oncejadedtwicesnarked: Spivak is looking disgruntled and pissed. (Default)

[TRIGGER WARNING]


Thing # 1: 


Most progressive movements get their sense of "edge" and "radicality" by critiquing their predecessors. The feminists talk of the New Left, accusing them of sexism and silencing, the queer movements talk of feminists saying feminists have too much of a moral tone, they are too queasy when it comes to matters of sex and the body -- as if each movement can fully disengage with the legacy they have. Feminists have methodological tools from the New Left (especially the socialist feminisms of the 80's), queer movements owe their beginnings in feminist interrogation of the body within public and private spaces. I am not saying the problems within and between these movements don't exist, or even saying "infighting" is "distracting us". But the truth remains, we're too caught up in carving out the newest radical niche for our movements by critiquing (and never engaging) with the histor(ies) of other movements. It's a series of non-conversations that have consequences, that we are not quite ready to talk about. 


Thing # 2 :


Bombay High Court Justice H Bhatia goes on record to say, "[...] children, after becoming adults need their parents' permission to stay in their personal property", where the subtext of his statement means, in a patriarchal and kinship-network societal structure as ours, women shouldn't assume their parents house will support/put up with them after their marriage. Corroborate that with the new stats on increasing rates of domestic violence (just when the domestic violence bill is being debated on in the legislation), he believes women have no stake in the natal families -- material, emotional and otherwise. 


Thing # 3 :


Earlier this month, a woman in Kolkata was gang raped at gun point, the Chief Minister of the State (West Bengal) Mamta Banerjee has made various statements, ranging from calling the gang raped as "staged", (as is customary) made some comments on the "way the woman was dressed" and then even went on to say, the woman's husband (or ex, or deceased husband, it's quite unclear whom was she addressing) was a member of the CPI(M) [Communist party of India, {Marxist}] and thus such "promiscuous" behaviour is to be expected. The CPI(M), being the opposition party at this point, made some statements saying she is being insensitive to women, among other things. 


Thing # 4 :


Two days ago, a woman working in a pub in Gurgaon, Delhi was gang raped and the questions du jour range from, "Are there no "respectable" jobs left for women in this country that they have to do this job?", "Pub going girls deserve this" and "maybe she was a prostitute and the men refused to pay her the amount she was charging, that's why she's crying rape". One of the 'solutions' the Delhi Police Force is steering towards is pressuring pub owners to install CCTV's in pubs, to 'monitor' such "grey areas". 


Thing # 5


All of these instances happened in late February, early March -- I'm not even trailing back to see what other such simultaneous events have gone on. Here are three issues the New Left, feminists and queers have a stake in. The CPI(M) could ally with feminists in Kolkata as the first hearing of the gang-rape is going to be soon, work together against the control and moral policing of the State, as it manifests in Banerjee's statements. Feminists could engage with the queer movement for both the Bombay High Court statements as well as the Gurgaon rape case, as both deal in extremely overt ways of marking what is "private", what part of "private" can one be a part of, and which parts of the "private" can be unmonitored. 


I'm not calling for a naive "why can't we just be happy together", but why is there such little dialogue between the three progressive movements -- especially where there is so much naming and shaming, so clearly *some* networks of communication are in place. 


We could be talking about safer work spaces, safer roads, safe access to work and roads, instead of tackling the State just from the framework of our movement(s). 


Meanwhile, there is increased violence, moral, sexual policing and monitoring by the State -- I fail to see how these two are not connected. 

---- 

ETA: A friend pointed me towards Sanhati, spoke to a couple of people on the organisation. Seems like this lack of communication between the progressive movements concerns them too, 

So Over It

Dec. 6th, 2011 05:49 am
oncejadedtwicesnarked: Spivak is looking disgruntled and pissed. (Default)

The following post is by Numa and I as a response to Eve Ensler’s post Over It. There are some things you don't get to be over, Eve Ensler. But if we're going to play this game, here are some of ours.\
 

--

We are over cis white feminists claiming to speak for the rest of us and then shutting us up when we try to fit a word in edgewise. We are over being told that we are splintering a (separatist) movement whenever we bring up things that go just beyond their immediate focus.
 

We are over feeling left out whenever the talk goes to rape culture, because our rape culture is never addressed, maybe because it would hold you accountable too.
 

We are over rape being framed as an act done only by men on women, or that it requires a penis to forcibly penetrate a vagina or an anus and all other acts of coercion on other body parts by other bodies don’t matter as much.
 

We are over cis white feminists using experiences of POC to prove their own humanity. We are over experiences of scores of people in Congo, in Somalia, or any place with poverty tourism becoming a footnote to white feminists’ tales of enlightenment.
 

We are over cis white feminists using stories from “war torn” areas to woo audiences without addressing or holding their own Governments responsible for the said war.  We are over people making money by writing about the “horrifying” experiences they saw in the [third world nation], narrating stories that are not theirs to tell.
 

We are over countless (one-sided) dialogues with cis white feminists when they do want to talk about the difference in our rape cultures who simply retort to, “your men are irresponsible and patriarchal! We are just here to help! We can talk about murky consent issues between us some other time”.
 

We are over white cis women feminists essentialising the experiences of all women everywhere when it suits them but then having no trouble with using an “us” vs. “them” dichotomy against those who don’t agree with them.
 

We are over being told that we’re too angry and divisive when we direct criticism at the mainstream feminist movement but it’s okay for violent imagery and words to be used to threaten non-white cis women.
 

And what the fuck is “occupyrape” meant to mean anyway?! We are over people using the terminology of violence and colonisation to sound relevant and cool. How can you occupy an act of violence? How can you reclaim it? We don’t understand.
 

We are over the assumption that there is a “global paradigm of rape” but there is no recognition that this global paradigm, if there is something so all encompassing, is probably the result of political and socio-economic violation of the racial Other.
 

To be honest, we're just over of this type of rallying cry for unity where it’s believed that self-reflexiveness will do harm more than it will do good. Apparently we can’t be critical of issues without also destroying our effectiveness.
 

We are over people simply drawing back saying “this is not my culture and therefore I will stay silent and complicit” without engaging with us at all.
 

We are over thousand Eve Enslers who spew shit like this over and over again and then a few others who’ll pretend this is the first time they’ve heard us speak up.
 

We are over seeing movements perpetuate the same acts of violence we’re meant to be addressing.


 


 
oncejadedtwicesnarked: An exploding dog comic. The text reads "look it's ok you are dead inside, we don't expect too much from you". (Dead Inside)

A little background -- this week Renee, Numa and I ranted a bit on tumblr, a P.S. to #mencallmethings if you can call it as #otherpeoplecallusthingstoo and by the time we finished, we realised we had so much more to say. The following post is a collaborative post by Renee and I. Post contains mentions of rape, rape threats, trans*misogyny and many other --isms. Tread carefully.
 

---

Renee: I was talking to a friend tonight about #otherpeoplecallmethingstoo. Now this friend…well, I’m unsure how much or how little to say about other peoples’ intersections, but I think it’s safe to say he has a real depth of experience with race, gender identity, sexuality, and so on. He’s also a bit my senior, which means he was old enough to actively identify as a feminist when second wave feminism was a happening thing, and still has many friends and acquaintances for whom THAT feminism is still THE feminism. And he’s a creative person who has sometimes channeled his energy into critiquing the sins of the feminist past…and felt the sting for doing so. Point being, he’s savvy to this sort of stuff, and it’s something we commiserate around often.
 

And he was with me while I bemoaned my frustration with the mainstream feminist community. He gets my anger about how abortion and reproductive health are framed as “women’s issues”. He recognizes my pain when the Amanda Marcotte’s of the world reduce misogyny and sexism to the existence of “gonads hang[ing] on the outside” of certain people. But, of course, it’s easy to empathize with my position on that stuff…it’s not shocking, because it happened and we know who these people are and it wasn’t personal, even if I take it personally.
 

But when I told him about some of the other stuff - the personal attacks ,especially the ones Jaded wrote about, which I quoted some of verbatim - he drew back a bit. I’m not really sure why, because he’s certainly seen a lot of vitriol and hate, much of it from within the feminist community. But for whatever reason, he offered an explanation.
 

“Well keep in mind, it’s the internet. Those are the worst of the worst,” he said.
 

When Sady Doyle creates #mencallmethings, feminists (which I often consider myself) don’t question it. It means something! It’s representative of what women have to deal with. It reveals the depths to which misogyny is ingrained in our culture. But when we do #otherpeoplecallmethings, at best we’ve revealed an anomaly…a few outlying pieces of data. “Oh, they’re not real feminists” or “that’s just the radical fringe” or “ignore the trolls” or whatever. You know, handwaving.
 

And I’m not bashing my friend - not at all - because I’ve done the same thing. For me, it was the radfems…”angry out-of-touch asshats who no one pays any attention to anymore,” I’d say. Except then there’s Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford, bending the ears of the United Nations. And the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival attendees who thought it was a good idea to post pictures of and out trans women on the internet (and received the tacit support of Wordpress in doing so). And those are just two from this year alone.
 

Look at the posts we’ve done about this already. These are people who self-identify as feminists, with enough pride in their convictions to attach their names to their comments (which they wrote knowing full well they could be made public). These are people who know enough to drop the Hudood Ordinance into conversation (even if they somehow don’t know the difference between India and Pakistan). Perhaps not these individuals in particular (although maybe!), but these are the people enrolled in Women’s Studies courses in big universities, organizing Slutwalks, and traveling abroad for “humanitarian efforts”. Who is going to be the next academician presenting their findings to the UN? Or the founder of the next big women’s solidarity event? Meeghan? Janice? Jenny? Point being, #otherpeoplecallmethings is not an anomaly or an outlier at all. And from the merely flawed to the truly foul, from the personal to the impersonal, the only real question is when do #otherpeople start giving a shit?
 

 

Read more... )

 


oncejadedtwicesnarked: Spivak is looking disgruntled and pissed. (Default)

I haven't written here for more than a month, because honestly I didn't trust myself to write without exploding into particles of dust, or if I did manage to write somehow it would only be selective expletives repeated over and over -- I've been more than just a little angry. Warning to readers, I'm not writing this to cater to your sensibilities, nor is this the moment to profess how you belong to [x] group but don't do any [abc] I talk about. I am exhausted with keeping my anger inside, and it's coming out in all insidious ways today.

---

When I repeat out of frustration to western feminists -- yes western feminists get clubbed in the same indistinguishable a bubble as "South Asian feminist" feels to me -- that abortion wars here are different, we face different demons, we use different strategies, all they seem to hear is "India doesn't consider abortion is illegal! They don't have anything to complain about!". Yes, factually, the Indian nation-state hasn't outlawed abortion, that can hardly be cited as evidence to prove that there aren't any problems. Or on the flip-side, almost every feminist (or not) publication from the Global North talks about the problem of female feticide India -- additionally India and China are used interchangeably for some reason, as if any place that is Not the Global North must be a homogeneous mass of cultures  -- to the extent that "feminism in India" means "sex-selective abortion". There is a problem with using and perpetuating such a model, where you start equating a region's "gender problems" to its feminism is probably the preliminary layer of fail; I've talked about  it long enough. What you leave out when you stick to the primitive equation of "Indian feminism = sex-selective abortion" are the many methods that the State designs to keep contraception from people who want to access it, to forcibly sterilise groups which the State thinks need to be curbed and even erased. It infuriates me that whenever one speaks of "sex-selective abortions" and its evils -- yes fetuses are being aborted because they're perceived to be 'useless' as they're female, and it is evil, it needs to end, no disputing this fact. But there's more to just a "culture thinking females are unworthy" that people don't want to engage with -- what western feminists don't even consider is the way discourse around contraception figures here; mainly because they're too busy presuming that it's the same as it is in their native countries, but I digress.

Contraception, as introduced by the State was started in the light of the UN deciding "India's problem" was "over-population", and it's not surprising that a neo-liberal capitalist socialist state that India supposedly was then didn't contest this accusation, or didn't argue that the real problem was unequal resource-allocation. Contraception, for a long time didn't mean sexual autonomy of bodies, instead it was (and is), "we must control the numbers", as if these "numbers" cannot ever be wanted bodies. Forced sterilsations of men and (mostly) women during Emergency years are no secret, nor are the sterilisations of some "backward" castes and tribes that are carried out regularly. More recently, the State has changed its face when it comes to contraception, now it's under the Right To Information, the citizen -- or at least people who are read as citizens -- that we get "a choice" in what form of contraception we can avail of; there are enough ads everywhere that address this nice married Hindi and English speaking Hindu lady who has two (or three) children and is thinking of contraception. Even within this incredibly narrow range of people nice Hindu ladies addressed, they don't get access to contraception -- there are abortion practitioners who will look at your financial and social status and decide that you can raise a baby and refuse to give you an abortion, or not give you information about UID's even if you can afford it, the concern to protect your Right To Conceive one day is apparently more important than your informed choice -- and people who are not women, who are not Hindu, not English (or Hindi) speaking, according to the State don't need to avail of contraception, going by the demographic they address in their ads and propaganda.

Read more... )

oncejadedtwicesnarked: Spivak is looking disgruntled and pissed. (Default)

As a dusty third worldling, one of the things I learnt first was to see if there were other dusty people in the room whenever I go to any transnational feminist conferences. Something else I also learnt is to not expect 'solidarity' from anyone unless expressly proven otherwise -- and these views are a result of the way people view me and my body in notIndia, what people assume of me in most internet spaces and fandoms. My friend and I compiled this list comprising of a few of the most repetitive and inane stereotypes that we've encountered of Third World Women. By no means is this list exhaustive, feel free to add your experiences in the comments -- and tread carefully, the list is full of racial slurs and epithets.

1. We're not disposable objects or your fetish or 'flavour' of the month. Not all Third World Women are 'women', but we don't have the choice to identify the way we want, because exotification gets in the way of our special plans.

2. Not all Third World Women live in lands that are in a state of constant war. We exist in cities, between towns and villages -- many in the West. There is no fixity of geo-political location, we don't need to be in the Third World to be marginalised.

3. Not all of us live in tin shacks or mud houses, like every other group we too are scattered across classes and communities across the planet.

4. In popular culture and media, if Third World Women characters don't wear shiny and bright colours, reality will not crack I assure you.

5. Hospitals exist in the third world too. So not all Third World Women need to squat in bushes to give birth.

6. Third World Women aren't all 'irresponsible mothers' or 'birthing cows' because they have children at [x] age instead of the more socially 'forward' and 'acceptable' [y] age. I can vouch that the world will not come to an end if you don't see Third World Women as 'bad people' for 'not knowing better' and 'not having careers'.

7. We're not your 'Eternal She', Earth Mother, Infinite Vessel, [Insert Inappropriate Phrase That focuses And Equates Sex Organ With Gender Here].

8. We are capable of doing more than care-taking children, cleaning houses and sewing immaculate quilts. We exist in all fields of work, equating every Third World Woman as a sweatshop worker is not necessary.

9. There is no situation where phrases like 'exotic princess' can be considered a compliment, even more so if this 'compliment' is based solely on skin hue.

10. We're not always natural cooks or nurturing 'goddesses'. We can do said jobs if need be, doesn't mean we're 'more' adept at menial jobs than anyone else.

11. We're not 'eager' to dispense dusty wisdom and folktales on demand -- especially about breastfeeding or childbirth. Take a close look at the Not All Third World Women Are 'Women' bit here.

12. No, we cannot be 'purchased' outright -- definitely not if the sole 'value' that decides the 'purchase' are our hues.

13. When we say 'no' we mean 'NO' too. So saying 'we can't decipher your tongues' is not an excuse.

14. Third World Women aren't always looking to 'entice' White Men. Shocking, I know!

15. We're more than just 'enticing eyes', or 'gorgeous hair' -- we're people and not body parts.
 


 

 

Read more... )

 

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