Fractured Discourses

Note: Papa, Dad, Appa – please don’t read this one. Pliss. You know most of it, but still. DON’T.

 

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Very much alive and kicking, my friends. As always, the long silence was owing to exams and internships. Back again till they come back to bite me again. But only two more semesters before I graduate so that is great 😀

I’ve spent the last two months in Mumbai – i.e permanent residence of the home and the heart. I worked over the week, met all my friends over the weekend.

Couple of months ago, I wrote a post about my second stint at Tinder. I gave it a shot. I did. When I wasn’t creeped out, I even went out on a few dates.

I also got talking to this one fellow who was lawyer. (Yes, yes, you can tease) It was hard for me to visit Mumbai in those months so we mostly spoke on chat. Let’s call him Z.

Z started off by saying he was looking only for hookups. I politely declined and said he would have to look for someone else. A few weeks later he sent me another message, saying he had reconsidered and wanted to see how this worked. I agreed, albeit with some trepidation.

We got talking. It was fine for a bit. And then, I don’t even know when it began to derail. Let me explain.

We realised early on that we were very different people. I am cautious, he was impulsive. I like order, he likes surprises. The likes. I thought that was interesting. I also understood that meant we’d disagree on many things. That was fine.

Except, as it turned out, it wasn’t. At least for Z.

If I disagreed with him, he blamed me for ruining his day. If I refused any of his requests, he said I was a cruel woman who did not care for his feelings. Each one of these accusations began with something on the lines of, “I care for you so much but you…”

He once suggested using some level of “force” with a woman was sexy. I did hear alarm bells but I didn’t want to be “cruel”. So I told him he was all kinds of wrong and there was yet another drama that unfolded.

Another time he said, “When we do start dating, you will have to put up with my busy schedule.” When I remarked that – a) He hadn’t asked me what I wanted, and b) I might be just as busy in less than a year, so he’d have to make his share of compromise. He laughed it off, like it was a preposterous suggestion. 

I could not ignore the alarm bells this time. I decided to end things. I told him things weren’t working out; I fundamentally did not agree with most things he stood for and it was best to end things on good terms.

He threw a tantrum. Which was okay. He called me names. I was expecting that. When it didn’t stop for over a week, I blocked his number. He managed to find me on Facebook. I blocked him there. He found me on Linkedin. I blocked him again.

The only thing that worked in my favour was that I am paranoid enough to never reveal where I live or work to any strangers or on any social media platform.  

I am not telling this story to talk about a bad experience on Tinder. What I want to get at it something entirely different.

All my life, I always wondered why women, especially those who are financially independent, put up with abusive partners. Didn’t they understand they were better off leaving? For those with children, did they really want them to grow up in an abusive home?

I think I now have a faint understanding of why they do what they do. It is guilt.

They are somehow made to believe everything is their fault. If things go wrong, it would be their fault. That fixing things was in their hands — their responsibility, even.  

I call myself a feminist. I take a strong stance against patriarchy. I never looked for a man to find happiness. Why then did I not end things the first time Z said something sexist? Something demeaning? That’s what I would have asked a friend to do. Why didn’t I do so myself?

Because I also believed it was my fault. Every time I was called a heartless bitch, I believed it. Every time he said I had ruined his day, I felt guilty. That is why I didn’t act. I was on a mission to be a better human being.

It took me months to understand that I was wronging myself, not him.

Every once in awhile, I put up a fight. In the end I waved the white flag because I’ve always felt the compulsion to fix what is broken. Z was smart enough to catch that early on and cash on it.

Emotional abuse is subtle, almost indiscernible for the longest time. Like a snake that slithers its way around you while you sleep and by the time you open your eyes, it has you in its vice like grip. It doesn’t leave scars that you can show to the world as evidence of your suffering. You try to convince yourself that it was just a nightmare, until you realise you are living in one.

The point is, all the feminist reading I had done so far in my life equipped me with arguments, but not with the ability to empathise. I know empathy cannot be taught. But writings on gender based issues are clearly lacking that element and that needs to be addressed. I think that purely argument based writing is desensitising, at some level. That’s one of the reasons I’ve now stopped following what used to be my favorite e-magazine, The Ladies Finger.

Fiction (often) does a good job of evoking empathy and true understanding. Academia cannot be expected to cater to it. It’s their job to be neutral. What is left in between in social media, editorial columns and writers and celebrities who have a social media following.

It is always, always easier said than done. That needs to be understood, remembered and respected. I had a hard time ending things with a man I barely knew or cared for. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for wives and mothers, women in long term relationships, etc.

Understanding and compassion are the origin, there is no way forward without them. We can find readership without it, but cannot hope to be of any help.

 

On Tinder-ing #2

A little over a year ago, I wrote a post about my attempt at online dating via Tinder. Which  never really went much beyond downloading the app and trashing several drafts of limericks for “description” on my profile page.

Last week, I was reinitiated and re-encouraged by my friend (let’s call her N) to rethink that decision. It worked because she struck while the iron was hot – we were at a mutual friend’s wedding and N herself can see matrimony in her near future. I am the only vertex in that triangle without a Y chromosome-d partner.

So, I did rethink.

Apparently, when you’re sitting in a corner while your friends are busy smoking pot, creative inspiration comes without effort. I did manage to scribble a few decent lines to be put up on that dreaded “description” box. I nearly included something that would constitute an unsubtle innuendo with scope for a great deal of desi sex jokes, but decided to ditch that. Still too wary of online dating to get into those comfy PJs.

Men will have to wait a bit to witness my tendency to make crass jokes and say inappropriate things.

A little over a week into Tinder, I’ve learned a thing or two. And not just about online dating.

  1. Tinder is fantastic for my fat-girl-ego. Nearly everyone I swipe right turns out to be a match. It assuages the hesitation of the girl in me who asked N – “Why would any man want to date someone who is fat?”N was uncharacteristically patient with me and said, “Because not all men are so shallow that their prime concern is how a woman looks. There are men out there who are good people looking for companionship.”

    I must admit, I was ashamed at my own cynicism regarding men. So much for my ideas on body positivity and my efforts not to generalise. Sigh.

    Anyway, now that I am on Tinder and all these men are “matches”, they act like power boosters for the ego. Which is something I could really use once in a while.

  2. Men might not be shallow, but tuns out I am. I find myself itching to swipe left for anyone who is:

    – Unemployed (I am even tempted to read “self-employed” as “unemployed”)Who uses bad grammar in their description

    – Who has attended a college/institution I have little to no respect forOh and that is not all.

    A man posing with his Mercedes is a snob. But anyone with a job I know doesn’t pay squat also doesn’t seem attractive. Techies are boring and “freelancers” are jobless.

    In retrospect, I am a terrible person. Not to mention shallow. And a snob.

    Sigh. Either I change how I think about things or I stop expecting men to show more depth of character than I am capable of. I like the former option better. 

  3. Having admitted my own failings, I can now go on to laugh at the many ridiculous things one sees on Tinder

    – Men with spouses or partners in their profile pics. Dude – what the hell are you doing? Either you’re an ass looking to cheat or you think having multiple partners somehow makes you a stud. Or you have no idea what Tinder is about. Either way, you’re getting swiped left without a second thought.

    – So much patriarchy – I once got a request from a guy whose description said “Hope there are some sanskaari girls here; most girls these days either smoke or drink.” I experienced the ultimate pleasure of cheap thrills when I asked the guy to fuck off.

    – There are also ones with memorable quotes like, “Men will be men; what do you want them to be – donuts?” or “I am who I am because you are you.” or men who’s current employment is as an “Individual.”

  4. 9/10 profiles have something to say about the love of travelling or some *insert wanderlust quote*. Is this the new fad? I’d like to see a man honestly admit that he’d rather just sit at home and binge watch movies.

Anywhooo – I never did expect Tinder to send me down the introspection route but it did and maybe I can learn to unlearn some things. We’re conditioned to prize academics and career prospects over all other “unimportant” things during the formative years of our life. Love-life and matrimony are things that belong to the “future”. Now that the “future” is here, how do I reorganise and reshuffle my priorities?

I feel guilty every time the presence of IIT/IIM on the description bar makes me instinctively give the profile a closer look. It’s something I always dissed others for. Clearly, I am not immune to it.

But I need to be. When did I begin to look at degrees before people? Or is that just how you filter profiles in a country where being one in a million counts for nothing because that only means you have 1000000 others in the same spot?

I’ve now started to be less flippant about my Tinder “swipes”. I actually read the entire profile before taking a call.

But the bad grammar is a total turn off and that’s an immediate no. That’s shallow alright but I refuse to apologise. We’re all allowed one vice, right?

On Tinder-ing

Until this morning, I was unaware of the existence of Tinder. I was made to Google it by a dear friend who insisted that I stop living under a rock. It opened my eyes to the world of online dating. Dating – not a matrimony site. So the search results didn’t make me want to just shut down my browser. So there really exists this world – one that seems rather popular and one I was completely oblivious to. I wonder what that says about me. I am a nerd, but the nerd-iest of my friends seem to be aware of this Tinder business. So I decided to get out of my hole and download the App. It has a pretty white woman (obviously) on the download badge but then so do most other apps. I decided not to care. The download complete, I proceeded to check out the App

  1. First thing – my profile. “Description” – I always fumble when such questions are posed. It is as bad as a job interview where they ask – “Okay, tell us something about yourself.” What is one to tell them? That I find that question boring and I am interested in their job and I also really want the money?

    This is similar; only you’re looking for the job of a “girlfriend” or whatever the hell one wants to be called.

    I also find it weird to have to tailor your profile to get someone to be “interested” in you. How is that done – and without lying? What end purpose will that serve? I decided to come back to this later and work on the rest of my profile first.

  1. I tend to be rather anal (read paranoid) about online security. I can conjure up in my head the worst-case scenario for just about everything. Especially the things that can happen if my personal details are available in public. Publicly available photographs are the worst.

    I just could not get myself to put up photos, especially ones where my face is completely visible. I could vividly imagine every creepy old man and peeping tom doing the worst things.

    I managed to get myself to upload that one picture with me under the tree where my round figure looks somewhat flattering and the tree is more visible than my face. The voices in my head screamed “hypocrite”

  1. It seems one has to turn on location services in order for the App to suggest your “match”. I can barely turn on location services for Facebook or Uber. But to do that for a dating app?

    My hands refused to cooperate. The worst-case scenarios in my head worsened as the Criminal-Minds-like-psycho-stalkers did terrible things with my location.

Even if I did find some “match”, I would probably spend my time looking for signs of a psychopath rather than looking into the man’s eyes. Sigh In the two hours I spent with my phone this morning, I learnt that mobile-online-dating are not for me. Nope.