Monday, October 30, 2006

n.b.: (note blease.)

dear loyal readers who hang on my every word (and other random riff-raff! hehe) -

the next installment of squiggles may be delayed a short while. the control freak in me will not be denied, and so i'm finally giving in to base urges to be disgustingly well-organised, and am trying to file the posts under vague categories.

of course, if the exercise proves to be too hair-tugful it could well be abandoned in the name of "chaos breeds creativity" and similar excuses. (after all, like my dad maintains, if you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance, at least baffle 'em with bullshit.)

but until then, note blease and excuse the silence. we're Organising. (sigh. now if only i could make up my mind about the categories..."blah", "scribbles" and "squiggles" d'you think? :D)

my life


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

abuse of male privilege

i had made a list - a list of the unearnt, undeserved privileges that i have as a well-to-do brahmin woman. i hoped - almost prayed - that some men at least, after reading that, would make a list of the gender-bestowed privileges that they have.

because this is what happens when a man abuses his male privilege and uses it to hurt a woman.

every time some guy says "but i'm a nice guy!" and expects to be trusted implicitly, i want to bury him in the mound of "nice guys" who do hurtful, vicious, unthinkingly dumb things.

no man has ever introduced himself to me, or any woman of my acquaintance, saying "you know what? i'm not a nice guy, i do bad things. so please don't trust me - treat me as an aberration in the world of nice men". pretty much most men consider themselves nice people. "nice men" who happen watch porn, leer at women, "eve tease", or exploit vulnerable women and children sexually.

more than dealing with god, i find that dealing with men is a daily act of faith, with more immediate repercussions if i misjudge. each time i let myself be seen in the company of a man, i know its a risk. i know if anything happens to me, that fact - that i was With A Man - will be the first excuse to humiliate me and pain me further.

men know this almost better than women. the man who abused me was a father of a nice little girl. every father and husband i know has taught his daughter and wife to never trust other men. my own father says every single man is guilty until proven innocent. im sure my husband will, with the same concern for my safety, say the same thing.

women are taught, as a policy decision, to mistrust men, but are expected to make a "personal" exception for every single male who chooses to enter their lives. questioning any man provokes "righteous" anger. a woman is expected to automatically wipe her mental slate clean and start from ignorance all over again.

she is confronted by two choices : compliance or refusal. either way is a hard way.

in compliance, the more she walks away from her lived experience, from all the knowledge that she has developed from first principles, the more the rift between her resolutely rose-tinted world and reality. and reality has a way of catching up and giving you a nasty jar if you try to leave it behind. a woman conscious of the rift rails against the social order that expects her to be such a hypocrite to herself and others. a woman who doesnt perceive the rift eventually falls into a dark painful abyss.

so there is the other option. to refuse to wipe one's mind blank. to face the blaze of anger that will surface each time a man's code is studied. this is a choice that especially most women who have undergone abuse make. to always warn ones self of the danger of trusting blindly. of unquestioningly accepting someone's word about their morality. (oftentimes, not even an open, explicit claim, but an implied one which is much harder to disprove or analyse because of its chimeral nature.)

it is both hurtful and infuriating to repeatedly have to make this tradeoff. and to be judged after being put in a situation that doesnt offer healthy choices in the first place.

were i a man, i guess i would want to crucify each one of my kind who sustained and reaffirmed such a screwed up social system. collective responsibility, while distinct from personal responsibility, has a way of hitting home.

I am not an angry girl
but it seems like I've got everyone fooled
every time I say something they find hard to hear
they chalk it up to my anger
and never to their own fear
and imagine you're a girl
just trying to finally come clean
knowing full well they'd prefer you
were dirty and smiling

- Ani DiFranco & Tracy Chapman

also posted on sthreeling.

my life , feminist issues, brownskinspeak

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Monday, October 02, 2006

unveiled insensitivity

i read many feminist blogs, several of which often teach me new ideas. recently there was all that hullabaloo about jessica valenti meeting president clinton, and being assininely maligned by another pseudo feminist blogger about the way she appeared in a group photograph which was taken.

i came to know of the whole thing a little late, not having followed the blog world too closely for a while in between. i was glad to see that several people had taken up the nasty post and crucified it. good going. great going.

but hang on, quite a few blogs i was reading, expressed a sentiment like "yeah, left to [whomever], they'd have us wearing burqas!".

i'm not a muslim. i do not live in a country where i have to wear a burqa or headscarf every day. but i do find that rather insensitive a remark. what gives one culture the right to keep referring to something in another culture with such scant respect?

equating it to our wearing a dhuppatta in india, it is one thing for me to criticise the men around me who insist on my wearing a dhupatta to cover the silhouette of my breasts. i am protesting against their claim that that if i do not wear a dhuppatta, i deserve to be harassed. that they can think they own my body and dress me the way it suits them.

that does not mean that i am saying that i will always refuse to wear the cloth. i am merely saying, that i will wear it when i want to. i do think that sometimes it adds elegance. sometimes i want to wear it to be able to cover my head against our scorching sun when i wait at a bus stop. to wear it simply because i want to feel the texture of the cloth touching my cheek. that's my business.

i would not take kindly to a westerner labelling my dress as retrogressive, and viewing my whole culture as simply one skewed gender equation. i also would not take kindly to being made the Other while the westerner, ignorant of my customs and culture, criticises me by his/her standards. i do not think it is "supportive" to have a western woman criticise my culture, when she alienates and seems to look down on all of us who live by it.

it may seem inexplicable that i want to wear the clothes i do. frankly, i find miniskirts as hampering as a woman from the west may find my madusar. and i do not think that wearing miniskirts liberates me, makes me modern or leads to an intellectual revolution, so thank you very much but i am happy and comfortable being fully covered. i do not think it cramps my style. if i am not sorry for myself, you have no call to be either - i do not want to be forced into the role of the victim and receive someone's condescending pity.

protesting against the stoning of women who do not choose to wear a burqa, supporting them in their right to choice, helping them assert that they are not dolls to be dressed by men around them as they wish, is different from ridiculing or being contemptuous of a garment of their culture's.

please show a little more respect for other cultures - whites have colonised many of our countries for long, and have caused much bloodshed. dont tread on our cultural sentiments (however inexplicable they may seem to you) with your hobnailed imperialist's boots. white cultural hegemony is not as apocryphal as some of us would love it to be.



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