Excerpt | A Room of One’s Own

In mid-May, I started pursuing a 6-week course on edX titled ‘Gender and Intersectionality’, offered by the University of Iceland and GEST (Gender Equality Studies and Training Programme under the auspices of UNESCO). It’s going well so far—I’d recommend it to anyone interested in the subject. The term ‘intersectionality’ was coined by Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989 and has proven to be incredibly crucial in understanding the ways in which gender intersects with other realities/identities of class, race, religion, disability, nationalism etc., all of which affect one’s experience of being female in different ways. Simply put, analyzing gender without taking these aspects into consideration—early waves of feminism, for example, focused solely on the lives of middle and upper middle class white women, dubbed ‘white feminism’—merely leads to women from other marginalized communities remaining on the fringes.

Virginia Woolf’s work, of course, features in the course’s reading list, alongside other prominent feminist thinkers including bell hooks, Alice Walker, Rita Mae Brown, Betty Friedan, and others. Here is a striking excerpt from her essay, ‘A Room of One’s Own‘:

“..Here I would stop, but the pressure of convention decrees that every speech must end with a peroration. And a peroration addressed to women should have, you would agree, something particularly exalting and ennobling about it. I should implore you to remember your responsibilities, to be higher, more spiritual; I should remind you how much it depends upon you, and what an influence you can exert upon the future. But those exhortations can, safely, I think, be left to the other sex, who will put them, and indeed have put them, with far greater eloquence than I can compass. When I rummage in my own mind I find no noble sentiments about being companions and equals and influencing the world to higher ends. I find myself saying briefly and prosaically that it is much more important to be oneself than anything else. Do not dream of influencing other people, I would say, if I knew how to make it sound exalted. Think of things in themselves.

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Well, Here We Are.

We didn’t expect 2020 to turn out like this, did we? I certainly didn’t as I watched fireworks erupt over the Bosphorus at midnight, marking the start of a new decade. Kids peered into cars unceremoniously stalled in traffic on Inonu street, persuading drivers to turn their music up loud, and danced in the middle of the street. A few days later, thunderstorms across Istanbul forced people to stay indoors all day. At the time, I didn’t mind being cooped up in the house with four adorable cats and some nice humans for company. Little did I know that we were going to be doing a whole lot more of this in the months to come.

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The Larger Implications of Films like ‘Padmaavat’

I only went for the popcorn. And as far as that was concerned, it was a great evening. The movie, however, was an altogether different story.

Based on everything I’d read/heard, I knew that Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat would likely infuriate me, so I made an effort to not take it too seriously from the start. In the process, I even managed to enjoy three quarters of the movie. The dialogues were insufferably trite but the film was visually stunning. Continue reading “The Larger Implications of Films like ‘Padmaavat’”