Tag Archives: Feminism

Dear Mr. Potter ⚡

Dear Mr. Potter,
It has been twelve years since I first read you. Uninformed as I was, I started with Chamber of Secrets thinking that hearing the story of Philosopher’s Stone readied me to explore Hogwarts and its literal pits with you. I was wrong; but I remember waiting for you to get your birthday letter from Ron and Hermione (who already was my absolute favourite charter before I read her in your pages). I hated that you didn’t get letters as a twelve year old. I knew that feeling, you see. Birthdays during long holidays, away from school and friends sucks.
I remember getting a thrill reading about the deathday party for Nearly Headless Nick (Nearly Headless? How can you be nearly headless?), the whispers in the walls, and the enemies of the heir made me stay up all night. Agreed, the eleven year old me did not understand everything, but she understood enough to beg for a copy of Philosopher’s Stone. Let’s just say I and countless others have never been the same since reading about Mr. And Mrs. Weasley of number 4, Privet Drive.
I remember conspiring that the end of the seventh book would be with Hogwarts adding a fifth house called Potter (yeah, I do have a flair for the dramatics). I remember jumping for joy when the news channels announced that you survived the second war (this legit happened), despite everyone telling me you wouldn’t. I remember being deathly afraid when Mad Eye Moody died, and bawling my eyes off for Dobby and Fred. I remember deciding that I love Padfoot with all my life (and I still do). I remember wanting to punch Umbridge, and duel Bellatrix, and slap Rufus Scrimingeour when he simply did not give the trio whatever Dumbledore had left them. What can I say, Harry? The teen angst was real. I feel you, boo.
I remember how I needed just you to get myself out of my worst days. Like the time my first year paper on the gender dynamics in the books made my professor think it was either plagiarized completely or I paid someone to write it for me. I remember wanting to laugh and cry at that, because how could I not write a paper on Hermione, McGonagall, Ginny and Molly Weasley, and Bellatrix Lestrange? Women of my childhood telling me (and countless others) that we can be smart, and brave, and be the best at whatever we wanted to be.
I am glad that I got to see so many sunrises with you, because I binge-read Prisoner of Azkaban every year. I am glad for all of the fanfictions and fanarts, and headcanons, and the lot. I am glad that my copies of the books are in unreadable states and filled with notes and underlines- I am glad they are well used, and marked in with pieces of my childhood thoughts and feelings about you. I am glad of the times I sat on my cousin’s porch reading Half Blood Prince on the easy chair. I am also glad of the times I listened to Stephen Fry narrate you- like little drops of heaven in my ears!
What I am trying to say, Harry, is that thank you for existing. You’ve made me some great friends. Thank you for Hermione, for Professor McGonagall, and for Molly Weasley. Thank you for Ginny, and Luna, and the original mother of Nobert(a) the dragon- Hagrid. Thank you for telling me that Books! And cleverness! There are more important things – friendship and bravery. While I might think bravery is just foolishness (ugh Gryffindor is the worst house- yeah throw in a bunch of hormonal hot tempered children with a hero complex together in a tower, not a bad idea at all!), I am so glad that I could learn the meaning of friendship and love and life with you.
Thank you for teaching me to be reckless sometimes, and for the friendships, the wits, the ambition. Thank you for my childhood, and I know you’ll be a part of my adulthood. Thank you for all the magic!
(Sincerely, miss you dearly)
Ever yours,

Me.

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I’m sorry but I am not into Golden Age Thinking.

Three years ago, I was convinced that the perfect time for me to be born was the late 1950s, in America, where my parents were probably friends with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S Boroughs. I wanted to be a daughter of the Beats, and grow up and go to college in the 70s, so I could be a part of the First Wave Feminist Movement, and against the Vietnam War, and a bunch of other liberal political movements.

A couple of years before that, I wanted to be born in Edwardian England- Victorian Mannerisms were oh so charming, and a Darcy was definitely waiting to be introduced to my wit and intellect. Ah, such sweet, naive dreams.

Today, I realize, that I’m okay, the way I am- not as a person, but as a product of my time. The future is cooler than the past.

We are talking about Social Justice, but now in an inclusive manner. We are talking about Feminism, but Intersectionality is understood and valued. We are talking about so many different issues, about what the Government needs to be and do- about what is right, and whose right it is, and what is wrong, and is it really wrong?

We have made some excellent Scientific Breakthroughs, and I don’t just mean gadgets, I also mean Psychology, and History, and all the other Social Sciences. I also mean how some of us understand that if a particular group of people do terribly in a test, it is the test’s fault for not being inclusive (Culture Fair Tests), and not that the group is inherently inferior

We, as a species are better off today than we were before, especially in terms of violence– one of the most taken for granted myths is about how violence is increasing (but also, as I have argued before, are good enough?) And as far as I can see, we will only get better. We will talk about our collective conscience, and try to be as woke as posible, and come off better, on an average. For example, do you think the Pepsi Debacle would have infuriated so many people even a decade ago?

I was also a hardbound-second hand, classica kind of person a couple of years ago. But today, I am a Kindle person. You may say I’m a shitty person and technology is shit, etc., but it’s also so much cheaper, in the long run. If, like me, you read mainly during your daily commute, Kindle is really the answer. It’s so light weight, compared to a book, for one. Second, to co-passengers (and to yourslef), it is not annoying (Context: I live in Bombay, and the local trains here are so crowded, you’ll have someone’s armpits on your face all the damn time, and when you try to turn your page, you poke someone else, yes, but also your arms can’t move much. A Kindle only requires me to lightly touch it.) The Kindle has also helped me increase my speed of reading- so much so that what I read in a year a couple of years back, today, I read in a couple of months. I could go on, but this post is not about Kindle. You can say whatever you what about the touch and feel of a physical book, but technology is much much more practical. I mean, would you write all your assignments by hand than through a computer, because it feels nice? No, right? Letters feel amazing, but texting is just more efficient.

Everything is simply better now than before. The “old fashioned way” is simply not charming, or perfect. For example, monogamy is new. If you want to say romance is dead, by all means go ahead. But people have cheated on their partners since time immemorial. So what monogamy? What “romantic”? The idea of “staying in a relationship no matter what” is ridiculous, for example. Do you know what this no matter what implied? Abuse. Cheating. Toxicity. Thank God, I have the option of not staying in the relationship if it’s harming me in anyway. People are getting divorced now because now we have choice in moving away from abuse, now we have that option of opting out. We don’t need to be in a long marriage if we don’t want to.

Sometimes, like right now, I do wish I were in the Roaring Twenties so I could figure out Zelda Fitzgerald, and go to Jazz Clubs, and be a Flapper. But then I think, fuck, Hitler is gaining power somewhere and Europe is invading a thousand countries somewhere,and next decade is going to be The Great Depression. All this only if I were White and relatively privileged. If not, I’m fucked anyway. Also, my husband (I’d have a husband by now, or I’m an old maid) would have returned from war and is most definitely lost.

Thank God I have a phone and a blog to vent into. Thank God things get better in the future. I can’t wait for it!

P.S. If you are reading this, what do you think? I really want to know. Do you agree with me, or do you not? Why?

P. P. S- Y’all should read Better Angels of our Nature, and watch Midnight in Paris (I know I hate Woody Allen too, but that movie is my absolute favourite).

P.P.P.S- I know most of these examples are from WEIRD populations, but I couldn’t find examples that I was very familiar with from others. I have tried, though, but just not my best. I apologize.

P.P.P.P.S- It feels really great to be blogging long form + opinions on this site again. I’ve been blogging (setting up and trying hard to create content) on my Poetry Blog, where I’m doing NaPoWriMo currently. If you have been following me for long, you’ll know my earlier struggle with writing poetry. But now I’m trying extra hard you guys. Please check it out too. 


Reading The Handmaid’s Tale in a Dystopian World

I have never enjoyed reading dystopian fiction much. Everything seems broodish, and sad, and even though they are stories of a reincarnated world, they are dark and honestly, terrifying.
I remember going into a reading slump after 1984, for example.

I’d heard vaguely of The Handmaid’s Tale. But it was never on my Goodreads Want to Read list. I never actively seeked it out or planned to read it. But somehow I did, at a whim.
I regret reading it.

Whether it be Offred’s mother being a protesting Feminist, who rallied for equal rights and everything a 70s Feminist rallied for, or it be Moira being everything that she was, or it be Offred taking things for granted- inheriting a world her mother had struggled to create, or it be Luke, who was frustratingly passive about everything and Offred supporting it nevertheless because “love”, every string of the story hit me hard.
I really shouldn’t have read it.

The story seems the farthest from fiction, if there ever was one. In the current political climate of Men’s Rights Activism, and Who Wore it Better?, and Good Girls don’ts, and Rape Muslim Women, and Grab ‘Em by the Pussy and Give Him a Chance, and Boys will be Boys, I don’t know whom to trust to bring about change.

I know Steven Pinker tells me we are better off than we ever were in the h eistory of humanity. I know game theory and evolutionary biology tells me the story of evolution of cooperation – how it is a non zero sum game- everyone is better off when we cooperate. I believe in that too. Of course, I do. And of course we’re better off than we were before. But we’re not quite there yet, are we? And we need to be. We need to create a world in which equality is the status quo. Respect for everybody. Is that really too much to ask for? Is it really not the most fundamental thing to aspire for? So we can all quote statistics about how we’re better off, and thank God for that. But we need to aspire higher.
The more I realize this, the more I think that I shouldn’t have read it.

I shouldn’t have read Margaret Attwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, because it’s too real. I wonder who will stand up for me if I go through it. I think all the men I personally know might just allow it. It’s the way it is. What to do?, they’ll all say. Ignorant is not the same as ignoring, but I think ignoring is much worse, and I think a lot of the boys I know will ignore. As they are doing now. Give this a chance, they’ll say. This way is better. “Better never means better for everyone. It always means worse, for some.” Right?

I shouldn’t have read the book because it makes me realise that the revolution I thought is coming is far, far away. I might not even be alive. And the temporal distance is scary. The princess may not be able to save herself in this one. Because she’s blinkered away and there are systems in place to keep her blinkered, and to keep her silent. And if such a time comes, there is not going to be someone to stop it.

I see Luke, and The Commander, and Aunt Lydias in this world. I know one of each in my world, and I keep wondering what I have been thinking of since I know of these things– Why aren’t we standing up against it, even now? After all this time?