, a departed son’s soul, whispers and visitations from beyond, night howls, unearthly claws that erupt from bellies and the very first ghost in the world, among others. Penned by Shashi Deshpande, Kanishk Tharoor, K.R. Meera, Jerry Pinto, Usha K.R., Jahnavi Barua, Manabendra Bandyopadhyay, Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, Jaishree Misra, Kiran Manral, Madhavi S. Mahadevan, Durjoy Datta and Shinie Antony, the tales in Boo are sure to send a chill down your spine.

You can order your copy here.