WHAT WOMEN WANT

WHAT WOMEN WANT

I got up feeling sore about the fact that women have more problems than men. Their problems are twofold. One being societal and the second being physical. I felt it was unfair that women have more than their share of problems.

So I went on a rant in a couple of groups where I felt safe to be vulnerable about my misgivings. I said that women have fought their own battles and there have been slow but steady changes in their condition, especially social, and it will continue to improve.

But when it comes to physical problems we have to face it all by ourselves. Our grandmothers, mothers and now us- we have had no choice but to accept the reality of menstruation, period pains, excessive  bleeding, PMS, menopause and so on. I am not even talking about gynaecological problems here. I am only talking about day to day “normal” challenges only women have to face.

So in one of the groups where I was ranting, one gentleman said, “It was insightful to me to know about the natural suffering which now I am willing to understand.”

This made my day! This is it! A little understanding is all we need for us to go through what we have to go through. A kind word here and compassionate gesture there from a man (who we resent for having to deal with hardly anything- truth be told) can go a long way to help us feel stronger and supported.

In my grandmother’s time, women would (be made to) sit separately during their periods (by other women 🙄). For three days no one would touch them nor could they touch anything in the house.

For three days, men would take over the charge of the house and women did not have to do anything except maybe wash their stained clothes. Men would mind the children and even cook!

Had this been done with compassion and respect we would not have fought so vehemently against this practice.

Unfortunately, we were made to feel like untouchables during this time and treated as if we were dirty. For this reason we rebelled and abolished this practice successfully. In short we managed to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

We lost our chance to take rest for three days as the men toiled and also learnt some life skills.

Now we have successfully liberated ourselves from this three day rest period. Yay! So now we can go about our lives, work, home, cooking, children and have the period. We have the cake and get to eat it…….all we needed was a little respect 😓🤦

This women’s day my appeal to all boys and men is this. Please sit down with the woman in your life. Be it your mother, sister, wife, girlfriend, colleague or your daughter and tell her that you want to understand so that you can support.

It’s different for every woman. It begins at around 12-13 years and goes on and on till about 50-55 years.

Sit with her and ask her how she feels about her menstrual cycle. Directly or indirectly depending on the comfort level. If you don’t ask her, it’s likely she won’t tell you. That’s  because she has accepted this reality.

Some people may be shocked to hear this because it is still taboo in some parts of our country to talk openly about this, especially the women themselves. They would not want to talk about this to the man no matter how troublesome it is for them. She would rather suffer silently.

Ask her if it is painful, ask if she bleeds too much. Observe if she’s feeling tired and drained out.

See if it’s too painful, could she use a hot water bag? A little back massage? Get her a cup of hot chamomile tea maybe? Or you could get into the kitchen and make a simple breakfast or a meal. Give her a break from household chores.

Don’t call guests for dinner when she is menstruating. Take care of children’s homework and other needs at least for three days.

Most of all just try to understand, because it will be impossible for you to empathize. Don’t even try!

A little support from you will go a long way in giving her the strength to continue doing what she has been doing all these years- all by herself. Maybe, just maybe it will be a little less painful with your help and care.

By Nirupama Rao

 Image courtesy:

https://thelogicalindian.com/amp/exclusive/menstruation-stigma-men/

https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2019/11/menstruation-men-and-me/amp/

https://www.dreamstime.com/picture-adult-caring-man-hugging-kissing-his-girlfriend-i-picture-adult-caring-men-hugging-kissing-his-girlfriend-image110547661

 Peace to all!

I had a very deep and profound conversation with someone after I posted this article. As a result, I have become aware of a few things which I must mention here

1. I’m aware that every one has challenges and so do men. If the men out there want women to understand something about them, we will try our best. Give us a chance. We may not be able to find solutions but we can try to understand. At the same time, women, let’s not expect men to magically read our thoughts. If we need help, let’s ask for it. We don’t become any lesser for it.

2. There are natural solutions to menstrual issues especially in ayurveda. There is no need to suffer. Take care of your iron and calcium.

 3. Men are often the way they are, because of the socio-cultural conditioning. Let us, as parents become aware of the differences in males and females and teach our children to respect and accept these differences. Let’s teach our children to respect everyone without discrimination and lead by example.

I’m sorry, Please forgive me, I thank you, I love you, Let the grace flow, Peace begins with me 🙏 (Ho’oponopono prayer)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sustainable Living

One evening my daughter who just completed her degree in textile design was telling me about sustainable practices in the textile industry that she was pitching for a film series. It set my thoughts rolling on how we can bring sustainability in all walks of our life. The thought excited me so much that I could take it up as a project for the rest of my life!

Another evening she told me that we need to do something at the community level to make people aware of sustainable living. That very evening I saw in my building WhatsApp group that we need to conserve water given the current situation.

This was a great opportunity to also talk about sustainable living like my daughter was suggesting. So here are a few points that we discussed in the meeting that happened the very next day!

What is sustainability?

Avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.
“the pursuit of global environmental sustainability”

Sustainability is most often defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.

It has three main pillars:

economic,
environmental,
social.
These three pillars are informally referred to as people, planet and profits

Sustainable living requires a paradigm shift. It requires us to form new habits. It requires us to come out of our comfort zones. It requires us to not just think about our and our family’s convenience, but to think about what is good for the larger community and the planet. Its requires a change in consciousness.

Why is sustainable living important today? Why should we care?

http://www.greenewit.com/inmedia/blog/why-it-is-important-to-live-sustainably.html

Let us set an intention to live a sustainable life and set an example for our larger community.
How can we bring sustainability in our everyday lives?

1. Reduce waste. Read up the zero waste movement. On how we can reduce waste disposal in our homes. Its great that we are already practicing segregation and composting in our society even if there room for further improvement.
One example is to switch to menstrual cups. No more disposing pads and adding to landfills.
https://www.nykaa.com/personal-care/feminine-hygiene/menstrual-cups/c/9475?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIkeHavtuQ4wIV0worCh1hjQ9JEAAYAiAAEgJQtvD_BwE&ef_id=EAIaIQobChMIkeHavtuQ4wIV0worCh1hjQ9JEAAYAiAAEgJQtvD_BwE:G:s&s_kwcid=AL!599!3!282173849468!b!!g!!&utm_source=GooglePaid&utm_medium=Search&utm_campaign=DSA_Main

2. Recycle and reuse: As far as possible do not throw stuff.
Clothes, shoes and some other household articles can be repaired, reused or upcycled. There are facebook pages to sell gently used or pre-loved items and clothes!

One need not be ashamed to use and buy used things anymore! If its going to save the planet why not!!!

We can conduct a workshops for children and youngsters on how to make simple repairs on clothes like hemming, sewing, sewing buttons and button holes.

3. Avoid plastic products- for example, plastic tooth brushes take 400 years to decompose.

Avoid wrapping gifts with shiny plastic gift covers. It will anyway go to landfill. Instead get children to draw on white paper or paper bags!

One can buy bamboo tooth brushes, straws, pens, ear buds, etc instead from here or other sites: https://www.bambooindia.in/

4. Use biodegradable products:
Bamboo fibre sanitary pads
https://www.heydaycare.com/

Use bamboo fibre napkins

https://letsbeco.com/shop/beco-sustainable-bamboo-serving-napkins-25-pieces/

Use baby diapers only when you go out or when its unavoidable once in a while. Use biodegradable bamboo nappies: https://wonderhood.in/collections/bambo-nature-premium-diapers-buy-online/products/bambo-nature-premature-size-0
Let’s go back to the exemplary Indian toilet training practices. At home only use washable cloth nappies.

5. Stop buying more. Let’s go back to buying new clothes just twice a year. Once on your birthday and one for your special festival….like old times when new clothes were really special.
Encourage fair trade, Slow fashion and handloom.
Let’s encourage crafts made by hand. Industries indulge in sweatshops with unfair practices and underpay and use child labour.
Slow fashion where we can buy handloom material and get it stitched is good for everyone even if it costs more- at least those of us who can afford it.

Let’s learn more about minimalism.

6. Go back to pre industrial practices. Speak to older generation on how they did things in their time.
Let’s see if we can buy groceries in loose and avoid plastic packaging materials.

7. Go vegan. Plant based food takes up lot less resources than animal based food including dairy.
https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/why-go-vegan
Contact me for vegan alternatives.

8. Use natural products like Reetha, shikakai, methi for hair wash, stuff from the kitchen for facials and scrubs like fruits and lentils. Let’s avoid products that come in plastic bottles and those that contain harmful chemicals although they may seem enticing.

These do come in plastic bottles but are completely chemical free: http://bubblenutwash.com/

9. Encourage small home businesses for buying various products. For example I buy shampoo bars and dishwasher soaps from my friend who makes them at home and the products are great!
https://m.facebook.com/fatimashaikh2229/

10. Let us go organic and encourage organic farmers. Let’s buy directly from them. As more and more of us demand pesticide and chemical free food, the cost will reduce as production goes up.
Let us avoid giving our children processed food as far as possible and give them homemade food.

11. Let’s conserve limited resources such as fuel, water and electricity. Let’s cut down on using ACs at home. Let’s patiently educate our domestic help to conserve water. Let’s spread awareness on rainwater harvesting.
Let’s walk instead of driving wherever possible.
I heard of an 80 year old lady, a scientist who has been living without electricity for the past 60 years!!
Did you know Solar panels are available for home use!?
https://www.amazon.in/Belifal-Lighting-System-20Watts-Battery/dp/B01DPBSE9Y?tag=googinhydr18418-21

12. Let us be vigilant when it comes to children’s gadget use. Let us encourage them to play outside more. We’re lucky that our kids have that possibility.
Let’s teach our children to live and consume responsibly by example.

These are some of the things we can do every day in our homes. Most, if not all of the links are of products I use. Some I found just now!
I’m not sponsored by them. My intention is to give examples of such alternatives.
Let’s us indulge in conscious consumerism. Let’s preserve the planet for our children and grandchildren.
It’s now a very real and urgent problem that needs our heart and mind space.

Nirupama Rao