Weekly Textual/Sexual Reader (Week 1)

Jaded16’s Note: So a few weeks ago I joined Tumblr on a whim. Alcohol may have been a part of the three second decision-making process. Or not. Anyway, on another equally fancyarse whim I promised myself I’d read one book a week. So readers of the Olde Interwebes I will torture you weekly with these inane book reviews. It comes with the territory of e-stalking someone. Heh.

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Dear Tumblr,

A year ago, in  one of the best classes I’ve ever taken (women’s studies) my professor introduced a book to us ‘The Inner Courtyard’, a collection of short stories by Indian women. She read out an excerpt wonderfully and I just knew that I had to read this book. Sort of like a strange need to again re-create the magic the excerpt had weaved around me. I remember finding this book and feeling so happy, looking and touching the cover; it seemed like an image I’d seen before somewhere but didn’t know just where. Now I remember my grandmother’s sari had a similar border, but there yet remains an ever illusive feeling, of possessing something and yet letting it slip out in wisps helplessly voluntarily compulsively, taking tiny slivers of myself with it.

With page one started my difficult — at best — relationship with the book. People are always surprised when they see me not completely swooning over the book, after all it’s written by Indian women right? So I should be able to automatically relate to it, as if some part of my cell formation as an IndianLady should tug me towards these stories. As if, these words should re-vertebrate within my soul (if I even have one that is) or perhaps within my being as a woman, I should see my past coming out alive from the flesh of the book. As if I were to react to the book like I was an ant, caught between the words and print, till I became so tiny, forgetting who I was and become a part of the grand narrative. As if this ‘Indianness’ that I supposedly am born with will help me understand this book as an extension of myself. I can’t simplistically say that none of these assumptions were true nor can I completely accept what I felt reading these voices.

These are hard stories about women I can see around me. Perhaps I’ve known a few of them, met one, been one, aspired to become another. Sometimes I saw glimpses of my grand mum, in some characters I found my sister. In many lines, breaks and pauses, I saw me. How do you deal with a book that mirrors your life, makes sure you are deeply affected and then shrouds itself under the convenient label of ‘fiction’? As if it is really that easy to disengage with history, with the past that stills runs fresh in my larger collective identity as a woman of a certain Hindu community, even as I try to deny its presence. There were too many instances in the book where I had to keep it down, when I’d read about another repressed character and see it wound a place directly near my uterus. I’d feel that low guttural punch no matter how many times, in how many tempos I’d read Ismat Chughtai’s Chauthi Ka Jaura wishing fruitlessly this time it would hurt less as the protagonist would lock herself in that tool shed while her mother soothed her bleeding fingers from the wedding dress she didn’t finish making.  Or  I’d try not to smile at Anjana Appachana’s Her Mother as she blends  stream-of-consciousness with the most abrupt pauses left mid-sentence. I wish I wasn’t moved as much by Vaidehi’s ‘madwoman’ Akku as she made up stories about her husband, dead child and dead self or I tried really hard to keep my distance from the fury unleashed my Mrinal Pande’s nameless protagonist as she raved against blatant sexism she witnessed as a child in Girls. The hardest moment was when I felt Vishwapriya L. Iyengar’s Library Girl slip under the veil. A claustrophobia so similar that it has become a part of my identity; precisely why I choked back tears when I read “Within the veil, a darkness seized Talat. It bandaged her mouth, her eyes and sealed her voice. She cried and screamed inside her black veil. But they did not hear and did not see“, shocked to see someone had peered somewhere inside and chiseled these words to perfection. I remember laughing out loud in the train reading Mahashveta Devi’s Draupadi as she subtly and beautifully recast history, this time giving her Draupadi a bare body albeit a proud one. It’s difficult to not fall in love with this book, exactly where the danger lies.

The moment you lose your cool, it slips under your skin leaving you with nothing but these voices right in your veins. As the title suggests, these voices are present in the Inner Courtyard of the house, inside that space that was made for women just so they could be contained within the confines of their home. The same happened to me; I was there in the courtyard, crying that my voice doesn’t leave the inner veranda of the house. At the same time, strangely relieved no one could see this bile pouring out. Just when I closed the book, that part of me in the courtyard sits there, waiting to unleash itself when I next open it. Ironically, the day after I finished reading the book I went to a wedding, pasting that fake smile, fitting into the heavy shoes of the ‘Indian’ woman who lost her voice a long time ago. And then I remembered the remaining five copies of the book on the shelf, fantastically wishing those five readers would join me in the inner courtyard later as we’d air our locked voices.

Love,

Jaded16

The Inner Courtyard is a collection of short stories written by Indian women, in English and in translation. There are more stories in the collection, though I talked about the few that I liked best. The anthology is edited by Lakshmi Holmstörm.


Erasing Invisibility One Step At A Time

As a pure defense of the well-being of my lobes, I tend to interact with fellow feminists more than I do with UnFeminist people under the (misguided)  assumption that at least, Ze feminists won’t make me want to puncture my own eyeballs on an alarmingly regular basis. I can be such a half-turnip sometimes! This doesn’t mean any feminists haven’t been accused of  endorsing harmful tropes like classicism, trans-phobia, racism, ableism etc — from Margaret Sanger to Mary Daly. Even today we will find someone who will insist theirs is the “right” kind of feminism and anyone who deigns to disagree with zie needs brain transplant right away. All said and done, when I actually meet one of these Self-Proclaimed-Dispatchers-Of-Feminist-Privilege, I’m always shocked, then outraged and ultimately undergo too much chafing of my BrainCells.

This week at a conference on the Renaissance Women of Maharashtra, I came across these revolting lines — There has never been a ‘real‘ feminist movement in India. They further explained this conclusion because there have never been any “Waves”, just tiny “ripples” in the stream of women’s rights. While their facts seem to be correct, the conclusion they drew was hasty and contrived. If I were to put it delicately, they were WRONG. When I contradicted their statements, they managed to drown more in quicksand of their own doing. Apparently the reason it’s not a real movement because it’s “nothing like the Radical Wave of the 60’s in the U.S” —  the doctrine of gag reflexes? It fits in right here. Then the speakers said something else too along the lines of “the wave in Europe and U.S. can only be called a movement; as there is a collective desire and agenda of change”. I confess, I didn’t bother to listen to anything after that but it can’t have been anything good judging from my fellow speaker’s disgusted looks. Once again, in a conference — the most academic of its kind–  we forget the contribution of the so-called “lower caste” women as they don’t represent “the normal demographic“. I invoke the omnipresent gag reflex again.

It’s not unusual to see such conscious erasure of Dalit women’s involvement in academic discourse. Unless, of course one of them comes to represent their own clan, we pretty much ignore them. We proclaim loudly on LegalPaper that “untouchability” is a crime and is now completely absent from our culture while we continue to practice it, blatantly and ostentatiously (albeit craftily). People think Dalit feminists are being melodramatic when they claim triple oppression on grounds of Class, Caste and Gender. Many people rob them of speech because whenever they speak out, they highlight the suppression they face at the hands of the upper castes (read: who wants to read just how big arseholes they are being?). Many can’t stand “Dalit writing” because of how unaesthetic it is — considering how Dalit writing often closely mirrors their lived reality — or some just think they should just shut the hell up now that they have “reservations” or “protective discrimination”. Some have a problem with the way masculinity is constructed in Dalit writing, an almost hyper-masculine ideal, which again is a little too close to home. But the problem most people have with is the organic, cohesive bond Dalit women depict. There were  many critics at this conference that suggested that these Dalit feminists shouldn’t give so much importance to women, as “after a point, this whole pro-woman diatribe seems forced“. Never mind that Dalit women were the pioneers of the Ambedkarite movement, bore the brunt of educating their children and themselves by themselves, took unmitigated violence from their spouses and the society for simply being women. Never mind that their bodies bear the harshest wounds of oppression, as till date, they are seen as bodies literally to be possessed — by their own men and men of the upper castes. Let’s completely disregard their entry and sacrifice into the Nationalist movement; they have reserved seats in public transport now. IF they are ever mentioned with academic discourse, then their husband’s contribution gets special mention for being benevolent and kind while women are silenced again. People don’t even want to consider that Dalit women led and sustained a “movement” that would satisfy even Western standards (though questions why should our movement match up to other cultures are met with heavy silences) of the “feminist wave”.

Such is the precarious nature of Dalit feminism, their struggle becomes more immediate than most, as living life from the lowest and meanest position of the Subaltern makes them “outsiders”; chromatically so. Most people don’t regard their movement as feminist at all because they aren’t concerned with mainstream ‘feminist’ problems. Their struggle is “basic” as a large demographic of Dalits live below the poverty scale (to the sadist pleasure of the Landed Gentry). I don’t see how can these women ever worry over reproductive rights or sexual freedom if they don’t even have food to eat, aren’t educated, fighting sexism in the most personal way possible. But of course, because they don’t mimic Simone de Beauvoir’s tongue or her qualms, they can’t possibly be feminist, can they? Instead of judging the world with a Western lens, I’d prefer it if we saw how these RemarkableWomen — collectively, as they are, many hearts and bodies pulsating as one — negotiate their manufactured invisibility.

To think we celebrate each passing year of independence with pomp and pride but are dedicated to never divorcing this collective colonised persona is hilarious. Tragically hilarious, rather.

P.S. Another brilliant post on ‘Whiteness’  by Wallamazoo that I’m just too damn tired to cross-post. Read it here.

On Tackling The DudeConcil: The Empire Writes Back

Dear DudeCouncil,

I know you are surprised I’m writing to you. We haven’t had the smoothest of relationships these past few years. Fine, I lied. We’ve never had a smooth relationship. You suppress and marginalize just about anyone-who- isn’t-a-Dude for kicks, make sure that everything done by anyone who doesn’t agree to your principles of Dude-ism is silenced. You might as well burn unicorns, kitties and pups in one large bonfire while you’re at it. Can you really blame me for badmouthing you from that day, many moons ago when I learnt to say ‘patriarchal misogyny’ and point directly towards you as you tried to explain to me just why is it wrong to read ‘The Second Sex‘ at 12? Methinks not. Also, good luck for dismissing any of my future rants like you did that time.

Over the years I learnt intimately all your conniving ways; much too closely than anyone would have ever wanted to learn. I’ll take a moment to congratulate you for  recruiting all those Ladies; those you could convince that you were indeed not speaking through your arse anyway.  Till date, you confuse many a FeministLady just how you managed to control so many lives without feeling even a bit of guilt. We’ve had this conversation before many times (with no visible change in you, except your haircut perhaps). Today I’m not ranting about that. Who knew I could actually generate new complaints in the short time we came face to face after our encounter last week ? Oh how much you’d learn if you let anyone-who-isn’t-a-Dude speak once in a while! That again is a rant destined for some other time.

Today, I’m fuming talking about how you’ve percolated in every part of my life. If you thought Narcissus was a wee bit self-obsessed, then all the examples I fish out of my past week might strike you as a little extreme. But then again, why do I care for your discomfort? You never did for mine. You do realise this doesn’t reflect too well on your progenitor, Capitalism. Then again, Capitalism is probably floating away on all our money, laughing at everyone, completely oblivious to anything but the sound of more money down its slimy throat. Be sure to send hir my (un)warm regards.

Error # 1:  You show me this on T.V. the first thing in the morning. Now I know you’ve laughed for the better part of eternity at how dumb and stupid womenfolk are for complying to standards you created, the extremes they go to be accepted by you. I get the joke. Seriously. If you put just enough venom in my coffee, I’d probably even laugh with you. But, just out of curiosity I’m wondering what it’ll take for you to not constantly degrade one gender anyone-who- isn’t-a-Dude. If tomorrow we magically acquire that dangly appendage between our legs, will these jokes stop? I didn’t think so either.

Error # 2:  No matter how earnestly I try to understand your need to constantly fetishize Oriental women as sex-objects, the only reason my LadyBrain comes up with is that you are a complete waste of GrayMatter. Showering me with e-mails that detail what part of my body you want to eat off of makes you smart, you think; in addition to illustrating the classic disease of Male Privilege. You think this further establishes the ‘master-slave’ didactic between us, because I’m a few shades darker than you. Truth is, I’ve never laughed harder at anything else. Also, this is a special shout-out to a special Dude-ly Dude Jasper who drowned me in the biggest number of disgusting pictures of his nether regions over the last week, this is my last reply to you – Be Gone! Also, maybe consult a head-doctor. A tip:  Soaps are pretty awesome. Use them!

Error # 3: You’ve managed to seep into the minds of little children with what the world calls the trickle-down effect. My students were convinced that all men are greater than all women because this is what they see in their homes. Suddenly, the little Dudes in the class start bossing over the little Doe’s. When I complained to the other teachers to stop encouraging such behaviour, they say, “We’re just preparing them for what’s to come” — A statement I’m sure you recognise. Didn’t you chant the very same sentence as you came out of Satan’s cooter? My LadyBrain blanks out on your history ever so often.

Error # 4: You even took the liberty of dispatching one of your PawnDudes to lecture my LadyFriends and I on the dangers of women drinking alcohol and consequently ruining the mood for the rest of the night. I saw that your face became as shoddy as a sour grape when we laughed at your inane theories. When you were almost about to assault us, I swear the drink just slipped out of my hand, almost accidentally on purpose. This should be a healthy lesson for you to shut your piehole when Ladies repeatedly ask you to. I still maintain you tripped on your own though.

And lastly,

Error # 5: You spend months hyping up the new logo and the new thought for Star Plus (which is the Indian version of Twihard for housewives) with the tag line, “Soch Nayi, Rishta Wahi” which means, “Old relationships, New thoughts“. Last time, this meant that the woman was generally given two dimensions, the Good Indian Housewife who was married and conveniently schackled grounded with 2+ kids, roamed about the house looking like a re-vamp  the 1940’s without ever even mentioning her stifled sexuality or the SingleWoman who is tough and ambitious, also the villain whose deepest fantasies include seducing men and becoming an ideal housewife. And this article tells me, what this ‘new thought’ encompasses,”Once again, the channel celebrates the family, with the woman at its core – the woman who keeps the family together and unceasingly supports its aspirations to move up the social ladder. In this family, there is a quest for fulfilment, and strong dreams of a better future. ” So it is actually re-cycled ‘new’ thought. I see.

So, dear DudeCouncil, one last message to you — can you keep yourself out of my life for just a week? I am going on a hiatus for about seven days where I’m going to abandon the Internetz leaving my friend to moderate my blog (read: there are just so many angry Indian housewives I can take a day. Today and the next seven days, I plan to stand none). When I come back, you may resume your DoucheBaggerey ways. Jeez even Beauvoir took breaks once in a while! Mine has come now.

Stay out of my life for a week. We’ll start the yelling match as soon as I return.

Regards,

Jaded16.

P.S. I’m going to be a huge stick up your butt but I need this done now. Can all the people who have read my blog on Google Reader or on any other RSS feed come forward? My blog is appraised for non-misogynist ads (you KNOW how rare that is) and I need the real number of all my readers. Please come forward and confess.

P.P.S. A huge shout out to all of you who e-mailed me last week. Trust me, all that kept me going was your support.

I Can’t Believe You Laugh At This: The Edition Of Just Why I Want To Live In A Cave

Dear BLOG! reading person,

I have to warn you early enough today. This letter you see before you is actually a rant. A long winded-one at that. So, if you’re in no mood to listen to me rant (again), you can leave. I seriously don’t want any more e-mails detailing just why do I rant and what’s so wrong with it. Now that all the troll-people have gone, let’s get on with our usual LadyBusiness shall we?

It comes as no surprise that I love watch mind-numbingly horrid T.V. shows; it’s a real problem with no visible cure. So today, while I fed my weekly need to pierce my eyeballs out addiction, something terrible happened. It happened. Indian T.V. has finally managed to completely repulse me by just a three-minute dance performance. Every time I see something terrible, I promise myself I won’t watch the show again. Sure enough, next week I am on my position on the couch, waiting for the horror to unfold.

This show I talk of is called ‘Zara Nachke Dikha’ which is probably the Indian version of ‘Dancing With The Stars’ — only the stars are divided into two teams : Men Vs Women. This week the theme was ‘fusion’. This is an opportunity for the contestants to mix Western and traditional Indian dance styles. Apparently contestant Siddhesh Pai  interpreted this theme to ‘fusing genders’. Just peachy.

The dance performance is set to an ‘item-number’ genre of song (These songs are typically identified with courtesans and prostitutes), where the contestant is dressed as a woman first and then quickly changes back to his usual masculine self. As it is a ‘second-grade’ song, this gender subversion is ignored. The audience looks at the dancing prowess of the contestant, how effortlessly he dances like a woman, how equally effortlessly he changes to his shiny silver costume, giving out a ton of dude-ittude one moment, shifting to feminine seduction next. This can possibly be an extremely warped version of Woolf’s Orlando on an alternate universe. You can hear people cheering, the judges laughing, while I seethed in fury from my position in front of the T.V.

The Indian Transsexual

The Indian Transsexual

This is certainly not the first time transgender and trans-sexual identities have been an object of ridicule. It’s de rigueur for stand up comedians and script-writers to use trans-sexuality as a joke. After all, transsexuals in India are nothing but a joke. A man who actually has LadyBits? Or a woman who is born with the cumbersome male-appendage? Nothing provides better fodder for jokes and mockathons. They are called hijra and chakka — derogatory words that symbolise their “incomplete-ness”.

The trans-sexual community is a grossly marginalised one; people literally walk away when they see them. We see them at road signals, dressed in sarees, walking in packs of two’s and three’s. They beg for money, tease the taxi driver, laugh and walk away. As a child, I was scared of them mainly because I didn’t know who they were. When my mum explained to me that they were “half and half”, I realised they were people too.

Finish reading at Womanist Musings here.

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This Is What Happens When You Mix Poop With Sh*t

Author’s Note : BLOG! people I might get a job this week. I’m going to be the annoying person that repeats stuff over and over again on the news. For practice, I can take this completely random example, say this one – My BLOG! posts are still dedicated to my SuperAwesomeFriend. Now, I noticed something odd last time around, people read my post, stayed on my BLOG! for more than hour – pay close attention BLOG! reading people! This is the climax  – but they didn’t leave my SuperAwesomeFriend any smiles or jokes. That’s just mean. So, now I have a new rule – leave a smile (even the emoticon) or a joke even if you smile the smallest of smiles while reading. I promise, the next post will have more reasons to smile. This is my personal favour to you, BLOG! reading people. You know what to do.

P.S. I’m not stalking you. Just my blog is. Blame stat-counter; not me.

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This is for you jeaffe67 who says : u liik like you r smokin. he'res me boner. kiss me. I hope you liked it

This is for you jeaffe67 who says : u liik like you r smokin. he'res me boner. kiss me. I hope you liked it. And meet a dictionary will you?

The world is a strange, amazing place isn’t it? Not in a let’s-do-that-Into-The-Wild-And-Explore-Forests with Sean Penn kind of way, but I’m musing philosophically just-how-many-troll-people-can-infest-my-blog kind of way.  Something about my blog says “come hither you troll” like the way the Indian Parliament makes false promises *cough women’s bill cough* to all the troll-people in the world. Judging from the amount of troll comments and e-mails I received over the weekend, I actually considered changing my blog’s name to This Is What Happens When You Mix Poop With Sh*t for about 0.0002 seconds. I can’t give the troll-people that much satisfaction though. They will have to make do with this post title only.

You BLOG! reading people may have noticed I opened up a guest posting policy and repeatedly asked for anyone who wants to send their entries in to proofread for misogyny, racism, trans-phobia, homophobia or any other kind of condescending, privileged stance. But like most of my e-lectures blog posts, BLOG! reading people decided to ignore it and I got two posts. One is against me and the other is where the author denounced feminism. So I’ve added some special magic — also known as my wit in some circles —  plus the two guest posts and out comes wet with afterbirth the following new post. (Sorry about the afterbirth thing. I do overestimate my wit sometimes). Oh and both of you aren’t getting any credit for your words; mainly because I overwrote on them just like that; also you requested to remain anonymous. So this is what a guest post written by a troll-person looks like  (Spoilers – To make you not gouge your eyes out, I re-wrote it** and left my opinions in parentheses)

A Crappy UnAlternative To Life” .

Dear Reader,

I think this blog is a blasphemy blessing. We live in a beautiful crappy world (Really a world where a rapist tells his victims to learn from the rape is a beautiful world then my brains are gunk). There are a few many things that are essentially wrong with the world (see the rapist telling his victims to lock doors, people getting injured by bomb blasts, suicide bombers and other happy news from the past week to get what I am saying) and they can cannot be easily fixed even if we try (GO Team Unicorns! Try fixing Indo-Pak relations with your magic wand). The author of this blog is one of the most obnoxious delightful writers I’ve ever read  and she brings up the most inane thought-provoking subjects up for discussion. I don’t see why we have to read about her opinions on abortion, stupid sensible pro-choice and feminism. We live in a post-feminist world (This is a joke) and we don’t still  need feminism. Feminism makes women chase their men douche-y versions of men away. Which self-respecting and self-loving (no innuendo intended) woman wants that doesn’t like to get rid of douchebags? As a humble supremely over-confident person who has no reason to be, I’m here to state my opinion to you readers because the author has opened up her space (Guest posting officially closed for troll-people) and my though website gets doesn’t get half as many readers, I will tell you how it is be a whiny douche and write about how privileged I am.

Here’s the thing. My life is hard really boring and I will proceed to tell you the all the details in the most boring way possible. You’ll see how hard loser-y my life is. I am a straight dude douche from India, in my mid 20’s working as a chemical engineer in loserville. I used to be feminist (Ha! I can’t stop laughing) but I now devote myself to being an egaliatarian a CabbageBrain who flaunts his privileged ass  at every turn. I am trying to propagate a new way of thinking : CabbageBraining for Other CabbageBrains. I believe, with the power vested in me as a human an overbearing half-turnip, there can  be a way out for other self-deluded self-confident feminists. If you accept the take-charge nature partriarchal privilege that men have (Oh I accept it. I just won’t let it flourish) life would be doubly easier for you my pathetic little sack. My life is so hard loser-y because I’m not heard enough women run away from me (and they always will). You feminists make a lot of noise (!) about what should the world be (devoid of people like you for instance) but when I offer to create a solution more problems you ignore me. Don’t you know how hard loser-y my life is? I don’t have a job (I wonder why) and reading your sh*t about how women’s lives are difficult just make me laugh cry like a loser. My ex left me because (see the last parentheses) she couldn’t understand me I am a whiny CabbageBrain and then you write about how the world has made you an un-woman. Can you see why am I writing this to you ? (Not really). You need to stop writing what you write, especially they way you write and focus on making an egalitarian society (which translates to a patriarchal utopia in this dude’s head). I just don’t understand how do you have consistent readers? I write whine better than you (I second that).

This is my seventh e-mail to you and you just reply with “haha” (’tis true) all the time. It’s about time you take my words my super-whiny attitude seriously. I am a dude douche! I deserve a proper reply! You seem like an intelligent person (Finally! One thing you got right) and I’d like to know how you manage to get a consistent readership? I want to spread my ideas seeds of CabbageBraining too. Can you direct readers to my website? (The link is deleted because frankly I’m not that big of a sadist to inflict it on people).

I hope you answer this one. But I will write to you even if you won’t (don’t I know).

Regards,

The CabbageBrain(s) of the week.

About four months ago, my 7-year-old cousin asked me what would happen if one mixes two different kinds of poop. When I replied that we would get a new kind of sh*t, I wasn’t entirely sure of my answer. Until now.

P.P.S – Guest posting is still open. Only, again, make sure its proofread for misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, racism or any other condescending stance. Otherwise the same will happen to you too.

** Do you think I may have crossed the thin line between the real-world and the WorldWhereIamQueen? Let me know.

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