So, when are you settling down?

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-6-25-47-pmWomen are an angry lot. There’s a reason why movies like Pink and Angry Indian Goddesses is our feel-good cinema. We want to break a beer bottle or two on a guy’s head – sometimes…er… maybe all the time. Or shout at the next ‘tumhare bhale ke liye bolne wala’ uncle, side-eye the moral-guardian-of-the-mohalla aunty and eye roll the autowala who tells you that you shouldn’t wear short clothes. The last incident actually happened in Bengaluru. Here are 10 questions or comments which, the next time you ask any woman, are liable to get you a classic punch in the face. Don’t say your weren’t warned.

“When are you settling down aka getting married, starting a family?”

A senior journalist, a few months ago, questioned tennis ace Sania Mirza: “When is Sania going to settle down?…What about motherhood…” And Mirza’s answer spoke of her — and our — frustrations. “That’s the question I face all the time as a woman, that all women have to face – the first is marriage and then it’s motherhood. Unfortunately, that’s when we’re settled.” Artist and creator of viral sensation Miss Moti, Kripa Joshi says that the idea of “ladki paraya dhan hoti hai” needs to go. There’s a universal shaadi fixation. Author Poornima Baskar recalls a few ‘well-meaning’ comments from her own family members, “‘Lose weight now. You can gain it after marriage’. And also: ‘If you become too successful, you’ll never find someone.’” Mirza added: “(Hope my achievements set a precedent that) no girl is asked at the age of 29 as to when she is going to have a child… That’s no settling in.”

Punch rating: 10/10
How to field it: “I am too busy trying to become the youngest CEO ever.”

“Who’s that boy?”

Ours is a nudge-nudge-wink-wink society. Here, the walls are thin and noses, pokey. Baskar says someone recently asked her: Aren’t you too old to be casually dating? “I’m 24! I am apparently only allowed to date someone whom I can marry,” she says. The explanation: You don’t want to hang around with a man ‘for fun’ when you might as well be looking for a man to marry. “For girls, every guy friend is either a potential groom or a public embarrassment.” And worst of all, “I saw that picture on Facebook! Is that your friend? How close are you two?”

Punch rating: 9/10
How to field it: “None of your business.”

“Why haven’t you changed your surname post-Shaadi?”

Keep it, drop it, change it, hyphenate it – most married women field the surname question post-marriage. Recently accidental-filmstar-turned-interior-decorator-turned-current-flavour-of-the-times social commentator Twinkle Khanna shut up a troll for asking her why she hadn’t changed her surname. Mrs Funnybones said, “A lot of people bring this up, though not as stridently as this gentleman – Khanna it will always be #MarriedNotBranded.”

Punch rating: 8/10
How to field it: “The day my husband changes his surname to my family…”

“You wearing that?”

Body shaming is everywhere. Baskar has fielded questions like: “Are you sure a husband will approve of that outfit?” Or “Isn’t that dress too showy?”

Punch rating: 8/10
How to field it: Wear a tee: ‘No F***s to give’.

“Men don’t like ‘strong’ women”

VJ, actor and fitness enthusiast Bani Judge has a lot of guys telling her to zip it, her lip, that is. “If I ever expressed an opinion, and was actually making a valid point aka just contributing to a conversation, they’d say: ‘You know na Bani, men don’t like such strong women. So, just chill.’” The problem she figures is that men can’t handle women just having an opinion. “So in order for me to get along with intimidated men, I should stay mute and nod my pretty little head in agreement no matter what.” Thanks but no, thanks.

Punch rating: 7/10
How to field it: “Shut up.”

“You are funny, for a girl”

When did ‘like/for a girl’ become an insult? One of the few female comics — still a newsworthy topic — Neeti Palta has heard this many times over. “Sometimes, people don’t know how to compliment a woman without qualifying it. I get this a lot: “You are pretty funny – for a girl”,” she says. At the end of a good show, the male comedian is told “You were really funny.” But a female comic is told, “You were really bold!” Her favourite: “My male friend actually said to me “You toh can take advantage of the fact that you’re a girl.” I was like, “Well, why not, someone will, so might as well be me!”

Punch rating: 10/10
How to field it: Punch them, like a girl.

“Wow, you manage work with kids”

Working mothers get this a lot. How old is your daughter, who’s taking care of her, how do you manage… Incidentally, no one bothers to ask the ‘bitter’ half the same. Women are still the primary caregivers, even if they work. Every Father’s Day we laud the new-age daddies who attend PTA, coach school teams and take care of the sick child. Why? They are just being a parent!

Punch rating: 10/10
How to field it: “I don’t. I have a house husband.”

“She’s such a try-hard”

When women visibly put effort into something – it’s not sexy. Writer Anusha Subramaniam says, “The saddest thing is that we expect women to be absolutely perfect but they should be so, effortlessly. If she looks like she is making an effort, ‘she’s trying too hard’.” The end result: Our entire lives are spent trying to look flawless without looking like we spent hours on it. “Why aren’t women allowed to show weaknesses and the strength that goes into overcoming those weaknesses,” she asks.

Punch rating: 9/10
How to field it: Stop justifying it.

“Lifting weights makes you look manly”

Judge, an avid weight lifter, gets this a lot. In an Instagram post she says, “I never entered the gym because of what people said I ‘should/ought to/must’ look like. I went in there to get strong, to be active, to be healthy, to sweat…I don’t go around telling people they should eat healthier or lift or try to lose weight, you do you.”

Punch rating: 10/10
How to field it: Punch away. You are working out, anyway.

“You’re going to eat that?”

When Twitter page @EverdaySexism asked women for stories on food policing by strangers, they received thousands of tweets. Women narrated stories of how strangers (mostly men) commented on their food choices. Sample these: “Months before my wedding, I fill my plate at a salad bar. Male colleague says “Don’t you have a wedding dress to fit into?’ Or “Getting breakfast at a hotel, a man I don’t know sees me getting bacon and says, “Going for the diet option are we?”

Punch rating: 9/10
How to field it: Tell them to get lost.


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