A response to #mencallmethings

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.

(more…)

Tales This Tongue Didn’t Twist

There is a story my father likes to tell when people ask him what his eldest daughter wants to do ‘with her life’. It seems that I was 13 and determined when I’d interrupted his important business call to say, “When I grow up, I’ll be a famous Lady Author” with hands on my hips and my eyes defiant. He says, almost always laughingly, that was the day he’d started worrying about me. Quite predictably, the writers I admired were White Ladies or Dusty Men — say hello to the child born on the brink of globalisation — and I had a grand scheme of writing a book by the time I was 25 and saying wise things like, “Oh writing is like breathing for me, I may have never consented to it, but it keeps my veins full”¹, appearing on TeeVee and inspiring little ladies everywhere to write, pretty much like Jo of Little Women, maybe with pants instead of frilly skirts though. And then, between all these juvenile fantasies, words and tongues I started opening up to, it became clear how alien and few Dusty Ladies were a part of my daily vocabulary, how little I knew of my culture and it’s deferential treatment to anyone who identified as female within its folds, or that I’d never really felt represented in words as much I could in this hued writing. It shocked me to see that I didn’t identify as strongly with Anne Eliot as much I had previously thought after reading Ismat Chughtai’s stories or that as much I suffered with Clarissa Dalloway, truth was she would probably never see beyond the hue of my epidermis tissue. This is where I stumbled into wonderful — feminine-identified — Indian writing, my world began to fill with names like mine, and people who too found themselves stuck on the fringe between being Western or Dusty, and of course the silences accompanied this writing too.

I’m still adjusting to this shift, from the open prose of George Eliot, which is ‘open’ and ‘free’ in the way only a few people in this world are allowed to be, to the heavily veiled writing of Dusty Ladies. I’m still haunted by Abburi Chaya Devi’s protagonist in ‘Sleep’ who grows up in such a restrictive environment that she doesn’t know what to do when she wants to laugh. I can replay the scene in my head when at the climax of the story she wakes up her mother to say anxiously, “Mother, I feel like laughing. The laughter is bubbling up, what shall I do?”. Years later, I realised it was a snippet of her own life where she was punished for laughing by her parents for laughing at a professor’s joke. I’ve always reveled and lost myself in Emily Dickinson’s verses — to an extent, I still do — and then I stumbled somehow to Eunice De Souza whose verses give silence quite an another underbelly altogether. This silence intrigues me as sometimes it enters my writing too, it’s something a lot of women have noticed and re-negotiated. It seems if you identify as a Lady out here, some people just cannot wait to bind you in rules and borders, asking and clearly specifying the lines you are not allowed to tread. Last year I attended a writing workshop where the speaker started with asking about things we, as the current youth demographic of India, wrote about or were sensitive to. The most common answers were politics, religion and sex. Then the speaker asked how many people would fearlessly write about these topics, and it was quite telling that most people who raised hands were dudes; most girls in the room and I shared guilty looks², for not letting that part of us out, as if we’re betraying ourselves in some strange way. Of course, then the speaker went on to explain how we should ‘break free’ from these cultural chains and just give in to writing urges with the loathsome self-assurance that only Upper Caste Hindu Dudes in India enjoy. The truth is, we can’t wipe away gender — whether assigned or taken — as if it’s a dark stain, scrub away till it lightens its way to disappearing completely; in fact the more we try to hide it, the more it reeks up the prose³.

Whenever I’ve given any such exotic — all Lady-Prose is exotic! — prose to read to my male friends, the most predictable plea they come up with is, “Maybe be a little less intense? I know you’re oppressed, or your protagonist is, but does your writing have to be this violent? It’s frankly upsetting sometimes”, which is when I explain that I didn’t give in to half of my hysteria while writing and they hastily change the topic to something less ‘dark’. This self-de-tonguing steps in earlier than we let on. In Storylines, most writers speak of this ‘looming monster’ that prevents them from broaching subversive topics, too fearful of what their parents, community and spouses will think or say. This doesn’t mean that women writers in India only talk of unicorns and babies, but they have to negotiate a lot of guilt — self-imposed and otherwise — for guarding their tongue and measuring syllables and in the privacy of their Shelved Selves, the guilt of giving in to societal expectations. Sometimes I’m amazed that we get any writing done at all considering how our time is different from dude’s concepts of time and space: it’s cyclical, lunar — Ladies remember the block of time when they did so and so household activity more than the analogue or digitalised time research, by one French Feminist says so — and excruciatingly repetitive, and that for many writers today, time and space are still just abstract concepts they don’t have possession over.

This blog turns one today, however I can safely say I’ve concealed more than I’ve bared myself. Every time I write something I’ve to carefully step over spots so as to not hurt or overtly expose who I really am, or my parent’s concept of ‘me’. For all my feminism and dedication to activism, there are a lot of things that are left unsaid and buried. Maybe one day this tongue will truly uncoil. Who knows? Today, I’m just glad for all the conversations and ideas we could initiate despite all of this.

P.S. Special thanks to Wallamazoo, Arvan and Veronica for being such kickarse friends and all the adorable guest bloggers without which this space wouldn’t have been as interactive as we want it to be.

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1. In my defense, I was 13. You can’t fault a 13 year-old for daydreaming, can you?

2. This doesn’t mean women don’t write about religion, politics or sex. Just that in that room, we definitely didn’t own up to writing about these topics even if we did.

3. The Dude who was organising races for the Next Best Prostitute will tell you a lot about the female stench.

 

Weekly Sexual/Textual Reader (Week Three)

 

As it turns out, recovering from flu is more exhausting than it seems — something about watery eyes, raging fevers and runny noses fits in here. Of course I won’t mention that here because I’m classy like that — so I’m posting this book review three weeks late. Apologies from an invalid lady on the delay! For the uninitiated, you can read Part One and Two here.

Dear Tumblr,

It shouldn’t surprise you too much when I say I can’t easily tolerate misogynist writers or their ‘critically’ acclaimed works — my pesky gendered brain raises its head at the most inopportune moments! — and I have flung many books on the wall the moment the narrative gets too dudely for me; when the ‘unsexed’ narrator played by the White Male Default Human insists on me achieving a series of mental orgasms because the dudely protagonist lifted a finger or sneezed, when women are devoured whole under the pretext of being ‘universal’, ‘progressive’ and when they’re written with the intensity of lightly buttered toast to shed Lady Insights On The Resident Douche are a few of my feuds with such writers and their works. In brief, this LadyBrain is fatally allergic to anything even remotely dudely. In such books, the Body is heavily inscribed with invisible meanings and norms that almost always further heteronormativity — patriarchy is so predictable! — here the body becomes a site of conquest, possession and most importantly, a sort of a Tabula Rasa, waiting to be inscribed upon. This Body is almost always feminine or made feminine, either by blatant submissiveness or misogyny, reserving the spot of the creator or sculptor for the Default Human or the occasional case of the Lady acting ‘tough’ (read: Dudely) and veritably focusing agency and action on the male-identified characters in the narrative.

This is mainly the reason I stray away from books that focus on the Body alone, it scares me how easily it can be consumed and made into an object, with a few well-placed phrases and words. I remember being moved to tears by just reading Toni Morrison’s description of Sethe’s scarred back in Beloved to the extent that whenever I see a knotted tree trunk, I can only think of her. Can you see People Of The Olde Interwebes why reading about the Body is often triggering and a stressful subject position for me to take? But somehow, Jeanette Winterson’s ‘Written On The Body’ came nowhere close to the trauma I expected. In fact, it has carved a permanent niche on my skin. Perhaps that bit about the Tabula Rasa is true after all!

Winterson’s ‘Written On The Body’ is many things: duplicitous, experimental, sentimental and often just plain genius. What disturbed me for quite a while was the way the text tackled the Body; here again body is presented as an empty canvas, waiting to be marked and written upon — see how the body is shown as having little to no agency as it waits to be filled with words and meanings? as the tittle too suggests. As a rule of thumb, this book was supposed to embody all that made me cringe, right? As it turns out, the real problem isn’t the agency-less body as much who inscribes it or how it is done. Salman Rushdie or Amitav Gosh may write about the Body in hyper-real terms, jumping from genres of fantastic realism to a situated anthropological realism, but inevitably the question of the Body is left open to be completed with the MaleGaze, that ultimately the Body is for taking, not negotiating. When I finished the book for the first time, I did consider that I may be biased to Winterson’s words simply because we share feminine identities; and it could be wholly true if I were to believe various MRA blogs telling me the Very Real And Serious Dangers of Misandry. But I digress. Besides, on close second reading, the blurring of these very roles of the Masculine and Feminine, of the Inscriber and the Inscribed, the Oppressor and the Oppressed makes this text a wonderful experiment of words and senses. This is not to assume, there is no re-writing or any overt passivity in the text, rather each action is open to alternatives, there is potential for the words to turn in and around on themselves. The narrator’s sex isn’t fixed, there is a constant rewriting of words, meanings, traditional expectations for the genre of romance and even masculinity itself. The narrator says, “Written on the Body is a secret code only visible in certain lights: the accumulations of a lifetime gather there. In places, the pampliest is so heavily worked that the letters feel like braille. I like to keep my body rolled away from prying eyes, never unfold too much, tell the whole story. I didn’t know Louise would have reading hands. She has translated me into her own book“.  The text itself breaks into dialogs, lists, announcements, biological facts; reminding me constantly how all genres break and make each other.

Here the Body not only becomes a space for re-writing, it is given space to re-write itself. More often than not, merely pointing at patriarchal conventions of writing and being aren’t enough, there has to be a re-allocation of the dominant and masculine narrative — possibly why I can only admire Achebe’s Things Fall Apart from a distance — and resist it,  than just weaving the narrative around it. This ReWritten text has to set up the Other as ‘normal’ to the struggling Self, without making the Self abnormal; it has to build and break walls without locking oneself in. And ‘Written On The Body’ both delights and disturbs in all of these tropes. The narrator calls hirself Adam, Don Juan, a boy scout, Mercutio, and “a private dick”; but also that she compares ‘herself’ with a convent virgin, Alice In Wonderland, and the girl in Rumpelstiltskin who is supposed to be able to spin straw into gold but can’t. S/he reads playboy and women’smagazines; pees standing up and sitting down. S/he draws hunting analogies and war analogies but also eats when depressed, grows flowers and buys them for ‘herself’. The narrator engages in physical violence with women and men, actions that can be interpreted as traditionally masculine. At the same time, the narrator plunges into emotions, almost in a trance or to a masochistic extent, notices details in furnishings and appearance, and is anarchy feminist. There is a strong image of castration when the narrator feels insecure though admits to wearing stockings to work. The narrator starts off as being an explorer of Louise’s body — conscious metaphors of Colonising the Body — and then reveals hir own subject status under her will. Winterson purposely juxtaposes coitus with ‘invasion’ and conquering. At one point, the narrator offers to come ‘inside’ of Louise’s body and battle her cancer cells and the stance zie takes is invasive. But then, carefully and slyly Winterson calls the narrator’s Body to turn on itself, turning the invasion on the Self, almost consensually does break into the old dance of making and re-writing. While some spaces engage in the violent impulse to delimit feminine space, there is always a re-negotiation of the very belief that this space under question was ‘feminine’ or not. The text may follow the patriarchal plot of ‘going after’ the ‘fallen angel’ till we realise at the very end that this ‘going after’ was all a monologue in the narrator’s head, and the ‘angel’ has already saved herself.

The Body becomes a dam, of experiences, meanings and ultimately of love. Winterson starts her novel with, “Why is the measure of love loss?” and I couldn’t help but ask, “Why is the measure of Body the space it occupies?”.

Written On The Body by Jeanette Winterson is an experimental, post-modern novel; hovering on reclaiming lesbian space in heteronormative writing and yet manages to remain ambiguous about its boundaries of being queer.

Love,

Jaded16.

 

 

Weekly Textual/Sexual Reader (Week Two)

Remember that part in our dynamic where I torture you weekly with inane book reviews and you understand, albeit patronisingly and let the inaneness pass? Sort of like the Flu or the Clap for LadyBrains? It’s that time of the week again.

—-

Dear Tumblr,

As you know, I’m a big fan of fissured spaces, the idea that a niche can be carved out in a place which is virtually airless makes me more happy than book sales. Or those tiny little owls. Which is probably why I find quite a few VictorianVulvas deeply fascinating, for what better age to discuss Repression Of The Female Variety? And then add the idea that within these repressed collective psyches, a few Ladies dug up pens — or fancyarse feathered quills — and wrote ambiguously about themselves and their lives. Or perhaps it’s the side-effect of my love affair with Colonial texts that started when I was 11. Or somehow I can’t stop looking for clues of my country’s colonisation in these texts. Whatever the reason may be (pick one according to your mood! And watch it change colour too!), I’m ShameLess when it comes to my adoration of these LadyVulvas.

So when I read Eliot’s Mill On The Floss again, I was surprised to see so many broken, occupied spaces; mainly because this book was never about spaces but mainly about little girls with a serious case of tumbling down memory lanes to my silly LadyBrain. To top that off, I’m somehow supposed to hate anything that comes from the Queen’s Land, because extremely thought-provoking counter-arguments like “DON’T YOU REMEMBER HOW BRUTALLY THEY COLONISED US? HOW DARE YOU FORGET THEY MADE US LEARN SUCKY ENGLISH?” are quite commonplace out here. Even the ever entertaining, “They introduced panties and now we can’t seem to go back” accusation doesn’t repulse me enough to fling the book across the wall or get struck all over with CountryLove; whichever is supposed to come first. In fact, year after year, I can’t help but falling in love with these ladies even more. Perhaps the ultimate sense of betrayal comes when even after I read Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak or Homi Bhaba’s postcolonial analysis of the texts, where they pit the woman protagonist against the radicalised and nativised ‘other’, where they strengthened the sense of the Self by Objectifying the Third World Woman; I can’t seem to stop swooning over these books. And this week I discovered, it’s more a confused-fascinated-mesmerised daze that pulls me to the novel each year. This confusion stems from failing to slot the protagonist, Maggie as a Native or The Coloniser; in a rootedly Victorian novel, in a time when colonisation was a  household hobby. You can see People of the Olde Interwebes the number of tangled webs this novel makes in this LadyBrain, right?

Now don’t think I’m excusing colonisation or redeeming the Coloniser — I’d happily eat my own face before I do such a thing — but it fascinates me to no end that it’s within these words I see moments of doubt, chaos and guilt over possessing and defining people and even space. To such a point that Maggie so emphatically fails in reclaiming her position and literal space, let alone colonise it that she is dubbed as ‘Crazy Kate’ and later more painfully, “That dark-eyed girl there, in the corner”. Even in Jane Eyre, Jane is the center as well as the fringe of the narrative, ‘slipping in and out of consciousnesses and rooms’; she possesses control and then slips, repeatedly. For Maggie, continuously losing in the tug-of-war to become the possessor and agent, she ends up being an alien on her own land. A speck of dust in her own canvas. As a child Maggie loves the spaces of childhood — the kitchen, the fields — she simply cannot follow the domestic constraints and earns the titles of ‘devilish’ and ‘difficult’, ‘straight black-eyed wench’ (which is only so close to calling her a classy tart); the very titles I may or may not have gotten myself. Through out the book she is too loud, too ‘brown’, too uncouth, too wild-eyed, too unfeminine (she doesn’t do patchwork! Add appropriate shocked gasps here), too subversive as she fetishises her dolls in the attic; she is continuously regulated and excluded by the very people in her home she loves the most. When aunts and relatives come from far-off places, they inspect her along with the Mill’s furniture, find her too clever, she tries to reclaim her native space by running into her mother’s room and “seizing her front locks and cutting it across the middle of her forehead”, scatters those little dark locks all over the room to mark her space; even as the very space slips right under her feet. Ironically, women’s domain or the “domestic” is the one space she chokes in, but repeatedly tries to inhabit, only to find herself propelled outward; to take the anonymous fields rather than take the lane. It is even out in this undefined space she fragments, confronted by her inability to truly be or live in a space without being eaten up by its shadows, Maggie is constantly at war with spaces, with her own head and ultimately her innate inability to colonise. Rejected in the feminised domestic sphere, intimidated by the masculinised outdoors, she can only posses a transient position, on the road. At the climax of the novel, she is faced with an empty Mill, a blank canvas of sorts to imprint her own distinctive marks on it. And the moment she crumbles seeing the empty space around her (and by extension disintegrates the space itself), my heart lurches. As she is stripped, divided and essentially erased in and by the narrative do I fully gauge what it is to colonise someone or something. Try as she might, it is not in her to dictate anything, least of all the liminal space she is allowed to occupy, ultimately entwining herself to Phillip’s identity, as a slave and prisoner, unable to unpack herself or to escape his memory and gaze. Locked, frozen and still; she speaks.

While the rise of the Empire did help LadyVulvas to write more (less pesky dudes to hover over them, see?), even here there is a restraint or policing at work, that refuses them to be as adventurous as Conrad and label something as ‘The Heart Of Darkness’, as if there is a disconnect from the idea of defining boundaries and the act of drawing the lines; around the Self and the Other. There is resistance, acceptance and sometimes even complete submission to other people, yet Maggie will still cherish the space she held in the attic, of locked drawers, preserved items and small boxes, she lets herself become invisible, untamed while in shackles. For it is here, she allows herself to groan, cry and howl like a trapped bird, within disappearing walls that she choses to leave her mark. This very reliance on doubt is what makes this novel so appealing, especially to a direct descendant of a colonised country. It reminds me that not every one was as convinced about carving, silencing and castigating entire populations as it seemed to me.

As a child of 13, I remember distinctly not understanding why Maggie runs away from her mother as Mrs. Tulliver tries to comb and tame her wild hair. Today Maggie whispers and conspires with me to explain that even within submission there is rebellion, that not everyone has to be okay in the box they are fit into; there is always a cool basin of water to completely foil all predisposed tracks.

Love,

Jaded16.

George Eliot a.k.a Mary Ann Evans wrote The Mill On The Floss and try as she might to  speak like the Default Human i.e. a White Male, the woman inside slips through. Explain to me one more time how can I not love her?

[Cross-Posted]

‘Skin Deep’ In Whose Skin?

As a budding wordling and receptor of English Literary Academia in India, it’s not difficult to notice our affinity to the terms ‘Postcolonialism’, the ‘subject position of the Oriental reader’, our tendency to use words such as ‘colonising space or time’, ‘deoccupying bodies’ and many other words in Literary mumbo-jumbo that somehow help us to disentangle the mess two hundred or so years of colonisation has left us with. At least for those privileged enough to understand said lingo. And for the ones who don’t, there is always assimilation into the larger ColonialMissionary looming over our heads, yielding keys to the fantastic universe of soap-operas, movies and music. And perhaps even kinky alternatives to intercourse of the coitus variety. But I digress. Either way, there are two options: 1. Fight the Imperialist Chromatic Hegemony  or 2. Be consumed by it (perhaps even like it!). I wish there weren’t such clear dichotomies — take that Descartes! — that there was some possibility of subverting or perverting the Neo-Colonial garbage thrown at us MudSquatters. But how can you topple an ideology or put it through the cycle of systematic and total bouleversement without exposing the underlying ulterior motive?

At least, this is the assumption many Postcolonial theorists make. Apparently it comes with the territory of considering oneself three steps above everyone else because you can theorise ‘them’ and ‘their mental condition’ as ‘they’ lie passively consuming all societal messages, like ‘they’ were brainless sheep in a culture factory. This is a sort of obsession, expecting the world to open ‘herself’ — another side-effect from nineteenth century academia — open to mapping, stealing narratives and even tongues. This way, each potential Postcolonial subject sits with their corner of land and language, positively asserting they can voice the people that come with the geography, denying that this re-possession of land isn’t another colonisation. After all, if you speak their language, you can represent them, right? I could continue ad nauseam in this vein but for the sake of my sanity and yours, let’s pretend I did and move on. This fetish with cartoligising, mapping, codifying history isn’t a new one. But the belief that the only way to de-colonise the self, dance the coloniser’s dance to unlearn old tricks is a recent one. Repeated and ritual use of terms such as Diaspora has trivialised the culture-specific experience of immigrant Jews and African communities; especially when writers such as Salman Rushdie and his band of dudely writers claim to be “children of Diaspora” while sitting in a comfortable mansion in the freaking Center of Western Imperialism. Or when many theorists compare racism with casteism, treating them as the same phenomenon and erasing each prejudice’s specific history, localising it to an understandable and reachable series of events. Not that different from the Victorians, isn’t it? These and countless others are the barriers that come up when a native sits back to theorise zie’s own culture and all its Colonial baggage. Imagine the plight of my lobes when I read some Western account on any Orientalist practice. Spoiler: It’s not a very pretty visual. Often it involves strange burning sensations of the nuclear kind in the vicinity of my LadyBrain.

Especially when talking about Feminist theory (practical or otherwise), more often than not its focus tends to center on the Extremely Obvious Universal Experience Of Every LadyPerson On The Planet: The Middle-Class, Suburban White Vulva Woman! And when pesky LadyPeople who may or not be of different colours, hues and ethnicities complain that it is too narrow a view, that it erases our experiences as LadyPeople who have faced oppression, silencing, misogyny and various other weapons in patriarchy’s arsenal more intensely than the Universal White Vulva Woman, rhymes, chimes and bytes of the GlobalSisterhood start blaring, once again pushing people of colour in the corner. Like Jane Eyre, the Colonial narrative of mainstream feminism too critiques its anti-woman elements within their own borders, but when it comes to seeing Bertha trapped in the attic emphatically, silences roar uniformly; she is castigated as a ‘beast’ without understanding the reasons behind her supposed bestiality. And then you wonder why words of WOC snarl, bite and corrode the psyche every time the pen hits the paper. But I digress.

While there are quite a few theorists, bloggers, activists and people (who may or may not be acquainted with technical jargon of écriture féminin) who understand the problems with privilege and consciously work at divorcing it from their lives, there is an acute lack of Colonial critique or even acknowledgment that actions of mainstream feminism are, in fact, Colonial in more instances than countable. To borrow and modify from Shulamith Firestone, “Colonialism (in feminism) is so deep, it is invisible”. You are probably wondering if I have enough caffeine in my veins as I write this, considering this accusation sounds entirely baseless. First off, the caffeine situation is taken care of, thank you for asking. Secondly, it’s not enough to say, “One must be aware of privilege and try to be aware of its super secret ways of manifestation” when speaking of WOC, especially from colonised lands. Just like the way it isn’t enough to say “All men are equal” and somehow hope this ever eliding equality will reach LadyPeople through the delightful trickle-down method, WOC need to be accorded with the respect and understood when we speak of ColonialForces at play, even in a movement as awesome as feminism. The very idea that feminism is meant to “enlighten” the masses, or the notion that European-American feminist ideals, theory and goals will somehow help LadyPeople all across the world isn’t the brightest belief. Replace feminism with “culture” and you’ll see how closely it smacks of ‘cultivising’ and ‘culturing’ a certain predetermined X sect of people it seems. And then try to explain how it isn’t Colonial to always seek examples of the most exotic and extreme practices of the Third World to justify why feminism isn’t “for them”. I’d like to see you backpedal your way out of rationalising how come women who don’t necessarily huddle in the corner of ditches, swat flies with their hands as their intestines lie bleeding, somehow don’t fit into the descriptions of the “backward” cultures. As the entire belt of women who are educated, aware and ready to fight patriarchy are coloured invisible by repeated excluding them out of discourse, explain to me once again why it isn’t Colonial, once again.

Take the sex-positivity movement for instance. Not only does it exist in privileged White circles of people, it is again Colonial in its root as it doesn’t place responsibility on the Coloniser for maintaining, perpetuating and forming specific cultural practices that brought sex-negativity into the forefront. Today, Indian culture is critiqued for being rigid when it comes to sexual norms, but understanding how the Colonial Gaze is still out loose in Indian society is missing. This way, it becomes equally difficult for an Outsider to see how the way we define ourselves, see ourselves and form our identities still reflects Colonial principles and by extension our sense of “normal” and “deviant” in sexual practices is still a parting gift from the (un)lovely Mr. Hastings. So don’t blame me if I don’t want to destigmatise BDSM or other kinky alternatives with you. I’d rather have women’s desires and voices heard now, instead of globalising experiences.

Feminism is supposed to be that one space which permeates our lives, eyes and sensibilities and make us better equipped to fight oppression. It promises to go ‘skin deep’ and become a part of our insides, to give us this special brand of armour that will make smashing patriarchy easier. Turns out, there are only a few skins who get this choice. The rest of us wander aimlessly, skinless.

 

 

 

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