So apparently this is a thing: wearing a hijab for Lent

ICYDK: Lent is the six-week period between Ash Wednesday (the day after Mardi Gras, which is of course the last day of debauchery and excess before the start of Lent) and Easter in many wings of Christianity. It’s supposed to be a time of prayer and repentance in preparation for the Big E, and many Christians commit to fasting and/or the sacrifice of certain luxuries to better appreciate the temptation and the suffering of Jesus and his sacrifice (or something. Stories vary). This can come in the form of giving up alcohol or a favorite snack food, kicking a bad habit, praying more, doing volunteer work, or… other stuff, apparently.

Jessey Eagan, a white Christian woman living in Peoria, Illinois, told the Christian Post that she is wearing the hijab for 40 days so that she can “love other people who are friends, strangers and enemies.” Eagan has taken to documenting her journey on #40DaysOfHijab; she has also given multiple interviews to national news sites about what she’s learned so far. Eagan’s troubling attempt to promote diversity also includes using makeup to “darken” her complexion before going “out into the community.”

(Eagan has since said that she does not, in fact, intend to darken her complexion.) Eagan records her experiences over the 40 days of Lent on her blog; reactions from Muslim women have varied. Read breakdowns of the dangers and limitations of “hijab tourism” by Nashwa Khan at RH Reality Check:

Thousands of Muslim women who live in the United States wear the hijab and face discrimination because of it—yet non-Muslim women are praised and heralded for donning it for a single day or month. This approach diminishes the experiences of Muslim women and reinforces the idea that stories from their perspective are not as valuable as stories from non-marginalized people. It strips us of autonomy while not authentically showing our nuanced and multiple truths. In turn, incorrect myths or stereotypes about Muslim people are perpetuated, because we are not given the platforms to speak up for ourselves.


That said, you also do not have to wear the hijab to face oppression as a Muslim in the West. Efforts like Eagan’s effectively limit the Muslim female experience to those wearing hijab, and the hijab itself to a simple piece of cloth. In reality, the hijab is a complex and multifaceted aspect of Muslim faith that has changed meaning for many Muslims over the years.

And Ala Ahmad at the Daily Dot:

While well-meaning, these examples show that more weight is given to privileged outsiders while ignoring the voices of members of these communities who can speak first-hand to their own struggles. After Lent, Eagan will no longer be a “Muslim,” [white journalist John Howard] Griffin’s skin changed back into its former white complexion, and Banksy eventually left Gaza.

However, Muslim women’s identities aren’t an experiment, and it does them no favors to offer them solidarity while implicitly reinforcing their own marginalization.

Posted in Race & Ethnicity, Religion | Tagged , | 153 Comments

Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday

Promote yourself.

Netiquette reminders:

  • Want to recommend someone else’s writing instead? Try the latest signal-boosting thread.
  • we expect Content Notes as a courtesy to our readers for problematic content in linked posts and/or their comment threads (a habit of posting only triggering/disparaging links may annoy the Giraffe (you really don’t want to annoy the Giraffe)), Content Notes are not needed if your post title is already descriptive of problematic content.
  • extended discussion of self-promotion links on this thread is counter-productive for the intended signal-boosting –  the idea is for the promoted sites to get more traffic.  If it’s a side-discussion that would be off-topic/unwelcome/distressing on the other site, take it to #spillover after leaving a note on this thread redirecting others there.
Posted in General | Tagged , | 15 Comments

Open Thread with Temple Dragon

This brilliantly coloured dragon on the roof of Longshan Temple in Taiwan features for this week’s Open Thread. Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the week.

a dragon sculpture made from hundreds of brightly coloured ceramic tiles on the corner of a temple roof

By WikiLaurent (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

So, what have you been up to? What would you rather be up to? What’s been awesome/awful?
Reading? Watching? Making? Meeting?
What has [insert awesome inspiration/fave fansquee/guilty pleasure/dastardly ne’er-do-well/threat to all civilised life on the planet du jour] been up to?

* Netiquette footnotes:
* There is no off-topic on the Weekly Open Thread, but consider whether your comment would be on-topic on any recent thread and thus better belongs there.
* If your comment touches on topics known to generally result in thread-jacking, you will be expected to take the discussion to #spillover instead of overshadowing the social/circuit-breaking aspects of this thread.

Posted in Life, Politics, Popular Culture, The Cultural Canon | Tagged | 10 Comments

Open Thread with Tagetes flower

A close-up photo of a Marigold (Tagetes) flower features for this week’s Open Thread. Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the week.

A close photo of a marigold with petals that are rusty orange at the centre and golden yellow at the edges

By Tracy Ducasse from North Brookfield, Massachusetts, USA ( [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

So, what have you been up to? What would you rather be up to? What’s been awesome/awful?
Reading? Watching? Making? Meeting?
What has [insert awesome inspiration/fave fansquee/guilty pleasure/dastardly ne’er-do-well/threat to all civilised life on the planet du jour] been up to?

* Netiquette footnotes:
* There is no off-topic on the Weekly Open Thread, but consider whether your comment would be on-topic on any recent thread and thus better belongs there.
* If your comment touches on topics known to generally result in thread-jacking, you will be expected to take the discussion to #spillover instead of overshadowing the social/circuit-breaking aspects of this thread.

Posted in Life, Politics, Popular Culture, The Cultural Canon | Tagged | 108 Comments

Open Thread with Pi

Pi Day celebrations feature for this week’s Open Thread. Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the week.

Pi pie2

Pi-Pie By GJ [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

So, what have you been up to? What would you rather be up to? What’s been awesome/awful?
Reading? Watching? Making? Meeting?
What has [insert awesome inspiration/fave fansquee/guilty pleasure/dastardly ne’er-do-well/threat to all civilised life on the planet du jour] been up to?

* Netiquette footnotes:
* There is no off-topic on the Weekly Open Thread, but consider whether your comment would be on-topic on any recent thread and thus better belongs there.
* If your comment touches on topics known to generally result in thread-jacking, you will be expected to take the discussion to #spillover instead of overshadowing the social/circuit-breaking aspects of this thread.

Posted in Life, Politics, Popular Culture, The Cultural Canon | Tagged | 38 Comments

When the world seems lousy, remember that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has a Dissenting Collar

In an interview for Yahoo News, Katie Couric took a tour of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s closet and checked out her lacy collars, and I’m cool with that.

In fact, Ginsburg does have a collection of jabots (collars) she wears to spice up her boring, black judicial robes (as one does). She has everyday jabots, a Majority Opinion jabot (crocheted yellow and cream with crystals) for those times when she’s announcing a majority opinion in court, and a blue and white one for sleeping one off during the Statue of the Union address.

Her awesomest jabot of all, of course, is her Dissenting Collar, which is black with gold embroidery and faceted stones and, as Ginsburg told Couric, “looks fitting for dissent.”

Now, normally, I’d be kind of pissed about an interviewer asking a highly accomplished, respected professional woman about her accessories — it falls alongside “how do you balance your children and your work life?” and “how do you stay so fit?” on the list of Questions No One Has Ever Asked Samuel Alito.

But this is a woman who not only collects collars to spice up her robes but assigns them different roles in her everyday life, so it can be argued that, like Madeleine Albright’s lapel pins, this isn’t so much an issue of those women and their accessories, amiright? as of a respected public figure showing off a part of her life that’s obviously meaningful to her. Plus, I like the idea that despite the pressure placed on women in “men’s fields” — particularly fields like law — to remain as undecorated as humanly possible to avoid looking frivolous or giiiiirly, she’s comfortable throwing major jewelry on top of her robe because screw you, I’m Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and I’ve got a hand-embroidered Ass-Whuppin’ jabot in my closet just waiting for you.

And I like the idea that when she was delivering this opinion:

The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would override significant interests of the corporations’ employees and covered dependents. It would deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ belief access to contraceptive coverage that the ACA would otherwise secure. … In sum, with respect to free exercise claims no less than free speech claims, “[y]our right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.”


Importantly, the decisions whether to claim benefits under the plans are made not by Hobby Lobby or Conestoga, but by the covered employees and dependents, in consultation with their health care providers. … Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby’s or Conestoga’s plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman’s autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults.

Even if one were to conclude that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga meet the substantial burden requirement, the Government has shown that the contraceptive coverage for which the ACA provides furthers compelling interests in public health and women’s well being. Those interests are concrete, specific, and demonstrated by a wealth of empirical evidence.


Today’s cases, the Court concludes, are “concerned solely with the contraceptive mandate. Our decisions should not be understood to hold that an insurance-coverage mandate must necessarily fail if it conflicts with an employer’s religious beliefs. Other coverage requirements, such as immunizations, may be supported by different interests (for example, the need to combat the spread of infectious diseases) and may involve different arguments about the least restrictive means of providing them.” … But the Court has assumed, for RFRA purposes, that the interest in women’s health and well being is compelling and has come up with no means adequate to serve that interest, the one motivating Congress to adopt the Women’s Health Amendment.

she was probably wearing a collar that looks like something Sif would wear during a party scene in a Thor movie.

(Justice Ginsburg also, she says, has a collection of Notorious RGB t-shirts, which I’m assuming she’s wearing under her robe while she’s wearing her Dissenting Collar on top.)

Posted in Feminism, Fun, Work | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Terry Pratchett, RIP

Terry Pratchett, a kind man and wonderful writer, died this morning. He had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in 2007.

His work was brilliant. When I was writing my dissertation, which became my first book, about feminist revisions of fairy tales and classical myth, I loaned Witches Abroad, a novel about fairy tales, but really about stories and how important it is not to let them control us, to my advisor. She gave it back to me the following day and said she’d had to put it down after ten pages, because reading it was too much like being inside my head. My head. I first read Terry Pratchett when I was…10, first read Witches Abroad when I was 15. That’s how much his writing and philosophy have shaped me–reading my favorite of his books was too much, for my advisor, like being inside my head. And I don’t think I could ever receive a greater compliment.

Why is his death, the death of a white, male satirist and fantasy writer, worthy of note on a feminist blog? More than one reason, but let me begin with his books about witches.

When I assigned Witches Abroad, a novel about a coven of three witches, two elderly and one young(ish), a student once said to me “I kept waiting for Magrat [the young witch] to do something, to take action–it took me forever to realize that she wasn’t the protagonist! The book isn’t about her!” No, it’s not. How many books do you know that are about, that center, old women, particularly powerful old women? How many books that feature as the driving relationships, relationships between old women, conflict between two [spoiler] elderly sisters, and the love between two elderly best friends (another reason I love the books–is there any doubt that Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg are the most important people in each other’s lives? Nanny Ogg has buried three husbands, and doesn’t seem to miss ’em, but when Granny depends on her, she hustles)? Pratchett wrote several. For Pratchett, we did not stop existing, did not stop being worthy of story and development and complexity, when we got old. Indeed, Granny Weatherwax, in a confrontation with the Queen of the Fairies in Lords and Ladies specifically rejects the notion of staying young (and therefore beautiful) forever:

“That’s the thing about witchcraft,” she said. “It doesn’t exactly keep you young, but you do stay old for longer. Whereas you, of course, do not age,” she added….”And, my lady, old I may be, and hag I may be, but stupid I ain’t….You know I never entered your circle. I could see where it led. So I had to learn. All my life. The hard way. And the hard way’s pretty hard, but not so hard as the easy way. I learned….[Y]ou know nothing, madam, nothing. What don’t die can’t live. What don’t live can’t change. What don’t change can’t learn. The smallest creature that dies in the grass knows more than you. You’re right. I’m older. You’ve lived longer than me but I’m older than you. And better’n you. And, madam, that ain’t hard.”

In We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, about the Rwandan genocide, Philip Gourevitch argues that power, put simply, is the ability to force other people to live and die in your story of them, that Hutu Power created a narrative in which Tutsis had to be killed, and forced Rwandans to live and die in that narrative. Those kinds of stories surround us–about black people, about Jews, about women, about all of us–and we all live within them and fight them as best we can. Witches Abroad is about not falling for stories, even powerful ones, even seductive ones, not letting stories control you, not letting yourself become just a cardboard character. And that is a political message. You can change stories, if you know them well enough. You don’t have to follow the path that a reigning ideology has laid out for you. Not that it’s easy to buck that system–stories fight back, well, we all know that. But you can, and you must, because otherwise you are made less than human. And importantly, Pratchett tells us, you can’t do it just by wishing.

And Pratchett wrote Hogfather, about the importance of the stories we tell ourselves, the lies, the non-physical truths, about the existence of justice, about belief in those stories and how important that is. But even in Hogfather, there are some stories you don’t put up with–The Little Match Girl, for instance. In Pratchett’s version, the entity currently playing the part of Father Christmas shows up and saves her from freezing to death, because that story is harmful bullshit. And we get to make that call–in fact, we have to make that call. It’s our responsibility as thinking human beings. It’s what makes us thinking human beings.

So yes, I think Pratchett deserves a memorial on a feminist website. Because we fight those stories every day, and we try to make new ones out of the old ones we have lying around, and Pratchett shows us that not only do we have to, but that age does not have to stop us, that we can get more powerful and more important as we become old women, not less.

Posted in Literature | Tagged , | 22 Comments

GOP presidential hopeful apologizes for attributing homosexuality to prison rape

[Content note for rape]

Ben Carson, Republican presidential hopeful and an actual brain surgeon, has apologized for an assertion in a CNN interview that homosexuality is obviously a choice because of prison rape.

During the interview Wednesday morning, when Carson was asked by Chris Cuomo whether being gay is a choice, he replied: “Absolutely.”

“Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question,” Carson said.

Yes, Dr. Carson. In hundreds of thousands of cases, something did happen while they were in there. But “and that’s when I decided to be gay” is not the thing that happened.

Carson, once portrayed by Cuba Gooding, Jr., in a TV movie about his medical career, has since said that his “choice of language does not reflect fully [his] heart on gay issues,” and that he doesn’t pretend to know how people come to their sexual orientation. He also asserted that no definitive studies have determined whether people are born into a specific sexual orientation (although he didn’t mention the extensive research indicating that “decided to be gay in prison” isn’t it). He told Sean Hannity in a radio interview that he won’t be talking about gay rights anymore (because “every time [he’s] gaining momentum, the liberal press says, let’s talk about gay rights — and [he’s] just not going to fall for that anymore”).

This is probably for the best, since an attempt to talk about homosexuality in 2013 resulted in him linking homosexuality to bestiality and NAMBLA, and his book, America the Beautiful, posits that, since marriage is a sacred institution, it “should not be degraded by allowing every other type of relationship to be made equivalent to it.”

Immediately prior to his completely scientifically valid statement on the origins of sexual orientation, Carson was placing fifth in a national poll for the Republic presidential nomination, behind Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, and Mike Huckabee.

Posted in GLBTQ, Law, Politics, Sexual Assault | Tagged , | 30 Comments

EXCLUSIVE – Full transcript of “India’s Daughter” [WIP]…

Today is International Women’s Day, and whilst Feministe has historically received flak for sometimes myopic, U.S.-centric feminism, today’s post is at the globetrotting end of the spectrum. Were you disappointed by recent news that India’s misogynists have succeeded in intimidating England’s BBC into actively pulling Leslee Udwin’s rape culture documentary from YouTube’s servers in California? Long story short, India’s Daughter is now considered contraband, much like vibrators in Alabama. So we sat and laboriously typed up a transcript of Udwin’s film, in all its damning glory.

For those who’ve been off the Internet lately, India’s Daughter explores the culture that made the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh inevitable, and the response from ordinary Indians fed up with rape as an inevitable facet of society. Most publicity has revolved around the banal sexism of the apologists interviewed, but the film features everyone from parents to magistrates to students, talking about fighting back against rape culture. Predictably the film makes India’s government look stupid, hence their move to suppress the film online.

This is intended to be a full transcript, with brackets indicating blanks we’ll fill in the near future. If you want to watch the film instead of reading it, there are YouTube hacks for finding it surreptitiously. But you’re not missing much by not literally watching it – like many documentaries, it consists mostly of talking heads. Rather, the words form the most powerful components of the film. So, onto the words…

(Excerpts deserving of trigger warnings are bolded for rape culture, graphic descriptions of sexual violence, and flagrantly ultra-conservative nonsense.)

BBC: Now on BBC Four, a change to our schedule. Storyville reports on a harrowing case that shocked the world, the rape and murder of a student on a bus in Delhi in 2012, with scenes of a disturbing nature and graphic descriptions of sexual violence. It’s India’s Daughter.

This film has been made with the cooperation of Asha and Badri Singh, the rape victim’s parents.

A Delhi court has blocked the showing of the film in India.

Delhi, 16 December 2012

NARRATOR: On 16th December 2012, at around 8:30 PM, a 23-year-old medical student was on her way home from a movie with a male friend. The couple boarded a private bus, which claimed to be going their way. Her friend was badly beaten and she was dragged to the back, where she was gang-raped by 6 men, as the bus drove round and round the highways. According to the latest government figures, a woman is raped in India every 20 minutes, but most rapes are unreported. This rape led to unprecedented protest erupting across India. The silence has been broken.

PROTESTERS: This is our country too. You can’t force yourself on us. We want justice!

India’s Daughter: The story of Jyoti Singh

[Jyoti’s parents discuss Jyoti’s childhood.]

ASHA: In many homes, they celebrate when a boy is born, but when a girl is born, people don’t rejoice as much. We gave out sweets and everyone said, “You’re celebrating as if it’s a boy.” So we said we’re equally happy having a boy or a girl.

[Badri discusses Jyoti’s goals.]

ASHA: We told her we don’t have the money. How will we make her a doctor? She said, “Papa, whatever money you’ve saved for my wedding, use that to educate me.”

[Satendra discusses Jyoti’s tutoring.]

ASHA: We sold our ancestral land to pay her fees.

BADRI: My brothers didn’t like this one bit. The first thing they said was, “Why are you selling it for a girl?”

SATENDRA: Jyoti used to say that the first and biggest problem in India is mentality. The differences between a girl and a boy are created in people’s minds from birth. In society, if we hear the same things about boys and girls, obviously a certain view is created.

Name: Mukesh

Occupation: Driver

Age: 28

Convicted of: rape, unnatural sex, murder

Sentenced to: Death By Hanging

MUKESH: You can’t clap with one hand. It takes two hands to clap. A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy.

[Satendra discusses Jyoti’s nightshifts.]

SATENDRA: She always used to say, “A girl can do anything.”

MUKESH: Boy and girl are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night, doing wrong things, wearing the wrong clothes. About 20% of girls are good.

M.L Sharma



SHARMA: A female is just like a flower. It gives a good-looking, very softness performance, pleasant. But on the other hand, a man is just like a thorn. Strong, tough enough. That flower always needs protection. If you put that flower in a gutter, it is spoilt. If you put that flower in a temple, it will be worshipped.

[Mukesh discusses daily routine.]

[Jyoti’s parents discuss Jyoti’s daily routine.]

SHARMA: That girl was with some unknown boy who took her on a date. In our society, we never allow our girls to come out from the house after 6:30 or 7:30 or 8:30 in the evening with any unknown person.

AP Singh



SINGH: If very important, if very necessary, she should go outside but she should go with their family members like uncle, father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, etc., etc. So she should not go in night hours with her boyfriend.

ASHA: Whenever there’s a crime, the girl is blamed, “She should not go out. She shouldn’t roam around so late or wear such clothes.” It’s the boys who should be accused and asked why they do this. They shouldn’t do this.

SHARMA: They left our Indian culture. They were under the imagination of the film culture, in which they can do anything.

[Mukesh discusses kissing.]

SHARMA: She should not be put on the streets just like food. The ‘lady’, on the other hand, you can say the ‘girl’ or ‘woman’, are more precious than a gem, than a diamond. It is how you want to keep that diamond in your hand. If you put your diamond on the street, certainly the dog will take it out. You can’t stop it.

SATENDRA: What was Jyoti’s crime? That she went out at night?

SHARMA: You are talking about man and woman as friends. Sorry, that doesn’t have any place in our society. A woman means I immediately put the sex in his eyes. We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no place for a woman.

MUKESH: The 15 or 20 minutes of the incident, I was driving the bus. They switched off the lights. My brother was the main guy. They hit the boy and he just hid between the seats. The girl was screaming, “Help me! Help me!” My brother said, “Don’t stop the bus. Keep driving!” They hit her and dragged her to the back. Then they went in turns. First the juvenile and Ram Singh. After that, Akshay and the rest went. Someone put his hand inside her and pulled out something long. It was her intestines. He said, “She’s dead. Throw her out quickly.” First, they tried the back door, but it didn’t open. So they dragged her to the front. They threw her out. My drunk state wore off completely. I couldn’t even control the steering. I only drove the bus. It’s lies that my brother or Akshay took the steering. Only I drove. People say this happened, that happened, that the driver was changed. Show me how we changed drivers, and I’ll accept I also went to the back and killed her.

[Mukesh’s parents discuss rapists.]

MUKESH: We went straight home. They were saying, “Where’s their stuff?” It was in the front. The mobile, the watch. Pawan put the shoes one, Akshay put the jacket on. They wore the stuff. They had no fear. And on the way, the juvenile said, “Sir, I threw it away. What I pulled out of her body, I threw it away. I wrapped it in cloth and threw it out.” We reached home in about 10 minutes. We agree no one would say anything, and if the police got involved, no one would name names. There was a lot of blood. Blood on the seats, blood on the floor. Akshay and the juvenile both cleaned the bus. Vinay had a lot of blood on his hands. He washed them at my house. I went to sleep.

Leila Seth



SETH: The rape was extremely brutal and it’s something very unusual to find that you not only rape the girl, but you put an iron rod and take out her entrails. I mean this is something I can’t understand. What kind of human beings are these who do something like that?

MUKESH: I can’t say why this incident – this accident – happened. Mainly to teach them a lesson.

Dr Maria Misra


Oxford University, Keble College

MISRA: The idea of the gang rape is to send a message. You are not to breach this boundary. This is a boundary between us and you to do with power.

SHARMA: He would like to create a damage. He will put his hand. Insert, hit! It is just like that kind of action. Beat him. Putting his hand forcefully inside.

Dr Sandeep Govil



GOVIL: The main mental set-up is, “It’s our right. We are just in enjoyment mode, and everybody has a right to enjoyment. Big people, you know, somebody who has money, do it by payment. We have the courage, so we do it by our courage.” That’s what they feel.

MUKESH: My brother has done such things before, but this time his intention was not to rape or fight. He had the right to explain to them. He asked the boy why he was out with a girl so late at night. The boy said, “It’s none of your business,” and slapped him. There was fighting, beating. Those who raped, raped. They thought that if they do “wrong things” with them, then they won’t tell anyone. Out of shame. They’d learn a lesson.

MISRA: Before this event, there was still a very, very strong culture of shame around rape, that to be raped was deeply shaming, that to be raped was worse than to be dead, in fact, and so you would get politicians saying the most extraordinary things about rape victims, that it was better that a rape victim had died because if she lived, she’d just be a walking corpse.

MUKESH: When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after doing her, and only hit the boy.

Raj Kumar


KUMAR: On December 16th, it was very cold. I was patrolling in this area. I heard a voice from the left screaming, “Help! Help!” I saw a boy and girl lying on the ground, naked. Both were here. I went to Hotel 37 and got a bed sheet and a bottle of water. I tore the bed sheet into two and gave the girl and the boy a piece each. About 30-35 men gathered, but no one helped. I even said, “Please help,” but no one stepped forward. After some time, a PCR van arrived and they were taken to the hospital. She looked like a cow looks after giving birth to a calf.

[Jyoti’s parents discuss Jyoti’s rape.]

[Gynaecologist discusses Jyoti’s injuries.]

[Police commissioner discusses rapists.]

[Mukesh discusses police.]

Kavita Krishnan




KRISHNAN: Most of us heard about the case very soon after it happened on December 17th, the very next day, and almost immediately students of the [unintelligible] university, there is a very powerful student union there and student movement there. The student organisations and the union from there immediately came out on the streets and protest on the same day.

[Misra discusses women’s status.]

SETH: There are many gang rapes that take place in India and they’ve been taking place over the years, but somehow this caught the imagination of people. For one thing, it happened in the capital city. It happened in an evening out, not a late hour, 8 o’clock, a young girl and boy returning home from a movie. I mean it was the most normal kind of behaviour.

PROTESTERS: We will raise our voice and take our freedom! Freedom! Freedom! Freedom! Freedom! Tell our comrades we will fight! We will fight! We will fight!

[Police commissioner discusses investigation.]

[Families of rapists discuss police.]

PROTESTERS: Wake up! Wake up! We won’t tolerate rape! Long live woman’s freedom! Your freedom, my freedom!

[Police commissioner discusses judicial process.]

[Protesters discuss judicial process.]

KRISHNAN: Immediately, almost from day one, it had stopped being about this case alone. It had become about rape culture and about [unintelligible], against being told that they could do something to remain safe.




[Police commissioner discusses Delhi’s crime rate.]

[Krishnan discusses Jyoti’s case’s impact.]

[Protester’s mum talks about Jyoti’s case’s impact.]

Shambavi Saxena



SAXENA: I painted a bunch of placards, just saying, “Women, take back your city”, nothing inciting violence or anything, and we’re walking down to India Gate, and we get accosted by a truck full of policemen saying, “You can’t go here. It’s not allowed.” They just decided that, “We’re not going to let these women question us anymore. It’s not their place to do that.” So we decided to challenge them. We decided we got civil rights. You can’t just stop us from going anywhere. That’s one of the freedoms granted to us by the constitution. And then things got ugly. They started pulling, dragging and shoving us into a van, saying, “We’re putting you in lockdown now.”

SAXENA’S MOTHER: My husband says I’m stupid because I go and protest without bothering about the consequences, but that day was a slap in my face. I really thought if you’re an educated woman and if you’re courageous and you’re outspoken, really, what can the police do? It was a completely peaceful protest, and then within 20 minutes, it turned into a warzone.

[Seth discusses public pressure.]

[Misra discusses Verma Committee.]

Gopal Subramanium



SUBRAMANIUM: This was not just about rape and an amendment to the criminal law. We three were very determined that we were not going to let down society. Offences against women were a part of the story. The full story needed to be told. We felt that we would fail fantastic civil society, which gathered around India Gate with candles, if we did not tell them the true story.

SETH: The constitution provides for equality. It hasn’t happened because the men don’t allow it to happen, and they feel that that’s their hold on women, and also it’s because historical tradition, of patriarchy which has been over the years embedded into men and into women.

[Misra and Seth discuss violence against women.]

[Misra and Subramanium discuss public pressure.]

[Jyoti’s parents discuss Jyoti’s death.]

SATENDRA: Once she went to the market with her friends. A 10- or 12-year-old boy tried to snatch her purse and run away. But a policeman caught him and started beating him. Jyoti stopped the policeman from beating him. She said, “This child will learn nothing from this.” She asked the boy, “Why did you do this?” He said, “I also want new clothes like you people, I want shoes. I want a hamburger. Jyoti bought him everything he wanted. And she said, “Promise me you won’t do this again.”

[NGO head discusses juvenile poverty.]

[Juvenile rapist’s family discusses poverty.]

[Mukesh’s parents discuss poverty]

[Mukesh discusses poverty and violence.]

GOVIL: They all actually came from very deprived conditions, where their surroundings are not a very good place, and there’s overcrowding. That’s a very common scene that women have been tortured and beaten, or sexually abused by their male partners or husbands. And they have seen prostitution also running in their area, in the neighbourhood area also. So it’s not very new to them. That’s what actually makes them again and again surprised, “Why us?”

BADRI: To call them human is to give humanity a bad name. If we call them monsters, even monsters have some limits. They are totally the devil. They went beyond all limits of evil. Even the devil himself couldn’t commit such a terrible crime.

SUBRAMANIUM: Nobody is a monster that he is excluded from society. After all, any society which has these rapists has to take responsibility for them, and this is the first thing which the feminist callers who came before the Verma Committee said, that these are our people. These men are ours.

GOVIL: I would say as a psychiatrist that they are actually normal human beings with anti-social traits in them, which actually manifested very badly at that time. They have been doing such crimes and easily getting away with that. They have been doing such crimes and easily getting away with that. So that whenever they feel there is a chance they could trap a woman, they do it. There are people in jail who have done 200 rapes and been only punished for about twelve. They say they only remember 200, they might be doing more. That’s the state of affairs. They say that’s been happening and that it’s a “man’s right”. They don’t think of the other person as a human being. The negative cultural values about women are also very, very important in this type of act.

Sheila Dixit


DIXIT: If you come from a family where things like this are seen by those who are growing up, they tend to look at it very differently. They say, “Well, my sister was given less milk than I am. I’m given a whole glass of milk because everybody thinks in the family I am the boy and I must get more energy, and my sister is just given a little bit of milk, or she eats last of all. Now these are society’s practices which somehow get embedded in the mind. Many of our people grow up thinking that a girl is less important than the boy, and because she’s less important, you can do what you like with her.

[Badri discusses juvenile rapist’s light sentence.]

ASHA: If the law thinks it is right to marry a girl at the age of 12 or 13, then a 15-16 year old boy who rapes or harms a girl, why can’t he be punished?

PROTESTERS: Hang the rapists! Hang them! Hang them! Hang the rapists! Hang them! Hang them!

SINGH: A number of criminal cases of murder, robbery, rape are pending against approximately 250 members of parliament. Sitting members of parliament. But their cases are not being tried in fast-track courts. Their cases are not being tried based on day-to-day hearings. Why? If you want to give a message to society against rape, against robbery, against murder, then you should start from your own neck.

[NGO head discusses public opinion.]

PROTESTERS: Hang them! Hang them! Hang the juvenile too! Hang them! Hang them! Hang the rapists! Hang them!

SINGH: If my daughter or sister engaged in pre-marital activities and disgraced herself and allowed herself to lose face and character by doing such things, I would most certainly take this sort of sister or daughter to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight. This is my stand. I still today stand by that reply.

[Rapist’s wife discusses case’s personal impact.]

MUKESH: The death penalty will make things even more dangerous for girls. Now when they rape, they won’t leave the girl like we did. They will kill her. Before, they would rape and say, “Leave her, she won’t tell anyone.” Now when they rape, especially the criminal types, they will just kill the girl. Death.

[Mukesh’s mother discusses case’s personal impact.]

BADRI: When I saw them, they had no fear in their eyes, no shame. No remorse at all for what they had done.

SATENDRA: Those who commit heinous crimes have no remorse afterwards. The law will punish them, and must do so, or they’ll be fearless. But if one monster is removed, will the society change? No. The people of this society and their mind-set need to change.

SETH: The only way that you can change things is education, because education gives a girl self-importance, self-worth, and it also teaches young men the value of the women.

MISRA: Her death has made a huge difference. I think that first of all, it has really brought home the problems of the way women are perceived, young and independent women are perceived in Indian society. It’s opening up a debate in India that I think hasn’t been held publicly and widely about exactly what the relationship between men and women should be.

SETH: These things will change. It’s only because of how hard we push, and I think that if the young people are going to push, we’re going to get it.

BADRI: Our daughter’s name is Jyoti Singh. We have no problem in revealing her name. In fact, we are happy to reveal it. Jyoti has become a symbol. In death, she has lit such a torch not only in this country, but throughout the whole world. But at the same time, she posed a question. What is the meaning of a “woman”? How is she looked upon by society today? And I wish that whatever darkness there is in this world should be dispelled by this light.

ASHA: The last thing that she said to me, she took my hands in hers and kissed them and said, “Sorry, Mummy. I gave you so much trouble. I am sorry.” The sound of her breathing stopped, and the lines on the monitor flattened.

Jyoti 1989-2012

BADRI: This incident was a storm which came and went. And what was there before it, and what will come after, this is what we need to see.

The case has gone to a final appeal at the Indian Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has yet to pass judgement on the original verdict and sentencing.

4 of the perpetrators remain on Death Row.

The juvenile is scheduled for release in December 2015.

This post is work in progress. Please comment with any additional information or insight you may have into the situation surrounding India’s Daughter. Local and global perspectives are especially welcome!

Posted in Movies, Rape Culture, Sexual Assault | 19 Comments

Selfless Signal-Boosting – International Women’s Day

It’s been too long since I put up a Signal-Boosting thread – so here’s one for collecting links for IWD 2015.  I’ve found a few to get you started:

Jadehawk at Secular Woman – Intersectionality – Black Feminists and the Uprooting of Kyriarchy:

Just as the great leaders of the social movements are often whitewashed into harmlessness, so Intersectionality is being whitewashed, made palatable to people who cannot stomach the system-shaking implications of radical social justice. This is a disservice to this highly powerful theory, and it is an injustice to the brilliant black women who have created it. Let’s remember and re-learn the roots of Intersectionality and give credit where credit is due.

Iram Ramzan – International Women’s Day – Dissenting Voices:

“It’s women who have to take up these issues. The left is not going to do it. The left are trying to silence us.”

You would be forgiven for thinking this statement was made quite recently. In fact, it is made by one of the women who appeared in ‘Struggle or Submission’, which documented the beginnings of Women Against Fundamentalism (WAF).
Even today, we find that look at communities through the prism of faith, which means that we either ignore voices of dissent or deliberately shut them down. Dissenters were told repeatedly (and shamefully) by the left that “now is not the time to raise these issues”.

“The only tools we have are our voices of dissent,” Pragna said. “Suppression of dissent for women is literally a matter of life and death.

Brandi Bailey at BookRiot – The Best Feminist Books For Younger Readers:

“Best” is a hard thing in this category, so I’m aiming to include a variety of genres and some lesser known/newer options. Does this mean I don’t think Halse Anderson’s Chains belongs on this list? Emphatically, NO! Including everything would have been impossible. Also, because younger readers really run the gamut when it comes to reading level, I’ve included beginner/early reader titles and intermediate titles. The ages you see are based on publisher recommendations and may not really don’t reflect my opinion or the actual reading level of your kid. Just sayin’.

K Tempest Bradford posted this at XOJane a few weeks ago, so it’s not specificallyl an IWD post, but we haven’t mentioned it here yet –
I Challenge You to Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors for One Year

Reader Heather also posted this to the weekly self-promotion thread, so I’m adding it here as well:

“I put together a list of things to watch, read, and listen to on this International Women’s Day.”

Reminders: these threads are for recommending someone else‘s writings/events/fundraisers etc: this signal-boosting thread is a complement to our long-standing Shameless Self-Promotion Sundays. Use this thread for ICYMI links and anything else you think other readers might find interesting.

Especially welcome are links to those who are blogging on issues Feministe has not recently addressed (the links can be to older posts, just something you’ve found recently relevant).  Please save the self-promotion links for Sundays – use this thread to let Feministe readers know about the other blogs you love to read, and activist/celebration events you long to attend, especially from those on the margins of the mainstream social justice communities, who tend to not get as much exposure as they should.

Netiquette Guidelines:

  1. Effective signal boosting names the article author(s) and/or organising bodies.
  2. Include content notes/trigger warnings/NSFW alerts where needed as a courtesy to other readers.
  3. Keep this thread focussed on the linking – the idea is to make your comments on the other blogs being linked!  (seconding/thirding etc is fine, adding extra Content Notes for the benefit of other readers is a community service, linking further/related reading is always welcome, but keep it short and sweet)
  4. If you have Reasons to not leave a response on a recommended article, don’t just dump it on this thread  ~ analytical discussions about various links belong on the Open Thread or Spillover.
Posted in Recommended | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday

Promote yourself.

Netiquette reminders:

  • Want to recommend someone else’s writing instead? Try the latest signal-boosting thread.
  • we expect Content Notes as a courtesy to our readers for problematic content in linked posts and/or their comment threads (a habit of posting only triggering/disparaging links may annoy the Giraffe (you really don’t want to annoy the Giraffe)), Content Notes are not needed if your post title is already descriptive of problematic content.
  • extended discussion of self-promotion links on this thread is counter-productive for the intended signal-boosting –  the idea is for the promoted sites to get more traffic.  If it’s a side-discussion that would be off-topic/unwelcome/distressing on the other site, take it to #spillover after leaving a note on this thread redirecting others there.
Posted in General | Tagged , | 11 Comments

You’re a lesbian? Prove it.


That’s what you have to do if you’re seeking asylum in the UK. Perhaps your family and your partner of 20 years have been killed. Perhaps you’re sentenced to stoning in your country of origin. Perhaps you jump through the necessary hoops and produce private, personal photographs and even a video of your sexual activities.

Is that good enough? Have you proven you’re a lesbian yet?

Apparently not to the government prosecutors of the UK.

Maybe you foolishly took measures to try and save your own life in Nigeria–tried to live undercover, married a man, even had kids (I mean, everybody knows lesbians can’t have kids, right? And real lesbians have never dated a man ever in their lives. Hey, maybe if you just explained you were bisexual, that sentence of stoning would be commuted!). Maybe you made the, um, “mistake” of “looking feminine” in Nigeria, either because you were femme or because you didn’t want to be killed. (Everybody knows lesbians never look feminine, right?)

A judge is ruling on Aderonke Apata’s case in weeks.

In my opinion, this is about the intersection of misogyny, homophobia, heterosexism (ever had a penis in your vagina? that penis is so powerful that it makes you straight no matter what else you’ve experienced.), anti-immigration sentiment, and yes, racism. It’s about the devaluing of a woman’s life, the dismissal of her trauma and of her identity because her lesbian experience doesn’t conform to some prosecutorial ideal, because she’s black, and because she’s an immigrant. Apata’s lesbianism is on trial, and 10 bucks says it’s not other lesbians who are ruling on it. (That wouldn’t make it OK, but there’s something particularly grotesque about a bunch of straight people sitting around passing judgment on whether or not somebody is a “real” lesbian and deciding that she doesn’t measure up to their bigoted white-centered stereotypes.)

Asylum for Aderonke Facebook page.

UK taxes are paying for these insults, just as my taxes go to the right-wing’s faith-based initiatives here in the US and the racist war on drugs and suchlike. And yet forced-birthers whine that they shouldn’t have to fund abortion because they “morally object” to it. Well, I morally object to any number of things in my own country, and what the UK is doing to Apata.

Posted in GLBTQ, Immigration, Racism | 20 Comments