Category Archives: Women’s Rights

my interview in Daily Thanthi

kotravai1

nirmala kotravai

kotravai 3

kotravai 4

அறம் செய விரும்பு – a Social movement by Vikatan

Nirmala Kotravai

Nirmala Kotravai

‘அறம் செய விரும்பு’ திட்டம் பற்றி அறிய…

இந்தத் திட்டத்தின் செயல்பாடுகள் அவ்வப்போது ஆனந்த விகடனிலும், இதற்கான பிரத்யேக வலைதளம் மூலமும் பகிரப்படும்.

திட்டம் தொடர்பான தகவல்களை

www.vikatan.com/aramseyavirumbu  என்ற வலைதளத்தின் மூலம் அறிந்துகொள்ளலாம். இந்தத் திட்டம் மூலம் உதவ விரும்புபவர்கள் / உதவி வேண்டுபவர்கள்aram@vikatan.com என்ற மின்னஞ்சல் முகவரிக்குத் தொடர்புகொள்ளலாம்!

– விகடன் டீம்,

source: http://www.vikatan.com/news/article.php?aid=51865&spl=102

தந்தை பெயர் இல்லாமலே – புதிய தலைமுறை

IMG IMG_0001

Tamil writer Jeyamohan rubbishes women colleagues, reveals wider misogyny

The novelist said last week that many female writers got recognition not because they had talent but because they were women, eliciting cogent and concerted protest from his target.
Tamil writer B Jeyamohan’s disparaging remarks about his women colleagues, posted on his website earlier this month, exposes a strain of misogyny in the literary world of this ancient language, one that springs from a fear of strong female voices.Jeyamohan wrote on his popular website on June 9 that many female Tamil novelists and poets lacked literary merit but had gained prominence and won awards because “they had employed many publicity gimmicks and had attracted media attention and popularity”.

He was evidently reacting to a list of significant contemporary Tamil litterateurs, compiled by senior writer Naanjil Naadan and published in  the Tamil weekly magazine Ananda Vikatan , in which 11 of the 27 novelists and poets named were women.

“The male writer has to prove his literary merit to join such lists; the female writer gains prominence simply by being a woman,“ he wrote. “[In a growing] feminist culture many are afraid of speaking the truth that may be anti-women for fear of earning their ire.“

His comments did indeed evoke ire, but from women and men alike, with about a hundred writers and activists signing a statement published online on June 18, protesting against what they said was “blatant misogyny“. The protest was spearheaded by veteran Tamil writer Ambai, who founded the Mumbai-based organisation SPARROW (Sound and Picture Archives for Research on Women), which documents the work of female writers and artistes.

Taken aback by the backlash, Jeyamohan issued an apparent apology on his website the following day. “If only they read my works they would understand my feminist principles,“ he wrote, initially sounding conciliatory, only to later describe the signatories as a “gaggle of foul-mouthed female protesters“.

These protestors include women from a range of communities – Dalit, Muslim and working-class – whose works have provided unique insights into Tamil society and alternative worldviews from the subaltern trenches of the 21st century.

Over the past decade powerful female voices have emerged in the Tamil literary world. Bama, the nom de plume of Faustina Mary Fatima Rani, whose maiden novel, Karukku (Palmyra Leaves), a Dalit feminist work, won her several awards in 2000, has a considerable following.

Another voice is Kutti Revathi, a poet and lyricist who has won several national awards. Her novel Muligal (Breasts) drew criticism from male Tamil writers, who said she had sexed up her writing. She said she was looking at the female anatomy as a living entity, not as a commodity.

Among poets, Salma’s name comes to mind. Her transformation from a housewife in rural Tamil Nadu living a closeted life to a daring poet in the public eye became the subject of a documentary that was applauded at the Sundance Film Festival, perhaps the world’s top forum for independent films, held every January in Utah in the US. She has become a celebrated author and an inspiration to many.

“Jeyamohan is not being merely patronising; he is obliterating their contribution,” said Pritham K Chakravarthy, a Chennai-based translator. “He called female writers sparrow-heads (meaning bird-brained). This is obnoxious.”

Said poet and novelist Meena Kandasamy, “It is rude and arrogant. I find it difficult to engage with the world of such Tamil male novelists.”

This is not the first time Jeyamohan has found his female colleagues wanting. In his popular and widely read website, he has time and again described late R Chudamani and Kamala Das “as lacking in literary merit”.

Stray voices, however, found merit in Jeyamohan’s criticism and supported his right to express his views. Among them was K Arivazhagan, who writes under the name Charu Nivedita and who, paradoxically, is himself known for transgressive novels that contain sexually explicit passages and dwell on subjects that were once taboo. Without a trace of irony he accused female Tamil poets of getting easy media coverage because they threw in a few lines describing “details of the body and genitalia”.

“If Jeyamohan is doing this as a publicity stunt, he should face the music,” he began by saying in his blog, only to add: ”Instead of rising to the challenge thrown by Jeyamohan to prove their literary prowess intellectually, they [the women writers] are resorting to protests and demanding apologies.”

Meena Kandaswamy reacted with disgust. “It shows their [male writers’] immaturity and discomfort to engage,” she said.

Jeyamohan’s comments are not, unfortunately, out of place in the world of modern Tamil literature. Although this world has remained vibrant from pre-Independence to today, breaking new ground and capturing emerging realities, it has been dominated by male voices and viewpoints.

Surprisingly, however, many male writers have adopted women’s names as pseudonyms, often names of their mothers or wives. For example, Kalki Krishnamurthi adopted his wife’s name Kalyani; S Rangarajan wrote under the name Sujatha; Subha, the author of Tamil pulp fiction, is the pen name of the duo D Suresh and AN Balakrishnan; JR Sundaresan, a comic novelist, went by the name Bagyyam Ramaswamy; Sri Venugopalan wrote spiritual articles under his own name but his racy and raunchy stories under the name Pushpa Thangadurai; and Charu Nivedita is the nom de plume for K Arivazhagan, the writer who appeared to support Jeyamohan.

The list is long and the trend may call for analysis, but it does not, clearly, reflect a deeper change in the status quo.

Source: http://scroll.in/article/668281/Tamil-writer-Jeyamohan-rubbishes-women-colleagues,-reveals-wider-misogyny

அச்சம் தவிர் அறிவு கொள்

13 14 15 16

How Much Do You Know About “Women’s Lib”?

image

During my years as an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I took as many classes as I could in their well-reputed women’s studies department.

When I was required to take a sociology class, I took “The Foundations of Feminism.” For my philosophy requirement, I chose “Philosophy of Feminism.” A literature class focused on works by women exposed me to Toni Morrison, Erica Jong and Ann Petry, among others. So I have always considered myself well-grounded in the history of women’s liberation and its major players.

 

Nevertheless, when I saw Jennifer Lee’s documentary Feminist: Stories of Women’s Liberation at a recent screening hosted by the Los Angeles chapter of Women, Action, and the Media (WAM!), I was amazed by how much I didn’t know.

 

The film deals with the feminism of the 1960s—usually referred to then as the Women’s Liberation Movement, or, somewhat disparagingly, as Women’s Lib—from the origins of the Second Wave as part of the Civil Rights movement to Betty Friedan’s groundbreaking The Feminine Mystique to the protests at the 1967 Miss America pageant. Despite my studies, I had never heard of the Redstockings, a group whose name derives from a combination of bluestocking, a term for “intellectual woman,” and “red” for the revolutionary left. The Redstockings were critical of the National Organization for Women for focusing on institutional reform at the expense of male-female relationships, of radical feminists for advocating a separatist women’s culture and of socialist feminists for focusing too much on class.

I was also unfamiliar with WITCHes—sometimes the acronym of Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell, sometimes standing for Women Inspired to Tell Their Collective History, sometimes meaning Women Interested in Toppling Consumerist Holidays, as well as any number of other meanings. The WITCHes represented the kind of socialist feminism to which the Redstockings were opposed; nonetheless, like the Redstockings they were known for staging street theater protests against capitalism, for reproductive rights and against patriarchal constructions of marriage.

Filmmaker Lee does an excellent job of covering disagreements within the movement. She discusses the major criticisms of The Feminist Mystique, which, like Lean In, primarily applied to white women of privilege. I also learned that Friedan and some other early Second Wave leaders were desperate not to have their movement associated with lesbianism and gay rights—something that is thankfully not the case today.

Lee took nine years to finish the film, which contains interviews with Friedan, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (the Washington, D.C. delegate to Congress), Aileen Hernandez (the only woman to serve on the first Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), Kathie Sarachild (a leader in the consciousness-raising movement and Redstockings member), Frances M. Beal (cofounder of the Black Women’s Liberation Committee of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and more. The film also offers footage and still photos of major feminist events of the period. Lee created the documentary in bits and pieces while working full-time as a feature film editor and raising a child. Her primary motivation was to document the amazing women who worked so hard to ensure the freedoms that her daughter and other young women might otherwise take for granted. Lee told me she believes that knowledge of our feminist past can transform our perception of our feminist present: I was a young teenager during the Women’s Liberation Movement, so I knew as I went through life that I had this powerful sisterhood of feminists in back of me. I may not have known their names, but it was a vibrant movement that told me that if something sexist happened to me, I had women to help me and to pick me up if I got knocked down. And that’s something worth remembering. From the legislative successes to the social successes, that’s something that needs to be remembered by girls and women and boys and men. If we know that positive things happened that we’re all living with today, I think that will begin to change the shape of the word feminist.

Whether you think you know everything there is to know about the women’s movement or have yet to look into the history of our feminist forebears, Feminist: Stories from Women’s Liberation is well worth a watch. Feminist: Stories from Women’s Liberation will be screened on December 5 at the AMC Loews Village 7 in New York City at 7:30pm.

The film is available for public as well as classroom screenings.

Source: http://msmagazine.com/blog/2013/12/03/how-much-do-you-know-about-womens-lib/

Dress Code – a social ignorance

vc

5th September, 2103 – Puthiya Thalimurai Tv invited to participate in a debate that was scheduled to discuss about the proposal prepared by The directorate of collegiate education. The proposal recommends to impose # dresscode for students. Students are expected to be banned from wearing T-shirts, while jeans and sleeveless shirts will be off limits for female students. “Boys will be asked to wear formal outfits, like shirts and trousers, while girls will have to be in salwars or saris. – http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-09-01/chennai/41662347_1_dress-code-city-college-science-colleges

Related Video and my comments:

Victim Blaming is the most adapted strategy in our society. Whole world is no exception to that. Particularly, when it comes to #sexual #violence #against #women there is an outcry with the  ‘male tongue’ which points out to dress, behavior, attitude etc. If one has to put it in a crude manner with a Tamil dictum it shouts saying “break the legs of the women and lock her home, then everything will be alright”

The proposal by Ms. Senthamizh Selvi, The directorate of collegiate education is as equal as saying so. This directorate is representing the Arts and Science College. It is said that dress code has already been imposed in few Engineering Colleges. We do not know if it is not important for Medical Colleges and other institutions.

Distraction, Protection against Sexual assault, dignity and morality has been the primary reason often spoken by such people. If a man is getting distracted by seeing a women dressed ‘sexy’, then it is going to be the same case with Women also. Not only on the account of being sexy, but depending on color, design, fashion and style one would get curios or attracted towards other person irrespective of gender. One of the panelist Mr. Manushyaputhran asked that a person may also get distracted over the other person because of his / her looks, ‘beauty’ etc, so what are we going to about it? He sarcastically pointed out that, more than students, it is the faculty that gets distracted with dress and looks of the other person.

Not only that a student my feel distracted because of the teaching standards of the professor, attitude of the professor, the institution’s approach etc. He / She may be even be distracted or travel in his / her own world because some issues in the family or society. May be the Institutions might even say that if a person feels distracted, then would be dismissed. An energetic brain is bound to think too many things at the same time. It is quite natural. It is said that brain (waves) travel faster than the sound waves. Not only ‘decent-closed’ dress, any damn thing on this earth is not going to be able to stop this. May be the Professor’s teaching methodology and the experience an Institution gives may be of some help.

Secondly, it is about Sexual Conduct. I have been writing about the ‘freedom’ that is granted to women in an Globalized Era under Capitalism. I have even put forward some harsh realities and psycho-graphics. However, they are meant to be a discourse with my fellow beings. It is knowledge dissemination with the observations that I make and intended to educate, expose, create awareness about the external factor that conditions our mind about Status, Pseudo Radicalism by means of “fashion”. We need to debate on it and make everyone understand that those dresses emphasize that Women is all about Flesh and Beauty. We should point out on the dangers of consumerist Slavery. It is important for women (& men) to know about Retaining their Self-Respect without falling prey to such ‘fashion statements’. Making it Rules and Codes is to be defined as Dictatorship. The people who oppose this does not seem to have understood the ‘Dress Politics’ in an Globalized Era, they are not sensitive about liberal Economy.  This perception is a blatant result of Patriarchy.

People further ask – Dress code in institution is going to be for 5 hours, is that enough to change someone’s mind? How is it going help curb violence outside the campus? There is a lots to do to improve the quality of education in an institution, is dress code a priority? These questions are justified. But the answers seem to be “I am concerned about what you do inside my campus (limits), outside that I am not bothered”. What kind of Social Concern is this? One of the Panelist who happens to be a professor said that “If it comes here, it will come outside as well”. This is the standard of the education institutions here. She used a phrase called ‘Hieghts of Feminism’. Quite funny. What is Feminism?  Is it amount feminity? Is it about being Women? There has been numerous discussion put forward by Feminists on what is Feminity (or gender – the social construction). These ‘Professors’ don’t seem to have read them at all.

Another Panelist Ms. Banu Goms said that ‘Women’s anatomy would definitely stimulate a Man, hence women should not ‘provoke’ men with their dresses”. It sounded like I live in barbaric era. Talking about the Capitalistic Dominance on a Women’s Body and Psyche makes sense. Instead she argued saying it is ‘scientific’. ‘Biological’ instincts is different from saying it is scientific. And even such instincts arouse naturally, then it applies to women as well. But women have been oppressed on grounds of Morality, Virginity, Chastity etc and they have suppressed their emotions for centuries. In fact by now the genes have got mutated. Another panelist Ms. Suseenthra a student asked “Will a man be aroused on seeing a Mother’s breasts while she is serving food”. Ms. Banu reacted immediately out of ‘Cultural Shock’ saying, “Oh how can you talk so vulgar?” This testifies her ‘intellect’. If we say even Women get ‘orgasm’, I am sure she would have commented ‘you seem to be sex maniac’.

Manushyaputhiran shared a different view about Uniforms. Our society is drowned with unequal distribution of wealth and Caste indifference, hence we cannot completely accept that view, however it is important the we encourage discourse around the point that ‘uniforms are a part of Institutionalizing and pseudo discipline’. Dress has become a status symbol and the society has been brain washed enough. So we have to analyze both ends.

One set of People argue that ‘Conduct’ is in mind, others say, if we loose our senses (body) everything is lost. We have to understand that Heart, Body everything is same. Brain is the basis of everything. What is stored in our brain appears as visuals and thoughts in us. We call that as ‘mind’ (or heart). What is stored in brain is a result of social conditioning and it is very hard to change that.

While I walk out after the program, Vasumithra called to ask “People (professors) are saying that dress code is important to save students from distraction.. but we have instances where teachers, professors and chancellors (male) indulge in sexual harassment and even Rape the students. Will someone be able to guarantee that the professors will not indulge in sexual harassment against women those who dress ‘decently’?”

Moreover Homo Sexual harassment is also quite common in Institutions. What will those People say about ‘Men’s dress’ in this case?

It may not be surprising if they again defend by saying it is the problem with the ‘dress’, ‘attitude’ etc.

In memoir of Gayathri, a student belonging to Arunthathiyar Caste, whose death is still mysterious. She studied in Vivekananda College, Thiruchenkode and is said that she was sexually harassed and raped by the faculty. I can certainly say that she was not wearing ‘sexy’ clothes….

To read in Tamil: http://saavinudhadugal.blogspot.in/2013/09/blog-post.html