And a partridge in a pear tree…

24 12 2010

These days, for most of us, Christmas is a festival of food, drink, glittery stuff and….presents! But how do you choose the gifts you give? How do you select from the dizzying range of gifties available in our shops, which go from sublime to kitsch to crap?

The JC Penney commercial linked here, is an advertiser’s guide to how not to approach the matter – for men at least. (The solution is –  jewellery!)

We found the whole thing disturbing in many ways….yet interesting as a view on what presses people’s buttons.

How do you buy gifts for the people you love and live with?

1.

When I go gift hunting I think quite carefully about the person I am buying it for. If they like Lady Gaga, that’s what they get, whatever my own opinion of the dreadful LG might be. Price is a factor too obviously, but I try hard to find something I can afford, that they will like too.

The other point I consider when buying gifts, (and this is why the man in JC Penney went into the doghouse) is to try and get something the giftee would not usually get for themselves, and certainly nothing – god forbid, useful. In other words, a little Luxury.

However, when buying gifts for one’s wealthier friends who have vast disposable incomes, this always becomes a major issue, because what the hell toys/treats/accessories can you get them that they haven’t already bought? This is when ingenuity has to be used, to pick out/ create and devise something no one else would think of, to bestow upon your unfortunately rich bud – a meal at Pilawoos or gift vouchers from one of those tiny shops in Pettah spring to mind…

2.

I have to say I am very bad about this gift giving business. I usually forget people’s birthdays, Christmas and New Year are upon me before I’ve remembered that I have to give gifts and sometimes, even after I buy the gift, I forget to give it till much later! Come to think of it, the only time I remember and make plans and buy gifts is when I come back from a trip abroad.

When I do buy gifts, though, I like to think about what would please the other person. There are times I’ve given useful gifts because at the time that I was buying it (usually in the middle of rushing around somewhere just before the event) I knew they needed and were looking for such a thing. Most times, I am boring and give books and chocolates – the easiest when you are surrounded by people who love reading and sweet things! Sometimes, I’ve given gifts that were useful but that others wouldn’t think of, like a little mortar and pestle as a housewarming gift. At other times, I just see things that make me remember a specific person, like random books and gizmos I pick up for my father or coffee for my coffee-loving friends. And at times, for people I love, I go looking endlessly for things that they will be amused and surprised by!

3.

When I buy a gift for someone I love, I try to think of what it is they need…you see, I am the practical sort. I bought my best friend a cutlery set when she moved into a new house, and this year was thinking of getting her a microwave but changed my mind! As for my partner, I usually buy her books. She loves books, particularly political books, so I guess I tend to buy her something I know she would enjoy. The same goes for friends. My friend who loves night clubs and is a DJ, will get a disco light; my sporty friend will get a sporty spray and my girlie friend will get another pair of earrings!

I generally try to avoid gift vouchers. Mainly because they have the value of the gift voucher displayed on them and somehow the gift becomes less personal. I have to admit that I have once or twice recycled gift vouchers I have received, i.e re given them to someone! Terrible I know! But so easy to do if you don’t know the person very well.  However, overall, I do love buying people gifts, wrapping them and sharing them. It makes me very happy!

for more partridge humour





Shit happens to women everyday

30 09 2010

Everyday it happens.

The leering, the staring, the whistling. The jostling, the poking, the showing. The rubbing. Comments, suggestions, requests, assessments. The blaming, shaming, and naming. Four letter words and three letter words.

Some times you hear a woman talking back and writing back. Once in a while, a man agrees with the woman who talks back and writes back. And all around them the debate goes on. Like comments on the virginity test story.

Women should dress appropriately. No, we can dress any way we like. No, they should not dress revealingly, asking for trouble. And what if our elbows cause desire in a man? Don’t be silly, it is natural for men to be aroused so women should just not provoke the men. But, what if a man gets off on my finger nails? Or tries to masturbate next to me in the bus? Or in the car park turned towards me? You can just tell him off no? And what if the man starts shouting at me in all the words he knows and everyone around is looking at me accusingly or weirdly? What to do no, you have to face these things as a woman if you want your rights.

And if we are in a rage at the things that happen to all of us women at any time of the day or night? What is the appropriate response, you think? Write about it and shout about it? Keep on writing and shouting about it? Talk to the few women and men who think and act differently?

And keep laughing, I think. Loudly.





You’re not a feminist, but … what?

18 04 2010

Many young women embrace the ideas of feminism but are reluctant to use the ‘f-word’ for fear of rocking the boat…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/apr/07/feminist-f-word-young-women





Spread the word.

2 04 2010

I just realized that since I am neither an academic nor a self-identified feminist, it has taken me over three quarters of my life to recognize the fact that I have been and still am oppressed. By men.

Recently I thought about why it took me so long to realize this glaringly obvious fact. Living in a strongly male dominated society as I do, it should have been very apparent but maybe the conditioning went so deep that it was never something I thought about till I moved towards women – lesbians, feminists, academics – all sorts of unusual and intelligent characters who taught me, above all, to think.

Coming out was probably the first step on a long road towards the dawning realization that most men bully, tolerate or patronize women in ways so numerous that listing them would be exhausting. But one of the most important factors in my state of ignorance about my own oppression would have to be the fact of my privileged position in society. My life has been far easier than that of most Sri Lankan women, for no better reasons than that I was taught to speak English and was reared in a secure and liberal environment. So, my awareness of male oppression never got beyond the point of a fury that I would never win a physical battle with my brother, even if I was fighting for what was mine.

But then, how easy it would be to simply go with the mainstream flow and block out the incessant and infuriating male behaviors I now observe so clearly around me – from the tiniest details of thoughtless behavior to the relentless objectification/sexualisation of virtually every woman around.

Don’t straight women notice these things? Or is it just much more in their interests to deny and so condone them? Straight women have to live with men and off men to a great extent. Men are their protectors and providers and most importantly, the fathers of their children after all. Perhaps these are compromises they make, consciously or otherwise, in the search for motherhood and security. And living as we do in a deeply conventional South Asian society, the pressures to conform that are placed upon all women, are even greater.

I imagine that women suffering poverty and violence have little time or energy to meditate for long upon their circumstance. Their battles are for survival. They are the ones who suffer the most, who are deeply oppressed and whose voices are therefore rarely heard. But on the other hand, a high profile, educated, intelligent woman might not always wish to jar the status quo. The ways in which she is oppressed are much less apparent and far less painful and she has much to gain by silence and cooperation. So the most articulate women capable of effecting the greatest change become precisely the ones who would never be required to raise their own awareness and speak out. Given a choice between protecting one’s personal comfort and security and waging a constant battle for equality and power, few would choose the latter.

I know there are some amazing women who do just that – who give up so much and spend their lives fighting for equality and women’s rights. They are usually the lesbians, feminists and academics. In our society it often seems the word has not spread much further than that.





Priceless responses by open-minded, liberal-thinking women

26 02 2010
  1. “Leave her for a few days at a time.” On breaking up with pull-all-stops partner.
  2. “Meet and talk to her.” Aka – Don’t worry about your feelings, just think of her demands.
  3. “It’s easy for her because she was the one who left.”  Walking out of home and living out of a suitcase is good training for nirvana.
  4. “You told too many people.” On confiding in mutual friends after partner told all and sundry.
  5. “You must also take responsibility.” For a violent end to a long-term relationship.
  6. “No proper handing over of duties.” On stopping volunteer work under no-way-can-you-go-there circumstances.
  7. “You chose to leave, so it’s not your house anymore.” On leaving home after a violent incident with no option of going back.
  8. “She can’t advise you because she is straight”. So she doesn’t know what happens when people are in relationships?
  9. “People will talk if you’re seen around with X.” Two months after the end of the relationship.

And of course, the best:

10. “Prove you’re not committing adultery”. To  reassure suspicious partner who sneak-peeks into text and mail.