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Not A ‘Porn-Star-Sex-Girl’, And Definitely Not A ‘Feminazi’: Aunty Feminist Answers!

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By Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan for Youth Ki Awaaz: 

Hi, you guys!

I’ve got to say I was so blown away by how many questions came pouring through after my first column went up. I was anticipating a sort of slow build-up, where some of you came on board in the first few months and it sort of snowballed into a regular audience, where we’d get a few thoughtful questions every now and then. But, everyone was awesome, and I got a bunch of really good queries and so many places to start that it was hard picking these first two, so I went somewhat chronologically in the selection. I’ll get around to all of them sooner rather than later, I promise.

In the meantime, let’s do this!

P asked:

How would you define consent while having sex with a regular partner? Do rules between couples need to be redefined constantly, with every act of intercourse? For instance, would giving in to a sexual act, something you normally wouldn’t have (objectively) still be concerned mutual consent? (Where does pity sex fall in all of this, for instance). I’m asking you this question because a lot of girls that I know, and even in my personal experience, give in to sexual acts (after they have said yes to it previously, but perhaps are not in the mood for it) to avoid risking the ire of their partner, or for brownie points later, or even out of ‘love’. How do we draw the line?

Dear P,

I remember the first man I dated who refused to reciprocate oral sex. “I’m just not into it,” he’d say. He’d accept very happily, even encourage me to go ahead and do just that “because you’re so good at it” and I’d be foolishly flattered, and I think also share in his distaste of my nether regions? Because how could I ask him to be all over that if I wasn’t, you know? I was much younger then, but I remember thinking, “Oh, it’s totally understandable if he doesn’t want to, poor fellow, who can blame him.”

And as a result, he wasn’t the only man I met who did this. I went through the first nine years—nine years—of being sexually active without having an orgasm with my partner. And I thought this was totally normal. Not only did I think this was normal, I also thought I had failed as a woman, as a sexual being, if my partner was not completely satisfied by the end of it. I was not me anymore in this situation, I was some made up Geisha-Porn-Star-Independent-Young-Woman-Who-Watched-Herself-From-The-Outside.

AF - Consent is Key

I think we’ve fallen prey to being hyper-sexualised so much and for so long, that often we forget to regard ourselves as who we are, and start to look at our bodies as part of a narrative that actually excludes us. So you can be with your partner and say, “I’m not really in the mood,” but your partner cajoles and says, “Come on baby, please,” and you’re well within your rights to say no, but you can feel yourself at the back of your head turning from Pooja or Neha or whoever into Sex Girl, where the viewer can only see your long calves in high heels or the top of your bra or something. Sometimes you think, “It’s been so long since I’ve done this, maybe I’m turning into One of Those Women, a cliché, someone who has sex like once a year or something.” Or maybe you think, “His fragile ego may not be able to take another rejection especially after I turned him down yesterday.” Or you think, “Maybe I’ll go along with it to see if I get into it eventually.”

My point is that you can’t call it Not Consent, but you can think about why you need to give in at this point. Is this yielding something that you want to do, or is it Sex Girl contorting herself into impossible positions while managing to keep her lipstick on and her blow out intact? If the latter, put her on a train and send her far away, because she exists only to be viewed from the outside, and you are a combination of complex choices.

Love,
Aunty Feminist


N asked:

My question is, since you say you’ll help me kick patriarchy’s ass, how are you different from the so-called feminazis?

Dear N,

What have feminists done to you to make you compare them to Nazis? I ask because I’m concerned about this label. Is it the strong independent woman thing? Does that scare people? I can even break it down into a listicle: Five Things The Nazis Did That Feminists Do Not

1) Killed the Jews.
2) Killed the homosexuals.
3) Killed the handicapped.
4) Instituted a manic leader with delusions of grandeur.
5) Started a World War.

National_Womens_Day

No, but seriously. I think feminism is scary to some people because it has an “ism” in it. And it conjures up people lecturing you when all you want to do is have a good time and “can’t you take a joke yaa?” and “why must you be so strident about it?” I’ll tell you why: because sometimes people don’t listen. Because sometimes if I have to listen to the same sexist joke in my workplace for the zillionth time I will shoot somebody. Because being born a woman in India is in itself one big lottery—will I survive? Or will I be aborted/killed at birth/raped and left for dead/killed because my dowry wasn’t big enough/maimed because I rejected someone’s affection/married and forced to keep my head down and my voice low for the rest of my life/sold into sex slavery/murdered because I loved the “wrong” person/uneducated because it would be a “waste of time anyway”?

Tell me after all that that I should stop talking about this “ism”. And tell me again why you think we’re Nazis.

Love,
Aunty Feminist

Aunty Feminist loves to hear from her readers! If you’d like her to answer a burning question you might have, send it to us at auntyfeminist@youthkiawaaz.com or tweet your questions to @reddymadhavan.

You must be to comment.
  1. Batman

    Here is my question. Why don’t feminists ever talk about the abuse perpetrated my mothers-in-law?

  2. Batman

    *by

  3. Debojit Dutta

    Batman, feminists have engaged with what you are talking about—how violence carries on and makes the oppressed
    carriers of oppression. If I can remember well, you could look up some Second Wave Feminist texts like Shulamith Firestone’s
    The Dialectic of Sex that discusses this and many other issues radical for its time. What you are talking about is years of
    oppression that makes the victim believe that being oppressed is a way of life. The patriarchy that the mother-in-law
    perpetuates is a product of various factors. In most patriarchal households women are captive within the four walls where
    their identity is reduced to “sister”, “wife”, “mother” and so on, the four walls being her possession yet not her property. This
    extends to her relationship with her son—also insert oedipality here and look up what effect nuclear families have also had
    in this—her primary role in a patriarchal society being that of a child bearer and a child rearer. When an outsider enters
    the house, it is only natural that the “mother-in-law” feels that that bit also will be taken away from her, so perhaps the
    anxiety. And also because patriarchy dictates that the way of living it preaches is the most normalized, and has been doing it
    for so many years, it should be understandable why the mother-in-law cannot see oppression as odd. The answer could be
    haphazard and I also believe this discussion would require more space, but hope I have been able to throw some light.

  4. Monistaf

    Feminazis are feminists who claim to be fighting for gender equality but are surprisingly silent when the inequality is on the other side of the gender divide.
    Let us consider legislation in India for instance and why there is not a SINGLE feminist who is fighting to correct these inequalities.
    IPC section 375 does NOT recognize male victims of rape. So, a man, technically can be legally raped in India and we will never know how many are since it is not against the law.
    IPC section 354, does NOT protect men from any kinds of harassment sexual or otherwise. They can only be perpetrators, not victims.
    IPC section 497, only a man can be arrested for adultery, even though a woman or wife can be involved or initiate it.
    DV act of 2005, only protects women from domestic abuse, even though abuse can be psychological, physical, emotional, verbal or financial and men can and often are victims
    Only a woman can be granted “unconditional divorce” from her husband. A husband has to have consent from his wife for divorce to be finalized.
    Only a woman can receive alimony, a husband has no right to alimony even if his wife earns more than he does
    Only a wife has rights on her husbands property, both earned and inherited, the husband has no such rights on his wifes property
    And of course, the infamous section 498A, where a husband and his family can be arrested without any probably cause or evidence, by a mere accusation,
    Striping him of his universal rights of presumption of innocence and due process in a court of law.
    I am sure I have missed a few. If feminists are truly fighting for “gender” equality, they would fight to make these laws gender neutral.
    Every feminist in India opposes (led by Kavita Krishnamurty) making any of these gender neutral.

    The vast majority of victims of violent crimes are men (80%)
    The vast majority of workplace deaths are men
    The vast majority of combat deaths are men
    The vast majority of suicides are men
    The vast majority of homeless are men

    There is NOT a single feminist trying to fight for “gender equality” here. All they are fighting for is privilege, which is what the Nazi’s did, thinking that they are the superior race.

    Feminism is an ideology that discredits the humanity of men, diminishes their pain while perpetuating the victim status of women and hence the term “Feminazi”. Well deserved, I must say.

  5. Truth

    Debojit, your excuses for the crimes of mothers-in-law are just that – EXCUSES.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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