“We mature with the damage, not with the years”
Silencing is a technique that social scientists say exists as a means of controlling the communication of any marginalized person addressing privilege. Naturally, it’s a common technique used by society to shut women up when they complain or call out sexism — violent, nonviolent, endemic or peripheral. This technique includes, but is not limited to intimidation, harassment, shaming veiled as joking or teasing, humiliation, dismissive-ness or simply denying the legitimacy of a complaint. Silencing becomes an even more serious problem when it comes to issues like rape, sexual harassment/abuse or violence, for obvious reasons. But it’s also important to be aware of it in our everyday life.
In your daily experiences, especially if you are from South Asia, do any of the following sound familiar?
“The line between what is harassment/assault and what isn’t is so thin. How can you say someone looking at you is threatening?” (ermm…because, context. no?)
“You are just saying this to ruin my reputation”
“Focusing on sexism is inhibiting your progress as a gender. How long will you play victim?”
“Free speech, free country”.
“You are saying this/behaving like this to get attention.”
“I asked my female friend/mother/sister/spouse and she didn’t think this is chauvinism”
“I am feminist, but…”
“This is just an isolated incident. Not a trend.”
“This is a ploy to hurt men”
“Boys will be boys”.
“You should be flattered”
And countless more well documented shitsprays from “she asked for it” to my personal favorite, the male experience trump card, also known as “mansplaining”. In this, a man explains to me my own experience and adds the exact manner in which I ought to behave within the context of that experience so as to not be perceived as a bitch.
If you identify to one or all of the above techniques, let me just quote the Queen of Rap, Nicki Minaj and say to all the amazing, intelligent and beautiful women out there: “Stop feeling like you shouldn’t speak your mind cause somebody’s gonna call you a bitch.
Speak your motherfucking mind.”
If you wear western clothes, you are a slut.
If you speak too much, too abrasively, too feminist-ly, you are a cantankerous shrew.
If you smoke, you are a bad, fallen woman.
If you smoke AND drink, you are a shame to your family.
If you do all this publicly, you deserve to be raped.
Please feel free to add to the list. Because, we may not label our merchandise but we label our women with enthusiasm and ease.
Mixed media 2: Sharpies, brushpen, watercolor and digital.
I haven’t posted anything new this week. The reason is, I have recently come to possess a small little Japanese sketchbook. It has 20 beautiful, thick, creamy pages and is about 3.5 x 5 inches. So I have stared a mixed media project, drawing on certain social aspects of growing up/being female in South Asia. These will be slightly different from my usual style. I will be looking to pair traditional media with stitching, embroidery, stamping, and digital – which means it will be time consuming to both conceptualize and execute.
I will be talking about my personal experiences, of course. But it’s also a look at the socio-politics of gender that is sometimes unique to South Asia and at other times, universal. So it would be great if people of the interwebs and the amazing ladies who read this blog could help me by:
a. sharing your own stories or thoughts, irrespective of whether you are South Asian or not.
b. helping me with some suggestions for a name for this project.
Here are some progress shots. I’ll start posting the individual finished pieces soon.
Have you noticed how women are always apologizing for being a mess? We are continually providing explanations to near strangers about the condition of our hearts and bodies. New moms about their bad hair and chipped nails; busy women for their sloppy Saturday outfits; a recent divorcee for her puffy face and lack of self love; a forty-something mother of a special child for her untidy home and dirty dishes; an unemployed woman trying so hard to make up for her lack of “work”. Always with a half smile, dismissing our own condition with the usual and causal, “Oh I am such a mess today”
You are tired or emotionally drained or insecure or depressed but it doesn’t mean you have unraveled into some kind of gooey, pulpy, gloop of nothingness. It’s easy to forget that reality doesn’t look like a page out of Better Homes and Gardens. That no matter what society says, other women are not holding you to some ideal image while you do your best with the cards fate has dealt you.
“You are not a mess. You are an abstract work of art, splattered with the intensity of all things beautiful.” Remember that.