Dear society, I have questions for you!

 

Shivani Waldekar

Shivani WaldekarMy dear society, do you know that I heard the word 'society' for the first time when I was in 11th standard when one of the teachers who loved me a lot taught us one day the valuable words of Maclver and Page, "Society is the web of Relationships.' Back then, I didn't have the lens to think on it critically, but today, when I go through the same definition I realise that if society is the web of relations, then the relations are with whom? I arrived at the answer that society is a web of relationships, and the interconnected relations with all living beings—animals as well as human beings. But today I see people don't live with each other in a healthy manner, let alone with animals. It may be that they are showing care about animals but they don't care about people. We people are not honest and truthful in our relationships. In the relationships with our mother, father, sister, brother, teacher, friend or stranger, we are either honest or we are diplomatic.

Before I heard about the word 'society', I used to confuse it with 'people'. My father used to talk about it—they said, what people say, what people think etc. Actually, what he was trying to tell me indirectly was about people who are in society or the society where people lived. If society is the web of humans' interrelations with each other then, their relations with each other should be ideal, loving and caring. At that time, I felt how beautiful and kind society is, but today, I have developed a dilemma about it. At this very young age and the very beginning of life, I feel like the society is so ridiculous. It maybe because at only 22 years of age, I have undergone much and tried to overcome it.

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Ambedkarite Movement after Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and contribution of Bahujan Women

 

Sheetal Kamble

sheetal kamble(The text of her speech 'Ambedkarite Movement after Dr. Babashaeb Ambedkar and the contribution of Dalit-Bahujan Women' at IIT Mumbai. It was the Second Lecture in 'The Savitribai Phule – Fatima Sheikh Lecture Series' and was organized by Ambedkarite Students Collective, IIT Mumbai on 18th April, 2019.)

I would like to thank the Ambedkarite Students Collective (ASC), IIT Mumbai for inviting me to talk for the Savitribai Phule-Fatima Shaikh Lecture Series. Today's topic is Dalit Bahujan women's contribution in the Ambedkarite movement after Dr. Ambedkar. It is an honor for me to be on the same panel as Mr J. V. Pawar (Founder member of the Dalit Panther).

Before getting to know the contribution of Dalit Bahujan women in the Ambedkarite movement, we must understand who they are and what they have been doing in the Indian village. The Dalit women or former untouchable women have a long history of resistance in the village. In Maharashtra, the Dalit women's literature is scattered in magazines, newspaper articles, essays, and books. A number of Dalit women's autobiographies written and published in Marathi language have been later on translated into English.

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Dalit women organise ‘differently’

 

Asha

Organizing by Dalit women has always been examined, by many, using a wide array of lenses originating in hues of various political perspectives. To some, we are autonomous, leading our movement towards a collective vision. To others, we are stooges, perhaps of the Dalit men, maybe the savarna women or the donors, or for that matter … any other dog! The intersections of our vulnerabilities are often heightened by constant criticism and the pain of brokenness further exacerbated by the feeling of being undervalued.

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Needless to say, like most of you, we also encounter a crisis almost every day. The intensity and impact of it vary; for us, it can often be debilitating. We wish to believe that the brickbats thrown at us from within and from outside, has steeled us to only strengthen and sharpen our strategies for organizing. For it is only by learning and unlearning each day, the women from our community have been able to come thus far.

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Transformative Politics for Dalit Women

 

Asha Kowtal

Transformative Politics for Dalit Women grounded in fierce resilience and compassionate sisterhood.

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More than a week after the conference, I begin to write, still feeling overwhelmed and dazed coupled with a strange sense of loneliness experienced after loved ones have left home.

The #dalitwomenspeakout conference 2017 brought my sisters and friends from all over the country to my hometown Pune. They brought so much of love, gifts and excitement, which they shared with me in plenty. They came with their mothers and also their children. It was important for the mothers to see their daughters and for the children to watch their mothers. Nobody had taught us about inter-generational structural discrimination and violence, but we along with our children knew that this had to stop. That's why they all came.

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Why Not Janeu Under My Kurta?

 

Rahmath EP

Rahmath EPLipstick Under My Burkha is a ‘by the Brahmin for the Brahmin' movie to propagate the Savarna definition of the ‘oppressed women’. The whole movie gives you a clear picture of the story of women’s assertion on their personal and sexual liberation through brahminical patriarchal narration filled with Islamophobia by projecting Muslim men as a symbol of oppression and misogyny.

Many of you might have seen this controversial women-oriented movie. The story is about four women in a small town in Bhopal and their private life and desire for personal and sexual freedom and breaking the taboos. Rehana Abidi is a burkha clad college student, daughter of a tailor; Shireen Aslam, mother of three, a home maker and having a secret job as a sales girl;  Leela, a beautician living in her sexual fantasy while struggling for livelihood and Usha Parmar, a 55-year-old widow who falls in love with a swimming coach and expresses her sexual desires.

Yes, it is important to address patriarchy and liberation of women. But how to touch such issues, and address on what grounds and does it uphold the values of dignity, human rights, gender equality or women’s liberation. Is the narration free from patriarchy while making such an attempt? These are some of the key questions that immediately arise in our mind.

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Brahminical Patriarchy and Social Media

 
Bhagyesha Kurane

bhagyeshaSocial media has become an integral part of our lives these days. There are various notions prevalent about whether one should use social media, and if at all it is to be used, then how. Some people view social media only as a tool to pass their time and beyond a certain limit, see any engagement as wastage of time. Many parents are wary of social media out of concern for their daughters who might be harassed by anti-social elements and hence warn them to stay away. At the same time, social media helps one to connect with many people whether we may know them personally or not and it is through such communication that exchange of thoughts takes place. I also joined social media thinking of exploring the possibility of whether this media can be used as a viable alternative option to traditional media. So I started communicating with people through media such as WhatsApp and Facebook. I have been using Facebook for the past six years now. While I think about social media as an alternative to traditional media, it also becomes imperative for me to discuss about safety and security of girls/women in detail. Of course, it is also related in the context of the recent Amar Khade incident.

First of all, we need to take into account that in our brahminical patriarchal society there are certain rules that girls are supposed to follow, as far as use of mobile phones is concerned. Many a times it is just out of necessity that a girl is allowed to use a mobile phone albeit with certain harsh restrictions. The reason being the caste based society considers the girl as the 'honour' of the family. So her parents fear that through mobile phone she may come in contact with someone and get emotionally involved, thus marrying the person out of her own volition and this can result in loss of 'honour' for the family. That's why parents try to limit the use of mobile phones as far as possible and hence check call records and other details on mobile phones. In such a situation, for many girls to be able to use and access social media freely itself becomes a daunting task. Defying traditional restrictions she tries to express herself through social media. But our brahminical patriarchal society looks at her as a form of readily available entertainment instead of looking at her as an individual human being. That's why, often, these girls have had to face sexual exploitation in the online world.

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