Wednesday, February 22

Sexing it up!

I recently attended a session on 'Gender sensitivity in writing'. With all due respect to the speaker and the topic, I, as a kinda professional writer (or writeress?) fail to understand why so much was being read into this issue.

The basic proposition of the speaker (this is a neutral word, isnt it?) was:
"Nonsexist language allows you and your reader to focus on what people do rather than which sex they happen to be. Using "he" and "man" as generic terms does not represent reality today. Research has shown that the average reader tends to visualize a male when reading "he" or "man". You can't expect your reader to think of a woman if you talk about a "salesman." If you inadvertently come across as sexist, part of your audience could feel insulted or offended, and will not even try to understand what you are saying. Using "he" as a generic pronoun can be misleading in certain contexts. Your audience may be confused and think that you are only referring to the male members of whatever group you are referring to."

The speaker went on to give strategiesd to avoid such 'sexist' stuff to the extent of saying:
"Use a mixture of male and female names in scenarios and examples.
You can then refer to John as "he" and Mary as "she". Beware of stereotyping the senior person as the male and the subordinate person as the female, but don't use reverse stereotyping for everyone either. Also be careful when the situation clearly cannot include both sexes E.g. In a medical text discussing pregnancy, the doctor can be either male or female, but the patient is always female."
(Please! Give me a break. What are we all, dumbwits/fools/mentally handicapped.... what?)

For one I see no reason why it should be such a big issue. I mean so what if I write "the baby was crying and so his mother petted him"? Why should the use of 'his' and 'him' matter so much so long as the point is being communicated. We have grown up with the language being used in a particular manner and for all practical purposes using 'him', 'his' and the like is more a matter of convenience than wanting to appear or being a 'sexist' and offending the other sex. Insteasd, using 'gender sensitive' tactics like writing plural, he/she, s/he, etc. is a rather clumsy way of putting things and would definitely make my copy look messy. Neither do I see any reason why using 'his/him' would make it difficult for the audience to comprehend and relate to the content. How many of us really even give a thought to whether the use of words is sexist or not to be in effect offended by it and focus on the sexist nature of the content rather than the meaning of the content itself? (how many of us actually focus on the content in the first place?)

How many of you would be offended if I say "the reader should kindly put in his comment for further dicussions about the issue"?

Sunday, February 12


I went out for a film with an old friend after looooooong time. And you bet it was fun. For one the tickets to AdLabs were free (she had won them! :) ), second the movie was good and of course we had so much to catch up upon and lots to gossip about ;).

So we went for 'Holiday' (which is supposed to be a copy of Dirty Dancing, though I have not seen it and so cannot comment). Though the name, the lead actor and actress are not exactly attractive, the beautiful blue sea on the posters is attractive enough. The film is about a girl (Muskaan), who is depressed by her failure at not being able to be a doctor like her father and how she finds herself and what she is made for through Salsa. The family is on a long trip to Goa, importantly to get Muskaan out of her mood and lively again. She is a very bookwormish kind of a girl, kind at heart but not like others her age, fretting over looks and guys. She sees a Salsa performance by Dino Morea (he surprised me by his dancing), who teaches Salsa at the hotel and is mesmerized. However she does not join classes and it is only through chance circumstances that she lands up taking lessons. She finds happiness in dancing and Dino Morea encourages her to pursue her dreams and not bow down and necessarily be what social norms expect her to be. The two fall in love and thanks to the usual party spoilers, they are made to part ways. The climax of the film is good where the hero comes back to the hotel so that he can fulfill Muskaan's dream of performing in front of her parents and seeing them applaud and be proud of her. And so she does, and they are united again.

The film is good because it does not keep on drifting into the passionate moments of the couple and we see a very nice relationship between them, where they are not just lovers but also friends. It is a film about the girl and her transformation through following her heart and that it what it sticks to. Somewhere I am sure all of us can relate to this theme, either because we do follow our heart or because we do not have had the chance to do it.

It is just a two hour film and definitely does not bore you. The lead lady is a very good dancer, very swift and graceful. Dino Morea surprises us with his dance, though his face is as stoic as always. Gulshan Grover has done a good job as the father who is also a friend to his daughter, and their relationship is well portrayed. The music is good and the songs flow with the story. In short it is a good movie, worth watching and enjoying some 'good dancing'!

Thursday, February 9

Things that make me go Grrrrrrrrrrr...................

Yesterday Suyog tagged me to this and so here I go………………
1. Staring at the screen doing nothing (writer’s block in a more sophisticated language!).
2. That mosquito that keeps on buzzing around you and everyone else looks at you as if your crazy waving your hands in the air.
3. People who start and never complete their sentence. (What? Should I mind read?!)
4. People who give you ‘khunas’ the first time you ever see them. (Maine kya kiya hai bhai!)
5. People who work with the expression that the existence of the company depends solely upon them. (So what are others there for, timepass?)
6. Girls who pout and talk. (Not everyone you talk to is going to kiss you, girl!)
7. People who bring jingling key-chains to office. (Announcing your arrival, are you?)
8. Girls you wear dark pink coloured lipstick. (Yuck!)
9. People who are constantly (jogging, working, eating, driving) dressed and behave as if they are facing the camera.
10. People who indicate left and turn right (or viceversa).
11. People you turn and then indicate!!!
12. Drivers who almost run you over and then look at you as f you were trying to run him over.
13. Guys who take offence each time a girl overtakes them, and then do all sorts of driving ‘tricks’.
14. People who jump signals.
15. Simultaneous digging up of parallel roads (Does it mean we start flying?!)
16. Garbage bins being burnt (Aren’t our cities polluted enough!)
17. Women who hit their kids if he/she falls down.
18. Girls who simply stick to their ‘guys’ on the bike (Fevicol ka majbut jod hai!)
19. Girls who give you the ‘kill you’ look even if you happen to give ‘their guy’ a passing look. (I am not going to steal him.)
20. Girls you try to act tomboyish when they are so clearly not. (Please be yourself!)
21. People who make plans with you and renegade and don’t even inform. (SMS is cheap on money and time, dear!)
22. Girls who you know are one of the greatest flirts and who still give you the holier-than-thou look once they are married. (Does that mangalsutra make you a sati-savitri overnight?)
23. People who do not acknowledge letters/cards (How am I know you got it!)
24. Indiscipline
25. Clutter

Pheww!! Ok now that’s quite a list. Suyog and Shruti, how about playing ‘my-list-is-longer-than-yours’?

Monday, February 6


Everybody at my place is eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new baby (not mine!) in the house. And so it is no wonder I can think, dream and see nothing but babies :).(Its like when you or your friend buys a new car/ bike, you suddenly start seeing/ noticing that model everywhere on the road.) I stop and gaze at those beautiful little frocks and winter-wear, those cosy prams, enchanting toys, johnson and johnson ads........ everything!
During one such trancelike moments I suddenly remembered an incident a few months back. My mom-in-law had told me about a friend who recently had a baby. Now that is not surprising except for that the lady has a 16 year old daughter! The lady was all embarrassed telling this to my mom-in-law, but then they also had a hearty laugh. The point that made me think was that her daughter is now ashamed of telling anyone that she has a 7 month old baby brother. Not that it is surprising, even I would have probably felt the same in her situation. But why? Is it because it shows that the parents have a sexual relationship even after all those many years of marriage? Inspite of having a 16 year old child? That they are still attracted to each other and feel the need for 'it'? Because we are so ashamed of accepting the 's' word and more so when it concerns our elders?

A couple of years back I remember watching Pinjar where Lillet Dubey is pregnant at the time they are seeking a match for daughter Urmila Matondkar. I had felt a definite discomfort at that, but then I thought that's how it was those many years ago. All our grandfathers/ mother and even some of our parents do have 6-7 or more siblings and then the age different between the first and the last is more than 15 years too. They never felt ashamed about their siblings or their parent's relationship. Probably because they were 'unaware' of 'birds and bees'? Or it was so normal a thing that no one ever thought it different, embarrassing? Or did they have better things to think about and their minds were not 'polluted' with such thoughts? What was it exactly?

Why are we so ashamed of our sexuality at a time when we claim to be 'modern'? Not as 'narrow-minded' as our ancestors. When we talk and 'defend' live-in relationships, pre-marital sex, one-night stands and extra-marital affairs? When we go ga-ga over those sleazy music videos and Mallika Sherawats? When we talk about introducing sex education in school? When we praise and give examples of the 'westerners' who are sexually involved even in the 50's and 60's. Why are we not just 'shy', but 'ashamed' of this basic need and desire of every human being? Why today? Why not all those many years and decades ago? What has changed?

Is it not wonderful to know that a couple who has been married for a long time, has had kids, still feels the same kind of attraction and love for each other? That advanced age and beer bellies have not led to detachment? That even after fighting and roaring over increased expenses and bills, work stress and less time for oneself, they are eager for those moments of togetherness? That at a time when love generally fades away after a couple of kids and few years of marriage, the couple is still in love so much as to desire each other? Then why be embarrassed and gossip tauntingly? Why not accept and appreciate their love!!