Femina Dentata

07 Jul

Banno, not content with my posts about goobers and how much children suck, wants further proof that I’m constantly sinning against my gender.

Anything for a friend:

1. Phone. I remember the phone as an essential part of my teenage years, stuck to my ear as I ate, studied, watched TV, listened to music, or even went to sleep. I’d wake up in the morning and my dad would hand me the ringing phone along with my morning chocolate. I spent so much time on it, I developed code systems through which I could communicate when unfriendly ears were near. I was a living, breathing teenage cliche and my parents had the bills to prove it. No longer. These days I can’t wait to get off the damn thing. I hate everything about it – the sound of the ringing, the feel of the handset against my ear, how I can’t just hold up my end of the conversation through expressions alone… email me if you want better conversations.

2. Walk. I don’t walk, I stride. Charmingly, or so pervy men have said (thank you, pervy men!), but it’s definitely a stride. Walking with my mother is a test of patience because I’m always half a block away by the time she’s out of the car and then I have to wait for her to catch up while she asks me where the fire’s at. In my belly, Ma, where it’s always been.

3. Hunch. Another thing about my walk – I do it with my spine straight. Shoulders back, full height plus generous heels, eyes ahead. I’m not ashamed of myself nor am I sick, why the hell should I slouch and bend over like I have osteoporosis when I’m going about my business? I was once depressed about something and all hunched up on my way home when a homeless man passed me on the street and asked me to walk with pride. He might have been living out of a shopping cart but he knew what was important. I wish I’d thanked him but he strode away soon as he said it and left me gobsmacked on the sidewalk. So I’m just going to pay it forward and tell you to walk with your chin high.

4. Handshake. Okay, I don’t know how other women shake hands but every time I do it, I get these surprised looks from people like they were expecting to be handed a dead fish and found a human hand instead. And it’s usually men who give me those looks. Why are men so obsessed with handshakes anyway?

5. Love. Sorry, but I don’t play. No love letters, no gentle weeping at the thought of goodbye, no “our song”, no monthly anniversary, no dried flowers in poetry books. I tried when I was young and didn’t know I could say things like, “Dude, no offense but this makes me feel really stupid so I’m not going to do it.” I make up for it in other ways. Besides, men are much better at this sort of stuff, I find, and it’s a lot sweeter when they beat gender expectations and do it.

6. Cry. Obviously, I cry. Duh. Human beings do. But I don’t do it in public and never to manipulate. I’ve met men and women who do this (and sadly, most of them have been women) and I don’t like it. I have nothing against genuine expressions of grief but this is something else entirely.

7. Smile. “Smile less! No, no! Not like that! Try smiling with your lips closed then!” How many times have I heard that? And all it does is make me smile harder, longer and even more widely. Hee! I also laugh loud enough to make heads turn. In public. Sue me.

8. Funeral. I accompanied my grandmother’s body to the crematorium when she died. People gave me funny looks but I thought she deserved to have someone who loved her, remembered her as she used to be at her best, of her own blood, be there for her at the very end. My dad threw his arm around me and simply bundled me along when various old uncles looked as though they might protest. I think when I die, I’d like a woman from my family to be there when my body’s about to enter the fire. We spend so much of our lives surrounded by our sex, how is it fair that the last human touch we take with us is exclusively that of men?

9. Travel. I wish I could travel alone to all the places on my bucket list without worrying twice about my physical safety. Not all the self-defense classes and pepper spray in the world can give me the feeling of freedom that I imagine even the puniest of men must carry within himself.

10. Pee. Every woman who’s ever felt the need to relieve herself in a public toilet has wished that she too could pee standing up. No lie.


Sins Against Gender Stereotypes: open to men and women. What does your inner tutu/plaid shirt say?


Posted by on July 7, 2010 in Personal, Video


Tags: , , , , , ,

15 responses to “Femina Dentata

  1. transmogrifier

    July 7, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Cool list, especially identify with the last 3.
    And for peeing while standing up, this might help:

  2. le embrouille blogueur

    July 7, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Wow …. just wow !! On all of the bullets. Especially the one about funeral. A most deserving homage. Kudos to you for your clarity of thought.Enjoyed every bit of the list !!

  3. carla

    July 7, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    I think I love you.

  4. Indian Homemaker

    July 8, 2010 at 12:26 am

    Thanks for picking the tag!!! I started reading your blog recently (found it through Indiblogger) but never commented before.

    Loved the video – I always loved the song, but never knew this –

    Your point about funerals struck a chord. I couldn’t be with my dad in his funeral – my mom didn’t like the idea, and she was so upset anyway, I didn’t want to upset her anymore. Now I have told both my kids, daughter and son, to be there together, and to ask anybody who doesn’t approve to stay at home instead. I might ask to have none of the religious rites either, unless this can be changed,

    “Women have no right to study the Vedas. That is why their Sanskars are performed without Veda Mantras. Women have no knowledge of religion because they have no right to know the Vedas. The uttering of Veda Mantras, they are as unclean as untruth is.” (Manu IX. 18)”

    Loved what you said about walking tall and straight, and about laughing aloud and smiling confidently.
    Agree about traveling and peeing too 😦

    Absolutely loved your take on the tag!!

    You invited to join other sinners against gender stereotypes (SAGS) at

  5. dipali

    July 8, 2010 at 1:11 am

    1. Depends on who’s at the other end of the phone:)

    With you on all the rest. I didn’t go for my mother’s cremation, as I wanted to be with my father, and my sister had gone. Was there with my Dad for his. No one looked askance, either. I guess we are a lot less hidebound than many.

  6. Banno

    July 8, 2010 at 2:06 am

    Nice! Thanks for obliging. 🙂 Wish I could stride though. I am an ambler. But I smile widely too, and snort with laughter.

  7. Amrita

    July 8, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    @ Transmogrifier – OMG! Best. Link. Ever. Also best gag gift ever. My brain is already teeming with ideas.

    @ Leb – TAG! you’re it!

    @ Carla – kisses!

    @ IH – I’ve been lurking around your place too! We seem to have so many people in common! I’m an infrequent FB-er or else I’d have joined up the moment I saw your post. It’s a fun tag!
    And I’m totally going to insist on all or nothing for my own.

    @ Dipali – my family can be depressingly conservative, yes 😦

    @ Banno – it’s been a while since I did one of these so it was fun!

  8. le embrouille blogueur

    July 9, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Have picked up the tage … 😛

    • Shrabonti

      July 11, 2010 at 10:05 am

      Oh, having a hearty appetite and being able to eat the guys under the table. This one is so common that it should not occasion any comment, but I have noticed that it does. And I want to smack people who snigger when they see a woman who’s a big eater, or really tucks it in when there’s some superlative food to be had.

  9. Arti

    July 12, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    A couple of mine…

    Car Driving – No, I’m not content subscribing to the image of helpless female who cannot drive a machine. I will not further a dangerous and self-defeating urban legend that a lot of women have come to believe about themselves – driving a car and following directions are not the domain of a man. I am not content deferring to men whenever there’s a “long” trip. I’ve driven 3000 miles on my own, and I can out-drive any man.

    Degree of Devout-ness – I will not be cowed into doing vraths, fasts, prayers, temple visits, pilgrimages or whatever it may be just because I’m a ‘good girl’.

    • Arti

      July 12, 2010 at 4:37 pm

      Ah.. got ahead of myself there. Run-on sentences galore! 😀

      I meant:

      I will not further a dangerous and self-defeating urban legend like this, something that a lot of women have come to believe about themselves – that driving a car and being good at giving/remembering directions are the domain of a man.


  10. how do we know

    July 17, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    oh i loved this list. Esp that point about people using tears to manipulate. Guess what? i think men use emotional blackmail even more.. they just dont say it like that..

  11. Orange Jammies

    July 17, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Oh but now you *can* pee standing up! There’s Go Girl, darling. And I am a proud (and relieved) owner.

  12. Fate-n-Man(i)date

    July 18, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Ditto on what “how do we know” says. And as for man and emotional blackmail, let’s look no further than Raavan for proof (and suffice to say that movie’s an outstanding metaphor for the inner workings of the (real life) married male’s emotional landscape, IMO):

    1. Dev realizes (during bridge fight) that Beera’s smitten with Ragini.

    2. Dev realizes during train ride, looking into Ragini’s eyes (though they don’t show this explicitly, it’s exactly what happens, as anyone who is able to draw real-life parallels to this scenario would easily attest to), that she too loves Beera, and he instantly makes up his mind on the one thing that will help him achieve two things at once: Beera MUST die. (Dev’s career goal will then be achieved AND his secondary goal of rescuing his wife, which, as long as Beera is alive, would be impossible coz (he realizes that) she IS still his (emotional) captive.)

    3. To that end, he unleashes the “emotional blackmail” trump card, knowing fully well the steps she would take, right after.

    Men who love (and/or desire) their wives will play them to no end on the battlefield of emotions. Except, as “how do we know” implies, it usually ain’t that obvious.

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