Of Ambition…

ambition: a strong desire to do or achieve something

“Something”.

‘Something’ could be defined in many ways, by different people. And yet, people at large seem to think it has a single definition, one that involves taking a single path and winning a specific kind of rat race that has been programmed into their brains. Even within that race, there’s a single defined method to win, often defined by gender-biased traits and behaviors. So even if someone is ambitious, they’re told repeatedly that they’re not, because they don’t demonstrate the requisite traits and behaviors.

As if one has to prove that one is ambitious.

As if ambition lies in the eyes of the beholder, and not in the inputs of the person.

As if ambition means only one thing, and couldn’t possibly reach where your imagination cannot.

As if my definition has no meaning if it doesn’t conform to your definition.

I am ambitious.

You are no one to tell me I’m not, irrespective of what I say or do. My definition isn’t yours, and it never will be.

 

Note: I’d love to say more, but everything I want to say, has been said here. So, yet again, Fuck Ambition. At least, your definition of it.

 

Me too, me too, me too

Why don’t people name the culprits when they say #metoo, you say.

How do you name the culprit, I ask.

You should, you insist. You should.

But you can’t, I say.

You should. You must stand up for yourself.

I wonder…

How do I name the guy who purposely stuck his arm out and grabbed me when I was twelve?

I wonder…

How do I name the guy in the backseat of the bus, who’s arm sneaked up through the gap to touch whatever he could while I was asleep? I was fourteen and we’d almost reached before I realized it wasn’t a mouse, it was a human hand.

I wonder…

How do I name the guy who flashed a bunch of schoolgirls in Kerala just because he knew we’d be so shocked we wouldn’t scream?

I wonder…

How do I name the guy who I yelled at and got thrown off a bus in Delhi? I was worried for days after that he’d find me and do something worse.

I wonder, I wonder, I wonder…

So I simply say – you can’t name everyone because you don’t ask them their names if things happen on the streets.

Then you say you should if they’re people who can be named.

 

Then I wonder again…do I name every single person who has committed some version of a micro aggression, some version of discrimination…

Do I name the people who cut me off in meetings because I’m a woman?

Do I name the people who thought I could work late just because I was ‘single’ and therefore couldn’t possible have a life?

Do I name the people who would accompany their wives to the bathroom because of shady characters nearby, but wouldn’t do the same for me as a friend?

Do I name the people who thought it was OK to say that I should hang a dupatta outside the door as a sign of my presence in a room?

Do I name the people who think being Type A, and being loud men who can drown out a woman’s voice are one and the same?

Do I name the people who mansplain my work to me?

Do I name the people who attempt to physically intimidate me to make a point, and then chalk it up to having a temper as if I couldn’t possibly have one, too?

Do I name the people who think of me as a ‘diversity’ filter, vs. as someone with a brain (and an opinion to boot)

Do I name every single one of them, and if I do, would they try and understand why I’m naming them, or will they just say that I am overreacting. That I’m not professional, not a good friend, that I’m one of ‘those’ crazy women.

Do I name those who don’t do anything, but are complicit in their silence?

Do I name you?

 

How do you define ‘mainstream’?

I’m taking a class in Questioning New Media, for which I had to attend a lecture by Allen deSouza. The lecture included a theme about how all sci-fi is essentially a retelling of the colonial male fantasy. I felt like this was still a generalization, because ultimately movies are an industry, and movies are produced for mass audiences, and EVERY genre has a ‘theme’ that gets regurgitated.

Today in class I mentioned that I didn’t quite get his talk, and someone literally attacked me by saying that I didn’t understand a discourse on ‘heteronormativity’ because I’m comfortable with my identity and being a part of the mainstream (or what you define as ‘normal’). I didn’t say anything to the attacker because it seemed like a response of any nature would end up making me sound homophobic. I did take offense to the fact that the attacker brought in sexuality after he mentioned color because he realized that by the definition of ‘color’, I’m of the same category as the artist. I am also quite angry with the fact that his entire attack was based on a presumption that I am heterosexual based on my appearance (whether I am or am not is irrelevant to the discussion, given that I feel victimized by the stereotype). So basically the fact that I am heterosexual, and that I believe a profit-making business is allowed to sell what people buy, means that I am somehow against homosexuality? I fail to see the connect here.

The fact also remains that ‘mainstream’ is a very loose definition. To this person, ¬†heterosexuality seemed mainstream. But what about the fact that I am a WOMAN? I could argue that gender-wise, especially in a cultural context like India, being male is mainstream and therefore, I am the one who feels marginalized by that fact. Maybe I am being naive, and maybe I am mainstream, but I believe that perspectives vary and a different lens can change the definition of what is or isn’t mainstream. It isn’t fair to presume that someone is or isn’t mainstream, based on one frame of reference and it certainly isn’t fair to verbally attack someone just because you are busy playing victim.