On Physical Abuse

Physical abuse against women has been happening for so many generations that one may even refer to it as a part of culture or tradition. The only reason it hasn’t been proudly acknowledged in public today is because of the progress that feminist movements have been able to achieve.

When a man abuses a woman, it is an act of power. Abusive men are quick to justify their actions by claiming that they lost control. A listener may infer this statement as- the abuser lost control over himself, but what he really means is that he lost control over the woman- his woman. His patriarchal (male) privilege of owning all the women in his family was lost, even if just for a minute.

The patriarchal society we find ourselves in today has dictated specific expectations with regard to the way a woman must act at all times. Take for example, how loud should a woman’s voice be? loud enough that she is heard by all household members when they are called for mealtime, soft enough to be ignored when they don’t want food yet. And never so loud that it can be heard outside the house. If you watch old Disney films like Bambi or Cinderella, listen to the voices of the female characters- it’s soft, reserved, and almost never angry unless she is chiding her children. An indoctrination of patriarchal expectations from a young age is what I find this to be.

When women don’t match the strictly prescribed code of conduct, i.e. if they are stubborn, arrogant, quick to anger, loud, or even physically consume a little more space than what is designated, they are met with backlash. If snarky comments don’t work, physical abuse is the next stop.

To accompany this male entitlement are those who support the men- who enable them. Together they attempt to justify the abuse, mostly done by blaming the survivor for not following patriarchal rules.

This support is further extended by encouraging the survivor of abuse to maintain silence and fall back into the patriarchal system- commonly done by outsiders and extended family. Or by their own silence- i.e. ignoring the issue- commonly done by the immediate family. They assume this silence to be a position of neutrality. It helps them gather favour in the eyes of the abuser who holds much power in society, while also enabling him- it is like the nod or wink that the protagonist’s best friend-turned-villain shows to the other villains while hugging or pretending to safeguard the protagonist. They are the Brutus, the Judas.

If the survivor resists and continues to fight, they try to discourage them by appealing to emotions, to spare a thought for the greater common good- “think of the family”, “think of the baby.” It seems babies are only meant for emotional blackmail. It is astonishing that we are more okay with the idea of a baby being raised by a patriarchal, abusive man, rather than trying to raise the baby in a more feminist world by:

1. Obtaining justice for the survivor,

2. Raising the baby in an environment where no patriarchal beliefs are tolerated.

The final blow is an expectation that the survivor will forgive the abuser with a compassion that was forgotten/ deemed unnecessary when the abuse was taking place. That forced forgiveness, contrary to all your “be the bigger person” nonsense, is a silent hand back of the power she had fought for. It is an even bigger slap.

If after all this the survivor persists in her aim for justice, she is met with hostility and banishment from her own family. With no support, she is forced to think twice- was it my fault? am I making a big deal?

Then, she has to fight herself and her family.


What Do You Hear?

The first day of college in my first year. Prof. VJ had come in to declare two important things. First, that we had to secure a copy of Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter and begin reading it, and second, that we had to observe the sounds we hear when we wake up in the morning, and share it with her in our next class.

Today I embarrassingly recall being driven up and down what I now know as Church Street, searching for a place I now know too well- Blossoms Book House. I secured a neat little second hand copy of Llosa’s fine work, the previous owner being a senior of mine. But it was the second task that proved more daunting to me. Staying in a Hotel near college because you haven’t found accommodation yet means you won’t hear typical morning neighborhood sounds. The sound I heard, was ‘Happy’ by Pharell Williams. I remember Prof. VJ’s expression when this observation slithered out of my mouth- she was not so happy.

A few months ago I had managed to ask Prof. VJ what she was trying to make us understand through this hearing activity. She said (and I paraphrase) she just wanted us to realize how often we use words that are not our own. We love to say “chirping birds” without pausing to think that here screeching crows are far more common, and much more audible in the morning.

Three years have passed, and I am almost done with my course. I woke up today and began my coffee concocting ritual when I heard something that made me pause my pouring and swooshing. I had heard a bird. Not your regular bird with it’s regular sound descriptions. This bird was not chirping, it was not screeching, not cawing, not tweeting, not even purring.

This bird sounded like a rusty seesaw in action. That was my first thought.

I think I have learnt something(?)

**(Prof. VJ is a wonderful writer as she is a professor. Her blog is filled with many, many more amusing descriptions.)**


As of This Morning,

I woke up early, for the first time in a long time, and gulped down water. I watched the kittens struggling to walk, the brown one hiding behind the black one. Shy, much like me. I read something interesting about the ancient-ness of the Appalachian ranges in the US- Canada border, and wondered how the Earth has seen so many tenants, and like a very successful landlord, has managed to bury them- dead or alive. Instead of waiting for them to ask for their deposit, she made them the deposit.

The kitchen greeted me with the smell of cat food, a smell that I have decided to confess I am not fond of, but tolerate. The stove did not light, so coffee was not made. This broke my heart. But again, was tolerated. I found a cheese bun to warm in the microwave oven, and burnt my tongue out of a greed that rises when one is presented with a soft hot bun to bite into. Ungrateful, buns in the oven. Ungrateful, my mom has called me many times.

I persisted, and took each bite of soft bun with utmost meaning, carefully chewing it, keeping mind of how soft it was. A crumb that fell on my thigh was mistaken for an insect, and a wave of fear distracted me from the soft bun memoir being written in my head. I decided to speed ahead, and gulped the bun down to ensure no other rogue crumbs got any such ideas. Yes, the fallen crumb was devoured too.

In some romantic morning hope, I tried the stove again. It was clear to me that there would be no coffee today. So, I settled for hot water from the kettle instead.


How to Handle Your Intern: A Guide for the BEST Boss

Congratulations on your fifth startup! All the struggle you underwent convincing your parents to trust you with their money again has paid off. The worst is over, and now it is time to make this other people’s business. What’s a better way to begin than by tapping into the most cost-effective labor the world can provide? 

Student internships are no piece of cake, it takes a particularly sour life to ensure that your intern gets the full bitter experience. Here are five important pointers for Best Bosses to keep in mind, so that every intern has an UN-forgettable experience at your company! (though not necessarily by choice) :

1. Work-Life Balance. 

Interns are fragile creatures. They have not yet developed life skills like ‘saying no’ or ‘standing up for themselves.’ It is up to you, dear boss, to ensure that such unnecessary habits are never developed. 

For this to really work however, it is important to first learn how to talk to your intern, follow these five easy steps: 

  1. Dial number. 
  2. Wait patiently. The poor things need to shake off their fear until they finally get to answering your call. (Remember, 1 ring= 1 prayer by a scared intern.)
  3. When they pick up, begin on the offensive. Something simple but powerful. Like, “Why didn’t you do this? It’s urgent.” (It really isn’t, but they don’t need to know that now do they?)
  4. Assume a state of benevolence. Give them, out of the kindness of your heart, one hour of their weekend to finish this absolutely urgent piece of work that goes up next-to-next week. 
  5. Once done, aftercare is always important, so wish them a happy weekend (smiley emoji optional) and advise them to take plenty of rest. After all, you do care about their well-being!   

Once you’ve nailed this one in the head… Call them in for work on the weekends, call them after work hours. You know what? Just go all out and call them even on holidays if you’re that bent on making this internship a ‘fruitful experience!’ (for you)

2. Encourage questioning 

I only lost five hours of sleep over this, is that too less?

How much longer do I have to stay back? 

Am I really cut out for this?

Is it too soon to quit? 

Questions are the gateway to progress. Frame your workspace authority such that your interns run wild questioning everything… literally, everything.

Always remember, a good intern is an intern riddled with insecurity. If they were self-assured they wouldn’t need you! 

3. Make them laugh, and encourage their jokes 

Jokes are great ice breakers, and interns great audience. They are guaranteed to laugh at anything you say. This is the best time to try out those one-liners you scribbled in hopes of a career in stand-up.

But keep in mind, this is about them. They are learning from you. 

It is advisable to prepare a great laugh to receive their jokes in good spirit. Interns are not very original creatures, so here are three common intern jokes to practice your laugh for:

Are these the last set of changes?

I’m tired/sick, can I take a day off?

Will I be paid? 

(Very, very important Note: Please remember to walk away while/after you laugh.)

4. Compensation is Encouragement 

A good boss may give their intern a little something in terms of money, a bare minimum to buy themselves some chewing gum… But the best boss? 

The best boss promises vocabulary enrichment through fancy words like ‘exposure’, ‘platform’, ‘sharpen skills’, and ‘network.’

5. Focus on Growth

This last one is a no-brainer. Many successful startups were launched on the backs of unpaid interns. I.e. You must ensure that your interns are used well for the growth of your company. 

And that’s it, five ways to make your intern leave the company SO quick, you never have to worry about seeing the same old boring little sad face for too long.