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Why is it a big deal?

on October 4, 2012

To buy something exclusively meant for a woman? No, I’m not talking about cosmetics but sanitary napkins. Especially when the shopkeeper is a male and there are other male customers around?

It may not be a big deal for several women or even men who regularly buy the above mentioned things for their partners. Unfortunately I still feel awkward in buying these things of necessity for myself. No, I have no problem if the shopkeeper is a lady or there are female customers around. It’s the male gaze which perturbs me to no end.

I still remember the day/moment when I bought the first pack of sanitary napkins. I was coming with my father from my grand parents’ place while mom was at home. I had informed her that I needed it but it wasn’t there at home. She instructed me to take money from dad & buy it. I was embarrassed to bits. Asked her why can’t dad buy it for me? He buys it for you! But the verdict was passed. I went inside the shop & whispered the noun form of this very word to the uncle. The uncle shouted the name to another guy to ensure that the entire shop & the people present there know what I’m there for. I think I also saw the guy flashing a wicked smile! Awkward & embarrassed, I sulked to mom. She said they do it everyday & they don’t even bother who is buying what! I wish! From then onwards, the pack was always available at home and I never had to buy it myself, at least while staying in my home town Kolkata.

While shifting to Delhi, mom gave me enough packs to last me for at least the next 3-4 months. My stock was refilled everytime I visited home during my vacations. After my hostel life was over and I started office, I had to come to terms with the situation and started buying it on my own & quite confidently, without making it a big deal!

Generally I club buying sanitary napkins with other stuffs, sometimes they are not necessary, still I buy them, trying to kind of camouflage the main purpose. Why do I do it? Perhaps this is the reason…

Once I could not think of anything else to buy. Absolutely nothing! I just picked up the pack & put it in the cash counter. The guy in the looked at me & asked, “That’s it? Nothing else?” Arrghh! Again that awkward moment & I could feel other customers’ gaze on me.

Another time when I asked the shopkeeper for the brand, he got it but I wanted a different one of the same brand. I told him not this one but that one. He smiled & got it. It wasn’t a big deal but still the feeling of embarrassment didn’t leave my mind.

Why? Why does our society treat menstruation as such a taboo? This has left this innate stigma in my mind related to menstruation & I’m finding hard to get rid of it. It’s just a sign of puberty when it first starts and an ensurance that the girl is capable of bearing children. Why can’t it be treated normally? Why can’t our education system include the chapter in biology in the syllabus & don’t skip it just like that? Why is it always talked in hushed tones so that our fathers, brothers & male friends don’t know about it? If we can freely talk about the Adam’s Apple or beard & moustache, why do we have to treat it as such a national secret? Everyone knows about it, but nobody talks about it. While we buy female deos, soaps, hair removing creams, we are not half as conscious. Why now?

Same happens in the case of buying condoms or other contraceptives, pregnancy test kits & related stuffs. Though I haven’t had the experience of buying them but I can very well understand the apathy of the people who have been there & done that. I heard this incident from a close friend. In our college, a girl went to a medical shop to buy a pregnancy test kit. The aged shop keeper asked her, “Why do you need it? Must have done something naughty eh? Why didn’t you take precautions?” He had no right to ask these questions to her. Such joke of shopkeepers/salesmen make things even more difficult for girls. They make people feel guilty, embarrassed nonetheless. These are anything but natural. Why can’t they take a chill pill?

But there are some good salesmen as well. I really salute their professionalism. They don’t give any awkward ‘I know what’s going on’ look or ask twice or clear throat or ask if that is all what I want. They just do their work & respect the customer and his/her privacy. I wish there were more such people who treated the chumming/about to chum women in a little more respectable or at least normal manner, not adding the woes to her already miserable state!

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6 responses to “Why is it a big deal?

  1. i wanted to know about the password protection. So heh! Thanks.

    I guess i got over the awkward feeling when I left home. And I guess the only way you do it is go in ask for the SP/ condom/pregnancy kit/whatever else with an attitude ‘I know what I am doing, and no you will get punched in your balls if you try to judge me’. šŸ˜€

  2. Amit says:

    It is not just women stuff. Go and try to buy a condom and you will get looks if you do not resemble a married uncle. If you look like a college going kid, the shopkeeper is going to give you suspicious looks.
    We have a nosy society. All we can do is ignore it.

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