I had my Eureka moment, and it left me feeling disappointed. I put forward a theorem that nothing is a truly selfless act, we help others because it makes us feel good (or better) about ourselves. I even have evidence to back my claim, and I present it to you: I once volunteered with a ‘youth organization’ that (in its words) worked towards providing quality education to underprivileged children. I quit because I found a terrible heaviness taking hold of my heart, listening to what the kids were going through. I learnt a little bit about myself that day, it made me think lesser of myself. Soon there was a nagging feeling, that this hypothesis had already been proven by Phoebe of Friends. To conclude, (a) I was selfish after all, and (b) I regurgitated pop philosophy espoused by an eccentric character from a dated TV show (memorably referred to as ‘Six White Complainers’ by Dong on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). I am not sure if I can continue thinking I am a snowflake.
I am not sure of a few other things, such as my opinion on the death penalty (I hardly ever think of it), God, and the menstrual cup (which I’m too scared to think about; I understand this is hypocritical of me, what with all the battles I wage, exhorting people to lead environmentally sustainable lives).
I am not sure of my stance on stalking. A long time ago, I wrote about it (and I read it again; Verdict – Not Bad). I am still puzzled as to how some women enjoy it. Let me tell you a story. One evening, I started driving from home, and in the side view mirror, I saw a man on a scooter driving behind me. I am not sure how or why I noticed him, but I continued noticing him for the next thirty minutes. When I parked the car, I saw him there, with a grin that seemed to suggest he had accomplished something. I was terrified. He knew far too much about me already. He didn’t follow me again, but I can’t forget. Another time (back when Spencer Plaza was still a mall in people’s eyes, not a place where Kashmiri handicrafts go to die), a man followed me for almost an hour, at the end of which he groped me and went ahead. I’ve heard interesting reactions over the years. “Really? You’re not that attractive!” or “You should feel flattered someone would follow you all the way.”(I’d rather not.) The more predictable ones are horrified on my behalf, et cetera, and go on to share some stories of their own. And then there’s this petition, which calls out glorification of stalking in Tamil movies. Now, you may say movies are just movies, and it’s the people who are the problem, and I would agree…and I wouldn’t. What of the twenty two year old man-child who decided to wait at the bus stop with his new Pulsar so he could stare at (and later follow) the girl he ‘loves’? What if he told you he did so because his hero did it? Now the girl may want him to follow her (in which case, to each her own and all that), but what if she doesn’t? What if there are many more like him (and there are!), who think they are right because a celebrity endorsed their point of view in a movie? Not to be gruesome, but when the Ramkumar case blew up, there were men sharing memes along the lines of ‘This is why you don’t mess with Tirunelveli boys’ and ‘This is what happens to girls who string along boys and then dump them’ and ‘We are the kind of boys you will like only after repeated sightings’ (I admit, that last part sounds better in Tamil).
I am also not sure of what Sofia Ashraf hoped to achieve with her new music video. Yes, the song which revels in glorifying caste stereotypes, and is ignorant of its error. In an interview, the raptivist says she wanted to to objectify a Tamil Brahmin boy (oblivious to caste implications, of course), and therefore take a stand against the repression of female sexual desire. (If it weren’t for her interview, I would not have inferred that.) Women can want men too, but maybe they must begin with projecting their needs on to a ‘Tam-Brahm Boy’, and while you’re at it, make sure he meets all the criteria (high GPA, wearing the thread that is a mark of his caste, and generally reeking of privilege). If you’re done reacting to the video, I would like to inform you that there are many who have loved it, and are busy sharing it with their (upper caste) friends – it probably reminds them of each other. Some have found it funny, I don’t wish to comment on another person’s sense of humour, but they make me want to (it’s difficult being opinionated).
The other thing I’m unsure of – oh well, we shall save it for another time.