Welcome to the Carnival of Feminists! It is Wednesday morning in India, so I am putting up the carnival. I am still accepting entries till midnight, so send in your submissions (of your own or others’ posts) on the form here, or to unmanaATgmailDOTcom.
This is the first time to my knowledge that the carnival is being hosted from India, so I have included several posts by Indians and showcasing issues peculiar to India.
Feminism and Culture, with a Spotlight on Indian Culture
Apu writes about the dilemmas modern Indian parents face in raising liberal daughters. I can identify with this myself: my parents brought me up to be financially independent, yet didn’t seem to be able to completely reconcile themselves with the idea that I might be independent of them in other ways as well.
In a similar vein, Rukmani writes about how Indian parents are anxious to see their children, especially girls, married and "settled".
Indian Home Maker takes on an old Indian institution – the joint family – and argues that it is oppressive to women, especially young wives. The joint family is a patriarchal family structure, with the oldest male being the “head of the family”, and the newest daughter-in-law usually being the position with least power.
Reema talks about the undesirable child in India – the girl child. Sadly, in many families in India, the birth of a girl is greeted with disappointment, not joy, as a woman is supposed to be a burden on the family. I also had experiences similar to Reema’s, with my mother often being asked, “You have two daughters? No sons?” I also remember one woman who followed that up, after finding out how my sister and I were doing at college and school respectively, with, “Your daughters are so smart! You don’t need sons!”
Chandni writes a touching post about how the arrival of a daughter is a disappointment for some mothers.
Chandni also writes about women getting labeled on the basis of the clothes they wear. I am aware this happens in every society, but it is somewhat more complicated in India, where each region has its own traditional costume (which of course, it is the duty of the women to “preserve”), and you might get labeled for just tying your sari a different way, let alone for wearing a short skirt.
Hopeful Spirit expostulates that feminism is a Christian concept and claims that Christ was the first feminist. Frankly, I do not hold with religion myself, but if you feel your faith strengthens your feminism, good for you.
Whatsername claims that “marriage is beholden to the people undertaking it”, and I thoroughly agree with her view. It annoys me when people imagine my life must have changed in certain ways after marriage (for instance, a colleague sympathetically asking as I leave office late in the evening, “You’ll have to go home and cook now?”) It astonishes me when single acquaintances ask about my married life to get an idea of how life will change for them after marriage – this includes acquaintances who are engaged to be married (and they ask me instead of asking their partner?!). Why should you let anyone else make the rules for your life? Marriage is what the two people in it make of it.
Discrimination and Sexism at Work
The Baglady claims she acts like a man to survive in the man’s world of technology. I do not quite like the phrase “acts like a man”, though – it’s demeaning of women as well as of men, especially men who do not conform to socially-approved stereotypes.
There’s more on workforce discrimination at This is What a Feminist Blogs Like. She points out that the reason articles based on this keep appearing is that discrimination against women, and especially mothers, is far from disappearing. In relation to India, I personally feel we should make discriminatory interview questions illegal, as they are in the US and other countries. I have got asked questions on my married state and when I plan to start a family (!). I have also heard that one HR manager (at a company that ultimately hired me) mentioned (to the person who later became my boss) that it’s not a good idea to hire single women, as they get married and move away. So you don’t hire single women because they’re likely to get married, and you don’t hire married women because they’re likely to get pregnant.
BetaCandy at the Hathor Legacy reveals that film schools teach screenwriters to fail the Bechdel test, revealing the immense sexism of Hollywood. BetaCandy found herself unable to adhere to this rule and ultimately “left film for good”.
Gweem at Me and My Army points out the appalling sexism and offensive comments directed at Maria Sharapova, who decided to play in the Wimbledon in shorts instead of the customary skirt.
Menstrual Poetry writes about the current obsession with “sexy nerd girls” and the various layers of sexism involved: calling intelligent women “girls”, implying that women aren’t expected to be in scientific or technical fields, and objectifying the women who are.
Double Standards around Teen Pregnancy
Kate Smurthwaite points out that in all the focus on teen girls getting pregnant, there has been very little attention on the fact that two people participate to cause a pregnancy. And no one seems to have asked the obvious question, were these under-16 girls raped or did they have consensual sex with minor boyfriends?
Menstrual Poetry asks a hard question: is the media promoting teen pregnancy or is the problem actually that we aren’t educating teenagers about safe sex?
On Feminism and the Backlash against It
Womanist Musings dissects the code words “angry”, “hysterical” and “irrational” that are frequently used as ammunition against feminists.
Kitten Politics argues that feminists actually love men, because we treat them as normal people with thinking minds.
Feminist Avatar holds the optimistic view that we will not retract to a more misogynist or sexist age, because feminism is good for men too. Indeed, sexism and gender stereotyping hurts men as well, as they are expected to behave in certain ways.
On Abortion, Female Foeticide and Medical Rape
Julie at the Hand Mirror muses about the strategy to use in terms of New Zealand’s abortion laws, to ensure that women continue to have legal access to abortion.
Cold SnapDragon takes on the tough subject of medical rape and is appalled at the nastiness of some medical professionals.
Deborah posts about female foeticide at the Hand Mirror, arguing that pro-choice feminists can still decry the widespread abortion of female foetuses in countries like India and China.
On Rape and Sexual Violence
HarpyMarx writes about the double standards and minimisation of rape. She notes, “It is still an uphill struggle for women to report rape and sexual assaults. There are numerous obstacles from the idea of ‘grey rape’ where a woman is in a situation where she never intended to have sex but wound-up being forced into it, ‘because until that point, they’d been a willing participant’ to ‘sexual familiarity’, where the woman knows the attacker, is treated with more leniency and is used in mitigation.”
Advertisers Exploiting Women’s Insecurity
Rage Against the Man-chine points out how the marketing and advertising industries engage in what she calls “gender-based terrorism”. I personally am not sure which is more sad: the fact that these ads are created – by, I suppose, successful professionals - or that they seem to work (else why are there so many of them?).
Reema takes on Indians’ obsession with fair skin (especially for women) and how marketers play on it through sexist ads. The sexist ads long aired for Unilever’s Fair & Lovely often irked me considerably, yet what disappoints me more is that Fair & Lovely is an extremely successful product and has spawned many imitations over the years. A warning: the comments space has a couple of nasty comments about Halle Berry’s Oscar acceptance speech, hinting that black people are racist because they bring up the issue of race. I absolutely disagree, and I suspect this view stems from ignorance of the struggles that different races have faced against discrimination in different parts of the world. An analogy for India might be caste or religion, with upper castes discriminating against Dalits and other lower castes and people of one religion looking down on those of another.
On the (Lack of) Efficacy of Single-Sex Schools
Tamara Schulman at Womenstake writes about single-sex classrooms and “the critical question of whether these programs provide an important educational option for students or are based on and replicate outmoded stereotypes”.
And that concludes the carnival. I hope you enjoyed it! If you are interested in hosting the next one, write to nataliebenATgmailDOTcom.