Female Independence is attractive – no Need to play needy! – 30 Aug 16

I yesterday mentioned something that seems to have enraged the feelings of some of my feminist readers. I assure you, dear ladies, that the words that you read were not meant the way you understood them. I am indeed in favour of independent women and don’t think you can only ‘get a guy’ if you are needy.

This question actually came from a sentence I wrote: “As long as you are showing the world that you are the tough single woman who faces life on her own and loves her independence, there may be few men who would dare making an offer.”

A few of my female readers obviously felt offended by this sentence, interpreting it as a statement asking women to be needy, dependent and unable to face this tough world on her own! Or that you can only get a man who loves you if you are like that. Ladies, please don’t get me wrong, that is really not what I meant and I thought the next sentence made it a bit clearer: “You don’t seem as though you would want them in your life!”

So, again, a bit more in detail: please be independent and tough! You can face this world on your own and you definitely don’t need a man for this. I don’t think that all men actually want to have child-like beings that they have to take care of in every way. No, I believe it is attractive in a woman if she can stand her ground and I am surely not the only man thinking this way!

At the same time however, a lot of these women actually simultaneously send a signal to men that keeps them away. They are practically telling them to back off by their actions, behavior, gestures and even words! Maybe inside yourself you think every man wants to have a needy woman and that’s why you defend your independence! You assume that a man would attack you for this and so you prevent any such action from their side by showing them they should better not approach you at all.

That is what I meant with my sentence. You don’t need to pretend to be needy to get a man. However you may want to consider not scaring them away. You can show that you are open for getting close to someone. You can show that you would be ready to go further if the right one comes – a man that respects your independence.

Can we have Sex in your Ashram? – 8 Feb 16

We get inquiries for stays at the Ashram every day. While we reply all of them, there are some where we already know they probably won’t come, others about whom we believe they would very much like it here and some where we know their expectations don’t fit our place and we tell them better not to come. This all by the description of what they would like to do while they are in India. Today we received an email in which the author did not actually explain much about which kind of classes or retreat she and her partner would like to take. She spent pretty much the whole email explaining that she intended to have sex at our Ashram!

Yes, that was the main gist of the email – but not at all in a way that sounded ‘dirty’! No, she very politely told that she was going to be travelling with her partner and asked whether they could share a room. If they were not allowed to share a room in night, would they be allowed to meet in each other’s rooms during daytime? Or would they not be allowed to talk to each other at all due to their different genders?

She very politely went on to explain that sexual abstinence was out of question for both of them – but if that would break any rules or would be impossible from our side, they would accept and try their best to stick to it.

Oh yes, of course it is funny to read these lines – but you know what? From her point of view it makes complete sense to ask like this because this is what happens in spiritual places and a lot of Ashrams: sex is made a complete taboo, is portrayed as something dirty, sinful and evil and is generally forbidden! In many Ashrams, men and women cannot have rooms together even if they are married. And there are even places where they separate men and women completely, not letting them even talk to each other!

So in order to avoid any kind of unpleasant surprises, it is a good idea to ask and clarify beforehand! After all, it nowhere says on our website that you are allowed to have sex with your husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend. We may think of putting that up though.

For today however, it is enough to answer this lady by email that we will be happy to welcome her and her partner at our Ashram, that they can of course have a room together and that we are absolutely free of any such rules. We will write them that they can feel free to just be themselves and that we don’t make a taboo out of a very natural urge and an act full of love!

Jobs for both Genders but Housework remains the Task of Women – 10 Dec 15

Yesterday I started writing about gender roles and how they are also still present in the west, even if not as strongly as you can see them in India. While I yesterday concentrated on the pressure that men have on not becoming ‘unmanly’ by performing household chores for example, women also still have to fight outdated ideas of people regarding their gender.

Obviously, a lot of families in India expect women to be at home while there have already been generations of children in the west growing up while their mother was working – halftime or even fulltime! Women are not expected to be housewives after marriage. The infrastructure for working mothers has improved.

But it is not perfect. Women are not free of gender roles and expectations on how they should behave. We have not yet reached equality in so many aspects: the chances for women to get up into management are lower and their salary is lower than that of male employees in the same position! And in people’s minds, the inequality is even much worse which often causes the women themselves to have doubts on their autonomy and role in their family or society!

You can see that in the way a family is set up. It may be more normal that a mother also goes to work but at the same time, you will often see that she nevertheless is the one to do a majority of the chores at home. She can be the toughest person at work but at home, she believes it is right that she does the cooking and picks up the kids. Her husband, having worked equal hours, gets to relax on the couch. Often, both don’t see anything wrong until she suddenly suffers from extreme stress, depression and burnout. She has shouldered it all, thinking it is her task to be a modern working woman and a perfect housewife and mother at the same time!

I have met a lot of women who have taken all of these tasks on themselves. They embrace the idea that they can be independent, equal to men and work as hard and long as they can – but they still expect of themselves to complete all the tasks that their grandmothers were doing at home perfectly as well! They forget that their grandmothers did only that. Not that it shouldn’t be valued – but you just cannot be superwoman, managing work, household and children perfectly at all times!

Unfortunately men also play a role in strengthening this belief: it is so comfortable to just have their wives do it all, so why bother and help? Why to get up and wash the dishes yourself? Why to iron your own shirts if someone is doing it for you?

Because you love your wife and want your daughters to be strong women as well. Teach your sons that they can help at home by showing them how. Show your daughters that men and women help each other and master work and household together! Take responsibility at home – after all your wife is helping financially by her work as well!

We are still stuck in outdated gender roles and it will still be a long way to get out of them, reaching equality. As long as we take one step after the other, however, we can one day reach there!

No, cleaning the House is not unmanly at all! – 9 Dec 15

When I was yesterday writing about the school book that suggested you should be scared of at least one family member, which would mostly be the father, I had to reflect on gender roles a little bit. I came to the conclusion that even in modern countries, people still struggle with what they are ‘supposed to do’ simply because they are either a man or a woman.

Obviously, in India, the traditional distribution of tasks according to gender is still very much in place. The man is the provider for the family. In a lot of families, women only go to work if they absolutely have to so that their family can survive. Even among the poor families of our school however there are also some of those fathers who would see it as a big shame if their wife worked and contributed to the family income! That’s how they would rather go to bed hungry than letting their wives go to work. And that is the case even if the woman is more than willing to go and earn money!

Of course, in India, many women still stay at home right after their marriage and when they have children even though they have completed studies at their university. They have master degrees but because they are women, they have the task of taking care of the house, bearing children and raising them.

In the west, too, however, I have seen that both women and men still are not at ease with completely leaving these roles. I believe it is completely fine if a woman wants to be at home after being a mother and raising the children. If it is financially possible as well as something that makes her happy, I would encourage that. At the same time however it should be just as fine if her husband decides to do this instead! She goes to work and finances the home while the husband does the tasks from washing the laundry to doing diapers!

Unfortunately, men who decide to take this step are very often laughed about. Their efforts are belittled – which only shows how very little you actually respect women who do all of this work! You still think the work that is done at home is less important, less difficult and can be done by someone not qualified to do the ‘higher work’, the one that earns money! What a nonsense! The best cure for anybody who thinks like this would be to just try it himself! Take the challenge and show me how you can clean the whole house, go shopping, cook for the complete family and wash everyone’s clothes with two toddlers running around you!

Isn’t it unbelievable that still today, 15 years into the 21st century, there are a lot of people thinking it is unmanly to wash your own clothes and cook your own food, not to speak of feeding your offspring, those who will one day do the same for you?

It is the same reason why people think men should not cry, the same reason why in the west you will see women walking arm and arm but not men. Why showing affection is something reserved for women and alcohol is the solution to problems instead of talking about your own feelings!

Stop putting too much pressure on a man’s shoulders while not valuing and respecting a woman’s abilities! Women have their own burden to bear – but more about that tomorrow.

Are we so negative that we see Gender Discrimination and other Evils everywhere? – 25 Oct 15

Today I had a few thoughts on gender equality, feminism and the attitude of some people to search for something bad in everything they see. Let me explain you this as well as what this all has to do with the Ashram kitchen.

A few of our Ashram guests had an Ayurvedic Cooking Workshop today. They had started in the morning by making paneer and in the afternoon, everyone sat together in the entrance hall of the Ashram, picking spinach leaves. It was a pleasant round of women with my grandmother, three of our female staff members and our guests. I thought it was a nice scene and I took a photo.

After having posted it on facebook, I got several positive comments plus two of the same kind:

"Do only women have the responsibility of cooking food in your place?" and "Seeing your previous posts, I was hoping that men would take part in preparing the daily food at your Ashram!"

Quite obviously these two commentators assumed, from seeing one single picture out of our Ashram, one moment’s shot, that the ladies picking the spinach would also be the ones to prepare the meal. That they were the ones in charge of the kitchen.

I replied with another picture of the situation in the kitchen: several male staff members in the kitchen, rolling out and frying flat bread. I mentioned my hope that this picture would not spark a debate on why we didn’t allow women in our kitchen!

The commentators were people who have never been here, whom I don’t know personally and who really have no idea of the setup of our Ashram, staff and family.

Rest assured, everyone who sees this photo, that men and women work here together with an equal share in tasks of every domain! Currently, the main cook of our kitchen is male. His helpers are both male as female. They all cut vegetables, stir in the pots and bring them to the table! We wouldn’t mind having a female head chef in our kitchen either! My mother was the one who always supervised the kitchen while my brothers and I have taken over that responsibility after she had left – it doesn’t matter which gender the person has as long as he or she knows what needs to be done and how!

So the question of gender equality was quite quickly out of my mind again, as I know we don’t discriminate anybody here – but I thought some more about the mental situation of the commentators. I believe it reflects your inside if you search for something negative wherever you look. Without knowing more, you interpret something into pictures.

Why can’t you just take things light from time to time? Why can’t you just appreciate a nice picture and leave it at that without searching for a fault?

How our School teaches Equality on practical Examples – 24 Aug 15

Everybody who has ever come here has got an introduction to our school. The very big majority of these visitors has also taken a tour through the school with one of us and got to know about the basic principles of our school: non-violence and equality.

Yes, our school is based on equality and it all started with the idea that the children should be all the same, no matter how poor they are. This thought went further though: we also never made a difference in castes, something which still happens in a lot of schools and all over India! And we also don’t make a difference due to religion.

Yes, we have children of priests, high Brahmans in our school but also children of the ‘untouchable caste’. We have Hindu children in our school and Muslims as well.

Poverty does not make a difference in religion or caste! We don’t refuse children of religious families just because we don’t agree with their views! We are providing education to all these children who come from completely religious homes. They grow up in the environment of hypocrite religion and obviously bring all these thoughts to school with them. No matter what their belief is at home however, the parents have financial difficulties sending their children to school and that is what is important for us.

So here, they learn most of all one thing: that they are all equal. They all sit next to each other and eat together, no matter which caste they are from or which religion their family belongs to. They play with each other and they walk home from school together. If they just get this seed planted at school, they will be ready to think differently at some point than what they have been told to think at home.

We have now started getting together with the kids of the bigger classes on every Saturday to just talk with them about different topics – atheism, of course, but also caste, superstition, gender roles, beauty ideals and more.

We had the topic of caste last week and children told of their homes, how their parents forbid them to play with kids of the lowest caste. How they sneak away anyway to play – because they don’t know any such difference.

Children have a limited understanding of this caste system because it is an illogical separation of people into groups that don’t make sense. With continuous input, they will behave like their parents and discriminate each other. We hope that we will make a difference in their future.

No, we actually don’t only hope, we strongly believe that we will! One day, these children will meet and remember their time in primary school. They will sit together at one table again, laughing and joking, remembering how they were eating together as small kids already!

Maybe they will stand up against the unfairness one day. Maybe they will act differently with their own children. In any way, they experience equality here, at our school, and it will make a difference!

How to treat other Children in front of yours – 18 Aug 15

We always have children at the Ashram and of course for the past three and a half years, we had our own daughter among them as well. She is still the youngest one and while she will always be special to us we are doing every effort we can to teach her one thing: we all are equal. You and the other children are all the same. I think there may be parents who are struggling to convey this message to their children – which is why I am writing this entry today.

We have this one basic principle in our school, I have this basic principle in my life and I want to teach my daughter exactly the same: we are all the equal. There is nobody who is higher than you, you can do whatever everybody else can do. At the same time, there is also nobody lower than you.

Of course, your child will always be special to you. You will feel that your child is more intelligent, more beautiful, just more of everything. This is fully fine and you can enjoy this feeling and also praise your child whenever you feel he or she is doing something very well.

Keep it real, though: children are all the same. Some have more talents in one field and others in another one. It is we who give them training for one action or the other and the possibility to develop their talents further!

At the same time it is we who give them the education of treating each other equally. We should be the example for that. Not only by treating other adults equally, the way that we would like to be treated but also treating other children the same way as we treat our own.

You wouldn’t want your child to be looking down on others, would you? So don’t do this yourself.

My daughter will always be special for me and of course my family as well. She will be our princess – but we have other children living with us. They all are learning the same rules and she also gets told off if she doesn’t stick to them.

Of course, however, she will be the one to eat from our plate and sleep in our bed. She will always be special but I want to teach her that while she is special for those around her, each other person around her is special for someone else. And the more special people you will have in your life, the happier you will be.

We all are equal, we all are special!

And now we are off to celebrate the birthday of Guddu, Pawan’s brother, a boy who is now living with us. It is his special day – we will make sure to make him feel special to all of us!

Why Porn is not the Reason for Rape – 2 Jun 15

I yesterday mentioned someone telling me how porn, in his opinion, increased the number of rape cases in India. I already told you that I think of lust as a very beautiful emotion. Today I want to get to the false reasoning that porn could increase rape incidents because of creating lust.

Simply said, this conclusion is wrong. Porn is not the reason for rape. Men don’t watch porn, get lustful and then, with no other way to get satisfaction, go out to search for a woman to rape. Watching porn does not mean that you start raping people!

By the way – women also watch porn! To some people this may come as a surprise but it is a fact. So how come they don’t get crazy and rape men all around? Don’t laugh about the idea – there is rape by women with men as victims, it just doesn’t happen as often and is very often just suppressed as a crime as well. But the fact remains: women watch porn, too, so what happens with their lust?

When there were no porn movies, there was other art and literature, as I already mentioned yesterday. It is ages old, nothing new! Just think of the erotic temple sculptures in Khajuraho! According to your theory, everyone looking at this porn – which it is, just not as technically advanced – would soon feel the urge to go and rape someone because of all his lust! Imagine tourists paying to see the Kamsutra temples, getting an urge while looking at them and then grabbing the tourist next to them! What a dangerous world heritage site!

Jokes aside, I tell you that neither porn nor lust is the reason for rape.

There are people who say women’s clothing is the reason for rape. Others say it is the westernization of Indian society. Some ridiculous people – who really have others believing them – say it is the fault of mobiles or western food! You think it is porn movies. You can keep your thought but I don’t agree. In my eyes, the reason is the suppression of lust and in some cases the instrumentalisation of sex to suppress women.

You can imagine where I am going: in societies which are more open towards sex and in which gender equality is further advanced, there is not as much sexual crime as in countries in which women are suppressed and sex is a big taboo! Where there is suppression and where you hide everything related to sex, it breaks out as a result.

For men who believe in dominating the other gender, rape is a tool to show a woman her place. An action to destroy her willpower and to prove to her that she is weak. No lust is required, no enjoyment is had. I believe that even the rapist does not get real satisfaction!

And as I have already pointed out, the base of suppression, both of the other gender and of the natural sexual instinct and need, is religion. Religion, traditions and culture have turned out sexual desire unnaturally into a monster in the minds of people. You are not allowed to have sex, think of sex or enjoy sex! If you do, you are dirty, have committed a sin and will be punished for it! It is this suppression that makes it blow up at some point!

If you have a healthy love life, you obviously never get stuck with pent-up lust inside you. Why would anybody rape when he is sexually satisfied? If you don’t have anybody near you to enjoy your lust with, it’s a different matter. Also in this case however, rape is not the logical consequence! Everyone knows that there is a solution as well: you can help yourself! Yes, men and women both have all physical possibilities to relieve themselves. Unfortunately, also this is restricted: religion has told everyone that you could get blind, that you are wasting life energy and again, that you are committing a sin! I will dedicate another blog entry on masturbation and the problem that many people feel guilty about this act on one of the next days.

At the end, we just remain with one conclusion: porn is not the reason for rape. Suppression of lust is – and the result is what we see in India.

Saving Men from Women’s sexual Desire – A Plea for Gender Equality – 7 May 15

When writing about marital rape yesterday, I noticed how again and again the question comes of a woman’s consent when it comes to sex. I have actually never read about the question of a man’s consent! Nor have I ever in such a discussion read about a woman’s need for sex! How come?

As I explained yesterday, Hinduism expects women to just obey their husbands. This means if he wants to have sex, she should be available. Islam is, as you can imagine, equally disrespectful of a woman’s wishes. In fact, I recently read that Muhammad specified the required availability of a women for her husband very much in detail: a woman should not refuse her husband’s wish for sex, even if she is ‘on a camel’s saddle’!

Wow – that prophet had quite vivid fantasies, didn’t he!?

So the whole discussion is about the consent of a woman. She should always be ready for sex for her husband. But what happens if her husband never – or very rarely – asks her? What about her own need for sex?

It is all and always about men wanting to have sex, like animals, at any time of the day! No, not only any time but no matter what their situation their wife is in – except for the time of her menstruation of course because then she is impure and untouchable. Could it not be that a man actually doesn’t feel like having sex?

Oh yes, and that a woman really wants to have sex very much? Don’t ever underestimate the sexual desires of a woman! Many women would go to great lengths trying to get a man to sleep with them when they want, no, when they need it! The ‘weaker sex’ gains incredible strengths and has a much wider repertoire of weapons to use than men, whose brains, as we all know, are not the most active part of their body when the blood flows southward! And with the help of their intellect, the ‘fairer sex’ can even turn out their less fair sides!

That’s how I hereby plead for the consideration of male consent in any future discussions on consensual or non-consensual sex! An appeal against discrimination of male lack of lust and a demand for gender equality!

The Disappointment when a Girl is born – even in India’s high Society! – 14 Jan 15

When writing about Monika yesterday, I again had to think of her whole family situation and the history of her mother, whose two daughters were given for adoption. Because they were girls, not boys. Ramona had a talk with her gynecologist some time ago – and what she told confirmed once more that this is still the horrible truth also in higher circles of society!

The hospital that Ramona’s gynecologist works in, where Apra was born and where Monika gets treated is, as I already told you, a good one. This means that the doctors know what they are doing, the staff is very friendly and competent and you obviously also pay for it. When the doctor tells of the women who gave birth there, it means they are upper middle class or upper class. They are educated, they often had or have jobs and they are exposed to international media, modern ways of living and the truth about outdated values.

Unfortunately however the doctor told that she constantly hears of superstitions and terrible values and attitudes. She does not only regularly get requests to get a C-section done on the correct date and time – the ‘Muhurt’, which is calculated according to the situation of planets and stars, providing the best birth horoscope possible.

No, another aspect to her work is to console the women who just gave birth to a girl. There are women with high university degrees who go through hours of labour and then break down in tears when the baby is finally born. Not of relief or exhaustion but of disappointment. The words ‘It is a girl!’ don’t bring excitement or joy!

So you see, it doesn’t matter whether the woman is educated or not, whether she already has a boy or not, she can have the idea that a boy is more valuable than a girl. It is the way that she grew up, the things that she hears her family say and the expectations that her family has on her giving birth to a boy.

When we ask children about their family, for example whether their uncle and aunt also have children, we hear them say things like ‘They only have three girls, no boy.’ When girls talk, they sometimes talk about their family’s bad situation because ‘we are so many sisters’. When Ramona was pregnant, at least ten people wished her ‘May it be a boy!’

India is growing and developing – but there is still a lot of progress to be made in order to get rid of such horrible ideas, attitudes and values!