Lose-Lose Situations: South Asian Attitudes Towards Women




Last week, a member of the gang involved in the 2012 Delhi gang rape, which resulted in the death of 23-year-old Jyoti Singh, was interviewed and immediately his shocking remarks became viral.

“You can’t clap with one hand – it takes two hands,” he declared in the interview. “A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. Boy and girl are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes.” (Source)

Now, the rapist who stated the above is well…a rapist. His skewed views on women became clear the moment he decided to partake in raping a woman. In response to his statement, many people have come forward and said things like, “Not all Indian men think this way!” or “He is one the of uneducated masses, they haven’t been taught or exposed to anything better.”

To these sentiments I agree. Yes, not all Indian men think like this at all, this is true. And yes, he was one of the uneducated masses in which gender equality is not even considered an issue in terms of day to day life. What I think is being overlooked however, is what the gang’s lawyer (AP Singh) said in court during the trial.

“If my daughter or sister engaged in pre-marital activities and disgraced herself and allowed herself to lose face and character by doing such things, I would most certainly take this sort of sister or daughter to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight.”

For the record, he not only said this but he has stated that he “stands by [it]”. (Source)

So yea. Vande freaking mataram.

This brings up a bunch of questions for me:

1. So it’s acceptable to burn someone alive rather than sleeping with a boy of my choice before marriage?

2. Should I be more scared of being burned alive by AP Singh or taking the bus home with one of his clients on it?

3. Why isn’t AP Singh condemning his sons or brothers to a fiery death if they are caught with a girl?

The 2012 Delhi rape case is not a definition of Indian/South Asian men, but rather a reflection of South Asian social norms in which both men AND women raise their daughters to respect others while raising their sons to expect respect from others.

Why does Indian society insist that women are the ones to blame for ‘ruining a family name’ or ‘inviting rape.’ Why do we insist that our daughters don’t go out at night when it is our sons that are making them prey? Why are there educated lawyers in India who threaten to burn women alive for having sex while those same lawyers defend the dignity of men who raped and murdered a woman?

The 2012 Delhi rape case is a long needed wake up call to many South Asian families regarding their sons’ attitudes towards their female peers. We need to uphold our sons to the same standards we instill in our daughters. We cannot perpetuate the attitude of raising women to be a ‘good wife’  unless we also focus on raising our men to become ‘good husbands’ one day.

Rape is a result of a someone preying on women because they see us as the lesser sex, not because we should be at home washing the dishes rather than spending time out in the city. South Asian attitudes towards women can only change if we start the conversation about them changing.

Talk about the 2012 Delhi rape and Jyoti Singh. Let’s stop whispering about it in front of our family members and friends and state it loudly for what it is.

Be safe out there ladies and gents, take care and always love one another.



Thanks for making this possible!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

#HipsterHoneymoon – Sleepless in Seattle and Other Smells.

Day 1: Seattle, WA to Long Beach, WA. 171 mi.

When AV and I landed in Seattle to begin our roadtrip journey we quickly realized a few things:

1. We were free to do WHATEVER we wanted. Even though we’re in our twenties and finished with college, the fact we were together and on an adventure just made things ‘cooler’.

2. Car rentals are confusing.

3. Leaving Seattle and sneaking into Canada is apparently a really big deal. I have never before been asked, “Are you SURE you’re not going to Canada?”, 3 times in a row.

Once we jumped into the car I suddenly realized that AV spent the last few years in NYC, so I asked her, “Dude, when was the last time you drove a car?”

AV brought dandiya, you know, "just in case."

AV brought dandiya (top of the photo), you know, “just in case.”

It was the first time she had driven a car in 2 months.

After the initial shock of being in a new city in a car driven by AV, we pulled out our map. Yes. A map. I bought one at the airport because I thought it would be useful and come on, maps are cool. They make for some awesome pictures.

The map in question.

The map in question.

After spazzing out about how cool Seattle was, AV and I started what we were REALLY excited about; driving along Highway 101.

Seattle is so quirky. This is at Pike Place Market. The stuff you see on the wall is chewing gum. yummm

Seattle is so quirky. This is at Pike Place Market. The stuff you see on the wall is chewing gum. yummm

Fast forward a few hours: AV and I were on Highway 101, which means beautiful forests, pleasant breezes, and ABSOLUTELY NO CELL PHONE SIGNAL. AV had made a humongous Spotify roadtrip playlist which in her words was, “Seriously the shit. It’s epic.”

Well, no signal = no Spotify. The remainder of the trip was listening to fuzzy radio and the 40 or so songs on my iPad. And you know what? We loved it.

The test of true friendship is being in a car with someone with music you are being forced to listen to.

Day 1 of our #HipsterHoneymoon contained one of my and AV’s favorite memory of our friendship. As we drove out of Seattle and into the beautiful woods towards our next destination, AV opened the car windows because the car was getting stuffy. After a few seconds we both looked at each other and asked, “Wait. What smells so good?”

After looking around the car and realizing no one had scented lotion on, it hit us. The forests along Highway 101 smelled like heaven. Of course, AV went nuts and put her entire head out the window because she wanted “to remember this smell forever, NYC doesn’t provide me with nature smells.” I still laugh when I remember this moment.

As we continued on, blasting our lame music through the countryside, I stopped the car at a scenic overlook. Once I turned the car off we realized that this spot was the quietest spot we have ever encountered. I suddenly felt bad that we poisoned the forest with the sounds of “Dark Horse” and “Dog Days Are Over”.

What I believe to be the quietest place on Earth. Along Highway 101, Washington.

What I believe to be the quietest place on Earth. Along Highway 101, Washington.

AV and I got out the car and whipped out our DSLR’s, taking pictures and freaking out (as usual) about how cool the scene was. Then…the drunk guy appeared. I swear, it’s a law of nature: The presence of 2 or more women causes a very drunk man to approach them. This guy stumbled out of his tent, in the middle of a scenic outlook that was along a freaking highway. A HIGHWAY. He politely asked us for some money as he sat near his tent. After denying him money and taking the pictures we wanted, we got in the car turned the music back on. This time, we didn’t blast it.

Many hours later, once the olfactory overload had subsided, we stopped by at a little pizza joint near the cabins we were staying at. I don’t think I’ve ever seen AV more excited about food. Ever. If we hadn’t found that pizza place when we did I’m pretty sure AV would have come back from this trip alone…with me never being found.

Chico's Pizza saving my life.

Chico’s Pizza saving my life.

FINALLY, we got to our cabins and freaked about again about how cute it was. The main thing about this cabin was the fact that THERE WERE Q-TIPS IN A JAR IN THE BATHROOM. That’s when you know you’re in the right place. #HighRolling

We changed our clothes, planned the next day a bit, and went to bed. Well, AV went to bed, I found a boat paddle on the wall and kept it next to my bed…you know, in case of a serial killer or if AV got hungry again.



#HipsterHoneymoon – “Let’s go on a trip man. I love you.”

This summer was a summer of change for me and most of my friends: graduation, break-ups, new jobs, new people, and new homes.

I called up one of my childhood besties during a particular rough patch for both of us this summer, and I’m not sure if it was a product of raw emotion or just anger, but we decided that we needed to get out.

Get out of our surroundings and our norms. Get out of this cycle of thinking negative thoughts and brooding over broken relationships, worrying about starting a new chapter, and confused about the direction of well…everything.

“We should totally go to Spain. Have you seen the guys in Spain?”

Yea…looked up the price of one flight and we quickly decided something domestic was more our pace for now. So we searched and talked like best friends do.

We talked about something epic! Something fresh that forced us to step outside our comfort level. Something with good food and much needed isolation. A place that you could only imagine existed on Instagram.

That’s when it hit us: let’s go on a roadtrip.

Here’s to a start of a series that I’ve been waiting to begin. I’ll be posting some anecdotes, pictures, and travel tips from our trip that we can now say was one of the most rewarding experiences of our young lives.

Here’s to a total of 1,183 miles of driving and here’s to my fellow sister-friend AV.


Along the Pacific. Photo Credit: AV

Along the Pacific. Photo Credit: AV

Being Indian-American: Straying from the ‘Big 4’

The Big 4: Doctor. Engineer. Dentist. Pharmacist.

If you’re Indian-American and reading this right now then there is a very good chance that you have either pursued, are pursuing, or have been encouraged by your parents/family to pursue the aforementioned career fields. Our culture has a deep value for these professions, not just because of their noble nature but largely due to their financial and social stability. I mean this makes sense, what parent doesn’t want a stable future for their children?

**And before I get into the heart of this  article, let me preface by saying that I believe pursuing medicine, engineering, dentistry, or pharmacy are all noble pursuits; props to those of you who are actively pursuing these fields.

While these are great careers to pursue, oftentimes our families have trouble comprehending that they aren’t the only careers worth pursuing.

Most of us have observed the following scenario:

A family immigrates from India to America in pursuit of better opportunities. Better opportunities for not only the adults but for their children. Children grow older and are encouraged to pursue careers in the same field as their parents or other family members because “it’s stable and proven to work.”

This is what confuses me: families move to the “land of opportunity” and instead of encouraging their children to explore and take advantage of these opportunities, they let tunnel vision take over and oftentimes push their children to pursue one of the 4 paths mentioned above.

Even if you weren’t necessarily pushed into one of those aforementioed fields, anything straying from those paths is a oftentimes a major struggle for us to convince our parents to let us pursue.

Film Degree? “So what job are you going to get?”

International Relations? “Good…so then you’re applying to Medical school?”

English? “But Pharmacy is such a stable career for a woman!

Now I’m not exactly the poster child of this cause; I studied engineering by choice, wasn’t pushed into it. But along the way I realized that this wasn’t the field for me. After graduating I’ve decided not to pursue a career in my studied field and would rather explore elsewhere, this hasn’t exactly been seamless…many family members and friends ask “But what about stability?”, “You’ll have time to pursue what you want later. Why stray from what you studied?”, or “You could be making more money.”

It takes a while, but I’ve come to terms with choosing to pursue what drives me sooner rather than later. No matter what spurs excitement within you, take the plunge and put your heart into it.

This sounds very naive and optimistic, I know; but our parents did it. Many of them moved to a different country with little or no money, some of them learned English along the way, all had to apply for citizenship and go through hoops just to enter/work/stay in this country, and they learned an entirely new system of government, commerce, and social etiquette in a foreign country. All of this while working and creating a better life for themselves, their children, and family members back in India.

If our parents could risk it all and pursue the unconventional route then we can too. We can stray from the fields that are considered “safe”, we can pursue our crazy goals and dreams, and we can dare to be whatever we want. While tradition and society don’t always align with our hybrid Indian-American upbringing, who says we aren’t allowed to try?

So go out there and make that “crazy” decision to forge a path in what you think is worthwhile. Remember, crazy doesn’t mean irrational, so still create a general plan for your “crazy” career trajectory and pick up some mentors along the way!

It comes down to having a plan and having an open channel of communication with your family. Because if you won’t fight for your dreams, who will?


Have a story that aligns with this or a personal experience you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it! Please share in the comments below.

Being Indian-American: Why the Tune of Dating Sounds So Different.

I grew up with movies like ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’. Like any 90’s Bollywood movie you see the following:

Boy meets girl, girl meets boy, they smile, they know with a glance that they’re into each other, a few conversations and a very awkward, long hug later the hero and heroine are professing their love to each other.

Now this is all well and good while you’re growing up, but then you get older and start watching American rom-coms. ‘When Harry Met Sally’, ‘Love Actually’, ‘Definitely, Maybe’. These classics showcase the key difference between finding love in India and finding love in America: dating.

In American love stories you find ‘the one’ after dating other people, you find them after making mistakes and experiencing heartbreak. In Indian love stories you hit the jackpot the first time around. Most first generation Indian-Americans have parents who experienced the Indian version of a love story, whether it was an arranged marriage or a cute love story, most of our parents haven’t exactly dated other people. Not only does our culture look down upon the concept of dating, but most Indians focus on the end goal and not the journey; commitment is an expectation in India and a privilege in America.

All through high school the common theme among Indian parents was, “Don’t focus on boys/girls. No boyfriend/girlfriend business, focus on your studies.” During college I had many friends who were scared to tell their parents about their respective relationships (I couldn’t muster up the courage to tell my parents about my own relationship until the ripe age of 21). What’s funny is that once we graduate college or grad school the situation turns around 180 degrees. The community that discouraged all relationships your entire life is now asking when you’re getting married….lol wut.

How can we be expected to seek a serious relationship when our entire lives we never exactly had support or guidance when it comes to the topic of dating? How do we incorporate the Indian movie ideal of romance in America? How are we supposed to know what kind of person is ‘worth it’ when our parents never really talked to us about it? Why is the swan song of dating for first generation Indians in American so.damn.confusing?

I’m not sure. But what I do know is that, while it isn’t exactly ‘fair’, we have to approach the topics ourselves. Talk to your parents about what it means to be in a relationship, convince them that you’re mature enough to do what they never had to do: dating in America as an Indian-American. I’ve met too many guys afraid of commitment, too many girls afraid to admit that they just want to date around, too many of us who have no idea what to do because we don’t share the same reality as our parents.

Dating is weird for everyone, so let’s try to make it a little less weird by creating an open dialogue.

Good luck and may the dating gods be with you.