Thursday, 10 March 2011

~ Ultra Violet ~ Indian Feminists Unplugged


About UV

Ultra Violet is a place for Indian feminists.

It’s a place for sharing stories and views and questions. It’s a place for exploration, opinion and information (not necessarily in the order). It’s a place where we can come together to understand what other feminists around the country – or around the world – are saying.

Ultra Violet does not represent any school, wave, organization, institution or categorization. We do not belong in a box. We do not huddle together in a tank. We do not fly in formation like a flock of geese. We are all free people, approaching feminism from different locations, backgrounds and personalities. The opinions and views expressed here are those of individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of other contributors.

Ultra Violet features a community of young feminists blogging on the various issues, challenges, and triumphs that affect women in India today. It is an initiative by Hengasara Hakkina Sangha, a women’s rights organization in Bangalore, India, which works in the areas of gender, law and rights. Women experience their lives from multiple locations and there are many different feminisms. Ultra Violet provides a place to explore and understand the ways in which young women in India are challenging, negotiating and transforming unequal power structures. It is also a space to celebrate women’s histories, wisdom, creativity, laughter and love for life.

About the Name
Violet is the colour of feminism. We wanted to be very clear that this is a feminist blog and notjust another space for women’. Feminism is a much misunderstood and maligned word. Over the years, its true meaning — the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of sexual equality — has been distorted and defiled by many. This blog is both a reclaiming of the term and a clarification of what it means to us, today.
Ultra Violet, if one takes the slangy definition of ‘ultra’, means extremely violet. But ultraviolet also refers to what is situated beyond the visible spectrum. This blog is also an attempt to explore such regions of shadowed knowledge and understanding.

Comments Policy
You’re welcome to leave long, thoughtful comments. You’re welcome to leave multiple comments. Please do not, however, leave lengthy articles or self-promotional stuff in the comments space. UV is meant to be a safe space for feminists and women who want to know more about feminism. While divergent viewpoints are welcome, please keep the tone respectful. Personal attacks, offensive language and hate speech are not welcome. Misogynist, casteist, communal, homophobic, transphobic and anti-feminist articles or comments will be summarily rejected or deleted. The above when couched in clever language or sophistry will still be rejected or deleted.

Ownership and Copyright
All posts at Ultra Violet belong to the individual authors / contributors. They own all rights to these posts and are free to publish them wherever else they wish to. If you want to use an article that has been posted here, you will need to contact the author for permission. You can write to editor[at] and I’ll be happy to help you with the contact details.

Under The Glass
By Anita Sivakumaran

The doctor pointed down at the photos
Under the glass of her tabletop.
The trapped lives pushed up
through the honey light glaze,
tapped me on the shoulder.
Husband, two sons: pride and joy.
Their tapping was a nail knocking on my numb head.
The doctor, her deep red sari and bindi
Proclaiming fertility, preserving matrimony,
Was talking me out of an abortion,
Was presenting to me, in words and pictures,
A future I could have. Her life could be mine.
Earlier, she had insisted on showing me a screen:
The primordial murk out of which all life sprang.
‘Look, the dot,’ she pointed. ‘There,’ she flourished,
As if at her own creation.
A god showing off. A stick holding Brahma.
A swirl of black and white is all I saw.
And all were dots, swirling,
Between my ears, and in my throat.
‘The dot is the baby. The dot is the baby,’ she kept saying.
But I drew a blank for baby.
A blank in which I settled, and thought
About small, needful things:
An exam that loomed,
toast and contact lens, and laundry, and pens.
The doctor, staring defeat in the eye, wouldn’t meet mine.
And I asked for the small, needful thing.
I asked for those little everyday sips of poison
That make a poison woman.
Clasping her palms, she said to the wall,
‘Abstinence is the best contraception until marriage.
After marriage, one can plan, give intervals.’
‘Intervals?’ I said.
‘Between babies,’ she said.
I could hear the sob catch her throat.
Then she handed me to another, less fastidious, lady doctor,
Who wrote me a prescription without comment.

About the Author

Anita Sivakumaran grew up in Madras and now lives in London. She has published short stories in Riptide Journal Volumes 4 and 6 (forthcoming) and is writing a collection of poems about the urban woman’s experiences in India.

By Sumana Roy

He always snips off ends. My tranquil ends,
fins deep asleep. Hair is frond. Hair is leech.
Hair is auction. Hair is lintel. Hair is traffic,
sigh, umbrella butt. Gaya, Kashi, Vrindavan.
Coconut-flesh scalps, a manifesto. “Boy’s cut.”
He always snips off ends. Antennae
of lust, tendrils of moist defeat. Hair is vial.
Lady Godiva. Hair is oyster, hiding nudity. Scissors
– suspicion’s toolkit. Sita, Vedavati. Sharpness
a male moral – “Haircut’s our last ahimsa art”.
He always snips off ends. Kesh is a congested
city. 1984, shears, rape of the lock. Hair is pilot.
Haircut is amputation, tattoos on memory. Indira.
Taslima. Bun’s a burqa, beni a beauty of bridges. Bob,
Bang, Blunt. Hair burns, without waste, like a vowel.
He always snips off ends. Hair is shame’s prosody.
Hair is sex – a woman’s mistake. Hair is hotel. Chemo,
autumn, venetian blinds. Hair loss is Sibyl’s prophecy.
Hair is habit. Hair is rosary. Hair is vomit. Hair fall is debt.
Comb turns into procrastination. Haircut to humility.

About the Author
Sumana Roy’s first novel, "Love in the Chicken’s Neck", was long listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2008. She’s working on a collection of stories about clothes, tentatively titled SML. She’d like to work harder on growing her hair.

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