Tag Archive | feminism

I’m a woman

I’m a woman. I think. I hate. I lie. I cheat. I’m not a virgin. I’m not a whore. Because, you know, women aren’t either virgins or whores – they are a complex mix of both. We have vices and virtues. We are not White or Black, we are fifty thousand shades of grey. We are complex. We are human. We have urges, as natural as yours. Image

Sometimes, we don’t have them too. You cannot police us. We do not owe anything to you. You do not own us. We are beautiful, we are ugly. We are saints, we are murderers. We are everything; we can be everything, a complex mix of everything.

Accept it; deal with it, live with it.

This note is for those who resort to the popular (at least in India) tactic of silencing and policing women through “Women Are Goddesses, Therefore”*

* This phrase is used to deny women liberty and choice and they are made to fit into an “ideal woman” mould. For example – Give him another chance, be forgiving, women are the embodiment of goddesses after all (at the same time reducing men to grown up boy-children who Refuse To Mature And Must Be Mollycoddled By Women).

A pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined space”

 – Gloria Steinem

A short note asking us all to introspect about what we find funny

Laughing at misogynist jokes, such as those which promote slut-shaming (or racist, or any other bigoted jokes), doesn’t make us have a “great sense of humour”. It makes us actively participate in a culture of marginalisation. Raging against rape won’t do shit as long as you don’t change OURSELVES. We should question what has been drummed into us. 

The notion of “virginity” and “purity” is a shit one. It is THESE attitudes which play a big role in rape victims not coming forward and reporting crimes. 

Woman: I had Sex wid only 4 boyz in my entire
life & U had it wid 16 Girls, still, Everybody Calls
me a SLUT
&
Cal u a REAL MAN,
A Winner?
Why?
Man: It’s because,
when a Lock is Opened by many Keys,
it Becomes a BAD LOCK.
But when a Key Opens many Locks,
it becomes a MASTER KEY..  😉 😉 😉

And equating men with “keys” and women with “locks” is just so messed up, I don’t even know where to start. We are not locks or keys, we’re actual human beings. A woman being called a slut for having sex with four men and a man being called a stud for having sex with sixteen women has nothing to do with locks and keys, it is sexist double standards stemming from patriarchal mindsets. 

I, for one, have nothing against standing up in opposition to such “jokes” and this may make me a “killjoy feminist”, but, you know, fuck joy stemming from sexism.

Sexism is not cool, and that includes sexist jokes.

We’re not making fun of sexism, you’re actually endorsing it, even if unintentionally.

What is liberation?

When we talk of [women’s] liberation, what are we talking about? What is liberation? Some people seem genuinely confused. Is liberation universal? Or, more precisely, is my idea of liberation the same as yours? Should it be? Is it natural for ways of liberation to differ? Is it only patriarchy we need to be liberated from (speaking from a gender perspective)?

In this post, I will try to clear up some of the confusion Indians (esp.) seem to have (no, I’m not being racist – it is a matter of awareness in the society as a whole. Most are not sure if marital rape should be a crime? No kidding. I will try to answer some common FAQs about that some other time).

First of all, what is [women’s] liberation? The most common accepted definition seems to be “equality in social, economic, and political spheres”. Some would specify the necessity of having the ability to make “free” choices. Some may talk about smashing gender roles. For some, it may be not having the social pressure to put makeup and “be pretty” before everything else. It varies, as I’ve said.

Freedom from gender-roles is freedom for men too, but this post is women-specific. (For eg, putting makeup may be liberation for some men – although, pressure to put makeup might not be. Just like pressure to have muscles).

Is liberation universal? Or, more precisely, is my idea of liberation the same as yours? The answer is – no, apart from “equality in social, political and economic spheres”, it’s not. The finer details vary according to a woman’s social position, i.e. a woman’s location in the larger map of society.

Confused? Let me give you an example – for a “higher-caste” woman, liberation may well be not wearing a bra (given the fact that upper-caste women are exhorted to maintain their “purity”, be docile, and not let their breasts hang out like “rowdy” women – women who “ask for it”) – a symbol of rebellion against patriarchal restriction(s) and oppression. By not wearing a bra, by being liberated, she may seek to define herself on her own terms – rather than being defined by patriarchal norms of how a “good [upper-caste] woman” should be.

On the other hand, for a Dalit woman traditionally not given the right to cover her body in many parts of India (it is reprehensible that such inhumane customs are STILL followed due to social pressures in a country which, ironically has “banned” untouchability and the like), WEARING a bra might be a symbol of liberation. By wearing a bra, she will be doing the same thing as the upper-caste woman in the previous example – that is, defining herself on her own terms rather than being defined by patriarchal norms of how a “lower-caste” woman should be.

It must be noted that in both these examples, caste – along with patriarchy, comes into play – which is why the “liberation” is so different. Also, caste is not the ONLY thing except patriarchy which comes into play in influencing a woman’s liberation.

Should it be? Is it natural for ways of liberation to differ? Yes, it is natural for ways of liberation to differ according to a woman’s social position. Above paragraphs have cleared this up, I believe.

Is it only patriarchy we need to be liberated from (speaking from a gender perspective)? Ah, now it is kind of complicated (at least for me).  Yes, OF COURSE we need to be free from patriarchal BS of what it means to be a “good woman” but we also need to be free of pressures to conform to a particular form of liberation, which while making complete sense to another woman – may not be what you want, even though you both may belong to the same socio-economic class. Not wearing bras may be liberation for a “upper-caste” woman but it may not be liberation for you, even if you’re “upper-caste”. For you liberation may be related to some other aspect and that’s normal. If you like doing things assigned to your gender, that’s OK too and that’s where it gets tricky (again, for me). I believe that if you like doing something which doesn’t hurt yourself or others, nobody has any right to force you or shame you into doing something else. Of course, we shouldn’t discount the part socialisation has to play. We don’t make choices in a vacuum. So, in a way you have to be liberated from the “expectations” some feminists may have of how to smash the patriarchy.
This quote describes what I want to convey –

“Let me reiterate that to you: If facials or any other sex act makes you feel bad, gross uncomfortable or degraded, then you should not do it ever. That is wrong. But men aren’t the only ones who like things they see in porn. In my case, there’s nothing degrading about receiving a desired sex act I’ve asked for as a consenting adult. Sex acts are degrading when they make you feel degraded — and nobody gets to decide that but you, not even feminism.”
— Emily McCombs

The point I want to convey is – your liberation shouldn’t be dictated by anyone or anything. Liberation can differ and that is OK.

However, there is another thing I wanted to write about here. I have seen many feminists on the www shaming other feminists for their life choices – sometimes it is because they are “too radical” and sometimes it is because they are “not radical enough”. In fact, this post itself was inspired by a comment by a feminist about how she is “not the bra-burning type” and told “upper-caste” women who are so eager to not wear bras to think about how they got the right to wear it when many lower-caste women don’t even have the right to cover their body.

While it is certainly true that “upper-caste” women are far more privileged than “lower-caste” women, it does not mean that UC women should forget about challenging how patriarchy affects them in their own ways (be it wearing a bra or not or something else entirely) and it does not change the fact that dalit women, facing the disadvantage of both caste and gender (often referred to as “double dalits”) will fight patriarchy and casteism in their own ways, separate from how UC women fight.Image

***

Connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

Not Islamophobia

Not Islamophobia

It’s not Islamophobia:

* to condemn unequal treatment of women in Sharia law, genital mutilation and stoning in some cultures

* to defend their right to choose whether or not they would like to wear burqas and veils

* to be surprised that the ‘honour’ of a prophet who died in the 7th century should matter more than the freedoms (or even lives) of writers, cartoonists and such

* to be surprised that this prophet married a 9 year girl called Aisha

* to ask yourself why Muslim countries do so little science today when their culture thrived so much on it in the past

* to think that cultures are not static and can change from the inside

DISCLAIMER: I do not own the image used

Yefon – the movie

Hi, y’all! When was the last time you saw a film which not only portrayed the problems of a society historically oppressed by colonialism and whose members still face racism today but also portrayed them truthfully without playing into or pandering to the shitty attitudes of today?

You may have watched The stoning of Soraya M, It’s a Girl, or a few other films – because only few films can not mess up the responsibility they take by wanting to depict such problematic issues.  In this post, I want to talk about Yefon – a film that continues in the proud tradition of socially conscious, Africa-based cinema like Hotel Rwanda, Beat the Drum and Sarafina!—but unlike those movies, its producers will come from the ranks of generous Kickstarter supporters.

“Yefon” is the brainchild of 22-year-old actress and filmmaker Sahndra Fon Dufe. Broken-hearted by the sad reality of too many similar, true stories from Africa of women being denied education , she and the production team have pledged to use a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the film, a companion documentary, books and related merchandise to build an all-girls school in Nso, the Cameroon village where “Yefon” is set.

Based on true events, the movie, YEFON, tells the story of a young African girl’s pursuit of education, and how she stands against a male government that crosses the line to protect their ancient traditions and political interests. It is a story that shows that one little person can be the beginning of not only a change, but a revolutionImage

It has already attracted the attention of Hollywood stars like Jimmy Jean-Louis (Tears of the Sun, Heroes), Adriana Barraza (Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee, Babel) and Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Hotel Rwanda). The film is being co-produced by Justin Massion, the director of the Kickstarter campaign for “Space Command,” which brought in $75,000 in just three days, and ended with over $200,000.

Education for women is a problem that has plagued women in some rural parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East  for decades. These women face the challenge of being refused an education on the basis of being women. Yefon will tell their story.

I have blogged about the problems in speaking up about such issues publicly here. I have also posted a response here. I believe this is a great project – one which may force people to think deeply on the problems plaguing women in many “developing” countries and not brush it off with cries of “racism” when somebody brings it up; at the very least – one which may initiate debate.

The goal of this movie is to depict the African culture through the use of a variation of color and excruciating detail, as was done beautifully in movies like Slumdog Millionaire. There is authentic use of African fabric with an intention to bring the audience a very powerful and visually compelling film.

The story of Yefon is not particularly any one’s life, the story seeks inspiration from the true life story of millions of women around the world including, but not limited to : The Stoning of Amina Lawal (Nigeria), Tererai Trent’s strive for education (Zimbabwe),  the inspiring story of Wangari Maathai (Kenya 1940- 2011),  Freidoune Sahebjam’s 1900 book ‘‘La Femme Lapidee’’ and its movie version ‘’The Stoning of Soroya M’’,  Princess Sultana (Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia), the words of Ali Ghadur (Kirkuk, 2008), the story of Huda Ahmed ( Iraq, 2008), Reports on African women’s’ battle for equality by Gumisai Mutume, the story of Irene Godonou in Cotonou, Benin, the voices given to women’s’ grievances by Catherine Beecher (1800- 1878), Sarah J Hale (1788- 1879) in the USA, the story of Judith Sargent Murray ( Boston, USA).

The Documentary will follow the lives of three women from different socio- economic backgrounds, and their attitude towards education, and follows in the style of’ “Day in the Life”. Team Yefon intends to create a massive compilation of footage shot by the team, interviews, footage and uploaded videos from followers in order to create a loud voice for women’s education. This will be submitted to festivals. YEFON The Movie will be telling this beautiful story with a choice of exotic locations that represent both the culture and history of Nso people; the tribe where the character Yefon comes from.Image

The YEFON team is raising these funds via Kickstarter to make a film in Cameroon, Africa, a virgin country for film, where this will be the first major production, a film they can proudly showcase around the world. Due to this, resources are limited and they need to bring help from all over the globe to make this movie possible, and to make history. The Kickstarter goal is set to $50,000 and can be funded here.Image

Please back the project! Only 12 days to go!

The death of Feminism

Is it really the death of feminism gender equality in India? Assuming, of course, it was there to begin with in the first place. I am assured of the fact that YES, it WAS. Don’t you notice those nude sculptures celebrating the human (mostly female) form? The “linga”, which is a celebration of the heterosexual union (which had the power to create new life). And not only heterosexual, homosexuality and female sexuality were accepted too, in the era of the Kamasutra. Females (and their ability to create new life) were celebrated and worshipped in a society which needed human resources.

People say feminism gender equality was awlll the rage earlier. I’m taking the views of these accomplished people at face-value for this post.

OK, so let us assume India was this total feminist equal-rights-giving country before.

What has happened now?

Why are men locking up their wife’s genitals? Of course, the criminal gave his answer – because many women in his family have strayed before. So, he thought it was perfectly acceptable to drill a hole in his wife’s vagina and lock it to prevent her from straying.

Why are rape-victims being killed? Shushed up? Does our “honour” reside in our genitals? Sexuality?

Cinema halls which had shows of a film depicting lesbian sexuality were ransacked by mobs claiming to uphold the same feminist equality endorsing culture.

Why did the people screaming about cultural degradation molest, strip, beat and almost rape a girl on a busy street?

What made them attempt to rape, beat, strip and try to murder a pregnant female politician?

What makes rival clans rape, strip, beat and pour acid on females of the other clan? Why is it considered a victory?

Why are females thought of as less than human?

 

What is this culture they are protecting here? When people talk about the women deserved what they got because it is Indian Culture, what CULTURE are they talking about?

A culture which represses sexuality (mostly female)?

A hypocritical culture, as it has become now?

A culture which treats women as second-class citizens?

A culture which can’t let people grow out of the rigid roles ascertained by their caste, class and gender?

A culture which endorses punishment for those who dare to live otherwise?

A culture which dehumanizes women?

A rape culture?

A culture where (female) bodies and sex are equated with shame?

Then why are we even defending this CULTURE?

And yes, we are defending it, in varying degrees, if we don’t speak out.

Speak out, talk, and shout if needed – you may have the chance of changing (at the very least) the thought processes of a couple of people.

And oh, don’t forget to remind them to speak out either!

Now repeat the following with me –

1)        RAPE (OR ANY OTHER KIND OF VIOLENCE) IS NEVER THE VICTIM’S FAULT

2)        ALL GENDERS ARE EQUAL*

3)        CHILDREN HAVE THE SAME HUMAN RIGHTS AS A GROWN-UP

4)        NOBODY SHOULD BE RESRICTED BY WHAT THE SOCIETY THINKS YOU “SHOULD” BE**

5)      SEX IS NOT BAD  OR SHAMEFUL

Any other points? I know I might have missed out on some 🙂

But ya got the drift, didn’t ya?

*Yeah, shocker, there are more than two genders! Also, a particular sex =/= a particular gender

** What you “should” be restricts you from what you could be or want to be or both

 

Also, FEMINISM isn’t a dirty word. Trust me. More on that in the posts to come 🙂Image