Conformity of Women’s Susceptibility to Sexual Advance in Public Transits Needs to End.

Once, I was seated in a communal conveyance when I felt the testicle of a middle-aged man pressing against my shoulder. At that moment, feeling the inconvenience I had two options to follow: to ignore or to react. However, I managed to get away from the scene after confronting the man properly. This is only a first-hand experience, but you may hear such from people around you daily. As much as these encounters are minor, the concurrence is inevitable. Impelling these scenarios to the limelight can do a lot better at educating the society about who’s at stake: the women.

Like any other country, in Sri Lanka, sexual harassment is widespread. Whether you travel by a bus or a train–which are the traditional methods of transportation viable and utilized daily–the chances of such incidents are bound to happen. When most of these incidents take place, the onlookers are silent to acknowledge the severity of this crime. Is that because the victims happen to be women? Or is the legal structure that has no competence in executing a proper convict? Or is it a natural behaviour of men that women to need to apprehend about men?

Truth to be told, the gender overview of Sri Lankan society displays a very “submissive” aspect of women in particular. Hundred years ago, in the orthodox, colonial, and post-independent generation in Sri Lanka was highly impacted by the liberal laws, and gender inequality norms, where women suffered throughout, instituted by the British government. Starting a family by late teenage years to taking care of the household might have still implanted in the minds of the people in the 21st-century society in Sri Lanka. Having said that, a survey conducted by the UNFPA Sri Lanka revealed that 90% of women have been susceptible to sexual harassment, and only 4% of them reacted by calling the police. While 4% of women in Sri Lanka have the fortitude of combating the inequity, the rest are inclined to stay put. It could be the unceasing fear of judgment because women are supposed to be good-mannered and making a commotion is looked upon as “unladylike.” The standard of women has never elevated to a higher pitch and this could be a reason why the popular belief revolves around the opinion that women should surrender and conform.

According to the judicial structure in Sri Lanka, it criminalizes sexual harassment as a punishable offence that violates basic human rights. Pestering with unsolicited sexual actions or by use of words, or sexual annoyance are inclusive to sexual harassment state in the penal code but a question pops up as to why this matter has a slight tendency to dismissal. Deputy Director of the Children and Women’s Division of Sri Lanka Police have spoken about the issue in a local newspaper saying, “This is because the police complaint is a long procedure which delays and kills time, during which process some victims change their minds. Some women just ignore, not aware that it is a crime, some are afraid of the law and do not like to go to the police and the courts, as the whole country would get to know. Women from traditional families are shy to complain.” Surely, the lack of awareness about legal relief plays a crucial role in women’s susceptibility to these harassments are inflated.Since childhood, young girls are moulded according to a specific cultural upbringing by reinforcing the proper way of dress code, and being obedient which results in bowing their heads to male dominance. Therefore, in an encounter such as this could end up normalizing the behaviour of the men because they are “men.” This problem should not be treated mildly. The more the bystanders choose to ignore as this is not their “business,” the more it takes the back seat. So, abiding by this usual pressure would deter the engagement of defying the sexual advances in public transportation.

Apart from the psychological aspects of the perpetrators committing to these vile deeds, the engagement of bystander intervention would be the ideal way to hinder the seriousness of sexual harassment. It is recognized by the Oxfam Sri Lanka in 2018 to be a successful first step in reaching the drawback. In my personal opinion, the complication of sexual harassment are more prominent in Asian countries as opposed to the West. But in Sri Lanka, the mainstream socio-cultural norms, absence of legal awareness, and the emphasis of patricentric values cause more disturbance to the harassments. Nonetheless, we are not too late to make a change.

(This article is not directed to any hate rather stating an opinion based on experience and statistics.)

The Next Stop To Colourism: #UnfairAndLovely

I was once the child who was subjected to the typical apply-some-whitening-cream-so-you-will-be-less-ugly discussion. Believe me, it was very much present in my daily life. Be it my family, relatives, friends, or for crying out loud the strangers I met at the one wedding I went to. Therefore, I have a personal call to set my records straight regarding my perspectives on this particular subject: colourism. Because my skin colour was a problem for others unlike it was for me.


Colourism (n)
Discrimination based on skin colour.


This phenomenon haunted generations for centuries. Around the 1600s, with the invasion of slavery to the social hierarchy, the skin colour played a critical role determining someone’s worth. Spread like a disease throughout the United States and other European countries. It was also prone to distribute an equal amount of racism, prejudice, and humiliation among people in the world which has now ended up in so much chaos and problematic scenarios. Currently, in media, the portray of light skin or fair skin is too much glorified to the point that women question their identity to feel good and be accepted by society. This is a major problem which needs to speak about.

Apart from India or Africa, Sri Lanka also has her fair share of girls trying to become ‘pretty’ in the dictionary of the companies that produce whitening cream. As I mentioned earlier, I have gone through the bullying phase of being dark or having a little bit more melanin in my skin. What is the difference does it make to my personality? Well, subconsciously, I start to judge myself for my looks, devaluing myself by all means of accepting the social standard of being fair, also known as being everyone’s happy pill. And including most women today, this is a honest representation of being susceptible to the peer pressure.

Source: Public Radio International The two South Asian girls promoting the Unfair and lovely campaign. Mirusha and Yanusha Yogarajah.

This is where the ‘Unfair and Lovely’ comes into action. According to Pax Jones, the 21 year old student from the University of Texas, created this concept in order to combat the colourism and extend the representation of women in colour in public. Especially in media, promoting fair skin as the glamorous and gorgeous, Jones concept has managed to shed some light to the worn-out minds. Nevertheless, the campaign has taken by a storm and everyone seems to have embraced their virgin skin with a hashtag dedicated to itself, #unfairandlovely.

Before this social outcry, numerous public figures have disclosed their views on colourism. Priyanka Chopra, an A-listed Bollywood actress once revealed how she was called ‘brownie’ and ‘curry’ by a bully, when she started schooling in America which made her self-esteem low. At one point, she was also accused of promoting the fair skin when she was new to the industry. On another encounter, Zendaya, a Hollywood actress said, she was the “Hollywood’s Acceptable Version Of A Black Girl.” She further mentioned how much it is important to create the paths to appreciate the different shades of colour of our skin whether it is in art or theater.

In a context such as Sri Lanka, it is hard to change the mindsets of people who have swallowed the common belief like every other. From heavy make-up to make women look more whiter, rather than highlighting their natural features, and skin bleaching to advanced Photoshop editing techniques to make you look more prettier, the state of being dark has unrolled to a greater extent by tendering it as a vicious plague. Being dark is almost equalized to being demonized in certain circumstances. When people have a hard time accepting the skin they were born into, there is a massive danger in regards to the younger generation who looks up to this presentation. Therefore, the message should be more open to the public to reach for a positive impact.

‘Unfair and Lovely’ has influenced a lot of young women including myself, to be fearless and speak out about the oppression and insecurity that had been embarked for a long time, because of the preposterous idea of not fitting in according to the normalized standards of beauty. With this, the confidence has regained to stand against the shadeism. The intentions have succeeded with the campaign and it has challenged society in some way to see this issue in real time.

On The Three Lessons Frida Kahlo Taught Me.

Frida Kahlo

I started reading about this aspiring Mexican painter a few months back, upon the recommendation I received from a friend. And I am glad that I did. As much as I kept on learning about her, she managed to shift my vision in certain aspects. Starting from oneself to the end of the world, she taught me a great deal.

Kahlo saw the world for the first time in 6th July 1907 in Coyoacán of Mexico. She was a medical student, by the time she met with a bus accident at the age of eighteen. During her painful recovery, she made her way into the world of painting as a magical realist. With her marriage to Diego Rivera, who was her fellow artist, comrade, best friend and husband, she developed her artistic style. Her many paintings depicted a journey to life and death in her eyes. With so many downfalls, she made a name to herself. She was the epitome of unconditional love, a conqueror of life, and most importantly the admirer of her self.

Love is a roller-coaster ride.

Frida Kahlo with her husband, Diego Rivera. Source: Biography.com

The interesting, dynamic relationship of Kahlo and Rivera is filled with many facets from friendship to betrayal to reconciliation. Diego Rivera, who was a communist muralist, two times divorcee, and twenty years senior, got hitched with Frida in 1929. Kahlo’s parents never liked the duo and referred to them as, “an elephant and a dove.” Even though, with their marriage, she found herself changing. She started embracing mexicanity, and his influence on her paintings was obvious.

The marriage was full of rock bottoms. When they visited the United States, the success was up on cloud nine for both of them as artists. But returning to Mexico in 1933, she found herself drowning in so much sorrow following her illness and abortions. Both of them constantly quarrelled due to their liaisons with other men and women, which was also known as their infidelity. However, Kahlo’s paintings displayed the pain she endured with Rivera’s flirtations with other women. Especially, her sister, Cristina.

Unlike the rest of the men she was acquainted with, Rivera’s presence in her life for her important and had a massive impact as she missed him when he was away. The love remained but the marriage ended in 1939, yet, they remained closer. She remained single and had her earnings with her commissions. When Trotsky, a Marxist was assassinated, Kahlo was bound to suspicion and arrested for two days. As Rivera heard the news and returned to Mexico, the two reunited and remarried in 1940.

Her maladies worsened in which she lost her ability to sit or stand and spent her days in a wheelchair. Right after the marriage, it is said, that Rivera did commit to another affair with a woman which made Kahlo attempt suicide by overdose. In her diary, she mentions, ” they have given me centuries of torture and at moments I almost lost my reason. I keep on wanting to kill myself. Diego is what keeps me from it, through my vain idea that he would miss me. … But never in my life have I suffered more. I will wait a while…” Her hopes always rested at the remembrance of her husband. As she passed away in 1954, she was forty-seven years of age. Rivera mourned her death for a year and remarried. But with his death, he wanted the ashes of his previous wife, Frida to be conjoined. It led some to say, that their wish was to be together in however the way possible.

To her, love was unconditional. She gave him the freedom and tolerated his wrongdoings because she loved him and he, despite her disabilities. Their love taught her to be fragile, to learn and to mature. Even when their relationship was hanging by a thread, she gave it another chance. However, when her expectations got piled up to the sky limits, she faltered at the end. The lesson that bore from her love life to me, was the fact that to love someone, while being aware of their mishaps, need courage and fearlessness.

Knowing your self-Worth.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Granger Frida Kahlo (1907-1954). Mexican Artist. Painting In Bed. Photographed By Juan Guzman, Mexico City, 1952.

Frida Kahlo loved being herself. With her marriage to Rivera, she began welcoming her Mexicanidad with dressing up with long colorful skirts showing her mestiza ethnicity. it was her appreciation for her culture and she wore it proudly till the end of her life.

On the other hand, she showed a great example of admiring one’s own body. Frida had a thick unibrow and upper lip hair which were her best features that had a clear visibility on her face. She often highlighted these traits in her self-portraits. The importance of her facial hair and unibrow helped and help so many women today even to be more comfortable in their own skin, without being dictated to societal standards. According to her, “I am my own muse. The subject I know best. The subject I want to know better.”

Painting was her only passion. It was the one way she explored life. She stated once, “I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.” Her abortion, she troublesome marriage, and her sickness were drawn by her, making her renowned for magical reality. As she spent time alone, in and out of her marriage and her early childhood, she painted as her freedom of expression. She often mixed science and politics (as she indulged in political activities in Mexican Communist Party) in her drawings. Dogs, monkeys, doves, and cats were symbols she used for politics, tenderness or lust. She never contemplated what she drew because, “…I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.”

In a way, Frida Kahlo rendered the value of knowing your self-worth, and to do what you love (because painting was the only thing that kept her alive.) In the modern era, people, especially women who are accustomed to being normal according to the society’s dictionary, Kahlo, makes you take a step back and look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I know myself the best.”

Viva La Vida (The life lives.)

Frida Kahlo

Kahlo was a hero.

Why I say that?

She was fierce in her self-expression, passionate about her work, courageous to overcome numerous obstacles, honest about her frustrations, and was caring to her husband despite his flaws.

Frida Kahlo conquered life with her will power. With the near fatal accident she encountered in her childhood, she found her passion and invested her energy on that without complaining. She painted in the hopes of helping her family, who had difficulties paying her hospital bills, and sometimes to cope with her solitude.

She wed Diego Rivera, because she loved him without considering the facts, that he was married twice before her and twenty years older than her. She showed him care, and in spite of his infidelities, she offered him second chances to live and love again. Frida’s tolerance on her husband, made her grow and mature from her sorrows, which everyone can learn, what it is to love someone while embracing their good and bad as a wholesome.

Frida Kahlo made a name to herself, while depicting her own life in pictures. There was validity, authenticity, and the reality that embedded to it. Her life is still in display at her childhood home in Mexico.

Personally, her life amused me, that made me write about it. She is a great emphasis among women, who voiced herself for herself. The three lessons I learnt from her will forever be the inspiration which will drive and so to many.

-T.B.

Winter Storm

Utterly grateful to have my work published here! Thanks for the love!

Luna

I was a fool
damned by your insolence.
Realization I gathered
was tardy, I suspect.

Man of character,
they said; yet, the vice versa
witnessed each juncture
in a hell on earth.

A war began
in betwixt dyad parties.
A man, a woman
so in wanton loathing.

Growls, loud thuds
planted on the very visage I hold;
battles of locution
to discern the right or wrong.

Passing second,
mewls, the sighs
departed,
were agonies to be held.

A decade of a winter storm,
overshadowed
by a new found sun, the end,
I breathed fresh air.

-T.B.

About the author: Hello! I am Tharushi. Born and raised in Sri Lanka. I mostly write about poetry, fiction, and social topics. I just started blogging and feel free to show some love!

Site: https://foreveryourstrulyt.home.blog/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tharushiee/

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What is Wrong with ‘What-if’s?

Credits to the owner.

You know, the hardest thing about life is undermining yourself to live because of others, their opinions but not yours. Despite the doubts, insecurities and fears we have, our decisions may rely on the rest of the people’s opinions. It should not be that way. This life is yours and make it only, yours.

The other day, I was wondering, why we often tend to question everything in life. From birth to death, we live switching through so many mood swings and inexplicable notions about almost everything. As long as I have known, I have gone through the same circumstance due to my own stupidity. There is nothing I had earned after questioning something that did not exist.

Just why?

Why would we worry about so many things in life? Why would you? Is it because of fear, self-doubt or suspense?

My question for you is, what is the one thing, that makes you want to avoid committing something in your life? If you find an answer, here is why you need to let go of all that ‘What-if’s, that is yet to come in the future.

Regrets.Without a doubt, you would find it intolerable. Just think of what you could possibly achieve by pondering over and over again, about something you couldn’t reach which makes you question your own self-worth. It is pointless, isn’t it? In life, you make certain decisions without exactly a plan. Though, sometimes, it could not be as bad as you thought. For an instance, after leaving college, there were times, I possibly embarked on the thought of getting selected to a government university with good grades that would made my parents proud. It was a dream that I had, yet it did not come true. Rather than dwelling in the same point, I decided to explore different paths to walk. Today, I have managed to follow my dreams that I am passionate about by being a major in English at a private university. I had my fair share of drowning in a sea of ‘What-if’s: ‘What if the life at public university is more fun than the life at a private university?’, ‘What if I had better chances of making friends with the same interests?’ or ‘What if I get to decide on the preferred subjects that I want to study?’. However, I overcame my self-doubt and focused on my goals rather than negative objectives that I could think of, of something that did not happen. On a side note, I believe that everything happens for a reason or at least, to your good. You see, believing in the positivism of life and not letting anyone or even yourself, to doubt or question your decisions are mandatory for a life without regrets.

It barricades you from adventure. The problem with ‘What-if’s is that it not only increases your self-doubt but also hinders your potential of encountering the best in life. This downer almost applies to everything: whether it is choosing a boyfriend, organizing a trip or even, looking for an outfit or a dress that you like wear, we seek either for a judgement or an advice, when in reality, no one does not give a fig about your preference. ‘What if they think my choice to hang out with the guy at the bar find distressing?’, ‘What if my parents see me with my boyfriend at the beach?’ and on and on and on. Give yourself a break! It could be frustrating to think every time, if your expectations are valid or invalid, but you need to let yourself out there after putting your fear aside. Unless, there is no point of living this life at all. Break rules once in a while and take risks. You are not making a sin by doing something that would make yourself happy, does it?

People would lose interest in you. Eventually, people would come to you and say, “You are so boring,” if you try to avoid all the things that would make you feel at the top of the world. There is nothing worse than losing people. Especially, the ones you have invested your life in. The ones who cares for you in every moment. Despite ‘What-if’s, you really need to keep your interests at peak and work on it. In the process, they’d say, “You are a dope soul.” Nobody in this world had no doubts; everyone did and still does. Even though, they choose to keep them at a bay and enjoy the present moment they witness in life despite their insecurities and inabilities. You must do the same. After all, life is about enjoying living to your heart’s content. Do not let your worries make other people lose you or yourself. If it is climbing a mountain, take that risk without being doubtful about being in danger. If it is about inviting your Enemy-Later-Turned-Friend to your wedding, just do it. Take the risk and clear your doubt. After all, you will at least, learn something.

As it is crystal clear, that your present is your matter to attend to. Every moment you spend will become the reflection of the future you might one day have. Therefore, make it worthwhile. Always. You will not regret doing this one favor by cutting off the ‘What-if’s in life and replacing them with ‘Why not’s.

One final thing. ‘What-if’s may occur, but do not let it guard you all the time. Decision is yours to make.

-T.B.

(Previously published on Medium.com)

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