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7 Minutes Apart
27 minutes | Jun 20, 2018
Episode 4: Bollywood & Sexuality
Photo by Debashis Biswas on Unsplash Bollywood - the most prolific film industry in the world, producing movies that are seen worldwide. We all love the song and dance, the richness of textures and stories, and the escapism presented on screen. What has remained problematic is the industry's portrayal of sexuality and women on screen. Growing up as little girls with Bollywood films you watch as women are objectified, their boundaries aren't respected, and their roles in society are as second class citizens whose fates are decided largely by others. While we both grew up watching these films, only Arti still watches Bollywood films with her kids today. In this episode, we talk about our love and hate for all things Bollywood, where the industry fails women and girls, and what the industry could do to change the perception of women and girls for the better. Grab a cup of chai and join us. Below is a transcript of the episode, slightly modified from the original recording, for ease of reading. With every episode, we'll also include an additional reading list for more information on the topics we've discussed. You can listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or right here.Uma: How you doing sis?Arti: I’m tired. I’m tired, it's the middle of the day, the kids still have to come home, so I’m wondering how I’m going to last. And I don’t drink coffee, so, yeah, I’m just tired. How are you doing?Uma: I’m doing okay. It's been a really intense few days just news wise and, there’s lots of things happening. But at the end of the day, what I’m noticing is just that there's a lot of gratitude, which is great as well. Anyway, I don’t know where I’m going with that. But I’m just going to say, I’m doing great. So, I wanted to talk to you about something that was mentioned in the previous podcast that we talked about in regards to toxic masculinity. And you brought up your penchant for Bollywood films, and my clear reaction of that.Arti: You say that like its a bad thing. So the thing is yes, our family watches a good number of Bollywood films. I would say, we watch probably one Bollywood film, if not a week, then every other week. And sometimes we watch the really old ones, you know, Rishi Kapoor, Kaka, Dharmendra, like all the old ones, Guddi, Bawarchi, you know Bawarchi is like a family classic. And then sometimes we watch the new ones. And yes, they are problematic, and sometimes they’re just so good. And you want to do the escapism bit. So I’m not going to feel bad for my love of Bollywood.Uma: Nor should you feel bad for your love of Bollywood. For me, you know me well enough to know that I have stopped watching Bollywood movies for now the past seven years. And the reason why is that because I found it so incredibly problematic the rape culture that is embedded in Bollywood movies, and the fact that that actresses and actors don’t feel the responsibility to do better. Bollywood is such a massive entertainment industry. I think close to 200 movies are released every year, and that’s not even including the Tamil films, or other South Indian films, or Marathi films, this is just Bollywood. So if we’re looking at this from an entertainment industry aspect, the amount of influence that Bollywood has on pop culture every day is just massive.Arti: Yes. Last time we talked (about this), you brought last time this conversation that Priyanka Chopra had. And we had started talking about it, so tell me your thoughts about that conversation.Uma: Yeah, so, in this conversation Priyanka Chopra was being interviewed, and you know, I think, don’t quote me on this, one of the questions that was asked in regards to Bollywood and the influence that Bollywood has. And her answer, and again this is not a direct quote, but her answer was that people can’t put the onus on actors because Bollywood is entertainment, and films reflect society, and society is a reflection of films and that actors and actresses are not policy makers, they are influencers. I personally find what she’s saying so contradictory, in terms of the statements that she’s making here.Arti: I think the question that she was asked for that particular thing was, “Can Bollywood influence social issues?”, or something like that, and I find that to be a bit problematic as well. You know I love Priyanka Chopra, and I think that her representation, and what she’s done just for representation for South Asian women in the United States and in India is a pretty big deal - I didn’t think Quantico was that great though. But I do think it's a bit problematic, because she went on to say that “you know i talk about the things that are important to me”. And she does so much amazing work with UNICEF, she just went Cox’s Bazaar which is the refugee camp for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and she highlights that. So why not bring that to your work, why not force the industry and use the leverage and platform that you have, you know, as one the top paid actresses in Bollywood to really force change. And I think maybe you know to give her a little bit of credit, she might be doing that with her production company, Purple Pebble Pictures.But to say that carte blanche that we are not responsible for making social change, or pushing social change, because we are an entertainment industry is wrong. Because that is really one of the greatest tools that India has to really educated society about what still ails it. When I think of really good Bollywood movies that have come out and really focused on things like this, I think of movies by Deepa Mehta, which may or may not by some folks be considered to be Bollywood movies. And I think of the movie Pink, with Amitabh Bachan, that was focused on, I can’t remember now…he was a old lawyer in Delhi and these were a group of young women that were being charged with promiscuity, or something like that. And I see those movies, as like yes, we need to see more of those stories.Uma: I want to go deeper into what you’re saying here, and unpack why it's so problematic, this onus of “we’re influencers as actors and actresses”, and because she also said, “I hate this question but I love this question.” Bollywood is a huge entertainment industry as we’ve said. the amount of money that these actors and actresses make is directly dependent on the selling factor of these films. There's so much money put into the advertising of these films. And hundreds and thousands of people go to the theater and watch these films. So i think they have a responsibility, especially when we’re talking about the way that women are portrayed in these Bollywood films. And how that influences society as as whole in India.If I may, I’m going to bring up - part of my thesis for my Masters I studied sexuality in India and I was reading a book called Intimate Relations by Sudhir Kakar, and he’s a psychoanalyst, and he talks about the rape culture embedded in Bollywood. And one of the stories he brings up is a familiar story, in that of Draupadi and the dice scene. This is when the Pandavas and the Kauravas were playing against each other, and placed a bet and that bet was Draupadi, and Draupadi was married to the 7 brothers from that kingdom and they lost, and the Kauravas demanded that they get their payment. And the Pandavas brought Drupadi down into the room, and the Kauravas started to…Arti: Disrobe herUma: Disrobe her, yeah. And the way that she was saved, is that she prayed to Lord Krishna, and so Krishna appears in the movie adaptation of this, and he starts to add more fabric to her sari. And so the Kauravas are just pulling and pulling and pulling and she’s just - there’s endless amounts of fabric.Arti: And I think in the movie, it was that her blouse was showing, but the bottom of her sari was still attached, right? It was a long time ago, but I remember that scene.Uma: And so, the takeaway, when we watched this at home, Mom would always say to us look at Draupadi, look at how devout she is, look at how pious she is, because of her faith in Krishna, she was able to be saved. There was never ever ever any onus on what the men had done to their wife.Arti: And the fact that they had used her, literally as a pawn. Yeah, and the same thing with the story of Sita in the Ramayana, the fact Ram needed a test to see if Sita was still chaste and virtuous after being captured and kept by Ravana. And so she had to walk into a fire, and not a single hair - I remember Mom always saying this - not a single hair burned on her head, because that’s how righteous and pious she is. And it was never about, well, why did she even have to do that? Why did he ever question her? Why did she have to do that? Why did she have to prove her worth? But her worth was in question, because she was a woman. And that is what we teach to our kids - right - we’re both Hindus, and that’s what we’re raised on.Uma: And I think as well - So Kakar - to go back to him just briefly - Kakar uses this story of Draupadi to say that women In films are either shown as this goddess image who we revere and we associate with and put on pedestals or the whore. And there’s these two dichotomies. And for Indian men that dichotomy allows them to essentially navigate the sexuality aspect. Because in terms of the sexuality aspect, they are having sex with the whore image, not with the goddess image that they revere. And so this is why, I’ve always felt this, I don’t know if you have as well, but the goddess image that we see in Indian culture that we see for all of our devis our Saraswati, and Lakshmi, and Durga Ma, all of those goddess images are so inaccessible. I never see them - we don’t hold up Indian women, who we know, we don’t hold up Indian women existing in India today to that level. Indian women today are seen very much throug
26 minutes | Jun 15, 2018
Episode 3: Starting Therapy
Photo by Shashank Sahay on Unsplash What happens when you carry around trauma of abuse and life, and you're finally in a safe enough space to let it go? In this episode, we talk about some of the trauma that we've experienced, and how we've processed it, each in our own distinct way.Starting therapy isn't easy. It requires you to relive traumatic experiences, it's exhausting, and empowering all at the same time. But it is so vital to our health - to our bodies. It is vital to find your cracks and fill them with gold, so that you can become whole, and stronger once again. This episode is for all of you who have struggled but are still trying to move, one step at a time, in a more peaceful and powerful direction. Below is a transcript of the episode, slightly modified from the original recording, for ease of reading. With every episode, we'll also include an additional reading list for more information on the topics we've discussed. You can listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or right here.Uma: How you doing sis?Arti: I’m okay. As you know I started therapy for the first time, I think since high school, really. And I didn’t start it because I wanted to. I started it because I went to a physical appointment with my doctor, and she noted that I seemed very stressed out and she said, “here’s a card for the therapist I see, and I think she’d be great for you. She tends to think about things in a more scientific manner, and that suits your background. You should check her out.” And so I did, and I’ve seen her now for like, a month and a half, maybe.Uma: Well, was that unsolicited advice from that doctor, or did she just notice that something was wrong?Arti: Uh, she asked me a couple of questions that clued her in to the fact that I just seemed more stressed out than being the usual level of stressed out with just three kids and a job, and all of the other stuff.Uma: How its going? How’s therapy going for you? Are you able to process through things?Arti: Therapy is hard. Therapy is so hard. I am imagining it or thinking of it - you know that Army motto, “we’re going to break you down to build you up.”? That’s how I’m thinking about therapy.My therapist equated it to imagining that you have a rug and you see a little thread of it starting to unravel or loosen, so you just tug at it a little bit, and you pull and pull and pull, until the rug eventually comes completely undone. THat’s one part of therapy. And she said the next part of therapy is trying to weave a new rug together with that same strand, because you can’t change the strand - the strand really represents you - and trying to weave a new rug together that can stay together. It's probably not going to look the same, it's probably not going to be shaped in the same way, or even be the same color. It’ll be different. But it’ll be stronger. And I really liked that analogy that she gave me.Uma: That’s a really deeply woven analogy - get it cause the rug, the weaving?Arti: You’re such an idiot!Uma: Thank you for liking my pun. What is the biggest package that you’re working through in therapy.Arti: I think its two parts for me. One, actually being willing to talk about things I don’t really want to talk about. I don’t want to talk about the abuse that we went through, or the really tough life that we’ve lead. I don’t want to talk about it. And I haven’t. We’ve dealt with our lives in very different ways, and I never really had the opportunity until now to really deal with it, because I had my first baby at twenty one. So it's not like I could, at that time. So now I’m like, oh, I have to talk about these things that I haven’t really talked about. Because I realize that in order to grow and get to a better place, I need to take care of all of the shit that I’ve been dragging around. So one, I think its’ that.Uma: What I’ve learned is that when we don’t take the time to unpack and process our experiences, negative or positive, especially the negative ones, they tend to become a pressure cooker situation, where because you’re guarding this barrier, this wall, where you’re trying to keep everything in, and when you don’t let any of that out, and it just keeps building and building, and the pressure eventually is going to release itself in some way. I’m a true believer that the body will find a way to process that internal stress in whatever form it needs to to work it out if we don’t do it.Arti: Well, scientifically speaking, that actually happens, and you’re laughing at me, but you know that happens because epigenetics. Epigenetics are these modifications that happens to your (proteins on your) DNA. We know that there are certain enzymes and proteins that control these modifications, but its known that trauma and stress can affect the modifications that are present on your DNA. And those modifications can sometimes control the expression of genes. And there was a recent article, we’ll link to it, on the fact that trauma can actually be potentially passed down to the next generation, through the epigenetic modifications. I feel like maybe we didn’t stop it for our kids - I don’t know if I did. Maybe you can still heal yourself and still raise them in a healthy way.Uma: I feel like as well, this is where the historical aspect of experiences like colonization, and all of the trauma that happened with all of that history - as you said, it just get passed down. We can feel, in many ways, the pain of our ancestors. We can feel the pain that they carried as they underwent partition, and all of the violence. I think that for trauma survivors especially, this aspect that being able to give yourself the space to figure out what healing looks like, is so incredibly important but it so rarely available, for, as you mentioned, women who have young children, or especially women of color, black women - they just have to survive. And i can finally say that I’m in a place in my life where I’m not just surviving, I’m able to thrive. But it took me a long time to get to that place.Arti: Yeah, I feel like I’m not in that place. I remember one of the first things I said to the therapist, was that I’m sick of surviving, and I want to thrive. And I feel like there is an actual block to me doing that. Because mentally, I don’t feel like I’m able to get out of survival mode. I’ve been in survival mode my whole life. And she said, “you’re right. you haven’t. That’s how you’re still thinking.” And so part of the goal of therapy is to get out of survival mode, because honestly it's not healthy for the body to be in that mode consistently.Uma: This is one of the earliest memories I have of Allers, who was our school psychologist, but whom we saw on a very regular basis, because the school assigned us to go see him in regards to the abuse. And he will forever be an angel in my life, and the amount of gratitude I have for him is endless. Because for me, he saved us, he saved me. He gave us a place to be able to express ourselves in a safe environment. And one of the earliest memories I have of him, is him saying to me in counseling that all you can dow right now is to survive. Keep that in your head that this is what you have to do. You have no other choice but this. And as soon as you can get out, get out.Arti: Yeah, it's so interesting that you bring up Allers. I don’t where Allers and I are. I feel like, because I was, I was on a different place, I was on a different path. In high school, absolutely he was our lifesaver, including Dr. Schultz. Dr. Schultz - I tell people he was the only person to see me as a human being, and he was just the kindest leprechaun that you’ve ever met - that was what the name that I used to call him.But yeah, I think I wasn’t ready. I mean I was a mother, when I was twenty one - I just couldn’t do it. I had this baby to take care of. I had no idea how we were going to make money, pay bills, not fail her, not raise her in an environment like I’d grown up in. And so, it's only now that she’s almost sixteen, that I’m like, “okay now I’m ready to talk about it, because the younger kids are a little bit older, they’re in a very stable place, and now I feel like okay now it's time for me to take care of my shit. And it feels really hard.Uma: I think, when we got out of the military in early 2006, Daysha was like 3 or 4 years old then, and I really clearly remember, because of the pseudo tumor, and I’d just gotten divorced then, that I knew that if I didn’t deal with my shit then, that I would just carry that. And I didn’t want to do that anymore. So I reached out to Allers, and essentially did the same thing that you’re able to do know after all of these years and had those deep processing sessions, and I’m so grateful to him for making time for me to be able to do that, because it's so exhausting carrying around that baggage, and you’ve carried around that baggage for essentially 10 extra than I have. So I’m sorry that you’ve never had that space to be able to really process all of this trauma.Arti: I’m crying…. And you realize things when you're processing that trauma, that you’re like, oh shit, I didn’t understand that or I didn’t realize that. And one of the first things I realized in therapy is that I have something called - some kind of amnesia. Because I’ve always remembered, your memory is almost perfect of events. You are able to place here’s when something happened, here’s almost what somebody was wearing, here’s what somebody was doing. And i ‘m like, I don’t even remember that?! How do you remember that. And I used to think well maybe I was just not there or whatever. And the first thing the therapist kind of identified, is oh your brain actually decided that it's gonna shut that memory out. And
21 minutes | Jun 6, 2018
Episode 2: Toxic Masculinity
Image Credit: Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash This week, we're getting personal and talking about the impact of toxic masculinity on our lives and the lives of those around us. Toxic masculinity is defined as the "norms of masculine behavior [...] that are associated with harm to society and to men themselves."What we don’t teach our boys about - that women aren’t property, that girls are allowed to say no, that abuse is not okay - all of this is being asked in the latest school shooting in America, where the shooter killed a young girl who had refused his advances. The link to domestic violence and school shootings amongst the young white men that shoot up our schools is clear.The events we've seen in the recent news prompt us to ask the question we feel isn't being asked enough - Are we talking to our boys and young men about this? Women cannot truly be free if men continue to perpetuate toxic behaviors that have held back the full expression of gender equality in society. Grab a cup of tea, and join us for a real sister chat. Below is a transcript of the episode, slightly modified from the original recording, for ease of reading. With every episode, we'll also include an additional reading list for more information on the topics we've discussed. You can listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or right here.Episode Transcript:Arti: Hey sis!Uma: Hi, how are you?Arti: I’m good Uma, how are you doing?Uma: I’m good. Just coming off a week of medical leave. Call it burnout or call it - I don’t know what to call it. Doing better. I had an opportunity to just look at everything that was going on and bear witness to all of the news articles that were coming up. Are there any that came your way, that really sparked any conversations at home, or that sat with you?Arti: This week there were a lot, but the one that Daysha and I really spoke about, it was so interesting, the timing of it. So she came home from school one day this week, and she said, “Mama, somebody else asked me out today.” She’s at the age where she’s starting to get asked out.Uma: How does that make you feel?Arti: Okay. So that’s a really hard question. How does it make me feel? One, its so weird for me, because its not something that ever happened to me. I never got - I don’t know if you ever got asked out - but I never got asked out (in high school)Uma: No. We were the nerd kids.Arti: Yeah. And I was considered the mean one so nobody ever dared to asked me out because I think the general consensus was that I was just a royal bitch.Uma: I wouldn’t be that harsh. I think - we went through a lot of stuff and it was really hard for us to be able to express anything when all we had to do during that time frame was just survive.Arti: I know. Anyways, so it's just really weird for me to now to have a kid that’s in high school and getting asked out. So she’s trying to figure everything out. So far she’s gotten asked about by boys and a lot of them she’s finding are just - not that mature, which is understandable.So we had a conversation, and she said to me today, “I was in class, and somebody pulled me out of class and they just asked me out.”And I’m like, so what happened, what was the conversation, tell me all the details.And she says, “He said, would you like to go out with me? And I said no thank you, I’m not interested, and then he looked really disappointed, and then he said I need a minute, and I just went back in the classroom.” And so I asked her, “How did you feel about that?”And she said, “I don’t know, I feel fine. He’s not a person I would ever date.”And then I asked her a question, because I just read an article about, not the latest school shooting in America, but the one right before that. And in that article it said that one of the young women that was killed, was killed because she had rejected the shooter. She was in high school and he had continued to make advances to her, and every time she had said no. And finally she called him out in public.So I asked Daysha how she handles this. Do they feel or does she feel conscious around any of the guys that have asked her out? Does she feel any sort of animosity between her and them. And are you worried about any of them getting angry with you or continuing to ask you - like, not taking your no for an answer. As a mother I am so glad to hear that you have a solid understanding of who it is you are and the value that you bring into any relationship. And the fact that you feel confident enough about yourself to say no. So as a mother I see that as a huge win for you.But what I know about society, I worry about the fact that one day you might say no to a young man who might not like it, and who might decide, well I don’t want to hear the answer no, so I’m going to continue pursuing this girl until she says yes, or until I have power over her. That is something that just really worries me, and that’s toxic masculinity.Uma: This latest school shooting was fueled by exactly that, and also the attack in Toronto. It was found out that this man was part of an incel, and what incels stand for, and the deep, deep rage that these men have because they’ve been rejected by women. The way they feel they have some right to lash out in this way is terrifying. Because all that says to me, is no matter how much we teach our girls to be true to their voice, no matter what, because boys are not taught to take no as an answer, and respect that, our girls will still be in danger.And we see this so very much worldwide. The violence that women and girls experience at the hands of men, worldwide, whether it's in war, whether its areas where the military has a presence, and men there think they can use women’s bodies as weapons, to school shootings where boys are reacting because they haven’t been given the tools to deal with and understand how to navigate in these situations.Arti: The reason I told Daysha that this is why I’m worried about this, is because I don’t believe in my community that I live in, that the parents of young boys talk to them about what it means to be in a healthy relationship. And the fact that being in a relationship means that you don’t own that person. And the reason that I say that is because I was on a panel last year after the Charlottesville incident where the person ran their car into the crowd in the Nazi rally. And I was on this panel, and I was doing as all of the other panelists were doing, and we were all unpacking our trauma as people of color, all women of color, to show and share with people why is it Charlottesville isn’t just a flash a point - its not just a one off. This is rage against black and brown bodies that has been built up in America over centuries.And I said to the audience that there is a clear link between domestic violence and the shootings and the white supremacy that we’re seeing in America today. And we need to talk to our boys about ownership and power and control and what healthy versions of those things look like.And a white woman in the audience said to me, “No we don’t, we need to talk to our girls about it.” And I was this close to crying and I said, “No you don’t get it. We are talking to our girls about it and our girls are in danger. We’re not talking to our boys about it.”We’re not saying to our boys, this is how to be yourself - not just a man - but yourself, in a healthy way, and respect that person that you are in a relationship with, in a healthy way. And the fact parents today just don’t get it, and think that their boys don’t need to understand this and don’t need to be schooled on this is why we’re in the state we’re in.Uma: I think so much of what we’re seeing in terms of toxic masculinity, and the idea that this is due to - men are not the bad people here. It is the culture that has taught men to repress their emotions, to not deal with their emotions in a healthy way.But I really do think that we need to look deeper as a society in terms of our colonial history. For example, in this incel attack in Toronto, we’d like to think of Canada, and many Canadians do as well, as this country that’s got it all together, as this country that’s got it absolutely right. In terms of the U.S. and Canada, indigenous women and girls were raped, they were attacked, essentially these nations have been founded based in gender based violence. The founding of America happened due (in part) to gender based violence and oppression - essentially the wiping out of a culture. Canada was founded on the deaths of indigenous women and girls, as was the U.S.So what happens when our history as a country - we have this history in terms of how we oppress women and girls, and how our narratives are built upon that oppression, yet we don’t want to talk about that oppression. Because if we do talk about that oppression, we would understand the way that men view women and girls is built upon that history.Arti: And in every single community, and especially in the Indian community its a huge problem. In the Indian community we see the pursuit of women as a game, in every single Bollywood movie, even the ones I love, it is the job of the hero to pursue the heroine, in every single damn movie. And if the heroine says no, it’s like “no no - you don’t really mean no, you just mean no until you say yes.”Uma: The rape culture in Bollywood movies infuriates me. My blood boils, This is why I’ve boycotted Bollywood movies. I haven’t watched a Bollywood movie in almost seven years, because I cannot sit there and watch this shit over and over again. This is also why the video that I sent you of Priyanka Chopra, where she said, “We are influencers, Bollywood is entertainment. You can’t hold us accountable.”, or something along these lines - th
20 minutes | May 30, 2018
Episode 1: Menstrual Equity
We're kicking off the first episode of our podcast (!) talking about something that isn't discussed nearly enough: menstruation. Over 50% of the world's population has a menstrual cycle, yet just talking about our periods is considered taboo in many countries, even today.
2 minutes | May 23, 2018
Welcome to our podcast!
Welcome to our podcast, 7 Minutes Apart. We're twin sisters, born - you guessed it - 7 minutes apart. We're passionate about the world, social justice issues, and supporting other women all around the world. Grab a cup of tea, and join us. Below is a transcript of the episode, slightly modified from the original recording, for ease of reading. With every episode (expect this intro), we'll also include additional reading links for more information on the topics we've discussed. You can listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or right here.Read TranscriptUma: Hi, Welcome to 7 Minutes Apart. I’m Uma. Arti: And I’m Arti, and I am Uma’s younger sister, and I’m 7 minutes younger then her. Uma: And if you haven’t figured it out, we are identical twins, hence the name 7 Minutes Apart. On this podcast, we are going to talking about current events, we’re going to be talking about our take on world issues. I live in Switzerland. Arti: And I live in the great city of Chicago, Illinois. Uma: And so we are going to be using our two perspectives living across the world from each other, yet having the same shared experiences, of being in the military, and growing up together to really dive into what is happening in current day events. Arti: Sometimes we’re going to be talking about issues that are really light and kind of fun, and then other times we’re gonna be talking about issues that are pretty intense. We both work in the activist or advocacy space and we both have pretty opinionated views on some of the things that are happening in the world today. So join us! We hope you enjoy every single episode that we put out, and we hope you’ll learn something as well. Uma: Thanks for listening to 7 Minutes Apart. Arti: Until next time, bye!
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