FEMINISM- THE WAY WE SHOULD KNOW IT

Pavithra Venkat

There are a lot of us who believe in gender equality, acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, many of us who believe that sex workers should be treated as human beings. But there aren’t many of us who have realised that these beliefs of ours make us feminists or rather many of us don’t want to associate ourselves with the idea of feminism.

Ever since I realised I was a feminist and felt proud when I called myself one, I have been trying to “enlighten” people on what feminism is all about. Every time I explain to someone the whole concept of feminism, I have observed that, though people agree with the idea, they don’t believe that feminism revolves around the idea of EQUALITY anymore. It is commonly believed to be a concept that says women are superior to men. While feminism says that not all men are rapists, it is commonly believed that feminists imply otherwise. This is formed because feminism doesn’t believe in the idea of boys will be boys. It believes that boys, like girls, will be held accountable for their actions.

I have also realised that a common criticism about feminism is that people say that feminists don’t seem to agree on anything. However, they don’t realise, that it is this unique attitude that prevents feminists spaces from becoming echo chmabers.

As I wonder why people refuse to believe feminism in its true form, I realised there are two main reasons:

1. THE HISTORY OF FEMINISM: A quick Recap

Feminism was started as part of the French revolution, in the 18th Century, to fight for the legal rights of women. However, it is not cool to still stay in the 18th century and say Feminism supports only the women because like everything in this world the phenomena of feminism has also gone through an evolution. We are currently in the fourth wave where feminists believe that men go through gender inequality, fight for the rights of the trans-genders, sex workers, people of different sexual orientations while still focusing on women empowerment.

2. SETTING THE WRONG EXAMPLE:

A few people, who believed themselves to be feminists, completely overlooked the idea of gender equality and made it all about women. They simply portrayed something that’s definitely not feminism but what is known as misandry. Now, we can’t guarantee that every single person in the society knows what feminism truly is. So, obviously, they perceive feminism to be what feminists show them it is. Hence we can easily say that the reason why feminism is the most basterdized word/concept today is because a few people followed a misconception of feminism.

Now, the second reason is what brings us to the next part of the blog

10 EASY WAYS TO IF YOU HAVE GOT THE WRONG IDEA

1. You are not a feminist if you believe that women have the right to have a job but it is the duty of every man to have a job:

Career is a choice for any gender. We often complain that the society judges women to be bossy if they are career oriented but we are mum about the society judging men who prefer being a stay-at-home dad, as a man with lack of ambition. Well, feminism believes that if a woman has a right to prefer a career over family then a man has a right to prefer family over career too and that it won’t disrespect either of the gender for their preferences.

2. You are not a feminist if you believe that a woman doesn’t need a man except to have a baby:

A woman needs a man. A man needs a woman. Of course, the need doesn’t necessarily mean a partner. The opposite gender can be a friend, can be a part of your family, can be your neighbour, can be your boss at work, and can be anyone. If you think that the world will function perfectly fine with just women, except for reproduction, you are completely mistaken. There is more than one reason we are meant to co-exist. A man’s brain and a woman’s brain work differently. When you are having a few men who are close to you and you are in a particular situation, the insight of a man might be completely different of that of the women you are close to. Hence you have various angles to think from, for the given situation, thus broadening your thinking capacity. One of the ideas of co-existence is hence self-betterment for both the genders.

3. You are not a feminist if you believe a man who cries is not “manly” enough:

Quoting Emma Watson here “Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong.” We need to realise that to feel low and expressing it doesn’t make a man, less manly or feminine. It is what makes him human. And let’s just let a man be a human please?

4. You are not a feminist if you think it is okay if a woman hits a man:

When a woman gets beaten up by a man, at least a couple of people try to stand against it and help the woman. We believe that the man isn’t treating his woman right. If a man gets beaten up by a woman everyone turns a blind eye to it. We just easily assume that the man would have done something wrong and the lady is punishing him for it. Either way, we come to the conclusion that the men are at fault, without knowing ANYTHING about the problem between them. This does not make you a feminist but a mere hypocrite.

5. You are not a feminist if you think a man HAS to carry the shopping bags and pay for the date:

Does it irritate you when someone says that women should definitely learn to cook? Does it irritate you when someone says that women shouldn’t talk or laugh loudly? Does it irritate you when someone says that “a real woman” should be patient and polite? This is because you know that a woman shouldn’t fall under a particular set of definitions set by the society. That’s the same for men. When a man chooses not to carry your bags for you it doesn’t necessarily mean he is arrogant. Sometimes it is also that he believes you can carry it yourself. When he doesn’t pay for the date doesn’t necessarily mean that he is a miser. It may also mean that he respects the fact that you are financially independent.

6. You are not a feminist if you judge people on their dress sense:

Not all men who wear tight pants are gay. Not all women who just won’t wear dresses are lesbians. Not all men who wear a shirt, with the first few buttons unbuttoned are perverts. Not all women who wear deep neck clothes are prostitutes. If you think clothes are the criteria for deciding one’s sexuality or character, you know for sure, you are doing feminism wrong.

7. You are not a feminist if you use feminine traits to degrade a man:

When a man is being a coward and you call him “pussy”, when a fat man has extra flesh on his chest and you make fun because he has “boobs”, when you snatch away the Barbie dolls from a boy child’s hand because they are “girly” toys, you are implying that a feminine trait is something to be ashamed of, something to be looked down at. Same thing when you call someone a “dick” or a “tomboy”.

8. You are not a feminist if you believe in societal marital age:

Adults will get married when they want to, when they are ready for it and that’s the real marital age. Marrying at 18 is not stupidity and staying single at 40 is not unlucky or arrogance if the person CHOSE for it to be that way. It’s what they want from life. As long as it is not a child marriage, there is nothing to criticise about a person’s marital age.

9. You are not a feminist if you joke about trans people and make fun of them:

Trans people are still the most oppressed gender of all the three genders — So oppressed that they are not even considered a gender, so oppressed that they can’t even use a restroom in a public place, so oppressed that they can’t once roam around publicly without fingers pointing that them. If you think a joke on the TV on trans genders is hilarious, you need to realise you are laughing at someone else’s tragic life. Feminism stands for equality for all genders and constant mockery of an entire gender is not equality.

10. You are not a feminist if you don’t give sex workers a chance at life:

We all sympathise with them about their lives. We all wish they are granted basic human rights. But would you let an ex sex worker be your domestic help? Would you let the child of a sex worker play with your child? Would you give the sex worker a place in the society? If the answers to these questions were a no from you please don’t call yourself a feminist.

Feminism is a beautiful concept that has been making the world a better place for centuries now. So let us focus at the evolved feminism and be a feminist in the true sense so that no gender is ever denied of their rights in the future.

About our writer: Pavithra Venkat is a B.Com graduate, currently, a student pursuing CA. She enjoys writing on social issues that she feels most passionately about to channelize what bothers her about the society. She also writes for her cousin’s short story publication. She lives in Chennai with her parents and sister.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of KrantiKālī.

Live and Let Bi

Rhea Dangwal

This is the part 2 of breaking Bi-sexuality stereotypes at KrantiKali for part one click here: Busting Bi-Sexual Stereotypes

(Love, Regardless… illustrations by Rory Midhani)

So, let’s take this story forward.

You spend your formative teenage years trying to make sense of the ecology of your birds and bees, and suddenly as the bisexual in the dating ecosystem, you’re now the predator.

“Bisexuals cannot be trusted”

Maybe you cannot trust them to be very good at taxes or maybe they are clumsy in general, but whatever brought about the misplaced fear that bisexuals are sneaky and infidel as a biproduct of their sexuality is beyond me. Beyond the fetishizing, the most common form of bi-phobia as expressed by straight people is the fear that because bi people have ‘more options’ they are more likely to cheat.

In Gay and Lesbian identifying people, this is manifested in the form of the reaffirmation that bisexuality means that the person can ‘switch up’ and ‘go back to being straight’.

This kind of rhetoric is hurtful and disturbing and can leave a person feeling ashamed of an identity they cannot choose out of, and feel undeserving of affection from people of other orientations. This also restricts Bisexual identifying folk from coming out about abuse or oppression they may feel because they are ostracised from both narratives. Trans or non-binary non-gender conforming folk who identify as bi are often scrutinized for their relationships, and experience more nuanced and highly dangerous layers of ‘otherness’ from both the straight and queer communities.

There is also this whole narrative that bisexuals are incapable of making friends because all they see is ‘prey’. How hurtful a stereotype to have to live by and internalize.

I want this echo to resonate in the largest radius it can reach; if you are in monogamous relationship with a horrible disrespectful person THEY MIGHT CHEAT/ HURT YOU AND THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BEING ‘A BISEXUAL WITH MORE OPTIONS’, AND ANYONE CAN BE BISEXUAL REGARDLESS OF BEING CIS OR TRANS OR NON-BINARY.

Bisexuals are pushed constantly to ‘prove’ themselves

After striving to be a good-bi all my life, it’s surprising how many sayonaras I get from queer and straight people alike.

In the LG community, the B are often seen as more privileged than gays and lesbians, able to duck discrimination by entering into straight relationships. Bisexuals are often wrongly assumed to be straight or gay depending on who they are with. Spelling out that they are bisexual can be misconstrued as rejecting a current partner or declaring themselves up for anything. Often, a person’s bisexuality is dismissed because they might not have had a history of same-sex relationships. To that, I would like to point out that for example, statistically, a majority of South- Asian people remain single until they marry, due to a cultural setup, but that doesn’t make them any less straight, so why would we not hold that standard to anyone else’s experience.

The intersections of oppression that are put on some bisexual people, like those who are transgender, gender nonconforming or non-binary, of color or low-income at greater risk.

(tumblr)

Bi-phobia is not the same is homophobia

Identifying as Bisexual has a whole set of its own complications that cannot be categorized in along with other Lesbian and Gay identifying narratives.

‘Far more bisexuals are in relationships with people of the opposite sex than the same sex,’ a study by the Pew Research Center found. ‘They are less likely than gay men and lesbians to have weathered slurs or attacks, been rejected by friends or family or treated unfairly at work,’ its survey showed.

Yet researchers and activists say bisexuals face another set of frustrations, sometimes shunned by the gay and lesbian community and the straight world alike.

Bisexual women complain they are leered at by straight men and rejected by some lesbians as sexual “tourists” who will abandon them for men. Bisexual men, in turn, struggle to persuade men and women alike that they aren’t just gay men with one foot in the closet. Both are stereotyped as ‘oversexed swingers who cannot be trusted.’ Because in a lot of spaces that only consider the binary of hetero and homo sexuality, and because a lot of spaces do not even recognize bisexuality as a genuine orientation, coming out as bi can lead to a lot of ridicule, ostracization and whole reputation marred by stereotypes.

Bi-folk are constantly made to feel ashamed of ‘the non-conforming side’ of their personality and are hence more likely to be forced to stay inside the closet and only interact with their straight partners in relationships.

“Bisexuals are thought to be confused, opportunistic and unable to make commitments — and those aren’t the kinds of things you want to see in an employee,” explained Denise Penn, vice president of the American Institute of Bisexuality, a nonprofit that funds research on bisexuality, on workplace response to the orientation.

Why Bisexuals remain in the closet

‘Only 28% of bisexuals said most or all of the important people in their lives knew about their sexual orientation, compared to 71% of lesbians and 77% of gay men,’ Pew found. The numbers were especially small among bisexual men: Only 12% said they were out to that degree, compared to one-third of bisexual women who said the same’. The Pew Research Center survey revealed for North American statistics. This is a statistic that screams layers of discrimination that bi identifying people face everyday. Most people hold themselves back because the assumptions are;

– They are probably doing it for attention
– Not ‘queer enough’ to be validated

And the worse of them all

– Just a depraved pervert trying to subvert the norm for their own satisfaction.

Even writing this has been very triggering and I am not going to elaborate further because this is self explanatory.

The perfect-bi, then you come to understand, is one that doesn’t exist.

Sociologist and author Crystal Fleming describes the concept of social psychology called meta stereotypes; ones that are so prevalent they get internalised by the oppressed and start to actively shape their reality. These are the stereotypes we develop about how people we think others view people ‘like us’.

Over the years, I developed several meta stereotypes as well about my orientation and internalised a whole lot of bi-phobia due to all the bullying and abuse one is subject to as a process of coming out in a country that doesn’t openly accept the existence of a spectrum in sexuality. These are harmful, mentally, physically and emotionally for the persons living with it and need the same kind of space and compassion allotted for everyone else.

Everyday mono, bi and pan sexuality are given more love and representation by a growing internet culture of acceptance and openness. Let’s keep it that way.

Diversify your interactions, boost people from different orientations and races, hold stereotypes and those propagating them accountable, until we hear the glorious headlines of how “Millennials are killing regressive dogma that is used as an oppressant of people to maintain a false semblance of control by a ruling class that would rather have order than justice.”

You have reached the end of this discourse, Good-Bi.

Rhea Dangwal

About our writer: Rhea Dangwal is a Desi feminist and writer at large, annihilating misogyny and chicken nuggets with equal vengeance. DM her a high five here: @rheadangs

What a ‘Feeble No’ Really Means

Rhea Dangwal

Pinterest image

A feeble no might be the young woman who is too afraid to lose her first job.
A feeble no is the wife whose socio-economic and cultural setup keeps her within her oppressor’s circumference. A feeble no is the Dalit woman stunted away from her conviction because of a society that thrives on her otherness. A feeble no is the disabled woman who might not be able to defend herself. A feeble no is the one travelling alone at a time that isn’t considered reasonable. A feeble no is the quivering voice that feels it’s her fault somehow. A feeble no is shock and humiliation and trembling hands. A feeble no is one educated enough to know the questions that will be asked later. A feeble no is the tipsy college student who is being coerced by a ‘friend’.
A feeble no is one said to someone who was supposed to be family. A feeble no is afraid of blackmail.

A feeble no is a yes, because a feeble no has been taught ever since she was born that her existence is dangerous, hated and unimportant.

We all know a feeble no. We all have heard their story.

Our protagonist was born choking in the atmosphere of unwelcome.

“Hello, my name is ‘Afterthought’” read their packaging. They came with various expiry dates, because they were made to feel like a commodity. The day they stopped being someone’s child to being someone else’s caregiver, the day their education didn’t matter anymore, the day they stopped being ‘chaste’, the day they learnt to give up their wants, likes and dislikes for a family they lived for, the day they decided to stop resisting.

The expiry dates were ever changing but the invisibility was constant.

Our protagonist is ironic because in their narrative they were never allowed to be the lead. Our protagonist was taught to comply and be fearful. Our protagonist is underrepresented and disenfranchised.

Our protagonist is in trouble. Our protagonist is afraid. By nature of being the protagonist, their narrative and its outcomes are their fault. Our protagonist is being hurt by someone. Our protagonist is afraid to scream because they know help rarely comes. Our protagonist has been taught to succumb to survive. Our protagonist can only utter a feeble no.

Our protagonist is dead.

The world buries the story.


Context: A case was filed against Mahmood Farooqui by a US research scholar in June 2015, alleging forcible oral sex when the woman was in a drunken state. The trial court convicted Farooqui, after which he appealed to the Delhi High Court. The Delhi High Court cleared all charges of rape against him on the grounds of ‘a feeble no may mean a yes’ when the victim and the accused know each other, the victim was educated and may have had physical contacts with the accused in the past. Citing Farooqui’s history of bipolar disorder the court also gave him the benefit of doubt of not understanding the victim’s denial of consent. This regressive ruling is a classic case of victim blaming and in a way propagates rape culture, that teaches women to not be raped than teaching men to not actually rape.

Rhea Dangwal

About our writer: Rhea Dangwal is a Desi feminist and writer at large, annihilating misogyny and chicken nuggets with equal vengeance. DM her a high five here: @rheadangs

BHU Tales- Degrees of Misogyny

Namrata Gupta

Google Images

Last week we saw the resilience of BHU girls and how it was brutally repressed by the State. This incident wasn’t the only incident that was resented against, but it touched the tipping point, which led to a huge protest. The peaceful protest led by the women students of BHU were lathicharged and forcefully stopped from protesting by a show of masculine patriarchal power.

Not stopping at this the administration then pre-poned the durga puja vacations with immediate effect and the girls were asked to vacate the hostels. The farce which the administration generally displays by imposing curfews and all sorts of patriarchal rules on women was unveiled, since a lot of students who didn’t have reservations were also being evicted from the hostel.

Exposed here was the false sense of protectionism that is instilled in students by imposing banal rules.

The question which then becomes vital here is why do administrations not only in BHU but in other universities also, feel the need to control women?
Why do they set up such lakshman rekhas for us, when the real deal lies in setting up of redressal mechanisms, having autonomous systems at place in universities.

Let’s explore the socio-economics here.

This idea rests on two facts: one, is the age old maxim that women have the potential to coerce immorality and can be the destructor of society, if left ungoverned. This adage can be seen in various scriptures and literatures that play on this fact; the most famous example (not the only one) is Eve, who doomed the world.

The other theory which comes up is that women are naive and innocent and hence needs someone to be their “margdarshak” at all times. The two theories pose on totally opposite parameters, and the paradox is amusing to even think of, clearly signifying a confused chauvinism trying hard to gate-keep at every possible chance. This is nothing else but infantilization of women by a patriarchal society which thrives on depriving 50% of the population, their rights, so that they can keep women under the domestic realm only and incur profits from the unrecognized labor that women perform in their household every day. This need to control women then becomes the necessity of patriarchal forces. The importance accorded to male education is much more than that of females, because anyway the “ultimate fate of woman is to get married”, and the male is the “breadwinner” for the family.

Once a woman trespasses the lakshman rekha prescribed by the patriarchy, she becomes a threat to the society, hence the need to label that woman as an antithetical figure viz a viz ‘adarsh nari’. Labeling her as a ‘slut’ reiterates the assumption that only the ‘good woman’ , as prescribed by man, has the right to lead a safe and secure life of dignity.

Manjul for FirstPost.com

BHU VC, G.C. Tripathi shamed the girls of BHU stating that ‘they sold their modesty by protesting against sexual harassment rampant on the campus’. What is ironical here is the use of the word “modesty”, Tripathi expects women to be modest while they are being harassed, their personal space being violated. Caging women under the false rhetoric of security is nothing but rendering them invisible, to tame them just to be the unrecognized labour force or to not go beyond the realm which is considered reasonable for women. The lathicharge was just to silence women and to subdue them by unleashing violence. However BHU has started a long fight which will not be silenced by violence and will go on till they achieve their right to safe campus, the resilience only grows in times of atrocities.

The struggle for safer campuses has been a long one now and has been growing throughout the country, be it Jadavpur university, the Nomoly movement in Jammu or SRFTI; everywhere girls are rejecting these shackles, this need to cage women under the false sense of providing security. Women are actively participating in struggles and revolting against this patriarchal state, to gain what is rightly theirs.


A brief of the incidents as transpired at BHU:

September 21: A woman student was molested on her way to the hostel. On complaining to the
Proctor, she was victim blamed and was told, “6 baje ke baad bahar jaogi to yahi hoga”. (If you go out after 6pm, what did you expect?)

Attempts were made to cover up the matter until PM’s much awaited visit to Banaras. enraged by this the girls sat on a protest.

September 22: Girls demand that the VC should address their concerns publicly.

September 23: The VC comes to Triveni hostel to address the girls, but goes away without addressing them citing security reasons. Another announcement said that the VC will now address the girls at MMV.
He didn’t turn up at MMV instead the police locked the MMV gates, after which the crowd from lanka came to help those girls to get out of the gate. Soon after the police lathicharged students, with male cops beating male and female students alike.

September 24: The university declared holidays till October 2nd. Students were evicted from their hostels, electricity and water supply discontinued.

Police registered FIRs against 1000 students on allegations of arson in the protests.
Three senior officials suspended by the UP government.

14 students identified, issued notices.

BHU VC, G.C. Tripathi reported to go on indefinite leave citing personal reasons. His terms was supposed to end on November this year.

About our writer: Namrata Gupta is an English major, proud feminist and an awkward introvert who likes to day dream and gaze into nothingness all day. Smashing gender stereotypes is her favorite task.

Bi Ki Baat

Aishwarya Shrivastav

Illustration by Aishwarya Shrivastav

Since we are celebrating ‘Bisexuality awareness week’ at KrantiKali, let’s listen to some of the stories I came across –

Sakshi, 21 is a chirpy girl with a pleasant personality. When asked about her coming out experience she says she doesn’t really understand the need to come out about her sexuality because a straight person doesn’t have to come out, so why should she. She explained how she lived in denial for a long time before accepting herself. In her first year of college, she met a friend who was very open and comfortable about her sexuality, which inspired Sakshi to embrace her own choice of partners. Talking about her family; she comes from a conservative traditional family and she doesn’t expect to confront her parents anytime soon, atleast not until she is financially independent.

She has been often asked that if she is half-lesbian and half-straight. People have a tough time understanding that being ‘Bisexual’ is a wholesome identity . Also we are so strongly coded with cis-hetero-relationships all around us, that same sex relationships seem ‘different’ or even ‘weird’ to most of the people, she explains. She believes that the support of the state towards LGBTQ community would give more legitimacy to her cause. Maybe then, her parents will too.

Natasha,21 talks about how her mother accepted her with open arms. It has made her feel more confident of herself and made the mother-daughter bond stronger. She talks about gender roles in same sex relationships; feels it’s almost obvious that one of the partners feel the need to assume the male counterpart characteristics. She feels it adds up to the usual character of heterogeneous relationships.

Namrata,21 is a fun loving bold woman who had a lot to tell us. She recalls that the first time she was attracted to a girl was in 5th grade. They were good friends and after a year or two the other girl started dating someone else and only then Namrata started feeling weird and sort of unpleasant about the whole thing; even started convincing her friend that her relationship would’t work out eventually.

She was in denial, till finally in 12th grade she accepted herself but didn’t come out to friends and family. Online literature made it more complicated with people sharing experiences about how it backfired when they came out. Moving to Mumbai made her more comfortable about talking it out with people. The anonymity of big cities gave her freedom she was yearning for. She began going to Pride Marches and interacting with people of similar sexual orientations which helped her to stop being afraid of being judged. She doesn’t blame her family for their lack of understanding as she believes it has a lot to do with the upbringing patterns. She says that educating oneself is the first step and then the interaction with the family also becomes easier. Talking about the support of the state, she thinks laws are important but the process of thought change would take some time. Also she blames the lack of awareness for such mindsets. Till now most of the marriage alliances in India takes place for the sole aim of keeping the family lineage intact which makes it harder for people like us because we are constantly asked questions like- ‘How do you guys do it’ or ‘How would you have a kid’. She understands the “change would take time since this is the time when the transition in thinking patterns is actually taking place. This is the most exciting time to be alive. We are fighting this struggle and we shall win it.” (sic)

Suveksha, 22 recalls, ever since she was a kid she would want to be around girls more and even though she had guy friends she never really had feelings for any of them. When she was 19 she realized that she always leaned more towards girls, romantically. There was no specific incident, it was a sudden realization while she was talking to a friend about it. She came out to her friends when she first went to college in 2014. That was the time when both of them also came out to her as bisexuals. Her family doesn’t know about it. Her friends who aren’t from the LGBTQ community didn’t react differently to it. Also yes, it did make her feel more confident and comfortable.

Talking about the popular misconception about same sex parents influencing sexual orientations of their children, she says- “Just like straight parents don’t influence their kids to be straight similarly sexual orientations is not something which is influenced by parents or society’’.People are afraid of everything that is different from them which seems like an “alien” concept. More than that, people are afraid to hang out with LGBT people because of the fear of association related to it. And they also fear that they might try to turn those ‘straight to gay’ as well which is amusing to me.

She has also been frequently asked questions like ‘How do you guys do it?’, to which she replies- ‘’I tell them that if they need to ask me how do I “please” a woman it means they’re not pleasing their women right. That shuts them up.’’

About our writer: Aishwarya Shrivastav is a history graduate from University of Delhi. A spoken word poet, she likes to describe herself as a woman taking up more space than she was allotted by the society. Raging through words.

 

City Stares

Image: Bhani Rachel Bali

City Stares

Poornima Mandpe

When Baba shouts, there is a wild thumping in my heart, like it wants to break free from my ribs. I feel like sitting down on the floor and crouching, bringing my knees close to my chest, and burying my head, deep inside the knees. I feel like hugging somebody tightly. Instead, I shout back, hurl words that hurt more than sticks and stones, till my voice becomes hoarse and my mind numb. Shouting down people to prove your point is a useful art that I have developed over the years living in this house.Even when baba is not really angry, I involuntarily raise my voice to protect my interests from being white washed in the flood of fury that keeps on coming and going.

After the tide recedes, we get back to normal. Baba is no drunkard. He is also not a good for nothing unemployed fellow, the kind of frustrated villain they like to justify in movies. There is no visible domestic abuse. Just a bad childhood and all of it vents on the people he loves the most- aai, dada and me- his darling daughter.

Today is another cue to sigh. Just in the morning we had one of the fiercest rows in months over dada’s wayward career- as Baba thinks it is. Going from dada’s behaviour to mine, he then goes to mom’s so-called indifference in raising her kids and how everything eventually is her fault.

In the end, Dada stormed into his room. Aai went back to the kitchen crying soundlessly as she has learned to, all these years so that the neighbours don’t get to hear (as if they haven’t got enough of mine and dads yelling). Baba turned the volume of the TV loud, as he always does to distract himself and occupied the living room.

I suddenly recalled an assignment to finish, but I didn’t have the mood to do it now. I went to my bedroom, the only bedroom in the house which Aai and I shared at night. Dada was already there, propelled on the bed and busy with his phone. Like mom and me, he too had developed an art to tackle the problems. He possessed art to get over any damn fight in less time than it took to cook maggi noodles.

Oh, why did I have to wear this tight salwar kameez to college today? (I hadn’t got the time to change it since I returned home from the early morning lectures). My entire body was sweating from the heat and the itching- because of the sequins I guess- was unbearable with each passing moment. All I wanted to do was rip the clothes from my body, fling them on the floor and throw myself on the bed. Finally however, I went to the bathroom to change.

It was evening time by now. My stomach was growling with hunger from not eating since morning. I decided to take a stroll before it becomes too late. As I descended from the stairs, I felt several people staring curiously at me. Or is it that I am imaging it, like I do after every row at home? I didn’t want to find out. I went around the chawl, the place where the plants once grew so wild that they could hide me and my friends behind them in our childhood games. Now, the space is occupied by cars, of those living in the tall buildings beyond and nobody plays here anymore. In fact, I was warned by my brother to not loiter there in late hours. He claims to have seen ‘unpleasant scenes’ behind the car though he neither told me nor I asked him what exactly these unpleasant scenes are. Basically I think he’s lying and only trying to act smart by being big brotherly and all.

I turned back and took the lanes. People are looking at me through side-way glances. I shouldn’t have ventured out in my pyjamas. By now I was too bored to turn back. I headed towards the park. The park always relaxes my mind. It’s completely vacant now, just the way I want it to be, to be able to feel the tranquillity of the falling darkness and silence around me. But the darkness had really fallen by now (or is it because the lights were dim!) and I faltered.

I turned once again and started walking down the main road. I had lost the track of time but could not, even once shake that nagging feeling at the back of mind that I am not supposed to stroll around like this, leaving everyone tensed at home. Few more minutes and I would go back, I decided. The skywalk loomed large in the night, emptier than it is during daytime. Some view would get from the top at this hour, of the traffic below and also the stars above, especially on this moonless night. Should I check? But I stopped after I climbed a few steps. The skywalk was almost desolate except a few boys, and few homeless beggars. Time to go back!

People were openly staring at me now, though not necessarily in a bad way. It must be really late now. I wished I had carried my cell phone with me; I would at least be able to call up Aai. I hurried on.

Hunger and tiredness was slowing me down. Dada always boasts of the omelette wala near that of lane of St. Teresa School. I must try to for it! True to his word, the aroma of freshly made omelettes wafted in the air as soon as I entered the lane. Thank God I have some money in my pocket! I went and stood near the stall.

More stares. Piercing, accusing ones now. Was I snatching one of your omelettes, I wanted to shout at the guy with a cigarette, who was un-bashfully looking at me like he had never seen a girl before. The omelette wala was calmly cutting the bread. I waited. Finally, he looked up asked, the guy right behind me- “what do want, sir?” I didn’t even hear what that man said. Why I was not asked the question? It was 5, in now, that I am standing near the stall. What did he think I was doing here? What was going on in the other men’s mind? I desperately wanted to go home now, even if that meant another row with Dad for coming late.

Just two years back, I had been at marine drives with my friends. It was 2 am in the night but nobody bothered that we are only 3 girls on our own. It was an exhilarating feeling, watching the wave’s crash on the stones, drinking the sweetened tea, chatting loudly, or just lying down on our backs to watch the clear night sky. I smiled at the memory. But have to get out of it now. How many places like this in Mumbai, the safest city in India, will you find where women can travel, no, simply loiter at leisure in groups or alone?

Sadat Ali Manto, my favourite, would not have been so had he been a woman. Would he have being a woman, dared to roam across the underbelly of the city, loitering at its widest landscape to the narrowest lane and the darkest corridor, at ours he deemed comfortable, looking for experience, looking for inspiration, finding stories.

Suddenly I heard a footfall behind me. Soft but steady, stopping when I stopped. I didn’t dare to turn back and see. I quickened my pace.

Poornima Mandpe

About our writer: “A dreamer and a book worm, I believe in following the dictates of my heart. I intend to make a meaningful contribution to society in a small way through my writing! Currently a part of an NGO (Akshara) that works for women empowerment and gender justice.”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of KrantiKālī.

Playlist Bi-Kali

Rhea Dangwal

THIS JUST IN: The B in LGBTQIA+ stands for Bisexuality but NOW also for Badass Bops!

Here at KrantiKali we have assembled the perfect playlist to tune out all the phobia and hate to and live out your best life Bisexual and Proud!

Girls/Girls/Boys by Panic! At The Disco

 

https://youtu.be/Yk8jV7r6VMk

When this song dropped I remember holding on to my best friend in my hostel room and SCREAMING. Not only is the song an absolute BOP to dance to, Brenden Urie is one of the most attractive bisexual men to ever grace us with his art. This Panic! At the Disco song literally jumps to the top as a bisexual anthem with the lyrics

“But girls love girls and boys
And love is not a choice”.

Bad at Love by Halsey

 

https://youtu.be/xdYFuCp3m9k

Halsey is another out and proud bisexual queen who embraces her sexuality through her music with such flawlessness. This song is a slow and groovy tale of being bad at love with “a boy back home in Michigan” and then “with a girl with California eyes”.

Cool for the Summer by Demi Lovato

 

https://youtu.be/il9nqWw9W3Y

This dance number is sure to make you want to let out your curious side along with Demi as she does the same.

Girls Like Girls by Hayley Kiyoko

 

https://youtu.be/I0MT8SwNa_U

Literally one of the easiest songs to get obsessed with, Hayley’s Girls like Girls is like a ‘Duh! We like who we like’ to anyone who still seems confused. Need a little confidence boost before asking someone out? This song is on it’s way to become a classic.

I Kissed a Girl by Katy Perry

 

https://youtu.be/tAp9BKosZXs

Talking about classics, if we don’t address this song and how Katy Perry literally shaped a generation of out and about queer bisexual kids then this playlist is a sham and my taxes are going to waste.

Michael by Franz Ferdinand

 

https://youtu.be/ktwlN_ocL-o

A step away from pop music, ‘Michael’ is a violently danceable song about the singer wanting to dance with a sexy boy named Michael and as proclaimed by tumblr gods, successfully makes anyone who listens to it attracted to aforementioned ‘Michael’, hands down!

Heaven by Troye Sivan feat. Betty Who

 

https://youtu.be/8VNV__mV38s

Sivan had tweeted that this song is the most important song he ever made. The video features footage from LGBTQ+ protests that have shaped history. The song addresses being scared to come out, questions bigotry in religion, questions the notion of heterosexuality being the only ‘accepted’ way to live and love with lyrics like;

“Without losing a piece of me
How do I get to heaven?
Without changing a part of me
How do I get to heaven?
All my time is wasted
Feeling like my heart’s mistaken, oh
So if I’m losing a piece of me
Maybe I don’t want heaven?”

Desire by Years & Years feat. Tove Lo

 

https://youtu.be/GNb4FBawH_U

This bi-bop can be summed up in its lyrics-

“Open your arms and pray
To the truth that you’re denying
Give in to the game
To the sense that you’ve been hiding
Where are you taking me?
I can’t be blamed
I want you to want me again
Is it desire
Or is it love that I’m feeling for you?
I want desire
’Cause your love only gets me abused”

Pair this with a catchy beat and you got yourself a peppy rhythm to wrap this playlist up!

Honorary mention

The Greatest by Sia feat. Kendrick Lamar

 

https://youtu.be/GKSRyLdjsPA

Sia’s artistic tribute to the shooting at a gay bar in Orlando is a song that resonates with the entire queer community with its heartwarming lyrics and visuals. It is a moving song about not giving up and reminding yourself that no matter who you choose to be, who you choose to love or not, you are capable of being the GREATEST version of YOU there possibly could ever be.

About our writer: Rhea Dangwal is a Desi feminist and writer at large, annihilating misogyny and chicken nuggets with equal vengeance. DM her a high five here: @rheadangs

“Here to Stay, Whether Meninists Like It Or Not!”: With Saadiya Ali

Aishwarya Shrivastav

This solo-yolo-er, actor and pet mom of two from Chennai participates in mundane conversations for free food, says her tagline on TLC Queens of comedy. For the rest of us, we know her as the super energetic comic with edgy jokes which always hit the spot. Saadiya Ali has come a long way from being your girl next door to being the girl in our hearts!

What’s your comedy origin story?

I’ve always been drawn to the stage. And I’ve also always been slightly nuts. Earlier people used to laugh at me, now some of them laugh at my jokes also so I guess stand up has sort of helped me find that balance. Comedy is essential for everyone and I say so because it has helped and shaped the way I perceive things. So yeah, life was pretty much same before comedy just that now I have more friends. Hahaha!

Why do you think there are such few female comedians?

Because a lot of times women aren’t allowed to be funny. If you go online and look at the comments under a female comic’s video you’ll see so much hate! These men complain about how the comic is cracking jokes on “uterus and vageenaI cant relate!” or how “women will never be funny” and shit like that. I mean, I get you don’t relate to content, then don’t watch, no? We never said our audience was a bunch of testosterone driven men. But I see the scene changing now. Women are stepping up. And we’re here to stay whether “meninists” like it or not.

Describe your creative process.

I rely heavily on personal experiences because sometimes, life itself is a joke. I’ve been told that I tend to pick uncomfortable topics and honestly, this has never been intentional. I just speak about things that I feel like speaking about.

How do you navigate gender norms of this country while being a comedian?

The trick is to break these expectations at a young age. I did my homework with my family and now they never come to me with ridiculous ideas like, hey maybe you should get married! Or be more sanskaari! They don’t say these things because they know how redundant and silly they are. And I am fiercely proud of how my folks have changed the way they think as well.

Your take on comedy while female.

It’s definitely a mix of both, the fact that a woman is speaking and the fact that a woman is talking about things women don’t usually talk about, out in public at least. When I sense the audience getting too distant, I try to crack a few harmless jokes just to get them comfortable again, or I’ll act out something just to change the vibes. I’m glad to be influenced by theatre and improv because under the spotlight its kinda necessary to know how to navigate your set to get the maximum response.

What does the future look like for Saadiya Ali?

I am working on few personal projects which Im hoping will be out soon! I think women are going to make a huge HUGE difference not just in comedy but in pretty much every other field. And I’m really excited because what a time to be alive!

You can follow Ali here!

About our writer: Aishwarya Shrivastav is a history graduate from University of Delhi. A spoken word poet, she likes to describe herself as a woman taking up more space than she was allotted by the society. Raging through words.

With love, Your friendly neighbourhood Troll

Aishwarya Shrivastav

Google Images

The growth of social media and the online space has begun to accommodate great sources of personal discourse. Women dominate almost all of the social networking platforms and their ways of using these platforms also differ from men. These gender differences in communication can be traced back to a difference in upbringing of men and women , dictating different rules and behavioral norms; where girls are discouraged from unconventional talk or for being too inquisitive, while boys are encouraged to be competitive.

But with freedom of expression on this end, comes a freedom that others on the opposing belief system also uphold; one of abuse.

People who refuse to believe that women are harassed online are just ignorant about their privilege. Female-directed harassment has a long and creative history, but today the forms of gun-slinging have changed considerably. The space to enjoy freedom of expression and privacy is being enjoyed by those who harass them under the garb of anonymity and the kind of angst against women on such platforms has gone from indecent to vile. It’s not just a kind of routine abuse but has escalated to descriptive rape threats and torture. Such kind of open and unchecked threats have lead to a lot of women stepping down because of the safety issues and easy vulnerability.

The difference in opposition to opinions of men and women is significant, and alarming.

When a woman puts forth an opinion, the approaches to pull her down are of extreme criticism which starts usually with the ‘character assassination’. An opinion is quickly pushed into a negative way. There is this toxic empowering chauvinist ideology which comes into play and rejects approval to an opinion because of the gender. It’s hard for some people to digest that there is this woman who is making an opinion, basically someone who can’t be forced with words down her throat. There is this constant quest for a ‘male influence’ to bring legitimacy to her arguments. Similarly, when a male is attacked, it starts with posing a challenge to his ‘manliness’ or an attack on his female family members.

Recently, with journalist Gauri Lankesh’s murder, a huge crowd was seen protesting against the assassination of rational thought and free speech, on the other hand, the incident saw an army of trolls shamelessly celebrating her assassination, some of whom are known to openly brag about being followed by the present Prime Minister on twitter. Derogatory terms were thrown around without regard, blaming the blood spilt on her ‘karma’ for writing what she believed in, issues that mattered with absolute courage and defiance. She was a woman of opinions, a devout journalist and it was obvious that she was not liked by many. But the whole incident of trolls brought out the ugly side of media power houses.

Online harassment is not limited to just a difference in political ideology. Simple and harmless opinions expressed by female influencers are met with barrages of trolls and other unsightly creatures that guard the ‘agree with me or begone’ peninsula. Recently in Chennai, Mollywood actor Vijay’s fans harassed a senior journalist over her opinion about a movie of the actor . Abusers not only threatened her with gang rape but also ensured that she removed her tweet; which she eventually did.

Another no-no for expressing opinions on is, religion.

Whenever a religion based opinion is dissected, several women refrain from supporting the person being trolled .This is mainly due to the fear of a dogmatic and close knit system of surrender where debate may directly translate to alienation and exclusion.

This could be witnessed in the recent chain of events during the triple talaqrow where several Muslim women journalists and other active social networking users were trolled and were bullied into not putting forth their opinion over religious matters. Journalist Rana Ayyub is constantly cornered with religious slurs for her comments towards the government.

It’s less about agreeing or disagreeing with a discussion but it has more to do with the right to make an opinion. Online spaces need to be accommodating of a woman’s social, professional and political aspirations. The Govt. of India has a provision for giving legal protection against cyber-crimes against women for which the offences have been grouped into bailable and non bailable which restricts their area of action.

Women need to stand strong against these attempts at curtailing their voices.

We must create awareness thus creating effective dialogue which shall change mindsets. Change cannot be ensured just by laws but through a change in thought process in which we perceive a woman’s right to speak up her mind thus eliminating gender bias through encouraging attitudes.

About our writer: Aishwarya Shrivastav is a history graduate from University of Delhi. A spoken word poet, she likes to describe herself as a woman taking up more space than she was allotted by the society. Raging through words.

Pride and Privacy

by Aishwarya Shrivastav
Google Images

“The Supreme Court said that right to privacy and the protection of sexual orientation lie at the core of the fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution. Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy. Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual’’

The Historical judgment by the Supreme Court recognizing Right To Privacy as a Fundamental Right has strengthened democracy and gives hope of a more free and secure society. The debate sparked many arguments covering a lot of aspects which also makes this ruling very important.

Among other important issues, significant changes are also hoped to be seen in Act 377 of IPC criminalizing consensual sexual acts of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) adults in private. With a long struggle accompanied with pride marches and organizations working towards bringing equality, it’s high time that the country gives the due rights the communities deserve.

Google Images
Google Images

One of the basic point of the argument is the blurred division of definitions of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’. Sex is a biological concept while Gender is more related to a sociological concept. They are not Binary concepts. Gender is a deep sense of oneself as a gendered being and may not have a one-to-one correlation with sex. E.g. someone assigned the sex female at birth, even when supported by all physical, physiological and chromosomal evidence of being female, may not self-identify as the gender female, and vice-versa.

On the other hand, intersex variation refers to the ways in which one’s sex is seen to be different from the binary idea of sex as Male or Female — a function of one’s chromosomes, hormones. Not all intersex people may identify as transgender. And not all transgender people need to be intersex. To determine someone from what’s in front of their pants restricts the person’s individual choices and identity of their sexual orientation.

The State holds responsibility to check violence against LGBT communities with proper redressal and prevention of such incidents. Violence within biological families, educational institutions and workplaces are very prominent. Punishment and harassment of children and adults for gender nonconforming behavior, forceful and unethical conversion therapies, forced marriages, stigma and discrimination in recruitments leading to drastic impacts on their social and economic status.

Implementation of laws have to be coupled with a change of hearts. Awareness about LGBT communities must be encouraged. To bring anything into popular forum of discussion we need to start talking about what has not been talked about. Organizing Pride marches could help people reach out and ask more questions which will help them recognize others demand for rights as a legitimate one and include more people in this struggle. Engage to change.

None of us are free until all of us are free!

About our writer: Aishwarya Shrivastav is a history graduate from University of Delhi. A spoken word poet, she likes to describe herself as a woman taking up more space than she was allotted by the society. Raging through words.