Entries Tagged 'feminism' ↓

In leiu of part 2…

…or actually, as I ruminate more on part 2, I would like to direct your attention to how white feminism attempts to stay on top of a heirarchy while at the same time trying to dismantle it by Aaminah Hernández on Problem Chylde.

My favourite part:

5) Say we are hurting the cause of feminism, or that we aren’t really feminist at all.

This one is perhaps the most damaging of all. First, it presumes that we consider ourselves “feminist” at all and thereby implies that there is something wrong with us if we don’t. Then it attempts to define what feminism is, what counts as feminism, and tells us that we aren’t really part of it, while trying to shame us and discount anything we have to say because it is “not feminist”. It does not allow that feminism could have different forms and faces, but limits it to what serves the white woman and nothing more. If, as women, we cannot set our own goals, speak to our own needs, and create our own agenda, then how “feminist” are you?

How Brown is My Navel – Part 1

Off and on, I’ve been asked about how I want The West to react to some such thing I’m doing. I was asked here and in a forthcoming interview (that I shall link to later in my shameless self-promotion habit, when it’s up).

And then, I’ve been reading some things about race, tokenism, colonialism, feminism and the internet. And I have been having thoughts.

The thoughts I’m having are not so much about this current blogsplosion (which I don’t usually refer to at all but follow kind of avidly really), but about race and the relevance of the term for the kind of work I think I do.

So here are some thoughts-in-progress.

1. Expat

I’ve realized recently in a way that I didn’t before that there’s a vast difference between the US South Asian and the subcontinental South Asian. Maybe this is obvious, but maybe it’s not. But I realized it when I wrote a scathing and angry critique of Yoni Ki Baat for GlobalComment at one point and, in the responses of the creators of that project, realized that we were operating from very different premises.

My experience of South Asian identity in the US has been one of unification. Where the sub-continent is deliberately divided into is constituent countries and those national identities are virtuously adhered to, in the US, boundaries are erased and everyone’s a Desi or a South Asian.

Desi is a racial category. It signifies people from the sub-continent. It calls up brown skin and black hair. It is dominated by Indian identity, but it consists of Pakistanis and Indians primarily.

I don’t know if Desi includes Bangladeshis or Nepalis or Sri Lankans in the same way, or if in the US those points of origin fall under the category of  South Asian. I don’t know the nuanced difference between American South Asian and American Desi. Is South Asian also racial? Probably, but it’s also more. It’s an umbrella of some sort, but I’m not sure what sort.

The reason I can’t go further than this is that I’m decidedly not a South Asian American. Which is to say that, while I am South Asian, while I am Pakistani, while I am also American, and while I am mixed-“race” and mixed-nationalities, I am definitely not a South Asian American because in order to be a South Asian American or a Pakistani American, it seems imperative that one be in the United States. The identity [Ethnic]-American requires residence in and a primary dealing with the US context.

I am asserting this because, in contrast, in Pakistan, I’m half-gori. Or my mother’s American. My identity here is racialized to whiteness, but it’s not the same whiteness that I have when I’m in the States. There I am a light-skinned brown person of ethnic and Muslim origin, and therefore a kind of peripheral subject. Here I am a light-skinned Pakistani of Amreekan ancestry, but not peripheral as a result. Having an American mother does not trump having a Pakistani father or a regular Pakistani accent or fluent Urdu.

In the US, my ethnicity and religious identity marginalize me, and racialize me. Here, I have always been racialized, but that racialization doesn’t consistently marginalize me. Often it privileges me. Sometimes it does marginalize me, or at least put me on the back foot. Occasionally it combines with gender, and then it certainly marginalize me. Mostly it doesn’t matter. I’m gori, but I’m not not-Pakistani.

Gori is a racial characteristic. But race doesn’t mean here what it means in the US.

So, what’s the point? I guess to extricate one kind of Desi from another, one kind of South Asian from another. South Asians in South Asia identify by their national origin. Using the umbrella of South Asian usually comes difficult and it comes with conditions attached, and a time limit. “We will be South Asian for this conference or this SAARC summit or this project we have going together, but when it’s over, I’m Pakistani, you’re Bangladeshi, you’re Indian and we’re all going home now, thank you very much.”

In the US, it seems to be an ethnic and/or racial identity in the face of a larger hegemonic identity of whiteness.

Is that because the whiteness is up close? It’s not like the subcontinent doesn’t deal with the hegemony of the US. But perhaps it is about which hegemony is closer because if you’re using your national identity, that means you’re asserting yourself in the face of someone else’s national identity and so their race doesn’t matter. Whereas if you’re using your race, it means you can cross or have already left behind (to some extent) national borders and the relevance lies with the racial identity that is the South Asian (brown) (desi) person.

It occurs to me, however, that this definitional exercise is in itself bound up with the White-and-American-centred push to define non-white non-American subjects. By the very nature of this definitional process, I am and we are thrown into a world in which the ultimate centre resides in the US.

What I’m trying to do here is say that US South Asians and subcontinental South Asians are not the same thing at all times. A project like Yoni ki Baat (which is how this whole thought process got started for me) needs to acknowledge that, when it’s talking about South Asian, it’s not talking about every kind of South Asian. That a “South Asian” project initiated in the US has to be aware of its own circumstance.

There is a corresponding blind spot, I think, in subcontinental notions of South Asian projects that don’t acknowledge diasporic concerns. That imagine that if there is peace on the land here, there will be peace between people there and that if there is war here, there will be war there, as if the diaspora is a mirror of the “real” South Asia. There is no greater reality to either South Asianness.

Up next:

2. Islamophobia and Racism

3. White Skin Privilege

4. Talking to “The West”

Oprah, Diddy and Other Goodies at GC

I haven’t written here much lately because I haven’t got much to say these days. The stuff I do have to say I send off to GlobalComment or other such fun places what pay me. So I thought that, in addition to some shameless self-promotion that I’m about to do, I should also promote some other good stuff I’ve been reading. To wit, Joe Sapien’s take on Diddy as the next Bond. We take a break from his usual sarcastic tone to sample some flabbergasted outrage and the foolishness that is Diddy. In addition, there’s a good assessment of Obama’s Change.gov blog thing by Sarah Jaffe that you should take a look at. The piéce de resistance, though, is Renee Martin’s take on the fatness of Oprah and how we should shame her for being ashamed of it (my interpretation – not what she actually actually said) rather than point fingers at her for being fat in the first place. (In fact, she didn’t say at all that we should shame Oprah – I just think that Oprah should be ashamed of her shame. All that wealth, accomplishment and power and her weighing scale can break her heart? Pff. Stupid world.)

And I wrote about Mumbai because I do that kinda thing. This is the part where I’m shamelessly self-promoting, btw.

That’s all, folks.

Chay Magazine Issue 2 Call for Submissions!

This issue will address themes of sex and sexuality as they interact with the daily politics of human life. We are looking for feature articles and non-fiction that deal with

1.    Gender Roles

–    gender roles and gender expectations in the family and society in general
–    socialization at home and at school
–    gender role education in single gender schools and co-educational schools
–    gender role education in private schools and government schools
–    gender roles in the curriculum
–    the teaching of marriage as the final or one of the final destinations of a person, particularly a woman
–    gender roles and class variations
–    female and male autonomy from familial and other social institutions in different class strata

2.    Sex/Sexuality, Feminism and Activism in Pakistan & Abroad

–    the feminist movement in Pakistan – its history and its attention to sex and sexuality
–    what feminism means in the Pakistani context
–    women’s groups in Pakistan, their missions, agendas, histories
–    Pakistani feminism in comparison to other regional or international feminisms
–    sexual violence and the feminist movement in Pakistan
–    sexual rights movement in Pakistan, South Asia and globally
–    gender diversity activism in Pakistan, South Asia and globally
–    sexual orientation and queer activism in Pakistan
–    non-“feminist” activism on issues of sex and sexuality in Pakistan, South Asia and abroad
–    transnational feminism and sex and sexuality activism

Please submit features, non-fiction and fiction of between 500-1200 words; no more than 3 poems; no more than 3 pieces of visual art (min. resolution 300dpi) to CHAYMAGAZINE AT GMAIL DOT COM .

*

DEADLINE:  December 15, 2008

Recent Writing Spree

All this is very shameless self-promotion. Recently I’ve assaulted Global Comment with my verbiage and so now I’m going to direct you to it, in the hopes that you will read, agree, adore and become a slave for my writing. Alternatively, you could leave a comment there, on the site.

First, read this about Islamabad from Art Kee Aulad.

Three years later, I guess we’re in 2008 at this point in the story, I can’t so much as drive that close to even the round about in front of the presidency. Now one just turns right or left a signal before the stretch of road where the parade “used to” happen, where there are wide steps on both sides of the road, where earlier people would come and sit in the evenings, where there is a round about that says GIVE WAY in the foreground and the presidency and the parliament house rest all white and somber and serious looking in the background. So we just turn right or left at the signal before all this and look at the barriers and the barbed wire sitting there, saying stay away, looking as ugly as they are meant to be. And I have forgotten what it was like to be able to drive to just wherever. I suppose just like the generation before us have forgotten what it felt like to have low boundary walls in their houses and gates that were open all day long.

And yesterday the Marriott was blown up. And today we’re looking at television footage and cctv footage and images of what seems like hellish scenes from some film. It’s unbelievable. Maham reminded me of when we went there last, it was to pick up sandwiches and use the loo before going for a play at the National Gallery right behind. The oldest hotel in the city, we’ve all attended numerous weddings, exhibitions, dinners, iftaris and other things there and it hit me today, the scale of what has happened there.

Here’s my take on it at GC:

Not that it mattered in the flames of that inferno, anymore, except that the guards were already dead by the time the guests started running. They were trying to put out the fire in the suicide truck. The cab exploded with a grenade; then the back of the truck caught fire and the guards rushed away, only to rush back with fire extinguishers.

And then I wrote a piece on Zardari, one on the Balochi women being buried alive and one about the American incursions into the northwest of Pakistan –  all at Global Comment.

And a poem: Two Eyes Show.

There. Now that I’ve whored all my writing, I can relax in the knowledge that you will read every word with great love and affection, and write glowing comments. Or just, you know, click the link and give me something to be happy about.

WOC PhD

I’m getting into this fabulous blog WOC PhD. That’s Woman Of Colour for you non-Amreekan types. For one thing, she featured Stacy Ann Chin in a post on Asian/APIA/Women’s History Month. I’m in love with Stacy Ann Chin. She’s one of most vibrant poets I’ve ever heard or seen. But for another thing, and that’s the real value here, these are some of the best researched and articulate articles (oh, i’m such a good writer – ‘articulate articles’ – but it’s late, okay?_ in blogland and quite possibly on the internet.

Check it out, particularly if you’re interested in race and immigration in the US.

Yer Mom

I was reading this post on Oppression Olympics by Octogalore just now and something about this comment by Daisy struck me particularly:

And my question, quite seriously: Who do they think those people WERE in the 60s and 70s, having sex in disco bathrooms, engaging in group marriages and Bob-and-Carol-and-Ted-and-Alice type encounters? All of those people are my age and older now. It’s like they have some idea that all old people just retire and instantly become Baptists, or something. I dunno.

Another old woman and I had a long discussion the other day, about how conservative the young seem to be–and does liberalism mark us as “old”? Odd that ‘stylistic’ liberalism (willingness to try new fashions, music, clubs, vacation spots, foods) is popular with the American young, but NOT idealistic or intellectual liberalism.

My mom belongs to that generation, the hippie dippie liberal all-we-need-is-love generation. She was mostly chilling out during that time, more a thinker than a marcher, and her hippie dippie-ness resided in her associations and conversations rather than anything else. Continue reading →

Not Girl Enough

A friend of mine just got fired from her job because she didn’t dress feminine enough. This was in Lahore. Because that’s what’s important in a teaching job – girlie-ness.

Some days the world is just disgusting. Which leads me to my next post…

Yoni Ki Baat – Global Comment

I wrote a sort of review of Yoni Ki Baat, the South Asian rendition of the Vagina Monologues for Global Comment. This is my shameless promotion, let me show you it.

Chay Magazine Call for Submissions

CHAY MAGAZINE
Call for submissions
(Visit http://chaymagazine.org for details)

Deadline: May 15, 2008

Having observed in Pakistani society, a disturbing tendency towards fear and shame around issues of sex and sexuality – that is to say, around a normal human interaction – the founders of Chay Magazine feel that sex and sexuality should enter the public discourse. The taboo and silence around sex and sexuality are oppressive on all of us, irrespective of gender, and lead, at the very least, to unhappiness in our daily lives and, more often, to violence, shame, depression, ill health and general social malaise. We at Chay Magazine endeavor to bring to the Pakistani reading public a place to converse about those things we are most shy of. Our hope is that, through this, we can become braver and stronger, more powerful, self-assured, and just and fair members of society.

Our focus is on Pakistani society and our themes emerge from this context. However, Pakistan is only our starting point. Chay Magazine aims to enter the fray of international feminist discourse and, as such, we invite writers of all nationalities, geographies, stripes to contribute. We are not so much interested in where you come from as in what you have to say.

For the first few issues, we have outlined some broad themes, which are listed below. While we are looking in particular for work around those themes, we are always looking ahead to later issues so, if you have some work kicking around that you’d like to submit, feel free.

Let’s Talk about Sex
o Talking about sex and sexuality – why do it, the taboos around it, the problems with it, the silences
o Sex/Gender, gender roles and gender identity
o Talking about sex and romance
o Standards of “moral” conduct relating to sex

The Politics of Sex
o Sex-positivity
o Sex and feminism in Pakistan
o The politics of shame
o Religion and sex(uality)
o Visions for a new Pakistani Feminism

Marriage
o Sex: enjoyment, coercion, guilt, force
o Sex and marriage
o Domestic violence and rape
o Virginity

Promiscuity
o Saying no and saying yes
o “Sluts” and “whores”
o Sex-work
o Religion and Sex
o Virginity
o Re-appropriating language

We are looking for

– Feature Articles 500-1000 words. These can be analysis, commentary, historical explorations or any other non-fiction on the theme of the issue.
– Poetry and Fiction. There is no real restriction on the subject of the poem or story. If it gives a nod in the direction of the theme, we’re happy. Please send no more than 3 poems or fiction pieces in the vicinity of 1000 words.
– Artwork. Again, there is no particular restriction on artwork. If there is particular work you are interested in submitting, please email in with a query.
– Translations. We accept original translations of thematically relevant works in any genre, from any language.

Send queries and submissions to: chaymagazine AT gmail DOT com . Please attach .rtf or .doc files (we cannot accept .docx files), .jpg or .pdf for images. Please send in a small bio along with your submission as well.

We are an utterly non-profit, non-commercial, money-less concern; therefore we cannot offer any compensation to our writers. In time, we hope to become rich, famous and commercial, at which point we hope to offer you pots of money.

Sincerely,
Kyla Pasha and Sarah Suhail
Co-executive editors, Chay Magazine

Dreams Bite

I

Dreams bite
Dreamer and legend
arm
at the edge of purpose
waking
I see the people of winter
put off their masks
to stain the earth red with blood

Continue reading →

Geo Ordered to Shut Down

At 1:12 a.m. on this Friday night, I’ve just gotten home from a dinner to find on the news that Geo TV’s international broadcast from Dubai is also being shut down. So I turn on the live stream from the channel’s website. And it’s running the same “ad” over and over again: the Geo logo, dramatic newsy music and the repetition of the mantra: “Geo aur jeenay do.”

Live and let live. Continue reading →

Text of the Press, Newspapers, News Agencies, and Books Registration (Amendment) Ordinance 2007

Source: Associated Press of Pakistan

(All emphases mine unless stated otherwise)

Ordinance No. LXIV of 2007

AN ORDINANCE

to amend the Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and Books Registration Ordinance, 2002

Whereas it is expedient to amend the Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and Books registration Ordinance, 2002, (XCVIII of 2002), for the purposes hereinafter appearing;

And Whereas the National Assembly is not in session and the circumstances exist which render it necessary to take immediate action;

Now, Therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (I) of Article 89 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the President is pleased to make and promulgate the following Ordinance;- Continue reading →