The Benefits of Having Conversations About Topics Other Than Men

by Felicia Singh 

South Asian women are consistently pushed and probed about when they are getting married and to whom. As we grow older and the more we’re pushed, the more we may spend time having these conversations with our own peers, friends, and coworkers. We then place value in our self-worth based on whether or not there is a man in our lives. If we’re tired of being asked meaningless questions like, “When are you getting married?,” why are we pouring meaning into this question and allowing it to seep into every crevice in our lives?

I’ve never been more reflective about the conversations I have versus the ones I don’t until I became drained by the ones I was having. I’m talking about the endless hours of conversation about the guy who didn’t call you back; about the man you loved for years and is now dating someone else; the guy you can’t seem to find the courage to speak to. Think about the last time you were out with your girlfriends. What was the longest part of your conversation about? We sit for hours upon hours picking apart questions like “Do you think he’s interested?” or comments like “I can’t believe he would hurt me this much. I feel like I can’t move on from this.”  

In the end, do we feel any better about ourselves? When we declare time as a “no men zone,” but discuss topics regarding men for a majority of the time, does it mean we’re talking about ourselves? It’s about time to make an active change and challenge ourselves NOT to talk about men during our next ladies’ night out.

This challenge will make you feel more empowered, important, and all around better about that nobody who dumped you or what’s his name that didn’t call you last night. It’s time to ask each other more.

[Read Related: I am Not Married And I am Happy

Here are 5 topics you and your best gals could be discussing right now:

  1. Current career aspirations or failures: Venting frustrations about work, but also bringing great minds together to decide on effective solutions, is important for women to do more often and together. Our careers occupy most of our time during the day and are probably the reason for many of the stresses that we carry around with us. Figuring out solutions to some of your most frustrating career issues with your friends can not only ease stress but can assist in helping you find a new path you didn’t see before. I love sitting with my friends and really delving into how we can make our job experiences better or how we can actively make decisions that positively influence our happiness and career goals.
  2. The presidential candidates: Gun control, women’s reproductive rights, the economy, inequality, and so many more issues are going to be in the hands of the people currently running for president. We may hear enough about our presidential candidates on the news or radio, but understanding where your friends stand in terms of candidates can really open up perspectives you haven’t thought about or you simply didn’t know before. These are the people who are going to make crucial decisions on women’s health and equality. It’s important to get your best gal pals together and talk about what you really need and want for your future.
  3. The girls who shop together, stay together. This might no longer be true if you all don’t budget together, too. Spending is the most difficult part about shopping and it can be a real burden on any woman’s pocket if she does not have a budget. Not only is budgeting important for everyday necessities, but it’s also imperative that we save for our future. I’m not talking about creating a savings account for your future wedding with someone you haven’t even met; I’m talking about a retirement account. Yes, you read that correctly. It may seem odd, but saving for retirement now can mean not working into your 90s. Although the age of retirement may seem far away, it is incredibly important to start saving now before sharing your life with someone else or starting a family. So, spread the love and the next time you get together, talk about what it’s like to manage your spending and how you can save for a more secure future.  
  4. How is your best friend’s mother doing? Talking about family can be a truly therapeutic experience and it’s one we don’t spend enough time discussing with the ones closest to us. Since family is what connects us at our core, and spending time catching up on the well-being of our friends’ families is important because it lets us know how they are doing as individuals. I always appreciate when my friends ask, “How’s your mom? or “What’s the deal with your brother? Did he find a job yet?” Not only does this demonstrate a natural care for my family, but it also communicates that my friends are authentically interested in all parts of my life – not just the details concerning the current guy in my life.
  5. Discussing your health with your friends opens up a window to important political debates that are occurring at the moment. Recently, New York became a leading state in ensuring menstrual pads and tampons are available to women in shelters, public schools, and correctional facilities. To think that a basic necessity hasn’t been available to girls and women in NY and many other states is ridiculous, to say the least. What else don’t we know about the people making decisions for our bodies? Why aren’t we discussing our needs and rights for ourselves? It’s imperative to think and discuss what you can do together to promote women’s health.

Taking time to talk about what is important to you may mean that you need to spend time talking about a relationship, but we are all more than our relationship or lack thereof. We are encompassed by opinions, thoughts, and wonderful ideas that we should be proud to say out-loud in conjunction with talking about our relationships with men. Asking each other more is about rejecting the conversations with people who help create the negative self-worth we may feel in ourselves because we’re not married or because we’re single. Don’t let them win and don’t let yourself believe that your worth is based on whether or not a man is in your life. As women, one part of standing up to this is by asking and being persistent in discussing topics and issues that have nothing to do with men. Challenge the stereotypes of what we ask women by asking each other more.

Felicia SFelicia Singh is a New York City native. She served in the Peace Corps from 2013-2015 in China as a TEFL volunteer. During her service, she created and co-taught her school’s first women’s studies course. She also was the Editor-in-Chief of Peace Corps China’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Newsletter. She holds an M.A. in Adolescent English Education for grades 7-12 and currently teaches in Brooklyn. Her passions include, but are not limited to, discussions on race and diversity, gender equality and feminism, and understanding the balance between a healthy mind and body. 
By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

The Poetry Film Breaking Genres and National Borders

“After so Long” is a poetry film created for Simha’s EP, which is streaming on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music. The poem was collaboratively written by Simha, a U.S. native, and Jae, who is based in India, during the 2020 lockdown. “After so Long” was recited by Simha and their parents. In 2022, I directed and produced the film through my studio, Star Hopper. “After so Long” premiered on Nowness Asia in March 2022.

This film is a worldwide collaboration among trans and queer south-Asian artists from the United States, India and Canada. It was recorded, shot and filmed during the lockdown of 2020 and 2021.

[Read Related: Poetry That Reflects the Fire Inside]

[Read Related: A Bengali Muslim Boy’s Poetic Journey Through Himself]

After So Long (English Translation)

Awake at 10 am but out of bed at noon,
I want to be here where I lose myself in these sheets
Glancing through half-shut eyes
At the gold pressing past my window
The glimmer remarks on the ledge of my bed
But the voices are so loud
Like dust collecting in the corner of my room
I am unaware to why I’m still here
With the chilling doubt of the breeze…
I’m swept into lucidity After so long

Mil rahi hoon mein aaj iske saang barso baad,
(Today, I’ll be meeting them after so long)
Koi paata nahi diya tune
(But with no destination sight,)
Kya karu?
(What should I do?)
Kaha jau?
(Where should I go?)
Shayad agar mein chalne lagoon,
(Perhaps, if I keep walking)
Inn yaadon ki safar mein
(Down this road of memories)
Mujhe samajh mein ayega,
(I will find out)
Yeh rasta kahaan jayega,
(Where this road leads)
Inn aari tedhi pakadandiyon pe baarte hi jaana hai,
(Through the twists and turns of this winding roads, I must keep going on)
Mujhe mil na hain aaj uske saath,
(I wish to meet them today)
Barso baad.
(After so long)

I feel like I’m retracing my footsteps
From these concrete stretches
To broken cement walls
Chips and cracks forge their way for new designs
I see the old abandoned buildings
That once held the warmth of bodies
Now just hold memories
Supporting the nature’s resilience
In vines and moss
After so long

Dhoondli shishe mein jaaga leli hai
(These isty mirrors have offered refuge)
Bikhri hui laatao ne,
(To these scattered vines)
Zameen pe uchi ghaas pe
(Amidst the tall grass stretching from the ground)
Lehrati kamsan kaliyaa
(The swaying little buds)
Bheeni bheeni khushboo bikhereti
(Spreading honeysuckle scent through the air)
Phir wahi mausam,
(I lose myself in reminiscing, the same season)
Wahi dil,
(The same heart)
Baarso baad.
(After so long)
Phir bhi mein chal rahi hoon aaj
(Still, I keep carrying on today)
Khudko khudse milane ke liye
(In the pursuit of my higher self)
Inn galiyo se guzarna hain aaj
(I must pass through these streets today)
Chaalte chaale jaana hai aaj
(I must keep going on today)
Kabhi hum milenge kisi mor paar
(Someday, we’ll meet again, somewhere on this road)
barso baad
(After so long)
Kabhi hum milenge kisi mor pe
(Someday, we’ll meet again, somewhere on this road)
barso baad
(After so long)

[Read Related: How to Follow Your Heart, Even When it’s Hard]


Poem by Simha & Jae
Produced by Star Hopper Studios
Directed by Varsha Panikar
Cinematography and grading by Tanmay Chowdhary
Editing by Asawari Jagushte
Featuring Vaishakh Sudhakaran
Music Production by Simha
Hindi editing by Rama Garimella
Recited by Simha, Rama Garimella, Annaji Garimella
English Translation by Nhylar

The opinions expressed by the guest writer/blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Brown Girl Magazine, Inc., or any employee thereof. Brown Girl Magazine is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the guest writer/bloggers. This work is the opinion of the blogger. It is not the intention of Brown Girl Magazine to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. If you’d like to submit a guest post, please follow the guidelines we’ve set forth here.
By Varsha Panikar

Varsha Panikar (they/he) is a filmmaker, writer and multi-disciplinary artist from India. They are the co-founder of Star Hopper, a … Read more ›

Keeping our Friendships Strong as we Get Older

I organize play dates for my children. They’re friendships remind me of when I was younger when Fridays were consistently set aside for my friends. Now, it seems play is indeed meant for childhood and work is for aging adults. We often can’t find time for ourselves, let alone our friends, who are busy working mothers like ourselves. Or we moved into unreachable corners of this globe, far away from any means of physical communication. It’s fair to say, it’s hard to stay close to friends like when we were in college. Nowadays, it’s easier to travel, but more difficult to bond with others. “My Friend” asserts that we should not end let our friendships fall by the wayside. Even with physical distance and conflicting schedules, we keep our friendships close with kind words on phone calls, regular FaceTime calls, or even encouraging social media comments. Friendship doesn’t end once we become adults.

[Read Related: Connecting my Stories With Those of my mom and Grandma]

My Friend

The turbulent sea of a ticking clock,
A constant chime of chores
Unfolded laundry, unpaid bills.
For unplanned surprises, Life’s infinite stores

An achy neck, a heavy head,
A forever strong of burdens
Fleeting as they may be
Yet as real as my scribbling pens

In this world of lonely battles
Filled with competing souls
It’s you, my friend
Your comforting words, long strolls

Your phone calls, your laughter,
You listening when I’m remiss,
Your steady support,
The source of all my bliss.

[Read Related: 4 Brown Girls Who Write-U.K. Asian Sisterhood Changing the Dynamics of Poetry]

The opinions expressed by the guest writer/blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Brown Girl Magazine, Inc., or any employee thereof. Brown Girl Magazine is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the guest writer/bloggers. This work is the opinion of the blogger. It is not the intention of Brown Girl Magazine to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. If you’d like to submit a guest post, please follow the guidelines we’ve set forth here.
By Mars D. Gill

Mars D. Gill is the author of "House of Milk and Cheese" and "Letters from the Queen". She writes mainstream … Read more ›

Moving on After Breaking up With Your Cat

“Take what you want//Take everything” reflects on a time with my partner and our cat, Layla. It’s a retelling of the chaotic night I adopted her. I didn’t know why Layla hid from me. When I chased her around, it scared her more. “Take what you want//Take everything” juxtaposes our first night, filled with misunderstanding, with the rest of the time we spent together. My fond memories call back to the loving moments Layla and I shared.

Such memories defined us; they reverberated in my partnership. I wonder if my partner, like Layla, only remembers her fear of me, over our shared moments of love. The title, a Kanye West lyric, is an acknowledgment that their happiness together–without me–destroyed my sense of self. When I see their photos, I wonder if I can see myself reflected in their eyes. I wonder if they still keep kind moments of our time together.

[Read Related: Artivist Poem Essay-Studmavati]

Take what you want//Take everything

I remember when she would look at me from behind a laundry basket.

A small simple cat with green owl eyes. She was afraid of her new home and its owner. Shit, I remember the night I got her, she hid under my bed, in the middle just out of my reach for maybe 6 hours, watching me. She didn’t eat anything the entire day. When the night fell I was afraid she’d starve or come out and attack me. I was just scared. I didn’t have a childhood pet, I’m not white, I didn’t know what to do. I picked up the whole bed and yelled that she needed to move. I chased her into the closet with a vacuum cleaner. When she ran in, I called my lover and yelled to her that she wasn’t helping enough, she needed to be there to help me. That was our first day together, me and that cat. No one will ever have that memory but me and maybe her.

It was during Ramadan, my first year fasting.

Our problems had already begun by then. Enough so that I decided to fast and show retribution. I’d try to change into a more patient and understanding self. Like the Prophet (SAW) I guess. To become someone that my lover could feel safe around. Somehow, getting a cat felt like it fit into that picture. I’d be a cat dad, you know, gentle. We’d raise her. I’d fast and become New Again. Maybe I’d wrap an inked tasbih around myself and show I’m a man of God.

I don’t know how a cat remembers fear any more than I know how a lover does.

I know her body stored it. My cat’s must have stored it too. That first night, I wish I could tell her that I was afraid too. It doesn’t make sense that I was afraid really — I’m bigger, more threatening. We don’t speak the same language anyway, so how could I ever tell her? She learned to trust me though, in her own way. Her small bean paws would press on my chest in the mornings. She’d meow to berate me for locking her out some nights, or when I was away from home too long.

She lives with my lover now. They share photos with me, they’re happy together.

I saw my lover once, it was on 55th and 7th, Broadway shined blue performance lights over us. She wore a red sacral dress. She said her mental health has never been better. I think she was trying to tell me that she’s doing well, because she knows I care for her. I don’t think she was trying to say she’s happier without me. We don’t speak the same language. I actually think they are happier with just each other. And I loved them both, so it hurts. Sometimes, not all the time. And it doesn’t always hurt that bad. Other times it does get pretty bad, though. I probably owe it to myself to say that.

I look back at the photos, the ones of our life together, and the ones of their new life.

Two green owl eyes, and two brown moonlit eyes. I look for myself in them.

[Read Related: How Love Matures as you Grow]

By Umrao Shaan

Umrao Shaan is a short storyist, poet, and ghazals singer. You can find his songs on his Instagram. His other … Read more ›