She Smiled to Conquer?

A gaping hole peered through

Where once a glass ceiling was

Up high

Smiling down at the shattered remnants

A statue of Lady Liberty

Majestically rose

Eons it’s taken

With decades still to go

For the delicately strong lines

Of the Sculptor to show

Writing destiny

Across a marble-like

Pristinity

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The Face of a Woman

But what will you do, my dear,

When the day of reckoning is here?

For in this world, on lies and deceit you’ve thrived,

And let truth venture nowhere near.

Will you sweet-talk your way

Out of eternal damnation?

Or will you submit yourself to be judged

Through a chaffing trial by fire?

Or will you kneel, accepting defeat

Because of your innumerable wrongdoings?

Continue reading “The Face of a Woman”

Whisper and the Roar – Poetry Feature

Hello, beautiful people!

Have you heard of the literary collective called “Whisper and the Roar”? Considering the overwhelming response I’ve been getting on my feminist poems and posts, I thought now would be the right time to introduce this incredibly brave and unapologetically feminist forum to you all. And, guess what? Sometimes its curators are kind enough to feature my works. Like today, for example! I’m so proud of myself for having done an excellent job at hiding my excitement right up to the last line one here!

If you stand for humanity, equality, love and compassion for all, please visit the collective. Its bound to either enrage your senses at the glaring injustices present in our society, or to give you hope that there are people working hard to put an end to it all and create a fair environment for everyone to grow and thrive in. Either way, you’d get a taste of soul-stirring literature. Today’s feature is a poem I wrote last week, titled “No Ordinary Fairytale”. Please click here to go to the collective and read it. I would love to have your feedback on it!

Thank you for reading.

Love,

Varnika.

Unburnt

Swam through a pool of fire

And emerged unscathed.

Learned to run without training wheels,

Realised I could fly, growing wings.

Tried to keep my tears under wraps,

Found my smile bedazzling the world.

Never heard a word of encouragement,

Yet my voice resonated with profundity.

Trials, tribulations.

Failures, successes.

Miseries and triumphs –

The sum total of my achievements

May yet be far from even numbers.

But the life that I am living

Will not douse like dying embers.

For more poetry, please click here. Please leave your thoughts and comments down below, I’d be delighted to get a feedback. Thank you for reading!

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Lather.Rinse.Repeat

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

A girl’s daily cleansing ritual.

Twice a day ’tis needed

To lather, rinse, repeat.

The first to rejuvenate in the freshness of the morning.

The latter to clean away the grime of the day.

To scrub off the leers that men through along your way.

To wash off the stench of unwanted advances.

And of jeers hidden behind subtle nuances.

To drain away the suds of patriarchy’s condescension.

A gentle foam to soothe over all scars

From breaking glass ceilings.

A circular motion to ward off memories

Of lewd gestures made by men.

It’s called a mindless pattern of repetition

Without critical thought.

But in this society’s construction

Let this age-old idiom be your protection

And never, ever should you forget

To lather, rinse, repeat.


For more poetry, click here.

For more on feminism, click here.

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Scheduling Error 

Due to a scheduling error, one of my poetry posts got messed up and might not be visible to most of you. I’m sharing the link here. I hope you enjoy reading it and give it the love and support you’ve been so kind to provide to all my other poems too. Thank you! (Please don’t let the mess-up stop you from reading it, it’s very close to my heart, so, pretty please?)

Here’s the direct link: Lather.Rinse.Repeat.

Feminism in Fiction

A few days ago, I expressed my angst and ire at the incredibly sexist portrayal of women in fairytales. They’re shown as damsels in distress without fail. One cannot even begin to imagine how detrimental such images are to the impressionable minds of young girls growing up
to believe they need to wait for someone to come rescue them. However, I also mentioned Disney Films were changing this perspective now with their recent crop of movies. Then I went on to expound upon how the character of Princess Devasena from a South Indian movie, Bahubali, was a lesson in feminism and a breath of fresh air.
Sarah, from Written Word Worlds, has very admirably made a compilation of Feminism in Fiction and I’m sharing her work here for your benefit.

Written Word Worlds

Looking back on many of the fairytales I’ve grown up reading and loving, I’ve realised that the majority of them are incredibly sexist. They seem to indicate that women are not in control of their lives or their fate and are in constant need of saving. With awareness for feminism being the most it has ever been, it’s a wonder anyone thinks that reading these archaic, misogynistic stories to children is acceptable. Not only does it teach our girls that they have to rely on a prince to save them and that they have no say in the matter, but it teaches everyone else that women are helpless victims who will never feel fulfilled in life without a husband.

Let me stop you right there, sexist society. We don’t need saving. We’re perfectly fine on our own, thank you very much. The last thing we want is you Facebook stalking…

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Oh, but she’s a woman!

“Oh, but she’s a girl.”, they said,

As she was born and didn’t wail.

“Oh, but she’s female.”, they said,

As they hired a less meritorious male in her stead.
“Oh, but she’s about to be a mother.”, they said,

As they passed her over for a promotion yet again.

“Oh, but who’ll look after the family?”, they said,

As they crushed her dreams in lieu of her husband’s.

“Oh, but who’ll carry forth the family name?”, they said,

As they made her do household chores and sent only her brother to school.

“Oh, but she’s a woman!” they exclaim,

As she changes paradigms to carve out her place.
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Neither owned nor owed


​I do not owe you my successes,

Much like my failures are my own.

I do not owe you my happiness,

Just like in sadness I am alone.

You might feel like you own me,

But my dreams never learnt to bend the knee.
My ambitions, they soar high, surely and with certainty,

Never doubted, never constrained by all your negativity.
You tell me how I will amount to only disappointments.

Yet, I’ll keep proving you wrong with all my accomplishments.
You treat me like I was born to serve, to submit and be obedient.

I’ll show you how I’m also human and, above all, resilient.
You shout that you’re a man and I should always seek your benignness,

I’ll roar that I’m a woman, and yet meet you with kindness and forgiveness.

I am fierce, I am gentle, I empower, I overthrow, I nourish, I nurture, and I can even destroy, I am a juxtaposition of paradoxes, I am woman and I’ll endure.

Give ’em the ol’ razzle dazzle

​I recently wrote my two cents on feminism, fairy tales and the need to move beyond to more gender neutral grounds. In the aftermath, I had a highly enlightening conversation with a friend of mine. I won’t go as far as to accept she changed my world view. However, her points were poignant and realistic. Therefore, I decided to pen them down. Below is a narrative of her words, as best recalled by me alongwith my own thoughts on it.

She says being a female is about doing what a man cannot do as much as it is about doing what he can do. Rightly so, I believe, since there is a fundamental difference in our psyche, understanding, physical and mental capabilities as honed by centuries of designated roles right down to our basal natures. So, women interpret and view things differently than men, whatever may be the reason behind this.

She says the whole problem in any age boils down to male agression. Yet, to be equal, women need not become as brutish as men. They can preserve their grace and still bring about major changes in the current world scenario.
She amplifies this point by saying being soft does not equate to being weak. The necessity of life is to be tender also.

She says the problem with the current wave of feminism is that it is making men uncomfortable and nervous. Now, here, one needs to understand that even though the whole agenda may be to make men sit up and notice women as equals, the approach, however, is still wrong. We cannot operate in vacuum. One needs to make one’s play by keeping a solid hold on reality. This reality being that men, when cornered or threatened, like any human, are prone to lash out and be defensive. Consequently, they will be less rational and receptive to the whole idea of feminism.

Regardless of how they “should” react, in a more utopian context, the reality of their reaction cannot be ignored for long. Feminists need to be sensitive to the fact that what matters is how men will react, rather than how they should.

She says men in power have already always been ruining our lives by preaching and commanding how things “should” be. Women, however, have had centuries of experience in dealing with such men and surviving. They know how men will react. They can circumvent it to create a more positive outlook. Women may or may not be smarter than men, that’s a matter of individual opinions, they do, however, have the uncanny, unwavering ability to hone in on the exact reaction which will be solicited in a man in any given scenario.

She says when you violently or suddenly change the status of men in society, i.e., if we are not gentle and gracious, in the long run, it would only produce more misogynistic bosses, more patriarchal mothers, more dominating fathers, even more homophobic population. Because this is too much too fast.

What bears testimony to the above is the fact that men don’t even stand up against their own objectification, their own abuse, their own rape. Feminists need to know what needs to be done, but also done in the right way.

Softly, gently, gracefully, forgivingly, lies the way ahead. There cannot be a war of the sexes. The consequences of that would be way too ugly to even imagine.

Society is all about power equations. To disrupt it, even if the aim is to bring about a balance, one needs to be tactful and strategic.
She ends the discourse by saying to fight, you don’t need to antagonise. Hate the sin, not the sinner. As I said before, in a previous post, we are all responsible for how men and women grow up to be. Not every individual can be blamed.

I think a small dialogue with her has mellowed down my self righteous indignation. I was previously unaware that, being a woman, I harboured an angst against the opposite sex for their sense of entitlement. I am better educated now. I hope to be able to contribute to upliftment of the society as a whole now.

So, thank you, dear friend, for taking the time to talk to me.

Funnily enough, for some reason, I can only think of the following lyrics to aptly describe how to be gracious towards the sensitivities of men while moving ahead on the right path:

“Give ’em the ol’ razzle dazzle

Razzle Dazzle ’em

Give ’em an act with lots of flash in it

And the reaction will be passionate

Give ’em the old hocus pocus

Bead and feather ’em

How can they see with sequins in their eyes?


What if your hinges all are rusting?

What if, in fact, you’re just disgusting?


Razzle dazzle ’em

And they’ll​ never catch wise!


Give ’em the old Razzle Dazzle

Razzle dazzle ’em

Give ’em a show that’s so splendiferous


Row after row will crow vociferous


Give ’em the old flim flam flummox

Fool and fracture ’em


How can they hear the truth above the roar?


Throw ’em a fake and a finagle

They’ll never know you’re just a bagel,


Razzle dazzle ’em

And they’ll beg you for more!


Give ’em the old double whammy

Daze and dizzy ’em

Back since the days of old Methuselah

Everyone loves the big bambooz-a-ler


Give ’em the old three ring circus

Stun and stagger ’em

When you’re in trouble, go into your dance


Though you are stiffer than a girder

They’ll let you get away with murder

Razzle dazzle ’em

And you’ve got a romance.”