Thursday, 30 January 2014

Laurie, I share your ‘short-cut’ and your feminism

Laurie,

I love your hair. And what you just did to it. I don’t mean just the cut. No. 

You made chopped crop a powerful symbol of women’s sexuality and an even more powerful one of female choice. I read your article about why patriarchy fears the scissors and I had to write this. I address you and I quote you, even though you may never read this, but only because you spoke my mind and I could not have done it any better. Only because in your mind I see the woman inside mine. And on your head the “boy cut” that I enjoy. 

I too see the ‘wickedness’ attached to short-haired girls, in the various media that you mention. That we are ‘crazy’ for ‘destroying femininity’ that we were tutored so hard to enjoy. 'Dudette' is the latest word to enter my lexicon. Feeding stereotypes further, I see board-room women in movies and serials with wedge blunts, not buns. Westerns to complete the picture. And ‘ambition’ portrayed as ‘ego’. A head fast woman in the man’s world calling the shots with hair the length of a tea saucer which she refuses to place before the beau, perhaps. Subtle stereotyping which finds a place in my grocer’s head somewhere, when he stares me down with incomprehension writ large on his face – my dress, my lack of matrimonial symbols and then my hair. No sweet talk lest I take out my hidden guns, he seems to be whispering to himself. And another whisper which goes – ‘Oh God! Why don’t women want to look their age? Why don’t women want to look married?’ 

You call it ‘logical’ Tuthmosis' ‘basis for declaring short-haired women “damaged”. I sure know that usage was intentional, and you too smile as I do. While he thinks no sane woman would ever want to do anything that decreases her capacity to please men, he lost the plot exactly when he said that. Prove himself insane, yet “attracted” enough to us short cropped ones to rant in rage. Or maybe just sitting frustrated that his idea of patriarchy was smashed to irrelevant smithereens soon as the scissors touched our hair? More than this, I refuse to dedicate my personal space to him, though I thank him for giving birth to this, in a way.

But now I tread a different path, as I read your personal experience of trying newer lengths of hair and the temptation of a razor looming large. Our experiences differ because we inhabit different milieus. While you garnered lesser number of ‘cat-calls and whispered slurs’ as you cut your hair, I experienced the opposite. Not just looks of incomprehension from grocery shop owners silently labelling me as ‘fast’ but the smooch sounds on roads and sexual passes increased. Because where I come from – while long hair makes you a sexually and socially attractive married woman, a pixie makes you exactly that – a pixie. Naughty, available and one challenging the carefully treasured and taught idea of female sexuality, gift wrapped in patriarchy. My short crop symbolized a rebellion here, perhaps because of the difference in magnitude of what we call feudal, or patriarchal in our two contexts. And here where I stay, you crush female rebellion. Cat-call it till it hides in the bathroom to cry. Cowers for cover, and pledges to conform – like an animal tamed to jump the rings in the circus or an urban educated woman who is “total strangers coming up to tell me how much prettier I’d be if I only grew it out.”  

But then I get my kick. Oh yes, I visit my salon every month. Spend that money I earn - on hair or face, feet or hands. Not for what you call ‘performance of femininity’ that some women are ‘prepared to work at’ but for what you mention before that. Yes, I ‘negotiate femininity’ because it is mine to mould, entirely. From mid-back length of hair I enjoyed before I got married to now, when I don’t even need to run the comb – the journey had been a short and sweet one. I negotiate, but I know fully well that so many like me cannot, even as so many can. I will wear my bindi when I so desire, if it suits my mood or dress. No bangles on my hands to announce to the world I have a married man at home. And no vermillion to mark in red that I love my husband. I exercise my choice. If I had made a bun on my head, that too would have been my choice.

And no cat-call can drown out the voice of my free will. 

My feminism begins and nurtures itself in my free will. The act of choosing, and living my choice. From cooking to children to cleaning to hair cuts to careering. Just like yours does – be it in reading a book undisturbed in the train or wanting “to take the razor to it right then and there.” 

As for men “who treat women and girls as human beings rather than a walking assemblage of “signs of fertility” – believe me, they are out there” oh I believe you. I have been with one for 7 years now. And never before I have been made to examine my own ‘politics of compromise’ as by the man I married. While here I was sitting vowing to follow as he lead since compromise is ‘sweet surrender’ when all is painted in the colour of love, he went ahead and convinced my long hair behind my back – go chop yourself. Be who you are, even as you happily be my wife. For symbols which feed social ideas of femininity or a matrimonial signage saying ‘Hands off! She’s mine!’ he knew I could handle them with my mind - without those wifely fineries. 


And for this reason, I include men in my feminism. As partners for change and not those across the enemy lines. I have an example at home, as much as an exception he may be. Or belonging to that category we dearly call 'few good men'!

There is no better way to thaw that ice berg of patriarchy than to use the sparks that chose not to be codified by it. 

I sit in India, knowing fully well that no Goddess will ever appear on an Indian calendar with a pixie cut across her head. No halo will shine bright behind a bald feminine pate. Not any time soon, most certainly. While I sit and wonder looking at them painted in bright red and golden if they had a choice at all in being reduced to Goddesses sitting muted on a pedestal, I send a silent prayer to whatever force that listens, that nothing makes me feel more blessed than the power of choice I exercise.

Thank you for writing what you wrote. In each other's thoughts, women find company for their's. In each other's idea of feminism, support for their own.

68 comments:

  1. It's such a reflection of the state of society, when a woman choosing her own haircut becomes a political statement.

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  2. For the first time in a while, I actually contemplated about writing a comment for your post.But then again, you know me. I sometimes do what people don't expect me to :) Sort of like you I suppose, but in a different way...how do you say, peas in a pod or whatever. Anyway, powerful post. One of your best on the topic. And it is with a very heavy heart that I agree - We, men (I generalise of course)...ok, most men do take the same stand on women and their rights to do whatever. Yesterday it was the right to work, today its the right to short hair, tomorrow it may be the right to drive. And unfortunately, we in India, feed the "chauvinistic pig that is the male ego". And as for the lack or rather absence of "matrimonial status" - why is that such a big deal, I will never understand. As for your husband being one of a kind, I'm sure he is. But I would also like to politely add that there are a few of us too, who are cut from the same cloth as that of your husband. We will stand up with you, side by side, against the stereotyping and other gender discriminations. But as you know it too, we are far outnumbered by the "ones who like to think they are machos and we are ...well...indifferent (though the word they would refer to us is actually something else). But know this, we do so, because we care and love you for what you are. not for what you wear, or what talents you may have or how may "portray" yourself to be in front of others. Amen to your powerful words, Saks, and may we win in our fight!

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    1. The absence of marriage in one's life becoming a big deal for the onlooker befuddles me too. Makes me angry!
      Sid, never said it's just my man. Go check. I know more than one. I am sure you do too. But I can only speak from the examples that surround me, since my idea of feminism is as personal as my relationship to them is.
      Thanks a lot for reading! And I know you are one of the 'few good men' :)

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  3. The was brilliant Sakshi.. Thank you for writing this :)
    I agree with you when you say -"Yes, I ‘negotiate femininity’ because it is mine to mould, entirely"
    I love my beauty parlour visits.. the primping is for me - the massage and the facial is all mine entirely!

    I don't wear the symbols of marriage and I have been told numerous times that I need to "look married"! Why? I ask.. and no one till date has given me a proper enough reason!

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    1. That* was brilliant!
      heh!

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    2. Pixie, I was floating on cloud nine. The typo correction was unnecessary. And did you just say you were looking for 'proper reasons' to that question of yours? :) Happy to 'connect' through my idea of feminism.
      By the way, love your name. :D

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  4. It has been ingrained via media, movies and social inputs. The quintessential Bollywood heroine has long hair for the hero to find solace in Kali Ghani Zulf.
    My mom had cropped hair and my dad loved it. Your hairstyle suits you well. In fact it enhances your personality. As you say, we are blessed to have the power of choice. Powerful piece.

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    1. You what comes to mind as I read your comment? The ""boy cut" lady in Akshay Khanna's family in the movie 'Taal'. Remember? The evil one of the house. :) There are multiple examples of perpetuating stereotyping and even more of that stereotyping being consumed whole. I just wish for everyone to be able to think and act on their own. Ability to choose is a blessing.
      Thanks for reading, Alka.

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    2. I remember the Taal lady, she was the vicious woman in another Govinda flick!

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  5. Your posts have resonated with me before. But this one has dissolved itself into me. It will run in my veins. I know it.

    I am not going to talk about the pixie cut. There was a time ten years ago that I sported a 'boy cut' too. Maybe it was because I had just split up with my ex and the hair cut was my battle cry. I don't know.

    My hair is long again now. Perhaps because I don't need that particular symbol anymore. My independence is too well established in my own eyes to need a prop.

    (Btw, I am not suggesting that your short hair is a necessarily a statement of your independence; just that mine perhaps was. Or maybe not, I'm not too clear about my own motivation to chop my hair as short as I did that time.)

    I do, however, want to talk about flow of the piece. Not the content of your thoughts but of their manner of expression. The controlled fury behind the clam smile, the steel of purpose behind the gentle eyes are so palpable as to blow you away. This post, my dear Sakshi, has TOTALLY blown me away.

    If I were a street corner lout, I would not dare to so much as raise my eyes to look at you as you sail past. You are too 'tall' a personality for me to encompass within my gaze.

    The fact that you get cat calls from cheap despos is because they don't read you. Sad for them, really. And a nuisance for you... like a buzzing mosquito.Tsk.

    You raise the bar for me with each post. I have to strain to stay- not at par for that is hardly possible- somewhere close to you. That's so good, isn't it? Just by being yourself, you case me to make myself better. What do they call people like you?I think they have a word for it.

    Ah, yes! Inspiring!! :)

    Dagny

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    1. Dagny, whether the hair-cut was a 'battle-cry' or a 'prop' remains irrelevant today. Your confusion of motivation then has produced in you a person who has broken free from the 'expected' in larger ways than the mane. Your writings tell us all this. I don't need to explain.

      You blow me away by what you say. You made me cry with joy. My only "competition" is my own self - here, and everywhere else. Your comment I will cherish always, because for the first time a writer like yourself and a person that I admire so much has said what she has said - to me. I want to stand tall, sure thing, and 'content of my thoughts and their manner of expression' is what I want to command for that. Nothing else!

      And with that 'inspiring' I think I am ready to put in my boots and retire. What else can one putting pen to paper hope for? Dagny, thank you! You egged me on with your feedback like no one has managed to. (Yes, I am still wearing my boots! :)

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  6. I have been negotiating short hair for many years now. And I am not married. But I must tell you, I agree with her on the part where she says it acts as a way to buffer out the men who think I am a crazy feminist :D Cause it does.

    The number of people telling me how my smooth hair would look so lovely if I grew it. I never really had long hair. I didn't enjoy it much. But the politics of it when you are young and when you are an adult female negotiating the space is very different and difficult. But actively realising that my choices and decisions are not solely to please the male population is what is liberating.

    Also, he is very heteronormative. :p He forgets that not all women are looking for male attention.

    Loved your piece, Resonates with me and my feminism. :)

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    1. Agreed. It does act as a way to filter out the men from those pretending to be that. Helps us to know wheat from chaff, so to say. :D
      We grow our hair to be able to rest the marriage pallu on the head, pins and needles in place. I did exactly that. Almost in a limbo, and inertia bordering on crowd mentality. Only now I wish what it would have been like to sport this pixie on my wedding night. Glad I was woken up in time.

      I opened the dictionary for 'Hetero-normative' and I like that word. :D

      Glad our ideas of feminism converge, Srinidhi.

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  7. The first thing I did after getting married was to chop off my waist long, straight silky tresses to a blunt. This was the sign of my independence. And to my horror, my husband did not talk to me for two full days. WTH! It was just hair, it will grow back...and it did. I had maintained a decent shoulder length hair....but I started to define myself once I took up blogging. I was expressing myself, my likes and dislikes. And I don't wear any symbols of marriage too. And you have hit the nail on its head.

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    1. I know you as a free-spirit from the kind of poetry that you write. It is a reflection of your thoughts which you refuse to bind within norms of structure, content or language. It comes across as 'Liberated poetry', especially those about lust, love, loss and the feminine. So I can totally understand when you say "I started to define myself once I took up blogging".
      So happy to hear from you that the nail was hit where it should have been. My finger remains unhurt, and very very happy! :)

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  8. Hi Sakshi, I love the way you write. Weaving your thoughts. As you know, I have short hair too and in many ways, I exercise my choice. It is so simple and yet so difficult - to love oneself without,t stopping to love another. I did not know that I was doing this till I read your post and my thoughts went off in all tangents :)

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    1. "It is so simple and yet so difficult - to love oneself without,t stopping to love another." - That is a wonderful dish for thought. That, Poornima, explains why so many of us don't try our voices, except in the domains customised and codified for us. The crisis is not about self v/s love for another, but it is at the heart of most decisions women tend to take regarding both self and another.
      Tangential thoughts produce poetry. And wisdom. Enjoy them! :)
      Thank you for appreciating this.

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  9. Beautiful post, Sakshi! I loved how you added the men in the movement of choice for women. So after my heart! And I realize why I connect so much with you. Our thoughts are on the same wavelength even though we are almost a decade apart in age. Indeed, every time a woman exercises her choice, the quiet strength comes to her as much from a husband, a father, a son as much from another woman. Like you, I don't adorn myself in mangalsutra, bangles, toe rings on a daily basis as a married woman is wont to do. No sindoor except on days when I am really decked up. My husband always stood by me in whatever liberal choices I made. Like yours, he has been asking me to chop my crop :). And once every couple of years, I go real short. I love the thrill of it. I think it suits me too. And why should it be of concern to anyone? The road romeos, I think don't need an excuse of short or long hair. They will whistle, cat call, sing songs and pass comments irrespective. There is also a thing about wearing sleeveless clothes. I have heard women complain about diktats that they are not supposed to wear them at home. When my mom-in-law tells me not to bother with the toe rings or buys me sleeveless kurtis, it warms my heart. I know that with each such tiny gesture, we knock off one more brick in the wall of conservative patriarchy. To tell you frankly, I don't even feel that bad when people make generalized comments because I understand that they are coming from an upbringing where they are not used to freedom of choice especially for women. I believe thoughts and mindsets take a long time to change. Meanwhile. we do what we can to break stereotypes and it begins by according the same freedom of choice to another.

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    1. I did not know we are a decade apart. Frankly, I did not feel it. And honestly, as women living in and negotiating similar milieus, age plays no part to find that common wavelength. Thank you, Rachna. I have been blessed by a mother-in-law as free in the mind as I am. Love how you say - 'knock off one more brick in the wall of conservative patriarchy."
      I have to learn to not feel bad on generalisations. What you say makes sense, and shows the way towards understanding and tolerance. (And that is why I have much to learn from women like you!) Mind-sets are quicker born than changed. And yes, according the same right to choose to another is the best way to lead a life without self-contradiction or hypocrisy, and one which promotes freedom even as it enjoys it.
      Always look forward to your comments. :)

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  10. Superbly written... its a mindset so ingrained in Indian society, that it will take time to change. But like you said, with the younger generations, it is slowly but steadily inching towards change.
    I could never understand the symbols of matrimony every woman is forced to don, how on earth do they determine her commitment to her marriage, i fail to understand. I doubt I ever will. Come to think of it, Men have no such baggage to carry, do they?
    What you ended with is the silver line, the men from our generation sure are with us in this era of feminism :)

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    1. Symbols stand for something, something much more meaningful than is ever understood. And being coerced into donning them defeats the whole point. I will never understand that either - but then I am the sort who shows her love for her husband by telling him what not to do, rather than by putting a red circle on my head and pressing his feet. (Yes, his side of the tales only he will tell.:P) But I know I am one of the fortunate few.
      I am glad you include men in your thoughts on feminism, Seeta.

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  11. We truly are the lucky ones to exercise our power of choice, Sakshi! I feel really blessed to have someone back home who wouldn't judge me for the way I carry myself, for the words I speak out, for the friends I choose to have. It purely has to be my own choice. Just like it purely has to be his own choice. Though I am exactly opposite of you when it comes to hairstyle, wearing vermilion, a bangle or a bindi, I'm glad it is all my choice, purely mine. Not forced neither enforced. Wish people (read the few crazy men and women) understood the difference between choice and looking feminine. Great post as usual! Indeed a powerful one. :-)

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    1. I know where that comment is coming from. And you know that we are on the same page. Often times, while we profess the ideas and ideals of feminism, we forget the disservice we do our own kind by 'judging' their personal choices. Like I said once - loud-speakers are good, but those sans holes.
      Happy you liked this, Rekha. Thanks! :)

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  12. Women with short hairs are always a subject of discussion in our soceity ...I don't know why and always people make an assumption about their personality

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    1. I guess people need to shed age-old prejudices attached to appearances.
      Thanks for reading! :)

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  13. How I can relate to the timing...just a few days ago, I was debating on hair cut and I got the stereotype response. It pissed me to the core but I couldn't voice it. On top of it, I have a tattoo, for which I often get a comment. Men judge us in a minute when they see us in cropped hair and inked. They see us on bike they have a problem. They see us strong headed, they have a problem.
    But something that irritates me more than men having problems is when women have problems. Unsuccessful in breaking barriers of their lives, when they see a woman fly, they judge. And the judging then is worse than men.

    I really want to crop my hair but it doesn't go well on me and it is too much task to manage. However, I love the idea and completely stand by your side.

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    1. 'I couldn't voice' does not sound like a great situation to be in. Especially since we are simply talking about a hair-cut. Proves what we know - little actions going against the 'grain' carry larger political connotations.
      As for the 'women having problems', it was not for nothing that I wrote 'A woman is a woman's best enemy'. Sad! We stick to a cause, but refuse to realise when we demean. Some of us don't deserve to be women. :)
      Thanks for standing by my side, Sugandha. :)

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  14. spot on. living in a house full of militant feminists I am well trained. wife has close cropped hair as did kids till they could take care of their hair themselves.I confess I loved my daughters long tresses when she had them for a few years in college.now she's back to short,but not military as before.but the little one is really into shocking me.She is shaving off her afro for a shiny pate.Wooden faced, i am still supportive. Hair today, gone tomorrow

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    1. 'Militant feminists' sounds so interesting. Do they call themselves that or is it your manly phase for them. ;)
      Oh, dissolve that wooden face. She is brave, plus, has your genes. So! :D
      Thanks for reading, Soumya.

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  15. Sakshi, this is easily the closest to my heart among all your posts, as much for the topic you have chosen as for the command over the language you display. Reading it gave me the feeling of having eaten a rich lunch, or having seen the most beautiful dance performance. Such satiation of the senses, such richness, such nuances and detailing. Really, hats off to you, and love you for your English! :)

    Stereotyping is something we married women get subject to, no matter which part of the country, or even the world, we come from. Some like to wear the symbols of marriage, the bindis and the mangalsutras, some don't. In the end I believe the choice should be ours. If we choose to wear our bindi, we wear it. That is our independence. I have been experiencing a different kind of stereotyping in the past few days. I am, what you would call, traditional by choice. I like my bindi on my forehead, and my mangalsutra on my neck, so I wear them. Having recently joined a fitness group where everyone seems to come with blank foreheads and necks, for reasons of their own, I have been subject to stares at the red circle that dots my forehead. Stares that instantly stereotype me a behenji, or having no class, or whatever. Fortunately they don't affect me to feel bad about myself or change myself. At best those stares amuse me, and reinforce my choices of dressing up the way I want.

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    1. Yamini, every woman needs to pen down what it means to be a woman to her. What it means to be a feminist. And that paper should be the closest to the woman's heart. But I am happy to know we think alike. And come on, we write alike too. You know the command over the lang you compliment me with is complimented in your writing too. :)

      Yes - 'choice' is the moot word. The fulcrum around which our lives can revolve the way we desire. That is our idea of feminism. And it is not juvenile or uninformed simply because we do not follow the 'popular' versions around. Proud of you for ignoring the stares. I ignore them too, even though they come for exactly the opposite reason. Reinforcement of our ideas comes from strange places and in strange ways, doesn't it? But, feels so good! :D
      Thanks a lot for sharing your story. Now pen it down!!

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  16. I loved your post Sakshi. I always do though I rarely comment but this one spoke to me. I had a pixie cut till senior secondary. As I entered college, I wanted to grow my hair - just like that! Or mainly because I wanted some pampering from my mum who loving tied my sister's long hair every morning and oiled it so often. Hence I grew my hair to be able to use those fancy clips, ruffles and most importantly for my mum's pampering. My dad told me, 'don't grow it. You look smart, confident and prettier in short hair and then you resemble Indira Gandhi' but I wanted long hair so I grew. About those lewd calls - I hail from Western UP where men are taught to look at women as sexual objects and I tell you, nothing stops them. Long or short, they make those sounds. Scantily dressed or draped in a salwar kameez, they will bark what they want to. I have had short, very short and then long hair and I feel the number of calls has just been the same.

    Infact, if you ask me then I'd say its the fellow women who made me feel 'unfeminine' because of my short hair. Now I have mid length hair and I love it for it gets me a weekly head massage from my man! ;)

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    1. Sweet, how you wanted to grow your hair for your mum's pampering. See how beautifully we ask for love from those women we connect with? Interesting what your dad said too, that he wanted you to look like Indira Gandhi - a powerful woman who ruled where no woman had before. I do agree with you, SUrabhi, that lewd comments don't come because of clothes or hair. But in places where a short-crop is making a political statement, it is crushed with a stronger hand. The gaze is different.

      Haha, love how 'the man' makes an appearance in your comment. I will show this to my man and hope he gets inspired. I could do with a head message myself, even though there is hardly anything up there. :D

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  17. Interesting piece. We easily stereotype women with their appearances. Been there . Done that. I never wear a mangalasutra or wedding ring or any thing which stands as a proof of marriage. I believe there is no need to look like a garden jst coz U r married but many do that (even turmeric on legs . hands on special days) and it is their belief and respect them. I always feel it funny , how the length of hair and dressing and every thing make us judge that person !
    A sensible post . Much needed one

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    1. Yes, their belief and we should respect that. :) Glad you say this, Afshan.
      Thanks so much for reading! :)

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  18. And I also dont put vermillion or bindi every day (put it once in a while when I am in a mood to doll up) but I do put them when I am at my in-laws place. I don't find it too hard a task to do it for them once in many months. As a result, now my mum-in-law herself allows me to stay bare face even when I am there and she even stands by me if someone else questions my 'absence of marriage symbols'. Rachna said it to so well - such tiny gesture is a small step forward for a better future. Finally, you aptly said men are our partners. My man is my partner too!

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    1. I ditto your experience in the first few weeks post-marriage. Exactly this! :)

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  19. I wonder, really wonder at times if men are genuinely insecure or they have bad press. I don't think I've met many who are bothered about what women wear or how long the length of their hair is. Maybe I don't socialize with that type.

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    1. Probably not the ones you and I enjoy. But plenty of examples across strata. You must have heard of examples of 'repression' from the most urban educated families? I have.
      I agree with the 'bad press' bit. After all, wouldn't I mind someone painting my man with the same brush as that lecher on the road?

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  20. Sakshi, every time you raise the bar higher and higher. As a friend, I am proud of you for the perfect image you drew about the society in which we live..patriarchy, typical men and woman attitude and self claimed guardians of morality. Btw, is the other lady your twin sister? Haha!! Of course, we are partners in the fight against patriarchy:)

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    1. Thanks, Vishal - for liking this as well as the 'we are partners in the fight against patriarchy'. :)

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  21. Sakshi, this is such a brilliant post! I too am lucky to be married to a wonderful man for the past 25 years and he has never cribbed about my lack of mangalsutra or my short hair. Not only men, but many women too look down upon those not conforming to their idea of a good woman. Your post needs to be shared with a lot more people and the message conveyed.

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    1. Thank you, Sulekha. Happy our ideas on feminism match.
      You did your bit to share this post with the world. Elated! :)

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  22. If I look smart I am seeking attention, if I look like a slob, I am not worried about my family impression, if I am tired I am not bothered about the society and am downright lazy, just look at the people around us they have a counter for anything and everything that we women do. For Gods sake cant we have a haircut that we feel comfortable in. I am sure that if some of our top politicians see this post they are going to say that women get raped because of these hair styles. India on the whole needs to change their mind. The men need to be a little open minded and the women need to just grow up. India is a free country. You are a free person. I am a free person and they should just learn to live and let live.

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    1. I smile at your politician connection but I know it is sadly something that is possible.
      We take to the streets and blacken the GoI only if our collective rights are violated. Then we go back home and ask our wives to cover their heads. :) Charity begins at home - learn to live and let live too.
      Happy you read this, Athena. Thank you. :)

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  23. An intriguing post, Sakshi. Not every woman who dons mangalsutra, vermilion and long hair is stereotypical and nor a woman with a boy cut is egoistic, crazy or anti feminine. I think the point is freedom of thought and individuality. We don't want someone to IMPOSE their "right and wrong" on us. If a woman chooses to look ethnic without any familial pressure and social fear, it is fine. And if she enjoys wearing a bikini on the beach, we should welcome, because she chose it. We deserve respect for our freedom. As far as change of mind sets is concerned, it should begin with women. Many a times no man makes it a 'big deal' like a woman does.
    As Seeta pointed out like--why men have no baggage to carry, on being married? Infact there is a society where men are supposed to wear toe rings on getting married. That came as a surprise to me when I witnessed all of them following it. Its cool *wild grin* :D
    And finally with an irresistible itch, let me tell you a female dude is a 'Dudine' not dudette my dear :P :)

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    1. Exactly what I mean when I say - 'I exercise my choice. If I had made a bun on my head, that too would have been my choice.' :) We deserve our freedom, and then we deserve respect for it too - both from men and women (I have written sometime back how a woman is a woman's best enemy, and I agree with you). That is why I revolve my idea of feminism around the fulcrum of Free Will.
      Okay, that is a lovely piece of information. I will Google the details. Would love to know of societies where men wear toe rings inside their boots. You witnessed it? Point me to them then. Would love to know what they think. I am sure some of them will not find it 'cool' :D
      Oh dear! You know, Meghana, I heard 'dudette' for myself a few days back. Today, I got a better word - Dudine! :D Shall immediately go and correct the person who used it for me. :D
      Thank you. Your comment reflects how clear your thoughts are!

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  24. What a post gal! 2-3 months ago when I had got my tresses chopped off, I went to a family function. While nobody uttered a word of criticism, there were no comments either and their eyes said a lot. I donno what it is with the mindset of people...that a woman must comply to X,Y,Z things in order to pass the feminity test. Move over, feminity is just a state of mind! The same happens when I choose to attend family functions wearing my specs with Saree. A woman is what she thinks she is, not what the society wants her to be.

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    1. It's what we call the 'politics of patriarchy' that "a woman must comply to X,Y,Z things in order to pass the feminity test." Love you call femininity a state of mind! Thumbs up for that.
      We think therefore we are. Thank you Descartes for saying that and thank you Shaivi for believing and living that! :)

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  25. What a powerful piece, Sakshi. And the vain person I am, in my initial read, I thought you were talking about hair.
    Sometimes, all you need is a simple metaphor to smash orthodoxy because, frankly, nothing more evolved than that can open minds which don't want to see.

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    1. Oh dear! I choose to stay mum on the 'vain' bit. :D
      Thank you for a second-read.

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  26. First time here and promise to be back for more.

    Loved the post - power-packed and thought provoking to say the least. Different people have different definitions of feminism but I guess the underlying fact remains the right to freedom of choice. Short hair or long, or no hair - I don't know why women are stereotyped for anything and everything.

    Thank lord for a 'few good men' as you put it. They are our pillar of strength to take on the world. Cheers to women-power, and short hair ;-)

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    1. Good to see you here, Akanksha. Perhaps, my only visitor from over seas. :D Yes, choice is the key word. All definitions tend to revolve around the freedom to choose, express and even don. I thank the Lord for those 'few good men' but I also thank them for choosing to break away from the holds of deep-rooted patriarchy. I cannot be more thankful for that!
      Hope to see you again! :)

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  27. There was fire leaping out from your words.

    I wish I had written this.

    Simply brilliant.

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    1. A big thank you. Because this pat comes from one I wish I could write like. Really! :)

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  28. Sharp view, I must say. Somewhere, I wrote - this has to come from women. I respect this.

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    1. Thanks for reading, Diwakar. Good to see you here.

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  29. Thoughful piece! And yet I think that there are more than a 'few good men' around - here and elsewhere. And no one culture has an exclusive right on patriarchal norms and stereotypes - they are found as globally as the resistance against them.

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    1. I agree, Beloo. On both your points. No wonder then, that what Laurie experienced and what so many of us undergo here is so similar in shade. It is only a difference in magnitude - of patriarchy and resistance to it, both.
      Thanks for reading! :)

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  30. Beautiful post Sakshi. It resonated with me. I never liked to display my marital status through outward signs coz its nobody's business, exercised my choice not to change my name and I am happy that I live my life the way I want to. And the most important thing as you pointed out..is to have that 'Choice'

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    1. I am glad this resonated with you. Thanks a lot for reading this. :)

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  31. Let me first just say that the short hair looks great on you! And forget everything else, don't you love how manageable short hair is, especially with a kid in the house !?
    I may wear a bindi too but not to display my marital status, but because I like to dress up traditionally Indian at times. Nice post, Sakshi. I really enjoy your writing. I think we exchanged a few comments on parentous a couple of months back. I don't find time to contribute to parentous anymore now (but I continue to blog) and will follow your blog more actively to stay in touch. Do you have a facebook page too? Makes it more convenient for me to follow :-)

    Here's the link to my parenting blog : http://amayzmom.com and facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/amayzmom

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    1. Oh, I love it through and through, Shivangi. :D
      I do not have a FB page for my blog, but I use my own account to share links too. I can add you there and we can connect better.
      Thanks a lot for liking this. :)

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  32. Brilliantly written Sakshi!! If anything can piss me off really bad, it is someone telling me to change my dressing style! What we do with ourselves is our business.

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    1. Entirely our business, Pooja.
      Thank you for reading! :)

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  33. I think you look perfect in short hair!
    This connection of hair with sexuality is a problem that men face as well. I am sure men with long hair get hate all the time. There is this cool song called 'Turn the Page' written by Bob Seger and later popularized by Metallica. As a rockstar, he was always ostracized for this long hair, and would hide it under his cap. He wrote about that in the song.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turn_the_Page_(Bob_Seger_song)#Inspiration

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    1. Wow! I am glad you read me, not just because you think short hair on me is perfect but also for that super interesting nugget link you left. On to it right away. A very interesting stream of thought there, Samarth. Never thought of that!

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