Category Archives: Women’s Rights
‘அறம் செய விரும்பு’ திட்டம் பற்றி அறிய…
இந்தத் திட்டத்தின் செயல்பாடுகள் அவ்வப்போது ஆனந்த விகடனிலும், இதற்கான பிரத்யேக வலைதளம் மூலமும் பகிரப்படும்.
திட்டம் தொடர்பான தகவல்களை
– விகடன் டீம்,
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.
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