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I must congratulate Raisa M Rafique on her article last week, “The Melancholy of the Useless.” In this world of glossy lipsticks and glittery vampires and stilettos, there was a passionate voice, an angry voice, a voice that spoke, at last, for once, of remarkable things. There was, at long last, something to be believed in. But an angry voice is a biased voice, and her write-up singed of partiality, of stereotypes, and a crime in itself: of generalisation.

I must clarify: this is not a criticism of her work, her research, neither of feminism. This is merely an opinion, or rather, a questionnaire. As we enter an age of increasing political correctness, it has become harder and harder to say what we think, and, maybe, eventually, even think what we feel. With the increasing advent of feministic rights, one of severe intensity, it has become rather difficult to say anything critical of women without being termed a misogynist.

This is what men do?
This is one of the many injustices men face. Are all sexists men? Aren't women sexists too? Not only against men, but against themselves? Aren't our mothers, our wives, sexist? Aren't you?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't girls more likely to call each other names than men? Don't the mothers themselves expect their daughters' marriage a rite of passage, and giving her granddaughters a duty? Don't we all, women included, gawk at a woman who is driving a car? Don't women themselves discriminate against their own, judging each others' attire, if it's not fashionable enough? Where are men in these equations? It's rare to see a man going, “Oh, what is that she is wearing? So tacky.” To make all sexists men, and for all men to carry such a burden seems quite unfair.

At the core of most feminists lies hypocrisy. Oh, I've already been termed a misogynist, haven't I? To expect less of a gender seems to be as equivalent a crime as expecting more of one. Let me ask you this: would you judge a housewife as much as you would a househusband? I think not. Wouldn't it be safe to say that you would lose respect for such a man? A man who has no job, doesn't bring food on the table, but rather stays at home and takes care of the kids? How many women would accept that? Aren't men expected to stand up in buses to give women their seats and if not, then seen as beings who encompass the very notion of the fall of chivalry? Isn't the expectation of chivalry sexist itself? If a woman is violent against a man, it's something he deserved for something he has done wrong, and if a man does the same against a woman, it's domestic violence? How would you react to a man who is beaten up by his wife? Would you not laugh, find it amusing, call him a sissy? Quite ironically, you might humiliatingly call him a woman, carrying demeaning connotations. Isn't the man always expected to pay the bill? What about the issues of child custody, where the mother is given more importance than the father? Let's delve into society: Isn't it acceptable for a woman to carry out male social norms, whereas the opposite being done is something to be laughed at? Doesn't swinging the other way induce the same reaction for men, whereas, for women, it's far more acceptable, often seen as being cool, even, if I may use the term, 'hot?' Wouldn't a woman herself prefer a man who constitutes all of the stereotypical 'manly' and 'macho' qualities? There is discrimination even in the employment front, where the entrance criteria for men (jobs such as the army, fire brigade, police, etc.) are far tougher than for women. I have refrained from diving into the subject of religion, for fear of it being too controversial.

The more I observe the feminist movement, the more I realize that it is almost never to do with equality. It seems feminists strive for supremacy.

Still A Misogynist?
Now, I'm not saying no men are sexists nor am I saying that all women are hypocritical feminists. All I'm saying is, there is no need for generalization, for the beliefs of the individual vary. Should we be blaming men, instead of blaming society, for the very mindset they have inflicted upon all of us, and stamped permanently on most? You may say that society has become governed by men, blaming them for overpowering women since the beginning of Time. So can I not blame women for being weak enough to be overpowered? No, I am not blaming them, so you can hold back your labelling of me for a little longer.

We, men and women, have become separated by the very notion of fighting for equal rights (and sometimes superior) while hand in hand highlighting our differences. Call me not a man, call yourself not a woman. We are all humans. Fight not for your rights, nor mine. Fight for ours.

By S. N. Rasul
Source: Wikipedia and personal experience.

Book Review

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

WHEN the doors closed on Harry Potter's adventures and the glittery vampires of the Twilight brought in a new rage for vampires, it seemed to many that the high that popular children's fiction was on was scheduled for a little downtime. And then came Rick Riordan with his Percy Jackson series.

At first glance, the premises seem to be, and probably are, heavily inspired by Harry Potter. You have this one misunderstood kid with a dysfunctional family, who is in his pre-teens when he realises that he is destined for greater things, and those things involve creatures right out of fantasy, with a generous helping of mortal danger. He picks up two friends, a girl and a boy, and they battle bullies in the home camp together. Furthermore, there is a big bad evil force at work that's threatening the world as we know it, and he is so powerful, no one speaks his name, and somehow, the protagonist is linked to him. Sounds familiar?

The differences seem pretty superficial too. Percy is American, not British, and he actually has a mother who loves him. He also has shortcomings that Harry didn't; a nasty combination of ADHD and dyslexia that really makes school a nightmare for him. And when things get too hot to handle, and he is whisked off to the place he really belongs, it isn't a school of wizardry; it is a training camp for demi-gods. See, Percy is the son of the Olympian god Poseidon.

Even as he is trying to wrap his head around these new circumstances, and the trauma of having witnessed his mother's death at the hands of the Minotaur, his first quest is brought to him. He must retrieve Zeus' lost lightning bolt, or risk war between the gods.

Riordan must have anticipated the raised eyebrows at the Americanisation of European folklore, and so he has even prepared an argument about the westward shift of the centre of Western civilization to North America. He also makes an attempt to forestall accusations of blasphemy with the camp director Dionysus (Mr D to all the kids) quickly stating 'Ah, God with a capital G…let's not discuss the metaphysical here”, thereby establishing the Olympian gods as natural forces personified. On the whole, it reads like a fun approach to Greek mythology, and since most of the references are accurate, right down to character depictions, this is a better way to get kids hooked on to the subject than those dry condensed versions of the Iliad and the Odyssey. A fast-paced, witty start to an irresistible adventure, this is the perfect light read to relax with. If you've watched the movie already, don't let it spoil the book for you. Two thumbs up!

By Sabrina F Ahmad


HE glanced at his, watch, ticking monotonously; ignorant towards his plight. The watch, claimed to be of stainless steel but had rusted edges around the dial, was one of the few items he received in inheritance from his Dad. What he really wished he did, was his father's ability to tolerate pain with a strong mindset and a straight face.

It was searing through his body now, and how he wished it would not have to be this way. It was all her fault. Her company brought him peace to his body, mind and soul. She was a source of illumination for him in his dark, dank world. But no, ever since last night, since she left the feeling that she left in place for him was nothing short of a burden that he wished to relieve himself of.

But now, with eyes on his watch and the other hand in his pocket, clutching his thigh hard, he had no other solution but to gaze in front of him. What stood in front of him- six steps away- was the Door.

The Door, it seemed, was mocking his situation. While he bent over himself with the pain, unable to call for help owing to the fragility of the situation, the Door stood proudly in its own woody might. A seven feet by three feet behemoth, the Door understood its unique position. It knew that beyond itself lay the boy's painkiller, waiting for him. But the Door, whose true Knob was in the Hands of Fate, could only allow entry to what lay beyond when it was commanded. And so the boy had nothing to do but look at the Door, envying and fuming.

He closed his eyes, yet he just could not stop thinking about anything but the Door. Not even her foolish blunder that led him straightaway to his misery was not enough. He was more interested presently with what lay beyond the Door, he would have plenty of time to think of her later. Of how his revenge would await her.

Beads of sweat now broke across his forehead and his face, and he tried busying himself with the act of wiping them out. His employment of his watch hand was over, and the hand was thrust into one of his pockets and clawed out a handkerchief. He dabbed his face with the handkerchief, now across the forehead, then over his lips. He felt calmer, at least that is what he wanted to make himself think.

It is strangely amusing how in the tensest of situations can a person find solace in activities hitherto taken for granted. While he admirably busied himself at removing all traces of sweat from his face and his arms, he kept a transfixed gaze over the Mighty Door. Behind it lay his solution and at this point of time, he would trade his Soul for it.

Anytime now, anytime now….it would open...his prayers will be answered

“Dude, I'm done using the toilet. You could use it if you want to.” YES! The Door had opened up! Fate had relinquished His hands over the Door's knob! He could not believe his eyes! For just six steps away, ahead of the ordinary door that stood ajar now, was The Toilet. His Final Solution to the pain of his indigestion.

Last night, his sister whipped up her own special bean curry- one of the few things she gleaned of the Internet when she is not busy chatting with her man. To prove herself worthy of the spatula, her bean curry had been ladled generously into each of the family member's plates. Only to get her off his case, the dutiful brother force fed himself. While the face can lie, his digestive system could not...

But for now, what mattered was our hero had fought his pain bravely and won. He now enjoyed victory, only its stench was perhaps too much for him or the next user of the toilet to handle.

By Wahid Tuntuni Khan



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