'People underestimate peer pressure'

Comic wizard

It was in mid 30s that changed the course of Radhika Vaz’s life. Till then she was carefree and careless, living life to the fullest, without thinking much about what others had to say. She was happy with her husband and focusing on her career in improvisational theatre. But something was bothering her.

It was the peer pressure to have children. She wasn’t ready for it… somewhere she knew it wasn’t her calling. But societal norms have no room for rebels. Yet, she chose to go by her instinct and declared she will not have children.

“This was the time when I realised I was not doing what was expected of me as a woman. I grappled with this pressure for a long time. Women are conditioned to
behave in the society in a particular way and if they refuse to follow the same path, they face criticism,” Vaz tells Metrolife.

“People underestimate the peer pressure and it is the hardest to face. When I faced it, I started questioning the system and that is how my journey into feminism began,” she adds.

While she understood the core of feminism on her own and continued to take slices from her life and portrayed them on the stage in her popular comedy specials Unladylike and Older.Angrier. Hairier.  She has continued to evolve and surprise. The recent addition to this is a memoir Unladylike (Aleph) where she candidly writes about her early life, insecurities, whirlwind romances and growing up unconventionally in a time when ‘drinking women’ were looked down upon.

 “In late 80s and early 90s these were the issues… but nothing has changed today. Sexuality of women in India is still a secret. Indians don’t hate sex, they hate women who say they enjoy it. This horrible double standard attitude still persists here,”
she adds.

The book chronicles her early childhood days. How she travelled to different Indian states and Iraq. The perils of being a single child and its advantage. Her growing up years and talks that usually happen between teenage girls, and in between several other things.

“I first started writing my life stories in late 2009 to just collect stories of my childhood.  So, I would post them on my blog and when the book contract came, I expanded those stories,” she says.

Vaz is regarded as India’s first stand-up woman comedian and she hopes more women join her league.

“I would like to see more women join this gang of comedians because all one needs to have is personal experience. How you look doesn’t matter. It is all about telling your journey and each one of us have many stories to tell,” she says.

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