There’s Something About Clint


The stunning Monica Bellucci – to me she’s an incredible work of art of the feminine form. When I see her all I can think is ‘100% Woman’

OK – Nobody’s perfect. And I for one find the rough edges and splattered paint blobs and imperfections and tears on a canvas beautiful, never having been a fan of ‘pristine perfection’ except when it comes to engineering and music. There are very few movie actors I find charismatic or just with that unfathomable ‘something’ that is strangely, mysteriously alluring and seductive in a deeply masculine way. I have a weird taste when it comes to the ‘looks’ of men and the actors I find immeasurably good-looking are not the usual norm or those who are considered conventionally handsome by most women. Purely from an aesthetic point I prefer looking at extraordinarily beautiful women. I find women far more visually appealing  and inspiring than men and there are quite a few I admire for their beauty from an artist’s point of view. Heck – I even get turned on when I’m captivated by the beauty of a woman – her eyes, lips, curves, angles…..and I’m glad that as a woman I get the benefit of admiring that beauty without having the urge to act upon it.  The silent minutes I’ve spent admiring the images of Monica Bellucci  and Yamila Diaz Rahi, amongst others, and the level of detail with which I’ve soaked in the faces of Eva Green, Angelina Jolie, Laetitia Casta and a younger Aishwarya Rai, Audrey Hepburn and Catherine Zeta Jones is because as a painter and artist I’ve often wondered how in the evolutionary cycle, and purely from a physical point, perhaps what started as a flower has culminated in the beauty of a woman. And I have never really understood why so many women feel so jealous or insecure by another woman’s physical beauty, especially if that beauty is of exceptional standards (and not the kind that tries hard to camouflage through make-up and clothes or cognitive dissonance of mass validation that assures the ‘popularity  and enshrinement of mediocrity’.) To be jealous of extraordinary feminine beauty  is as ridiculous as being upset and jealous over some external work of breath-taking art, just because it exists. I think when it comes to this, every man and woman should watch the poignant film ‘Malena’ starring Monica Bellucci to understand both the effect and the curse of beauty.

But when it comes to men, there are very, very few that I find incredibly attractive from some visceral level. My favourite actor of all time is Daniel Day-Lewis who I find incomprehensibly, unfathomably handsome (besides his being one of the best actors as well). I do not know why, but I just do. (not in his moustachioed roles but when he is clean shaven.) Then – the expressionless Keanu Reeves – not from any attraction point but just because his face is a fascinating study of minimalism – i.e. from an artist’s point of view, his face can be defined as ‘the least number of straight lines necessary to create a masculine face’.  And I do like Viggo Mortensen in a beard – in fact he looks better bearded.  The fact that he is a writer, painter, poet, musician, photographer AND an actor makes him quite a renaissance man. The only ‘traditionally handsome’ men I do find mildly attractive are Pierce Brosnan, Robert Redford, Denzel Washington.  But I’ve seen them in real life, and I think they look much better on the screen.

But since Daniel Day-Lewis is British,  the only American actor that I have found incredibly attractive for years and whose directorial work I admire immensely too – and who I find probably even more attractive than Lewis is that stoic, strong silent ‘man without a name’ –  assertive, quietly masculine, un-wussified; whose  poker faced visage (in his younger days,) and straight strides have always had a weird effect on me, since as far back as I can remember, an effect very few other men, if at all, could ever have – an effect that reminds me at some core  intrinsic level that I am a Woman.  And that he is a Man. And as though that fact in itself is enough. And that nothing else needs to be spoken.

Happy Birthday Clint. (b. 31st May, 1930)

Sometimes I think your ‘man without a name’ should make a comeback to teach many of the overtly female-nagged wussified or sissified men of America what it is like to be a real man. The kind that women who are secure both with their inner strength and femininity, women who are neither looking to male-bash nor male-nag, but quite simply admire a man for being a man find incredibly attractive.

For one of the best movie scenes ever – wish this clip included the complete ending though…

Sweatshops for your Sex and the City Too

My blog stats are showing that this post has been getting thousands of reads  from both sides of the Atlantic (and a trigger to launch a secret movement by straight men in the west called ‘no more wussification!’ & its sister movement ‘Greater Dignity, Fewer Shoes! more self-reliance, less Choos’  – kidding on that bit but it would be nice!) But thank you readers! – GG.


(UPDATED Post – with a Super Sweet 16 video to show the end product of your ‘fabulousness’ and the link to a video showing the heart-wrenching heinous reality of brand-name Fur products that our fab-four have touted throughout the series and in the first movie.)



Warning: This is a post written for those with a blunt or INTJ sense of humour and those who don’t mind seeing the harsh reality behind consumerism without sugar-coating. Readers who might be offended for calling a spade a spade, or a boob a boob and don’t get the humour or a reality-check, proceed no further. Same applies to those who blindly think that SJP  has the same sex appeal as Marilyn Monroe or Grace Kelly. Stop right here. (This is very hard to explain  to many women, but something only straight men and women who are artists will understand – it’s something evolutionary that we can’t explain – on the same line as the ingrained biological differences between men and women…like the attraction to a certain waist to hip ratio for instance. So those women, please don’t confuse gender equality – which I’m 100% all for – to gender ‘sameness.’)

This post is suited more for straight men and for women who are individualists and had enough with the consumerism/shallowness touted.

Others, you’ve been warned ;-) and I’m not going to engage or deal with Miss cyber-bully-with-BPD (you know who you are – although you’re using different names, your IP address is the same.) Amusing how you spewed full force for my tiny photo at the end, and the fact that placing a mouse on it enlarged it. Deal with it, lady. I’ve done 7 years of architecture (a B.Arch & a M.L.Arch) & 10 years of work on the field.  And have slogged  very hard in life (since you’ve been sending me those vitriolic e-mails). And if my sarcasm or the fact that I’m a woman architect ‘upsets’ and ‘offends’ you, well, too bad. This is my personal blog – and you are free not to read it. (To those women – I’m  that girl you used to bully back in school for being the nerd who was good in studies and music. And doubled the bullying even more  ruthlessly if she happened to look nice.) Also, can the other miss cyber-bully (who has claimed to be a feminist,) give a logical explanation of your claim that my photograph on a site ‘kills feminism’??? I’ll state it directly lady – what you mean is that I should  look ‘manly’ and/or hate cooking in order to qualify for your concept. And you’ll defend me only if I shed all traces of femininity. Or walk around with an utterly misconstrued sense of ‘entitlement’ based on gender alone, without any hard work or self-reliance like that horrendous sense of entitlement with which the women in this film plodded on.  Sorry ma’am- ain’t happening here – I’m too objective – and think BOTH genders are EQUAL and being a woman does not ‘entitle’ me to be pampered. Nor would I look for ways to enhance myself at the cost of unfair man-bashing based on sweeping generalizations. Please take your notions elsewhere.

It is ironic that empathy is not reserved for bonded laboureres, child sweatshop workers or  the real victims of misogyny in rural villages, but truthfully calling shallowness -”shallowness” is seen as ‘not having empathy!’ Oh Rationality, where art thou?! Those wishing to spew ‘stead of humour, here’s a bit of Monty Python to lighten up: The Architect Sketch or chill out on my ‘Jazz’ page. And for those girls wishing to get  more upset by more sex and  women in architecture, go here: Sex & the Starchitect.


*  *  *

So I went to see the movie Sex and the City 2  mainly to write a post about it. At a theatre near Cambridge, MA, for a matinee show and a ticket price of five dollars which I think is just about what I would pay during this recession to not partake in the overindulgence of consumerist frivolity that this movie endorsed.  I went alone as I have never ever dragged any man nor ever will to watch chick-flicks. Deliberate man-torture is not my style and I’m happy to say that I have also never dated any man who was into chick flicks. As for my other girl friends they are not the groupie-type either, so for that matter I have never watched any chick flick in my life with a gaggle of girls either. And here,  I don’t know if it’s because it was Cambridge or Harvard or just the student population around Sommerville theatre…..but surprisingly the main movie hall contained only 11 other women, all alone, watching the film and the only group was of two girls. Later I would read that in many cities this was a huge girls’ night -out event.

And oh my! Oy vey! Holy moly! I have only one reason I can think of why they made this movie: The cast and crew badly needed the money. A TV series that had started off as witty and sassy, despite all its sometimes funny, candidly open yet mostly frivolous messages, has sadly demised into an orgy of stuck-in-time ogresses touting consumerism and navel-gazing shallow, selfish ‘pain’ over trinkets and trivialities.

March of the Aunts : Part 2 of the Trilogy Lust of the Ring

Where should I begin? Perhaps it is best I write my peeves and pondering as an analytical list, and the rather unsubtle and unsettling messages the movie sent. Those in doubt, may go see the film to truly understand where this analysis is coming from. Really :

Message no. 1 : “We are preening, privileged princesses”: Let’s start at the beginning….the cheesy fairy-tale ‘once-upon-a-time’ opening line was already a dekko of what was to follow for two and a half hours of this ‘orgy of excess.’ Or a ‘greedfest’ as the Independent rightly called it. A story that prefers the omission of facts and the gritty underbelly of the world that makes your consumerist luxuries possible, ladies. To create a ‘magical’ fairy tale world of fantasies far removed from the reality of the sweatshops from where a lot of your shoes and bags come from.

So we have close –ups of the Chrysler building in the opening shot. Many, many of those till you scream internally – ‘I get it, I get it. New York City.’ Yes – we know it is New York City. A city which does have a few other buildings too, you know. Perhaps the ‘Abu Dhabi’ part of the movie was in tribute to the fact that  90% of the Chrysler building is currently owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Council? Those in doubt – can wiki ‘Chrysler building’ to verify this fact. I felt like saying – yeah, go ahead bellas- ignore the 10% women architects who ARE doing something silently and unconsciously for gender equality so your Blahniks and Choos can walk over our designs.

Just to insert some reality check about the Chrysler building here’s an interesting fact (from wiki) about the man who designed it:

Architect William Van Alen had failed to enter into a contract with Walter Chrysler when he received the Chrysler Building commission. After the building was completed, Van Alen requested payment of 6 percent of the building’s construction budget ($14 million), a figure that was the standard fee of the time. After Chrysler refused payment, Van Alen sued him and won, eventually receiving the fee. However, the lawsuit significantly depreciated his reputation as an employable architect. His career effectively ruined by this and further depressed by the Great Depression, Van Alen focused his attention on teaching sculpture.

I had to insert that geeky fact up there just as a brief respite to clear my head from the frivolous ‘fabulousness’ that paraded for more than 2 hours before my eyes yesterday afternoon. I’ll try to keep the rest of the post geeky-free.

Message no.  2: “We are super-sexy Fabulous femmes even with our saggy boobs as long as we display them fully flapping – I mean fully drooping – I mean fully propped up – I mean…..we ARE beautiful, aren’t we? Validate us! Please, please validate us!:” Ok – I should clarify here (for my lynch-prevention by SJP fans) – I think the actresses (SJP & co.) who played the parts in their REAL life are nice ladies who went along with the script and fashions, and I am also sure that in real life they would have touted more relevant values and causes had they been made more aware. (Though an article in a UK newspaper details how the main character took home all the clothes and accessories for free and her nexus with the store that uses the movie for marketing its products; and some of her online interviews are so navel-gazing at one point going off for 15 minutes on David Letterman about her facial mole removal and not one word about the world except “I, I’m like, I, I, me?me?me!” Really. Give me Charlize Theron or Hilary Swank any day – those ladies came up in even harder ways in life – or the more privileged but smart Amanda Peet – and still are some of the most grounded, truly intelligent, outdoorsy and aware-of-the-world actresses in real life.) In any case, my take is more on the characters depicted in the movie, not the actresses in their real lives. So here goes:

We are greeted by the ‘fab-four’  and by the time the film ends you wish the scriptwriters had looked up the dictionary to find that there are more adjectives than ‘fabulous’ – a word that is flatulently repeated ad nauseum by every character. The original series, despite its unrealistic lifestyle-on-a-columnist-salary and $800-a-pair-shoe-buying message which ended up teaching many a young woman to have bad financial acumen and go into debt and look for sugar daddies to support a forced fairy-tale lifestyle (and as Gov. Spitzer’s former escort Ashley and actress Lindsay Lohan have confessed that the series were the ‘inspiration’ to their lifestyle), at least had some wit and sass, a refreshing sexual openness and candour not seen before on television and some hilarious scenes and dialogues. (one laugh-out-loud-line of Samantha outlining how oral sex felt paradoxically ’empowering’ to women: “You may be on your knees but you’ve got them by the balls.”)

And though I was younger than the age group the women portrayed in the series, I am told that it captured to some degree the reality of the dating and party-girl world of NYC in the late 90s, and early 2000s city life. This film unfortunately is like a female version of watching four retired flabby-bellied male Casanovas trying to recapture their old glory days and womanising with limp, tired, flaccid members. Only, here it’s 4 females in some sad effort to lubricate their labia with a vaginal Viagra version of nagging and complaining.

When I Googled Sarah Jessica Parker, Google’s  autocomplete popped up the sentence next to her name ‘looks like a —-’. I’m not kidding. It’s a dark humour site, and though disturbingly hilarious is a bit mean, though its profits go towards retired NYC city steeds. I began to wonder if Google had some inside joke with the South Park creators who had recently made an unkindly funny spoof about the star. In the looks department, I have to confess, that though SJP maintained a killer pair of legs, her other ‘pair’ needed some props, to say the least. (And whatever else, kudos to her for not having gone the silicon way.) Only Charlotte looks appealing on the big screen and Kim Cattrall, once so gorgeous, would do better to dress more age-appropriately. No offense,  she still looks ‘fabulous’ for 52, but a little dignity goes a long way. I don’t care so much about fashion details and embroidery, girls. I judge beauty more the naked way – skin, body shape, perkiness and facial bone structure. If that makes me like a man, can’t help it. I do have a mildly-aspie-male math brain and am a painter of the female form.

Should looks be important here? Yes – Only because ‘sexy looks’ and ‘fashion’ ARE what have often been the selling points of the SATC series so I think an objective appraisal should be made however politically incorrect it may sound. (Meryl Streep, unconventionally beautiful, for instance is naturally and uniquely sexy and dignified in every role and at every age precisely because she has never promoted herself as a sex icon but as an actress of exceptional abilities, which she is. And therefore she will never and absolutely rightly so, never have to contend with the objective criticism that the fab-4 have brought upon themselves. At the other spectrum, at 51, Madonna who has promoted herself as a sex icon always lives up to that image and does look unbelievably sexy and photogenic even now, and therefore can never be, and rightly so, never be criticized because she has lived up to her status without disappointing. Unfortunately our fab-4 failed to be both Madonnas or Meryls and yet are demanding the same adulation without the work – and I think that is what is so disappointing and feels forced for most rational people to accept. That is why the truth has to be spoken.)

I hate to say the truth for what it is: But the only visually redeeming breasts in the movie are definitely the Irish nanny’s.

Perhaps Carrie and Samantha should gracefully let the next generation take over when it comes to revealing exposed bosoms. I think women in their late-40s and 50s look more elegant if they wear tight turtle-necks with a bra underneath that could show the shape of their breasts and waists or perhaps V necks- that enhanced some parts instead of displaying full blast tired cleavages and droopy pears with sun-ravaged skin? Unless of course, you do have great skin and a real ageless bust like Monica Bellucci and some real natural beauts.  Ladies, with all due respect, the art of ‘sexiness’ is revealing sparingly with some element of mystery. When you have every body- part propped up or hanging out there in middle age, it just looks, well, sadly desperate. As though you are unable to gracefully pass the torch on to younger girls, rather than entering into some competition with them.(The same applies for men too – those Dorian Gray men who refuse to grow up.) Your ‘sexiness’ would be so much more appealing with some dignity, you know?  It would have presented such a better image of mid-aged women and not turned the real and far more grounded ones into jokes now. Take a page out of the glamorous yet superbly dignified and sexy Sophia Loren’s book – she and other older actresses like Audrey Hepburn, Katharine Hepburn and some others aged so gracefully without losing their sense of style. Perhaps there is a reason why Mr. Big is watching 1950s black and white films – wondering when did the woman’s sexual-freedom movement end up losing feminine dignity and mystique? (Or perhaps, he is figuring out that he should pull some hedge-fund investment scam  to continue supporting his royal smugness and her royal nagness in their over-priced lifestyle?)

Message no. 3 : “We don’t want men for husbands, we want rich whipped-wussies”: I saw a cartoon last year: “The road to economic recovery: Gay marriage registry.” In light of that perhaps the scriptwriters decided that an exorbitant film version of a gay wedding was exactly what we needed. Or perhaps because SJP largely owes her ‘fashion icon’ status immeasurably to gay men rather than straight men. So we are put through a 30 minute over-the-top wedding at the movie’s start with a dilated eyed-Liza Minnelli cavorting around with many gay chorus men. Really – girls who have dragged their boyfriends to watch this film, please, I repeat PLEASE see it as a sign of their selfless love for you. Had I been born a man, I’d have refused to be bamboozled into watching 2 and a half hours of this self-absorbed nasal-nag-shag-entitled-hag-torment. (The irony is that straight men live and have relations with straight women in real life. Yet gay men have decided to lay down the rules of engagement in heterosexual relations. and have promoted it through the films. Does this sound illogical and ironic to anyone else, too?)

The wedding scene is more relevant for eerily realising that the gay men seem to have more chutzpah than the straight men in the scene, because – lo and behold! the straight men in the form of the docile husbands of three of the women have invisible signs stamped on their foreheads: ‘Operation wussification complete!’ To think that these have become the new ‘representatives’ of manhood! There seems to be a silent competition of which husband can outdo the other in wussified docility to their nagging wives. Mr. Big takes the cake – his wussification and metrosexualizing has been so severe over the years, he has resigned to the finality of life with his long-faced, entitled, insecure and jealous wife. (The scene with his brief conversation with Penelope Cruz is a pointer to Carrie’s insecurity.) I don’t know what I preferred more: His past smirky smugness and indecisiveness or his present mildly abused persona grappling for some freedom by asking his wife if  he can take two days off his marriage every week…now why do I keep remembering captions and photos from the hilarious satirical site Unhappy Hipsters? (it’s on my blogroll those who wish to take a gander – absolutely worth it.) 

And boy – to think that Carrie is seen as some ‘unique’ woman in today’s world??!! Which the scriptwriters remind us a few times through the film. To think this consumerist complainer with her closet full of shoes and chain-smoking past habits (which has obviously taken a toll on her skin) and someone who in the series had cheated on her grounded nice-guy boyfriend with the then married Mr.Big and had displayed shallowness on many occasions even back then is seen as some ‘role model’??!! The reason she is so popular is because unfortunately she is so ordinary and there are so many women like that  who hoard excess, that to make them feel ‘special’ and justified for their consumerist overdose and self-centredness, this movie has been made. That’s what you get when you have a book written by a former party girl picked up for a TV series – although Candace Bushnell’s novel had some literary class and sassiness and it was a critique to this brand-worshipping man-chasing lifestyle as being ultimately hollow, not a glorification as the series turned it into.

I am waiting for John Edwards’ mistress to write a new book to launch another tsunami in the name of ‘women’s sexual freedom.’ You already have Gov. Spitzer’s former escort writing a sex column for the New York Post (not that she shouldn’t, or that they should be judged – it’s their life, but it’s funny sometimes the road to media notoriety that suddenly makes someone an ‘adviser’ in this country. Will that be filmed into a future series to ‘educate’ young women? Is it possible to get any more confused in the name of ‘sexual freedom’?) For once both film critics at the UK Telegraph & UK Guardian seemed to agree. That in a nutshell, this movie is so popular among many women because mediocrity in intellect and looks packaged as ‘special’ sells as it does not incite jealousy and therefore has more mass appeal. Period.

Except for a last somewhat redeeming act of a little generosity to a hotel staff in Abu Dhabi, throughout the entire movie Carrie comes across as the shallowest, naggy-est, most self-absorbed person of the foursome. (Miranda has the smarts, Sam has the humour, and Charlotte still seems sweet-though-overwhelmed, though you have to wonder what mother cries more over her ‘vintage Valentino’ skirt on the phone than be understanding  of her daughter’s playfulness.) Carrie instead gloats over her huge closet and an Imelda-Marcos-shaming shoe collection. She shows no gratitude to the husband who has paid for their lavish Manhattan apartment and for those shoes and clothes. No. Not at all. Instead, when the husband comes home tired after a beating in the stock market she nags and laments and uses guilt-trips to drag him to a movie premiere, only to whip him back the minute a lovelier woman talks to him. How about a back-rub to that husband who pays for your Choos, honey? She shows a lack of empathy bordering on clinical NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) as she fights with him for feeling tired after a long day of work. She raps him for placing his feet up on the expensive couch. She refuses to cook even one home-made meal reminding that she is more ‘Coco-Channel’ than ‘coq-o-vin’. Looked more ‘croc(odile)-o-whine’ to me, hon. She complains like it is a great tragedy that he has bought a flat screen TV as her anniversary present and not ‘some jewelery.’ Finally she does get some jewelery as her ‘reward’ after she has hurt said husband by smooching an ex.

So, husband gets a third degree at home for conversing with a bank president played by the beautiful Penelope Cruz and missus gets a giant diamond ring from husby for inciting his insecurity by smooching her ex and reporting it to him on a work morning with not one statement asking him how his work is going or if he is stressed out for the economy. Really, what kind of message are you sending women out there who are your fans precisely because they can identify their own shallowness, selfishness and materialism in you? To say that I found a lot of this sense of entitlement and self-centredness disgusting is an understatement. Sorry fans of the foursome – to me, that doesn’t come out as some woman’s ‘liberation’. That comes out as husband-abuse and narcissistic selfishness.

Message no. 4 the oft-repeated lesson of the series in general. “Crazy sex and skin exposure is the only road to girl-‘power’: Was women’s sexual lib necessary? Absolutely. 100% Absolutely. Yes. Yes. And it did exist in many ancient pagan cultures in the form of goddess-worship centuries  before Judeo-Islamo-Christianity masculinised religion. (Take a look back at the kamasutra and the romps of Greek and Roman goddesses.) But the past century’s  woman’s lib movement was necessary especially after many male-dominated centuries when women were suppressed and discriminated against. Does a woman have as much right and privilege to sleep around and enjoy sex and many sexual encounters the same way as a man? Yes. Absolutely. Undoubtedly. Without being judged and only if she wishes to. NOT  due to peer pressure or because media messages in the present age influence her to.

But is this sexual-romping the only route to women’s ‘power’ as this movie and series has tried to endorse? ‘To have sex like a man’ – which was the slogan of the series to begin with? Perhaps this is where I raise the voice of reason. And concern. And raise rational questions. Because to me ‘to have sex like a man’ is such a superficial skin of real strength or girl-power. Isn’t this on the same level as the line ‘dress like a man’ which was one of the bra-burner messages? Only now instead the ‘act like a man’ or ‘be tough like a man’ has been replaced by ‘have indiscriminate sex like a man with hundreds of partners because the TV tells you to.’ To me personally, I would feel more powerful if I could rather have ‘sex like a self-assured woman’ and choose NOT to sleep with any man or random stranger who wants to. Nor give it so easily and indiscriminately. Don’t get me wrong, I am an  imaginatively erotic person in exclusive relationships. But the man has to be worth it for me to go that distance. If you spread yourself so thin,  as the series promoted, doesn’t sex lose its value and become just some ubiquitous meaningless act?

In her recent book  ‘Enlightened Sexism: The seductive message that feminism’s work is done’ a scathing look at the messages that became rampant starting in the late 90s, professor and cultural historian and critic Susan Douglas makes a similar argument that in an orgy of the over-sexualised facade of ‘girl-power’ the over-sexualisation of girls, young and old,  is now seen as harmless and funny and in some weird way feels like a ‘creepy triumph.’ In a sarcastic ending she ‘dreams’ of the day ‘baby thongs’ and ‘baby pole dancing classes’ will become a normal practice. To quote from the closing lines of her ‘Sex R Us’ chapter which takes an objective assessment of the impact of Sex and the City and other TV series on contemporary culture, she concludes:

“So the question of whether the sexualisation of our culture is good or bad for females may not quite be the right one. More important is how girls and women have been sexualized, how that’s different from the way men have been, and what the consequences might be. Because while an increased frankness about sex in the media might indeed seem to be a liberal, even progressive advance from the days when the Catcher in the Rye and Lady Chatterley’s Lover were censored, the content of this media, the way girls and women appear in them, may often be as sexist as it ever was. The new hedonism and the sex-positive talk to, about, and among women in the media, which seemed so fresh, new, and controversial, was the shiny cellophane that helped mask a Mars-Venus discourse about men and women being fundamentally different – and thus maybe not equal. It also deflected our scrutiny away from the under-lying message: women were nothing without Mr. Right and so they had to do anything they could to land him. This is sexual liberation?”

I couldn’t agree more. Basically now the ‘new improved’ cultural reality of the message taken by many women in North America is :  70 years ago modesty was the value promoted to find Mr. Right. Today immodesty is the value promoted to find Mr. Right. What is my peeve with this?  The fact that the ‘means’ have changed but the ‘goal’ a.k.a Mr. Right remains the same! The fact that the  misguided message  sent  is  that a woman’s personal happiness is not tied with a strong sense of self of her own, or self-confidence, self-reliance and dignity, but more with actions directed to finding that Mr. Right to ‘complete’ yourself rather than finding yourself first before seeking ‘completions through others’ and/or obsessing about complementing another and then obsessing about ‘changing’ him/’holding’ him/ ‘wussifying’ him. My point is that a woman’s feeling of security (and sexiness) should  come from within – through a grounded sense of Self – whether without OR with a man; independent of the frequency or presence of  penises popping in. Mr. Right is not the goal, but should be rather the person who sees and appreciates you for who you really are and joins you in life for the Right reasons.

Message no. 5: “We have the kitschiest taste in books.” A book on faking your body clock written by dazed and confused new-age Hollywood quack Suzanne Somers makes an appearance early on in the film as Samantha’s inspiration for pill popping to stay young and the book pops up again in the finale touted by other women. Enough said. I do not even wish to get into the pseudoscience being promoted by Somers. People – prepare to see many pre-menopausal women shooting up oestrogen injections through their vaginas in the coming years thanks to the free-promo the movie provided.

I’m not the only one who has a complaint against her book. Newsweek wrote two articles on the craziness and questionable safety standards of the pseudoscience promoted by Somers. “Doctors who specialize in treating menopausal women feel they’re fighting a tsunami of misinformation. Highly sophisticated, unsubstantiated and downright dangerous marketing is leading women to go in and make demands for these bioidentical products, believing them to be effective and safe.” And here’s more from that article since Somers has been claiming how ‘successful’ her treatment is: “If you feel compelled to read Somers’s book, do so carefully. You’ll find lots to question. For example, she says bioidenticals kept her slim but then later complains about weight gain. She says she feels great but then later acknowledges that after years on bioidenticals, she was bleeding so heavily every day that she recently had to have a hysterectomy. That’s the kind of success we can live without.”

What is so sad is that these women had such a loyal following and such a strong influence on millions they could have used it to promote 10,000 better and more ethical things and causes  I can think of – environmental sustainability, green design, frugality, moderation, organic gardens, a self-reliance sans penis-count or jewelery-negotiations, the horrors of sweatshops or the skinning alive of furry mammals for the fur fashion industry – and instead they chose to promote the most vapid, superficial, materialistic means of refusing to grow up gracefully and wanting to remain caught in a time-warp like female Dorian Greys. (Also anyone in doubt to what extent consumerism and hedonism in the US has increased need look no further than the nauseating reality shows – My super sweet 16, and the Real Housewives series which, alas, our ‘fab-4’ mention in the movie.) Infrastructure sustainability planners are up against an unbeatable tide and a losing battle crying out in vain that if this consumerism continues, a tipping point of no return will  be reached; that Americans have to stop the propaganda of excess that has become the dream-standard of other women in other nations too; that this lifestyle is just not sustainable for the planet- financially, environmentally, and I think I should add – even in the self-esteem department.

Message no. 6: We alone are emancipated women. All other cultures have backward, suppressed, fully clothed women. And because the radicals among Islamic men are conservative and dangerous and we can’t teach them a lesson without getting killed, we’ll make the American men pay the price for their crimes, by default that they are ‘men’ and hence should pay for the sins of other brethren of their gender:Hard to believe, but this is certainly one of the most illogical messages sent out in this film. In fact Sarah Jessica Parker in a gushing promo interview compares the plight of women in the Arab world to the ‘struggle with traditional roles of women right here in New York City.’ Puh-lease!!!! As a person who has traveled widely and seen and worked in many places of the world (including the Arab world) and as I have often retorted – you CANNOT, I repeat cannot, compare your ‘suppression’ or ‘misery’ of non-matching-purses-with-shoes and no-dinner-appointment-at-fancy-resto to the very real suppression that goes on in some other parts of the world. Materialistic self-absorbed selfishness like that is just SO appalling, I do not even know where to begin! For a reality check, the movie is banned from theatres in Abu Dhabi, so don’t compare your ‘crisis’ of which boyfriend you get to shag to the choices of public expressions of affection women have there.

The message here is the same illogical one that just because women elsewhere are suffering, we Blahnik-crazy shopaholics will bash the men a little bit more here, in NYC. This skewed logic is the same as how some people in relations treat the guy/gal in their present life like dirt to pay for the sins of a past lover. Doesn’t make sense, does it? But no – in this movie where our fab-four cannot think beyond their own problems, they look to the Middle East to draw parallels to their own lives. Miranda complains how she lost her job because she was a woman. How they can’t be more ‘free’. Can these gals think of anything or anyone beyond themselves and the mantra ‘me, me, me, buy-Blahniks, me, me, me, poor-me chicks, me, me, me, ogle-at-men’s-dicks?’ I will not mention it here but a certain quote of Nietzsche came to my mind halfway through the movie. And it had nothing to do with the resemblance of a certain actress to……

The eastern ethnic ‘man-servants’ at the luxury hotel are of course shown like genies to our princesses in an excruciatingly painful-to-watch colonial attitude and we begin to suspect that the hag-four will not be satisfied till they have whipped their own husbands back in Manhattan into servants in the future – all  in the name of women’s lib, of course.

Ok – I have to hand it though that the scene in the finale of Samantha flicking off ultra-conservative Islamic men surrounding her was a funny one. I rather enjoyed that, having seen firsthand the suppression of women that does go on in some of the rural parts of those countries. I think in that one redeeming act, Sam did echo the sentiment that many women feel of being enraged at the overtly (and sometimes criminally) patriarchal system of misogyny that goes on in rural areas there. Now that was a cathartic scene. One that touched a personal note to me, as well, as I recalled the time on a construction site long back in a certain conservative country these  really nasty men  had beaten an innocent girl falsely accused of being ‘immodest’. I was so enraged, I had picked up a bull’s balls from a butcher shop and (without revealing its source) had shown it to  those men and swung the balls around saying that if any man dared touch her or abused any other woman in their community, I’d snip his balls off. I was playing on the ‘eye for an eye’ dictum that works in certain rural areas. They let me be and backed off from the girl and the women thanked me later. I did have a couple of guards with me, I must confess, so I didn’t get torn to pieces myself. Those Americans wishing to know more about the condition of rural Islamic women can look up blogs written on the  Doctors Without Borders website, or even the recent TIME magazine issue.

But other than that, the condescending way in which the foursome talk about Arab women and their dresses is quite patronizing again. Agreed that dress codes are very strict there, but in desert climates (and I’ve been there) the sun is so scorching and the sand so fine that to protect your skin from premature wrinkling and even skin cancer, being covered is often the best option. But of course, in the movie the four  dames were shown as proponents to ‘woman empowerment’ through – well, human rights causes? No. Investigative journalism? No! Going to rural villages and setting up schools or encouraging/buying the textiles made by local women there to help them financially? No!! They were shown as ‘empowering women’ by – get this – singing karaoke. Yes. Really. By singing ‘Woman’ just before picking up a man at a bar.

I wanted to yell out – Hey ladies, the world’s greatest and most futuristic woman architect who has built many ‘fabulous’ fantastic contemporary buildings all over, including in Abu Dhabi and won architecture’s highest prize in the world, is a British Iraqi Muslim woman – Zaha Hadid. She is the only woman amongst the top 10 all time greats of architecture. (And just so you know has designed possibly the sexiest pairs of shoes, chairs and cutlery,other than buildings, too. Read my ‘Sex and The Starchitect‘ post) And she is such a powerhouse of true strength, all four of you together couldn’t even hold up a matchstick to her. And hey, just so you know, there are many countries of the world other than America which have had woman presidents and prime ministers since the 1950s. Here’s a list. How’s that for a reality check? Could it be that in some countries women just choose not to translate their power or liberation through rampant sex but rather in more substantial ways – such as ruling entire countries (and some of them are Muslim, just so you know.) And the longest ruling woman leader in the world of course was a secular Hindu (i.e. Indira Gandhi. Maybe she didn’t wear tube tops in public to show her freedom, she just was free to become the elected leader of the world’s largest democracy.) Here’s a list, just for some FACTS and not fairy tales for instance:

List of women Heads of State:  

And talking about the U.A.E and our foursome’s take on ‘freedom’ I had to write the following incident because their premise on thinking they were so ‘powerful’ while being slaves to their own insecurities just seemed so misguided. Last month at a long infrastructure sustainability conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the closing ceremony’s main speaker was a brilliant remarkable architect, planner and engineer who is the Director of Sustainability for building an entire 3 sq. mile eco-city in the U.A.E. and has a doctorate from U.K’s top school and graduated from UAE’s Engineering University. This person is a grad from Harvard Business School, a former deputy Director of the Abu Dhabi Police Force AND has scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro. And guess what – she is an Arab WOMAN, who wears a head scarf in public. She has spoken on panels invited by President Clinton himself, Brad Pitt apparently gushed on meeting her, and she is in charge of building the world’s first zero carbon footprint eco-city in the middle of the Abu Dhabi desert. Sorry to say, but in the U.S. in the sexist culture of architecture, for a woman to reach that level of leadership and power in engineering is still far away. I heard her speak at the conference and was blown away by her intelligence, sharp wit and the amount of work she has done. She spoke to me later (without the head scarf, which she only wears on the stage) and I was  so inspired by her beauty, confidence and strength in person. Here’s a link on a newspaper article about her before her Harvard stint (check it out):

Why do I feel, ladies, when I read this, that I want to shake her hand and say she has done more for women’s freedom without losing her femininity than the parade of frivolities I saw you present in the movie where kissing some ex was seen as a ‘highlight’ and ‘crisis’ in your life. How sad. I must say Miranda, this lady in the news, Nawal Al-Hosany, is much more ‘liberated’ and a greater trailblazer and true pioneer who has battled sexism and come out with flying colours much more than even you have. You judge her by the scarf on her head, and not by the brain in her skull or the courage in her heart. I’d like to see how you would behave on the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. From what I saw, you had to all carry an entourage of ‘slaves’ for just an afternoon in the desert and at least a dozen suitcases EACH for a week of vacation. I weep for the way you have stereotyped femininity, and especially stereotyped N.American women, for the masses.

Oh, and guess what, she and others like her I have met, treat the men in America as equals and with grace and respect without indulging into the power plays and wussification-whipping-and-complaining that your foursome parades as ‘girl-power.’ I also must confess that in my group of friends when we meet we talk of global affairs, design trends, the economy, ethics and tons of other things and keep our private sex life details private. I am not a Muslim and neither are my four best friends who were raised in N. America, although one of them is originally Lebanese (and a doctor). For those who wish to argue that SATC represents only privileged white  women, let me say that those best friends are white, educated, middle class and one  of them was born extremely privileged. And yet I can say that hardly any professional/non-professional, grounded, intelligent AND truly liberated women, regardless of their colour or ethnicity or financial status, really have the time of the day to get together for gaggly lunches 4 times a week and obsess about men or analyse every inconsequential statement they made. They’re too busy for that. And there are far more interesting things happening in the world than man-obsession. Really.

Message no. 7: “We crave for consumerism and have no clue of what goes behind, nor global realities.” Hey – girls, how about the sweatshops that make your purses or the bonded labourers who work on the construction sites of Abu Dhabi which created the hotel you salivated over?

There will be many bloggers and female reviewers who will gush about the fashion, the hair, the makeup and yada yada yada. I might be having some girly chip missing – I was born without it. Sure, I do groom myself well, and like keeping fit, but I will never, repeat NEVER understand the appeal of garish overpriced designer clothes and shoes and purses (the cost of which could literally save many lives of street children). Last year on a trip to India, I saw the sweatshops where many Italian companies manufacture their sunglasses and purses before they are shipped off to Italy to get the ‘made in Italy’ stamp and then sold in NYC boutiques. We can argue that these provide the locals with jobs. True. But the money you spend ladies to buy those Fendi purses would fund the education and food of 30 street children per purse. I kid you not. 

I’m writing this here because I do know from personal experience and application how little it costs to sponsor those children due to the currency exchange rates. And I support birth control methods too, because I do strongly believe that people should first think of the reality of the quality of life they will offer their children before making them. But regardless, omission of facts does not take away the reality of the sad manufacturing process of luxury items that are touted as ‘status symbols’. The sweatshops are in many other countries too. So, since pictures speak better than words, I decided to include here instead a behind-the-scenes imagery of what or who lies behind the making of your shoes, purses and clothes that grace your arses. And the appalling conditions under which the construction workers who build your luxury hotels in the U.A.E live. Just a reality check, madames. Omission of facts does not omit the truth about the world. And your fake fantasies do not obliterate the realities behind your royalty:

Sweatshop labourer for designer shoe, Vietnam

Gucci purse worker. Earns $1 an hour.

Awareness ad showing the the reality of the Apple I-Pod worker

Designer fabric beading sweatshop, India

United Arab Emirates – the beds of tired construction workers

Here’s an article on  child labourers used in a GAP sweatshop:

On the condition of sweatshop workers for Gucci, Prada and your overpriced status symbols.

And here’s an article on the human rights watch of the construction workers who made your $22,000 a night suites.

And hey, Miranda – maybe you could have represented the real tragedy of these girls instead of Samantha’s ‘pain’ of not being kissed in public.

And do you really want to know what goes on behind the fur industry of brand name products as well as cheaper stores? Fur, that Samantha you laughingly wore in the first movie, to feel sexy, and that Carrie and Co. have consistently touted since day one of their TV series that brought back a revival of fur products into city stores through the free advertising they provided? Take a gander with Stella McCartney here who shows the torture and literal anal electrocution of innocent animals whose fur is used for many designer (and non-designer) label clothes.  But perhaps it will make you consider how truly evil women who see fur as sexy and fashionable really must be to knowingly adorn this.  (Unless you’re into bedding those who knowingly endorse the skinning alive of mammals.) There are many alternative warming products available instead of fur. (And this has been long known in the fashion industry and still continues! and is furthermore promoted by our ‘fab-four’ throughout the series and in the first SATC film and their star-struck followers. Remarkable, truly mind-rapaciously remarkable!)

If you also wish to see the unbelievably evil skinning-alive-for-fur video that Vogue and other high-fashion authorities have tried to bury please read this post, where there is the facebook link of the video that fashion houses do not want you to see: Literal skinning alive of innocent animals. Warning: That video is too gut-wrenching especially the end. Do NOT watch if you are squeamish.

If anyone has some sense of ethics or humanity and rationality in the world, I challenge them to read these, watch the links and then go and watch the movie and then realize just how nauseatingly hedonistic and heartless it seemed. I will be writing a separate post one day on the purse sweatshops I saw run for Italian designers. I want to say to the ladies in privileged countries: we cannot change many conditions, especially for those who were born due to their bad luck into poorer and sadder places, but what many  women in N. America CAN do, is nag and complain a little less, be more aware of global issues instead of their ‘princess attitude’, and stop this hedonistic consumerism that subsists on a slave society of letting the less fortunate slog for your luxuries. And unless you’re so heartless that you endorse the skinning alive of animals not much different than your dog and cat (and including dogs and cats in many countries), STOP buying fur! And shopaholic women – stop wishing  your husbands to become man-servants and instead make them more aware of realities other than your whiny dinner cancellations. And most of all, stop using sex as a negotiation game.

[If you really want to see the end product of what you are promoting here – Charlie Brooker looks at the mini-narcissist ‘princesses’ who have been produced by their mothers in the show Super Sweet 16.

Perhaps you will now see how this ‘harmless fun’ & ‘biased misogynistic reviews’ as some rabid women defenders of the film termed this hedonism as is nothing more than a new form of globalized slave society. I would feel more enraged that real misogyny and torture of child workers is not considered by these so-called ‘defenders’ but calling these heartless women out on their emptiness is seen as wrong??!! Wow! ]

Message no. 8: “Male architects are sexy beasts”: Oh boy, the past few years seem to be the comeback era of ‘architect sexiness.’ I had actually written a post on it way before this movie came out: The only somewhat masculine man (who has not been wussified) featured in this movie is a Danish architect who captivates Samantha’s desires. I actually know quite a few sexy Danish architects in real life and their girlfriends are all introverted non-consumerist grounded women who prefer camping and the outdoors to shoe-a-holicism; my ‘sexy Danish architect’ friends said that Samantha is really ‘not their type.’ That those women embody everything about narcissism and consumerism that Danish urban planners and their current culture has tried so hard to veer away from in the last few decades, leading to their present culture of post-consumerist moderation, eco-sensitive planning and an emphasis on happiness based on less, not more. In fact they were a bit embarrassed by ‘the sexy architect’ stereotype that they get stuck in. “It’s just a fantasy for the American ladies” said one. “They would find us too quiet and frugal if they knew us. And that we don’t want to change to fit into their unrealistic expectations.”  “The reason the architect in the film wanted to fuck her on the beach is because, as a Dane, spending $22,000 on a hotel suite would seem just too much of a waste,” said another. There you have it ladies – your ‘Lawrence of the Labia’ as Sam gushes out doesn’t crave for you enough to pay for even a bed for your booty.

Sorry ladies, I’m not done with my dose-of-reality yet. The sexiest Danish architect by far, creator of the Sydney Opera House, Joern Utzon was happily married to his childhood sweetheart till his death. And a recent extremely popular ‘young sexy Danish architect’ (who shall remain unnamed here for his privacy) had a long-time very sweet, beautiful and highly intelligent girlfriend who makes documentaries to outline human rights injustices and prefers bicycles and camping to anything that remotely resembles the activities Sam & friends partake in. And he is a fan of some really good literary works, reads the philosophy of Nietzsche and is a fan of film maker Charlie Kauffman and Christopher Nolan, all several cuts above the Suzanne Somers book you read and the movies you promote. So there ladies – I’ve given you a reality check of what the sexiest amongst male architects really prefer. Most male architects are quasi-schizoid and are so darn busy with work, they are lucky and grateful when they can maintain one steady relationship and are quite faithful to their partners. The same applies for the ‘sexy women architects’ too ;-) Selfish consumerist Casanovas are not our cup-of-tea either. Perhaps it is a telling message when the above mentioned Danish architect in the movie reminds Samantha that sometimes it is more alluring when a woman waits and shows some restraint.

AFTERTHOUGHTS: Ok – so the series was quite funny and the first film had some ‘girly-bonding’ substance. (Sorry – I’m not the girly-bonding type– never was, never will be, and my girl friends are individualists, but I can understand the necessity of female-bonding for most women. (Unfortunately  I belong to the INTJ personality-type on the Briggs-Meyers, only 0.005% women are. To the woman who found this ‘offensive’ (?) and sent me personal attacks on the comment section of my post, please know – we were the introverted girls in school who were bullied and left out of groups (and double if we looked nice). Finding our ‘type’ was probably one of the first steps to feeling normal for many INTJ girls. Here’s a link – so you know where our ‘self-confidence’ comes from : ) But as I looked at these ladies grinding out on their over boiled franchise, I thought there is something called the last bow, you know….. it was better to gracefully take the last bow when the going was good than to end up as the ‘last ho’.

And hey – to those supporters of this clueless consumerist propaganda who might think I am some angry ungroomed  unfashionable radical ‘feminist’ – here, pictures speak louder than words. And yes, I have lived and worked in many cities of the world and am not some clueless backwoods girl. London, Paris, Milan, U.A.E – seen it all. As for my knowledge of the U.S. – I lived in Miami for two years, I’m in Cambridge for two years, and will be in Chicago for this summer and then am moving to NYC’s upper east side this fall for the next several years.  And have traveled extensively around many states of this great country, my Canada’s southern neighbour. So I do speak from experience and am not doing any illegitimate lashing at the superficiality promoted in the film. (And also, to that girl who had ‘issues’ against all posters, and while ignoring the 10 pages of sensible stuff I wrote, got belligerent at me  for posting my photo on my own personal site – deal with it.  I refuse to engage in your cyber – ‘challenging’. Lady, if  I really wanted publicity I’d have used my actual name and much better photos since I’ve also done print modeling. And I’d have name-dropped my forefathers well-known in  the poltical histories of  Britain & Sweden. I rather enjoy this anonymity. Have been the silent-behind-the scenes-politically-correct-do-gooder far too long to keep silent and invisible any more, and probably the consumerism touted in this film was the last straw on this camel’s back to speak up.)

You know what feels rather “empowering” to me, Fab-4 ladies? That there are other roads too. When you have made it in a traditionally man’s field through your own hard work and education & because you love your work; When you walk on a site as an architect and conduct yourself with dignity and rationality, in a way that every construction worker and site engineer treats you with RESPECT and not as some easy sex-object; and when you have not discarded femininity in appearance even as towers that define a city’s skyline based on your drawings get built. When you are aware of the inequalities that occur in the world and do your best to help in small ways. How’s THAT for women’s lib, eh? And hey- you DON’T need any overpriced designer-wear nor  indulging-in-male-bashing nor hundreds of lovers  for that.

(Those who wish to know more about what women architects go through, click here: where sexism is part of the architecture Just to know how tough it is to get to the point of building towers. And if you think the problem is men, you’re wrong. As strange as it may sound, the truth is, it’s not men, it’s also women in various self-righteous ‘councils’ and even radical feminist groups who neither promote, nor write about nor let women architects or engineers be more visible in the media : Sex and the Starchitect. In fact, a sincere thanks to the brilliant Christopher Nolan – that for the first time someone (he) wrote and created the character of a smart self-assured woman architect in a movie: Inception. I still have to see any woman screenwriter write of a woman engineer or architect.)

I’ve always questioned – Why should femininity be compromised for feminism? And I think femininity goes far deeper than touting overpriced garish outfits. I do love to cook, and see nothing demeaning about it at all. Yes, I do know how to make coq-o-vin, Carrie.  And speak French too. And think that when a man I love comes home tired after a long day at work, just as he sometimes likes to give me a foot rub on his own when I’m tired, I like to massage his stressed neck and back too instead of whipping him to pamper every whim of mine or accompany me to parties where you can have fun but he cannot even talk to another beautiful  lady because of your insecurity. Because, real love and caring comes with empathy and genuine warmth and being secure and confident at an intrinsic level– something all the ‘vintage Rolexes’ and designer couture and giant-diamond-bribes can’t buy. And Ms. Carrie & Co.– I am OK being a no-nonsense person. Both when with and without a man. Without the need for brand labels. And knowing not just what makes stunning interiors and tall buildings, but what goes on behind the scenes in the lives of the construction workers, the stone quarry workers in far out lands where the granite you walk on comes from, the math behind structural engineering that hold up the towers you show in your opening scenes, and the intricate cycle of production and consumerism and economics and infrastructures. It’s called being a REALIST. And I salute  all the grounded, hard working,  rational, kind-hearted, self-assured, realist women in N.America and around the world, ’cause to me – that’s undeniably  authentically sexy.

Stick that up your labia, for a change ‘stead of those hormone creams. And you’ll realize that perhaps the key to sexiness comes from within. And needs only its own validation of authentic self-affirmation and self-acceptance to operate and bring intrinsic pleasure and joy. Whether your vagine’s virginal or ‘vintage’ (to use Carrie’s ‘in’ word).

Dig Dignity, you know. Often, that’s what represents the It, the je ne sais quoi, the Sexiness that is timeless.

And hey, just for the record – you got that from the mouth of a ‘sexy architect’. I’m sure even the sexiest of Danish architects you lust after would agree with all the facts and realities of life I’ve outlined here ;-)

*  *  *

Sidetracked Alert: To get that consumerist fantasyorgy out of my head, I just watched once again the Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy Before Sunset– probably the most realistic, romantic, grounded beautiful and dignified sequel ever made by an American independent film maker. And just to remind myself that there are still some women out there who can decipher fakeness from authenticity, I read these two witty, grounded, and oh-so-true articles written by Dr. Palmatier – You are Not a Princess (click here) & Blahniks for Selfish Chicks (click here.)

Finally – Some Sense in this City, indeed!

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(1) For a post on the lack of role models for young girls in the media today :

(2) Do architects think of sex too much? Sex and the Starchitect :


(4) Thoughts on the relativity of happiness….This too shall pass.

(5) I’d rather go for the Monty Pythonesque Silly Walk than endorse the hideous YSL/Gucci/Prada Vogue-endorsed deigner purses made out of skinned alive animals for their fur : Saltationism of Silliness

*  *  *

NOTE: I’m non-religious (and more a scientist & rationalist) and do not think ‘values’ of rationality or ethics are tied to religion per se.

Elementary, Dr. Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930)

22nd MAY is a date I have never forgotten since my 9th birthday. Because six months before at the age of eight and a half (remember how kids never forget to mention the ‘half’ in their ages?) I had been bitten by the sleuth the man born on 22nd May had breathed life into through his pen.

There was no Wikipedia when I was 9. You had to make do with libraries, encyclopedia and book stores to find the biography of any person you found interesting. Or ask your parents and older uncles, cousins or siblings. Except for an uncle, no one was as crazy as I was about the man born on 22nd May 1859.

From what I would read of him in the one-page biography in the cover of each of his books – he sounded incredibly versatile. A medical doctor, an avid sportsman of cricket, golf and football, the introducer of skiing in Switzerland as a sport, inventor of the army helmet and the naval life-jacket, an activist against miscarriages of justice if innocent men had been wrongly imprisoned, and a pretty darn good writer of books on historic romances (Brigadier Gerald), an adventurous science fiction Professor (Prof.Challenger) and of course, my first platonic infatuation/muse (before my first crush on the logical Mr. Spock) – the eternal, eccentric, brilliant, one and only and possibly the most famous fictional detective of all, Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

By the time I was 13, I had read and re-read every single one of the short stories and the full-length novels of Holmes, memorised “facts” about his life, been depressed over the fact that I was too young to join the “Sherlock Holmes secret society” and read every other book his creator had ever written. I was in love with Holmes, but more so I was in awe of the man who created him: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

I did not believe in astrology at all, and was much more invested in astronomy, but in this case I was suddenly fiercely proud that I shared the same sun-sign as Doyle. (A Geminian – as I’d later find out that Steffi Graf, Bob Dylan, Prince, Blaise Pascal, M.C. Escher, Anne Frank, Walt Whitman, Herge (the creator of Tintin – in fact same day as Doyle b. 22 May), Ian Fleming (James Bond’s creator, b. 28 May), J.F.K., Frank Lloyd Wright, Natalie Portman and of course quite a few other people also are/were.) But Doyle was so far removed from my present time that a sun-sign seemed like a good though weird common point. Of course years later I’d find that Conan Doyle had his weaknesses – he held sexist beliefs typical of his time, did not support the women’s suffrage movement, despite being very close to his  mother, and most unfathomable of all actually believed in fairies! But darn – could he write!! (though I wonder how confused I’d have become had I known these other facts about him much earlier.) I not only loved the stories of Holmes, I had  faithfully soaked in everything from dates, to addresses to character names. Even the featured names of the dogs that helped him. I even had a Sherlock Holmes quiz book. I wished I could travel back in time to the period when he lived and meet Sherlock and ask him to make me his apprentice. I wrote an essay on Conan Doyle for a school report. (You can see why there was a reason I was called the Victorian Geek.)

Many years later in my 20s when my French boyfriend would write in one of his opening love letters that he wished he and I would have “adventures like Conan Doyle” (true story – he was an avid fan too and instead of writing some mushy moon-and-roses-wish, he wrote an “you-and-I-can-have-adventures-like-Conan-Doyle” line,) he melted my reserve to move to the east coast to join him – in retrospect that was the degree of faith I had in the power of Doyle.  (It’s quite another story that the closest we did get later to any “Conan-Doyle-adventures” was just that many people including sitarist Ravi Shankar would nickname that boyfriend ‘Conan’ due to his partial physical resemblance to the ‘Conan’ of  Schwarzenegger. Albeit, in reality, he looked closer to Dolph Lundgren.)

But what more can I say? Anyone who’s been sucked into the stories of Doyle knows that power of plot lines and mysteries, knows his tremendous skill and most of all the fantastic clarity and style through which he pioneered the “science of deduction” through Holmes’ character. The logic,  the methods, the reliance on evidence and facts, on groundwork – the brilliance of Sherlock Holmes had won me mind and heart and soul. He was even more eccentric, weird, bohemian than the stoic Mr. Spock who would appear in the Star Trek re-runs.

While my classmates would dote on rock stars and sportsmen, I  held my torch for Holmes and Spock. My best friend at that time in my adolescence got jealous as hell when I announced that some day I would grow up and marry Holmes and not him. “How can you like both the futuristic Spock and the Victorian Holmes at the same time? That’s too paradoxical,” he pouted. In 2009 I almost squealed in delight when Zachary Quinto as the new Spock spouted the line: “An ancestor of mine maintained that if you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” I felt like jumping up and down and wishing I could go back in time and tell Steffen – See Holmes IS Spock’s ancestor – so it DID make  perfect sense why I loved them both!! That same logic, the scientific mind, eccentricity, deep emotion underneath calm rationality, insanely brilliant, versatile, an oddball….I knew my “type” even back then!

Anyway, this is a post I wanted to write as an ode to the  fascinating Conan Doyle. There is a ton of information about him out there. A good book that I’d read of him long back was The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – The Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes by John Dickson Carr. And this is a good detailed site about him :

And for some of the best quotes of Holmes, Wikiquote has done a good job here:

“Any truth is better than indefinite doubt.” – Sherlock Holmes

I still have the book that Steffen gave me the Christmas before he returned back to Germany.  He would die 6 years later. Ours was a story filled with a deep childhood friendship and innocent love and tragedy –  unfortunately due to the deliberate malice of a person who hid his letters. It is a long story and one which will never be placed on the screen of a computer. 

That was the last Christmas we would spend together. He had scouted  the stores to find a book of the quotations of Sherlock Holmes. After considerable mulling and deliberation we decided that our favourite was this rather objective one: “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.We each wrote it down on a piece of paper and  carried  it around in our pockets at all times, feeling very wise and solemn. 

Though as life goes by, I think this one contains much wisdom: Everything in this world is relative, my dear Watson.” And many years later I had the immense pleasure of working on a few projects with a brilliant structural engineer who was arguably one of the best in the world. When I asked my architectural mentor why he’d always pick the same engineer even though he was so busy and reclusive, his reply brought back the old chills of the clear cut words of my fictional hero: “When you want the best, you pick the best. And if you don’t do it right the first time, it’ll have problems sooner or later. As Holmes would say: “Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself. But talent instantly recognizes genius.” I may not be a genius, but at least I have talent. And the talent to know that that man I want is a genius.”

And last year when I visited the newly opened Sherlock Holmes museum at 221B Baker Street, which had not been established during my years in London, I soaked in every nook and corner of the apartment, every artifact and iconic  item and got lost once more in my pre-teen years when the thrill of the stories of possibly still the world’s greatest detective had enthralled and bewitched me, and transported me into a time of horse carriages and cobble-stoned alleyways, sinister murderers and corseted ladies, Watson and Hudson, Mycroft and Moriarty, and a period of Victorian London and other lands that were immortalised forever in the pages of a physician whose imagination and quest for the logical science of deduction had given the world one of the most intriguing and analytical characters of all time. Happy 151st birthday, Dr. Doyle.

Holmes - as Doyle & Sidney Paget had visualised him

Holmes – as Doyle & Sidney Paget had visualised him

Holme's bedroom in 221B Baker street

Holme’s’ bedroom in 221B Baker street

The Baker street living room with an actor playing Dr. Watson

Sherlock Holmes wax figure on the 3rd floor

The revolver from 'The Solitary Cyclist'

The revolver from ‘The Solitary Cyclist’

The famous lens of the detective.

The famous lens of the detective.

Outside the door of 221B Baker street with the trademark ‘deerstalker’ cap and the ‘pipe’ with my friend who works for the museum and plays the role of the ‘policeman’.

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Documentary Heaven

This is one of the coolest websites I have come across : Documentary Heaven

For those who are more inclined towards gaining information, insights, facts and the ‘film’ version of non-fiction books. It covers various diverse categories from Archaeology, Economics, Environment, Human Rights, Physics, Psychology,  Space Science,  Sport & Adventure and a whole lot more.

Talking of the last category a big congratulations to a friend of mine for  many years Nethra Raghuraman (pronounced Netra) who is hosting a new documentary series on adventure sports and aircraft for the National Geographic channel. Nethra is not only an adventure-sports participant herself, but is an Industrial Psychology magna-cum-laude graduate who on a lark had entered an international L’oreal modeling contest years back and not only became its winner but later she chose to leave the catwalks of Paris (based on her own observations of  the industry) and participated in art and independent films instead.

Nethra Raghuraman – psychologist, model, actress, animal rights activist

One of India’s topmost supermodels (where she feels you have more control over your appearances and choices than in agency-based modeling) and a regular on the runways both there and in New York and Paris, she chose to select film projects which had more independent directors instead of  the hackneyed Bollywood song-and-dance routines. This limited her choices, but she still chose her personal principles and ethics over giving in to more marketable strategies. Her most significant role was in the critically-acclaimed Bhopal Express (A David Lynch presentation which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival) which went on to snag 7 awards in the festival circuits including a best-actress award for her  and was based on the true story of one of the largest industrial catastrophes caused by human callousness of the Union Carbide plant resulting to a death toll of upto 15,000 people (both immediate and the aftermath of the  leaked poisonous gases.) When I went to watch the movie in a Montreal Art Film Festival in 2000, the line-up for the tickets was 6 blocks long (I’m not kidding.) And while I had known her even before her modeling days, it was wonderful to see that that young, shy, intelligent teenager I knew who was still coming to terms with her growing height at 5′-10″ and fluffy lips had years later transitioned into this elegant, sensitive artist. Unlike most other women in this field of work, she does not enter into self-promoting campaigns and does not even bother to maintain a home page. And even after featuring on the cover of Vogue Asia (she’s the one  kneeling on the left) still remains as  grounded as she has always been. I particularly liked an observation she once made : “I’d read somewhere that things are to be used, and people loved. But strangely and sadly you find in this world that so often things are loved and people used. What a reverse world we live in!” Congratulations, Nethra on hosting your new gig. And for waiting  and turning down other numerous offers till it was for a channel as informative as National Geographic. Thank you for being a woman of strength, beauty (in and out) and intellect (and I wish more interviewers would ask you about your education, insights and philosophical musings, rather than the usual cliched questions.)

Netra hosting the series for the National Geographic channel.

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A documentary on Nietzsche : Human all too human and Beyond Good and Evil.

And now, moving on to something else, particularly to one of my (and my mother’s) favourite philosophers – Friedrich Nietzsche. (And much to my embarrassment, my paternal great-grandfather, an archaeologist who adored his work used to copy his style of moustache.) While writing on Nietzsche would deserve a separate post altogether, since documentaries-are-the-topic-du-jour here, I am enclosing one taken from the link mentioned above. For more on his philosophy here is a wiki article : although the best way is to read his books, of course. One of the best aspects of Nietzsche is  that unlike some other proponents of individualistic independent thinking, he never seeked any followers nor believed in cult-tactics (in fact he abhorred it) to impose his ideas upon others. He wrote for himself and for the personal joy of his ideas , reflections and observations. And no, he was NOT anti-Semitic, quite the reverse. The above mentioned moustachioed grandpa was Jewish so I do know what I’m talking of. Even the wiki article clearly states the facts. I do like the works of the mathematician-philosopher Bertrand Russell, but the introverted, introspective Nietzsche was definitely a man who was a true individualist of his time, for which he paid a lonely price. There are many insightful and powerful quotes of Nietzsche but one of my favourites both for its brevity and wisdom is :“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

I will soon be starting a series about people termed as rationalists and secular humanists and thinkers (and the first post lined to be up soon is on Richard Dawkins) but in many ways, in the school of philosophy and rational thinking, Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the pioneers of asking this line of  rhetoric,  as well as questioning widely -followed-irrational-mass-belief-systems.  And he knew quite well back then that he would be in a minority.

This particular documentary shows more of Nietzsche’s human side and weaknesses, a ‘truth’ that I have often been in conflict with about many creative artists and writers and even leaders I have liked. I found (a truth my mother had told me long back but I would find too hard to digest) that often the creative/artistic output of a man/woman (painter, musician, writer etc. who is not engaging in any moral-code-preaching but purely creating works for his/her own indulgence) should not be judged by but rather be viewed independently of his/her human fallacies (i.e.’weaknesses’ that did not include any violent tendencies, of course, but rather the softer limitations and follies of human nature.) It was one of the hardest truths I have had to accept over time and life; and in some ways to learn from my own fallacy of overt optimism in  the logic or kindness of humanity or rather lack thereof; and perhaps the reason why in my own life I still adhere to following a measure of personalised integrity and ethics as honestly and as steadfastly as I can. As Nietzsche says : “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” Now that’s an objective observation I can live with. And in today’s world, where the patterns of consumption, production and existence are too intricately tied and criss-crossed to be untangled, this thought of his, though impossible if one wishes to maintain both the practice of practicality and humility, still remains a liberating dream-reality: “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.The first part of the statement is the observation. The second is the process or the price. And the third is the prize, if only for one’s own sense of self, but truly one of the best gifts  you can give yourself. Should you choose to, of course.

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A Heartfelt Comment


I have to confess that a reader recently wrote something so touching with such a level of understanding, it truly moved me. So I thought I should post his comment. The actual thread is here, in the comments of a previous post. It was based on gender-stereotyping in our society when it comes to the way men perceive women as ‘naming colours.’ I felt that as an architect, structural engineer and designer who has worked in the field for over 10 years, I could see that stereotypes such as this end up affecting those technical-brained minority of women who DO work in the engineering and construction industry and are not the caricatured ‘girly airhead’ that a lot of people would like to portray ‘women’ as.  The debate also was about the ‘male-brain’, the ‘female-brain’ and colour perception. My reference to the ‘gender’ of the brain was based on an interesting study by Cambridge professor of Developmental Psychopathology Simon Baron-Cohen on the ‘brain-wiring’ of those with ‘Aspie’ qualities. I was interested in his work on finding my own extremely high brain-systemizing quotient through his tests when I found after many years that the reason why I was interested since childhood more in those activities and occupations that are generally done by men, amongst many other characteristics, to be linked to traits seen in Asperger’s (the somewhat socially naive ‘inventor’-type Aspie, not the severely socially challenged type.) My brain systemizing quotient is 66/80. ‘Normal’ men according to Cohen have a score at ‘30’ and ‘nomal’ women have it at ‘24.’ Hardly any women at all have their “brain systemization” that high. Thankfully I  scored in a very high range on the ‘empathy quotient’ too, which meant that the ‘extreme-male-brain’ or the ‘picture-thinking’ which is my usual way to process information  had not come at the compromise of more ‘softer’ qualities. For more on Cohen’s book:

Both radical feminists AND some geek-girls (as I sadly found out) can be ruthless to those women who have chosen not to give up softness & style yet retained a sharp intellect.Its an either/or approach for the bashers.

But despite having been interested and involved in those activities and occupations that have traditionally been ‘male’ (engineering, architecture, mountaineering, flying), yet being outspoken – and not docile – to assertively say what I think, I have never believed in compromising my femininity or ‘softness’ in looks or poise. Nor given up my love for cooking, nurturing, painting or even knitting for that matter, or those traditionally ‘feminine’ hobbies that can be practiced in solitude and alone. And unfortunately I found that this has few takers both amidst radical feminists and even amongst certain ‘geek-girls’ who I thought would be less complicated but found out sadly that that isn’t always the case. I do not believe in the ‘man’ifying of womanhood or changing my biological hormones or chromosomes to act outwardly as some gender that I am not. And although I have always preferred rationality and logic over emotion in my choices and thinking, I do not believe in the ‘extreme’asization  of sexes and mannerisms or the either/or approach which seems to be the way both traditional and radical schools of thoughts and/or movements seem to promote.

In any case, what touched me incredibly is this writer’s empathy at the end of the comment. To know what strength it does require to maintain individuality without losing integrity. Especially for the women in architecture. So I decided to put this up.

Here is the comment:

“.….This(a reference to another comment terming “nothing inherently male” about computers, math or technology) fails to provide a complete survey of the entire landscape. From a biological perspective, there doesn’t seem to be inherent or biological differences between males and females on these fronts. If we lived in a world free of socially constructed gender roles, the chances of any given male or female infant growing up to be a mathematician, scientist, architect, or computer whiz would be theoretically equal. Well, we don’t live in a world like that. Little girls aren’t encouraged to go into these fields as readily as little boys. In many cases, they’re told that boys are better at math, and research on stereotype threat has demonstrated that these kinds of stereotypes actually lead to exactly the kinds of deficits that they tout. The stereotypes are self-fulfilling in that way. They lead to anxiety and stress, and contribute to their victims underperforming their male peers on math and science tests, undoubtedly sending many careening off into careers more “typically female.”
Just because we want something to be true (socially constructed stereotypes don’t exist, and have no adverse effect on women) doesn’t mean it is.

The fact that I point to these socially constructed gender roles as impediments to females’ success, does not mean I support them. (though I realize that there is a certain brand of feminist who love to kill the messenger if there aren’t any other worthy targets in the vicinity.) My point being that because of the extra barriers to entry for women trying to enter predominantly male fields, the ones who do make it would tend to be most qualified, the high achievers, the outliers. I will come back to this point in just a minute.

Men also have to subscribe to assigned stereotypes. Until recently, it was difficult to find many men working in the fields of nursing or teaching kindergarten (the nurturing professions) as these fields were, and still are to a large extent, seen as the province of women. And it’s still the case that most US courts will favour the mother in divorce/custody cases, as it’s assumed that children would be better off with their mothers, who are thought to be the inherently better parental option. You won’t see many men showing up to work with lipstick, or a nice blush to compliment their ties, or carrying purses. Nor will you be likely to find groups of men forming knitting clubs. There is nothing inherently female about any of the above activities – there’s no biological reason why I shouldn’t tote a nice purse around – yet, there exists a strong gender delineation there. The difference here is that my life won’t be adversely affected if I can’t throw some eyeliner on tomorrow morning before I head into the office. This is a gendered custom I can afford not to challenge. But what of the woman who is a natural born systems analyst or architectural engineer? Considering all of the obstacles that woman would have to break through, starting in childhood, to “make it” into and to the top of these fields, should we really expect that she wouldn’t be an outlier, that she wouldn’t be a somewhat atypical female? I can almost hear the feminist hive mind buzzing as I write this: “Typical female! The nerve!” I submit: Stephanie Meyer is not a multimillionaire because boys are lining up for her books, nor is the value of any modern sports franchise dependent on the burgeoning interest of young girls. Whether the forces that led to these differing interests are “inherent” or not is essentially irrelevant.

Some women, against all odds, are able to buck the stereotypes. Gipsy Geek works in an extremely male- dominated field. In order for her to have built a career for herself there, she would have to endure far greater hazing than any of the men did. Additionally, if she is as stunning as those eyes might suggest, then the hazing must have been doubly worse. I realize it’s terribly un-PC, but one issue that isn’t spoken of enough in regards to gender stereotyping, is that specific flavour of bias faced by intelligent and talented women who are beautiful and sexy, but not slutty, and who don’t downplay their feminine sides. To be able to hold on to this brand of feminine identity AND be successful in a male dominated field takes an immense amount of strength. And I, for one, think this should be rewarded, especially by other women, because if there is any hope of us breaking free of these deeply embedded gender myths it will only be through the example of women who are willing to stand alone.    – D

Reader who wrote this – I cannot thank you enough – it really brought a lump in my throat and all I can say is thank you for nailing the isolation I have often faced. People think it is easy. It is not.  Often if you have too many interests, you will never ‘fit’ nor be accepted in any one group. And somehow this becomes doubly difficult if you are a woman who has not compromised femininity entirely for feminism. Few men understand the strength it takes to keep going. And women, even if they understand it, resort to more envy and back-stabbing than loving support. Thank you reader, for your insight and empathy. My reason for placing your comment is  both for its wisdom about gender roles and out of gratitude.

And thanks to him, I received an apology, by someone whose intentions were good, but who had misunderstood. And hers was  a true, genuine misunderstanding compared to what I had  faced earlier and later by a bunch of girls who I mistakenly thought I was defending but found sadly that you will be accepted in certain geek-girl groups only if you go all the way and maintain a dorky appearance and are no threat to the geek-narc-queen. I found even in girl-geekdom intense territoriality and  a vicious brand of intellectual-competition-and-annihilation (that could put even girly girls to shame) exists and women who flock around the ‘geek-King’ can be incredibly vicious in their power structure and politics and display a peculiar form of ruthless unempathetic cerebral NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) and backhanded politics. Perhaps those who are bullied for being geeks turn cyber-bullies instead? Or maybe the true measure of character at the end just comes down to goodness and ethics that hearts contain, and how secure you are with yourself – whether one is a geek or a non-geek.

I am finished defending any ‘group.’ And choose individuality. Yet. Again. And  men and women who are similar to me. Or those women who understand the value of the blend between feminism and femininity. And goodness. And for those who wish to term self-respect as pride, frankly my dears, I don’t give a damn. You are only proving Freud’s projection theory true. Multi-dimensionality and paradoxes have few takers in the world, and even fewer supporters. Sad, but true.

And those who can’t stand multi-dimensionality in others, deal with it. Take your group bullying and cyber-harassing/blocking/virusing/ganging elsewhere. You’re up against one that has climbed many rocky cliffs before.  In real life. And is not afraid of her strength nor her curves. And may I point out, that there is a difference between strength and power. A secure woman stands for the former. The bully uses and salivates for the latter. And therein lies the difference. Whatever the form or disguise. Real strength comes from within. It needs no followers and is self-sufficient, self-generative. Conversely, ‘power’ from controlling others. It craves for followers for its sustenance. So women who wish to engage in power plays, take it elsewhere. Please. This is my cliff. And it has no foothold for those who are insecure and manipulative.

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Sidetracked Alert : I have been a long-time advocate against female bullying and had written a well-received piece about it in  the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph a few years back. But to learn more about bullying go here – the site run by a no-nonsense Bill Maher-loving & Rene-Magritte loving say-it-as-it-is Dr. Palmatier. For a book on female bullies from school to office – a good book – here. There is also a good book on female politics at work: Nan Mooney’s  ‘I can’t believe she did that : Why women betray other women at work.’

Also to introverted girls in school (the Lisa Simpsons and similar ones) who have faced bullying before, I want to say: Those who will criticize you one way or the other, that is a form of using their positions of power. To them you have to say- ‘Your approval neither needed nor desired’.  One of the hardest yet most liberating things of life is to learn to say : “I do not wish to engage in giving  those bullies even a single minute of my time, nor the space of even a neuron in my brain.” But getting to this stage is absolutely worth it. The weirdness of life is that when you play a victim (whether you really are or not) you will have more people being understanding. But if you find inner strength and self-affirmation through your own introspection and effort, it will be termed as ‘pride.’ Maybe it is just ‘self-respect’ and ‘self-reliance’?  Women complain ‘there are not enough girls with healthy self-esteem’ – but when one comes along, there will be lengths taken to shoot that person down. (Translation of the shooter’s stance: ‘I, alone, am the example of a woman with self-esteem and I will help only those who come to my fold and who cannot threaten my superiority and affiliation with powerful men. Any other will be seen as a threat, and I shall not rest till she has been demolished.’ ) This is another form of bullying although it is disguised in more covert ways. And so women still will unfortunately largely remain the ones who will not let other self-assured women come to the surface. It is a sad truth of life which has to be accepted, but girls in high school reading this, remember that self assurance is the key to not suffer the consequences of bullying. As Eleanor Roosevelt said : ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’ And if it still continues, here’s another quote of her (where I’ve replaced ‘heart’ with ‘brain.’): “Do what you feel in your brain to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”

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because sometimes we all need to ‘lighten’ up and ‘shake hands’ after ‘rotating knives’ and yelling out the frustrations of a ‘struggling artist.’

Unfortunately, the only video available with the entire sketch has Swedish subtitles. But unless you read Swedish, it’s not too distracting. Also, never have an upper floor office without having a bucket of water in a corner handy.

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Sidetracked Alert : For a simple approach to sketching through life and learning, check out ‘101 Things I learned in Architecture School.‘ And yelling like Cleese certainly wasn’t one of ’em, although  we wish we had – but that’s the old school way that could get you in trouble these days for being ‘politically incorrect.’ Sigh.

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A ‘Colourful’ Message


This is a post I’ve temporarily placed due to all the hullabaloo about the  xkcd colour survey. Please note that I am writing this purely from the point of view of an architect/designer  who has dealt with colour schedules and graphic presentations for many years. It is not about the X and y chromosome controversy Randall faced.

And the following is from the perspective of colour ‘verbalizing’ vs. colour ‘perceiving.’

Just so you know, I’ve been a big fan of  that site for a long time. But I will still question the accuracy when certain conclusions of colour and gender are claimed on softer-data without a background in neuroscience or genetic sex studies.

Another blow in the girl-boy stereotypification by the Doghouse Diaries.(click to enlarge) And you wonder why so many engineers later turn up on the 'Shrink for Men' site after hooking up with BPD/NPD women? When you think 'all women are the same' you end up with the manipulative ones, 'cause you can't decipher the good-hearted ones. Oh, the naivete of geeky men!

Perhaps it’s best for techno-geeks to not give stereotypical qualities to ‘girl’ and ‘boy’  and ‘girl-brains’ and ‘boy-brains’ without a more balanced-across-the-population-cross-section study, though I do understand that the mistake here was made by the DD strip, which was not even scientifically based. If you are stereotyping for fun, then great, and I certainly enjoy the humour – but remember that  non-mushy girls (like myself who have more technical brains and are not too sappy even though we may look quite feminine) are really SO underrepresented in our world that we are really sick and tired of the giggly, vacuous, hyper-materialistic cosmo-girl types representing ‘womanhood’ to the media  or even how girls and boys view ‘colour’. Although, compared to the enforcement of cliches by the D – Diaries, at least the xkcd survey debunked some of the gender-polarity differences. Let me give here my two cents based on a discussion on colour and gender with a real neuroscientist. And why you cannot base ‘expressions and perceptions of color’ solely based on the X and Y chromosome but more on ‘brain – wiring’ and the ‘language-function’, regardless if you are a boy or a girl. Because ‘conclusions’ drawn like that only succeed in leaving out women with technical brains in its quest for girl-boy generalizations.

While the xkcd comparison lessens the gender divide, some stereotypical color names still pop up in the written results by the author (not shown in this graphic), attributing cliched ‘blush’, ‘buttery’ adjectives for women and men ‘stoically’ choosing more ‘macho’ adjectives though these were from the survey. The ‘girly colour-naming’ in his write-up are doing more rounds in countless male sites now than the above graphic. But since the participants included a far larger no. of male geeks, can ‘visual color perception’ be measured on the same barometer as color ‘naming’? Data by those who for instance named various bluish shades as ‘blue’ without naming a variation were not considered. Isn’t there a difference between ‘perceiving differences’ of hue vs. ‘naming’?

Having worked in the design industry for 10 years, the ‘color survey’ Randall Munroe has done is truly a HUGE and very detailed amount of work  (if you see his actual survey on his site.) Of course, all types cannot be accommodated when results are based on averages and/or extremes. I had a fascinating talk on this survey with a social cognitive psychology grad and a Harvard neuroscientist – and we started concluding that the ‘naming’ of colors (and the differences you find amidst the way men and women name) is quite different than actual ‘perception’. And this has to do more with brain wiring and the LANGUAGE-expression vs. hue-saturation PERCEPTION. So while a man (and women with-‘male’-aspie-type-brains, or INTJ on the Briggs-Meyers, like myself) DO see the shade difference, we don’t use the effeminate adjectives like ‘blush’, ‘dusty’ , ‘buttery’etc. to name the shade. We’ll just put them under a ‘red category.’ Similarly women (the more ‘expressive’ types) and gay men – and I do have many dear gay designer friends – will be more creative in the NAMING of the colors – even though the latter have a Y chromosome– although both the more systematizing men and women AND the more verbalizing men and women might or might not be seeing equal variations of the shades and hues. If this survey had been done by 50,000 gay designer men (XY) and 50,000 technical-brained-geek-girls (XX), the results might have been quite something different! And a result that would have put the DD cartoon to shame.

Hence language and hue perception cannot be measured on the same barometer as true ‘color  recognition by the brain’. Basing colour ‘perception and naming’  by individuals also purely on their X or Y chromosome is reductionist if this is seen from a brain scientist’s point of view. Women whose brains are wired more like mathematical men’s even if they have XX will not be as ‘effeminate’ in their expression much like men who do see the hue differences but don’t use too many sappy adjectives. So the ‘non-sappy girl’ (or women who might think in more technical terms and spend less time obsessing about matching-designer-purses) have been dismissed off as ‘noise’ in the rush to prove that ‘women name colours in flowery ways’ (blush, dusk, buttery etc.) and ‘men give macho names’ (penis, gay, wtf. etc.) Oh, the reductionism! But on the other hand, which probably also explains why the readers who are largely geeks – both male and females in the survey results had more equality than the DD strip (which makes me sigh at the latter’s stereotypification).

Since the paint industry is a HUGE one, I wondered what would happen if a similar laborious and exhaustive survey is done in the design and construction industry….since I’ve often pondered on the paradox of choice. And since I’ve seen more women to be ‘sensitive’ to color with their moods. (Or who knows – they might be women with mood swings.) The way that works I find amongst architects and interior designers is: when we choose a color – we generalize the shade when we name it but are completely anal about the NUMBER that each paint company designates for a shade and specify it on our drawings. Then I realized that’s exactly what I do too due to my abnormally high brain systematization quotient (brain-maleness if Simon Baron-Cohen’s tests are taken into consideration). I like naming colors by their number rather than inventing mushy adjectives.

In the architectural world too we all say that we’ll give the numbers to the painting contractor and the flowery names to the lady of the house/ museum curator et al. That’s how we reach a middle ground and everyone is happy. A painting contractor and/or site engineer will understand BM06754 much better than ‘morning pink’ (as a hypothetical example) Or – as in the survey, the RGB values under the shades.

Conclusion: At the end numbers and not ‘words’ turn out to be the most accurate description to depict shades. Regardless of sex or gender-based perception of color. Or color blindness. (Because believe it or not, there are quite a few color-blind architects and interior designers too.) Also when I color plans and  elevations in Photoshop I always make a note of the RGB number for the shade that is being used for consistency. And numbering comes out as the objective resolution. When a client’s wife argues that was not the shade she wanted, we say – but m’am you did pick up BM 03356 and not BM 03357 so that’s what we gave you  ; -) And if the complaints continue – we politely do Rhet Butler’s closing line. You can’t please all the people all the time, as they say….

But regardless of errors in the survey, one of the best results Randall has provided is this uber-geek range of colour names on the screen for colour-blind people, which had been one of his tertiary aims of the survey (and because of which he unfortunately ended up with the x, y question.) With this map and the color pick, you can confidently select shades without having to refer to numbers. Ok – it’s been done before but when you have the cult-leader-of-geekdom do it, it just has far more accessibility. Cheers to that! (P.S. I am not colour blind, but have a couple of friends who are.)

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The geek-guy version of the stereotypification of ‘women’. Darn! Hilarious. And no – all women are not like this.

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(2) The ‘search’ for the rare women who combine beauty, ethics, intellect and femininity with feminism – Racqueting on a grass court

(3) Sex & the Starchitect (A look at how ‘sexiness’ is sadly seen only as the domain of the male architect.)

(4) Thoughts on the relativity of happiness….This too shall pass.

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