Within the last 10-15 years many thousands of women worldwide have begun to recognise and to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD). It is, however, unfortunate that that its origins are not more widely known given that its foundation almost 100 years ago and subsequent history is truly inspirational.
The cup has been around for a while. Its popularity, although slow in number, is immense in intensity. Every woman I know, who uses the cup, has shared and proclaimed its wonder on social media. It gives freedom, it saves the environment, it saves money. Basically if you are a cool-ass new-age thing that bleeds voluntarily at regular (well almost) intervals, you have to do the cup. Many years of feeling uncool last week I got the opportunity to see a real cup, hold it and hear panegyric about it from a user’s mouth. Although, it would have been more convenient if vaginas could talk. But there were technical issues and it was in public.
We’re still lacking a language in which to talk honestly about the forms of everyday sexism different women face in families, intimate relationships, and friend groups. As feminists we need to learn to take everyday struggles seriously, break out of the polite silence of the “private” sphere and be frank about the roles we ourselves play. This essay muses on just why it’s so hard to even talk about sexism and silence when it’s happening very close to home.
Were women “freer” back in the 1970s in these countries? It depends how you measure it, of course. But the point is that miniskirts or lack thereof do not prove the existence of women’s freedom or civilization in a country. Their use to convince Trump to continue the occupation of Afghanistan reveals the continuing dangers of these facile equation of women’s dress with freedom as well as the weaponization of nostalgia.
One needs to constantly remind oneself of the impossibility of extrapolation especially when using few stories to stand in for the whole. For example, the reading of ‘Meitei women’ as ‘unique as they are deeply concerned about the society they live in and are involved in various social organizations,’ or ‘This little girl grew up, got married and like most Meitei women, got actively involved in social work.’ is remarkable in its lack of nuance and (mis) reading the parts for the whole.
The list by Raya Sarkar raises questions that were, deliberately or otherwise, ignored and silenced increasingly over the years. The problems of male entitlement and casteist bias stand exposed in the names of the people in the list. We can’t therefore afford to dismiss the urgent resolving of these problems within our revolutionary politics and its practice. Our Parties and Organizations are filled to the brim with such people who wouldn’t baulk an inch if they had the chance to sexually harass or rape a woman. Our sole obsession with class struggle has made us blatantly ignorant of the gender question. These are legitimate critiques which this list has raised and which we need to address.
Yes, procedures and institutions have often failed us, but a feminist politics demands that we continue the struggle to make these processes more robust. Let me reiterate that I believe that testimonies are certainly a strong feminist strategy, but not the simple naming of people with no context or explanation. There is no easy fix. The building of feminist cultures requires taking responsibility for lengthy struggles, building of solidarities, rethinking of strategies from time to time, engaging in dialogue with mutual trust.
I am not very hopeful that the trust that has been so wantonly destroyed can be rebuilt very easily.
My only hope is that the list does not remain a list, but goes on further to secure some form of justice. It would be great to see older feminist activists, the ones we look up to, come forward and offer assistance to the victims and assure them of support. So that they can shed their anonymity and take on their perpetrators. It would be the logical conclusion to see those who keep talking of institutional redressal, actually offer some redressal to the victims by assuring that their institutions will seriously probe all complains. Unless, these are assured, this will remain another FB viral sensation to be forgotten within 3 months and I sincerely hope that this does not happen.
Each instance of alleged sexual harassment needs to be examined and dealt with on its own merit – with due process available both to the accused and to the accuser. Sweeping, anonymously driven collective assertions of the culpability of a cluster of named and shamed persons violates the principles of the need for rigourous individual examination of each instance, with due attention to the testimonies of victims and the defences of the accused, without which justice and resolution can never be served.
I don’t disagree that there are problems with this list but in relation to complaints through GSCASHs and similar structures, there are problems in ‘due-procedures’ and their own guidelines are often deeply flawed. The very procedures designed to protect complainants have been used against complainants again and again. I wish that this list on facebook opened up a debate of the lack of structural integrity in GSCASHs and ICCs, instead of what is happening right now.
The college authorities decided one day that they needed to ask women students not to wear skirts above the knee, and to ban students from smoking on the college grounds. The Vice Principal came to our classroom to make this announcement: its effect was marred considerably by the sight of Eunice at the back of the room, pointedly lighting up a cigarette with a trademark look of ironic amusement on her face.
A. Have you read the new Arundhati Roy?
B. No. I’m not a fan.
A. Oh, OK. Didn’t you like ‘The God of Small Things’?
B. Um, it was OK. I felt like she was trying very hard to be different and clever.
A. Is it? In what way?
B. Her use of language for one thing. I found it too self-consciously inventive. And I also feel she tends to fetishize the tragic.
Adrienne Rich’s moving poem about Marie Curie
if there is a river
more beautiful than this
As a Naga feminist, I remain hopeful at a time when Naga society decides to sit for consultation that we are able to resist the money, power, and attractions of authority wrapped in Naga patriarchal and traditional cloaks. Such kind of seductions has devoured numerous Naga tribal councils, politicians, leaders, community activists including the church workers. Albert Camus’s wise words come to my mind. As Camus fought racism and homophobia and joined hands with the African American civil and political rights movement, he noted, “I love my country, but I also love my justice”. I too end this essay by stating “As much as I love my Naga community, I also love my justice” and will continue to join hands with the struggle for gender justice.
We, the undersigned women’s organisations and concerned individuals take serious note of the fierce opposition to women’s reservation of 33% seats in Nagaland Municipal Councils by male dominated tribal bodies in Nagaland in the name of protecting their tradition and customary practices that bar women from participating in decision- making bodies.
On January 21, 2017, early morning an everyday Kashmiri feminist died quietly in her sleep [this “her” is a typo, but I prefer to leave it here; for if anything he always felt it was an honor to be a woman] after few bedridden years, which he absolutely hated. This was also the first ever, I had seen my maternal grandfather Gulam Ahmed Lone, who I call Daddy like everyone else in the family, cower before life a little. Even asking the universe to let him go rather than for wellness. He thought he had lived it all, and ended if not the best but still a little better.
“Didi I want to learn to play the harmonium and …”
Pink, whose script was written by men, didn’t quite challenge patriarchal conservatism. It merely took the variables already at hand—those of male centrism and sexism—and used them to make its story digestible to a conservative public.
Workplaces these days are growing nightmares where women find themselves fulfilling their expected gender defined roles and face serious discrimination when they deviate from social expectations.
Feminism isn’t about whether a vagina is better than a penis, it is about how all genders are equal.
“Can Indian Feminist Movement be granted a pat on the back yet? Despite the hundreds of women marching on the streets more than a couple of times in the past few months, have they really found the space their voice demands in the social stratosphere yet? Or have we critically failed to uphold the voices of subalterns?”
I am woman
Like blood on my bathroom floor.
For those who are using Rohith’s letter to simplistically assert that he died due to “personal problems,” sit up and open your eyes, ears, and mind to what is being said and what is not being said in this letter. Read between the lines, in the loops of his “y”s and “g”s and in the indented spaces separating his neat paragraphs.
Gertrude Lamare enquires into the lack of women elders and pastors in the Presbyterian Church in Khasi and Jaintia Hills
In May this year, I attended a panel discussion on the Village Administration bill, held in Dinam hall, Jaiaw. There were representatives from State, members of…