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“I Started Writing Because I Was In Pain” – Tanvi Sinha, Author of the Month, October 2017

Posted: October 24, 2017

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Tanvi Sinha began writing as a form of therapy but her writing now inspires thousands of readers at Women’s Web. Read more about this writer who is an unabashed feminist and not afraid to show it.

Tanvi Sinha has always been among the most popular writers here at Women’s Web, and her no holds barred writing has won her a legion of fans. Months after her posts are published, readers continue to comment on how inspiring they have found her work to be. It is perhaps because she doesn’t hesitate to draw from real life – her own experiences as well as those of others, and use them to highlight concepts that may be new to many readers. For instance, her post on why women being solely responsible for wedding expenses is actually a form of dowry, certainly made many think anew.

You can find Tanvi’s writing on Women’s Web here, and at her own blog. Tanvi Sinha is one of our three featured authors for October 2017 – Women’s Web publishes a diversity of voices, primarily from Indian women around the world, and male allies as well. Every month, we are highlighting 3 contributors we believe you should definitely read.

Authors are often asked this question, but everyone has their own reasons, very personal to them. So, why do you write? 

I started writing because I was in pain. I needed some answers. People often say that writing has been therapeutic for them, I would say the same. It sounds beautiful and intelligent, but what it means for me is that had I not been writing, I would literally be in therapy! I would have paid money to a professional to share my thoughts, in a desperate attempt to connect with someone. With my writing, I get to share my thoughts and connect with multiple people.

The need gets stronger every day. Initially, I just had a story to tell. But now, I care that people read it. They should like it. They should comment on it. It is hard to explain to someone, but there are days when it is what keeps me going. I have nothing to look forward to except that I have something to write, and hopefully someone will care to read it.

People have been so kind. They send personal messages to let me know they appreciate my work. They have no idea what it means to me. So many times, when I feel low I look at the comments on my old articles and it gives me positive energy.

Once a lady sent a message to me that she feels inspired by reading my articles. I was not particularly happy that day. I told her that’s good. At least someone is feeling inspired, because I am not! She said that every time I feel hopeless, I should remember that I am a Rockstar!

Nobody had ever called an uninteresting, boring person like me a Rockstar before! It is only the unknown readers who bestow such wonderful compliments, uplift my mood and brighten my day!

I wanted to do English Honours. But I took up chartered accountancy as a professional course because it would make me more employable. I do not regret the decision because money is important and a job provides stability. Today, my job gives me the security to pursue writing and blogging. I choose what I write and where I write. I have this luxury because it is not my bread and better.

I received an Award for blogging at the Orange Flower Awards at the beginning of this year. The last time I had won anything was in school! I was a topper in school, above average in college and probably average at work. It is writing that made me good at something again! I regained my lost confidence. It would not be an exaggeration to say that writing is the best thing in my life.

What do you enjoy reading? Does any of it help your writing?

I enjoy reading articles. I do not enjoy reading books as much as I enjoy reading articles. People send viral articles to me that they feel are relevant to my writing. Most of the times I have already read them. When it comes to books, I am much more impatient and selective. Reading articles definitely helps in writing articles. Otherwise you are just confined to your ideas, which are limited. But I do not believe that you must be an avid reader to be a good writer. At least not for a non-fiction writer or blogger.

Blogging is about two things – our thoughts and the ability to articulate those thoughts in a way that the reader can connect. If your thoughts touch a chord with the reader, and your language is grammatically correct, then I think you are good to go. I do not consider myself literary. I would not judge someone who is not. But yes, there should be a good command on the language. Perfect grammar is a must. Good vocabulary is an added advantage.

When it comes to writing on/for/about women, what questions and issues drive you the most?

You are getting me started on a topic on which I can go on and on! Everything about women in this country bothers me! Where do I even start?

Sakshi Mallik wins a bronze medal in the Olympics. The internet is buzzing with the headlines – Save girl child because she can win medals! Is that what it has come to down to? That we should end female foeticide because women are capable of being achievers?

The other argument is respect women because women give birth. ‘Aurat hai to sansar hai’ and what not. What about women who are not mothers? And those who do not win anything in the Olympics! Is their life not precious? These are well-meaning things people say to support women. Even our arguments to save girls are so unfair and flawed!

I hate the fact that we glorify women. We need not be goddesses! We need not be Mother Earth! We need not be the epitome of strength, sacrifice and kindness! These standards ultimately do more harm than good! Just let us be human beings! Normal human beings with a brain who are capable of thinking and making choices!

Globally there are various issues to be considered – such as gender pay gap, maternity leave, women safety, etc but in India we have to deal with so much more because of our misogynist and patriarchal culture. We control women with a unique art. First, we put her on a pedestal that she is the ghar ki izzat, ghar ki Lakshmi, the glue that holds the family together, the epitome of love and sacrifice, superwoman etc. Then we get to shame her for not living up to it! Where is the individual?

Parents give their daughters the best education, so that they can find the best husbands! Education could lead to financial empowerment for women, and the freedom to lead an independent and dignified life. But only if we choose to. If education is treated as a stepping stone to find the right husband, then it loses its purpose. There are women who are educated, and independent but they are not in charge of their finances. Or they are stuck in bad marriages, and afraid to get out. Some are unmarried and therefore not considered complete. Educated women are committing suicide in bad marriages. We have failed as a society. If we continue to treat marriage and children as the most sought-after achievements in a woman’s life, the relevance of education and jobs would remain undermined.

Our legal system fails us because rapists and molesters do not get adequate punishment. They have no fear of crime. I remember watching the movie ‘Pink’. Many ‘liberal’ people – men and women believed that that the woman should not have gone to a hotel with an unknown man. She asked for it. Such people may not be rapists themselves, but they do share the rapist’s mentality.

Do you a consider yourself a feminist? Why/Why not?

Of course! Feminism is the most misunderstood term today. What it means is gender equality. But if gaining equality for women means men having to give up privileges that have been associated with their gender, so be it. I hear so many women say that they are not feminists. What do they even mean by that? They don’t believe in the right to vote or the right to drive? I guess they mean to say that they are not men-haters, which is a sad and ignorant interpretation of feminism.

Do they realize that at some point in some cultures women, have fought for these rights that we have taken for granted? Why enjoy the benefits of feminism when you are afraid of the backlash that comes from a certain section of ignorant people!

Women get molested on New Year’s Eve. Some men start the ‘Not all Men’ campaign. Do we focus on women’s safety or some men’s fragile egos? When women send requests to me for an article, they tell me exactly what they want me to write. They share their problems. Men send me one liners – ‘But what about men?’ I ask them back, ‘What about men’?

It is not a gender war! Men are conditioned with a false sense of masculinity. They are told that crying and expressing themselves is a sign of weakness. They are looked down upon if they choose to be stay-at-home dads or house husbands. They are ridiculed for being molested as children. They are even shamed for not having girlfriends! I get it. Gender stereotypes damage men and women both. We have to work together towards creating a better society for all. Trust me, I am not averse to writing about men’s experiences. But for that I would need a little more than ‘Not all men’ and ‘What about men’!

Name 3 other writers or bloggers on Women’s Web whose writing you enjoy reading.

It is very difficult to select three. Women’s Web is an original platform. There are no sensationalized posts to increase viewership. Ethics is important. So much of effort is directed to ensure that we are not sending a wrong message to society. The editors read every word. They ask us to remove lines which may seem insensitive! The writers are therefore very responsible.

I can relate to Akshata Ramesh’s writing style. She is honest and unapologetic. Kasturi Patra’s article on feminism is my all-time favourite article on the subject. When I get too annoyed explaining feminism to random people on Whatsapp, Facebook and even face-to-face arguments, I forward that article! I also enjoy reading articles written by Paromita Bardoloi, Anupama Dalmia, Seema Taneja and Tina Sequeira. I am grateful to Women’s Web not just for reading and writing, but for the sense of community and belongingness it has given me, which I absolutely cherish.

 

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