Last year, a friend told me that as feminists, women are sisters and we need to help each other as much as we can. I was a little taken aback. Where I am at, very few people even help a person lying bleeding on the side of the road. Over the years, I have learned to keep my mouth shut as stray expressions of feminism or agnosticism only invited looks of hostility from women and men in my world.
Far too many women are like that young woman who popped up on BBC a few days ago during a debate about film-maker Leslee Udwin’s documentary India’s Daughter, now sadly, but quite predictably, technically banned in India. The Indian woman panelist was aggressively patriarchal, pouncing on anyone who didn’t agree with her, accusing them of betraying their country for criticising the ban, repeatedly questioning the channel for defying the Indian ban, and asking why India was targeted when rapes happen in other countries? She also kept reiterating a common refrain we hear bandied about in Indian families: “this is an internal problem, and we need to deal with it internally”. I wish someone could have pointed out, for example, imagine all those years ago if South Africa had said Apartheid is our internal problem, go away world. Well, probably they did, as does every country when the rest of the world imposes sanctions on it. When the young panelist termed it an internal problem, she was speaking the language of patriarchy, and often you need interpreters to understand its skewed and stilted phraseology.
Continue reading Misogyny begins at home
If I were an astrologer or a mentalist eking out a living, partnering people to planets and constellations, I would want to examine the moon-woman connection. Now it may be a coincidence that cycles of woman and moon match up more or less, and if not serendipitous, I would put it down to evolution not astrology.
It had to be evolution causing some cells whether in human or coral reef to synchronise, react in a given manner to the periodic light given out by planetary bodies in space. If the cells that swim the dermis-bound seas of my body treat the moon like a calendar, then accident or not, it is to do with the way our body clocks look for a reliable anchor in the dimensions around them.
If I am to be connected by a blood grip to any pockmarked rock out in space let it be to this one; Luna, so close yet so far.
Continue reading The bizarro world of menstrual shame
The hardest thing to do is to come out from behind the glass walls of the tribe. You become so good at covering up, appeasing, never telling on its members, even when you know there is something wrong with the picture. As members of a tribe, glass walls of silence are built around us, the dominant among us think it’s safe to do what they want, get way with it, anyone who has felt their tyranny know to keep silent as they will be violating an unwritten social contract by telling.
You can scream, but no one can hear you through the glass walls. That is where feminism came in a generation ago. It broke through and told on everyone. But there was a price to pay, to come out and tell, for trying to upend the social order. Blowback. Things have come to such a pass that even the word feminism is now tainted with unflattering nuances. It now needs UN campaigns and celebrities to reclaim its place in the world.
I write in search of expiation. This is a piece I had wanted to write more than any other, but one that turned out to be the most intimidating to attempt. The effects of a lifetime wracked with guilt for not doing what is the norm won’t easily wear off. A norm that instinct tells you is deeply prejudiced even if socially sanctioned.
Continue reading Why blue jeans are feminist