- This has been a strange summer so far: days where the wind rages and the sky threatens to thunderstorm and spit rain at us like seeds from a fruit’s mouth, and then days like today where the sun rages down and is a bit unkind with its glare and you feel as though it doesn’t matter how quickly the fan turns, your body will never cool down enough, will never stop burning, and you think you can almost see the way in which the heat rises off of you.
- I love that summertime means mangoes, but it also means watermelons and watermelon juice and the careful picking-spitting out of seeds.
When we were little, I was far too lazy to spit out the watermelon seeds and I’d swallow them with the rest of the pulp. My brother told me that I’d grow a watermelon tree out of my stomach, the branches reaching out through my ears and little watermelons for earrings. I believed him, so I swallowed them all- even the ones I’d unconsciously picked out.
- Irritation has been easy to come by this month. It is usually in cahoots with anger and frustration. I am not always sure of how to handle it, especially when I feel compelled to respond to peoples’ ignorance and blind-spots. I’ve been good this week about biting my tongue and letting my eye-rolls be enough of a response. It isn’t my job to educate someone, it isn’t my job to make you realise you have on blinders the size of the bloody moon.
- On that note, I’m really; really irritated by the constant decontextualisation of violence, how it ignores any structural analysis when reporting on violence against women. This piece on the recent gang-rape and hanging of two girls in rural Uttar Pradesh (a state in India) is shocking in its lack of analysis and contextualisation. It doesn’t even allude to the fact that these girls were from Dalit families (no, having it in the bloody tags is not the same) and that casteism is still an issue in India, that it is linked into to issues of power and power over. It is linked in to issues of access, of infrastructure, of whether a police report is taken or not. To pretend otherwise, isn’t just short-sighted; it’s beyond shoddy reporting. It’s this kind of poor journalism on issues around gender based violence (exacerbated by/intersecting with other socio-economic factors) that leads to immensely pointless and deeply offensive shit (pun intended) like this piece of idiocy. It doesn’t even take into account that over half of the country’s population doesn’t have access to toilets and to proper sewage systems and are forced to defecate in public. This is an issue of caste and class and gender and to pretend that it’s as easy as telling someone not to poo in public- people don’t do this because they get some thrill out of it- without considering the larger structural inequities is galling, to say the least. Also note how the UNICEF video doesn’t even really focus on women’s access to toilets- gender blind does not mean it is affirming or that it isn’t a problem or that it’s somehow progressive (*eyeroll*). Just think about the number of girls who do not go to schools because of their periods. Or the two Dalit girls who were gang raped and hanged when they ventured out into the dark fields to relieve themselves.
- Also, since Newsweek’s piece on Somaly Mam has taken the criticism and questioning of Mam’s work to the mainstream, organisations that once endorsed and championed her have been quick to dissociate. Not many have offered an explanation or a response around this, and this is a problem for development work as a whole. It ignores the questions and the very valid criticisms that have been levelled against AFESIP and the ways of working, the problematic framing, and seeks to sweep so much of this ‘dirt’ under the rug. I understand implications of funding and larger discomfort around how it affects one’s work and the image of one’s work; but I believe it’s far more important for development spaces as a whole to admit failure, to admit to being wrong, to own up to it, and to learn from it. It’s essential to think about the issues around this and to address them so that this doesn’t happen again. I also can’t help but think these questions have been around for a long, long time- why is it only now that a mainstream publication has printed this (excellently researched) piece that actions are being taken?
- On a related note, Maya Angelou passed away and my timelines and feeds have been full of her amazing words and her wonderful histories. I especially love her in this piece -I find it so very inspirational:
What I find disrespectful and frankly, wrong, about the tributes is the invisibilisation of Dr. Angelou’s many avatars and identities. Especially the one of her as a former sex-worker.
- Dr. Angelou exhorts us to ‘pick up the battle’- and I feel this is true not just for our activisms, but also for our selves. I’ve shied away from actively writing (beyond this blog and/or work-related things) and claiming that for myself, I’ve shied away from writing in forms that I’m not quite as comfortable in (fiction, poetry, long-form); but I recently did write a piece of ‘poetry’ that I’m not deeply unhappy with. I suppose that’s progress on one of my own internal battles. You can read it in the second edition of Paper & Ink, a zine put together by the wonderful Mr. Martin. I urge/plead with you to please, please, please buy a copy. I promise you it’s filled with goodness and magic. You ought to submit something for the third edition.
- My May Music Project was to listen to entire Nirvana discography. I don’t know how this thing started out, but I was nostalgic for the time when I would listen to bands and know every song lyric and all this random stuff about them. I’m not looking to go back to that painfully irritating version of myself (also, bloody hell; what a waste of time. I don’t have the time or the brain space for this anymore) but I do miss listening to music and just.. that. I also miss listening to entire albums, not just a random track I like; but understanding it in the entirety of its creation.
- I’m also finally making headway on a project I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time now, and I’ve been throwing this idea around with a few people- online and in other spaces- and when the news of Dr. Angelou’s passing broke and my TL was filled with her words; I was stuck on her last tweet. The phrase ‘the quietude’ stood out. It galvanised me into action, into actually working on the idea rather than just talking about it. I’m hoping to make more progress on it as things ease up on me a bit. I realise I’m being a bit vague, but hold tight: there’ll be lots more soon.
- We’re halfway through the year already. I say this ever so often, but where the hell did time go? I realise I’ve spent more of this year on a plane than I expected to, but I suppose; no matter how much your circumstances change, some things remain exactly the same.