body

Jaded's picture

Looking For My Body

It is nearly impossible to be a Dusty Lady and not have your body become a canvas of comments, critiques and opinions; specifically the one’s you didn’t ask for. You know the ones by moldy old ladies — and sometimes, not so old people — who say things like, “I liked it better when your face was fuller, now you just look like a vegetable” or “You call that a chest? Pfft. How will you ever rear children with that?”¹ without lowering their voice or taking their eyes off of you, and then the next minute your head starts hurting and you think to yourself that you will never, ever again go to these silly events again, after which you get your cousin to spike your drink which makes the whole evening bearable, blissful even. Only when you next see these people again, you remember that promise you made to yourself; smack your head — figuratively, for your real hands must never do such a thing in public — and then start looking for a cousin to trick into slipping very suspicious liquids in your fruit juice, so that you can nod and let the words float by you till the time you get home and vow to never, ever go to such silly events till the next time. I don’t know what is more amusing — where amusing becomes the new migraine — that people don’t see the effect their words on the bodies they are commenting on or the fact that I’ve accepted it as a routine activity. Only when this week, some trolls made similar remarks focusing on the body alone, did I start to unravel and start re-acting to their statements and assumptions.

Bodies, dusty bodies particularly almost never speak. We are spoken for — of course colonialism still lives on! What do you mean the British left 60 years ago? — in true imperial fashion,  and this tilted-equation even translates to the way we see, read and frame bodies. Last week, in a study break I ended up watching TeeVee for a bit. And just my luck, I ended up watching two minutes of Dabangg and I couldn’t help chuckling and then sobbing how this less-than-3-minutes trailer encapsulated perfectly how we view bodies. Here’s a convenient list:

 

  1. Land is feminised — very subtly, I must give them that — so it’s ‘lawless’ and must be ‘disciplined’. Land becomes a deviant body and of course a dude has to ‘bring it back to its place’.
  2. Dudely bodies are mobile. Feminine bodies move in the periphery. And this mobility is not restricted to just physical activity, it shows up in how feminine bodies are dressed too; dudes are in pants and shirts, most women in saris, bringing another form of ‘bondage’ and ‘restriction’ to play, as the sari needs to be physically and compulsively wrapped around the body².
  3. A privileged dudely body need not respect any other bodies. Disabled or feminine, especially not if this body is a ‘criminal’. Bodily agency is for taking, obviously.
  4. When a dudely body transgresses socially, it’s allowed and forgiven. When the dusty lady transgresses — talks back in this case — she is threatened with ‘romantic’ violence³.
  5. If any dusty lady is portrayed as ‘mobile’ then she surely must expose her ladybits for a living — which as society routinely tells us, is a truly terrible, terrible thing to do. Because no ‘good’ dusty female body transgresses; if dusty ladies start doing vile, vulgar things like dance in public, who will cook and rear sturdy boy-children then?

Jaded's picture

Build Me My FatherLand

My father is a bit of a history buff; and I get my obsession with mapping events from him. However, when it comes to seeing history as a linear pattern of events, we part ways. My idea of history is too ‘messy’ for him, as I tend to always look at Subaltern points of view — or the voices ‘history’ forgets, so to speak — while he is content with historian’s voices; and the fact that these voices come from a culture and a tradition of privilege aren’t his concern. Needless to say, we have a lot of disagreements when it comes to understanding and seeing history, even when it comes to news and current affairs. Yesterday when Azam Khan questioned how ‘integral’ a part of India Kashmir really was, my father flew into a temper, indignant  at the idea that an ‘Indian’ had any doubts whatsoever regarding how much Kashmir means to us; he started talking about the Kargil war and how our ‘Motherland’ cannot be fissured any more if we want to maintain any semblance of stability. Later that evening, the same news flashed across major networks and my grandma grumbled how easy it is for people to talk about ‘borders’ and question the integrity of Kashmir without witnessing the struggle it took us to attain independence and make these ‘borders’ matter. And then she remembered one speech Nehru gave where he lamented, “what was broken up which was of the highest importance, was something very vital and that was the body of India”. The imagery both discussions conjured up was “motherland”, “mother”, “mother’s ungrateful children” — that is us — and “mother’s body” that ‘we’ve hacked up beyond recognition’. While these words swirl around me, I can’t get over the hyper-feminisation of space, as if this feminised space of imagining India as a “she” or a “her” is an entirely neutral construct and has no bearing on history whatsoever.

Swapping bodies or rather the Body with a female one, isn’t a fateful or even a convenient co-incidence. The female body bears a herstory of  discipline and confinement, historically and otherwise. Victorian novels are full of such cracks, where a feminine body is kept locked up, or just kept to the house. Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals talk about walking with her brother, and about constantly stopping to sit down and then eventually to walk back, bringing to bear the immediacy of physical body policing that went on under being ‘Feminine’. Moving forward a century and a continent, during the partition, Muslim and Hindu women’s bodies literally became markers of the religion or the ‘side’ the belonged to; where women were abducted, raped, assaulted and in some cases, ‘marked’ in the truest sense of the world to ‘correct’ their faith. Here, the female body is displaced, abducted, and systematically scarred to signify community, nation and state. Shauna Singh Baldwin’s What The Body Remembers may be a ‘fictional’ re-telling of the partition, a particularly gory one that too but the issues of feminine displacement the narrative unfolds strike a little too close to home. Urvashi Butalia mentions the many barriers she faced while recording the partition for her book The Other Side Of Silence as most women of the Sikh community had repressed their memories of the communal mass-violence. These memories only re-surfaced decades later, when there was a similar Hindu-Muslim riot; what is striking is, this is a communal memory that most women had suppressed unanimously. Men’s account of the same event details violence and loss of land, women remark the loss of ‘the body’. Sadat Hassan Manto or Ismat Chughtai’s short-fiction reflects the same horrifying gendered violence that we almost never mention when we talk of the partition. Can words like “motherland” still be conceived of as words that have no specific significations, collectively and polemically?

LaPrincipessa's picture

Support the Birth Control Matters Campaign For Contraception With No Co-Pays

Birth Control Matters is an effort to make birth control available with no copays so that all women can use the method that works best for them and to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies.

Affordable prescription birth control is an essential part of health care for millions of women. The average woman spends 30 years of her life trying to avoid getting pregnant. More than one-third of women voters in America have struggled with the cost of prescription birth control at some point in their lives, and, as a result, have used birth control inconsistently.

No copays for birth control is the single most important step we can take to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies.

The new health care reform law represents the single biggest opportunity to advance women’s health in 45 years. 

To make this opportunity a reality, the law must require health plans to provide prescription birth control to women with no copays, as part of the prevention provision. 

This would be a huge step forward for America – and especially for the many of women in this nation who cannot afford to pay for prescription contraception.

Please read the entire release from Planned Parenthood and find ways to donate and spread the word.

(Posted at Women Undefined)

Jaded's picture

Breathing As The 'Eternal She'

 

As a DustyLady who completely and absolutely hates restrictive dichotomies, more often than not I’m squeezed into a tiny box of stereotypes so tight I eventually grow claustrophobic and completely disinterested, barely an inch away from completely disengaging myself from these situations. As Women Of TheBroken World, we’re supposed to be either poor, limitless, undeniably open to possession and incredibly in tune with Nature or Gramsci’s little organic intellectuals, capable of seeing through oppression enough to elevate one’s status to an Earth Goddess, imparting wisdom on every stone; while the dusty realities of who we really are conveniently effaced. Sometimes I just need to read an article like this one and hear  distinctive popping sound in the vicinity of my temporal lobes and hope fruitlessly it’s going to end soon. And no, sometimes, even caffeine doesn’t help. Just reading opinions like “I like women from countries that have sustained political turmoil,” makes me want to pack every book I possess, a vat of coffee and just go live in a cave till this blimp called ‘civilization’ is over. In which way can you say Assange isn’t being an arsehole excluding the one that implies cultural appropriation and tokenism is a sign for appreciation? If you can figure that one out, let me know.

Assange translated for everyone -- courtesy Of the Privilege Denying Dude

Once the urge to puke at his every word went away — by the fifth or so read — one thing that becomes clear is the cast of the ‘Eternal She’¹ that is manufactured for women from ‘broken countries’ to keep us at an exotically attainable distance. Exotic dudes are generally just pouty and exude potent sexuality, capable of letting the ‘inner beast’ — of course all exotic dudes are animals inside! Who said colonial tropes have to die anyway? — possess them into taking the WhiteWashed Lilly of a Woman for an erotic journey, but exotic ladies or the ‘Eternal She’ is always in a position of subordination. If the Dusty Lady is not in a submissive position, sexually or otherwise, then she is either Westernised or has 2 parts English ancestry, which makes her not ‘authentically’ Dusty anyway, so giving her quasi agency doesn’t upset the world order. From the druggedtame Auoda who is rescued by the adventurous White Man,  to say Peter Walsh’s Daisy whom he leaves behind in India² as he re-forms his ties with Clarissa Dalloway, and all women that I can’t name right now, so many whose names we’ve erased away, all fit into the shoes of this ‘Eternal She’: Eternally passive, eternally waiting for the White man to rescue her, or just make her more than a minor background detail in the narrative. Her ‘ethnic’ identity comes through from her ‘native garb’ that she loses through the course of the narrative, to something more civilised as a dress or a skirt. In my mind’s eye, eventually their skin goes white as well. In this way, ‘Ethnic’ dress becomes interchangeable with tradition and essentialism, and the female body enters an unstable arena of scrutiny and meaning, till you can change ‘Ethnic’ with ‘Woman’ with ‘Body’ and come away with the same image, ready for consumption at will!

LaPrincipessa's picture

What to do when one finds a triggering, and sexist, blog

We've all seen the terrible blogs, those that bash women, sexualize them, make them seem like objects, and promote rape culture. We all know, and most who are not part of the feminist blogosphere usually can tell right away, that these type of blogs are bad.

But when I ran across this blog, with that terribly triggering image suggesting eating is pathetic, how is one who's not trained to spot such damaging content to recognize their being fooled, tricked, manipulated into hating their own bodies?

In the blog's "about" section, it mentions this blog is for "thinspiration".. meaning it's a pro-ana, or pro-anorexia /eating disorder website that works to support those with eating disorders by posting pictures of skinny models- someone's motivation to be skinny.

If one were to run across this blog and he/she is recovering, suffering, or has suffered from an eating disorder, the trigger from this image in particular and the overall content and language of that blog is immediate. Bad feelings of low self esteem come rushing back and the urge to revert to old habits reemerge.

There is no trigger warning or disclaimer before one enters this site, therefor, anyone perusing the net can stumble upon this tumblr blog (no pun intended) and be persuaded to think :

a) this picture, the depiction of that woman and the entire blog are normal.

b) "skinny" is better than "fat"

c) the picture of this model is untouched and un-photoshopped (which is undoubtedly is )

d) perpetuating the myth of skinny equals beauty is normal and glamorous

All of these issues are those which many advocates against negative portrayals of women in the media write/blog/work against. In this, it is sad that this young woman that presumably runs this blog is so careless in her attempt at achieving her ideal , and a reflection of society at large, of beauty.

To me, this is an opportunity to report the blog to someone or a group that can help. It isn't so much as willfully hateful, rather, the blog is sexist and harmful in a more ignorant and unintentional way. The young women certainly deserves her right to say and type what she wants, yet she seems as if she doesn't really know the damage her blog can do.

So, in this case, report to tumblr, request a disclaimer and hope that real guidance and help is offered to this young woman and anyone else who runs a blog such as the one I've linked.

(Posted at Women Undefined)

Jaded's picture

OutSourcing Dusty Bodies

Existing as a Dusty Third Worldling while being a Lady is a strange enough predicament on its own –whether it’s under Western or Oriental eyes — anyone who identifies as a Lady in this part of the world will tell you so. Before you can get your words out, she’ll tell you how unfair her life is simply because there is no Y-chromosome in her body, she will meet your stare and agree that it was too essentialist of her to fixate on that Y-chromosome but won’t let you make her feel guilty as she firmly asserts, “This is how things are here” and when you start to talk about enough transpeople in the world get discriminated over a few socially ‘unfit’ or ‘mismatched’ genes, she’ll observe wryly that it’s the System and Patriarchy that makes her so and this cold, scientific speech and facts aren’t her preferred mode of communication or discourse anyway; then she’ll go on to say how trans bodies are policed in her community and you’ll squirm in your seat, wondering why did you ever challenge the notion that being a Dusty Third Worldling  is a hard position to occupy as she points out systematically the many viscerally real forces that oppress her while now you feel guilty for pitying her even as she talks which she sees right away and starts enumerating other factors that lead you deeper in the existential quagmire this conversation has long become and you further alarm yourself by thinking if she wants some donation money out of you as you try to keep your face expressionless. Meanwhile, the ‘economically-challenged’ Dusty Lady she employs sweeps the floor beneath your feet as the two of you further dis-sect the post of the post-colonial.

Leaving creative flippancy aside, many discussions and discourses coming out and around the Third World tend to not engage with the Subaltern — who knew the Third World had its own systems to squash and oppress? — they simply talk about this bottom tier as it were. Words keep floating by, and till people from the Subaltern are addressed by someone stepping in from caste or class privilege, the Subaltern is kept mute — raise your hand if you think this is too imperial to be true — and when the Subaltern does speak, these words are too exotic, even for its Dusty counterparts. So then this detongued bottom shelf is appropriated and fixed in as many ways as possible, quite akin to a laboratory animal positioned to be experimented on. One example of this Subaltern-animal is the burgeoning female surrogacy industry in India, where we speak of the people who give out away their Wombs as helpless, agency-less creatures who don’t understand the ‘importance’ or ‘boon’ that motherhood is as she ‘pawns’ her uterus away. Not only is this image of the benevolent Third World Woman perpetuated in urban and privileged echelons of India, but quite predictably in the West as well, with an even more sinister motive. When the image of the Dusty Goddess-Mother is created for Western audiences, it creates quite ostensibly a loophole that allows people to see it as a part of our chemical make-up, where we exist to serve you and just as easily over-writes the slavery it really is, leaving the Westerner free of guilt and ready to consume bodies, like microwaveable dinners. It comes as no surprise that Indian wombs come cheap for rent, as medical tourism is quick to remind us; too quick even. While I am not at all against surrogate mothers or people who choose to have babies through IVF, I am skeptical to what extent this transaction is consensual or non-exploitative for Dusty Ladies.

arvan's picture

1700% Project: Mistaken for Muslim

This film is the 2010 recipient of the Grand Prize award for LinkTV's One Chicago, One Nation film competition. Using the music video format as a subversive tool of engagement and collaboration, artist Anida Yoeu Ali and filmmaker Masahiro Sugano, worked with over 100 diverse volunteers, participants and community members in the Chicagoland area.

In their film, narratives collide with music, poetry and politics to create a complex and layered experience. A poet, dancer, angel, prisoner converge with community to speak, deflect, and intervene against racial profiling and hate crimes. Featured portraits represent real American Muslims in Chicago, people who refuse to end in violence. Central to the video is an unapologetic poem, a response to injustices directed against the Muslim community that reflect both the absurdity and dangers of racially-motivated fears.

"1700%" refers to the rate of increase in hate crimes committed against people perceived as Muslim or Arab after 9/11. The video is one facet of a larger ongoing project titled "1700% Project" utilizing art as a form of strategic intervention to present works that challenge monolithic stereotypes of Muslims.

For more information visit:http://1700percent.org/

Jaded's picture

Re-Presenting Absences

As a simple defense of the well-being of my lobes, I tend to not interact with people who believe Culture is one monolithic and omnipresent entity, that somehow it is the particular duty of the “youth” to uphold it and keep it intact, for reasons that sound eerily close to neo-colonisation and imperialism. However, there is only so much a DustyLady can do to avoid such people; especially if this person is the key-note speaker to one of her seminars, avoiding him becomes a tad difficult. This speaker spoke of ‘urban myths’ that the ‘young people of today’ perpetuate and one of them is Lesbianism, supposedly. Of course, he didn’t say it that bluntly; he slid it in as one wry statement and I almost missed it — by the time he got to this part, I was already sleeping — but my friend nudged me and whispered “This dude thinks Indian lesbians are a Western myth, like the moon landing or something” and I couldn’t help laughing and then sighing, because not only is this opinion too popular, it has some inkling of truth as well. Lesbianism is seen as a Disease Those White Hippy Buggers From The 80′s Left Behind In India though authors like Devdutt Patnaik have shown traces of queer identities and characters in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist folklore and mythology.  As I’ve discussed earlier, Indian lesbians are madeinvisible, consciously written off as non-existent to uphold patriarchy, despite a plethora of virtual and real spaces like Gaysi and other LGBTQI forums thrive with many people who identify as lesbian. We’re somehow relatively tolerant of gay men and ‘hijras exist on the fringes of gender and cities anyway’, so we don’t engage with them unless we absolutely have to. But the idea that the SariClad Ladies Of Our Traditional Country™ may have feelings for other people who identify as women, collective gasps and cries can be heard.

It’s interesting to see how such visible absences are re-presented in media and even in everyday conversations, however homophobic they may be, such re-presentations do exist. One of the most famous and early lesbian stories is Ismat Chughtai’s Lhiaf which remains shrouded in ambiguity and innuendos throughout, which still cost the author a court trial for obscenity. Today when we study the text, we try to see beyond the draconian control in the writing and see queer-relations within an airless patriarchal setting; we can almost tolerate it, as long as we contain the author and her work into walls of ‘fiction’ and ignore other contemporary queer artists. Amruta Patil‘s graphic novel ‘Kari’ that voices a lesbian protagonist is seen as an ‘experimental’ novel at best. The nuanced drawings and references in the book — she mentions reading Winterson’s Sexing The Cherry a few times, the Body is shown as a site of navigation of memories and events, exercising agency at all times — are obscured under readings like “look how angry her art is!” or “did you see the pretty colours?” and we deliberately unsee the presence of a queer protagonist. It gets to me when voices of people are rendered voiceless by religion or patriarchy, just because it doesn’t fit in the six by four-foot box that people are supposed to fit in, and those who don’t, we paint them invisible. This making invisible is done under the waving flag of religion, where we firmly state that “our scriptures do not depict such lifestyles ever!”, again ignoring a myth in the Mahabharata that talks of two lady priests who make a son out of the earth, mud and soil pouring life into him, modern re-readings show hints of a queer family model in function; however short the verses describing their life may have been.

arvan's picture

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers - Vigil & Speak Out

Friday, December 17 · 7:30pm - 9:30pm

Metropolitan Community Church of New York

446 West 36th Street,

Second Floor Sanctuary

New York, NY

This event is free and open to the public.

Map: http://bit.ly/dUenDt

Join us in remembering those we've lost to violence, oppression and hate, whether perpetrated by clients, partners, police or the state.

We stand against the cycle of violence experienced by sex workers around the world. Recently in Geneva, the United Nations Human Rights Council reviewed the human rights record of the United States during their Universal Periodic Review. Uruguay's recommendation to the Obama Administration – to address “the special vulnerability of sexual workers to violence and human rights abuses” - is the moral leadership we have been waiting for!

Join us in solidarity to fight the criminalization, oppression, assault, rape and murder of sex workers – and of folks perceived as sex workers.

December 17, 2003 was our first annual day to honor the sex workers who were murdered by serial killer Gary Ridgway. In Ridgway's own words, "I also picked prostitutes as victims because they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing right away and might never be reported missing. I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught." (BBC, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3245301.stm)

We come together each year to show the world that the lives of marginalized people, including those of sex workers, are valuable.

SPEAKERS

* Audacia Ray, Red Umbrella Project & Sex Work Awareness

* Chelsea Johnson-Long, Safe OUTside the System Collective of the Audre Lorde Project

* Michael J. Miller, The Counterpublic Collective and PROS Network

* Andrea Ritchie, Peter Cicchino Youth Project and Streetwise & Safe (SAS)

READINGS

* Reading of the names of sex workers we have lost this past year

* Memorial for Catherine Lique by her daughter Stephanie Thompson and read by Sarah Jenny Bleviss

* Speak out: Bring poetry, writings or just speak your truth.

Light snacks, beverages, and metrocards will be provided.

The red umbrella has become an important symbol for Sex Workers' Rights and is increasingly used on December 17: "First adopted by Venetian sex workers for an anti-violence march in 2002, red umbrellas have come to symbolize resistance against discrimination for sex workers worldwide."

This event is co-sponsored by: Audre Lorde Project, FIERCE, MADRE, Peter Cicchino Youth Project, PONY (Prostitutes of New York), The Queer Commons, Red Umbrella Project, SAFER, Sex Work Awareness, Sex Workers Project, SWANK (Sex Workers Action New yorK), SWOP-NYC (Sex Workers Outreach Project), the Space at Tompkins, and Third Wave Foundation.

Babeland is also sponsoring our event and wants folks to know that they offer 10% off for Sex Workers always - ask for the "Professional Discount."

For more information, visit: http://www.swop-nyc.org/

For events outside of New York, visit: http://www.swop-usa.org/dec17

arvan's picture

Reteaching Gender and Sexuality

Reteaching Gender & Sexuality is a message about queer youth action and resilience. The video was generated to contribute additional queer/trans youth voices to the national conversations about queer/trans youth lives. 

Reteaching Gender & Sexuality intends to steer the conversation beyond the symptom of bullying, to consider systemic issues and deeper beliefs about gender and sexuality that impact queer youth.  We invite you to share the video with your friends, family and networks; we invite you to share with us what THIS issue means to you!

Reteaching Gender and Sexuality from Sid Jordan on Vimeo.

 

For more info go to putthisonthemap.org.

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