Thursday, 21 October 2010

A growing culture of slenderness!!

We need to be beautiful to be worthy!!

And what does the concept of beauty encompass??

A difficult question…right??

Beauty is mostly defined according to our cultural settings. Females fantasize about their men having six-pack-abs just like Sharukh Khan with a sturdy body! Pot-belliness, hairiness and obesity are seen with contempt and rejection. And men want females to be just like Angelina Jolie..

They can’t tolerate flab on the skins, not even hesitate to comment on the physical appearance of the other person without even thinking about how the person would feel or take it and that too with a least amount of realisation, that they themselves are so imperfect!

Having a great physique becomes synonymous with “achha”. They without being given any right to do so, indulge in value judgement!

Being overwhelmed by this fashion world and trying to get westernized we have started worshipping the culture of slenderness. Fashion doesn’t permit us to appreciate large size, maturity, voluptuousness and massiveness. People are swayed by the glamorous media giving them various choices such as creams, lotions, serums, and liposuction and laser surgeries. All this has conditioned the minds against fat under the skin. There is constant reinforcement about the disapproval of overweight in the minds when people find large number of gyms, aerobic centres, spas mushrooming even in small towns. They tend to set unrealistic standards not only for themselves but also for those who are around them.

Poor body image is also a product of ones low self-esteem. It becomes both the cause and effect. The person may not only dislike himself due to obesity but he may also not even like to see plumpier people. Those who are not satisfied with their own bodies might also find faults with others. Thus complex psychological issues sometimes get involved in this whole issue of body image. We then get driven by a fantasy that “our life begins only when we are thin”.

You would be shocked to know that in a study conducted by the scientists, ‘body shame index’ was calculated. It was found that men and women could not find obese people suitable as their partners. They even had problem with their sexual arousability.

Unfortunately even our cultural prejudices are in favour of slenderness and against overweight. This is also a function of psychological and social factors. People associate slenderness with happiness, success, will power and is acceptable socially. On the other hand overweight symbolizes laziness, lack of will power, and being out of control. And alas! Out ward appearance thus stands to symbolize personal order!

Those who cannot conform to the set standards of slenderness due to any reason have to face prejudices. There is an increasing and an indiscriminate negative stereotyping of the people who are plump.

Though being obese and overweight is not good for health and can lead to many diseases and its hazardous effects are innumerable, but relating the size of body to being good or bad is just outrageous. A fat body should not be regarded as an insult.

There should not be objectification and criticism of the body or it can have devastating impact on the psychology of an individual.

Confucius has said: 'Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.' These are not only the words to be read and forgotten. These should be deeply embedded in our psyche. Every individual is unique and beautiful. To be different is not a bad thing.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Frailty thy name is woman...

When we talk to infidelity or frailty, consciously, subconsciously or unconsciously, an image of a man comes in our mind. Why doesn’t the image of a woman ever come in our minds especially in the context of Indian society?

The image of a woman embedded in our Indian psyche is that of a weakling who has always been suppressed, oppressed and exploited by the male dominant society. She is an “abla naari” who is always a dedicated wife, incapable of committing any adulterous act!

But let us not be hypocrites anymore. Let us not indulge in undue display of modesty. Let us not obfuscate or try to confuse the truth under the veils of denials!

The modern day Indian woman is getting more and more into extra marital affairs.

The “fairer sex”, now days, is quite a lot, becoming “unfair” to her life partner. She no longer feels any special bonding with her home and hearth. The present day females are thus responsible for turning their marriages into “Caustic Marriages”, leaving their relationships to corrode and rot.

And shockingly, this is one of the reasons behind increasing divorces cases in our country. The women of the feminist movement in our country might come running after me with batons in their hands for writing all this. But closing the eyes does not hide the truth.

I might sound cruel and anti feminine but I would like to say that a woman is better than a man in the matter of infidelity. When she can hide her secret bank accounts so well, then she can also concealing her hush-hush affairs quite dexterously. She is adept in combining subterfuge along with her relationship management skill to escape scot-free. A definite set of pattern is found when a female enters into the cheating business!

She often rationalizes her act by saying that something is missing in her life and this “something” which is missing in her life is fulfilled by the other man! She might have everything—a home, a family and a great husband—but she still wants to be “happier”! She may justify her action by putting all the blame on her husband that he doesn’t give her ample time and attention. The reason for the vacuum can be given to inability to conceive. And thus there goes a long list of reasons and causes. She tries to find “spark” somewhere else.

Inclination towards the other guy may gradually become an intrusive and obsessive thought. There may be acute longing for that person. She might also remain in pain due to her inability to be with him.

Another amazing trend seen in this regard is that this another guy mostly hails from her social group whom she trusts. He may be a co-worker, some one from friend’s circle or an old college friend. The guy, with whom she gets involved, is generally single and is likely to remain single due to his previously broken relationship. Or he may be an “unhappily-married” man.

Infidelity may be mental or emotional one, and not necessarily, be sexual. She may not indulge in physical relation with the other man. It can be under the guise of a platonic relationship or “just friendship”. She takes her lover as her soul mate and continues with her marriage, which gives her ultimate security. This way she enjoys a double bonanza! Emotional needs get fulfilled by the lover and all the other needs are taken care of, by the poor hubby!

The readers might find it to be exaggerated but such a kind of the set pattern is found when a female indulges in an extra marital affair taking her own life, her husband’s life and the lives of the kids to a threshold where nothing else but destruction.

The vow “til death do you part” just remains a lip service. The modern day liberated, educated and an outgoing woman wants to be a free-bird. She does not want to be left behind the men in any respect whether it may be the area of infidelity or cheating.

The chemicals released in her brain make her fall in love time and again.

Shakespeare was not wrong when he said….

“Why, she would hang on him
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on, and yet, within a month—
Let me not think on't—Frailty, thy name is woman!”

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Are They Really "Role Less" Creatures??

When we talk of identifying the marginalized groups in the society, disabled population is always taken into consideration especially in underdeveloped and developing countries. But if we take a closer look within this section of the society, there is yet another subset which has to face the sting of being disabled to a greater extent and live a life of mediocrity. It is of disabled women. It’s really unfortunate and shocking to see a worse kind of gender bias within this group. There springs up a case of ‘double discrimination’…being disabled and being female, they are the worst suffers in every walk of life.

A disabled woman may be a victim of a paradoxical situation where poverty would to her increased disability and disability would increase her poverty. Lack of knowledge, awareness and literacy may further worsen the situation. Her potential to learn and develop as an independent entity takes a back seat, hindering the attainment of equal opportunities.

The countries where the notion of ‘son preference’ dominates culturally, girls with disabilities become a second rate citizen for the family as well as for the society. A disabled woman may confront two contradictory situations. On one side her health, her medical care and her basics needs are totally ignored by the care takers. Lack of positive stimulation often results in the stunted growth of personality and self esteem. On the other hand she may be overprotected due to that prevalent superstitions and ignorance that leads to her complete isolation from the society.

In one of the studies conducted by UNESCO, it has been estimated that only around 1-2% of disabled children in developing countries receive any kind of education, and out of this low percentage disabled boys attend schools much more frequently than disabled girls. The fact sheet prepared by Rehabilitation International and the World Institute on Disability for the UN 4th World Conference shows such heart rending results.

The phenomenon is present every where, in almost every country irrespective of economic development and culture. The difference is only in the magnitude.

The females with physical impairment are employed at lower rates than the disabled men. Disabled women have little access to education and employment. They are given less guidance about their career and future lives; receive less rehabilitation services and they just survive with almost no economic security. In yet another survey, it has been found that around 42% of men with disabilities are able to actively seek work as compared to 24% women.

She is definitely at a distinct disadvantageous position as compared to her male disabled counterparts and non disabled women. Whether it may be traditional or stereotype gender role or any non traditional role, she is considered “an absolute role less creature”. Disabled women can also be victims of violence, physical, emotional and sexual abuse. And shockingly it happens within the family as they remain under a kind of “house arrest” for most of the time.

There are also instances of involuntary sterilization so that they may not produced disabled children. The fear is totally baseless as most of the disabilities are not inherited. They are neither allowed to become biological mothers nor does the society give them the right to be foster mothers and adopt a child. There are no two opinions of the fact that disabled women may face extra difficulties during their pregnancy but it is myth that she cannot be a good mother and cannot take are of her baby. With her organizational skills and management qualities she can dexterously look after all the responsibilities, just like the non disabled females.

Disabled women do become mothers and that too very good ones contrary to presumptions of this non disabled world. Countless women have proven themselves that in spite of their physical limitations they can be wonderful home makers. With their emotional strength they can show the world that they are in no way less than the non disabled females.

She cannot be a mother, a wife, a homemaker, a lover, a nurturer! There is no one to trust her abilities as the main focus remains only on her disabilities and a deformed body! She is not loved and accepted as a partner by a non disabled man because he wants a perfect female for himself. If somehow somebody makes relation with her, she is given the impression that the person is doing a ‘noble duty’ or ‘some kind of favour is being bestowed upon her’. This ‘charity’ robs her of her dignity. Ironically she is neither liked nor loved by a disabled man. Due to his ‘own reasons’ he too wants an absolutely normal female for himself! Not only are the places, freedom, education, employment inaccessible to her but love, care and all the relationships also become inaccessible leaving her on a pedestal of a worst possible situation.

Neglected by the society, tormented by internal conflicts she can develop into a cynical being, quite prone to adopt self destructive strategies and can develop many mental problems. Being unloved, unwanted, unemployed and uncared for disabled females can become bitter, angry, frustrated and depressed. Social isolation and limited roles to perform can play havoc to their personalities.

We all need to work out a solution for this. Practical steps are needed to be taken rather than sitting, thinking, writing and reading about such problems. The pre-requisite requirement for changing the scenario is a revolutionary change in mindset of the people. The age old stigmas attached with the disability and gender bias have to uprooted and thrown away. The orthodox beliefs and the dogmatic thought processes need to be totally revamped. If not done in time, there is a strong possibility that the disabled women would soon perish off ...far off in the oblivion....with no identity and individuality of their own.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Marital Satisfaction and Communication!

Marriage is a universal institution that brings together two persons, their souls and their families closer and encompasses a wide gamut of meanings and varied other aspects. It is a kind of contract between two individuals where they get united legally, economically and emotionally. According to Black Law Dictionary, “Marriage is the civil status of one man and one woman united under law for life, for the discharge of each other and the community, of the duties legally incumbent on those whose association is founded on the distinction of sex”. It brings legal and normative obligations for the two individuals. It is a private institution of great public concern.

While carrying on with this nuptial relationship, each partner wants to be emotionally nourished and satisfied to fullest extent. The condition of marital satisfaction thus becomes a subjective reality, closely related to marital adjustment, marital happiness and effecting marital stability. Absence of marital satisfaction can lead to shattered dreams, tethered understanding, tattered relations and withered lives.

The basic ingredient needed for experiencing marital satisfaction is the level of communication between the two individuals i.e. how well the spouses are able to express their feelings, desires and expectations to each other. Whether it may be an expression of affection, sexual satisfaction, reaching of consensus on a matter, management of conflicts, role distribution…all depends on the way one communicates. Either in verbal or in a non verbal way one should become adept in expressing oneself.

Lack of communication can prove disastrous. We can see an example here. Many people often like to focus on how they would like to be loved by their spouses. They tend to express their love in exactly the way they want to receive it, completely ignoring the thought how their spouse would like to be loved! Suppose the wife, in order to feel loved, would like her husband sings love songs for her or bring flowers for her whereas the husband wants her to encourage and admire him giving him positive reinforcement at appropriate times. Totally unaware of her husband’s needs and way he would like to be emotionally stimulated, the wife keeps on singing love songs for him. All this can prove extremely irritating for the husband, playing havoc in their relationship. Even the sexual needs and desires have to be communicated well. In the absence of it both of them could become dissatisfied dissolving the relationship and that too unrealizingly! Self disclosure thus becomes a key element in an effective communication which leads to mutual trust and respect. Communication thus can increase positive sense of satisfaction between the two partners increasing positive moments in their lives, taking the relationship to a higher pedestal.

There generally five levels of communication:

Sharing of general information

Sharing of facts

Sharing of opinions and beliefs

Sharing of feelings and emotions

Sharing of needs, intimate concerns, hopes and even fears

When the spouses are on level one it is like talking to a new acquaintance. At level two they are sharing only facts. At the third level they can learn more about each other through deeper discussions but remaining on this stage and getting stagnated here can become confrontational. Reaching level can assist them in understanding each other by bringing their feelings and emotions to the surface level. But the most desirable level to experience marital satisfaction and a for a stable relation is to reach the level where they get into the position of sharing their intimate concerns, fantasies, dreams and fears. It can keep the marriage pumping forward.

But styles of the communication can off course vary! One needs to recognize that everyone has a unique way of expressing and communicating. Gender differences do exist while doing so. Women tend to be more expressive than men on self disclosure of personal matters like love and intimacy while men can express their physical needs more vocally than the women. Marriage communication has four basic styles namely supportive, emotive, directive and reflective. An emotive person for example wants be the center of attraction and indulges in talking most of the time. But a reflective person on the other hand is quieter and spends time in thoughts rather than conversing. These two persons can be annoying to each other sometimes but if understanding develops they can wonderfully be complementary to each other!

All what matters is the proper understanding of what is said, how it is said and why it is said. This can avoid criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stone walling. Talks, discussions and negotiations can help in building of an unbreakable bond between two persons uniting them together in a love relationship for the rest of their lives!!