Providing Comfort Through Art: A Salon-Owner & Painter

Tanya.jpgAs International Womens Day approaches us this weekend, I wanted to highlight the story of one woman who left a life of violence to a home of comfort built from creativity. Tanya Momi, a Bay Area South Asian woman from Chandigarh, is a painter and owner of Spoil-Me Salon, who left a long-term abusive marriage where she was treated like an educated maid. On March 8th her work will be launched in San Francisco as part of Amnesty Internationals Stop Violence Against Women’s traveling art exhibit.

Vidya Pradhan writes:

Tanya Momi rebuilt her life after a traumatic marriage and divorce and in her own quiet way she helps other women do the same. Women come into my life through the salon, she says. They are like the missing puzzle pieces of my life. Through her work in the salon and her paintings she reaches out to offer comforting messages of hope and renewal.

Contrary to the myth that domestic violence only effects women from uneducated families, Tanya was born into an educated family in Chandigarh and found expression in art at an early age. She excelled in painting to become a docent at the Chandigarh art gallery. I imagine, as a highly marketable woman in the NRI marriage market (i.e. an educated woman from a major Indian city with an educated family background), Tanya quickly attracted a match in the US and thats when the long nightmare began.

According to Tanya,

Rigid and orthodox, her in-laws refused to allow her to pursue her passion, treating her like an educated maid She took on the role of a dutiful wife and mother, sublimating her passion and desires for nearly 2 dozen years. She was not allowed to make friends, to drive or to step out of the house to shop.

After many years, a neighbor suggested a short course to become a manicurist and when the in-laws were convinced that she could bring in a decent income, they consented. Tanya reasoned, Painting is painting so what if it is on nails instead of canvases. Soon she had a huge list of clients among whom she made many dear friends.

Since resuming her artistic work only two years ago, Tanya has over 200 paintings to show for it. She works like a woman possessed, sometimes painting up to 8 hours a day till her fingers cramp. She experiments with many styles from cubism to impressionism to portraits on commission.”

Her paintings are a loud place to express her voiceless emotions from before and after her divorce. After her marriage ended, Tanya was shunned by the women of her own community and propositioned by the men and the pain of those encounters is captured on many canvases. A beautiful one called Circle of trust is a poignant reminder of the support that only women can give other women. An extra long canvas called Everytown and Country Therapy Sessions questions why therapy should not be more easily available for the many wounded souls our modern lifestyle creates. Many paintings display cherished passages from the Guru Granth Sahib, whose inclusive messages are a balm to Tanyas heart.

As a salon-owner and painter, Tanya is providing comfort to herself and other women through her creativity. As she says, Dont complain, dont explain, just do something!


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50 Responses to “Providing Comfort Through Art: A Salon-Owner & Painter”

  1. Johanne says:

    “Don’t complain, don’t explain, just do something”!

    That's a pretty good mantra.

  2. Johanne says:

    Dont complain, dont explain, just do something!
    That’s a pretty good mantra.

  3. Suki says:

    Tanya was shunned by the women of her own community and propositioned by the men and the pain of those encounters is captured on many canvases.

    So this women leaves a unhappy marriage and she is shunned by the community, this is sad. I wonder how many punjabi women who were in unhappy marriages have lost there lifes, cause they were afraid to get a divorce and what would happen to them.

    And the thing about her being propositioned by men is really sad. So for this women to enter another relationship, it would be easier for her to find male of different background who is less likely to care about her divorce. Hopefully she meets some guy from art community who loves her treats her as an equal and makes up for the 2 decades of hell that her husband and in-laws put her through.

  4. Suki says:

    Tanya was shunned by the women of her own community and propositioned by the men and the pain of those encounters is captured on many canvases.

    So this women leaves a unhappy marriage and she is shunned by the community, this is sad. I wonder how many punjabi women who were in unhappy marriages have lost there lifes, cause they were afraid to get a divorce and what would happen to them.

    And the thing about her being propositioned by men is really sad. So for this women to enter another relationship, it would be easier for her to find male of different background who is less likely to care about her divorce. Hopefully she meets some guy from art community who loves her treats her as an equal and makes up for the 2 decades of hell that her husband and in-laws put her through.

  5. Phulkari says:

    Sukhi,

    Yes, I agree with your statement, "I wonder how many punjabi women who were in unhappy marriages have lost there lifes, cause they were afraid to get a divorce and what would happen to them". I have heard of women who have been burned-alive by their husbands/in-laws or electrocuted because they were too afraid to get out; despite knowing that such violent acts were on the horizon. Another issue is that even though these women may be physically alive; they are mentally and emotionally unhealththy.

    You make the comment:

    And the thing about her being propositioned by men is really sad.

    Exactly … if you don't "belong" to some man sexually then you must be available for all; particularly, after being married. Hence, women's “issues” are also men’s issues. Men need just as much preventive outreach as women.

  6. Phulkari says:

    Sukhi,

    Yes, I agree with your statement, “I wonder how many punjabi women who were in unhappy marriages have lost there lifes, cause they were afraid to get a divorce and what would happen to them”. I have heard of women who have been burned-alive by their husbands/in-laws or electrocuted because they were too afraid to get out; despite knowing that such violent acts were on the horizon. Another issue is that even though these women may be physically alive; they are mentally and emotionally unhealththy.

    You make the comment:

    And the thing about her being propositioned by men is really sad.

    Exactly … if you don’t “belong” to some man sexually then you must be available for all; particularly, after being married. Hence, women’s issues are also mens issues. Men need just as much preventive outreach as women.

  7. Suki says:

    Phulkari part of the problem is that divorce in culture is a bad word. Punjabi's like to look down at western culture for the high divorce rate. Yet despite the high divorce rate these countries in the west have a much better quality of life. You would think that these countries would fall apart, but instead these are the places in the world best place to live[North America,Australia, and Western/Northern Europe]

    In our culture no matter how bad the women is treated if she gets a divorce it is always the women fault. Many times the women own family would see there own daughter suffer then lose family honor in case of divorce.

    Another reason punjabi women are afraid to get a divorce is that it makes them harder to get married again to punjabi men again. If they only know that there are alot of great non punjabi men out there.

    Exactly … if you don’t “belong” to some man sexually then you must be available for all; particularly, after being married. Hence, women’s “issues” are also men’s issues. Men need just as much preventive outreach as women.

    The problem is that men in our community are raised to believe that women are there to serve them. Even the young men born in the west still at home believe that they are better then there sisters cause they were born a male.

  8. Suki says:

    Phulkari part of the problem is that divorce in culture is a bad word. Punjabi’s like to look down at western culture for the high divorce rate. Yet despite the high divorce rate these countries in the west have a much better quality of life. You would think that these countries would fall apart, but instead these are the places in the world best place to live[North America,Australia, and Western/Northern Europe]

    In our culture no matter how bad the women is treated if she gets a divorce it is always the women fault. Many times the women own family would see there own daughter suffer then lose family honor in case of divorce.

    Another reason punjabi women are afraid to get a divorce is that it makes them harder to get married again to punjabi men again. If they only know that there are alot of great non punjabi men out there.

    Exactly if you dont belong to some man sexually then you must be available for all; particularly, after being married. Hence, womens issues are also mens issues. Men need just as much preventive outreach as women.

    The problem is that men in our community are raised to believe that women are there to serve them. Even the young men born in the west still at home believe that they are better then there sisters cause they were born a male.

  9. Suki says:

    http://www.theprovince.com/news/Vancouver+woman+m

    Another punjabi women from Canada has been killed in Punjab. A 32 year old punjabi women was shot the day before she was to go back to Canada. I have lost count at how many times I have seen stories of punjabi women from the west who have gone back with there husbands to punjab and have been killed.

  10. Suki says:

    http://www.theprovince.com/news/Vancouver+woman+murdered+Punjab+Thursday/1356917/story.html

    Another punjabi women from Canada has been killed in Punjab. A 32 year old punjabi women was shot the day before she was to go back to Canada. I have lost count at how many times I have seen stories of punjabi women from the west who have gone back with there husbands to punjab and have been killed.

  11. harpreet singh says:

    There are many such women who are undergoing a troubled marriage and relationship. Tanya serves as a role model from the perspective to fight back and rebuild her life.

  12. harpreet singh says:

    There are many such women who are undergoing a troubled marriage and relationship. Tanya serves as a role model from the perspective to fight back and rebuild her life.

  13. Phulkari:

    You, or the other blogger, talked about, …a poignant reminder of the support that only women can give other women.

    I would like you, or anybody else, to elaborate on this. I do believe that there are no binaries; however, I have no right, or intent, to deny the feminine mode of existence in any possible manner.

    Years ago, I came across this question when a friend in Punjab said that men could never fully understand women. She said, “We (the women) need some time and space, to interact with each other, where you (the men) should not be present, because you do not, and can not understand us.” I found it convincing, and important, so shared it with another friend and asked if a man could ever understand a woman. He said why was there any need to understand, all we needed to learn was how to respond properly. I found that more convincing.

    Now, my question, for you, or anybody concerned, is if there is something essentially feminine, what is it? How would you explain the part that is inaccessible, not for insensitive individuals, but strictly for men?

  14. Phulkari:
    You, or the other blogger, talked about, a poignant reminder of the support that only women can give other women.

    I would like you, or anybody else, to elaborate on this. I do believe that there are no binaries; however, I have no right, or intent, to deny the feminine mode of existence in any possible manner.

    Years ago, I came across this question when a friend in Punjab said that men could never fully understand women. She said, We (the women) need some time and space, to interact with each other, where you (the men) should not be present, because you do not, and can not understand us. I found it convincing, and important, so shared it with another friend and asked if a man could ever understand a woman. He said why was there any need to understand, all we needed to learn was how to respond properly. I found that more convincing.

    Now, my question, for you, or anybody concerned, is if there is something essentially feminine, what is it? How would you explain the part that is inaccessible, not for insensitive individuals, but strictly for men?

  15. H Singh says:

    We (the women) need some time and space, to interact with each other, where you (the men) should not be present, because you do not, and can not understand us

    Prabhsharandeep Singh,

    I think you have a point. It would be cleared if you can elaborate what your friend really implied when she said "to interact with each other". Did she mean with herself alone or with a man over a period of time?

  16. H Singh says:

    We (the women) need some time and space, to interact with each other, where you (the men) should not be present, because you do not, and can not understand us

    Prabhsharandeep Singh,

    I think you have a point. It would be cleared if you can elaborate what your friend really implied when she said “to interact with each other”. Did she mean with herself alone or with a man over a period of time?

  17. She meant with other women, female friends among themselves.

  18. She meant with other women, female friends among themselves.

  19. H Singh says:

    Prabhsharandeep Singh,

    Although I am no expert on women issues and maybe a victim of generalization about women but it sometimes seems to me that women prefer to turn to other women in situations of domestic abuse and crimes such as rape. I don’t know, maybe it has to do with a personal psychology of a woman where she trusts answers from someone who has been through a similar situation or who could. Could it be a situation that causes a woman to seek other women for help? Was it very similar to what the woman in Punjab went through?

  20. H Singh says:

    Prabhsharandeep Singh,

    Although I am no expert on women issues and maybe a victim of generalization about women but it sometimes seems to me that women prefer to turn to other women in situations of domestic abuse and crimes such as rape. I don’t know, maybe it has to do with a personal psychology of a woman where she trusts answers from someone who has been through a similar situation or who could. Could it be a situation that causes a woman to seek other women for help? Was it very similar to what the woman in Punjab went through?

  21. H Singh:

    I am not in position to say anything. I would like to hear from women on it.

  22. H Singh:

    I am not in position to say anything. I would like to hear from women on it.

  23. Reema says:

    Prabsharandeep,

    What binds us to each other is that we remember directions by landmarks (left at the big tree) instead of cardinal directions (wheres south?). ha- kidding.

    But seriously, you won’t find agreement amongst women or even feminists on a) whether there is an intrinsic aspect of femininity, and b) if there is, what it is.

    Though many people would probably agree that there is something genetically different between men and women beyond the physical, I personally think that whatever it is, its functionally unimportant.

    I think at this point, most of us are tired of being defined as this or that. Were trying to break pre-conceived notions of who/what we areIm wary of any attempts at creating new ones.

    And if the purpose is understanding/communication- you can probably understand/communicate with a woman to the same extent you can understand any other human being.

    Just my 2 cents.

  24. Reema says:

    Prabsharandeep,

    What binds us to each other is that we remember directions by landmarks (left at the big tree) instead of cardinal directions (wheres south?). ha- kidding.

    But seriously, you won’t find agreement amongst women or even feminists on a) whether there is an intrinsic aspect of femininity, and b) if there is, what it is.

    Though many people would probably agree that there is something genetically different between men and women beyond the physical, I personally think that whatever it is, its functionally unimportant.

    I think at this point, most of us are tired of being defined as this or that. Were trying to break pre-conceived notions of who/what we areIm wary of any attempts at creating new ones.

    And if the purpose is understanding/communication- you can probably understand/communicate with a woman to the same extent you can understand any other human being.

    Just my 2 cents.

  25. Hi Reema,

    The problem is not whether men can understand women or not, I agree with that they can, but whether they can speak in the same language as women do or not.

    Put simply, my point can go like this:

    In case of poetry, the question lies not in the fact whether other people can understand it or not, but poet’s aesthetic employment of language. The singularity of poet exists in his capacity to use language in a unique manner. Thus, we know that a poet is who uses language in a peculiar way in which every man is capable of using it.

    It may seem strange, but my point simply is that femininity is very much like poetry. Every woman is not a woman. As every man is not a poet. Femininity consists in a unique use of language, which is not unique because of its being unintelligible to men, but in its being originated from different niches of human self. When man speaks, he speaks from his intellect. And when a woman speaks, I know not from where she does, but I know for sure that her realm is altogether different.

    Thats why Julia Kristeva has seen language as split between symbolic (characteristic of masculinity) and semiotic (feminine mode of language). She says that when a woman speaks, her speech is always pregnant with affects of her body, her speech is always coated with a flavor of her sexuality, her majesty, her beauty and above all, her motherhood.

    The problem with modern feminism is that it is bent upon masculinizing women’s bodies and minds. There is a deep self-hatred in modern feminism. Women are bent upon getting rid of everything essentially feminine with them. Thats why every woman is not a woman these days, because majority of them are struggling to efface their own identities.

    These are my thoughts.

    I am wondering whether any woman can testify or not that I have understood them?

  26. Hi Reema,

    The problem is not whether men can understand women or not, I agree with that they can, but whether they can speak in the same language as women do or not.

    Put simply, my point can go like this:

    In case of poetry, the question lies not in the fact whether other people can understand it or not, but poet’s aesthetic employment of language. The singularity of poet exists in his capacity to use language in a unique manner. Thus, we know that a poet is who uses language in a peculiar way in which every man is capable of using it.

    It may seem strange, but my point simply is that femininity is very much like poetry. Every woman is not a woman. As every man is not a poet. Femininity consists in a unique use of language, which is not unique because of its being unintelligible to men, but in its being originated from different niches of human self. When man speaks, he speaks from his intellect. And when a woman speaks, I know not from where she does, but I know for sure that her realm is altogether different.

    Thats why Julia Kristeva has seen language as split between symbolic (characteristic of masculinity) and semiotic (feminine mode of language). She says that when a woman speaks, her speech is always pregnant with affects of her body, her speech is always coated with a flavor of her sexuality, her majesty, her beauty and above all, her motherhood.

    The problem with modern feminism is that it is bent upon masculinizing women’s bodies and minds. There is a deep self-hatred in modern feminism. Women are bent upon getting rid of everything essentially feminine with them. Thats why every woman is not a woman these days, because majority of them are struggling to efface their own identities.

    These are my thoughts.

    I am wondering whether any woman can testify or not that I have understood them?

  27. Simar K. says:

    Hi Prabhsharanbir,

    Modern feminism is far more rich and diverse with many different voices. It is not the 70s feminism you caricaturise.

  28. Simar K. says:

    Hi Prabhsharanbir,

    Modern feminism is far more rich and diverse with many different voices. It is not the 70s feminism you caricaturise.

  29. Tajinder says:

    Hi Simar K.,

    In support of Prabhsharanbir with his statements in regards to "characteristic of masculinity". Working for a fortune 500 company I can give a you great example of the modern feminist, this 'modern' ideology has been taken by corporations and put to use. Go to any major company and just talk to a female with a title of "Project Manager", this is a combination of the characters of "Sex in the City"/Bull-dike, all in one. Here you will see the end product of what Prabhsharanbir is trying to get at I think.

  30. Hi Reema,

    Thanks for your response.

    This is a personal concern since it is more about how to engage, or about the rules of engagement, which, on the one hand have been universalized during colonization of the world, and, on the other have been effectively imposed upon our lives.

    I, initially, was lost in some theoretical version of Sikhi, was rescued by poetry, or the poetical approach for religion and history etc. The poetry has not gone anywhere, but, along with it, philosophy has successfully invaded and occupied the space where I wanted to be.

    Now, my concern is what to do about both the creative imagination and philosophy, since I am almost done with the both. I am not going to become an ascetic; therefore, both of these, beauty of the femininity, and aggression of the masculinity, are going to be there. What do I do about it? If I was an actual Sikh with Naam and Bani, the question would not be there, at least for me. But now, I am not, or this age is not being in that mode, the issue is there, which, in my understanding needs to be addressed. I would agree with anyone who would say that just spiritual transformation of an individual, group, or an age would be sufficient, and interpretations are not really required. Still, I believe Gyan, or discourse does have a role to play, definitely not the primary one, which can not be undermined.

    In this context, the basic issue is how to engage or relate with the feminine. Women need to speak up because they are too demanding these days.

    Prabhsharanbir Singh:

    I believe there is a difference, or at least lack of communication between your and mine approach on this issue. I think you are aware of it. I would want you to explain on that.

    Simar K:

    I’ll try to get back to your concern as well.

    Phulkari:

    I trust you must be very busy; however, your response would be much appreciated.

    Thanks!

  31. Tajinder says:

    Hi Simar K.,

    In support of Prabhsharanbir with his statements in regards to “characteristic of masculinity”. Working for a fortune 500 company I can give a you great example of the modern feminist, this ‘modern’ ideology has been taken by corporations and put to use. Go to any major company and just talk to a female with a title of “Project Manager”, this is a combination of the characters of “Sex in the City”/Bull-dike, all in one. Here you will see the end product of what Prabhsharanbir is trying to get at I think.

  32. Hi Reema,

    Thanks for your response.

    This is a personal concern since it is more about how to engage, or about the rules of engagement, which, on the one hand have been universalized during colonization of the world, and, on the other have been effectively imposed upon our lives.

    I, initially, was lost in some theoretical version of Sikhi, was rescued by poetry, or the poetical approach for religion and history etc. The poetry has not gone anywhere, but, along with it, philosophy has successfully invaded and occupied the space where I wanted to be.

    Now, my concern is what to do about both the creative imagination and philosophy, since I am almost done with the both. I am not going to become an ascetic; therefore, both of these, beauty of the femininity, and aggression of the masculinity, are going to be there. What do I do about it? If I was an actual Sikh with Naam and Bani, the question would not be there, at least for me. But now, I am not, or this age is not being in that mode, the issue is there, which, in my understanding needs to be addressed. I would agree with anyone who would say that just spiritual transformation of an individual, group, or an age would be sufficient, and interpretations are not really required. Still, I believe Gyan, or discourse does have a role to play, definitely not the primary one, which can not be undermined.

    In this context, the basic issue is how to engage or relate with the feminine. Women need to speak up because they are too demanding these days.

    Prabhsharanbir Singh:

    I believe there is a difference, or at least lack of communication between your and mine approach on this issue. I think you are aware of it. I would want you to explain on that.

    Simar K:

    Ill try to get back to your concern as well.

    Phulkari:

    I trust you must be very busy; however, your response would be much appreciated.

    Thanks!

  33. Hi Simar K.,

    I will totally agree with you if you can be kind enough to remove that adjective from your sentence, 'modern'.

    Modernism, in its essence and throughout its history, has been the biggest enemy of diversity and difference. Feminism can be rich, diverse and different from itself, and I believe that it is so, but modern feminism can never be like that. Thats why I have quoted Julia Kristeva, a post-modern French feminist.

    I believe that all our social, political, cultural, economic, and educational institutions are built by and for men. It needs to be corrected. And it is because of this that throughout human history, women have been exploited by men.

    With the advent of modernism, ways of exploiting women became more subtle and invisible. Modernism has succeeded in convincing women that her only freedom lies in aping men. Modernism, like colonialism (basically both are synonymous) has aroused an inferiority complex in women just as colonizers aroused it in colonized. Now, women are caught in a vicious circle. They are trying to prove that they are equal to men, and this very process is robbing them of all their freedom and originality.

    Third world women are doubly enslaved in this vicious circle. First, being part of a colonized and marginalized groups, they are extremely self-conscious before the dominating cultural paradigms, and secondly being women, they are in the same boat as every other 'modern' and 'free' women, free only to be food for men's lust.

    A question can be raised here: What should women do then? Are they supposed to go back to the traditional way of living, which are sometimes as unjust to women as modernism is?

    My answer to the second question is: No. They must, a) engage themselves in a dialogue with post-modern feminists like Julia Kristeva, Helene Cixous and Luce Irigaray, b) they should evoke whatever is positive from their own native traditions, c) they must resist every encroachment upon their existential space.

    In modern age, every battle is reduced to a battle for the control of human subjectivity. Modernism has tried to enslave it in every possible way. By existential space, I mean singular life-styles and unique modes of living which are being threatened by monolithic interpretations of modernism.

    For example, and it is at the same time a question and challenge for all Punjabi women living in western countries:

    Why have Punjabi women disowned their once beloved dancing form, Giddha, in favor of a masculine Bhangra? All Punjabi women need to be aware about invisible forces which are constantly pressurizing them to renounce whatever is intimate to their own selves, and instead, impose masculine ways of living on them. And they are simultaneously being told that this has become possible only through 'freedom' granted to them by their Santa Claus: Modernism.

    I will welcome further thoughts on this issue.

    Hi Tejinder,

    Thanks for providing these excellent examples.

    Prabhsharandeep Singh,

    Sometimes, the unsaid communicates better than the said.

    The problem basically lies in the very process of problematizing. Why communication between men and women is a problem? Or being more specific, what is the genealogy and origin of this problem?

    For me, and it may seem strange to most people, it is because in modern age, bodies of men and women have been divested of their abilities of inner speech. Nowadays, people speak only through their minds, thats why there is so much problematizing and altercation about almost every issue. We have lost sense of our silent languages, which were capable of communicating better then most eloquent speech.

    For example, in man-woman relations, sometimes a tear can communicate more than a thousand words. Some other times, it might be a smile. Yet other times, it can be a look of love. Look at the way a mother communicates with her infant child, she understands and responds to his body, for the child is still incapable of using language. She don't needs any explanations and solutions. She loves, therefore, she understands.

    What we, men and women, need most to do today, is to confront each other in the naked sincerity of our souls. A mere look of love suffices to fade away fogs of these immaterial problems about communication and understanding.

    The problem is not gender bias, or any other kind of bias. The real concern is the desertification of our inner selves, where love is increasingly evaporating and leaving us as arid monuments of a bygone spring.

    thanks.

  34. Hi Simar K.,

    I will totally agree with you if you can be kind enough to remove that adjective from your sentence, ‘modern’.

    Modernism, in its essence and throughout its history, has been the biggest enemy of diversity and difference. Feminism can be rich, diverse and different from itself, and I believe that it is so, but modern feminism can never be like that. Thats why I have quoted Julia Kristeva, a post-modern French feminist.

    I believe that all our social, political, cultural, economic, and educational institutions are built by and for men. It needs to be corrected. And it is because of this that throughout human history, women have been exploited by men.

    With the advent of modernism, ways of exploiting women became more subtle and invisible. Modernism has succeeded in convincing women that her only freedom lies in aping men. Modernism, like colonialism (basically both are synonymous) has aroused an inferiority complex in women just as colonizers aroused it in colonized. Now, women are caught in a vicious circle. They are trying to prove that they are equal to men, and this very process is robbing them of all their freedom and originality.

    Third world women are doubly enslaved in this vicious circle. First, being part of a colonized and marginalized groups, they are extremely self-conscious before the dominating cultural paradigms, and secondly being women, they are in the same boat as every other ‘modern’ and ‘free’ women, free only to be food for men’s lust.

    A question can be raised here: What should women do then? Are they supposed to go back to the traditional way of living, which are sometimes as unjust to women as modernism is?

    My answer to the second question is: No. They must, a) engage themselves in a dialogue with post-modern feminists like Julia Kristeva, Helene Cixous and Luce Irigaray, b) they should evoke whatever is positive from their own native traditions, c) they must resist every encroachment upon their existential space.

    In modern age, every battle is reduced to a battle for the control of human subjectivity. Modernism has tried to enslave it in every possible way. By existential space, I mean singular life-styles and unique modes of living which are being threatened by monolithic interpretations of modernism.

    For example, and it is at the same time a question and challenge for all Punjabi women living in western countries:

    Why have Punjabi women disowned their once beloved dancing form, Giddha, in favor of a masculine Bhangra? All Punjabi women need to be aware about invisible forces which are constantly pressurizing them to renounce whatever is intimate to their own selves, and instead, impose masculine ways of living on them. And they are simultaneously being told that this has become possible only through ‘freedom’ granted to them by their Santa Claus: Modernism.

    I will welcome further thoughts on this issue.

    Hi Tejinder,

    Thanks for providing these excellent examples.

    Prabhsharandeep Singh,

    Sometimes, the unsaid communicates better than the said.

    The problem basically lies in the very process of problematizing. Why communication between men and women is a problem? Or being more specific, what is the genealogy and origin of this problem?

    For me, and it may seem strange to most people, it is because in modern age, bodies of men and women have been divested of their abilities of inner speech. Nowadays, people speak only through their minds, thats why there is so much problematizing and altercation about almost every issue. We have lost sense of our silent languages, which were capable of communicating better then most eloquent speech.

    For example, in man-woman relations, sometimes a tear can communicate more than a thousand words. Some other times, it might be a smile. Yet other times, it can be a look of love. Look at the way a mother communicates with her infant child, she understands and responds to his body, for the child is still incapable of using language. She don’t needs any explanations and solutions. She loves, therefore, she understands.

    What we, men and women, need most to do today, is to confront each other in the naked sincerity of our souls. A mere look of love suffices to fade away fogs of these immaterial problems about communication and understanding.

    The problem is not gender bias, or any other kind of bias. The real concern is the desertification of our inner selves, where love is increasingly evaporating and leaving us as arid monuments of a bygone spring.

    thanks.

  35. Phulkari says:

    First, my apologies for taking so long to reply. Because I have not been responding to each individual comment right away, there may be some points I will miss. Please feel free just to bring them up.

    Prabhsharandeep Singh: You ask the question:

    “Now, my question, for you, or anybody concerned, is if there is something essentially feminine, what is it? How would you explain the part that is inaccessible, not for insensitive individuals, but strictly for men?”

    From my perspective there are two layers to your question. I don’t know if I will do justice in answering it and may miss some points. Please feel free to just bring them up. One layer is philosophical and another is based in practice. As you said, there are no binaries, but that does not “…deny the feminine mode of existence in any possible manner”. So yes- love, comfort, selflessness, and etc. are not inherently/philosophically feminine modes of existence. Just as strength, confidence, and protection are not inherently “masculine” characteristics. However, love, comfort, selflessness, etc. become feminine modes of existence because of the systems within which they are practiced. For example, men and women both have the capacity to love, comfort, be selfless, etc., but these characteristics became labeled as feminine. Hence, we socialize our daughters to be the epitome of these characteristics and our sons to view them as male weaknesses. So, generation after generation you have men and women socializing and internalizing what is feminine and masculine based on gender. Therefore, you arrive at these “inherent” differences in men and women’s communication styles, which makes it hard for us to “understand” each other. Thus, many times only women can comfort other women because they have had similar experiences and are socialized to relate to each other and others in specific ways. Sometimes, a man just says the wrong things, even if it may be unintentional, and makes a situation where a women needs comfort more difficult.

    Some will argue for a biological basis to these differences and others will view it purely as an issue of socialization. I found your male friend’s comment, “… all we needed to learn was how to respond properly [to women]” very convincing because in the current state of affairs it seems to be the best way to begin bridging the gap between men and women’s interactional issues. There are many men and women who are best friends and rely on each other emotionally. I feel like the bonding characteristic in these relationships is the ability to respond to each other effectively although they don’t always understand the details of each others experiences.

    That said, what I find particularly powerful about Gurbani is that it attempts to break this binary of who is supposed to embody “feminine” and “masculine” characteristics based on gender. Men and women, both have equal status. We both can love, provide comfort and protection, as well as make good decisions for ourselves and the community. In my opinion, Gurbani is also good at breaking this binary because it shows the strength in “feminine” characteristics that we often view as weaknesses or less powerful. Gurbani shows that we all need to connect and practice more of the “feminine” characteristics within us to connect to the higher power of Waheguru. This higher power resides in us all, regardless of gender. Unfortunately, some of us are socialized more to express/connect with it than others.

    For women, I think if interpreted in its purest form, Gurbani is very empowering. It helps you understand that you don’t need to always act like a “man” in order to have power and access to decision-making. Actually, the characteristics you are socialized to cultivate and express more than men are the most divine. They actually allow you to connect to the higher power, which men in our current socialization practices have a more difficult time doing. That said, I think our current institutions, are not built to promote this type of character-building. On the one-hand, Gurbani shows us the importance of practicing “feminine” characteristics, but on the other hand we often see in our organizations, institutional or in the home, that the ultimate and most powerful decision-makers are those who don’t always practice these characteristics. Thus, a woman is very rarely given an independent and self-sustaining seat at the decision-making table (i.e. not puppets), unless she suppresses many of her “feminine” characteristics and asserts herself like a man. This situation is what I have often seen in my own experiences and heard from many people; it may be different for others.

  36. Phulkari says:

    First, my apologies for taking so long to reply. Because I have not been responding to each individual comment right away, there may be some points I will miss. Please feel free just to bring them up.

    Prabhsharandeep Singh: You ask the question:

    Now, my question, for you, or anybody concerned, is if there is something essentially feminine, what is it? How would you explain the part that is inaccessible, not for insensitive individuals, but strictly for men?

    From my perspective there are two layers to your question. I dont know if I will do justice in answering it and may miss some points. Please feel free to just bring them up. One layer is philosophical and another is based in practice. As you said, there are no binaries, but that does not deny the feminine mode of existence in any possible manner. So yes- love, comfort, selflessness, and etc. are not inherently/philosophically feminine modes of existence. Just as strength, confidence, and protection are not inherently masculine characteristics. However, love, comfort, selflessness, etc. become feminine modes of existence because of the systems within which they are practiced. For example, men and women both have the capacity to love, comfort, be selfless, etc., but these characteristics became labeled as feminine. Hence, we socialize our daughters to be the epitome of these characteristics and our sons to view them as male weaknesses. So, generation after generation you have men and women socializing and internalizing what is feminine and masculine based on gender. Therefore, you arrive at these inherent differences in men and womens communication styles, which makes it hard for us to understand each other. Thus, many times only women can comfort other women because they have had similar experiences and are socialized to relate to each other and others in specific ways. Sometimes, a man just says the wrong things, even if it may be unintentional, and makes a situation where a women needs comfort more difficult.

    Some will argue for a biological basis to these differences and others will view it purely as an issue of socialization. I found your male friends comment, all we needed to learn was how to respond properly [to women] very convincing because in the current state of affairs it seems to be the best way to begin bridging the gap between men and womens interactional issues. There are many men and women who are best friends and rely on each other emotionally. I feel like the bonding characteristic in these relationships is the ability to respond to each other effectively although they dont always understand the details of each others experiences.

    That said, what I find particularly powerful about Gurbani is that it attempts to break this binary of who is supposed to embody feminine and masculine characteristics based on gender. Men and women, both have equal status. We both can love, provide comfort and protection, as well as make good decisions for ourselves and the community. In my opinion, Gurbani is also good at breaking this binary because it shows the strength in feminine characteristics that we often view as weaknesses or less powerful. Gurbani shows that we all need to connect and practice more of the feminine characteristics within us to connect to the higher power of Waheguru. This higher power resides in us all, regardless of gender. Unfortunately, some of us are socialized more to express/connect with it than others.

    For women, I think if interpreted in its purest form, Gurbani is very empowering. It helps you understand that you dont need to always act like a man in order to have power and access to decision-making. Actually, the characteristics you are socialized to cultivate and express more than men are the most divine. They actually allow you to connect to the higher power, which men in our current socialization practices have a more difficult time doing. That said, I think our current institutions, are not built to promote this type of character-building. On the one-hand, Gurbani shows us the importance of practicing feminine characteristics, but on the other hand we often see in our organizations, institutional or in the home, that the ultimate and most powerful decision-makers are those who dont always practice these characteristics. Thus, a woman is very rarely given an independent and self-sustaining seat at the decision-making table (i.e. not puppets), unless she suppresses many of her feminine characteristics and asserts herself like a man. This situation is what I have often seen in my own experiences and heard from many people; it may be different for others.

  37. Serena says:

    Why is it that men have such a hard time trying to understand women? Is it hard for them to understand that they need to learn to accept and respect women as opposed to trying to force them to mould into their ideals? There are such sweet men who appreciate the differences they may have with women and actually take the time to listen to their dreams,goals and aspirations. Then you have those who are so damn controlling, thinking that they show women respect by pointing out all that they perceive as being negative in them. As opposed to focusing upon themselves and trying to work through their own internal issues, they lay blame on institutions, societal conditioning etc. These are just poor excuses and pathetic justifications for their behaviours. As opposed to trying to understand women through textbooks, they need to learn to put their egos aside and really put into practice the teachings of our gurus. We have many so-called "religious" men who barely can find it in themselves to embrace women with their views, feelings and understandings. yet they claim to be able to deconstruct various philosophical trains of thought..why not just learn to how to open your heart and appreciate women as opposed to trying to tell women how they should be running their lives and what constitutes a "good woman."

    Men in the academic world get so consumed in textbooks and analysis, that they no longer can even comprehend how women of today lead their lives. Trapped in their pasts and their desire for control, they feel that can analyze today's behaviours and thought patterns as being solely influenced by various theories. Thank God we have men today who actually take the time to get to know women and understand that they can learn so much from them. Each woman is different… you can't group them under specific headings. Similarly, not all men can be classified as being the same…. thank God we have sane men amongst the idiots that resort to textbooks to understand women.

  38. Serena says:

    Why is it that men have such a hard time trying to understand women? Is it hard for them to understand that they need to learn to accept and respect women as opposed to trying to force them to mould into their ideals? There are such sweet men who appreciate the differences they may have with women and actually take the time to listen to their dreams,goals and aspirations. Then you have those who are so damn controlling, thinking that they show women respect by pointing out all that they perceive as being negative in them. As opposed to focusing upon themselves and trying to work through their own internal issues, they lay blame on institutions, societal conditioning etc. These are just poor excuses and pathetic justifications for their behaviours. As opposed to trying to understand women through textbooks, they need to learn to put their egos aside and really put into practice the teachings of our gurus. We have many so-called “religious” men who barely can find it in themselves to embrace women with their views, feelings and understandings. yet they claim to be able to deconstruct various philosophical trains of thought..why not just learn to how to open your heart and appreciate women as opposed to trying to tell women how they should be running their lives and what constitutes a “good woman.”
    Men in the academic world get so consumed in textbooks and analysis, that they no longer can even comprehend how women of today lead their lives. Trapped in their pasts and their desire for control, they feel that can analyze today’s behaviours and thought patterns as being solely influenced by various theories. Thank God we have men today who actually take the time to get to know women and understand that they can learn so much from them. Each woman is different… you can’t group them under specific headings. Similarly, not all men can be classified as being the same…. thank God we have sane men amongst the idiots that resort to textbooks to understand women.

  39. justasikh says:

    Regarding discrcimination against women, the greatest enemy is women's denigration of themselves in such appalling conditions by tolerating it. And toelerate it they do, in far too high numbers, making it the norm against which sane people who walk away are looked down on. How did it get to be that way?

    Blaming men is an age old argument of Feminism. Oppression, lack of freedom, etc. I would like to think we live in a better world today where females can enjoy a better life, and most important, educate other women. Who's doing that?

    Punjabi culture has many good things. Curing it's cancers isn't one of them.

    With respect to Ms. Serena: I think women need to understand themselves before asking why men don't. I have known many a punjabi female caught up in this angst and vast rebellion against themselves.

    Maybe some ladies are caught up in confusion of pleasing others at the expense of themselves, or pleasing themselves at the future expense of themselves. It's an unsustainable course, paid by a far too high price.

    In areas of moral, humanitarian and spiritual courage and strength, women are the leaders of men, not followers. I once heard a joke that women are not in organized religion because they don't need to know how to treat other people nice, it comes with the territory of being a female who has kids and must learn to nurture and love to be successful.

    Many people do not know what a healthy relationship is before ever nearing one. For ladies, maybe some thing life is a hindi movie. If that is a preposterous statement, maybe they are sheltered and do not know how to let godo people near and keep bad people away from their hearts. Some ladies throw themselves back into poor situations — sad. Others leave and rightfully so, and should ignore cowards looking down on them. Misery loves company.

    Maybe people should worry and exert much effort on understanding themselves in a way that doesn't point the finger at others.

    When I have a friend of any gender upset about something, I have found the following to be the best course of action: "Don't complain, don't explain, do something postive and keep doing it."

  40. justasikh says:

    Regarding discrcimination against women, the greatest enemy is women’s denigration of themselves in such appalling conditions by tolerating it. And toelerate it they do, in far too high numbers, making it the norm against which sane people who walk away are looked down on. How did it get to be that way?

    Blaming men is an age old argument of Feminism. Oppression, lack of freedom, etc. I would like to think we live in a better world today where females can enjoy a better life, and most important, educate other women. Who’s doing that?

    Punjabi culture has many good things. Curing it’s cancers isn’t one of them.

    With respect to Ms. Serena: I think women need to understand themselves before asking why men don’t. I have known many a punjabi female caught up in this angst and vast rebellion against themselves.

    Maybe some ladies are caught up in confusion of pleasing others at the expense of themselves, or pleasing themselves at the future expense of themselves. It’s an unsustainable course, paid by a far too high price.

    In areas of moral, humanitarian and spiritual courage and strength, women are the leaders of men, not followers. I once heard a joke that women are not in organized religion because they don’t need to know how to treat other people nice, it comes with the territory of being a female who has kids and must learn to nurture and love to be successful.

    Many people do not know what a healthy relationship is before ever nearing one. For ladies, maybe some thing life is a hindi movie. If that is a preposterous statement, maybe they are sheltered and do not know how to let godo people near and keep bad people away from their hearts. Some ladies throw themselves back into poor situations — sad. Others leave and rightfully so, and should ignore cowards looking down on them. Misery loves company.

    Maybe people should worry and exert much effort on understanding themselves in a way that doesn’t point the finger at others.

    When I have a friend of any gender upset about something, I have found the following to be the best course of action: “Don’t complain, don’t explain, do something postive and keep doing it.”

  41. Serena says:

    Hi just as sikh

    nice response. I agree, all individuals need to learn to understand themselves before expecting others to even understand them. The last line is something that has been shared in Oprah magazines… interesting. As opposed to sitting an complaining, its always best to take aa positive course of action. Unfortunately, some women find it is too late before they even realize that they are in an unhealthy situation…they try to stay and make it work, only to realize that they are disrespecting themselves and giving the other permission to treat them in the way that they continue to do so :(

  42. Serena says:

    Hi just as sikh

    nice response. I agree, all individuals need to learn to understand themselves before expecting others to even understand them. The last line is something that has been shared in Oprah magazines… interesting. As opposed to sitting an complaining, its always best to take aa positive course of action. Unfortunately, some women find it is too late before they even realize that they are in an unhealthy situation…they try to stay and make it work, only to realize that they are disrespecting themselves and giving the other permission to treat them in the way that they continue to do so :(

  43. Phulkari:

    How would the world be if there were no anthropologists, and no subjects?

    Serena:

    I guess I'll talk to you later.

  44. Phulkari:

    How would the world be if there were no anthropologists, and no subjects?

    Serena:

    I guess I’ll talk to you later.

  45. justasikh says:

    @Serena:

    Thanks for your kind words. I have come to realize that ultimately, and too often a lady will be treated as well or as poorly as she thinks of herself.

    The challenge becomes is how can positive, supportive, evolved understanding spread between all people with in a Sikh context, and not just women? Would men not benefit from the same thing?

    How did it get to be this way?

  46. justasikh says:

    @Serena:

    Thanks for your kind words. I have come to realize that ultimately, and too often a lady will be treated as well or as poorly as she thinks of herself.

    The challenge becomes is how can positive, supportive, evolved understanding spread between all people with in a Sikh context, and not just women? Would men not benefit from the same thing?

    How did it get to be this way?

  47. Serena says:

    We too often allow other people to define who we are and spend little effort in trying to be true to ourselves. By succumbing to other people's views of us, we tend to lose our sense of self-confidence and positive self-esteem. Women need to learn to stay confident and be proud of who they are…if a man has a problem with the way a woman is…he should go and meet someone else as opposed to making her life hell. Women on the other hand, need to learn not to cave in to insecurities. I think its about time people in the community learned to allow their hearts to speak and not their egos.

  48. Serena says:

    We too often allow other people to define who we are and spend little effort in trying to be true to ourselves. By succumbing to other people’s views of us, we tend to lose our sense of self-confidence and positive self-esteem. Women need to learn to stay confident and be proud of who they are…if a man has a problem with the way a woman is…he should go and meet someone else as opposed to making her life hell. Women on the other hand, need to learn not to cave in to insecurities. I think its about time people in the community learned to allow their hearts to speak and not their egos.

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