Category Archives: Womanly talk



This subject is a polarizing subject for me. I am beginning to have strong opinions (on it) and keep wanting to express them. Much like all subjects and all people today. I read this book over a year ago. I had jotted these points down. I want to put them out there.

I also realize that reading book that promotes my point of view is hardly broadening my knowledge. But I did read it. And I feel the need to reinforce, to myself, the reasons for such decisions.

Selfish, Shallow and Self Obsessed – sixteen writers on the decision not to have kids

Edited by Meghan Daum

  1. Babes in the Wood – Courtney Hodell

It’s always interesting to know how we think we should feel versus how actually feel. We also juxtapose these feelings against what others are or are not supposed to feel. This essay made me think about those brief moments when I did believe I wanted a baby. It passed.

  1. Maternal Instinct – Laura Kipnis

This essay made me think a lot about the “naturalness” of having children because we are women or because we have wombs. As an aside I feel like I show get to know this author better because her name is so close to Tipnis, a close family friend.

  1. A Thousand Other Things – Kate Christensen

This particular essay reinforced the societal conditioning that demands we must want children. Must love it. Expect it with excitement. The author spoke about missing her phantom children during a particularly dark period in her life. It’s not something I could relate to.

  1. The New Rhoda – Paul Lisicky

This essay was a very different POV. Not just because it was a male POV but because of the time it was set in. I had never encountered (in writings) the generation that was singed by the AIDS epidemic. I never thought about the impact it had on reproductive health of that particular generation.

  1. Be Here Now Means Be Gone Later – Lionel Shriver

It’s an interesting thought that once life and education improves, women will push out having children. There are statistics and other curves proving that very fact and yet society somehow pushes women in the other direction. It’s as though nature (and society) want to disprove reality? Maybe not reality but it helps everyone apparently except women for women to constantly be stuck in the cycle of bearing and rearing children.

  1. The Most Important Thing – Sigrid Nunez

This essay talks about how your own upbringing influences your decisions – something I can relate to very keenly as a large part of my reason in not having children is linked to my upbringing. I was not traumatized or deprived in any way. I am not trying to compare myself to what sounds like hell for a lot of these writers. But I relate to it being linked to our own upbringing.

She mentions a lot of Sylvia Plath.

  1. Mommy Fearest – Anna Holmes

What is perfect femininity? The crazy devotion that motherhood it seems to demand? And the glorification of it leads to the other extreme POV of women staying children. She, along with others, talk about the fear that having children leads to losing any opportunity to create any memorable position/ achievement.

(It lead me down the road of thinking about my achievements, whether they were of any value especially since I did decide to get married but not have children; choose to work but not really pursue a career – where do I lie? Where do I find my place? Is it linked to this gender and this role and parts that I play or will I be shaped by parts I choose to exclude?)

  1. Amateurs – Michelle Hunneven

This essay drove home the point that we interpret life’s nuances to mean things they might not.

  1. Save Yourself – Danielle Henderson

This story talks about abandonment and makes me wonder about the wisdom/ ease of procreation. How fair is it that women who can so easily endanger their kids should be allowed to have kids! Is this (my) judgement fair?

  1. The Trouble with Having It All – Pam Houston

The title of this essay is pretty self-explanatory. More importantly, here the author speaks to a young girl who, while is very patriotic, is also very clear that she does not want children. She declares her view at a table where women of different ages are discussing child-bearing plans. There is no ‘having it all’ for any or every side.

  1. Beyond Motherhood – Jeanne Safer

In this essay, the author, who is also a psychoanalyst, details her painful coming to terms with the fact that she does not want children. She, like others in this collection, want to want children. They even have physical reactions to the process.

“Asserting an Affirmative No”

  1. Over and Out – Geoff Dyer

I loved this author’s writing style. It’s very non-apologetic, non-defiant unlike some of the female voices in this collection. He touches on all main points – freedom, (dis)inclination, propagating the species, leaving the legacy. Two points stood out – Why does life have to have meaning? And we regret (he does he said) almost every decision, so why should this be any different. “When it comes to regret, everyone’s a winner!”

  1. You’d Be Such a Good Mother, If Only You Weren’t You – M G Lord

This essay also talks about a physical reaction to having/ attempting to have children. The writer feels like she doing something wrong when she expresses relief at no children. It feels very painful – as though it was painful for her to get there.

More than one essay share this theme. Where it almost feels like the author/ writer/ person had to go through physical wrangling just to get to the point of admitting that, no she doesn’t want children.

  1. The Hardest Art – Rosemary Mahoney

One of the few questions strangers everywhere are apparently permitted to ask is “ do you have any children?” This essay addresses the vulnerability of being a parent and having little emotional agency. She knows she will succumb and wants not to do that. “Parenting is an art and not everyone is capable.”

  1. Just an Aunt – Elliott Holt

This essay touches on not being able to take care of one self emotionally – (genetic lottery) and consequently making that decision. Depression and self harm are scary companions to introduce a baby into. That can be scary.

  1. The End of the Line – Tim Kreider

This was the third male POV in the collection. Yet again it’s a voice that’s very irreverent. Not having children is a decision much like other decisions in life that are not taken. High risk ones.

Some other observations.

#1 There are multiple common references that run through many of these essays. One such reference is about articles that appear in the press about being childless and “carefree”. The stories showing visual depictions of “freedom” without children.

#2 Judgement from fellow parents. (I have never encountered a parent saying they’ve had to deal with judgement from non-parents) Again mom vs non-mom yes but do men face this too?

# 3 Women writers in this collection are constantly critiquing their decision. The male writers don’t seem to face such internal dialogue.

Do we truly use all we have and get?


I remember a discussion after watching Sardar some years ago.  Someone remarked how we don’t really value the freedom we got because we don’t know what it is like to live without it. I remember thinking that was such a typical statement to make.

But when you look around and see how one tends to take everything you have for granted — from expecting the government to do without participating, shrugging and blaming without trying, pulling others down for trying.. all manner of things, I realise maybe we truly don’t realise the vision our leaders had when they fought for freedom.

On a more personal note, even freedom as women today is quite different from our mothers’ times, as is the case with every generation. Discussions I often have with batch mates and friends are often peppered with phrases like — “Thank god we don’t live in the times our mothers did,” or  “We didn’t have to fight for our right to education,” (in most cases these women are  largely urban), we could do what we wanted, marry whom we wanted, when we wanted..and many such “coulds and “haves”.

But what we forget to discuss is do we really know and use this freedom and independence (political and personal)? Did we ever stop to think are we truly free to do what we want? And since I think it is a yes, do we really do what we want..?

Most of the women my life (no surprises) are in my age group and effectively single. But very of them want to actually remain that way. Very few are single  not because they choose to be that way but it’s happened to be such. They are almost always trying to change that. Willfully and consciously or at least in gestures and wishes.

I realise most don’t want to be alone, women included, but we are so conditioned into believing that living alone is equivalent of the worst possible hell that we are expected to do everything in our power to change that status.

Most want to eventually be a part of another whole. While am sure it is somewhere lurking inside me, I notice it has become another level of achievement in our generation of women. Yes, you studied and worked for a few years and had the requisite exciting flings and affairs, but now, come on, how come you aren’t still married!

Oh, you have done this that and the other but how come you aren’t married?

Oh come one, now you are in your 30s, you must settle (for) and get married.

Among the different versions said, one person even said to me.. the only reason everyone always wants you to get married is because they are unhappy that you are not.

It’s so deeply ingrained that party invites from spouses of school friends say, “please feel free to bring your husband”

.. or your seniors who assume you are married say, “ so sorry I thought you were married..”

But all these tedious lines apart, even everyone my age,  seem to want to come to marriage and stop. That seems to be a finishing line or the medal, something I can’t decide.

Am not entirely sure whether or not I will or wont or do or don’t want to get married but I know it won’t become my life’s goal. I don’t want to go after “eligible men” who are not “divorced” and feel smug that marrying in my 30s has “netted” me such a nice find.

This is not marriage bashing or man bashing but, funnily, about doing what you want, even if it’s not something everyone wants. Why is it so difficult to digest that?

PS This was a nice article I stumbled upon..

Boggles my mind…


Men are known to use many a uncharitable term for women who don’t put out (I used to think): slut, loose, easy, cock-tease and many such familiar and insulting names.. and I always assumed it was a man who didn’t get his way that elicited such a  response. After all a man wants only one thing we assume and which woman always gives it to him?

But in the last few years I’ve met women who have forced me change this opinion. This is not to completely absolve the man of blame but I realised women can also be really cruel. Maybe unintentionally but like the saying (in all languages am sure), taali eka haathanay wajat nahin or there isn’t a clap with one hand, there is some cause for blame.

In the few people I know and the many that I observe, I’ve come to realise that to not give a guy what he wants, when he wants it (and here I don’t only mean sex) is considered good and acceptable behaviour. To be petulant and demanding, and by turns, sulky is considered normal behaviour for girls.

I encountered this attitude ages ago and thought okay,  so some women are like this and it works for them. Then my friends started talking about wars and battles in the same sentence as men and to give them the benefit of the doubt, I thought ok so some relationships cause more angst than others and some women are more adept to changing for their man..

All this is still subjective and person dependent I realise but I have begun spotting this teasing kind very often. The (child-)woman who employs the ‘come-hither’ looks and reels the men in, only to flick them off, as casually as she would flick an insect off. It’s fascinating to watch, almost like an out-of-body experience. Her eyes, her glances, her body language, the interest flickering in the man’s body language, his making of the move and then alas, he being shunned.

I don’t understand this behaviour. You act coy, play the helpless hapless female and I get all that. All women employ this technique, intentionally or unintentionally. And when you get his attention, you don’t carry it through!? And no this isn’t about sex. I mean if you hooked him, spend some time, talk to him, buy your own drink or let him buy you one and see if he is worth investing time in. He is also doing the same, after all.

But why this pull and shove (to mix my metaphors?). And no it is not flirting. Flirting is fun, snappy and has a rush and sends you back grinning, with blood rushing and perhaps a brand-new crush. I’ve seen this behaviour in all kinds of different settings – in cafes, at work, in book stores, in buses, on beaches, in restaurants, at bars. Some with people I know and some with strangers.

Talking to men I know I realised men are not surprised at this behaviour. “But all women do this!,” one said. Really! How come I missed this behaviour all these years …is what I was thinking. Nobody taught me how to flirt or deal with men or how to keep them interested. No rule book or no gaggle of girl friends.  I can’t get past the irritation. How can women do this? It is teasing. It is implying something and not delivering.

During my stint in Delhi I was always encouraged to seek male company so that I could be picked up and dropped off but I never saw the use. I had my own car and could drive it on my own. (I sometimes needed men to park, albeit.) Though some foolhardy incidents come to mind, I managed fine on my own. If I sought the company of men, it wasn’t to accompany me home. It’s not whether I can or can’t or could or couldn’t do. It’s just that. If I couldn’t reach home on my own, I didn’t go or I stayed over. No tantalising or teasing involved.

Do what you have to. Why waste time? Are you trying to prove you are attractive? Can attract attention? But it isn’t it just as important to sustain that attention? Am told the ‘come-hither-and-I-will-kick-you’ technique is a never-fail one. Pretend you are interested, send him back frustrated and keep doing this for a few months and if you are lucky, you snag the bastard. Poor guy, does he stand a chance?

This seems to be largely the spectrum these days. Women who get post-graduate degress, work in big offices, bring home fat pay checks and are used to making informed decisions, one hopes. These are women who are implicityly told to keep teasing else you will be called those famous names. Does anyone else see a vicious cycle?

Despite the fact that there are just as many educated, emancipated women out there who can use words for what they actually mean. These women won’t understand this behaviour. I fall in this spectrum and while I can live with the fact that such “other” women exist, I can’t deal with the fact that some of the women I know personally, follow this code. Unknowingly, it seems.

It’s not always easy to ask a guy out but it should be easy to go out with a guy once he’s asked you out, especially since you seemed to hankering after that.. or weren’t you? It leads me to a bigger question.. guys may be complicated but by god, no one can hold a candle to women!

Conversation is such a turn on


I miss my college days when a pair of us stayed awake nights oh-so-often,  and chatted. We always has so much to say. So much to tell each other. Our discussions almost never revolved around girly things and we came to many important conclusions. I loved the night.

On good days, startling clarity is achieved in those wee hours of the morning when a deliciousness steals over you, fueled by coffee, sugar and the knowledge that the next day will go without any rest. And you hoard all you heard and said while revelling in the hoarseness of the throat from having talked so much.

Classmates wondered what I always had to say that filled a night, so frequently and how I went without any sleep. There were days when I wondered too. Did we truly have so much to say and discuss? I thought it was something that I would outgrow with college.

As years passed, work dominated life more and more and there were fewer friends left, with whom I wanted to stay awake  with or even wanted to spend a night talking, in an non-alcoholic stupor.

It was a sad demise, I thought and wondered if that delicious tiredness would ever be felt again. There is nothing that compares to that next morning, when you remember all you discussed and argued over and bared your soul over.

The night is this fantastic blanket, under which you can say anything and nobody thinks differently of you in the morning, but something has still changed implicitly. To give an analogy, it’s like sex: when done under the garb of the night, things seem unchanged in the morning but yet something has altered on a fundamental level. Conversation is like that.

I am happy to announce that side of me is back. I am having the most amazing all-night conversations regularly. What’s even better is every time there are new people which is so much better than talking to people you know.

Chup chup baithe ho, zaroor koi baat hai


Has anyone noticed two new ads on the telly for sanitary napkins? One urges us to have a happy period with a flower made of sanitary napkins (OMG) and the other is just plain disgusting. I am still trying to figure out what that advertisement is trying to show. It’s a Kotex ad where a girl hides behind objects that fail to completely hide her. That is the parallel drawn to sanitary napkins. Don’t even get me started. It’s sexist, shitty and makes no sense. It’s worse than the ads we were shown when in school.

Even by the ad world’s hallowed standards there is the product sync. I just don’t get the connection and I am, after all, the target audience. Who designs these concepts? Are there any women ever in these teams? World over women seem to hate the campaign (the Whisper one) and its line and one would imagine the company would stop flaunting it again and again.
Then a friend stopped me cold: Can you imaging the same people coming up with ads for tampons?

Now I am truly afraid.

PS Couldn’t find any Youtube links for the new ads.