A Not So Interesting Story

I am going to tell you all the story about how I got my feminist ring. It’s not an interesting story, by any means, but it’s a story nonetheless, so enjoy it as much as you can.

I wear a lot of jewelry, but most of the things I wear have sentimental value. My necklace, for example – I haven’t taken off since I found it at a small Indian boutique at the beach this year. It’s not a very good looking necklace – it’s held together by ratty, black, string – but the reason I like it so much is because of the “om” pendant attached to the end of it. I am by no means a religious person, but this necklace seems to hold a religious value for me whenever I am feeling lost or upset. Similarly, my class ring is another piece of jewelry that I never take off – mainly because it reminds me where I come from and the last time I took it off I nearly lost it and I’m not risking flushing $250 down the toilet again. Anyways, these pieces of jewelry make sense for me to wear since they hold some kind of value for me and I consciously went out of my way to buy them.

However, the same principle does not hold true for my feminist ring. A picture of it is attached below. This ring was given to me by my friend’s friend – some girl I had met for the first time that day. It’s not a particularly nice piece of jewelry, in fact, it was bought from a  random Chinese restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland. I was at beach week with my friends, and one of them wanted to meet IMG_6215up

with his school friends for dinner, so I tagged along. One of the girls bought a bunch of cheap metal rings from the back of the restaurant and gave them to me and my friend. I took the ring without much thought and planned on taking it off once I got back home, but for some reason, I still haven’t. Most people, probably everyone, would think I’m crazy for attaching so much importance to a $1 ring I got from a complete stranger but somehow, this ring reminds me of who I am, as cheesy as it sounds. The symbol alone reminds me about why I’m so driven to succeed – both in my career and finding something I am passionate about in life. It motivates me to work hard to be the best person I can be.

My Beautiful Mommy

I was talking to a friend in a different section of CAS 137H and she told me she was doing her TED talk on a book called My Beautiful Mommy. The whole point of the story is to teach young girls how to cope with their mothers’ changing appearances after getting plastic surgery. That’s right. A children’s book about plastic surgery. When I was a kid, I thought plastic surgery meant replacing defective body parts with plastic ones. I can’t even imagine how a young child would understand the complexity of this procedure through a twenty page picture book. Overall, I just found so many things about this story completely unacceptable. I figured the best way to explain my feelings would be to list them out. Please feel free to share your thoughts on whatever I say below!

One of the main things I thought was completely twisted about this book was the fact that the mother was explaining the process of plastic surgery only to her daughter although in the story, there was a son as well. The father and son played very passive roles throughout the whole book – emphasis was placed on teaching the daughter how her mother would look so much better after a few cosmetic operations done courtesy of Dr. Michael. In all honesty, I can’t see how this book was published because of the obvious message it sends to young girls. That is, iUnknown-1t’s okay to cosmetically alter your body parts because it will make you look better. Why was this message only being passed on to the daughter though? In the story, the daughter is the one who goes with her mother to her appointments with the surgeon and she is also the only one present when her parents are explaining the process of the surgery. The brother is mentioned only briefl y – like when he has to lift heavy objects for the mother because she is too weak to do it herself or when he actually cleans up his clothes because he doesn’t want to make his mom do extra work. Furthermore, there’s already so much pressure on girls in their adolescent years to achieve that perfect, skinny body that all magazine models are expected to have. In my high school, I knew a ridiculously large amount of girls with eating disorders. It got to the point where finding out that another one of my classmates had anorexia or bulimia didn’t come as a surprise anymore. Imagine if those girls had grown up reading a book like My Beautiful Mommy especially at such a young age. How would this have affected their self images through the rest of their childhoods? How are young girls reading this book nowadays going to cope as they face more pressure throughout their teenage years and the rest of their lives?

Another thing that really bothered me was the appearance of the doctor and the mother throughout the book. For those of you who are curious to know what I’m talking about, you can look up images of the book for a better understanding. This book was written by a plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Salzhauer, wmybeautifulmommy2-1ho conveniently includes himself to the story as the extremely buff plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael. The only other male in the story, the father, is about half the size of this esteemed doctor. What’s up with that? Also, I find it really disturbing that the mother’s go to outfit throughout the story is a crop top and tight pants. What mothers do you guys know of who wear crop tops and tight pants on a regular basis? The author of this book is clearly enhancing the features of the doctor and his patient to entice the buyers of this book to sign up for his plastic surgery practice.

In the grand scheme of things, this book probably isn’t that of a deal – not many people have read it and the comments on Amazon make it obvious that most people don’t actually like it that much. It’s the scary realization that there are people out there who actually take this book seriously is what really makes me worry for the future of our society.

Ban Bossy

One program I found really interesting is something called the Ban Bossy campaign. The program’s main purpose is to get people to stop using the word “bossy” when talking about girls in leadership positions, because it takes away their ambition to rise to the top. This program is endorsed by celebrities like Beyonce, Jane Lynch, and Jennifer Garner and sponsored by people like Sheryl Sandberg and organizations like Girl Scouts. For more information on what this campaign does, click here.

For those of you who have read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, feel free to share your insights on what you think of this post (I shamefully admit that I have not gotten time to read it yet. It’s on my Thanksgiving break reading list, right after I finish the seventh Harry Potter). Anyways, I think programs like this – though they are undoubtedly not taken as seriously as they should be – are really important for those young girls who want to be leaders but are scared to put themselves out there. It isn’t uncommon for a man who is in charge, no matter how tough he is, to be respected and admired for it. However, when a woman steps into similar position, refusing to put up with unsatisfactory work, people usually describe her as “bossy” or “bitchy.” Furthermore, girls throughout childhood are continuously exposed to this stereotype and are always cautioned by their peers, parents, and teachers to not be aggressive or else they will suffer the humiliation of being disliked by their classmates. Girls are constantly judged for a variety of reasons, and the fear of getting shot down when trying to take the lead on some type of project just brings their self esteem down even more. I can definitely say from personal experience, that if I hadn’t been so afraid of failure – of being made fun of for telling people what to do, of not being taken seriously just because I’m a girl – maybe I would have made more of myself than I have by now. Although I can’t go back and change the past, I know one way to make sure less girls feel the way I did growing up, and this is by encouraging them to really push themselves to their highest potential.



One of the things I really like about social media is that it gives people  the opportunity to share their opinions on different topics. This past spring, the hashtag #yesallwomen started trending on Twitter, for users to share stories about misogyny and unfair treatmeIMG_7476nt that they have experienced or witnessed in their lives. Looking through my timeline, I was really interested in some of the stories, articles, and facts people all across the world shared. I took the liberty of stalking my twitter retweets from a couple months ago, so I could show you all some of the things I found interesting! Some of my hastily taken screenshots are displayed below.







However, what really made this hashtag catch my attention wasn’t the amount of support people were showing for it; it was the amount of hate it was getting, from guys and girls. Plenty of guys took the opportunity to ridicule the hashtag, as if gender inequality isn’t even a problem. One of the tweets I found easily said something along the lines of “feminists be like ‘the post office is so sexist, why do we need MAIL to communicate #YesAllWomen’ smh.” Okay first of all, this tweet was posted on October 17th, months after #YesAllWomen became a prevalent topic of discussion. The fact that someone took the time out of their day to make a poorly-crafted, unoriginal, joke out of a topic like this, clearly shows how desperate for attention they are, because they know it will rile people up. Unfortunately though, @ThoughtOverThot (the twitter handle of our witty, anti-feminist friend) is among one of the many people who don’t take feminism as seriously as they should. When this hashtag first started trending, one of my girl friends made a comment about it, remarking about how “all these #yesallwomen tweets were giving her cancer.” Now, I don’t know what prompted this friend of mine to say such a stupid thing, but chances are it was to impress her older, domineering and close minded boyfriend.

Here lies the problem. Not only do many teenage guys ridicule the topic of feminism – either because they want to maintain their positions of power, they don’t understand how terrible the double standard is, or because they’re ignorant enough to think it isn’t a big deal – but girls follow suit. Why would a girl trivialize a cause that is intended to help her, you may ask? My guess is so she can impress guys and make them like her because she “agrees” with their opinions. I was in high school not so long ago, I know the lengths to which a girl would go in order to catch the attention of her male counterparts. The truth of the matter is that feminism is a multifaceted issue and the lack of cooperation of all females to band together to support this issue is just one of them many problems associated with it.

So I’ll leave you with this, my fellow CAS 137H friends. Think back to times where someone you know has made jokes or comments like this. What did you do about the situation? Did you laugh along, say nothing, or correct the person? I’m not saying the way to solve this issue is to yell at people and spout rape statistics every time someone makes a joke about feminism. However, firmly informing people that their jokes are in poor taste and explaining why they aren’t funny may be a good way to start.

Finally, a post where I’m not complaining about my life!

I have realized that the majority of my posts on this blog are me complaining about how much it sucks to be female in a male-dominated society. Even though this does get on my nerves at times, I know the rights I have here in America are so much better than what I would have in most other countries.

When I visited home this weekend, I showed my parents my blog, and they had a lot of interesting remarks to make about it. Specifically, my dad spent a lot of time elaborating on why a country like India treats women as poorly as they do. He made a lot of good points that I’d like to elaborate on further. So brace yourself, fellow classmates, here’s a post where I give you all some real, hard knowledge, instead of bitching for 900 words.

In India, unlike most South Asian countries, women legally have the same rights as men. They’re free to go out in public by themselves, drive cars, work, smoke and drink, and do basically everything else men are allowed to do. However, very few women actually end up  doing these things because of the social stigmas put in place. The reason India is so lacking on these social rights for women is because of the immense poverty and lack of education. These men, the ones who commit all these terrible attacks against women, are for the most part, uneducated. They live in shacks or on the streets and their main concerns are finding food, water, and places to sleep, not how to respect women. They are focused more on fulfilling their own needs instead of how their actions affect other people. This behavior reminded me of a theory I learned last year in AP Psychology called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow’s whole theory basically states that an individual does not care about fulfilling their higher needs until their most basic needs are met. For example, most teenagers in America are usually in the need for love and belonging stage of the hierarchy. This is because most teenagers have their safety and physiological needs met. Their families provide them

maslowshelter, safety, food, and water, so as a result, they are able to focus on their more abstract needs, like being accepted by their friends and classmates. This is not the case in the poverty stricken parts of India. Most sex offenders are caught between the first and second stages of the pyramid – fulfilling their own needs to stay alive. What these men do to innocent women is certainly not acceptable by any means, but it makes more sense knowing that there is a reason they act this way.

So what can people do to improve the rights of women in countries like India? Eliminate poverty and improve education seem to be the obvious answers. Most of the problems these third world countries face are directly linked to poverty and lack of education. Although there have been plenty of programs implemented to solve these issues, the only way they will really be resolved is if the Indian government takes the initiative to create change.

Star Power: a representation of men get to be greedy and women have to deal with it

Currently, I’m taking a class here at Penn State called Leadership Jumpstart. The course isn’t in a traditional classroom setting – we meet only one Saturday a month. A lot of our Saturday meetings are devoted to presentations, guest speakers, and activities that teach us valuable lessons about being leaders. One activity we participated in this past Saturday that really stood out to me was a game called Star Power. Now, the main purpose of the game was to teach us the privileges and disadvantages people of different socioeconomic classes face, but what I noticed the most throughout this entire lesson was the polarization of the two genders throughout the majority of the game.

For those of you who don’t know what Star Power is (probably most of you; I had never even heard of it until last Saturday), the whole object of the game is to get the most amount of points. Each player has to randomly draw 5 chips out of a bag. Each chip has a different point value. To gain points, every person has to go around and bargain with their competitors to try and seal a deal. However, no one is allowed to talk unless they are making a trade, and to make a trade, the two competitors must be holding hands at all times. In addition, once these two competitors link hands to make a trade, some kind of exchange has to happen in order for the trade to end. That means in order to be able to let go of a partner’s hand, one person must benefit from the trade while the other must decide to face a penalty. At the end of each round, everyone’s total points are counted and the entire class is split into 3 sections – the “squares” were the people with the highest scores, the “triangles” were in the middle, and the “circles” were those with the lowest amount of points. Now, there were many more factors that actually went into the game, but to keep this post from turning into a five page paper, I’ll skip ahead to my main point.

By the end of the game, our class as a whole agreed that the groups had clearly split into three distinct personality types. The squares, those who were given the most power and had the most points, were very greedy and selfish. The triangles were hardworking, and the circles, the lowest of three groups, were the generous ones. Looking at the three groups (I was with the triangles), I noticed something very interesting: there was only one girl in the square group and only one guy in the circle group. The majority of the girls were circles, the majority of the guys were squares, and the triangles were somewhere in between. Granted, the guys in our class may have just gotten lucky when drawing chips the first round, but I’m still not wiling to chalk this whole incidence simply up to coincidence. The demographic of this game, with the men at the top of the food chain and the women at the bottom could not possibly offer a more accurate representation of the corporate world. What do you picture when you hear the words “big business” and “CEO”? Chances are, it’s a bunch of men in suits. Men dominate the job market in almost every single occupation and the gender pay gap is still very, very extreme.

But why is this? There are a variety of reasons, but the main one is that men are allowed to be selfish. Think about what you’ve seen, either on TV or in your past experiences. It’s not uncommon for a man to dedicate his whole life to his career. It’s considered admirable, in fact. Most men in positions of high authority are considered powerful and consequently, are highly respected for it. Now think about what you’ve seen about women in positions like these. It’s a lot less common to see a female have these high power positions, but on the off chance she does, she’s always portrayed as uptight, bossy and mean (think of Sandra Bullock in The Proposal or Miss Congeniality or The Heat. So basically, imagine Sandra Bullock in almost every movie she’s been in). The common belief is that women are supposed to be the generous ones: raising children, cooking and cleaning, and basically making everyone else’s life easier. In relationships and families, women are usually the ones who are expected to sacrifice their goals in life for the benefit of others. This is exactly what the game Star Power demonstrated: the reason most of the girls were in the circle group is because each time they made a trade, they ended up taking the penalty and giving away their chips to help the other person. Most of the times, the person receiving the benefit in those exchanges was a guy.

So I’ll leave you with this, my wonderful classmates. Next time you see something like this, like if you’re flipping through Forbes and you see that out of the hundreds of Fortune 500 CEOs, only a few are female, take the time to really notice this gender stratification, instead of dismissing it as a normal occurrence. Part of finding a solution to this gender inequality is truly acknowledging that it exists.


Guys judge girls, girls judge girls

Anyone who doesn’t live under a rock knows the ongoing debate in our society, the highly contested issue of double standards for men and women when it comes to sexuality. Women are criticized for the number of sexual partners they have, whereas men are congratulated for it. At least in my high school, girls were labelled as either “sluts” or “prudes,” with very little gray area in between. The way the guys at my school saw it, if you were a girl and you didn’t flaunt your willingness to put out, you were probably too uptight to talk anyways.

Why does this happen? It’s because even though guys judge girls, what makes the issue so much worse is the fact that girls judge other girls as well. Females who are reading this post, think about times when you have been in this situation. You see a girl who’s wearing a tight and revealing dress and you say to your friend “look at that girl, she’s dressed like such a slut.” I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad for anything they might have said in the past because let’s face it, we’ve all said something like that before. Who knows, maybe we’ve been one of the girls on the other side of the spectrum, who’s being called a slut behind her back. As I mentioned in a previous post, on a trip to India a few summers ago, I was forced to cover up whenever I went into public for my own safety. There was one day, however, that I was too frustrated trying to find something to wear that I went out in shorts anyways. It was the middle of the day and I was at my grandparent’s house in Pune, a city relatively safer than Delhi, Agra, or Jaipur, so I figured wearing short shorts into public just once wouldn’t be too big of a deal. I was sadly mistaken. My brother, mom and I were walking down the street, past a group of ladies sitting on the sidewalk (my guess was that they were all cleaning ladies, passing time before reporting to the next house) when one of them calls out to me in Marathi, yelling “what are you wearing?” Now, the lady who was yelling out to me probably didn’t anticipate me understanding what she said (for those of you who’ve seen me before, I don’t look like the traditional Indian and the fact that I was wearing shorts just emphasized my foreign appearance). When I heard the lady’s yelling, I turned around and gave her the most evil stare I could muster (which by the way, was no match for the looks she and her cronies were giving me. Seriously, Indian women have mastered the art of the stink eye) and fought back the urge to yell English vulgarities at her that she probably wouldn’t understand. I was just so caught off guard by the fact that a woman was giving me crap for what I was wearing. How did the length of my shorts have any impact on how her day was going? Was the five inches of exposed skin between my knees and my shorts so distracting that she just had to say something about it?

Now, the example I have just given is a very exaggerated one. India, like I’ve mentioned before, is very behind the times when it comes to female rights, so the chances of something like that happening in America is very rare. But still, the very fact that this strange lady felt like it was her duty to criticize me on my fashion choices is representative of the female tendency to judge members of their gender. It’s very rare to see a guy gossiping about another guy for something he did or didn’t do, but I see girls doing it all the time.

The moral of the story is this: next time you see a girl doing something you don’t necessarily approve of, don’t be so quick to say something about it. Would you be judging the person in that particular scenario even if it was a guy? The only way this double standard is really going to be resolved is if we, as a society, hold both males and females responsible for their actions. Both genders should be judged equally on topics as sensitive as sex and morality, and we shouldn’t be inclined to sort every girl we see into the categories of a “slut” or a “prude.”

A Typical Angry Rucha Rant

So far, I’ve been sitting at my computer, staring at my screen for about an hour. I’ve started three different blog posts on different topics which I do feel passionate about, but I can’t find the words to express my feelings. So instead, I’m going to tell a story about why I have such strong feelings about this issue.

Last summer, I went on a trip to India with my family and family friends. We went the typical tourist route at first, commonly dubbed the “Golden Triangle,” which included the cities of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur, and then went to visit my family in Pune. Even though I enjoyed getting to sight see and learn more about the country that I came from, in all honesty, I was glad to come home a few weeks later. Don’t get me wrong – I love seeing my grandparents and extended family and eating spicy Indian food every day. But the entirety of the trip, I was constantly being watched by someone, whether it was one of my parents or one of my friend’s parents. Why would such a responsible and independent girl like me need to be watched every waking minute, you may ask? The answer is simple: because I’m a girl. Though India has make significant strides when it comes to technology, politics, and education, the country’s views on social issues like gender equality or gay rights is still painfully narrow minded. As a whole, the country treats their women terribly, and the women don’t have the power to do anything about it. There are a lot of unwritten rules put in place for females – it isn’t socially acceptable for women to smoke or drink, girls to wear shorts above their knees, or for women to drive when there is a man present. Women who don’t cook are considered a disgrace to their family. To make matters worse, because of how heavily oppressed women are in this country, it gives men almost free reign to be as creepy as they want. Because of this, the entire time I was in India, I was forced to wear full length clothes in the sweltering 110 degree Indian summer and was watched like a hawk at all times. It didn’t help that my brother and friend Archis were allowed to do or wear whatever they wanted, simply because they were guys. I will never forget how angry I felt when Archis and my brother got to walk around in their comfortable shorts and t-shirts while I sweated buckets in my full length salwaar kameez or how they were allowed to go off and explore the hotel as they pleased, while I had to have someone with me. Walking down the street, I had to walk behind someone, because if I walked ahead of the crowd, it would give creepy men on the street an opportunity to stare at me more than they already did. The reason this gender imbalance is so extreme in this country is because emphasis is placed on punishing and oppressing girls rather than teaching boys how to respect them.

I hope that 516 word rant was enough to explain why I feel so strongly about this issue. To put it simply: I’ve experienced this kind of discrimination plenty of times in my life and whenever I try to bring it up in conversation with someone who isn’t a teenage girl, my thoughts are immediately dismissed or ignored. That’s why I figure, what better way to get people to listen to you than to make them read a blog post about your feelings?


Why feminism?

Provided this blog is actually interesting enough to read, people may be wondering why I have chosen to write about a topic that the public considers such a non-issue in modern times.

I’ll tell you why. Because gender inequality still does exist, will always exist, and is much bigger of a deal than people make it out to be. The fact that I carry pepper spray around campus with me and can’t walk down the street in a nice outfit without being yelled to by random weirdos is, among other countless examples, proof of what is wrong with our society.

Will this blog be an entry way to some kind of radical feminist movement that will give females the social rights they truly deserve? Considering I’m a seventeen year old college student at a school with over 40,000 people, probably not. Even if I was some kind of professional blogger, the chances of my blog making a difference on a large scale would be slim to none. Regardless, I’d still like to think that if some disillusioned teenage girl happened to be searching the Internet for blogs and landed on this one, some of my posts would at least make her smile.

Furthermore, I think this blog breaks the stereotype that all feminists are butch, bra-burning, hairy-legged lesbians whose single goal is to promote female superiority. Honestly, I don’t understand where that stereotype came from. If you’re a woman who happens to like woman that’s cool and I totally respect that, but I don’t understand why people think that in order to be a feminist you have to like only women. The two don’t correlate. Also, who came up with the idea that feminists don’t like to shave their legs or wear bras? Personally, I like smooth legs and support, but that’s just me. Bringing me back to my original point, I think writing this blog will make it clear that the stereotype for typical feminists is absolutely not true. As a skinny, five foot four, non-athletic female with a passion for online shopping and shoes, I can certainly vouch for that.