An Open Letter to Julie Bishop

open letter

Dear Julie Bishop,

I understand you recently said that you do not use the word feminist and that it’s not part of your lexicon. I think your exact words were “It’s not because I have some pathological dislike of the term. I just don’t like it.” Umm, so I gather you dislike it. {Don’t like = Dislike}. You also went on to say that others shouldn’t take offence.

Ms Bishop, this term that you dislike using is one of the reasons you are even allowed to run for parliament as a woman. If it wasn’t for what this ‘term’ and movement did for us women, we wouldn’t be allowed to vote, let alone be elected ourselves. I know like many women today, you probably think this term refers to man-haters; it doesn’t. All the word implies is equal political, social, cultural and economic rights for women.

It is because of feminism, we women can vote. It is because of feminism, we have access to birth control measures like the pill. It is thanks to feminism, women like you can run for a seat in parliament. It is because of feminism, It is because of feminism we have are able to work and have property rights and rights after the end of a marriage.

However, we still need feminism, And we still need to use the term because at the end of the day, it is about the equal rights for women. Gender inequality still exists in 2014 Ms Bishop. Here in Australia, as well as across the globe. It’s just seen differently. Ms Bishop, I’m sure you still read every few days in the papers about women being sexually assaulted and then having questions posed about what they were wearing or how much they were drinking or how they were out late at night. The men who assault get asked nothing. Feminism is still fighting hard to end that judgement. I’m sure you hear about how people question the woman for not leaving a domestically violent relationship rather than question the perpetrator of violence. Feminism is still trying to fight to end that judgement.  There are girls in several countries being denied education. Feminism seeks to improve that.  And finally, Ms Bishop, the very party you represent, has a someone utterly incapable as a Minister for Women and hardly any women representatives in parliament.

So Ms Bishop, while you may have your views, it saddens me that as a woman in power, you choose to ignore the importance of feminism. Feminism has done a lot for you and me. But we still need it because our mission has not been accomplished. Gender inequality continues to exist.

Sincerely,

Sanch

First Kiss

kiss

Everyone seemed to have a story about their first kiss around the campfire that night. Yet, Susie was not sure if she wanted to share her story with the other girls.

“…and then he threw up all over me,” ended Kirsten with a disgusted look on her face. “Of course, that was the first and last kiss for us!”

“Worst. First kiss. Ever.” said Jo sympathising with her best friend.

The Year 12 girls were enjoying their first school camp of the year and as was inevitable, began sharing juicy stories around the fire. It had been Jo’s idea to change the usual truth and dare kind of games the girls normally played. And why wouldn’t she, thought Susie. After all, Jo always had great stories to share.

“Who’s next?” asked Jo breaking into Susie’s thoughts.

As Emma volunteered her first-kiss story, Susie wondered if she could somehow slink away unnoticed. She didn’t need any more reminders of her first kiss. Not that she was short of them. She could still vividly remember everything about it as though it happened just yesterday and not eight years ago. The scent of his musky aftershave filling her nostrils, the coarseness of his recently shaven face against her skin, the minty breath as he stuck his tongue into her mouth and the cheesy melody of ‘I want it that way’ playing in the background all intruded her senses till this day. She still couldn’t listen to the Backstreet boys without feeling nauseated. Although, truth be told, that might have had to do more with the music than its relation to her first kiss. The smell of mint made her dizzy and she couldn’t stand the scent of musk.

“Your turn Suze” said Jo interrupting her nightmares.

“First kiss, huh?” said Susie. “It’s pretty lame actually. Not worth talking about.” She hoped they’d let her off easy.

But they wouldn’t.

“It was with a guy I met couple of summers ago at Coffs. Danny. In his car. The only cool thing about it all was that he had a tongue piercing.” She smiled at all the oohs and aahs of the girls at the ‘tongue piercing’. “I can’t remember how long it lasted. Honestly!” she lied easily while trying to push away images of her bruised lips.

Fortunately for Susie, the girls got bored with her not-so-juicy story and moved on leaving her with her demons.

If only she could move on.

But it’s hard to move on when you have to live with your father every day.

(c) Sanch – Living My Imperfect Life

photo credit: Daniel Stark via photopin cc

***I wrote this as one of my initial narrative pieces for one of my units. Not too pleased with it but figured I could post it here.***

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

How to deal with stress at work

This post is brought to you by Turner Freeman.

work stress

If you have been reading my blog, you’ll probably remember that sometime last month, I wrote about stress in my workplace which had me worried that I was losing interest in my job. Anyway, writing that post really helped me sort things out in my head and I decided that all that negative energy around me was something I couldn’t control. But there were things I could personally do to manage my own stress and therefore keep up my enthusiasm. These are some things that helped me deal with stress at work:

Focus on work: Given that in my case, the cause for stress wasn’t the actual work itself but rather all the negative energy from others around me, it made sense to re-focus myself and immerse myself into work. In the last two weeks since making the decision, I have focussed wholeheartedly on clients, paperwork and case management, leaving no time to listen to gossip or other people’s negativity about the work place. Of course, if work is your cause for stress, this won’t apply to you!

Stick to your work time: Until about a year ago, I got into the bad habit of staying back at work till 6 or 7. I have colleagues who continue to do that on a regular basis and then wonder why they are burning out. I made a conscious decision last year to not stay back late and I continue to stay true to that. There might be a couple of days in a month that I stay back but apart from that, I make sure I’m out of the building by 5:30 p.m. at the latest.

Change it up: I am fortunate that my work can sometimes involve school visits or seeing clients at a different site. When things were getting to me at my work place, I decided that I needed some time out from it. We have another site in a neighbouring suburb and there are clients I see who live closer to the other area and were therefore, more than happy to see me there. For me, it gives me time out by driving there as well as seeing other colleagues and well, being in a completely different environment to do the same work. Apart from that, I made sure I sat outside for lunch on a lovely day or just tried different things at work.

Leave work at work: This philosophy has been working well for me in the past two years. I refuse to bring work home. I don’t mind if I’m lagging behind on reports, I will not bring work home. My work can be stressful in itself sometimes and as much as I love my clients and care for them, once I’m out of that place and hit home, I don’t want them on my mind. Lately this has had to transfer into leaving colleagues at work too so that I am not stewing over their negativity. If you are someone who can access work emails from home, turn everything off on getting home! Honest. You will need it for your sanity.

Rethink and Reframe: Sometimes it helps to try and figure out the cause of your stress and then evaluate whether it really warrants all that much worry. For me, while I eventually nutted it down to negativity in the workplace, I realised that I too had been stressing about the source of the stress for others. The reality was that that very cause had nothing to do with me. I honestly had no reason to worry. I reframed the situation in my mind {with the help of my supervisor} and noticed that my attitude towards the ‘problem’ changed while others continued to worry about it. If you can change how you think about the situation, it can help. And no, it’s not about positive thinking!

Mindfulness and exercise: One of the best things to deal with stress is mindfulness as well as exercise. Even if you can find 10 minutes during your work day to practice mindfulness, it will do you a whole lot of good. As for exercise, while I exercise prior to work, there are days if I have been way too stressed that I will make my way for another session at the gym after work. I have a colleague who goes for a walk in her lunch break and this helps her mentally and physically. It’s not hard to find the time. Make some time to do at least one of these at work!

Of course, if the cause of your stress is much more severe and you find it hard to cope, you can seek counselling as most places do have EAP counsellors. You also have options to look for better work elsewhere but of course, that does take time! Finally, if the stress is causing you to take time off work, you can always look into worker’s compensation and talk to professionals in the area such as Turner Freeman.

How do you deal with stress at work?

Do share!

photo credit: .v1ctor Casale. via photopin cc

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

Grief is different for everyone

grief and loss

In the last year, I have had a couple of clients who have had a parent who died either when they were a toddler or before their birth. Quite obviously, these clients grieve. But for some reason, others around them don’t seem to understand it. They have been at the receiving end of comments like “Oh but you wouldn’t have known your mother/father much anyway so what does it matter?” Or I have heard staff questioning why the student would want to attend a grief program and thinks they are lying about the grief because “they didn’t know their [parent].

The thing is, they do hurt. Irrespective of whether they knew their parent or not, it does matter.

It matters because while they probably didn’t know their parent, it makes grieving more complicated as they are aware of the loss but have nothing to hold on to in order to grieve. It matters because of how they perceive things ‘could have been’. And not knowing that parent or person makes it harder because they can envision all the different positive ways they could have shared their lives with that person.

Invalidating this grief and invalidating the experience that these individuals go through is probably one of the most harmful things people can do. There are times I want to ask these adults how they would feel if someone told them it was pointless to grieve for someone they’d never met. Or known only for a few days or months. Just to give them some perspective. At the end of the day, there is no one recipe for grief. Just as there is no one way to grieve, similarly there are no rules around how long you must have known someone in order to grieve their loss.

I won’t lie and say I know what it feels like to grieve — to be perfectly honest, I don’t. I haven’t really lost anyone that close. Sure, I have lost two grandfathers and one grandmother but I wasn’t all that close to my paternal grandfather {who died when I was 11}, hated my paternal grandmother and probably because I wasn’t around for the death of my maternal grandfather, some days it feels like he will still be around when I go back to visit Bombay. I haven’t felt that emptiness. Or that vacant hole filled with pain at the loss of someone I love. It doesn’t mean the fear doesn’t exist. It is there. All the time. Especially as I know I am going to have to face it some day.

I hope that the day I face this, my feelings will be validated. That there won’t be people telling my how I should feel. Or how I should grieve.

In the end, we are all human. We have feelings. And we express them differently.

As long as we are not hurting someone else, what gives anyone else the right to tell us how to express ourselves?

So if you are grieving, whether it is for someone you knew or someone you didn’t but wished you knew or for a loved pet or friend, grieve your way. I hope you get the love and support you need to do so.

Have you ever been told how to grieve? Or how not to?

Do share.

***Linking with Grace for FYBF***

photo credit: seyed mostafa zamani via photopin cc

Until next time,

Cheers!!

 

On gender inequality: Blog Action Day 2014

If you follow my blog, you will know by now that I’m a staunch feminist. While there are several issues I am passionate about, I thought that for Blog Action Day this year, I just had to talk about gender inequality. Yes, even in 2014. Because let’s face it, this is still very much a part of the culture worldwide.

gender inequality

I think I was a feminist long before I even knew the term. Being born a girl in India, you cannot help but notice the inequality in society from a young age. For instance, I noticed how I was told to not play rough games like the boys by some of the older generation. Or that at school I was told by the PE teacher that girls didn’t play cricket {in response to my request for a girl’s cricket team}. Or when I was told off by a teacher for whistling because girls don’t whistle.

I noticed how my friends’ brothers were given more freedom than  they ever were. While my parents were generally liberal, I noticed a few other things. Like how my father called his in-laws ‘aunty’ and ‘uncle’ whereas my mother called hers ‘mum’ and ‘dad’. And how my mother wasn’t allowed to pursue the education of her choice by her parents just because of her gender. Or how the religious rituals emphasised that women had to pray for the well-being of their husbands. And of course, when a woman had her period, she wasn’t allowed anywhere around god or in extreme cases, anywhere in the kitchen or common house areas. Because she was supposedly impure.

I’d like to think that generally as a society we have started treating women reasonably on par with men. After all, it is 2014.

But sadly, reality says otherwise.

Women still earn less in most countries for the same work. In the US, women’s earnings are 78% of men’s earnings in 2013 while in Australia, the gender pay gap is 17%. Violence against women continues to be rife and yet, the voices against it are stifled more often than not. One in three women will experience some form of violence in her lifetime. This can be in the form of rape, physical abuse, domestic violence, emotional abuse. When a woman is raped, time and again around the world, people blame the woman — what was she wearing, what is her profession, why was she out at that time of the night, what was she drinking, why was she drinking. And yet, no one questions the rapist — why did you rape her?

There are still countries in the world where women don’t get to choose who they marry. Or even when they want to get married. Women are still the first to be denied education in many developing countries. This, in spite of the fact that educating girls can improve the economy of the country. In countries like India, female foeticide and infanticide is still rife to the point where the gender ratio in some states is extremely skewed.

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We might be in the year 2014 but we still have a long way to go in this world for women to be treated equally. This is why we need feminism. This is why we need days like White Ribbon Day. This is why we need International Women’s Day.

Hopefully, we will educate people. And create awareness of the gender inequality that seeps through society as a whole.

What are your thoughts on gender inequality?

Do share!

photo credit: craftivist collective via photopin cc

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

I don’t like studying literature

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As I write this, I am struggling with an assignment for my Theory and Creative writing class. I have a 10 minute (unmarked) presentation tomorrow on the topic of authorship and need to relate it to the works of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Following this, I have a 3000 word essay on the topic due in a couple of weeks. To say it is driving me nuts is an understatement.

It reminds me though, why I never liked studying literature. I am having flashbacks to my undergraduate days when I studied English literature during my first two years and well, lost interest in reading for pleasure. Similarly, since starting this course back in July, I haven’t actually had time to read for pleasure. I do like Sylvia Plath’s works but unfortunately, when it comes to writing an essay on a topic I know little about, I am struggling. My tutor has been helpful enough but try telling someone who has studied psychology — arguably a scientific subject — to now write an essay where they can actually provide their own opinions. It’s mind blowing!

For years while studying psychology, my essays and reports were critical analyses of studies and using other research to back up arguments in the essay. But I was never allowed to have an opinion. Never allowed to write my views. Never allowed to use first-person. And now, all of a sudden, I have been told I can use first person in my essays. I can have my views as long as I back it up with references. And these references are not based on any scientific research. No way. They are based on others’ opinions. Some of these opinions seem to ramble {in my own humble opinion} leaving me confused as to what their point of view is. Psychology never rambled. The researchers didn’t have the means to do so.

It’s a bit weird that I can have a creative brain and yet prefer something so analytical and logical. Apparently, something completely free-flowing doesn’t agree with me. Or maybe I have just trained my brain to think a certain way after all these years of psychology.

Whatever the reason, I know one thing for sure. While I love reading and writing, I don’t like studying literature. It seems to take the fun out of reading and writing. In the end, shouldn’t creativity be about fun? About enjoyable and pleasurable moments? Rather than struggling with theory and essays?

Have you studied something creative and found that it can actually suck the pleasure out?

Do share!

photo credit: the bbp via photopin cc

***Linking with Alicia for Open Slather***

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

What Indian parents say but what they really mean

Indian parents rarely ever speak about certain things directly. They will beat around the bush, imply a lot, talk in a roundabout way and well, expect you to figure out what they were trying to say. 30 years on, I still occasionally struggle with the message my parents are trying to convey.

Image Source: Here

Image Source: Here

 

However, I have still made progress and am willing to share some of my secrets with you. Presenting to you, my readers, what Indian parents really mean when they say the following things:

Our neighbour’s daughter was up at 5 this morning.

What they really mean: Why can’t you be more like their child and study harder instead of sleeping in till 8?

So you got 85% in Maths…

What they really mean: Where the fuck did you lose that 15%? I’m spending all this money on getting you tutored and you can’t even get 100% in Maths. What’s going to happen to you in life? Oh god…what did I do to deserve this?!

So you topped the class in English…that’s an easy subject

What they really mean: English doesn’t matter. What matters is subjects like Maths, Science, History, Geography and Hindi. Why can’t you do well in those? Why can’t you top in those? What are you going to do with good marks in English? Oh god…what did we do to deserve this?

Are you sure you want to pursue Arts after your School Certificate?

What they really mean: Everyone is pursuing science and going on to medicine or engineering. How will I face my friends and tell them you are doing arts? Please reconsider!

We have always trusted you and you have never let us down

What they really mean: Don’t you dare do anything irresponsible now and spoil the family name!

Did you know that {insert acquaintance name here} is getting married?

What they really mean: When are you going to get married? Why are you so stubborn you won’t let us find someone for you?

You know {insert person’s name} son? He just got a very good job in {insert well-known organisation}

What they really mean: Why don’t you meet him? He’ll make such a good husband.

By the way, {insert acquaintance or random person’s name here} daughter is pregnant.

What they really mean: And here I am still waiting to become a grandparent. Waiting. Waiting.

So what does he do?

What they really mean: Is he a doctor or an engineer? Does he earn in the millions? Has he got a postgraduate degree? And if he isn’t and doesn’t have any of these, what is wrong with you?

What is his family like?

What they really mean: Have they got the same values as us? Do they think like we do? Are they sane? {Because yes, we are all oh-so-sane!}

We would like you to get married than just live together.

What they really mean: Do not have sex before marriage. We just don’t want to talk about sex with you but we assume you will understand what we mean.

We are fine

What they really mean: You are supposed to read our mind and figure out that we are not.

I will pray for you

What they really mean: I’m afraid you are a lost cause and now there is no other option but to pray to the Gods to help you see some light. And by light, we mean our way of thinking.

Okay

What they really mean: Not okay!

Have you got any other gems about what your parents say {Indian or not!}?

Do share!

***Linking with Jess for IBOT and Emily and Vanessa for Laugh Link***

Until next time,

Cheers!!!