Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Meet Our GEMS: Indu Balachandran

Sexism in Humour? It's No Joke

Indu Balachandran quit a cushy job in Advertising (Executive Creative Director, JWT) after 30 years, to pursue another passion, Travel Writing (free travel, free hotel stays, free food!). Travel trips also give her plenty of trip-ups to write about, and her humour columns appear regularly in The Sunday Hindu and other leading magazines. Her first book, "Don't Go Away, We'll Be Right Back: The Oops & Downs of Advertising" was on the Odyssey and Crossword best-seller lists. Her riotous rom-com novel "The Second Best Job in the World" is due for release early 2015. Indu shares in her own words why she wanted to be part of the Prajnya campaign.

Laughter can be contagious, liberating, healing (the ‘best medicine', as we’ve learnt from Reader’s Digest) but it can also be derisive and offensive. In a world where I am constantly angered by blatant attacks on my gender in such violent and shocking ways, by so called uneducated boors, there is also the clever ‘verbal poke’ directed at us women by the intelligentsia (indeed it does require a sharp intellect to make a witty joke)—that is demeaning and annoying, and needs to be talked about strongly and dealt with.

As a professional writer on light-hearted observations on life, I have lately taken a keen interest in today’s growing field of popular urban entertainment: stand up comedy.  The sexism, not to mention crude sex itself that forms much of its content –all in the form of witticisms, always leaps out at me, and Prajnya has given me a platform to talk about this issue and raise awareness.

Just as women in offices everywhere took a stand, protested, and fought back on the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, so will we increasingly hit back at snide public digs at us, and send out this message to chauvinistic humourists: no, you can’t get away with it any more.

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