The sheer imbecility of women’s clothing.

‘The Danish Girl’ is a movie inspired by the life of Einar Wegener, one of the first transgender persons to undergo a sex-change surgery. In the movie, Einar discovers his feminine side after his wife Gerda asks him to pose in a woman’s dress (very velvety, lacey stuff) for a painting.

Though the actors were brilliant, I wasn’t impressed by the scene. After all, what sane person would enjoy wearing women’s clothes? I’m definitely a cisgender female, and even I can’t stand the nasty uncomfortable things. Men’s clothing is made for people who have to go about their work with ease. Women’s clothing is mostly designed for people who just need to sit around looking fabulous. (Eddie Redmayne looks so fabulous in the movie, I just had to sketch him.)

 

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The most annoying thing about women’s clothing is the lack of useful pockets. Most women’s jackets and shirts have fake pockets and the jeans pockets are too small to fit anything. I suppose they have to make such clothes to support the handbag industry.

Skirts are the reason for what is known as ‘feminine behavior’. Wearing a slim fitting skirt forces you to sit primly and walk with small steps, even if you’re running late for work.

Sarees are nine yards of impending disaster tradionally worn by Indian women. Many of them manage to carry it with grace, but there’s always a possibility tripping over the skirts or getting the end snagged somewhere. Still, it’s worth wearing a saree just to imitate the ‘Bad Girls’ in this popular comic.

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The Indian salwar suit may have been a perfectly comfortable attire if it wasn’t for the dupatta that comes with it. I don’t see why it has to be worn like a noose around the neck (or for that matter, why men wear ties). I suppose you can use it to strangle any attacker, unless they catch hold of it first.
All my life, I have relied on the availability of  nice pairs of jeans. Nowadays, the only jeans I can find in stores are so tight that I’m afraid they may stop the blood circulation in my legs. I think I’ll have to give up on jeans and switch to cotton trousers.

Thankfully, they still make wearable shoes for women. I don’t feel the need to wear heels though I’m a midget. It’s painful enough to imagine the plight of those who do.

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The gut feeling is real.

 

‘I think, therefore I am’ is probably the most overused philosophical quote of all time. But the more I think about it, the more confusing it gets. After all, we don’t consciously control all our thoughts. The mind wanders on its own and all kinds of thoughts come uninvited, especially when you’re trying to get some sleep. So do our thoughts really indicate that we exist as actively thinking entities?

 

Recently, I read a book called  ‘Gut‘ by Giulia Enders ( highly recommended read,  though it’s full of silly toilet humour). Apart from a lot of useful information on pooping and digestive system issues, she talks about the influence of the gut on our brains. 

Our body has more microbial cells than human cells, and the microbes in the gut actually control our minds. They fortify the blood-brain barrier, influence  the release of neurotransmitters and modulate our immune response.

Apparently, a lot of mental health problems like anxiety and depression are caused by damage to the gut flora. So, the next time you have suicidal thoughts, remember that your gut bacteria may be dying, and having fermented foods or probiotics may help. The lack of these microbes has also been linked to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and autism. There is a widely prevalent myth that vaccines cause autism (though this has been proven false.)

However,  the widespread use of processed foods, antibiotics, agricultural chemicals and chlorinated water along with vaccines, may have destroyed the gut flora of the new generation, leading to more cases of autism in developed countries.

Scientists are already studying the effect of probiotics on obesity, undernutrition, intestinal and behavioural problems. You might want to experiment with your own diet to see if it has a significant impact on your moods and thoughts.

 

 

 

Jane Austen’s sassy take on gender stereotypes.

Most women love Jane Austen. Even the most non-bookish of them will be familiar with the movie adaptations of her classics. Unfortunately, some men dismiss her work as trivial ‘chick-lit’, without noticing that everything she wrote was a sharp satire on society. The first time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’, I was actually disappointed because I’d been told to expect the greatest love story in literature. (There is practically no romantic bullshit in the novel.) Later, I began to enjoy the novel for its dry wit and sarcasm. In her own words,

“It is only a novel… or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.

Also, I’d advise anyone who claims not to understand women, to start reading her novels. Austen particularly enjoyed poking fun at some of the stereotypes about women (and men).

  • When a woman says ‘no’, she usually means ‘yes’. The funniest scene in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is the one where Mr Collins proposes to Elizabeth and refuses to accept her rejection. In the end, she tells her father to inform him that she really meant what she said.

“I do assure you, Sir, that I have no pretension whatever of that kind of elegance which consists in tormenting a respectable man. I would rather be paid the compliment of being believed sincere. I thank you again and again for the honour you have done me in your proposals, but to accept them is absolutely impossible. My feelings in every respect forbid it. Can I speak plainer? Do not consider me now as an elegant female intending to plague you, but as a rational creature speaking the truth from her heart.”

  • Women are delicate flowers who can’t handle stressful situations without fainting or having hysterics.

“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.”

  • Women are as fickle as the weather.

“I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men.”

“Perhaps I shall. Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”

  • Men are only attracted to dumb women. The sarcasm is strong in this one-

 “A woman especially, if she should have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.”

And this –

“In justice to men, though to the larger and more trifling part of the sex, imbecility in females is a great enhancement of their personal charms, there is a portion of them too reasonable and too well informed themselves to desire anything more in woman than ignorance.”

  • It is highly improper for a woman to pursue a man she’s interested in.

“No young lady can be justified in falling in love before the gentleman’s love is declared, it must be very improper that a young lady should dream of a gentleman before the gentleman is first known to have dreamt of her.”

  • All women are mean towards other women.

“I always take the part of my own sex. I do indeed. I give you notice– You will find me a formidable antagonist on that point. I always stand up for women.”

  • Men do not read novels; they stick to books on serious subjects.

“But you never read novels, I dare say?”

“Why not?”

“Because they are not clever enough for you — gentlemen read better books.”

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

I’d choose Tolkien over Pullman any day.

 

 

I read ‘His Dark Materials’ by Philip Pullman after reading an interview in which he said that his books were a reaction against the religious messages in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. According to him, Tolkien’s books are ‘trivial’ and ‘infantile’, and fail to answer all the big questions. After reading HDM, I feel that Tolkien answered the big questions much better than Pullman did. (I haven’t read anything by C. S. Lewis.)

 

Is there a God?

As an atheist, I never found LOTR particularly religious. Eru Iluvatar created Middle Earth with his angels, but he never seems to have a role beyond that. He never interferes with whatever’s happening in the world, much less the actions of individual beings. Nobody worships him and there is no religion for people to fight over. Evil flourishes and good people suffer, like in the real world.

 

In HDM, there is no real God, but an imposter angel directly controls the world through the evil, dictatorial Magisterium ( the Church). I don’t support organized religion, but I think that if Tolkien divided his characters into good and evil, Pullman did exactly the same. I don’t recall coming across any redeeming qualities in any of the characters who worked for the Magisterium.  We always know exactly which side we should be rooting for.

 

What happens when we die?

In LOTR, the elves have immortal souls, so they are reincarnated after they go to Valinor.  Men, on the other hand, have the ‘gift of mortality’, which probably means that they cease to exist when they die. In the movie, Gandalf tells Pippin about a paradise that awaits him after death, but I think he was just trying to give Pippin some courage before the battle (because only Eru knows what happens to mortals when they die). In general, everyone who does the right thing in LOTR is following their own conscience, and not hoping to be rewarded with a place in heaven.

In HDM, all the people who die are trapped in a ruined, overcrowded city for eternity, in spite of having obeyed religious authorities in hopes of going to heaven. Terribly depressing, isn’t it? Of course, the protagonists, Lyra and Will, come to set them free, so that the dead souls disintegrate into atoms and become one with the universe. (That was the saving grace of the final book .)

 

“Tolkien is not interested in the way grown-up, adult human beings interact with each other.”

There are a lot of adults interacting in LOTR, so I think he means the lack of sexual content. Such things were probably not described in mainstream fiction in Tolkien’s time. If anyone wants to read about Aragorn and Arwen ( or for that matter, Frodo and Sam) having sex, I’m sure they’ll find good fanfiction on the internet.

I think Pullman and the Church give too much importance to an obsolete method of producing kids. The Bible made it the origin of all sin, while in HDM, the world is saved by a make out session between two 12- year-olds.

 

Tolkien had more progressive ideas about gender equality.

The main female character in LOTR is Eowyn ( Arwen was only a footnote in the books), who shows that women have as much spirit and courage as men. She defies everyone ( including Aragorn) to go into battle and ends up saving her uncle from a Nazgul. She stands up to him even after he threatens to torture her and boasts than no living man could kill him.

“But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.”

And Aragorn did not have to save her from an orc in the book.

In LOTR, females don’t have to act like males to be considered strong. The elves don’t even have well-defined gender roles. Galadriel, one of the most powerful beings on Middle Earth, is the essence of feminity, and she’s wise, gifted with foresight and strong enough to resist the temptation of Sauron’s ring.

The main protagonist of HDM is Lyra ( derived from ‘liar’), whose chief talent lies in telling lies. You see, she’s Pullman’s version of Eve. She is independent and resourceful in the first book, but as soon as Will appears in the sequel, Lyra takes a back-seat and starts following his orders like pet dog. Apparently, he’s the only one capable of making intelligent, logical decisions. The LOTR heroines may be too flawless to be human, but why does Lyra have all the stereotypically feminine flaws like dishonesty and impulsiveness?

Mrs. Coulter is powerful only because she uses her sexuality to ensnare and manipulate men. Serafina Pekkala and the other witches may seem powerful but they spend centuries pining over their dead human lovers, and finally die of grief. The only decent female character is the physicist, Mary Malone.

 

Considering that Pullman was actually trying to write a series to counter the sexist ideas in the Bible, I think he failed to do what Tolkien did more than 50 years ago.

As much as I enjoyed reading ‘Northern Lights’, with it’s daemons and Dust and armoured bears, I will probably not be rereading it again and again, the way I read LOTR.

The Best Definitions from Ambrose Bierce’s ‘Devil’s Dictionary’

Clever and accurate.

Interesting Literature

The funniest and wittiest quotes from Ambrose Bierce’s comic masterpiece, The Devil’s Dictionary

We’ve read the whole of Ambrose Bierce’s wonderful The Devil’s Dictionary and, below, have distilled the book into 25 of the very best entries in this classic lexicon. The only stipulation we set ourselves was that the quotes we selected had to be short and pithy – preferably no longer than one sentence – to ensure maximum quotability. We hope you enjoy our selection.

Admiration,n. Our polite recognition of another’s resemblance to ourselves.

Barometer,n. An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having.

Clairvoyant,n. A person, commonly a woman, who has the power of seeing that which is invisible to her patron – namely, that he is a blockhead.

Comfort,n. A state of mind produced by contemplation of a neighbor’s uneasiness.

Consult, v. To seek another’s approval of a…

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A Response to ‘Women Against Feminism.’

iwantedwings

Imagine this:

The year is 2014. You are a white Western woman. You wake up in the morning in a comfortably sized house or flat. You have a full or part-time job that enables you to pay your rent or mortgage. You have been to school and maybe even college or university as well. You can read and write and count. You own a car or have a driver’s licence. You have enough money in your own bank account to feed and clothe yourself. You have access to the Internet. You can vote. You have a boyfriend or girlfriend of your choosing, who you can also marry if you want to, and raise a family with. You walk down the street wearing whatever you feel like wearing. You can go to bars and clubs and sleep with whomever you want.

Your world is full of freedom and possibility.

Then you…

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