Archive for February, 2008

February 26, 2008

Butbutbut…what if I don’t want to get married?

I have just forwarded this story to my father. Apparently he is under an obligation to maintain me…till I get married, that is.

The Bombay High Court has held that every father is under obligation to maintain his daughter and get her married.
“The obligation to maintain the daughter and get her married arises from the very existence of the relationship,” the court held.


February 24, 2008


(a post for Teleute)

There’s a post on Feministe about high heeled shoes (apparently some scientist somewhere has proved that they’re ‘good’ for you) and in the comments there’s (inevitably, I suppose) a debate on beauty rituals in general and the extent to which those of us who comment on such an issue pander to the patriarchy in our personal lives.

My own relationship with high heels began relatively recently and is really quite odd.

In many ways, I am completely brainwashed by socially received messages about how I’m supposed to look. I wax most of the visible parts of my body. Without putting huge amounts of effort into how I look (the patriarchy quails in the face of my awesome laziness!) I do try to wear things that flatter and so forth. I agonise over my excess weight. And yes, I do like the way my legs look in stilettos.

But here’s the thing. All my life I’ve been fed the idea that women are supposed to be small and finely built (and most of the time I would love to be small and finely built) and dainty and lightweight enough to be swept up into the strong manly arms of tall men (who would spend a lot of their time looking down adoringly at me).

I’m 5’8”. That isn’t tall enough to be particularly remarkable, but it’s still pretty tall. I can’t find any reliable statistics on the average height of the Indian man, but 5’8” seems to be widely accepted by random commenters on the internet (this guy says 5’6” but I suspect those stats are outdated). My point being, I’m about as tall as or taller than the majority of the men I meet. Plus there’s that weight thing again that further keeps me from ever being seen as diminutive. It is actually, physically impossible for me to ever fit this absurd notion I retain of what women *should* be. Which is really not fun; even when one is a brilliant, witty feminist who can see through this rubbish, it’s still deeply ingrained rubbish.

But there are high heels. And I don’t know if I’m just rationalizing all this after the fact because I like the way my legs look in stilettos, but when I’m wearing heels* and I’m taller than everyone, I don’t feel like I’m failing at being What Women Should Be. I feel like I’ve deliberately moved out of that narrow little system and am something alien and other and it’s a good feeling.

*I’m speaking as a person who has the luxury of not being expected to wear high heels regularly or even often. Some of the comments on the Feministe thread about what frequently wearing heels can do to your body are rather terrifying. My heels are wielded maybe once a month.

February 23, 2008


I have been attagged by wanderstruck, who wishes me to Post 5 links to 5 of your previously written posts. The posts have to relate to the 5 key words given (family, friend, yourself, your love, anything you like). Tag 5 other friends to do this meme. Okay.

1. Family: Apparently I have 25 posts labelled ‘the family’. This one was fun to write.

2. Friends: My flatmate has been featured quite regularly in recent posts.

3. Myself: This is a blog. It is almost inherently masturbatory. Even so, this is the most personal I’ve ever been here.

4. My love: I’m not sure he would approve. Here are multiple objects of lust instead.

5. Anything I like: Will this do?

I’m not going to tag anyone because everybody who’s likely to do this probably already has.

I see from my tags that there are 53 book related posts on this blog and 47 sexuality related ones. Hmm.

February 22, 2008

Strange misconceptions about the purchase of services

This bizarre post comparing the IPL auction of cricketers to prostitution has received plenty of (well deserved) criticism, so there isn’t really a huge amount to say. But

There is no sentimental attachment between the pleasure girls and their owner

Okay, what?

February 21, 2008

Science fiction-y coolness

Since we moved to the new flat, I have not read a newspaper. This isn’t a huge loss (except in the mornings when coffee and toast and marmalade are being partaken of), because there’s always the internet. It seems my internet reading is incomplete though, because I knew nothing about this until a friend’s mother gave me a paper bag today made from a copy of The Telegraph from last month.

The company, Oxitec, said it can decimate mosquito populations by breeding genetically modified male mosquitoes, then releasing them to mate with wild females. Their offspring contain lethal genes that kill them young, before they can reproduce.

Oxitec’s technology is a variation of a proven process called “sterile insect technique,” which scientists have already used to eliminate the screwworm and the Mediterranean fruit fly from North America. It involves irradiating male insects, causing mutations that make them sterile. When released into the wild, they mate with females who then fail to reproduce.

February 18, 2008

"The rumour zones are rampant"


And a follow-up, here:

“He tried to turn the romance bulb on but Tanushree posed as if she is lesbian.”

February 18, 2008

In which xkcd sums up gender politics in two panels

February 15, 2008

When I am an old woman I shall be purple

According to my blog stats, someone, somewhere has made their way here by searching for “Aishwarya has grey hair?”. I was startled when I found this out this morning because Aishwarya does indeed have grey hair. At least, I did yesterday, though it was only one hair. And I pulled it out immediately. I’m rather surprised by this reaction, because I’ve been rather looking forward to the grey-haired part of my life.

Those of you who know me know I’m very (perhaps overly) concerned with the condition of my hair. I like it to be curly. I like it to smell nice. I like it to be clean and bouncy and soft and smooth and pretty. Which is why I’m terrified of hair dye. I have black hair, which means that for pretty much any colour to show up, evil chemicals would have to participate in the process. My one experience with highlights, four years ago, was unfortunate – parts of my hair felt like straw, split ends sprouted all over the place, and I was very sad. So I’m waiting till I have enough grey hair that I can use startling colours and be interesting.

My mother insists that grey hair is far more attractive on men than on women. The first time she did this, I went off into a long spiel about how our culture does not allow women to age, sees aging in women as deterioration, I quoted extensively from The Beauty Myth, and all in all sounded very intelligent (if very ranty). When I was done, she said something along the lines of “yes, but all this is why I find grey hair more attractive on men. It doesn’t change the fact that I do”. Which, well, yes. I like grey haired men too, but can’t remember the last time I found an older woman attractive on anything more than an objective level.

It’s true; we do as a culture seem to punish women for aging. Most people dye their hair to hide the signs of aging (consider advertisements – the focus is less on the range of colours than on grey coverage) and so it isn’t supposed to be obvious that your hair has been artificially coloured. I’ve seen people sneer at men (it’s usually men who do this, for some reason) whose hair is improbably black (and thus obviously dyed), or people who use henna in their hair long after it’s turned white, so that instead of hiding the grey, the effect is a sort of bright orange. (When ads do focus on colour, they feature young women in their 20s – the ads with less outrageous colours usually have celebrities in their 30s and 40s – you can look like you’ve dyed your hair as long as it’s obvious you don’t need to. I remember Garnier Nutrisse had Kareena Kapoor advertise its range of reds, and even that ad mentioned grey coverage). In this fantastic interview of Shabana Azmi (it contains the line “You are 57, and glowing like a magic lamp”!) Shabana claims that her friends don’t like to be seen with her because their dyed hair will become obvious.

For myself, though, I’m going to make it obvious. I’m going to be the fifty year old woman with the bright purple (and shiny and healthy and pretty, so take that, beauty industry) hair. But first I need to train myself not to yank out every grey hair I see.

It is probably a good thing that I don’t plan to have children. They’d be mortified.

February 6, 2008

A plea for better understanding

Readers of this blog will know that I am strongly in support of 1.Noble academic endeavour and 2.Greater communication across cultures. These guys appear with their project to be doing both. I know a lot of you speak multiple languages and I thought I should send ou over there to contribute.

February 4, 2008

In which I am a bad influence on those around me

Moving to Calcutta has done nothing to improve the situation referred to here. Not only have my sleeping hours crept further into the morning (I went to bed at 10am yesterday), but I have proved a corruptive force, converting my unfortunate flatmate to similar antisocial nightowlery.

A conversation (on GTalk because she’s in the other room) from about 10 minutes ago, at 5:30 –

Sups: so i have decided not to sleep
i’ll pfaff until 6, make some really strong tea, and … not sleep

Aishwarya: I’m not sure either of us has a choice
yes, this is a good plan

Sups: what shall i do to stave off sleep for the rest of the day?

Aishwarya: filter coffee?

Sups: morning walk.
then. cooking.

Aishwarya: or. actually. tell you what.

Sups: then. bath.

Aishwarya: when we are sleepy
one of us can sleep

Sups: and filter coffee

Aishwarya: while the other stands guard

Sups: maybe an afternoon nap.

Aishwarya: and wakes them up after a couple of hours
this will work. I think.

Sups: lolgaurd
ya, i like this idea
the bottomline being
at 5pm we should be awake tomorrow

Aishwarya: yes
only 11.5 hours to go!

Sups: of which we can spend at least TWO APIECE asleep

Well at least there is filter coffee.