...and then

Wednesday 30 April 2014

What the internet gave the Kerala man. (Apart from porn.)

I am often at the receiving end of, "Oh but you are Malayalee. You come from a matriarchal society," when I talk about anything from feminism to food preferences. I take great pains to correct that statement. I patiently start with correcting the term (matrilineal, and not matriarchal), then I gently point out it's just one community in Kerala that was so, and Kerala has many communities, and the usual mix of religions. I then ask what that has to do with the price of fish. Because, while in some ways it might be empowering and perspective-altering to receive your mother's name, and her property, (technically, traditionally it is the maternal uncle's property that used to get passed down to his nephews and nieces among Nairs), for all practical purposes a household used to be run by a man, usually the maternal uncle who decided everyone's fate. Matrilineality, therefore, in my observation helped with one aspect of independence and liberation: financial security. But it did nothing to empower Nair women with the self confidence that is so needed to get out of an oppressive relationship she might be enduring in her domestic sphere. 

Laying that down as context, I zoom out a little and look at the larger Kerala with its rich, textured and varied ethnic groups, and communities. A society that's arguably progressive, and educated, Kerala is a place where with this coexists a patriarchy that is, at an immediate glance, as surprising and confounding as it is deep rooted. In a state where communism (whatever its avatar today) thrives, where women work just as hard as men -- if not harder -- to sustain their families, the incongruity of the existence of male chauvinism and blatant patriarchy worries and fascinates me. If educated, financially independent women still struggle for justice, safety and equality, then what hope do those without the above-mentioned privileges have?

The evidence of a sexually repressed, frustrated people is all over Kerala. On the streets, on TV and online. Take the streets, for instance. Young women, and sometimes not-so-young-women, get flashed at regularly. I bet a whole lot of women in Erna-flasher-central-kulam have seen their first erection right in the middle of a busy street on a dreary old work day. Fathers still decide how the women in his family will behave, husbands still stay a mile away from child care, and running a home. I regularly hear women in my age bracket say if they wear a (moderately) low-cut blouse with their sari, their husbands will "pack them off". It is said with laughter and camaraderie but it isn't a joke at all. 'Decent' married women don't do things their husbands don't like. 'Decent' single women don't do things their fathers and brothers don't like. Anyone who decides to not be 'decent' has then crossed over to slut territory. I suppose this could be said for the rest of India.

Enter TV presenter and actress, Ranjini Haridas. A 30-something presenter who wildly successfully anchored a reality talent show for six years on Asianet, a Malayalam TV channel. Haridas is possibly little known outside Kerala. And so is the hate that she inspires. People of both genders criticise what they see as an inauthenticity when she speaks: heavily anglicised Malayalam is Haridas's trademark, a chip she wears proudly on her shoulder. She is quoted as having said in an interview that the few years she spent in the U.K. as a Masters student were responsible for her forgetting her Malayalam. (I can't verify the authenticity of this statement.) That may have been a young woman's knee-jerk reaction, wet behind the ears as she was, to the criticism she received (in droves) when she first began hosting the show. But over time, more and more interviews quoted her as saying she didn't care for what people said, this is the way she chose to speak and that's the end of it. 

She wasn't spared: pilloried on mimicry shows (a still-hugely popular genre in Kerala); blatantly and publicly told off by respected senior actors; guests on her own show and other women anchors have all taken pot shots at her. She's a classic template for poking merciless fun at girls who decided to be "modern." Men hated her. But the women, ah, here was a fascinating story unfolding. Young women, ripe for rebellion and finding their wings, all over Kerala felt here was something they could point to in case of crisis. "If she can, I can." Haridas wore sleeveless clothes, body-con dresses, knee-length shifts, off the shoulder blouses, see-through ensembles, stuff that no anchor had worn on Malayalam T.V. hitherto; she did her hair experimenting with high glamour; she didn't shy away from adventurous make up; she wore exactly what her free little heart desired and she did it with confidence, not letting criticism of her clothing or her speech cramp her style in the least bit. Men kept hating, she kept working, laughing all the way to the bank in her designer high heels.

She was in stark contrast to the Malayalee TV presenter that bored the hell out of viewers till then. These women wore a look of innocence, a certain... freshness one associates with the "untouched". Her makeup was traditional with pink (ish) lipstick, and kohl-lined eyes, made up and yet not so much that it would make an impact. Her hair was tucked away in demure braids, or a little bun at the nape of the neck, and imprisoned in jasmine. She didn't use her hands much, and smiled idiotically a lot. She was a vision, a girl-you-gawk-at-in-a-temple vision. Beautiful, efficient and tameable; completely devoid of impact, a threat to none of the men who ogled, and aspirational for none of the women these men lived with.

If a channel was targeting a younger crowd, you'd find young women dressed in jeans and a perfectly unremarkable top, with requisite hair and make up, and personality that was even more unremarkable than the T shirt. Usually, there was a guy who co-hosted and hogged all air time. 

You see, us Malayalee women look down on those who wear make up, although secretly we wished we could carry it off too. We think we are natural beauties (and I must admit some are) and to do anything with a tube of lipstick is to enter slut category. So most girls from middle class homes will wear lipstick on occasion and blot it till it very nearly disappears because good girls don't wear lipstick. (For those of you who are going to come at me saying "but I have Keralite friends who aren't like that," I am going with a middle class majority here. Not those who have lived in cosmopolitan places or cities outside Kerala.) Until a few years ago, we didn't wax our limbs; not because we believe in our feminist right to do what the hell we want with our body hair, but because salons are the dens of the devil. You could end up in a porn video on the interwebz if you went to a salon. I suspect that isn't the case in the bigger places in Kerala, like a Cochin or Trivandrum or Trichur but most of Kerala still believes a salon will sell you off to pimps. And even those who do go to a salon and get all smooth, tend to do it very quietly. It's not a thing we're comfortable talking about.

It was into the households of these women that Haridas with her open hair, loud laughter, gender-irrespective hugs reached. With her beauty-contest-winner title, her U.K. masters degree and a sense of fashion that was more confidence than style. Which, I suppose, is true style. Suddenly, there were Haridas clones all over Malayalam TV. Open hair, clothes that edged away the ornate salwar kameez, or the graceful sari. Suddenly, and hilariously, perfectly ordinary girls were speaking Malayalam like it was a foreign tongue; and men were mercilessly skewering them over it; women were touching and hugging boys on screen and bantering with celebrities without the usual deferential tone. Just like Haridas. Just like normal young women do off camera. And men hated it. 

Till my mother recently pointed it out to me, I didn't realise how much. I am a Haridas non-supporter; my mother, a woman of great wisdom and gentle confidence, is pro-Haridas. My objection is simple: I don't like that she has distanced herself from her mother tongue, but that comes only second to the fact that she does it in the most inauthentic way. My mother's reasons are also simple: she loves the show and says no one can carry it off as engagingly as Haridas. And that she lives exactly how she pleases, no matter what the rest of the world is saying. 

This conversation led my mother to direct me to Haridas's fan page on Facebook. A regularly updated, selfie-heavy, hate-filled page. If that woman, (Ranjini Haridas I mean, not my mother) reads the comments on a regular basis and still continues to post as she does, she has all my respect and then some. Because, omg, there's an army of perverted, hateful and angry men spewing venom there, doing what they can, from calling her slut in different ways (I had no idea how many words Malayalam had for slut) to offering her a screw so she'd ease off. 

They abuse her ancestry, they call her a slut, a corpse, a cunt, a eunuch, ugly. I was repulsed by almost 700 comments collectively in the first few posts on her page. (I didn't see any threats of rape, the favourite hate-tool of men use to intimidate women online, thankfully.) But the sheer volume of hate, and all from men, was appalling, and fascinating. Why were all these men hating on her? A middle aged man called her the South Indian Sunny Leone (because a porn star is not an actor but a whore, correct?) going on to abuse her in Hindi, English and Malayalam, so great was his objection. Another one posted a picture of a firecracker, the Malayalam word for which is apparently colloquialism for, guess what? Yep, whore. They leave no aspect of her untouched -- her makeup, who she is with in the picture, her clothes, her smile, teeth, even her being single, or being raised by her mother, having lost her father early. She's ripped apart like a carcass in a butcher's shop would if you let a hungry mob in. 

This one, for instance, has a misspelt speech bubble to make it sound like Haridas's Malayalam. It basically says, "I know very little Malayalam." 

Or this, where the insults are heaped high, all basically tiresomely calling her a whore, (or a variation of it), or old, or ugly, including a comment with a picture of her with an African person, an intended insult I am afraid to explore. 
This one below basically asks her to die, now that she's old. (She isn't 35 yet.) The comment below that is captioned "who is prettier?"

 And this below is our firecracker guy. Under which is a private photo of Haridas that went viral a few years ago and brought her under another deluge of filth.
In reply to this, and much much more such harassment, Haridas posted this on voting day recently, telling her detractors exactly what she thought of them, in classic tongue-in-cheek Ranjini style. (The comments on this one heap more abuse, more firecracker, more I'll fuck you, more you-ugly-whore hate.)

I decided to explore a little and checked out the pages of other presenters/actors/professional celebrities who are women in other places. I found very little abuse, very little misogyny addressed to those in the public eye. My observation is that harassment and misogyny is directed more at regular, non-celebrity folk. Posting numbers, abusive language, lewd comments, direct hate are all directed mostly at women who aren't in the public eye. But in the fan pages of actresses/models/TV personalities, there was more empty adulation than outright misogyny. There's the odd deviant pimping his services, or some creep posting a name and number of a girl (:/) but this kind of rampant bile, this kind of utter disrespect was rare, if not almost absent. 

To me, it says many things, this hatred from men in Kerala young and old, educated and not, married or single. The insults are almost always sexual in nature, the language is highly disrespectful, (apart from being abusive itself): the use of nee, the informal word for 'you' in Malayalam is the only way she's addressed. Her lack of hypocrisy is another source of anger. Unlike many women who care about their reputations, Haridas tends to live life rather candidly and if that threatens the Malayalee man, then so be it.  

The way I see it, the anger these men feel is directed at her being happily single even though she's ... gasp... nearly 35! Anger at her being unfazed by the barrage of biting criticism, at her completely normal way of behaving even on screen (she hugs, touches, gesticulates and uses her body freely that way you or I do). The anger is towards her success -- six years of calling her a whore and she's still the top rated, and possibly highest-paid, anchor in Kerala. The anger is towards her completely ignoring the very men that hate her; they just can't seem to get a rise out of her. But I think the thing that threatens them most is that she is an aspiration: she is what a lot of their daughters, sisters and wives would like to become. Glamorous, articulate, successful, confident, and assertive. Everything that these men don't want in their women, lest they get left behind; lest they get dragged to a police station for raising a hand; lest their women leave them after finding self-worth. 

If I were to say just the way Haridas dresses and talks is what's causing the outpouring of misogyny, to anyone who looks at it superficially, I might be right. But if you look around and see another instance of hate, I'd be proved wrong. Manju Warrier, arguably one of Malayalam cinema's best actresses, returned to acting after 14 years of staying away from the industry. She had a daughter with her actor husband, who incidentally, continued to act with women half his age, she made a home and never gave a single interview in all the years she was in the background. 

This last year, she has separated from her husband and has made no public statements about her marital situation. Her husband, actor Dileep, has gone on record to say he doesn't like women working after marriage, while all these years he has insisted it was Warrier's choice to give up acting at the height of her successful career. Their daughter, a teenager, lives with the father. 

Warrier, too, has a Facebook page that updates her fans about her news. She posts happy personal pictures, pictures of her shoots, travels and messages about causes. And yet the hate spews. As she fits better into the mould women are expected to fit in Kerala, the language is a lot more toned down. Clearly, having been married and proving to the world you are fertile is cause for people to be more respectful when they talk. And because Haridas dresses the way she does, and talks more English than Malayalam, and basically flips everyone off, she deserves to be spoken to disrespectfully. 

The hate on Warrier's page manifests itself differently; she's called a bad mother on the basis of the interview her husband gave in a woman's magazine. She is wished ill-luck with her come-back film; she is condemned for leaving her marriage and husband, a man that much of Kerala adores and considers a great actor. Outside of these three things, apparently, Warrier doesn't exist or rather, shouldn't exist. Women too join this criticism of her, openly posting judgemental comments on what they think of her decision to leave her husband, criticising her bitterly for being "negligent" of her daughter, for seemingly classifying fame, career and money higher than her daughter and husband. Mind you, all this while not knowing anything else but that the two are separated. 

There's scores of advice on the page of this 36-year-old artiste urging her to go back to her husband, to stop being selfish, to "realise" that beauty, fame and wealth won't last forever. The denigration is endless and by the looks of it, hugely one-sided. You see, Dileep's fan pages are full of people kowtowing to his talent, looking forward to his new films and the usual fanboy drivel. No advice to him on his personal life at all. Even newspaper reports have been inherently sexist in reporting any developments on the divorce/separation.  

This duplicity emerges repeatedly in Kerala, in conversations and in mainstream media, and now internet hate: It's okay for a woman to work, bring home money and support, either single-handedly or as a second income, her family. But the minute she decides to pursue a career, as opposed to keeping a job, and chooses to go after it ambitiously, she's just turned into the devil. The second income (in some cases the only income) she brings in is very welcome, but not the success or the sacrifices that she has to make. Among all the different kinds of men I've met, no one hates a woman's success more than a certain kind of Malayalee man. 

I started this off as internet hate piece among men in Kerala, the internet as a new place to flash and wave figurative penises at women they couldn't go anywhere close to; successful, dignified, articulate women that threaten their glaringly obvious chauvinistic attitudes. Internet hate towards women in the public eye isn't particularly new, and takes on different forms, as Amanda Hess's explosive essay earlier this year in the Pacific Standard illustrated. But the issues in Kerala that lead to what is clear misogyny are so much more that I had to digress a little. 

The truths that this kind of internet misogyny reveals to me are scary: Malayalee young men continue to be sexually frustrated; traditionally thought to be a sexually permissive society, Kerala, in the last few decades, has seen a huge change in morality, with patriarchal attitudes towards sex becoming more prevalent, where virginity as a virtue is priced highly and sex is seen as corruption. 

If these men are a sampling of most men in Kerala then it would seem Malayalee men are inherently crude, disrespectful, and have no finer sensibilities with regard to equality, individuality, racism, or sexuality. But perhaps the most disturbing thing of all, to me, is the fact that all this is juxtaposed with education, that it exists in a society that for decades has upheld socialist values of equality and respect between genders. How does one reconcile the two? What is the point of an education if it hasn't helped you cultivate a respect for the girls you go to school with? How badly has education failed us, if men still consider sex and sexual insults the best way to attack a woman? Authors and artists, both male and female, have stood at the forefront of progressive feminist attitudes, writing, art and debate. Why has education failed to integrate their work and contribution towards building a society that is more respectful towards women?

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Blogger IdeaSmith said...

Wonderfully expressed. I come from a Tamil family but have lived in Mumbai all my life. When I was younger, I found myself confused with the conflicting messages I received - 'A woman is a slut if she dresses up and wears makeup', 'Girls are supposed to like makeup and dressing up'. I know now that both of them, ironically stem from the same regressive attitude - the need to suppress/control women's sexuality.

Thank you for writing this post. I receive my share of hating on from people online and offline for expressing these views. And it's good to know that other people (women!) are thinking of these too.

1:39 pm  
Blogger IdeaSmith said...

I don't want to seem like I'm plugging, so do feel free to delete this comment if that's so. Just wanted to share something related that I wrote awhile ago.


1:41 pm  
Blogger Sue said...

Unfortunately, I have to say this goes far beyond the borders of Kerala. Even in WB where (despite media reports) it's easier to be a woman than I had thought, female celebrities have a hard time being single, dressing as they choose, doing as they please. A rag started a few years ago by one of the big dailies began glorifying them and that's when I noticed the criticism step down a little, as the divorces, partying and skimpy clothes suddenly became more acceptable because a well-known paper said so.

I've shared this on FB. We all need to examine how we react to people who don't support our 'moral' standards.

2:30 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am so surprised! I am a Kannadiga and I cannot imagine such a environment exists in my neighboring state. Now, I am divided between considering myself blessed and wondering how many talents and lives are never allowed to grow. And as you say, this coming from the state with the highest literacy rate is a little too surprising. Goes a long way to say how 'knowledgable' and 'literate' are oceans apart.

6:38 pm  
Blogger Joyoflife said...

I wish I had the verbal prowess to translate this to Malayalam. This issue was daunting me for a very long time and I even thought that it was my parochial view. FB literate youngsters use fake profiles to write the filth in their mind which shows that educational boards need to consider Sexual Health Awareness as a part of their curriculum. Older men and women, who keep judging celebrities make it obvious they are no different from their narrow minded predecessors(narrow minded because of lack of education).

Though not a Malayali, the fact that I am born and brought up in Kerala has made me the target of taunts like, "Mallus are perverted, cunning and hyprocrites".
I have been averse to this gross generalization but I guess there are some supporting facts. :(

Keralam oru Bhranthalayam!

7:23 pm  
Blogger Amit Jha said...

You'd be happy to know that this is nothing more than the few exceptions that every culture may possess. However the sad part is that while this is understandably an exception in kerela... this altogether becomes a general rule starting immediately from it's neighbors and spread through our entire nation!! :-)

7:44 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

I would agree that the society in Kerala is rabidly patriarchal but I believe this is not special when compared to the other 27 states of India. That's not to say this should be tolerated.

When it comes to Ranjini Haridas and the pouring venom, I have a different take. Similar treatment meted out to actor Prithviraj, cricketer Sreesanth etc would confirm it is largely gender neutral ( though when it comes to women, the tools used to abuse have sexual colouring.) People in Kerala (the sort of middle class that actively engages in popular media) dislike those who make seemingly boastful statements or have domineering attitude etc. Dr.Shashi Tharoor speaks very bad Malayalam but during his first campaign he apologized to his electorate for his language and said it's a remnant of 25 year long UN career and added that he will try to pick up the language as much as he can( Contrast it with Ranjini Haridas's - I speak thus and people who have a problem with it go to hell).( It is not about language too- malayalis are known to boast about the longest speech delivered in UN in 1950s by VK Krishna Menon- who spoke well in English and not so well in Malayalam)Personally, I like Dr.Shashi Tharoor-kind of humility to Ranjini Haridas's variety and it has nothing to do with gender. Annie mascarene/ KR Gouri Amma were trailblazers in their own ways and I have not heard people say land reforms as proposed by PETTY WOMAN Gouri Amma has a problem(if they had a problem it was not because of Gouri Amma's gender). Patriarchal attitudes persist( in subtle ways- salary/education/height of bride necessarily less than or equal to groom) but these examples, I believe, misses the wood for the trees.
Aren't malayalees equally proud of Missile woman Tessy Thomas and ISRO chairman Radhakrishnan?
When it comes to things like dressing style and so many other attitudes(to homosexuality etc), Kerala is in a unique position of chaos. It is neither as developed as developed world is nor is it an anthropological specimen. Given time, attitudes would tend to what's considered progressive. Pointing out these things helps and I would say you're doing your bit for progress with an article as well written as this! :)

7:45 pm  
Blogger SR said...

Excellent, thought-provoking piece, S. I so relate--Tamil society is not so different.

That FB page is shockingly vicious. It reminds me of the FB page of the actor Namitha, which I trawled a while back for a piece about her. Since her onscreen persona and personal style is sexually confident, the comments are crass, demeaning and revolting, unlike the FB fan pages of studiously demure actresses (typically slim ex-beauty queens), who get messages like "good luck for your film dear".

Funnily enough, the piece got me attacked by men (of varying levels of education) who told me I was young and useless and pretentious and that I should find another profession. As Mary Beard put it so brilliantly, men have been telling women to STFU for centuries:

8:04 pm  
Blogger Manu said...

Very well written! I attribute the sexism to the lack of cosmopolitan culture in Kerala. Compare with Tamil Nadu and especially Karnataka where city culture dominates the arts. The villages and small towns in Kerala are a lot wealthier and the cities are a lot smaller. The recent rapid development witnessed in other places in India has been mostly absent in Kerala. I remember many 'family' movies from the 90's where the climax features the irreverent wife of a main character getting some sense slapped into her. It was perfectly acceptable then and I am afraid things havnt progressed a lot more since. So the average Keralite man or woman is a lot more parochial than say a Bangalorean. However, I think Malayali women had enjoyed comparatively more freedom until a may be two decades earlier and hope that will be the case again in a few years.

9:12 pm  
Blogger Mathangi said...

Brilliantly written piece! although the facts you've presented is shocking and disgusting...I'm not a malayalee but a palakkad iyer (close enough i guess) and all of us in our family were avid watchers of Idea star singer. I used to like Ranjini Haridas a lot. one has to admit, she's got style! even my grandmother was very pro-Haridas. it's sad to see her facing this kind of abuse. it's even more sad that men are not afraid to call any woman who doesn't fit their idea of 'homely' or 'perfect' , a slut. it's like they don't even see women as another human being. what is the point in all the technological advancements if this medieval-era attitude still prevails?

9:56 pm  
Blogger Rajiv Mathew said...

Nicely written!

10:25 pm  
Blogger Choomma said...

I tend to agree with Sreeraj Menon. Its not so much her dressing or life style that rubs the malayali wrong. Its the way she talks and the things she says. I remember Prithiraj used to called english mon after his wife made a comment on his knowledge of english. Besides its really done more good for her than bad as her notoriety is her usp.

11:20 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely agree. Being a Malayalee who was born and brought up outside kerala, I have experienced the narrow-mindedness and misogyny of the Kerala menfolk well enough to do anything but simply agree with you on this well written article which says everything there is to say about our typical, "Educated" "liberal-minded" men who feel instantly threatened by the slightest whiff of independent breath by any females around and try to copy the actions and words of their folded- mundu, underwear-flashing silver screen idols in an attempt to score over women.

11:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the saddest part of reading your article is realizing the arguments you make for the welfare of women are contradicted by your own prejudice toward men. In your race to admonish men because of the few, you've lost all credibility for the questions you ask.
I mean you speak a great talk about equality and respect...yet you have a whole blog that you claimed, "I started this off as internet hate piece among men in Kerala."
So to turn the question you asked at the end back onto you. "What is the point of an education if it hasn't helped you cultivate a respect for the boys you go to school with?"

I sincerely wish you the best toward developing a voice toward true equality and respect. However, just as a thought, you can't expect respect when respect isn't given.

11:34 pm  
Blogger Harry said...

Brilliantly written! And this issue is not just confined to Kerala. It is quite similar in Andhra too and I am surprised that this kind of mentality in men accompanies them when they travel overseas too. And the saddest part is that no amount of education is bringing about a change!

11:54 pm  
Blogger Midhun Sreekumar Menon said...

Great attempt to express equivocally your ideas, but there is a flip side to this when seen from angle of criticism against some men who are media personalities . So, though article is good, it is also at the same time a prejudiced view point

12:15 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So much to say, TRQ. I dont know where to begin! You have hit the nail on the head, and although I haven't lived in or spent enough time in Kerala to experience it the way you have, I think what you have described is true for the country as a whole, really.

12:30 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Malayalee's are famous for their narrow minded brains. If you want to wear makeup do it, if not don't . Its the mind set that a girl who wears make up and modern dress isn't decent. I'm so happy I live in a country where I don't need to see much of these types. Obviously there are still some out here too. Recently couple of months back met a pukka malayalee aunty saw me and thought I didn't look malayalee enough. I guess I had coloured hair and wear a bit of makeup and dont wear mummy clothes..I'm a mother of two and I enjoy dressing up and wearing make up. Its my face , my body . Hahaha my husband loves it. The rest can take a hike !!

12:49 am  
Blogger thepaleobiker said...

Great article. Thank you for writing this!


12:55 am  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:07 am  
Blogger smokinaces said...

I certainly appreciate your control and eloquence in english language. But the way you built your arguments supporting Rangini or for that matter Manju Warrier to portray all malayalees as sexist or rather as patriarchal is rather far from truth. Yes of course you would find lot of people engaging in abusive conduct and responses in all regions and malayalees are no exception.

But you had conveniently avoided the notorious instances like Rangini jumping queue at airport immigration checkpoint when an NRI questioned her and the ruckus that happened afterwards or when the most respected actor like Jagathi made fun of her right in the middle of a live reality show and the responses she made in each of these incidents and these had left a very bad taste in the mouth for every malayalee whether male or female about her attitude and disrespect for the common man.

These incidents may have made a few behave inappropriately as you have said but that does not make her an angel either. We malayalees have seen many a great men and women in our life time and she does not belong in that category. Though that does not make her liable for all the derogatory remarks made it neither makes her a Mother Theresa either.

So request please do not try to canonize her.

4:44 am  
Blogger Thomas M Sebastian said...

Well research has been good,And if all people voices same concern then you would have made an attempt to understand why as well. Than entering into assumption of your own.

7:50 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi The Restless Quill - I would never have read your article had it not been posted on my social media. I have no idea who Ranjini Haridas is, though Manju Warriar strikes a bell. Good on Manju for breaking free from the mysoginistic clutches of Mr Dilip and others in society. Kerala its one place where everyone looks into another's plate more than they look into their own. Malayalee = hypocrite.

Most porn movies are Kerala based. Ask anyone North of Kerala...its always your friendly Mallu aunty to the rescue when you are feeling low between the legs. Its like how you use "Indian Restaurant" overseas. There are no Pakistan or Bangladesh Restaurants; they all predominantly brand themselves as "Indian Restaurants".

I have observed what you have written in my growing years. Good on you for writing. Some commentators to your article are losing the bigger picture/ message by getting into the micro day to day issues involving the cast you have used. That's a typical Keralite. He has a micro detailed explanation into everything. A bunch of Fa***t* (Incl me if you like).

Love your style and control on words. Good article flow and structure. You are handling a very controversial issue...and that too about the highly "Educated Keralite" - LMFAO :-D

8:18 am  
Blogger bluvian said...

Loved this piece. Congrats and all the best :)

8:32 am  
Blogger Amel Abdul Rahman said...

Very Arundhadhi Royish style of writing, where each sentence speaks volumes, and the whole article is full of everyday observations collected together. But now that your mind has created this masterpiece, I think you have a responsibility of getting this into print media.

I can understand this context as I grew up in Abu Dhabi, and returned to India, for my college education only. My Malayalam was limited but thankfully unaccented, and this was something I managed to improve over the college years. However, coming from a cosmopolitan Indian, heavily competitive school in Abu Dhabi with highly ambitious girls who had everything figured out by their 12th standards, the culture shock that Kerala gave me was something I could never recover from, and even now at the age of 32, I live and work in Bangalore, the city that saved me from male madness.

In short, my college suspended me for my open relationship with my then boyfriend (current husband :-)), Teachers picked on me simply because they could not understand why I spoke in accented English and had so many questions and assumed it was 'oversmartness', and an entire class of mechanical engineering seniors stormed into our class, vacated everyone, just to abuse me verbally and ask me to eat their dicks for harassing their favorite teacher (yes, yes, I instigated them, after heavy harassment from that guy, I filled my exam paper with the abuses I knew at that time); the celebratory mode post my suspension shocked me....where is this anger coming from? Hostels run by sisters and Muslims regularly threw me out because it affected their moral compass to see me openly talking to my male classmates on the road or hear that I went on a trip to a beach with a boy.

Of course my orthodox Muslim family decided it best to discontinue my education, and a whole series of running away and fighting was necessary to finish my Engineering and reach where I am today. But that is a different story, and I think I just wanted to say how much your piece means to me, and hopefully many other girls who have suffered. I admire Ranjini's ability to face the heat everyday, and that is an inspiration in itself. Please get this in print.

8:37 am  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...

my god, what a story! I don't care who thinks I've generalised but your one response makes me think this piece I've written is extremely relevant. good on you about the answer sheet, haha!

9:09 am  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...

thank you for all your comments. completely appreciate all your points of view.i am just going to address two comments in particular here.Sreeraj: You've given me a wonderful flip side to this whole debate. I took time to think about it and this is what I have understood. the hate the men you mention received is a reaction to perceived arrogance. again, that's just ridiculously bad form. but that kind of bad form translates into deep misogyny when you make sexual threats and want to completely destroy a person's character, and life. i don't know if after reading this piece you had the time to read the amanda hesse piece that i linked towards the end. it clearly delineates just random anger at successful people and anger specifically directed at women through fake ids and anonymous commenting. the other difference between people like ranjini haridas/manju warrier and annie mascarene and k.r. gouri amma is of time. the internet allows you anonymity that detractors have never known before. we are no doubt proud of our women achievers, but did we really have an idea what the critics were saying about them, the detractors? we don't. women like gouri amma and mascarene were firebrands but their achievements are also towards the greater common good. the arts aren't seen as respectable, and therefore, someone who shone there, who dared to use her body the way she wanted, dress it the way she wanted threatened masculinity more than an educated woman who spoke her mind and fought for the country. but thank you for your comment. it gave me a completely different perspective.

9:11 am  
Blogger beingFab said...

Well written!! I honestly wonder where this sexual frustration comes from!!! You have made some very valid points here, although I don't agree that the entire male population behaves this way, especially among the younger generation. The older one is a lost cause. I also think that having lived outside Kerala or having an education matters. There were many guys in college with me who were very clear that they wanted their future wives to wear only sarees or salwar kameezes and who didn't have 'modern' hairstyles. Those very guys have grown into family men looking absolutely comfortable with working wives, strutting around in skirts and jeans. Like I said, things are changing, although really slowly.

10:12 am  
Blogger Snaptrix said...

Whenever Ranjini appears onscreen, you can't help but watch with fascination. There are a lot of something s about her - her happy nature and confidence shine through as they had always done when I'd watched her host an obscure (but I liked it) program in an obscure channel (Rosebowl). When she came onto Star Singer, I had an indefinable uneasy feeling but she shone there as well - people were stunned speechless by her hugging guys onstage to react for sometime apparently. But when they did, it was with a vengeance. She was groped whenever she went public, talks how on debate show insulted her (people lost their heads when she said she would consider artificial insemination) - and now the vitriol has seeped online as well. Honestly, I don't know how she handles it all. And how we can help this strong woman before more damage is done!

10:42 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ranjini! it is great to see you try and make a change to this hugely chauvinistic society in your small way! RESPECT and keep going! we need more of Real people like you! ENOUGH with the hypocritical senseless people ruling!
All the best! :)

10:57 am  
Blogger ashmyac said...

Great piece.

11:08 am  
Blogger ecthelion said...

Very well-written.

I can't imagine how she has the courage to continue in the public eye with the knowledge that her audience comprises of a "good" segment (of inspired, heartened but yet possibly voiceless women) who loves her, and a very large vicious bunch who hate her and very likely pose physical danger. The fact that she refuses to toe the line is so impressive.

What's worse is how abuse directed at her is almost "acceptable" in Keralite circles - to the point where even people without fake id's or profiles can openly post hateful stuff about her. What's even more annoying is when people who supposedly dislike her for her accent or, as you say her "distance from her mother tongue", more often than not, end up joining (or tacitly approving) the chorus of rabid vitriol against her.

11:13 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Now that is an awesome reply..... Even i do agree there is a huge amount of superiority complex amoung men in India(i would say it is not just in kerala). We are coming from millions of years of grooming from a society which until recently considered physical strength as the baseline to give superiority. To be honest even now when we guys grow up in school we still get a place in the play grounds based on our strength and we have to earn it. This has obviuisly put a defect in our way of thinking which we are working hard on. You have to pardon us for those untamed creatures which no way gives a damn to change. This section of men will always be their and will have a bigger impact since they have thier negetive charm. When that being said there are even sections in women who does similar torture to passive men and we do understand that the rest of the women can never irradicate them. Even when you read your blog you generalise your comment to by calling your target as "men of kerala" rather than focusing your hate on the section of kerala men who sticks on to their traditional thinking. Even you have tried your best way to picture the entire kerala men as a ruthless creature without taking the pain not to hurt the men who have grown out of that thinking. Any blog i have read even this, talking about men and women equality have ended up with an idea of women getting superiority over men and there by smashing the very balance the blog asks for. The worst you did on this write up was to consider the hatred towards renjini " is her being a women". Instead the real reason is her attitude to critics and tge disrespect she brings in on her talks even to senior members. Dont forget The same treatment happened even to prithvi raj and sreeshanth so it is never her being a successful women created the hatred. We even do have nayanthaara for wearing modern clothing but the hatred was not this much amplified( but yes there was some critics and there was critics even when india launched space ship to mars).

11:26 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am referring to the last para of the article " if these men are........

How can you generalise the reactions of a few as the pattern of the behaviour of the rest of the male species in kerala. There are lots of sex workers in kerala. Will you compare their behaviour as the common charectristics of the rest of the women in kerala ? There are very normal girls in kerala and there are exceptions too. Its is a choice of every singlen person, be it a male or female to choose a person of his or her likes. How can any one impose a person whose character is totally against his or her likes and interest. Are you saying that no matter how unacceptable the behaviour of a girl or boy is, they should keep quiet and accept it ? Ohh come on .. thats the height of expectation...

11:35 am  
Blogger വെള്ളാശേരി ജോസഫ് said...

Sexually colored abuses and labels are there everywhere, especially in conservative patriarchal societies. It is not a monopoly of Keralite men only. In the lawful Western society which we admire, prostitution and pornography flourishes. In a recent survey, many women remarked the portrayal and acts in pornographic films disgusting and causing them nausea. But then turnover of American porn industry is enough for clearing the debts of many under developed countries!

12:25 pm  
Blogger yedhu krishnan said...

Its a known fact that every where in India and I'm not sure whether I can say this as especially but since you focused on Kerala especially in Kerala men have a t tendency to degrade women who don't care about what society thinks about her way of speaking or wat of dressing but I really think you only focused on how bad men behaves with renjini. The way you write about this things makes ranjini an angel and all others who criticize her are idiots. Have you ever came across the news which made ranjini infamous? I guess not and I really request you to go through all the news which made by ranjini or so called men who hates or who disrespects ranjini or women for that matter. It's not about the way she dresses or partying, is about the way she disrespects other people. I agree that woman should be respected but what's your stands on the cases where men is not respected? Or is respect just for the women?

12:46 pm  
Blogger Meera Sundararajan said...

Brilliant post!!! I can identify with a lot of things you have written about. I am married to a Syrian Christian from Kerala. Though my husband has been born and raised in Chennai and comes from a highly educated family, I realize that education and empowerment of women are two different things. My MIL who was a doctor was an avid supporter of this patriarchy that you write about. I found it strange..! She would not allow her son to partake in child care ( "Our men do not wash babies' bottoms !!!!!!" ) She always used to tell me that I should strive to be a good wife and a mother. A highly manipulative woman she would always get her way by never even stating what she wanted. I guess these are survival skills that Mallu women develop making them dangerous adversaries if you are not exposed to this kind of society. They are the complete opposite of their fish eating communist counterparts of Eastern India ( where I grew up) where the women are domineering and the men are always quiet in the company of women!!! Bridging the challenge of these two cultures that are seemingly alike but vastly different was something that took me over a decade to learn.

1:56 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...


I'm half Malyalee and half Mongolian. I've been to kerela couple of times, the first being to see my cousins and found out how backward it is.

You really can't blame them because that's the way they've been raised and taught as. But, you can educate them and I have.

They've always understood it from a very authoritative point of view and step out of it is tough.

I have two sisters that I admire and love very much and wouldn't want them to go through something like this being whatever level or form or way it is. It's just wrong.

The fact being, before we can change the minds of others we should change ourselves. Lead by example!

From all this, Men only talk and women they do. To all my etha's and chetha's speak sense not nonsense.

Don't think with your Penis!

2:04 pm  
Blogger Pauljeba said...

The characters represented from the state of Kerala in this article can be extended to include most people from south india. I can say for sure this sad state is prevalent in TamilNadu as well.

2:29 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

very well written and I am sure every Mallu can relate to this.Hope girls here will stand up more for their own rights and to achieve their dreams.

2:44 pm  
Blogger Ajith Prasad Edassery said...

Dear Author,
First, let me appreciate the wonderful piece of writing and some highly-socially relevant topics that you have put together. Here are my views on the issues raised.

1.Misogyny: This is not exactly a Kerala specific issue! It exists everywhere in India and it’s more seen and experienced in the rural parts of India. And the entire Kerala is more like a big village without any real urbanization in place and hence it may be more visible there. By relating misogyny with Kerala alone, you haven’t done justice to this core social issue prevailing elsewhere in India as well.

2. Verbal abuse: Our state is a bunch of people who – in the name of humour – have the habit of making fun of virtually anybody and anything. Their targets could be men, women, actor/actresses, politicians, bureaucrats, own teachers, relatives, family and even physically handicapped people! This initially started with those street satires, then movies and was taken over by mimicry artistes in the 70s and it’s STILL continuing. While we proudly enjoy the quality of our comedy and comedy stars, more often than not, the language and abuse levels has stooped to new lows and most of them have no respect for other individuals. It’s not specific to women – it’s just that it’s felt ‘more agonizing’ when women get to hear the abuse. A huge cultural change is required here!

3.Moral/Social policing on Ranjini I agree with your views on the social abuse that some of these characters are receiving. While, Ranjini is widely accepted by the Keralites living outside the state, it is not the same in Kerala. When she was physically harassed once by a mob, even the policemen on duty seemed to act like she was wrong. The case was similar when Mr. Jagathy Sreekumar – arguably the best comedy actor ever in Kerala – made fun of her in a stage show. Why Ranjini is targeted? The fact is that, the orthodox Mallu doesn’t like her artificial style and accent that she acquired just after two years of stay abroad. They don’t seem to have any issue with other Malayalee girls who are brought up outside and have an accent :) Anyhow, the kind of public abuse some of these ladies attract online seem to be getting worse day by day and regardless of what good/bad they have done at the end nobody has any right to publically abuse people like that. In any other country, they would have been behind the bar by now.

By the way, as I mentioned in (2) even some male actors or politicians attract similar or worse comments by their opposition or fans of other superstars. That’s the reason why I categorized this issue and (2) outside misogyny.

4.Sexually oppressed men: I totally agree with your views on this. Contrary to what outside people might think about Kerala, most people from the 70s/80s/90s are brought up in a very orthodox fashion whereby girls and boys are not at all allowed to mingle freely as friends, classmates or colleaugues. During my childhood (I am in my early 40s), a girl could be punished for talking to a boy. And even now, if a man sits next to a lady in a bus seat, it can be a big issue and sometimes even end up in fist fighting.

Kerala at some point had most number of B-grade and soft-porn movies. Blue movie CDs were in abundance in the so-called video parlors and some of those incidents of kidnapping/serial-rape of women took place in Kerala. The kind of molestation that happens in crowded buses, trains and even in some queues etc is much more here than other states - so is the kind of stare that women attract when they are in Kerala. While things are slowly changing with the right upbringing, there’s still a lot to be improved. The ever-increasing alcohol abuse numbers, don’t seem to help the situation either.

There’s indeed a cultural issue with respect to how most Malayalees are so cynical about virtually everything in life which results in cruel jokes on people and abusive language used in public. And orthodox upbringing clubbed with alcoholism etc seem to be resulting in issues discussed in (4).

Thank you,

3:10 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:33 pm  
Blogger praveen ushus dev said...

Everything has two sides to it. Truth is never one sided and hence to write something without true understanding is mediocre and cheap way of expressing one's frustrations. It is very easy to assume and judge about a society by taking few instances but that really is not the truth. Do you wanna really understand a community? Then go and read history, literature and art created by them. Human nature is very complex to deduct it by logical reasoning alone.

4:05 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Restless Quill,
Have lived 22 years in kerala with a Tamil Brahmin /Mumbaiite mother and a malayalee Christian father, it is safe to say that growing up my father was away most of the time cause he was a sailor, I didn't end up speaking as much Malayalam as my mother would speak to us in English and the CBSE school I went to was predominantly English speaking. This obviously gave me a less that "proper" Malayalam accent which has been the butt of many pokes and scribes and I've been termed "valiya parishkari" "madama" etc etc by a lot of people I met over the years, so I don't necessarily think Malayalees really know what it means to be sensitive to another human being. They are prejudiced and biased to their own ideologies, refuse to get out of their own warped worlds. Even though I managed to escape India and today live in a pretty neutral society. I shudder at the thought of coming back and having to relive the moments of public molestations/flashing/perversions/ inhumane violations of all sorts, aimed at women. Ideally, I feel the shift will only happen when more women gain courage to pursue their own paths, stop paying dowry to marry a man, refuse to let society tell you what to wear and how, walk away from abusive relationships of any kind! the list is honestly endless. But education without context would definitely mean every generation learns the same things over and over again, a paradigm shift with the Ranjini Haridas's of the world is what Kerala honestly need.

4:26 pm  
Blogger പെണ്‍കൊടി said...

Jagathi Sreekumar is a very good actor. he is respected for his acting skills. But that doesn't mean he is a good man. He himself was accused of a Girl trafficking and rape case. On a stage like that, Jagathi should not have spoken that way. He just showed the "Malayali Man' in him that day. Different programs have different kind of presentation style and the Program Producer of Idea Star Singer did not have any issues with Ranjini telling her opinion about the performances before the judge. But Jagathi had. In this case, I think you cannot support Jagathi. Whereas Ranjini handled the situation very well. She did not spread any negativity and continued the anchoring.

And about Ranjini jumping the queue at immigration checkpoint - Later it was revealed that the queue jumping was done by one of the team member, and this NRI made a big scene out of it. The webcams clearly showed it. As it was Ranjini on the other side, the Facebook activists created a big scene and no one heard or believed Ranjini's side. (including you). But believed the NRI as he was against Ranjini. Right?

4:42 pm  
Blogger Shiva Thekkepat said...

Bang on, Sandhya. I recently saw a clip on the internet of Ranjini in either Kannur or Kozhikode where she was being mobbed by a crowd (men) with cops in attendance, and she was blasting off at them, calling them 'bastards' - evidently they had needled her too far. Not apparent whether anybody had got physical. The crowd moved around her implacably while she shouted at them, and then uncannily and almost instinctively they closed in on her and when they were almost indistinguishable, comments started flying about how she could not behave like this in their city and get away with it. It was frightening seeing the mob mentality at work. I guess it is the same dynamic at work on the internet - the bliss of anonymity that allows you to be 'yourself'.

5:15 pm  
Blogger EJ said...

Being a Malayalee, I can say that you have written a brilliant article on the subject.

It is so hypocritical of Malayalee men to try to woo girls who are exactly like Ranjini, but then give them piece of moral policing when such people get married..

Keralites needs to grow up. And when I say growing up, it is not adopting those popular fashion statements, but being more liberal deep inside their hearts when it actually comes to women. They are so so conservative.

6:03 pm  
Blogger Nightingalejanz said...

Very interesting blog. Never realized things were so shocking in Kerala until now. I have a question for you which is almost synonymous to ur last paragraph - why is Kerala considered to have nearly 99% literacy rate when men and women (as they don't really have much choice) are so backward in their thought process? These 2 just don't connect and is indeed misleading!


7:09 pm  
Blogger vk said...

i used to watch idea star singer, and didn't like ranjini too much. until today. i'm impressed with her as i've never been before. so I plan to like her facebook page, in silent support.

to all the people who've commented saying that malayali men are "only" as screwed up as other (Indian) men, I honestly don't think so. It's not just that the sexual abuse women seem to be subjected to, it's a more pervasive misogyny which seems to manifest in this. in my opinion, it's born of a few interconnected things:

(a) malayali women are (i think/hope) better off educationally and professionally, and participate in the workplace--so part of this is the kind of attitude non-malayalis have towards dalits/muslims/gays. the narrative of woman-as-enemy seems to have come in from somehwhere.

(b) malayalis (the men more than the women) seem to have this huge need to put people they don't like down. the way it works seems to be that if you can't advance, then perhaps you can get ahead by pulling the other guy/girl down.

(C) kerala regiments people more than most other places, it seems to me. non-malayalis please report if you've ever been subjected to gender-segregated staircases (I was, at school)

where i quibble with your article is with the conflating of various things. I disliked ranjini for the seemingly excessive bubbliness, and the non-spontaneity of her diction. which i find mildly distasteful. today, for the first time, i felt proud of not noticing either her dress, her hairstyle or her physical openness.

and I grew up in a household which was more matriarchal than matrilineal. I had a whole bunch of fiercely independent great-aunts and grandmothers, who were more liberated than most of the younger malayali women I know, and ran their households. I recall very very few gender-insensitive remars made by any of them (there were 6, counting both sides). but by and large, they all disapproved of makeup and dressing up (as being showy/beneath them) to the extent that I find the idea of a beauty parlour somewhat bemusing (when my wife first told me she's a regular attendee, i swear I did a double take, and might even have rolled my eyeballs). I realise that this attitude is narrow-minded, but I honestly don't believe it was born only of misogyny. it's as much to with the simple-living-high-thinking-credo, which malayalis like me, were brought up with, and tend to take to extremes.

sorry for the long post, but i thought this needed to be said.


MYM (that's what my sister took to labelling malayali young men, usually as an insult)

ps: to put a spin on the groping of women in kerala, i must say that i've been groped as well, so at least some malayalis seem to be equal-opportunities offenders.

8:34 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Coming from a"premier Indian campus" in Mumbai which hosts a lot of Malayali students (unlike faux-Mallus like me), I have to completely agree with your writing.I have been targeted by these 'decent' malayali men in this campus, openly via sex chats on facebook, the only reason being I do not shy away from discussing my body or my relationship with my boyfriend. Of course the crux of their argument was formed on these key words- you grew up outside, you're a pseudo-mallu, why do you roam about in the night with non-mallu boys, you're agnostic, you cant speak malayalam.. the list goes on. But the day I was targetted by a man saying he wanted to "bite my breasts" because my sweatshirt was hiding it, was the day epiphany happened.
PS:- Now in an all out fight with the Malayali Cultur(less)al Association.

8:42 pm  
Blogger dead man walks said...

Just wanted to share something, my mom sister n I moved to Kerala from dubai when I was in my sixth grade. From day one I saw men gawking at my family ( please note, no lipstick and make up needed for gawking ) and I handled these guys in my way... But then I knew how my sister n mom suffered and cuz of that I never stared or gawked or whistled at any girl.. So I wouldn't generalise and it is just not me, buy I have many friends who think and do the same.

9:13 pm  
Blogger Arun Shaji said...

The malayalee likes to degrade everything that is 'malayalee' but doesn't fit the malayalee stereotypes.. The male counterpart for Ranjini is Sreeshant. So this attitude is not a gender based derogatory behaviour.
It is the human social behaviour of going by the society and the 'ideal' stereotypes that should be addressed.

Loved your article! :)

9:36 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

I feel those men who hate Ranjini, fears that if women in kerala becomes like her then they cannot hold women within their grasp. . They fear that Women will become the dominating part of the society. Most of the men are jealous of the height of her success near which these men can never reach. All these men will gaze & drool at girls dressed in fashionable clothes (which shows their interest) but will abuse ranjini. Strange :p

- Dogs will bark at the moon, but can never reach even miles near it.
- The tree which has the most number of mangoes gets pelted with most number of stones.

Ranjini, its her life, her body, her choice of clothes purchased with her money. . What the hell does these men have to do with it? If you don't like it just ignore her & mind your own business.

10:11 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well I know a girl who was in Bangalore worked for 24 X 7 Customer, had to take accent training (English) from one of my friends. Later she went to UK for a short period of time, not sure if she completed her P.G but when she returned be started anchoring malayalam shows with English accent. She murdered the language and created a generation of kids who speaks Manglish who takes pride in saying "Ari illa", she is not the one to be blamed, its the channel and the sponsor who encouraged such disrespectful use of language.

10:15 pm  
Blogger sarath said...

Let me thank you for this blog. I never lived in Kerala but whenever I visited my family member tried to avoid the buses and my mom the salweer kameez I never understood till I reached an age to know the reason. If people think that who left Kerala there mind have changed, please get up and wash your face I have encountered people of narrow minded man. But in Kerala situation is really worst, in North people talk about the brutal and cruel mind of the Khap system but in Kerala these narrow minded man are a hungry dogs for meat. Even women are accepting it without any objection because they are now use to it.

I feel bad for Gods Own Country

10:23 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Chauvinism is very deep rooted in. India.must say such men all found all over. But my question is, should these men change their attitudes first or the women who churn out such chauvinists

10:43 pm  
Blogger Anirudh Arun said...

While this is not a defense of people's reactions to this woman, how is this any different from how people treat and view Rakhi Sawant? It might be wrong to say that this 'problem' dies outside Kerala's boundaries.

11:20 pm  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...

i don't think i said that anywhere at all. i chose to focus on kerala because it's not the ideal "development" state that it is touted to be.

12:01 am  
Blogger Murale_Venugopal said...

i still dont agree with whatwvwe nusisance you have scribbled over here , people like you kill our culture in the name of meodernism

4:28 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:33 am  
Blogger Divya Sreedharan said...

Thank you for writing this. As a Malayalee who lives in Bangalore, I used to wonder if I was the only one who found men in Kerala so regressive, if my growing-up years (and experiences) had left me completely biased and bitter. Now, I find that most Malayalee women (in Kerala, let me emphasise) are conditioned to fit into the biddable, smiling, gold-bedecked Malayalee mould. At the same time, when it comes to celebrities and media coverage, there is basically no 'journalism' involved anymore. Reading your post was truly shocking--had no idea things were this bad though. The internet has only made men and their mindsets more insular.

6:48 am  
Blogger Tuten said...

I have to admit that I do hate the way she talks, something to do with talking the way a malayali talks. I mean, it saddens me that she as a person who if proud of being from Kerala, wears her crippled language as a feather on her cap. I just think she should respect it a bit more. There are malayali kids born and raised entirely in UK or US or any western nation who can speak fluent malayalam in their own native slangs the way they wouldve if they grew up here. Trust me, im not being a presumptuous arsehole. Excuse the language. But i wouldnt say a word against her confident demeanor or the way she dresses. That just reflects the way she likes to live. Free and being her own boss. And being unmarried and close to not being so, i freely admit, i wouldnt be one to care if my wife-to-be aint a virgin. I am not, why would i expect her to be one? Doesn't matter if she was faked out of it, or if she lost it someone who she felt strongly and had to let go. Im perfectly sure shes only a better person for it. If she was made a fool of by some guy somewhere, it would only make her a strong person. If she had to let go of someone she loved, she would only be more practical now than then, and neither are bad things are they. I know Im better now than then. People who stick the should-be-deprecated rules of culture and society are clueless to the fact that we as a society are only worse because of that. We could be so much better. Literally every place we go to, we can see a malayali, we're amazingly capable people. Well educated. If all the women were to realize their potential as well rather than be caged, that would only make us better, not worse. If we're doing our honest work to our best capability we would only welcome any competition regardless of race,gender, or age. Only person who cannot stand it is someone doing dishonest work. Im not really one for women rights, because i believe equality has more to do with not having any additional to our own capabilities. I would say a girl is my equal if she scores the same in any competitive exam without reservations. If she does better only because of it, shes weak. Its like giving a handicap bonus. People who fight for women rights should realize they are demeaning them saying you are weak, you need something given to you for free to succeed or get the same result. Any one of us who are friendly with a person with a disability knows that their ultimate grievance is that we give them special status when all they want is people looking at them just like any other. Its the same for women. But they shouldnt be discriminated for it. Ill admit that there are fields where a mans work is needed. Where physical strength is a priority. But i see no reason for the same to be upheld anywhere else. The people saying our culture is being polluted by the modern ethos and the westernization should realize that there are good parts in there too, just like anything else. I am not saying our culture is entirely bad. Our marriages are more stable than any other in the world, and that's a good thing. We can endure more emotional stress in a relation than any other cultures in the world simply because we are reluctant to break out of them, that just isn't a malayali thing to do. But we should also know that unlike us, in other cultures because of the freedom, the girls achieve more, do more, are more happy. I wouldn't be a good father if i had to rein in my daughter and condemn her to an unhappy life now would i? Nor would i be a good husband or a happy one for that matter if my life choices limit the way she can achieve the things she wants from life. I cannot find any reasoning for such insecurity unless u count tiny phalluses a fair reason to be precise.

6:54 am  
Blogger CatGunHome said...

Agreed, Video killed the Radio Star; Culture Club killed the Karma Chameleon.

7:21 am  
Blogger S said...

Very well written.

While you write about all this keeping 'Malayalees' in mind, I think the whole of India can be generalized into this. The state is no different in other states of the country.

This duplicity emerges repeatedly in Kerala, in conversations and in mainstream media, and now internet hate: It's okay for a woman to work, bring home money and support, either single-handedly or as a second income, her family. But the minute she decides to pursue a career, as opposed to keeping a job, and chooses to go after it ambitiously, she's just turned into the devil.
This statement had me applauding!

8:01 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is brilliant. Of course misogyny is prevalent throughout India, but I feel the issue in Kerala is often overlooked (for the very reasons you've mentioned, possibly). "Education", in our context doesn't mean squat - there was a detailed analysis in Hindu IIRC which clearly showed there was little correlation between rapes/sexual assualt and "education". Your closing statement pretty much sums it up well - what's bloody the point if the "education system" haven't managed to address misogyny (especially this) racism etc. even a tiny bit?

Also, can we just accept this prevalence of terrible misogyny without rationalizing it FFS? The article is spot on and I can't really see any bits I disagree with.

Would've reblogged this on my blog were you on wordpress, sharing this everywhere anyway :)

8:29 am  
Blogger Sri said...

Brilliantly written. Expect some haters for yourself too - Mind U, thats a sign of ur success :) :)

No matter what, keep writing, U r an inspiration to many. All the very best

9:19 am  
Blogger bumbu pecel bali said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:20 am  
Blogger Bibi George said...

Exaggerated. It is true may be for ten to twenty percent of the whole population.

10:06 am  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...

thank you so much.

10:23 am  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...

thank you for completely getting why I chose to focus on Kerala! thanks for the share. x

10:25 am  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...

thank you!

10:26 am  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...


10:27 am  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...

it's the same story, every single time. I'm sorry you had to go through that. haha about your p.s.

10:32 am  
Blogger mnair49 said...

And whts this sattire "kerala men(apart from porn) .. I mean whts this !!!! is it the trait of a malayalee ?? watchin porn ? every man on this earth does that !!!! its again the misconception... lots of such A grade videos too have this tag of mallu aunty and all , in which the video wont have any resemblence or anyone from kerala..!!!! its pathtic..!!!! i mean , even in terms of humour , its pathetic to tag malayali men as porn watchers...comeon, every men does that..!!!!

11:07 am  
Blogger Saj said...

Girl, u took the words right out of my mouth... with Malayalis the trend is to degrade anyone out of the herd... Thanks for writing this.

12:44 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Sandya,

This blog makes me think this...how does the chauvinist attitude come to be? Either it is taught or it is absorbed. If society says one thing and the family does not agree then the child, to a great extent will not be influenced by the society. I guess most parents do not realise or think about the mindset a child develops. They follow their past experience and find that others are doing so too. Helps fit in and less hassle.
Also, how does the mother treat the son and the daughter inside the home? Does the son get more privileges than the daughter?
Education ideally should adapt to societal needs (glad I'm away from India w.r.t this). Question is, if the child learns that some behaviours are plain wrong and go tell the parents, will they listen? In fact does she have the freedom to talk about it?
I respect parents with well rounded children, it means they were able to be there for their kids while giving them the chooral kashayam or more sophisticated punishments/consequences.

I actually read all the comments. This article is great and interesting.

PS. I respect Ranjini's tholikkatti and I quote her: 'I know myself very well and so I am confident ' (or something similar). This must be her secret. I'm sceptical of her accent (here I'm being mallu I guess) but acknowledge that her Malayalam has improved from initial days in star singer.

1:09 pm  
Blogger centrecrowd said...

well written . I have just one problem that too with just the initial part of the argument presented (only the language ). Authenticity has nothing to do with freedom to express your self. The way a woman dresses or the the caustic sense of humour she carries is usually appreciated .neh... it is desired at the most deepest levels. But being fake is a put down. I was born and brought up in delhi and speak fluent malayalam and hindi ( The first assumption people make is ..he must be from kerala school..wrong). The usual apathy towards malayalam is mostly due to "nurture" than "nature".
It Starts with parents who themselves swam to distant oil spitting lands or migrated to far off indian cities for better job opportunities. Now Some how they feel ashamed of their past and suddenly decided that malayalam is the only thing holding them back... the best way they say is adopt the language of the place that they now stay in. I understand and respect it as an individual choice. But the lack of authenticity comes when they speak to their children in Hindi or english. Now the kid ends up not speaking malayalam and yes these parents show them off like trophies when they return to thier native place or even where they stay. " My child doent know malayalam ..giggle..giggle " . A child speaks what ever language he/she is spoken to in. My cousin sisters sons born in the US speak just as fluently as any kid in kerala with a lil accent ( certainly not as much as ranjini). The pathetic part is to see these parents talk to their own children in the worst concoction of hindi/other languages making all sorts of grammatical mistakes and with a heavy malayali accent in hindi ( leg = paaiyeer , mosquito = machurrrr(ch as in chu***a ) when they could have made their own lives easier by speaking the language they have been speaking for the majority of their lives and allowed the Kids to learn hindi/english/ or any other language from the native speakers at play schools/schools/colleges etc thus reducing the adulteration by malayali accent in another language. Hence the only reason i can see for people not trying to speak their native tongue at home is cos they are embarrassed about their language and heritage......or i could have been wrong the whole time and children infact cannot learn more than a language and I am a genius with 4 languages to pick and choose my words from.
Now the genius part could be a cause or an effect ( polyglots are supposed to be more intelligent ) I leave u with that thought.. nanni namaskaram :D

2:10 pm  
Blogger AJIT said...

well written...but i hv a comment...the last para is the most critical one for any author, nd the author asks why our educational system is not tackling the issue?...well, the fact is that, education cannot correct a natural phenomenon....eg1....a lioness goes hunting during the day, nd the lion waits for his feast in the shade...yet the lion rules the jungle...is that equality??....eg2...a black widow eats her (weak) male after mating, .is that equality?? nd still the nxt male goes after the widow for mating..is that how it shud be??...someone should correct all these issues, i agree...but who? certainly not you and me...

5:52 pm  
Blogger Harisankar said...

Sandhya, that was one of the most thought provoking pieces that I have EVER read online. I am subbing. Clearly, men have to change for the better. I know for a fact that many of my buddies are extremely primitive when it actually comes to equality and are inherently chauvinistic. Hoping for a better tomorrow.

6:02 pm  
Blogger Johns said...

After voting she posted a pic showing the ink on her middle finger...the other lady with her looks normal...but Ranjini only had the ink on the middle finger....its obvious that it was purposely done....posting such pics will only get negative comments....i understand this article of yours is supporting abuse against females which must be stopped....but Ranjini should behave herself too...the incident with the NRI man is an example for her short tempered behavior....if little care is taken in the way she communicates....this level of things will be stopped for sure....

6:03 pm  
Blogger enRenRum-anbudan.BALA said...

Lucidly written and its likely to be thought provoking even to Male chauvinists! Not that other states in India are any better but such a situation in a state of high literacy is deplorable & pathetic! Thanks for writing this piece!

7:48 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:52 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Great article Sandhya. Couldn't agree with you more on the blatant hypocrisy and male domination that still exists in most parts of Kerala even today.

7:56 pm  
Blogger Rekha said...

True that. Absolutely true. Some other women from Kerala who have been subjected to such bombardment of hatred are Urvashi and Swetha Menon. I am not defending any of them or their actions but the hatred they get online (and may be personally delivered too) is way beyond consumption. It indeed requires great strength and confidence to stay sane even after all that.

I got married at 23 which was too late by the tradition in my paternal side of family (most of my cousins got married by 18-19 years of age). And since I have had a marriage outside of my community and that too miles away here in North, my parents and I have got some part of the judgemental reactions too. A trademark it sadly is. It might be the same in other places too but it pains to see it happening in my birth place.

7:58 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Excellent post!!! I never truly liked or disliked Ranjani... But after reading your post I truly admire her guts!!

It takes a lot of survive in Kerala.. Especially with every other man staring at you (like as if you are walking down the street stark naked), trying to grope you or randomly say creepy things to you while walking by… I just don’t understand their mentality!!?? I just don’t understand what goes through their mind when they do stuff like this?? Its just sick!! And with all this and so much every day that is being said at her and behind her back... She is standing tall!! Keep going girl!!
I remember telling 3 of my guy friends (a Tamilian, Bihari & Rajasthani) a few years back that all women who travel using public transport in Kerala always carry a safety pin and when I told them the reason why.. They were completely shocked! As men, I guess they couldn’t comprehend the fact that so many men in Kerala treat women so derogatorily, especially when we are supposed to have the highest literacy rate!!

8:08 pm  
Blogger La Belle Dame Sans Merci said...

Well written. I am 38, a mother of three, I leave my hair open,wear make up and dress in jeans n kurtas, work out to maintain my figure & I work for a company in Ernakulam n' guess what!? Its the women who give me dirty looks, talk behind my back, gossip n look at me as though I have horns on my head. I would say the men I have come across are better, compared to the women folk . What's your take on this??

8:15 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

This piece truly resonates with what I felt after leaving kerala for higher education !! I always heard complaint from my sisters and female friends about the harassment they face while taking a bus or taking an auto or just walking around in Trivandrum. The first time I visited Mumbai it was surprising to see girls walking around alone at night, something a female in Kerala would never dare do !! What was more surprising is that when I shared my views on female independence with my cousin brother. His response to my views was "What kind of women would wanna walk around at night alone ? They are not supposed to do that !!".

I so wish this attitude changes, but now that I read your article I feel things aren't that different from when I grew up. I so hope development is measured not in terms of GDP or average lifespan but something more meaningful !!

11:26 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Sandhya Menon, Very good in expressing words as a blogger and successful with this post, Sadly I am 100% against all your arguments.. You may try something different than Santhosh Pandit :(

1:53 am  
Blogger Eranical said...

I think that program where Jagathy spoke so rudely was just another instance where she proved her caliber as a great host. Her ability to maintain her composure and laugh it off are commendable.
I recently happened to watch a few minutes of the latest season of star singer and it is so clear that the show can't survive without her. As much as the current hosts try they can't measure up to the bar Ranjini set.

9:50 am  
Blogger Vishnu Prasad said...

Real Mallu attitude in simple words..

V r ready to marry a woman who is mother of 2child or a divorcee. But v nevr want a girl who wearing jeans and tshirt.. wearing jeans means she is a slut.

.. real literate attitude ..

-an illiterate mallu. (I guess or i pretend to be :D)

12:27 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Restlessquill

Thank you for writing this thought provoking piece. And absolutely bang on!!! Brought up in the UAE, I had to face the culture shock when I moved to Trichur for my higher education. And the persecution I was subjected to was just too much that after a year I seriously contemplated moving back to Dubai. I was labelled a slut because I befriended guys and was a favorite talking point among my class mates. But I did complete my education there, else it would have been unfair on my parents.

Your article brought out all those memories. Of being gawked by strangers on the road. Of being subjected to comments in a public bus...(I shudder when I think of that now)

Yes I am a mallu. But a proud Bangalorean. The city has liberated me. Kerala remains a vacation spot for me now. And I would like it to remain that way because of the sheer horror it imposes on women.

9:10 pm  
Blogger SEC Research said...

This article, while erudite and clearly insightful in parts, is an excellent example of an agglomeration of all the bad elements that one could possibly find. What you do not understand or care to enumerate are the multitudes of those who do not indulge in this kind of behaviour and are outright decent people who dont approve this kind of behaviour.

But more so, what irked me was your juvenile linkage to 'socialism'... :-) . The egalitarian values that you bemoan are a double edged sword. If one cares to live in an egalitarian system, then one must also not try to behave in a superior or supercilious way - which is the line that Haridas transgresses. In her behaviour, she not only thumbs her nose at wider public (probably psychologically classifying them as 'haters') but also at an ordinary person's way of life (male or female). And it is in your infinite lack of understanding of this that you tatter around trying to justify it by demeaning every other person's life choices without knowing whatever their motivations might be. If you want an egalitarian society, then you better behave in an egalitarian way! What you are (in?)advertently asking for is an inegalitarian society - which, yes, you will find opposition to (in Kerala at least).
You can choose your inegalitarian paradise in this world and believe me, there are many - and dance your little victory dance over the rest of people if that makes you happy but dont think that that is an egalitarian place just because you can wear short skirts !!
Well written though.....kudos...and all the best... :-)

8:14 am  
Blogger Shivakant Menon said...

Hi Sandhya. I'm glad such critical literature on this topic is coming out from our state. I happened to go through her page recently after a friend of mine shared her middle finger postvote photo in which him and more idiots like him took turns to abuse the celebrity for demeaning mother India and being a bad citizen for showing the finger. Such an irony huh. Anyhow they had no answers when I posted photos of the whole bacchan family and John Abraham showing the finger five years ago. Media and fans were seen congratulating them. Why then the differential treatment when here. Anyhow, iv been in kochi for more than a year now and what I've felt is while men (not generalising) are still immature kids with their penises outgrowing their brain, it is in fact women who contribute hugely to the current deplorable situation we find our society in. If a girl shares the seat with a random man in a bus she gets the looks from elderly so called decent women. Star singer once started without ranjini and within months she was brought back due to grossly falling trp. Everybody likes ranjini on TV but on the dining table, she is bitchedef about by the same women who watch the show. And I feel men will find themselves in a helpless situation when the women of kerala can stop being suppressed or at least not support men in accusing other women of so called modern behaviour. Stop giving support to husbands brothers sons and fathers when they talk rubbish about women.

8:37 am  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...

thank you for that, sec research. but in your pursuit of educating me and superciliously dismissing my line of argument, you've missed the entire point. well done.

9:02 am  
Blogger Arun said...

Why Santosh Pandit was not discussed in the post?

11:08 am  
Blogger emotion guru said...

i like ur language skill and much of ur contents ,but whether the examples u choose is abt or not ?iam not sure abt it ,t real scenario is litle dffrnt from waat u said,
ofcrs tere is a male chuavnstc attitude in kerala,i thnk all over india,....
but in case of ranjini it was ,her talks or her jaada that was th villain ,same like prithvi, sreeshanth and all.
and abt manju, its the female community who were critcsng her more

12:41 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...


Loved this article, well written and strikes all the right chords.

Personally am not a Ranjini fan (nor hater), but I strongly condemn the way people have been reacting to her comments and pictures on fb. We keralaites brag about our literacy and level of education, but after seeing the comments on that wall,it must be said that we have a long way to go.

Whatever Ranjini has done to irk the population, she deserves a lot better. And thank you Sandhya Menon for pointing this out.

5:50 pm  
Blogger dfsk.wordpress.com said...

Amazing post! Very eye-opening about misogyny and patriarchy in Kerala.

3:31 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Sandhya, The irony of the article, lamenting on the presumed hatred on Ranjini Haridas with over the top characterizations of the perpetrators, clouds what you are trying to convey.

Somebody forwarded me your blog post. I hadn’t heard about this woman, Ranjini Haridas, before. But a quick glance at your blog post and the facebook pages show that she is a self promoter, without much substance. It is no wonder she attracts vitriol, if that is the overriding sentiment.

I am reminded of Kim Kardashian, the shrewdest of marketeers. When she posts the latest selfie of her derriere, the whole point is to invite the opprobrium to follow and the substance of the “discussion”, the comments on the proportions of the body part or lack thereof, should not be interpreted as misogyny.

Ganesh Iyer

6:40 am  
Blogger SEC Research said...

Im not able to direct this comment to the thread. Seems Google has neglected this platform more than me (or Chrome'ified' it.

Your article was a hugely entertaining and eye-opening read but I thought that your points were rather flimsy (what with the absolutely clumsy sampling). Not only this, your egalitarian plead is completely out of context what with a beauty queen who thinks that she can offend people as she wishes (the election finger was undisputedly in bad taste). Hate mail is ancient, what used to be in paper, now in electronic form. And as far as porn is concerned, you forget the era of Kerala's own version of the 56-inch chest... :-)
So whats your point, that the internet enables 'open' communication ?
Or that you cant take criticism from equals... :-P

7:18 am  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...

SEC Research: I wouldn't continue a conversation with someone who left the last line you did? Classic provocation method, which I try and stay away from but I do think I'd like to make an attempt and knocking you down a peg or two.
1. You pass off opinion as fact ( Ranjini doesn't offend people as she wishes.) it's hilarious you're offended by her showing you the bird but not the rest of the filth on the page.
2 you call your comments criticism. That's a riot. Look up VK and Sreejith's comments before you. That's criticism, You're trolling.
3. This is probably the biggest if all. If I were to sum up what you're saying simply, it would read "Ranjini is arrogant so she deserves it." Victim blamers fit right into the profile of men on her page.

This is the last I have to say in this. Enjoy your week :) And do not consider yourself my equal till you wrap your head around some do the things I've addressed here, :)

8:32 am  
Blogger SEC Research said...

You see, the problem is this - it was never my intention to provoke (I dont know what are the latest strategies on chat boards as I no longer participate in them, it was just a mild barb for amusement) and yet you get provoked by me and blame my comment. You then go on to show your superiority and throw your pretensions of egalitarianism in the bin.
So by your logic, then you are to blame and not me (as I become the victim and you reacted violently to my words). Then, by your own behaviour, indeed women are to blame for what comes upon them.

So you see, people react in the exact way that you treat them. Ms Haridas treats the ordinary person's way of life, their values, Kerala society as crap - then she will also be returned the favour. Its as simple as that !
There may be good things and bad things in Kerala society but this is not how you iron them out.

PS - Njan just oru paavam aaney...I dont have any hallucinations about my greatness but I will fight for the stand that I am your equal (and vice-versa) - and that you are no more or no less.. :-)

Have fun with all your yes-(wo)men. Positive criticism is not the only good type of criticism in this world. People have just forgotten how to both exercise and tolerate the actual type.

10:16 am  
Blogger boister-oister said...

With my limited exposure to Mallu land - Mallu husband but never lived in Kerela - I have always been baffled by what appears to be a disconnect - literate, double income families and lecherous men. I strongly believe that which we understand less, we fear more. Hence, this appears to be a big disconnect for me - the men are exposed to women at work and at educational institutes. These women march with them shoulder to shoulder during union strikes and play an important role in sharing the income burden... Your article captured it well and helped me understand the Mallu world a little bit better.

2:01 pm  
Blogger Prasanth said...

I liked the article, more so the concluding paragraph. The only comment which I'd give is this.

It'd have been good if you had mentioned Ranjini by her name, as Ranjini and not as Haridas. It's her name padded with her father's, but do we need to continue with patriarchal ways?

1:28 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

First, I must congratulate Sandhya for her post. This post is really spreading like wildfire all over the internet and for good reasons too. For one you are a really good writer and for another you have succeeded in unmasking a part of the mallu male psyche. I confess myself being a bystander misogynist to some extend. I do prefer women (and men for that matter) conform to some set social norms. But the set norms for women are I agree a bit too harsh all over India.

For a person brought up in Kerala in the past 2-3 generations "equality" is an integral part of bringing up. Throughout my life, caste or religion never played any role in human interactions. I am sure that the Communists played a big role in this big change in attitude from the early 20th century (When Swami Vivekananda famously called Kerala a lunatic asylum because of the caste ridden society at that time) to today. People really believe in equality. But then they do take it too far at times. I bring this up here, because I believe this feeling has a lot to do with the hate shown to Ranjini, Sreeshanth and Prithviraj.

With this feeling of equality came huge egos. They are part of the most humblest of men in kerala. Mallus hate arrogance, especially an open display of it. And another thing close to a Mallu heart is the language. So when Ranjini Haridas comes along, studies aboroad for a couple of years and decides to talk in whatever way she talks is really quite embarassing. And the worst part of it is, an entire new generation of fuckups wanting to talk like that. I may not spew sexually explicit invectives on her facebook page.. But I truly hate her attitude towards the language.

So hating Ranjini, Sreeshant and Prithiraj along with their preceived arrogance comes easy for every mallu. And I agree that all the hate shown towards them is mostly bad form. But just because of the anonymous sexual threats, let us not conclude that it is just misogyny. Sreeraj has a very good point. In the homophobic environment that exists in kerala, making sexual threats on Prithviraj / Sreeshanth is really impossible for a male prepetuator (and his ego).. And more often than not, all these comments were basically from them.. Sexual jokes to some extend should be taken in a lighter vein and not really clubbed with destroying a person's life.. Actually they should be disregarded and laughed off exactly as Ranjini seems to be doing ? Or is it my inherent misogyny doing the talking ? :)

10:29 am  
Blogger Vriti Bhargava said...

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11:45 am  
Blogger Vriti Bhargava said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:46 am  
Blogger Vriti Bhargava said...

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11:47 am  
Blogger NG said...

Quite a disappointing post. Nothing new in it which is already known. Remove Kerala and Malayalee from the post and replace it with India and Indian, the post will still hold. Replace India and Indian with America and American, the post will still work. It is not as if Mal men are the neo misogynist because of the Internet. Men have been like this irrespective of the Geography, which is shameful.
And you are a "non-supporter" of Ranjini just because she forgot Malayalam. Sounds very much like Raj Thackeray. A liberal feminist gone Mal jingoist?!
So naive of you to ask why education has failed us. At last count what exactly has education helped us in?
This blog should have explored why is misogyny so prevalent: is it a cultural problem that is specific to Kerala or India. What are the solutions to end it--if possible. You should have come out with more solutions on how to tackle misogyny. To be fair to you, you do give one suggestion: include arts in education. But that just touches the issue not even scratches the surface.

6:12 pm  
Blogger Arjun Narayanan said...

Reads a lot like a character study in The Dirty Picture. But Ranjini and Silk are totally different people. I am a Malayalee and I agree that perversion is a natural curse that men in Kerala pride about.

7:43 pm  
Blogger Play School Indiranagar Bangalore said...

Your informational post is great resource to lots of peoples and i got a good knowledge...

10:23 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am a 50 year old female, born and brought up in Kerala, living in chennai for the past 27 years. I am shocked to know that the attitude of men hasnt changed a bit. I have had so many yuk situations while living and working there. I felt so peaceful and free once I moved to Chennai, no whistles, cat calls, crude comments.. People here had not much time to sit and do all these. I agree that there are some incidents happening but comparing to Kerala that is a very tiny percentage. I hope this situation changes in the future.

11:31 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Miss Lakshmi this is not just subjected to One State. THE blog above can be related to all the states in India. And I believe all the states belong to one country, INDIA. And in that case if something like this has happened in Kerala it directly or indirectly even effects you. So there's no point in saying that I am Kannadiga or I am spared from this. I have done my degree in bangalore and I've seen cases like this even their. SO what I am trying to say is that, see the problem as a whole and not subjected to One State like it doesn't happen in your place. I am a person who believes if a problem arises in a State it is a draw back for our country not just that particular place. THANK YOU :-)

6:08 pm  
Blogger Nivetha Gunasekaran said...

Kudos! Someone had to speak out loud on the many atrocities and denigration women face on a daily basis. With many changes to Facebook privacy settings, there have been cases when beautiful young women (including me and many of my friends) post photos of themselves flaunting a new dress, a hairstyle make-over or a even an overwhelming moment after losing oodles of weight captured in a bodycon or a sheer dress, get obscene and disrespectful comments from strangers. It is to say that not only actors and non-celebrity folks face such harassment, even WE do. This needs to stop, and I am glad you have voiced this.

Beautifully written piece!! Well done! :)

7:51 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Well written. Some part of the problem is the growing wealth gap between rich and poor and that in turn drives a big gulf in culture. But fundamentally, what I have observed is that women in Kerala are part of the problem. They are the first to comment negatively when a girl dresses modernly or goes into a career path that is non traditional or stays out late. If you speak to a girl for more than 5 minutes, they look at you with a serious eye! Girls and boys are not supposed to be friends. While I was doing pre degree, there was a professor (in his tuition class) who used to separate boys and girls with a curtain !! The worst part is the look that men in a group gives a girl. If you are a father of a girl, its a very scary look and its getting scarier still. I hope it will get better.

5:29 pm  
Blogger Rama said...

I loved the article mostly because I could relate to a lot of it. I also feel India on the whole needs to starts to pick whether we are being modern or we are being traditional and this applies to the men. While they love the concept of a hot girlfriend, they want their wives to be traditional, obedient and slaves to them and their family but also earn their keep. Decide guys... you cannot have it both ways.

11:10 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:37 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Sandhya - the next target for these transgenders are going to be you - beware!!. I totally agree to 110% what yo have said!

7:40 pm  
Blogger Furkan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:40 am  
Blogger pornxnxxsex.com said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:44 am  
Blogger Vineesh said...

I want to "like" the above comment! CatGunHome, you win :-D Great article. ok scratch that. Amazing article. Better?

2:54 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

I loved the article - especially since I could relate to most of the issues addressed (I suppose many other malayalee women would). But as I read a few of the comments , I felt a bit bad - about the way this reflects malayalees. The article is written from a general point of view - but there would be a lot of exceptions to the stereotype it is putting across.

1:18 pm  
Blogger UMESH said...

Nice article. Well crafted sentences that convey the facts. But I would like to know on what grounds the author has mentioned that Kerala society is the worst in India. Because what i feel is that the author has compared Kerala society with the 'mixed up' cultures of the big cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore etc. You are so frustrated about the fact that a normal woman in Kerala cant go to a beauty parlor or dress up the way she likes; because she is getting judged. Lets look into the life of a village woman in any other part of India (a place equivalent to a village in kerala). She doesnot have a toilet at home, she cant even dress in the way she or even her family wants her to do. She has to follow what the village tells her to do; else she ends up either brutally raped or dead. Imagine what such a woman would share about her pathetic life if she had a computer with internet (and ofcourse the education to read and write). I dont think this situation existed even during our parents' time. See how much lagging they are from our society.
I would like to point out to the author that he/she should see each and every one as an individual and respect that. I cite an example for this. I have seen a lot of posts in support and against the kiss of love. And anyone who opposes it is a ‘moral police’ or a ‘freak’ in the supporters eyes; and anyone who supports it is a ‘cultureless’ person. Again, it is all a person’s freedom to support or oppose it. And there is a limit in judging and commenting on the other person. Because what you do is again going to get reviewed by the fellows in your society. You see, it’s a never ending cycle. So my point is girls and boys are going to be judged in a lot of ways, especially in a society like ours, where life moves on in a very slow pace compared to Bangalore and Mumbai. I am sure, even in Bangalore or Mumbai, if the people are given a month's off, the next thing they would do is interfere in their neighbour's life. Because it is a basic instinct.
Regarding Manju and Ranjini issue, I feel its too gross to put such comments into a social network. Even i feel that there is no tally between literacy and commonsense. But trolling and making fun of them is not that serious, because as somebody said in the comments, its an inherent behaviour of a Keralite to make fun of everything. But i feel it is just for fun and not to demoralize them in any respect. If you want to see how big is the set of individuals getting trolled in facebook, you can check out some pages like ICU, Troll Malayalam etc. You can see that they are meant for pure entertainment purpose only as in the case of mimicry and comedy skits we see. And the number of funny trolls on dileep is too large compared to that on Manju and Ranjini. And neither will you see a post on dressing style of a woman or slang words on women in these groups.
To wind up, some views you have are quite good. They even blowed my mind. But I felt some are off topic, just some fascinations and sarcasms a typical younster will have about the society she lives on.
See, you judged the society, me and many others judged you, now its everyone's turn to judge me. And this process goes on and on. Thats why I said, whatever we do, we are going to be judged, be it in the present society or the future societies to come; unless the society gets too busy to judge the people around them.
If at anypoint I hurted anyone's feelings, Iam sorry for that. Thankyou.

9:22 pm  
Blogger UMESH said...

Nice article. Well crafted sentences that convey the facts. But I would like to know on what grounds the author has mentioned that Kerala society is the worst in India. Because what i feel is that the author has compared Kerala society with the 'mixed up' cultures of the big cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore etc. You are so frustrated about the fact that a normal woman in Kerala cant go to a beauty parlor or dress up the way she likes; because she is getting judged. Lets look into the life of a village woman in any other part of India (a place equivalent to a village in kerala). She doesnot have a toilet at home, she cant even dress in the way she or even her family wants her to do. She has to follow what the village tells her to do; else she ends up either brutally raped or dead. Imagine what such a woman would share about her pathetic life if she had a computer with internet (and ofcourse the education to read and write). I dont think this situation existed even during our parents' time. See how much lagging they are from our society.
I would like to point out to the author that he/she should see each and every one as an individual and respect that. I cite an example for this. I have seen a lot of posts in support and against the kiss of love. And anyone who opposes it is a ‘moral police’ or a ‘freak’ in the supporters eyes; and anyone who supports it is a ‘cultureless’ person. Again, it is all a person’s freedom to support or oppose it. And there is a limit in judging and commenting on the other person. Because what you do is again going to get reviewed by the fellows in your society. You see, it’s a never ending cycle. So my point is girls and boys are going to be judged in a lot of ways, especially in a society like ours, where life moves on in a very slow pace compared to Bangalore and Mumbai. I am sure, even in Bangalore or Mumbai, if the people are given a month's off, the next thing they would do is interfere in their neighbour's life. Because it is a basic instinct.
Regarding Manju and Ranjini issue, I feel its too gross to put such comments into a social network. Even i feel that there is no tally between literacy and commonsense. But trolling and making fun of them is not that serious, because as somebody said in the comments, its an inherent behaviour of a Keralite to make fun of everything. But i feel it is just for fun and not to demoralize them in any respect. If you want to see how big is the set of individuals getting trolled in facebook, you can check out some pages like ICU, Troll Malayalam etc. You can see that they are meant for pure entertainment purpose only as in the case of mimicry and comedy skits we see. And the number of funny trolls on dileep is too large compared to that on Manju and Ranjini. And neither will you see a post on dressing style of a woman or slang words on women in these groups.
To wind up, some views you have are quite good. They even blowed my mind. But I felt some are off topic, just some fascinations and sarcasms a typical younster will have about the society she lives on.
See, you judged the society, me and many others judged you, now its everyone's turn to judge me. And this process goes on and on. Thats why I said, whatever we do, we are going to be judged, be it in the present society or the future societies to come; unless the society gets too busy to judge the people around them.
If at anypoint I hurted anyone's feelings, Iam sorry for that. Thankyou.

9:23 pm  
Blogger murmur said...

Sandyaa...ur work is so praiseworthy...i used to feel like that most of the"happy" families r running by the loyalty or sacrifice women in different forms in the name of love especially in Kerala..pathetic this cancerous attitude of people.😍

11:44 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Absolutely love it!....
So when I first came back to my hometown to do my higher studies i had alreadyy sinned... The sin being born and brought up in the middle east... and now tat was apparently written all over me... and in addition to it i was dark skinned.. so overnight i became NRI jaanu!!! The kind of abuses i've had to endure from seniours ..batchmates.. classmates in the four years was humiliating ..... By mean who aped the west by all their low waist jeans ...all the hanging out session in malls.. men who were there to watch angelina jolie smolder in the bigg screen.. but they couldn't have the dignity to not abuse women.

2:15 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Lets start off by agreeing to the fact that human beings comprises of being either male or female.
All males are not being born as devils(bad),As this article seems to imply & all females as angels(good).
In the years past women were confined to mothers role & kitchen.Now they have come into public light & walk
alongside men in all strata of life.Other than physical appearance,the brain of man & female is the same.
Thus it is no surprise,that in modern times there is equal numbers of criminals,thieves,crooks,prostitutes,
pickpockets,pimps,frauds,drug sellers & addicts & terrorists among both genders.
Change cannot take place in a relatively short time span or it will have its ill-affects.
This is exactly what has happened to this generation.They cannot take in changes in so short a time.
Women got their voting right in America around 1917 & in Europe more or less the same time. Old timers will know that
men were more or less in control in their homes till the 1970s.The Hippie movement hit the world in the 1960s,
which propagated the idea of modernity,rebellion against old norms & free sex.In this era women like Betty Friedan
came along & fought for women's rights.Then a small transition period when the world lay quiet & dormant as though
waiting for something to happen.Then the great year 2000,when internet TV & the new era arrived.With it words like New Generation,
Generation Next etc.Within the twinkling of an eye the world changed.The arrival of electronic media,shopping malls,multinational
trade or free trade & most of all relaxation of immigration laws.Whereby we see in most countries a multinational people as
its citizens.In India & Asian countries change came swiftly since the year 2000.women who were hitherto confined
to their homes & kitchen began to go outside their homes for work.All things taboo till now began to get thrown out the window.
They cut their hair short or even bald hairdos were in vogue,wore the pants around the house(as the old saying goes),lived single
or lesbian relationship as it suited them.All this was unheard of till now.Bars began to get open to women,so much so
that women occupied more space in the bars than men.Everything gender related began to be questioned in the homes,like
sharing of house work between the spouses,baby sitting etc.Every male bastion began to get broken down like jobs men thought
was forever his.Like the army,bus driver, train driver,pilot etc.The list goes on & on. To be continued...

8:46 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Continuation... Till the 1800s sport was thought to be duly masculine.Women were not allowed to take part in it.
Thus strutted around the boxing ring Mohamed Ali,Joe Frazer,George Forman etc.Now there is a doubt whether a male boxer
would get a hiding from a female boxer in the ring.In religion women have progressed to become bishops,pastors etc.So
these are some of the changes,only a tip in the iceberg.
The world was patriarchal for millions of years.In the caveman era men were the hunters & women the gatherers
of food.If you are a believer in present dates 2000 BC & 2000 AD.That is the world was patriarchal for 4000 years of its existence.Only from the year 2000 to 2015 we see these sudden changes.This is the problem of Ranjini haridas.Ranjini haridas is a
small picture in a larger frame.In order to understand this we will have to understand the first part.The world cannot
accommodate the change in such a short time span.give it Give it some more time.Maybe a 100 years & the world may understand it
(the change in man woman relationships).Till then lets not classify people & put them under the microscope.
Moreover it is a difficult situation.The male testosterone levels will have to come down in drastic measures
to the level of females to act identically.What at present is holding the male in check is court laws & fear of punishment.
Imagine a situation if one fine day courts & police were to be taken away forever.We could then never trust our neighbor.
women would once again never be able to walk freely on the streets,enter pubs & bars(no matter which place you live in the world, leave alone Kerala),walk safely around at night,as there would be Jack the Rippers at every street corner.Human beings are basically the same as generations past.Its not that this generation has suddenly become into all saints.Its the law that is holding
them in place.As Darwin rightly says it would take a million years for evolution to take place.That is man to change
his character & become more docile & as equal & same charactered as the female.Anyway lets hope all this is hogwash & pray that a situation will never arise when a war will arrive & law taken away.In the meantime may many more Ranjini Haridas's arise & have their day in the sun.

8:48 am  
Blogger nandalal sivadas said...

This is so lame!! You say Malayali men are sexually frustrated? I remember one incident happened to one of my friend back in school, in the year 2005, one lady in her mid 30s Sat near him in a local bus when he was returning to home after school. This lady started running her hands on his thighs and private parts!!!! What will you call that? The holly love?

There is this mallu girl, she used to tell me that she has a crush on me and stuff. But since I was already committed, I had to refuse her interest, well, normally that should be the end of it, right? But, she was not done!! She started sending me her nude pics!!!! Sexual frustration is the word.

You go to any celebrity profile in instagram, open any of their photo and read throttle he comments. You will see sexual frustration from all over the world! I don't have time to take screen shots and make a long article like you did, but fact remains true. It's all over the world. Men and women alike.

May be you should just relax! Utilize your time in a better way rather than trying to shame a whole society and men with out any deep knowledge of your surroundings!

7:16 pm  
Blogger nandalal sivadas said...

And, for God's sake, do you know that Kerala has India's best women-men sex ratio? Kerla society don't murder girl childs like the other states does!!

And some lame lady will come from no where with a lame article and tarnish the pride of a whole society.

7:36 pm  
Blogger nandalal sivadas said...

And, for God's sake, do you know that Kerala has India's best women-men sex ratio? Kerla society don't murder girl childs like the other states does!!

And some lame lady will come from no where with a lame article and tarnish the pride of a whole society.

7:37 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

I second you. It does affect.

8:17 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

I second you. It does affect.

9:16 am  
Blogger Unknown said...


With due respect for your writing, I would just like to point out that a fringe group cannot be used to make a general representation of a community. If all Keralite men were misogynists like you pointed out, the statement that you mentioned in your own article (about Ranjini Haridas being the best rated TV show host despite the hate) wouldn't be possible.

But I'm glad you added the word 'If' in the last paragraph. Besides, we may be 97-100% literate, but we must also understand that all literates may not be educated. If schools and colleges of this day 'educated' us, what a world we would be in! One could be literate and still be uneducated. One could be literate and educated, but still remain unenlightened.

6:01 am  
Blogger Unknown said...


With due respect for your writing, I would just like to point out that a fringe group cannot be used to make a general representation of a community. If all Keralite men were misogynists like you pointed out, the statement that you mentioned in your own article (about Ranjini Haridas being the best rated TV show host despite the hate) wouldn't be possible.

But I'm glad you added the word 'If' in the last paragraph. Besides, we may be 97-100% literate, but we must also understand that all literates may not be educated. If schools and colleges of this day 'educated' us, what a world we would be in! One could be literate and still be uneducated. One could be literate and educated, but still remain unenlightened.

6:03 am  
Blogger Harintellections said...

Reminded of something I'd written in May 2013 in response to the barrage of derogatory posts that did the rounds on social media following Rankin's alleged queue jumping episode at the Cochin International Airport. Nothing has changed, the points I tried to make then still hold water!


12:04 am  
Blogger Harintellections said...

Reminded of something I'd written in May 2013 in response to the barrage of derogatory posts that did the rounds on social media following Rankin's alleged queue jumping episode at the Cochin International Airport. Nothing has changed, the points I tried to make then still hold water!


12:06 am  
Blogger shoutbabble said...

How to Attract a Man: 8 Ways to Get Him Notice You. If you adore a man or are wondering how to attract a man you like, then you should definitely know these traits to make him fall for you instantly.

9:29 pm  

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