So, this happened recently. American blogger Colleen chose to express her views. It is a free world, of course. Hence that is precisely that. Her personal views. I have met enough people from the USA on the internet to know that mindset has nothing to do with region or culture, beyond a point. If you have internet access, you have enough access to content to help you form an informed opinion on something. The rest is just… you.

Remember I asked on this blog the other day if you believe that just because somebody did or said something wrong in the past, does it mean they can’t advocate against it now? Maybe they grew? Or should they be written off as a hypocrite and let their past invalidate their current mindset? I myself have been guilty of male chauvinism, patronisation, racism and homophobia that may have offended some people in the past. I will also not blame my culture, upbringing, and lack of exposure for shaping my opinion the way it used to be, because that would still be, after all, an excuse. And ain’t no Novi givin’ no ‘xcuses. I was wrong. Yes, I used to be a douchebag. What you gonna do about it? I learnt, I grew, and like a true engineer who was born to solve problems, I am back to fix the world.

Allen: “I definitely feel that people can grow and evolve in their mindsets.”

kt: “Being able to recognise internal biases and issues that you may have and working on correcting them is one of the most important personal skills, in my opinion. Sure, maybe your culture or family situation instilled some things that aren’t the best but not working to improve yourself and choosing to blame upbringing and culture isn’t an excuse.”

On the other hand, the people here are so sweet, despite the misconception that Germans can be really abrupt or blunt. I’m just like, is this city called Aachen or Diabetes?

Wise little Aussie kiddo: “I get that, like a couple of years ago, moving to uni, I had a lot of prejudices I didn’t even know about, largely because I’d spent my whole life in a majority white town. But there is a difference between recognising that was what instilled those stereotypes in my brain, and using that as an excuse to keep being prejudiced. I know I’ve improved at this. Now if I go back to my hometown it looks odd to me for how lacking in multiculturalism it is, rather than looking normal. But there are still lots of times when a cultural difference might seem odd and my brain wants to think that is a bad thing. I feel like deciding that difference is good and something to be curious about rather than afraid of, is a decision we must all be continuously making every day. Islamophobia is very real and shitty here though, the media exploits it far too heavily and makes people afraid.”

kt: “Here as well. Same with the xenophobia.”

Rani: “That’s kinda the point of life. Learning and growing, not being stuck in the small box you grew up in. I know I’m a lot different than I was as a cop. I kinda wish I could go back and be what I am today in that job. It’s not that I regret how I was, I have just grown and learned more. Expanded my horizons. US is best is deeply ingrained at a young age here. Everywhere else is garbage and wishes they were us. That is the sentiment. I wish our country would learn how to mind its own damn business.”

Lauren Puffling: “In England, you either get taught we used to be an empire; we behaved suck-ily to everyone, and mostly we ought to be faintly embarrassed and faintly apologetic for existing; or that the empire was ace, everyone else is inferior and we deserve the 1950s back because they were brilliant. Basically, Britain screwed things up everywhere.”

Personally too, I was biased about Pakistan and Pakistanis until I got to know Amina, I will admit that. Now I know she is just like me, but slightly more adorable.

Rani says, “Novi taught me that people don’t have carpet walls in India.”

“India is just known as a poor¹ overcrowded² country here. And Novi quite literally taught me Statics”, adds kt. (“Aw!”)

While we are at it, let us also address a few misconceptions:

  1. India is a poor country:
    Ugghhh, this is not entirely false. India ranks 3rd in the world on GDP (PPP), only behind China and the USA, and ahead of Japan, UK and all of western Europe. But it ranks in the 120s when it comes to per capita, which is honestly an embarrassment for a country that has been free again for over 70 years now. What it means is, India is not really poor. It is a wealthy nation with a heavily skewed wealth distribution. The richest 1% own 73% of India’s wealth. We need to fix that.
  2. India is an overcrowded nation:
    It just seems so because of the 1.354 billion people, but India is also a large country by area (3.287 million sq km). India stands 26th in the list of countries by population density. In comparison to India’s 455 people per sq km, Singapore (2nd) has 8274, Hong Kong (3rd) has 7075, the Vatican (7th) has 1820, Bangladesh (10th) has 1278, South Korea (23rd) has 526, Netherlands (25th) has 505, Israel (31st) has 390, Belgium (32nd) has 379, Japan (38th) has 348, the United Kingdom (49th) has 275 and Germany (56th) has 236.

List of countries by GDP (PPP)
List of countries by Population Density

So, that begs the question- What do you think of India when you see me?

Update (18 February 2018, Monday):

First, about this movie called Pink.

Pink is a 2016 Indian courtroom drama social thriller film. It stars Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, Andrea Tariang, Angad Bedi, Piyush Mishra, and Dhritiman Chatterjee.”

Source: Wikipedia

I watched this movie a year ago (6 March 2018 to be precise). It is a really well made movie, but the aspect that struck me the most was the editing. It is spot on. It almost leaves the audience feeling guilty (forced guilt, of course. That’s the beauty of storytelling) for sympathising with a “victim” based on what is apparent on the surface, for judging a woman without knowing the facts, and finally realising that she is the real victim. If that was the purpose of the makers, then the editing nailed it. 9/10 from me. I am sad this 2016 movie did not get the attention it deserved.

So, I recommended this movie to my German class friends last weekend, and we had an interesting discussion in today’s class that made me revisit this post. The point of the movie is to encourage victims to stand up and speak up. Of course the bigger messages of the movie are: one, to educate men early, to learn to respect and treat everybody equally. And two, no means NO, not maybe. If a victim feels fear and shame, and they would rather endure it than speak up, we have collectively failed as a society.

kresty says, “Usually it takes teaching the young people and not having them just blindly go along with what they are being taught by elders and society, and waiting for them to grow up and be able to do something. You don’t even really need all of society to agree, actually. Just enough to make the change happen and then the rest will eventually see it or they won’t but they will have to learn to live with it.”

Moving forward, I believe:

  • We must try our best to remove all kinds of gender bias from the things we teach our children. None of the pink-blue or Venus-Mars bullshit.
  • We must stop telling our sons “boys don’t cry”. Let them connect with their emotions, only then will they respect those of others.
  • We must stop telling our daughters “if he is mean to you, it only means he likes you”. No. If he is mean to you, get the hell away from him. You don’t need that in your life.

If you change nothing, nothing will change.

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