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, 
oncejadedtwicesnarked: A cookie. The words read "meets minimum standards of basic. human" (Ally cookie)

I've been pretty busy moving and settling in a new city these past three weeks, I couldn't keep up with people, let alone the internet -- thus thankfully missing debates around whether Mumbai should have slutwalks or not. One of the organisers asked me whether I'd be willing to help organise as we've worked on a few things together before. She was quite taken aback when I declined her offer (given that Slutwalk Mumbai ends up taking place) as we usually agree on most things when it comes to activism and organising. She asked, "But don't you love your freedom? How can you pass up an opportunity such as this to see and know how far we can push boundaries?" and then I didn't have any answers for her as I was, and am still caught up in thinking how for her, and a lot of people Slutwalk™ has come to symbolise the sum of all feminist rioting considering  Delhi, Calcutta, Hyderabad and Mumbai (from time to time) have had walks and pickets by feminists and people involved in gender justice, for causes ranging from more college seats for women to raising awareness about sex-selective abortions -- each issue that emerges from our specific caste, gender, class conflicts in each specific city long before Slutwalk™ became an enterprise. Since this exchange, the rhetoric behind supporting slutwalks has become intertwined with "respecting and loving oneself" -- where love¹ (of the self, of the 'community') is continuously intertwined to the extent that any opposition to slutwalk today is to "hate" freedom -- and peculiarly, this 'freedom'  that SW represents has to move away from anything "recognisably" Indian -- whatever that means to people individually and collectively.

---------

In other parts of the country -- especially Delhi -- newspapers and news channels are all fixed on Anna Hazare's impending fast tomorrow, that has been a part of national rhetoric and vocabulary since late April. On the whole, Hazare demands for a new anti-corruption bill, asks people to fully and directly engage with the government and hold them accountable. When it comes to the news coverage of his speeches and his entire fast, the comparisons drawn to Gandhi are more than co-incidental -- tomorrow being Independence Day for India, the analogy becomes even thicker, Hazare is viewed as the "one man army" who is going to drive away corruption, going by Gandhi's views of freedom. While I don't necessarily agree that this protest is "peaceful" at all, that by specifically re-membering India's history of independence as one without critically admitting to ourselves and others that it meant freedom for only 'some' people, I do find such a 'nation-wide' movement fascinating -- as from time to time we see women also supporting Hazare's fast², it's been a while since women have been featured under the "national gaze" as more than just agency-less subjects. However, coming to the actual protest due on 15th August at Delhi, it seems women may not have a harassment-free space to march and protest. Can't say I'm particularly shocked if tomorrow there are mostly men broadcasted over the news -- as Hazare (like Gandhi) still see women's roles under traditional patriarchy of wifedom and motherdom. For instance, the Alcohol Prohibition Act reads like one that empowers women, to talk about their abusive alcoholic spouses -- it supposes that only men can be alcoholics, that one has to be an alcoholic to abuse people; there are many loopholes to this and quite a few of his other arguments too, one of the most troubling being -- does an anti-corruption movement erase/will attempt to smooth over India's history and geography of communal violence and casteism?

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March 2012

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