Confessions of a ‘Slut’

I’m not ashamed of who I am but people constantly try to tell me I should be. That I should try to change myself to fit their ideal description of a woman.
To hell with all of them. It takes a lot of courage to write the way she has and I support her one hundred percent!


by Aarushi Mahajan

When I joined college, I fit perfectly into the stereotype of a girl from GK-2. I had lost 12 kg before coming to college – starved myself, puked constantly, and gone to the gym – was waxed from head to toe and wore branded clothes (from Sarojini). I decided my outfits a day before and scoffed at those who still used their NLUD bags. I barely spoke in public and was slowly given the label of a ‘bimbo’. I can still remember when we were called to the third floor to ‘interact’ with our seniors. They made us sing this cheer:

“Oh my god, I think I need a manicure,

The sun I swear is burning up my gorgeous hair.”

We did it multiple times and the seniors called me in front of the other girls, made me do it alone and asked them to follow me…

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“I realized life was a multiple choice test with two answers:
Male or Female.
And I was None of the above”

If you’re a girl who just entered adolescence or a woman who’s well into adulthood, you share a mutual hatred toward one thing. Your periods.
I can literally hear you grunt in agreement right about now.
Have you ever thought what would happen if you never got it? If you never had to go through those horrible mood swings or those agonizing body cramps? Never having to worry about wearing that favorite white dress during “ that time of the month” ? Sounds like heaven right? But Kristen Lattimer would give tooth and nail to go through that every day if she could!

Kristen is the lead protagonist in ‘None of the above’ and is just another happy-go-lucky teenage girl. She is a hurdler, with the perfect boyfriend, excellent grades, full college scholarship and popular friends. She even gets elected homecoming queen. All’s rainbows and sunshine until she discovers she has AIS.

Androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) in lay man terms is:
When a mother is pregnant , her child could either develop into a girl or a boy based on their chromosomes “ XX/XY” . Sometimes a fetus with XY chromosome is born with resistance to testosterone * the receptors which recognize it are absent*. The main function of testosterone ( produced from the’ y’ chromosome) is to prevent the female genitalia from developing rather than promoting male ones. The absence of female genitalia allows the male genitalia to form. So when the fetus is insensitive to testosterone, the female gonads and genitalia develop without inhibition and thus giving the child, an outward appearance of a girl!
So you look like a girl but you don’t possess a uterus or ovaries. Instead you have testicles.
This is my understanding of the condition after studying it in detail in med school, but try explaining this to a high school senior and she hears nothing but “ You’re not a girl”.
Adolescence is already a confusing stage in life with so many doubts about self-identity, without having to add gender identity into the mix and Kristen struggles with both. Things get harder when the entire school finds out about her condition ( we all know how quick teens are to judge) and she falls prey to bullying.
All Through the book I felt Kristen’s pain, her loss of hope and her dire need to be loved. She lost everyone and everything. Her boyfriend, her close friends, her track scholarship , all of it. The author made her struggle seem so genuine that you couldn’t help but weep for her.
As a matter of fact, all the characters in this book were very well portrayed.
Kristen’s father, a man who already lost his wife to cervical cancer is put through trying times again with Kristen’s condition and you can see him manage to cope with it, with extensive research on her symptoms and consequences of her condition. He supports her in her decisions, makes her feel loved and accepted for who she is and helps her come to terms with her condition.
“You know I love you too, sweetie. Forever and ever, until the sun fades.”

*Spoiler alert*
There’s a scene where Kristen finds her dad crying in front of the computer looking at an anatomical diagram of an intersex person and she assumes its because he now understands what an abomination she is. Her dad then tells her it’s because she doesn’t have a cervix, that she wont die of cervical cancer like her mother. He’s happy that her condition wont kill her, anything else they’d fight it together! Truly touching.
Darren is another character I absolutely adore. In times where all YA male leads are drop dead gorgeous with the blue eyes, blond hair and ripped body, Darren’s a lanky science geek with messy hair and an addictive smile who also happens to be a long distance runner. He has an impressive wit and a scandalous past that helps him understand what Kristen’s going through.
“If there’s one thing I learned from my dad leaving my mom, it’s that love isn’t a choice. You fall for the person, not their chromosomes.”
If only everyone had his profound understanding. If that isn’t unconditional love, I don’t know what is.

It’s hard to ignore something as fundamental as gender. But the question is: what decides gender? Is it merely your chromosome? That everyone with an XX genotype is a symbol of feminism? Is it the way we dress that factors into it? Our mindsets and thought processes? Do all women even think alike? How do you decide if a child is male or female? By looking at it’s genitalia? Then why isn’t Kristen as much as woman as me? If you noticed, throughout this article I’ve used ‘ she’ as a pronoun for Kristen and that is my tiny way of showing my support to her right to being called a woman!
Why do we treat intersex people like abominations? Maybe it’s because we can’t stuff them inside the box of our limited understanding. Maybe it’s because humans are so used to categorizing things into neat little boxes. “ right or wrong”, “ rich or poor”, “ good or bad”, “male or female”. Anything that doesn’t fall into one of these, disrupts our order and we can’t accept it.
I ask you, if your friend has lactose intolerance would you abandon her? But when said friend is intolerant to androgen you’d run a mile away wouldn’t you? Even though they’re almost the same principle it’s so hard for you to embrace a friend of ambiguous gender. It’s just another medical condition.
People with cancer are treated like royalty because of their condition, what with all the cancer perks and cancer wishes all because they’re dying or suffering to stay alive but when somebody is diagnosed with AIS they are treated with disdain and contempt. Why? I’M not saying that cancer patients don’t deserve preferential treatment, I’m just asking why only them?
You know what? It’s easy to die, to give up and leave. It’s harder to survive in a world where it thinks you don’t belong, to wake up every day to hatred and fight it. ALONE.
Now with Cancer being such a recurrent theme in contemporary YA, * yes, thanks to TFIOS* I.W Gregorio has voiced a story of a different condition but one that deserves to be equally heard.
IT does have it’s flaws, the book ended abruptly without a decisive conclusion and the writing style lacks creativity but all in all it’s a excellent read. Especially for all you teenage kids, read it so you learn to go easy on your friends fighting medical conditions, so you can be one less burden they have to deal with.

Let me know what you thought of it!

O Kadhal Kanmani

This is my first movie review and it’s a Mani Rathnam movie. Or as my mom would put it “ IT’S A MANIIII RATHNAMMM MOVIE”.
He’s my mom’s most revered director; she worships the ground he walks on. So obviously it warranted for a family trip to the cinemas and I personally, had to find out what all the hype was about.
Here’s my thought on the movie in a nutshell: I detested  it.
The movie is essentially about ‘live in’ relationships and how the current “youth” views commitment.
So you’d think that a movie that revolves around this theme would portray it to your utmost satisfaction, but it doesn’t.
The story unfolds  with two individuals working away from home, looking for a casual relationship. No strings attached. They suffer an instant attraction and they date for while before deciding they needed to see more of each other on a daily basis. They have their own reasons for fearing the commitment of marriage ( her parents had an unsuccessful marriage and he, well he’s a guy) and they decide to have a live in relationship.
That’s all fine. But my problem is, the movie didn’t focus on why they made this decision. It made it seem like they chose it because that’s what everyone was doing these days not because they weren’t sure whether they were compatible for each other or because they were scared that if they got married they’d have to give up on their personal space or any of these other reasons people actually choose this sort of relationship for!
The romance was sadly lacking and left you yearning for at least a little more.
There is this phone conversation where she calls him with an excuse of “I wanted to hear someone speak tamil”. I’m sorry was Sun Tv not working in your television box?
The leads have nothing in common but their dislike toward marriage. Hmm sounds to me like they could have found thousand other people with a little more common ground than that.
I wasn’t convinced they even liked each other till the end of the movie. I was waiting for either one of them to say good riddance and walk out * maybe with the tip of a hat or swish of a cape for dramatic effect* but they ended up defying logic and got married.
Their relationship was juxtaposed against this endearing old couple Ganapati and Bhavani , their landlords. Bhavani was suffering from stage 2 Alzheimer’s and Ganapati lovingly nursed her despite the fact that she sometimes forgets who he even is. They had the kind of love that didn’t die with age or illness. The old kind, if you will.
It was so beautifully shown, that you knew Mani was in his element. Maybe living in relationships wasn’t something Mani believed it and it clearly showed how much.
There was another pivotal point in the movie where the hero’s sister-in-law finds out about his “arrangement” and tells the heroine to either marry him or leave him because what they had now was disgusting. It was an opportunity to bring out the difference in opinions amongst the current generation and people of the yesteryears. It was meant for the youth to take a stand for what they believed in and reinforce it with sound arguments.
In her defense she did make an argument; “why don’t you ask Adi (hero) this?”
She proceeds to make an argument that marriage is just a sheet of signed document and it makes no difference to their lives. If that were true why didn’t she just sign it and everybody could go back to drinking their coffee and reading the morning news? Because it’s so much more than that, it’s a life long commitment, vows are exchanged, promises are made that can’t as easily be broken as walking out of a living in relationship. These were the things Mani failed to depict.
The heroine herself is a fine work of art. She says all but three words in the first half “ appuram,  ana, so” the second half she says a lot more. Just nothing of value. She constantly picks fights with the hero and she cries.
The hero was trying so hard to be Madhavan from Alaipayuthey that it was just pitiful. That might have more to do with the director than the actor though.
There was another failed plot twist involving the “mother-in-laws” house. Adi claims he was missing for two days because he’d gone to visit Tara’s (heroine) mother in Coimbatore while in actuality he spent the weekend in jail because of said mother’s orders to the commissioner to keep him there.
He shrugs it off, like he spent the weekend sun bathing instead of sitting in a dingy cell counting iron rods, not to mention how it would affect his permanent records. Not so much as a Tantrum. Tara on the other hand is livid. Not because of what her mother did but the fact that he lied to her.
In the end, they end up marrying each other not because they found profound love but out of the fear of being lonely for the rest of their lives. This is something Mani displayed well. The second when Adi realizes that she might be missing, he understands that not having her in his life would feel about the same. This is something that happens quite often than not. We’re all looking for companionship these days, LOVE is too mainstream.
I did like the fact that Mani tried to show it like he sees it. And like my uncle said, sans melodrama. There were so many occasions where he could have turned this movie into a sentimental, tissue-paper requiring drama ( by killing Bhavani, or by making Tara pregnant, or by either one of them cheating on the other) but he chose not to. That takes a lot of guts and only he could do it with so much bravado.
I mentioned that I loathed the movie. It’s not necessarily a bad thing though. I loathed Adi and Tara, I hated their relationship together, I abhorred the way Tara treated her mom. But that’s the scenario of this generation. I might be a 18-year-old, amongst the targeted audience this movie intended to impress but I want love like Ganapati and Bhavani, I don’t want a casual fling. I want commitment. Call me stereotyped all you want but that’s who I am. The fact that the movie evoked such a passionate argument from me against living in relationships in itself is a huge compliment to the director.
I expected a lot more from Mani Rathnam and I’m left sadly disappointed. Ok kanmani was just that. OK.