Musings From The Empire

So this Link Fest is two weeks late. In my defense, I was super busy, away on weekends and lazy the days I wasn’t away. But this means there are more links while I try to drag my lazyarse into writing more regularly. I’d like to remind you nice People from the Olde Interwebes that we have an open guest-posting policy here if that sort of thing interests you. Also, this time around in the link fest, why don’t you drop in a few links from your own blog or anyone else’s writing that you enjoyed reading? This way sharing becomes truly sexay!

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1. Kuzhali Manickavel in oh little flower. see you lover. see your chittu kannil pattu pattu sikki konda lover (which has got to be the best title for a post yet)  talks about povertyporn, Previlege Denying Dudes among other things:

 

I think we can all agree that orphans with AIDS have enough issues to deal with without having to also deal with multiple abandonment issues from wealthy temp caregivers from other countries who are hoping to do something exotic and charitable for their summer holidays. And so I nobly offer this alternative. Voluntourists, come take care of me. I live in third world country, hence the third world name of this third world blog. I don’t have any major diseases but almost all my acquaintances have had diseases like typhoid, malaria, dengue fever, jaundice, chikungunya, cholera and one person even has TB! So you can come down here and wash my clothes and cook for me and buy me stuff  (you can’t touch me though) and I won’t talk in English at all, we can communicate using sign language to make your experience more authentic. Then you can give me lots of money and you can go back home and tell everyone you were a caregiver for a third world ghetto vampire in India. That’s way haut, trust me because it’s like poverty porn and Twilight mixed together. Massive street cred.

2. The Indian Homemaker discusses how patriarchy percolates in women’s friendships and makes dichotomies between then in A Woman is Not A Woman’s Worst Enemy. Patriarchy is :

Traditionally women’s partners are discouraged from seeing their marriages and their wives as important parts of their lives. It’s common for men to be shamed and taunted for showing they care for their wives or marriages.Jokes like ‘Shadi ke laddu, jo khaye wo pachtaye‘, or taunts like Joru ka gulaam are common. And this when women must move in among near strangers and depend on the spouse’s support to feel at home in a new environment.

Traditionally men’s partners are brought up to believe that finding a partner and ‘keeping him’ is their only goal in life. The education they receive, how they talk (softly), walk, look , respond to questions (always respectfully), the careers they choose (no jobs that require traveling) – everything is permitted keeping the comfort and approval of a future husband and his family in mind. Women are brought up to seek approval.

3. Desi Girl talks poignantly and beautifully about the plight of Desi Parents when their children abandon them and how they are stuck between two lands effectively in Desi Mothers: Lost In Translation :

In two years the couple had a baby; MIL immediately took off from work to take care of the baby and the new mother. Once the new mother was out of childbed things started to change, MIL’s work load increased, she was the one responsible for the baby and gradually two more children followed along with new dramas. Once bahu had a baby she became edgy, she started having problems with everything MIL did and she would not let her husband be alone with his parents even for a minute. Their son started acting up, yelling and screaming at the mother and often times not talking to the parents at all for days. After second child bahu asked MIL to give up her job for good as she wanted to work. MIL took it as a retirement bonus to be with the grand kids. Managing two homes across the border and three children under five became a full time job for MIL. Gradually the quarrels became so frequent that MIL felt she was a prisoner in her own home. It is then she asked her husband to move out.

4. Sharanya Manivannan’s poem Parampara among others in Softblow :

I willed my bleeding to
coincide with full moons.
It’s easier for them to
attribute my lunacy that way.
Rumour has it that I do my
sprinkling at the stroke of
midnight. I do it in the late
afternoon, after the radio
switches to news. I don’t
care for news.

5. KJB rebuts an article by Rita Banerjee in Locating Gandhi where she smooths out more than a few factual mistakes :

One of the best quotes I ever read about Gandhiji and women came from his great grandson Tushar Gandhi –

“I would say that Bapu was a champion of gender equality. But the moral strength that he imputes to women has an almost inborn, genetic complexion to it, which bears little or no relation to the exploitation, humiliation and hardship that has been women’s lot, historically speaking. Bapu remained fixed on the symbolism of the Mother. His was a passive picture of womanhood, of a person who undoubtedly possessed freedom but functioned within narrow parametres [sic] and defined boundaries.”


Musings From The Empire

Busy week as usual, I’m still coping with the post-Diwali hangover, meeting gazillion family members and of course, asking them for blessings and taking money for it*. Meanwhile, the Indian Blogosphere — regular as a clock! — reminds me just why I have such a long way to go before growing up. Because sticking to deadlines isn’t something I have down yet. Ahem. Apologies for being a week late, on with the LinkFest now!

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1. Sue from Sunny Days talks about contraception rather pragmatically and sensitively in Let’s Talk About Contraception.

Makes you think, doesn’t it? Two very close friends of mine have had to choose to terminate pregnancies because they were unplanned. Both were already mothers, and money, family concerns, health and other obligations helped them make this impossible choice. They know they did what they needed to, but one mourns a lost child… it doesn’t seem to make a difference whether you lose your baby by miscarriage or an MTP, the pain of losing a baby is something you seem to carry for ever.

A third dearly loved friend has just made the decision and there’s nothing I can bring myself to say except to wish her the strength and courage she needs. I know a woman who has kept the ultrasound scans of the baby she had to abort because those are the only ‘pictures’ she’ll ever have of this child of hers that she wanted so badly. I know a woman who closes her eyes and sees the daughter she never gave birth to, growing older in her head.

2. Dalit poet Meena Kandasamy’s poem Mohandas Karamchand takes a critical look at Gandhi

“Generations to come will scarcely
believe that such a one as this walked
the earth in flesh and blood.”
—Albert Einstein

Who? Who? Who?
Mahatma. Sorry no.
Truth. Non-violence.
Stop it. Enough taboo.

That trash is long overdue.
You need a thorough review.
Your tax-free salt stimulated our wounds
We gonna sue you, the Congress shoe.

 

3. Shail discusses the polemics of languages and decisive lines between tongues and states in Language Wars.

Now the topic of ‘mother tongue’ is a touchy subject anywhere and everywhere. There are people out there who are ready to beat up and even go to the extreme of killing each other over it. They think their own mother tongue is the best and the rest are just dust.Excuse me, I beg to differ. In the event that I were to grow up without ever hearing a word of my mother tongue, I could still be expected to turn out into a pretty decent human being.

So, personally my opinion on mother tongues is on these lines: Everyone has a mother and mothers have tongues. So what is so special about any particular one?? This I know is blasphemy to the language chauvinists. But then, language chauvinism bores me to tears.

4. Indian Homemaker in a chilling post about how words of women who’ve attempted suicides by trying to immolate themselves aren’t taken seriously even by the law in Dying Statements Of Vengeful Women Settling Scores By Attempting Suicide.

When I discussed this, one of the commonest reactions was, Oh these women know very well rat poison/pouring kerosene on themselves is not going to kill them, they just want to threaten their in laws.” It wasn’t considered odd that any woman should feel (if they did) that the only way to ‘get back’ at their in-laws was by hurting themselves (and risking death).

On the other hand one does hear about self immolation and suicide as desperate forms of protest.

Women hurting themselves to ‘settle scores’ with their in laws were (are?) generally seen as unaccommodating, head strong and vengeful troublemakers. The court seemed to blame this burns victim too.

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*Don’t take this too literally. Well not so much anyway.

Musings From The Empire

So many things have happened this week — besides the fact that I have the flu and writer’s block — and the Indian blogosphere is kicking and turnings its own desi arse and Handling The Situation more maturely than just donning ugly socks and drowning in coffee as I have. On to the link fest People of the Olde Interwebes!

1. Kuzhali Manickavel in There Is Something Here From Somewhere Else where she talks about the ‘Kashmir and Roy fiasco’ in the most hilarious and wry manner ever!

As an alleged Indian, an alleged writer but more importantly, as a person with a blog, it is my patriotic duty to say something about that whole Arundhati Roy- Kashmir Kerfuffle. I think the most important issue here is how awesome for Ms. Roy to sorta-but-not-really quote Mr. T.
I PITY THE FOOL!
Anyhoo, I was also going to dedicate one another GIF to all the people that got maybe even just a leeetle more informed about the Kashmir issue because of this whole kerfuffle but I couldn’t find any such peepals. So anyway, next time can we please make this about Chetan Bhagat, Naxalites and genetically-modified eggplants? Because then peepal could use the Naxalites as an excuse to unload all their Chetan Bhagat hate (which is silly because nobody hates Chetan Bhagat. also SHUTUP YOURS BLEDDY FEMALE MOUTHS!!!! ANYONE HATES CHETAN BHAGAT MEANS SUCH FOOLS ARE ANTI-INDIAN AND AGAINST COMMON PEOPLES!!!) and they can do all this while totally not talking about the Naxalites at all. I feel the genetically-modified eggplants would lend a scientific touch to the whole show because science is awesome.

2. Amruta Patil’s  story about a young pregnant girl of fifteen in two vignettes of her beautiful art in ‘Down Jacket‘.

3. Deeps on the ostracism women face while menstruating in Worshiping While Menstruating — Why Not?.

According to Hinduism, the religion I follow(sometimes blindly, I wonder), a woman is not allowed to take part in any kind of religious ceremonies for the first four days of her menstrual cycle. She cant go to temple, do poojas, eat prasadams or offerings from temples, churches, or mosques. Partake in festivals. She cant enter the kitchen. In a nutshell, she is ostracized. So much so that she is made to feel like a sinner if she goes against such beliefs, no matter how ridiculous they may seem.

4. Girlsguidetosurvival on Desi Women’s Friendship: Explore the dynamics where she shows how LadyBrains have a different way of relating to other LadyBrain’s in systems as airless as ours.

There is historical romanticization of the male friendship be it Akbar-Birbal, Vikram Betal, David and Jonathan, Duryodhana and Karna, Krishna Sudama (readers may add their findings here). Then there is bollywood singing paeans of male friendship in super duper hits like DostiYaranaDil Chahta Hai or Three Idiots. These movies celebrated male friendship, purpose, courage, sacrifice and fun time together. No such examples are found in history about women’s friendships and when Desi Girl explored bollywood track record all she could find was Raste Pyar KeDil Ashna Hai and Filhaal (readers may suggest their findings, Sex and the City is not desi, DG hasn’t watched Bach Ke Rehna Re Baba, may be she can’t survive it). Yes, few attempts are made by TV channels to copy western sitcoms but they are equally pathetic. These movies focused on how a women upheald patriarchal expectation of their gender roles and fun was only a subset of the whole friendship equation. First movie, is a love triangle so one heroine has to sacrifice, second one, is friendship between three friends who guard an out of wedlock pregnancy of one and third though is a bit different route to glorify motherhood in the form one woman surrogating for the other. In all three movies women at least one woman if not all women was unmarried. What happens to women’s friendship once they get married?

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Leave your links in the comments! And remember the Open Guest Posting Policy is STILL open!


Musings From The Empire

It’s incredibly easy to lock myself high up in the ivory tower, to think I am the only one from India writing about the Olde Woman Problem, that I am that whinyarse proverbial ‘lone’ voice and ad nauseam in this vein of self-pity. Only when Arvan asked me if I was interested in doing a weekly round-up of Indian feminist blogs, did that tower come tumbling down. As I read these women’s words, I felt reflected, mirrored and most importantly, just belonged here. So here a few voices from the Empire, speaking out. Give them your love people of the Olde Interwebes!

1. Bhavia on ‘I hate being an Indian woman‘ where she discusses the claustrophobia and the ‘hysteria’ a few women she knows feel.

If we don’t do things that we wanted during our one life,then when will we ever do it?Looks like the purpose of educating us and teaching us to aim high was to get married off without allowing us to do what we wanted in life.Then what was the need for spending/investing/wasting money on us? The problem is when parents expect us to do everything in the traditional way.They are happy and proud when we top school and college.But they show frowney faces and wrinkled foreheads the moment we tell them that we would like to post-graduate or work abroad

2. Unmana in ‘And, in More Sexist News‘ discusses the overtly sexist IAF policy that restricts women from being put in combat positions.

I am not surprised at the IAF’s policy; I am not surprised at the obvious sexism in a government agency. I am appalled though, that the Vice Chief Air Marshall doesn’t seem in the least embarrassed about his own sexism – or about making such sexist statements as a defense of those sexist policies.

3. Indian Homemaker in ‘Of Housewives, Beggars and Prostitutes‘ on the lack of recognition women’s labour gets.

Housewives can’t be clubbed with beggars and prostitutes says Supreme Court. And why were they clubbed together? Because, according to Census, all these non workers are not engaged in economically productive work. No wonder so many women prefer ‘work’ to ‘non-work’.

4. Shail in ‘Some Thoughts On Domestic Violence‘ describing poignantly her memories as a firsthand witness of domestic violence.

Even as a child, my blood pressure shot up when I witnessed such scenes of violence. I longed to barge in and give a piece of MY mind to the bullies and their pliant victims. My blood boiled in anger and roared in my ears. I clenched my fists in anger as my heart raced. I so wanted the women to object to what was happening, hit him back and throw him out of the house. I wanted the women to stand up and look the perpetrator in the eye and say, “No, you will not!” None of them did of course. Some of them groveled trying to please their Lord, others stood dumb, some answered the questions he hurled but got hit anyway, others argued or even abused in return which then became a free for all. But none of them stood up straight looked the man in the eye and said, “No you will not!”

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