Sunday, January 31, 2016

Feeling less alone, and discovering art that echoes my life and feelings

I have identified as a feminist as long as I can remember, since I was a little girl and discovered the word and realised it applied to me. But for a long, long time, I never knew anyone else who was feminist. I was too timid to embark on a crusade against the whole world. But I was never entirely silent, and I hoped to grow up and discover my tribe.

I grew up and moved to a bigger city, but I seemed as alone in my feminism as ever. It was only years later, when I discovered blogging, that I found other feminists. Feminist blogs have therefore been responsible for my feminist education. I read only a couple of feminist books, and only discovered those due to blogs. But these blogs — all international, because if there were regular Indian feminism sites ten years ago, I failed to discover them — taught me so much, both the theory and the practice (how to be a better feminist, how to be an ally to other marginalised groups). I also discovered other feminists in India who blogged (they blogged about their personal lives, but were staunchly feminist) and made friends. I met some of them in real life — most of my friends in the last few years have been made online.

And now, recently, I attended my first actual feminists’ meeting. And it was so nice to just sit and chat with other feminists, and discuss what we can do, and share reactions to various current events.

Just before the meeting, I attended a performance -- a set of monologues -- by Zehen, a queer feminist collective. This was the most powerful performance I have ever attended. Each monologue was so well written — each word seemed necessary — and impeccably performed. There was nuance and understanding in both the performance itself as well as in the discussion the performers initiated afterwards. For a couple of hours, I was in a room full of feminists interested in intersectionality, willing to examine and admit and set aside their own privilege, and it was overwhelming. 

Later in the month, the Guy and I went to the 'Best of Kashish' event at the India Culture Lab, which screened queer films. There was also a panel discussion that featured, among others, Hansel Mehta who directed Aligarh, and Nandita Das. The discussions were interesting and nuanced (especially the Q&A with the filmmakers whose films were screened in the morning), and the films were brilliant, and I only wish I hadn't been too lazy to show up in the morning and watch all of them.

I also attended two literary events this month: the first was the launch of Mahesh Rao's One Point Two Billion. Mahesh Rao and Jerry Pinto had a scintillating and occasionally hilarious discussion, and Rao was perfectly charming when I met him later to get both his books signed (I'd wishlisted The Smoke is Rising after Aishwarya recommended it). I even had my fangirl moment with Jerry Pinto when I asked him to sign my copy of Em and the Big Hoom that I'd carried in for just that purpose.

I also finally turned up at Caferati's Open Mic session, which had been on my 'to do' list for ages. A couple of the poems were mindblowing and I need to do this more often.

So you see I've had a fairly busy month, what with this and a bunch of other things I've been doing... but more of that in another post. What have you been up to?

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