Shhh..Sex is a dirty word..

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I remember when I was a child, Doordarshan was the only channel.  It was a complete family channel, but whenever there were ads of Nirodh (condom) or Mala-D (birth control pills), channel would be switched, suddenly everyone would become busy, or kids would be asked to fetch water.  Those ads were simple, un-raunchy ads.  Of course, every child would ask the most asked question, “What is Nirodh?  What is Mala-D?”  As usual, no explanation.  Either the kids would be asked to keep shut or the topic would be changed.  Years later, same thing would happen whenever there was an ad of sanitary napkins.  I also remember how uncomfortable parents and other elders would get if there was a kissing scene. Many of the girls of my generation believed for a long time that kissing or simply touching a boy causes pregnancy!

We are Indians and sex is still a dirty word.  Also sex is something which is strongly associated with “character”, especially of the girls.  Funnily, we are the world’s second largest population and we pretend as if sex doesn’t exist. 

I remember long back I had heard an incident where the bride on the first night of her wedding had created a ruckus because she felt her husband was a “bad man” who was trying to touch her.  Others were embarrassed, but imagine the plight of a young naïve bride who till then was told to stay away from boys as their touch was “bad” and one fine night was expected to consummate with again a stranger (arranged marriage in the 60s).

When a 10 or 11-year-old would ask, “How are babies born or where did I come from?” the standard answer would be “God gifted you to me” or again the child would be given some strange answer.  Unlike West, even in these times all schools don’t impart knowledge about body, hormones, sex, contraceptives, menstruation, safe and unsafe touch. 

When puberty hits the Indian children, they have so many questions.  Their bodies change, their minds change, and they start getting attracted to the opposite sex.  They have questions about menstruation.  But where do this confused children get the right knowledge from?  Parents shy away or rebuke them.  Most Indian parents still believe that their growing-up kids are “asexual” beings!  They ask them to study or play instead of thinking about the “dirty” stuff.  Studying or playing won’t suppress the feelings and questions, will they?  Often kids start getting half-baked and sometimes dangerous information from their peers and porn websites.  I still get to read how parents are upset and horrified when they catch their children watching porn.  Instead of talking with them, they punish the kids by hitting, scolding, taking away their mobile, or locking them in the room.

When a word is ingrained as dirty and bad in the minds of young children, it’s very difficult for many of them to relate sex as something pleasurable, natural or basic desire of human body as adults.  Many men and women believe it as a means of procreation and not pleasure.  They still don’t know or are uncomfortable opening up about their desires even with their spouse of many years.  For many women, it’s just a “wifely” duty.

As girls hit puberty, they are made to believe that their developing bodies need to be hidden, they are shamed about it.  They are made to believe that the fault lies in their bodies and not the pervert male gaze.  They are asked to stay away from boys/men and one fine day asked to surrender themselves completely to a stranger in an arranged marriage setup.

Now let’s come to another aspect, virginity.  For most Indian girls, the parents and the society makes them believe that the biggest virtue or character certificate of a girl is her virginity.  That’s her test of “purity”.  No matter how educated, qualified, compassionate, smart the girl is, nothing matters more than her virginity.  Of course, boys are exempted from this as they are “boys with raging hormones”!  Girls can’t and don’t have “raging hormones”..do they?  If a girl decides to have sex before marriage, she is labelled as loose, slut, whore, girl with no morals or values. 

Times are changing and parents are opening up with their kids, but still a large population is bound by the age-old shackles and taboos related to sex.  What stops our country; the world’s second most populated country with so many rape and molestation cases, child sexual abuse, marital rapes, etc.; to shun the taboo related to sex?  Why is the word dirty associated with this word?  What stops parents from talking to their kids about sex, body, hormones without any hesitation or embarrassment?  Our society believes that talking to the children about sex will corrupt their minds.  On the contrary, not talking to them or imparting them with the right knowledge pushes them to have unrealistic and wrong information.

I have a teen son and a preteen daughter and both I and my husband talk to them about body, sex, consent and this has helped, both them and us.  A lot of crimes will stop if female body is not made to believe just as an object by our patriarchal society, where sex still is only a man’s privilege and a girl’s shame.  Proper communication can break a lot of taboos.

Let’s break this cycle of associating sex as dirty, taboo, or a stamp of morality.  Let the children grow up loving and respecting their and others’ bodies.  Let everyone talk about sex as a normal topic rather than in hushed and giggled conversations.

The more we brush sex under the carpet as taboo, the more dangerous it becomes. Let’s break the silence..

What an advice!

Women getting abused emotionally and physically, getting molested, getting mansplained, having depression, postpartum depression, difficult spouse, issues with children, people maligning her reputation, in-laws making life hell, parents, husband or in-laws curbing her independence and dreams, etc., etc…She asks for advice from others people or women’s groups and you know what wonderful advice most of the times she gets…

IGNORE, CHILL, DO MEDITATION..

Really? These things won’t bring back her happiness, zeal to live, or give her strength to confront people who make her life hell. We ask women to ignore and that’s what generations of women keep doing and teaching and the cycle continues..
#timeforchange

Double standards..

A famous man’s biopic rarely shows his struggle as a father but a famous woman’s biopic most of the times has an angle of motherhood and her struggles with her child/children. She has to “prove”, like any other ordinary mother, that she is also a “good” mother. A man doesn’t have to prove or struggle in any story to prove that he is a “good” father!
Says a lot about the society and its double standards..

Stop seeking validation women

#learningsoflife

Today I advised a young mom to stop trying to be a supermom or superwoman and stop trying to please everyone as its humanly impossible. Young women try to fit into society’s norms and end up harrowed and unhappy. It’s perfectly okay for a woman/mother to be tired, flustered, angry, annoyed, lose her calm, cry, feel lazy, feel demotivated. Sadly, experienced people/moms do more harm by constant comparisons and nitpicking instead of giving support. They make the women feel guilty and worthless. You are always worthy and doing great, stop seeking validation from anyone. When you seek validation, 90% of the people will demotivate you. Like teenagers do, put on those headphones and be “mast”..

PS: I advise the same to my mother and older women who were made to believe that they are superwomen.

Stop conditioning girls to be thankful and grateful for what they deserve!

“I am grateful to my parents that they loved me unconditionally despite me being their third daughter.”
“I am so lucky that my husband and in-laws allowed me to work.”
“I will be forever indebted to my parents that they supported me and my children after my divorce.”
“I am so thankful to my parents that let me study and pursue my dreams and did not pressurize me for marriage once I turned 22.”
“My husband baby-sits our children when I am out with my friends on a Friday night. I am so lucky.”
“My son helps me in the household chores and my friends and relatives say I am fortunate to have a son like this.”
“My husband helped my daughter with her homework when I had fever. I am so blessed.”
“I didn’t feel like cooking today, so we ordered food from outside. I feel so guilty giving my family outside food.”
“Thank God for my stars that I have a mother-in-law who treats me so well unlike so many women out there.”
“I watched my favorite series while my husband put our kids to sleep. God bless him.”
“I was so lucky that I grew up in an environment where my parents did not differentiate between me and my brother. We were given equal opportunities.”
“My husband “allowed” me to go and take care of my dad when he was hospitalized. I am so thankful to him.”


How many times have we heard these from women from all walks, all strata of life? Girls/women are raised and conditioned in such a manner that they are thankful to each and everyone for “allowing” them to exist, work, rest, party! How often do we hear men being thankful for “allowing” them to live the way they want to? For most boys/men it’s a way of life, but still for many girls/women its their good fortune.

The girls are told to be thankful for what they actually deserve or have the full right to. Girls have the right to take birth, to study, to think, to pursue their dreams pre or post marriage, to work or notwork post babies, to take a day off, to order food from outside rather than slogging in the kitchen, to be taken care of!


When parents support their daughters to study or divorced daughter the society applauds the parents, but tell me if the parents don’t support the ones whom they gave birth to then who else will support? If a husband, who has taken the vows to protect and support his wife, doesn’t share the responsibilities or support her then who else will? When a son helps his mother in household chores, why do we need to applaud him? Shouldn’t it be the way of life?


Women are conditioned to feel guilty about prioritizing themselves before their parents, spouse or children. That’s the reason they feel so “blessed” or “fortunate” when these people support her or share her responsibilities.
Real women empowerment will be the day when women start to live their life without feeling obliged or guilty. For once, they should be thankful only to themselves for fighting out all the challenges and balancing every role so well.

I am fine

To all the parents of adult children, to the siblings, to the relatives, to the friends, to the in-laws, to the children..
Next time, when you hear your adult child, sibling, friend, relative, daughter/son-in-law, saying I am fine..remember..
 
-When you say, raising children is easy and today’s girls make a big deal out of it, on the other side of the phone, a young mother must just have cried buckets not knowing how to pacify her newborn or why the baby is cranky.
 
-When you taunt your son staying abroad that he is leading a life of luxury, he might be tensed as to tomorrow he might get his pink slip.
 
-When you tell a woman that she is so lucky to have a job and support, she might have just endured humiliation by her boss and in-laws on the same day.
 
-When you ask a woman to ignore/tolerate an abusive/angry husband, she might just have been slapped or humiliated verbally.
 
-When a dark or plump child is not taken in the lead role in a drama in the school and you laugh it off and it breaks the child’s already broken heart more.
 
-When you ridicule your child who chose to follow his/her dreams and failed to fulfill it.
 
-When your child is depressed and you can’t read between the lines.
 
-When your friend is sharing her pain and you are boasting that you are lucky.
 
-When your introvert child is not invited to any party and you blame your child for being unsmart.
 
-When a newly-wed bride is taunted and she pretends to be happy over phone.
 
Be kind to anyone you speak, no matter how close or casual the relation is.  You never know how broken or sad a person is from within as we are taught to fight our own battles once we grow up.  We are told that parents are getting old, everybody is busy, and that problems in life is no big deal.  Most of us have done it and still do it when with tears in our eyes, we say “I am fine”…

Building emotional immunity and strength

Let’s face the truth. We bring up our children in the scenario of an idealistic world where honesty, compassion, love, sensitivity, and no bias exist; but the reality is totally different. As an adult, we face the harsh realities of life and either we learn to tackle them or crumble under the pressure. It’s imperative that when kids start growing up we need to show them the true picture, make them strong, and be with them whenever they need us as adults. Don’t let your children be “too good” because it doesn’t help them once they face the outside reality. Of course, they should never compromise on basic human values, but they should know how to dodge those bullets. We need to build not just our kids’ physical immunity and strength, we need to work on their emotional immunity and strength too. 

Look around, look within

So, people are out there discussing about bullying, nepotism, being one call away and so on. These discussions are all over the place only after a tragedy. Let’s have a closer look around us. We have so many school bullies, coworkers who manipulate, boot lick and go ahead, people being ridiculed because of speaking wrong English or eating a certain food. A new bride is treated like an outsider and bullied (most of the times), people judged on the basis of their caste and religion. We have seen groupism, being left out, being dropped like a hot potato once we are no of use. Before criticizing others, lets look around us, let’s look within.

Life skills..not gender specific!

#lifeskills

Cooking, cleaning utensils, basic jhadu pocha..these are few of the things which everyone should know irrespective of the gender. No, not just during any emergency like lock-down, but even in the normal days. Few years ago, my father suffered a massive heart attack and I had to run to take care of him and my mother in another city. My son was in 10th at that time and my daughter in 5th. I just packed my suitcase, took the first flight and was by my parents’ side. I was with my parents for almost 15 days before I came back to my city. Not once in these 15 days did I worry about what my husband or kids were eating or how the home was being managed. My husband has always been a hands-on father and knows household chores. Thanks to our upbringing, my children know basic chores right from a very young age. My son despite being in 10th that time would wake up early, pack his and his sister’s lunchbox, make breakfast along with his dad and then go to school. He would come back, have lunch, go for his tuition, come back, switch on the washing machine while my daughter dried the clothes. Both the kids helped their dad in making dinner and winding up. My son would also study for his board exam. There was no “burnt toast” scenario in my home. Even during this lock-down period the three of them have been doing all the chores along with me.

When you raise your children well, teach them chores and cooking, instill good values before anyone else it gives you immense satisfaction as a parent. When people say that “I am lucky” that my son helps me, I say its not luck its our upbringing. It will help him immensely once he goes out to study and to work. He will never be dependent on anyone for basic food and a clean home. His wife will have an equal partner.

Cooking or chores shouldn’t be looked down upon or be gender specific. It will help the children, the parents, the future family, and everyone in general. Education is important for the children and so are life skills.

Live life bindaas..

I have heard my mother say many a times that when she was in her teens my naani had stopped wearing bright colored sarees as “log kya kahenge” that the mother of a grown-up daughter is trying to look “good and glamorous”. Even now in social media, I see women dancing and doing fun activities and many of them captioning “40 plus and still dancing or having fun!” Why are women apologetic about their age? Is it the age-old conditioning or the fear of being ridiculed? Is it the “budhi ghodi laal lagam” judgmental opinion of others that scares them to have fun or live the life as per their wish? Times have changed a lot. I and my generation of 40 plus women are mostly in T-shirts and capris/shorts, we dance and party, we don’t shy away from being “real” in front of our grown-up children. I have heard many a times that mothers should be role models for their children and so they should behave in a certain manner.
My experience says being real is the best role model. Women should stop being apologetic for their age, their desires, having fun, dressing up, partying, pursuing their interests no matter what the age is.
#khulkejio