Another unsuitable job for a woman…?

IMG_6905It may be because women are  more sensitive, or more prone to need extraneous approval for self esteem, but there certainly seems to be some types of work that make women prone to being depressed and suicidal.

There are endless biological reasons related to hormones that make us more vulnerable at different periods of time.   Men use other resorts like drugs and alcohol to get over the pain. And of course violence. However,  suicide is also technically a very violent act, towards one self. No dearth of women drug abusers or alcoholics either.

But if women can survive being in politics, Sonia Gandhi, Mayawati, Jayalalitha, Sushma Swaraj and so on, possibly one of the least favorable environments for the delicate sensitivities, why is it harder to survive the entertainment business? The recent suicide of Nafisa (Jiah) Khan, a young bollywood actress (25 yrs) , who acted in about three four movies, sent me back into introspection and the differences in profession and how the male or female brains handle them. I remembered P.D. James being warned against being a police detective, homicide, as it was an ‘Unsuitable job for a woman’, she said in an essay with that title. However, from what I know, men and women swoon and throw up at the sight of dead bodies, in medical school and probably in crime sites.

Art comes with its own hang ups- lack of appreciation can kill the art and the artist. Whereas in politics, the drive is not particularly appreciation, it is power. Hence, the people who choose it are either born into it or choose it after long, careful strategic moves that need intense planning. They may be more prepared for the onslaught  that follows, hence better fortified against it. Public figures, in politics and entertainment, expect their dirty laundry to be hung out for people to see. Doctors probably understand they can contract anything infectious from patients, occupational hazards are often known before hand (unless it is a side effect of some chemical or production component).

I kept coming back to this need of being wanted and liked, and for people choosing the entertainment business, of being famous. That seems a more feminine trait, that of being needed and liked, or am I being biased?

Perhaps it is the unpreparedness for fame or shame or even worse of indifference and oblivion, that leads to suicides, in show business. The final attempt to attract attention, or the only decisive way for giving up. I do believe people have a right to their lives and should be allowed to end it, if it becomes even more unbearable than it usually is. Although I am not clear on how to know when that indeed is the only course.

Another young Indian actress,  had been crowned Miss India, Nafisa Joseph, also committed suicide. She was also a Miss Universe runner up. Anchored several MTV shows and seemed intelligent and cogent. It was said that the reason was she had relationship problems. But then, who doesn’t. Ask any victim of domestic violence. How do they find the will to live?In all other accounts  both these beautiful young actresses had a lot going on for them. They thought otherwise, of course.

I am only comparing the will and strength to go on, in a way of life they chose or accept, when I compare victims of ongoing domestic violence and the young actresses who committed suicide, no one can tell from outside who is having a harder time or feeling more lonely.

In India, the young find ever more reasons to kill themselves willingly, so many high school students commit suicide because they see not doing well in an exam an end to what they and their family perceived as the only way to a good life. Not that the older and hardened men are left behind, the millions of farmers who have died at their own hands is a witness to that sentiment.

The end of hope is real for many people, regardless of profession, but maybe the sexes define it differently. Most high school students suicide attempters are probably male, the farmers mostly male as well, that seems to be more family responsibility or honor related.

It is possible that female actresses or models start their careers at  a younger age, than the male counterparts, not really knowing what the whole package proffers, looking at the glitter and the glamor. But all that glitters…

However, Jaya Bhaduri, Dimple Kapadia, Juhi Chawla, Urmila Matondkar, among others made their mark, albeit after a lot of struggle. Others have accepted other roles in life, when they couldn’t make it in movies and grew out of modeling/ singing careers ( Sushmita Sen, Victoria Beckham, Nafisa Ali). Whenever I look at all the child artists, I feel anxiety and fear for their future well being, I don’t know of many who survived through that stage of being in the limelight, into being well rounded human beings with a realistic view of life. Hollywood is full of such stories, be it Fred Savage, or Macaulay Culkin, Britney Spears. Even Charlie Sheen, who was also a child actor, is only obnoxious and self destructive now. So again, it is not really something only females seem to be more vulnerable to. There is a reason it is called show business, it is open to criticism, and one has to be inured to that. Some form of assessment is present in all professions, are doctors and scientists not prone to be categorized into good or bad and successful or not? It may not be tabloids that do that, but in fact, serious criticism in science journals is much more scary. Tabloids and entertainment magazines are known to be rumor mongers and change their mind or lose interest pretty quickly. Unlike scientific journal editors!

Growing up and making something of yourself is very stressful, for everyone. Acceptance of what you have and contentment are even harder to achieve, but without them whatever you achieve will be meaningless. Even an Oscar. Whatever wills the purpose or goal of a life, maybe fate or DNA or upbringing, life is more than a goal or should be. Families can cause and prevent serious depression, isn’t it relationship issues that drive a lot of people to suicide? I don’t know what an ideal support system for people would be, because anything that can make you can also break you into pieces, but I do believe the following poem by Rudyard Kipling says it very well, because in the end, it is you and about you. That’s not being selfish, because even people who live to help others only do it because they like it and are able to do so.

I also believe that’s where writers, poets and philosophers come into our lives, because they can fill the void others have left in us. ( some use religion as well, I am not a proponent but it does have its uses). It does in fact, hold true for both the types of brains.. male and female. Unfortunately, this poem and those thinkers are only for people who survive being young and ambitious and have not witnessed their own children starving, with loan sharks threatening their only source of livelihood. That is the burden for society, for us all.

If, by Rudyard Kipling


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!  ( or a woman! :))

Rudyard Kipling

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