I want to be free, but patriarchy and capitalism tether me!

Every aspect of reality is gendered.

~ Kumkum Sangari.

These words are exceptionally powerful and loaded with meaning. It holds extensive experiential truth, especially for women, who are marginal figures in these “realities.” But this oppressive reality of women is partly outside of her. A part of this reality has been introjected through a long historical process of social learning, and this learning has been thorough.

Being a woman involves a basic tension between transcendence and immanence—a struggle of wanting to unlearn the punctilious aspects of a patriarchal society that constantly attempts to frame women as the “other.” While I acknowledge that “Seeing Like a Feminist” is pertinent to confronting male domination, little did I know about the greater complexities and ambiguities that have come to be associated with such a lens. This subjected women to the dual burden of trying to cope with the overt patriarchal norms as well as the inert obscurities that they create. My life, like that of most other women, has been a constant struggle around such ambiguities. My embodied gender became a site of conflict in itself. A tension that is a product of evolving times is exacerbated by the forces of a seemingly liberal and “free” capitalist world that has “created personalities’ based on policing through socio-cultural norms that are often less conspicuous. These are forces I constantly see in myself and other gender minority groups as they create dissonance in our sense of ourselves.

Have you ever wished that you had a body different from the one that you have right now? Have you ever seen one of those luscious glossy-paged magazines with people with ‘perfect body size’ right on the cover and been like ‘geez’, it will take me decades to look like that? My 22-year-old self is throttled with such questions all the time. All the literature in my journey of “becoming” a feminist helped me identify how the idea of a woman’s absolute control over her body is a misnomer. Rather, they are rather old and well-practised sites. It made me realise how much I had internalised this whole notion of looking a certain way, of reaching numbers on weight scales and shedding inches. While this realisation was strong, so was the preaching on social media, to my friends who struggled with body issues, and possibly at every place where I could manifest my claim of identifying as a feminist promoting body positivity. But the adherence to this idea at an individual level seemed more arduous. It wasn’t the idea of challenging such patriarchal notions of framing women as being or looking a certain way that I had internalised so strongly. It was the pleasure I derived from the fetishization of this new “ideal” body type. The obsession of trying to fit into the perfect ideal abstract image was only exacerbated as I moved along this journey. The incoherence of belief systems and individual manifestation muddled me into a cycle of guilt, murkiness, and difficulty identifying with the real self.

Such ambiguities were exhibited more strongly in dealing with one of my romantic relationships. Having clear notions of what gender parity and respect meant in a relationship and what it meant to be mansplained and emotionally abused, I continued to work on a relationship where a man pulled me down in my endeavours just because I was a woman.  My institutionalised idea of the greater role of women in navigating through relationships, framing the woman’s character around the number of partners she has had, and un-concealing the once projected notion of ‘happy together’, superseded my self-worth. While I constantly reprimanded myself for dealing with something I despised vehemently, the chains of social and cultural conditioning tethered me stronger. It finally took a lot of courage, battling with normative dilemmas and, most importantly, unlearning enmeshed patriarchal notions to free me from such a relationship. 

Like most other women I know who have shared similar experiences of fighting their feminist battles within a capitalist framework, that leaves them estranged and with a persistent sense of guilt. Such experiences only made me wonder how much of the mode of existence of being feminine is actually constructed and construed by a woman herself. The ideas of gender are derived from our social relations of power. The cultural brainwashing, which is so gendered, leaves women with no option but to create alternative spaces for themselves, to constantly seek meaning and search for their true selves. The struggle is to navigate between theory and practice, to attain the transcendental and free oneself from the imminent reality that is conditioned by a capitalist patriarchal framework. But most importantly is the yearning to be able to live freely, free from such guilt—the notion of which is gendered too. [For a more elaborate understanding of ‘guilt’ as a gendered emotion, please refer to https://restlessnetwork.com/why-do-women-feel-so-much-guilt/]

 

Note from the author – I have written this article from my social position and about my experience as a cis upper-class/caste woman. 

 

References 

Hay, Carol. Think like a feminist: the philosophy behind the revolution. WW Norton & Company, 2020.

Sangari, Kumkum, and Sudesh Vaid, eds. Recasting women: Essays in Indian colonial history. Rutgers University Press, 1990. 

Menon, Nivedita. Seeing like a feminist. Penguin UK, 2012. 

Nandy, Ashis. “Woman versus womanliness in India: An essay in social and political psychology.” Psychoanalytic Review 63.2 (1976): 301-315. 

 

I want to be free, but patriarchy and capitalism tether me!

Pride with OFC, 2022

Who decides what queerness looks like?

Who decides what queerness looks like?

Pride with OFC, 2022

In the month of June 2022, One Future Collective organized #PrideWithOFC, a month-long initiative to celebrate our queerness, build solidarity, and learn together about queer identities and politics.

During Pride Month we: 

  • Built knowledge and visibility for the concerns of queer folks; 
  • Advocated for queer rights and liberation in our ecosystems;
  • Nurtured safe spaces for queer individuals and our communities 

 

As a part of this, OFC held a range of events, including:

  1. Six online sharing spaces
  2. The Introduction to Queer rights course (online)
  3. Social media collaborations 
  4. Awareness session with PLC Inayat, Delhi
  5. An Offline celebration Space
  6. Fundraising at the Satrangi Mela- Pune and Mumbai

 

(1) Online Sharing Spaces

We held a total of six online spaces for Pride with OFC, 2022. 

 

Queerness and Faith 

On June 9th, we held the first sharing space on ‘Queerness and Faith’. 

Impact: This space was intended to look into how queerness is unique in everyone, exploring faith, and how to navigate the intersection of both. This was done with self-reflection activities, art, and group activities. This sharing space was attended by a small group of 5 participants. 

 

Discovering My Sexuality as a Queer Person

Discovering my sexuality as a queer person_Online on Zoom_June 14 - Online event

Discovering My Sexuality as a Queer Person [June 14, 2022]

 

Sexuality Educator Apurupa Vatsalya facilitated a session on ‘Discovering My Sexuality as a Queer Person’. 

Impact: Through this session, participants explored and spoke about their sexuality as  a queer person, and how to navigate it in a cis-heteronormative society. The participants were able to share verbally, and via reflections. This was a warm, inclusive space where folks could question, share, and sit back with their thoughts. 

 

Queer allyship and solidarity as Parents

We also conducted a workshop on ‘Queer allyship and solidarity as Parents’, facilitated by queer-affirmative counselling psychologist Sristhi Bannerjee. 

Impact: The workshop was open to all parents on how to be better allies as parents and how to nurture solidarity for queer-affirmative caregiving. This space was attended by 7 parents, who found the workshop engaging and informative.

 

Neurodivergence and Queerness

Neurodivergence and Queerness_Online on Zoom_June 23 - Online event

Neurodivergence and Queerness [June 23, 2022]

 

Social science researcher Aishwariya Srinivasan facilitated a workshop on ‘Neurodivergence and Queerness’ on June 23, 2022. The workshop was a space for queer folks to learn about the intersection of queerness and neurodivergence. 

Impact: The workshop served as a safe space for participants to gain knowledge and find community.

 

LGBT-ea Party Night 

LGBT-ea Party night was a virtual celebration party held on June 26, 2022. Participants come together to discuss queer art, authors, books, movies, and songs. 

Impact: 6 queer folks attended this space, and all participants shared that they found this space to be “wholesome and safe”. Participants navigated what queer literature means, the erasure of queer folks and improper portrayals of queerness in media while listening to a playlist curated during the celebration party. 

 

Queerness and Desirability Politics 

Queerness and desirability politics- June 28 - Online event

[Queerness and Desirability politics, June 28, 2022]

 

Facilitated by Sonal Jain from Boondh, the workshop on ‘Queerness and Desirability politics’ was held on June 28, 2022. 

Impact: All 6 participants found the space to be a safe space for sharing, exchanging dialogue and talking about how desirability is unique, yet politics that is inclusive is how they could relate to each other and reflect as individuals and as a group. 

 

(2) Introduction to Queer Rights Course Introduction to Queer Rights [Cohort of June-July, 2022]

Introduction to Queer Rights Course x OFC

We began the Introduction to Queer Rights course on 22nd June 2022 with 21 participants. This cohort-based course is intended to facilitate introductory learning about gender, sex, sexuality; queer rights and liberation; as well as allyship and solidarity within queer communities. Through this course, we aim to build capacities in people to enable them to work towards creating safer, informed, and more queer-affirmative spaces in their micro-communities and ecosystems. This ongoing course is held on Wednesdays and Fridays from 6 PM to 9 PM, IST.    

 

(3) Social Media Collaborations 

OFC collaborated with various organizations and individuals and hosted Instagram lives on themes related to Queerness and Pride Month. 

The following is the list of all Instagram lives:

 

(4) Awareness Session with PLC Inayat, Delhi on ‘Beyond the binaries’

PLC inayat session- GS- June 29

[On ‘Beyond the Binary’, PLC Inayat, June 30, 2022]

 

Facilitated by Shreya Joshi held a session on awareness of Queer identities for PLC Inayat on June 30, 2022. 

Impact: 30+ participants held the workshop. We touched upon the basic difference between sex, gender, sexuality, various laws and Queer rights in India, and ended the session with How to be better allies. 

 

(5) Offline Celebration Spaces

 

Art, Poetry, Music Night at Mumbai and Delhi

We held an ‘Art, Poetry, and Music evening’ at Doolally, Khar in Mumbai. 

Impact: Participants created their own queer art using various modalities, including visual art, poetry, make-up, and movement. Additionally, we co-created a community playlist of songs. 12 people attended this space and celebrated with snacks, art, and a sense of togetherness. 

 

We also held the Art, Poetry, Music evening in Delhi. 3 participants attended the event where they got together and had a celebratory time with snacks, art, and music. 

Along with the above-mentioned spaces, OFC held a Queer Rights Course for June 2022 as well. 

Art, Poetry, and Music Evening_Mumbai_June 18

[Art, Poetry, and Music evening, Mumbai, June 11, 2022]

 

Art, Poetry, and Music evening, Delhi, June 11, 2022

[Art, Poetry, and Music evening, Delhi, June 11, 2022]

 

(6) Satrangi Mela 

We held fundraising stalls at Satrangi Mela, at FC socials, Pune on June 19 and antisocial, Mumbai on June 26 respectively. We sold our merchandise- right from social justice, mental health, and queer rights-based badges, stickers, bookmarks to our resource books on Introduction to Trauma-Informed Communication, as well as conversation cards for Inequity and Climate Change, and Domestic Violence- for our fundraiser #MentalHealthForAll

 

All funds go directly for financial aid, for psychological support for urban youth (eg- therapy, psychiatric medications etc). 

Satrangi Mela [Pune 2022]

 

Feedback of participants for Online and Offline Celebration Spaces

  • On a scale from 1-5, 5 being the best, 57.1% of the participants rated it 5
  • The quality of facilitation satisfaction rate was 85.7%
  • 100% of participants responded that they found a community after coming and attending the online and offline spaces
  • 100% of participants stated that these spaces helped them with their mental health 

 

Thus, this Pride month through #PrideWithOFC we got to connect with Queer folks in various ways including capacity building, online sharing spaces, offline celebration spaces, fundraisers, and more. 

 

We were able to reach 52,663 folks on our social media organically and engaged with 4,881 folks. 

 

We had queer folks from all walks of life come together in our celebration spaces with creativity and a sense of togetherness, we fostered safe and confidential spaces for them to exchange dialogue and find a community as well as spaces serving them to help their mental health. We also worked toward making connections, knowledge building, and raising funds for our Mental Health For All fundraiser. 

We are happy that #PrideWithOFC served as a space of Queer Joy. 

Read more about One Future Collective, and continue engagement on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Read the full report here.

I want to be free, but patriarchy and capitalism tether me!

Pride with OFC, 2022

Who decides what queerness looks like?

Who decides what queerness looks like?

Pride with OFC: Over the Years

1

As a queer and youth-led organization, the centering of queer experiences in the systems we inhabit forms a crucial element of our work at One Future Collective. Pride Month is an opportunity for us to learn about and reflect on queer lived realities, informing our work towards queer rights and freedoms throughout the year. We hope to use our spaces to build and share knowledge about queer identities, celebrate queer joy, and express solidarity. In this blog post, we’d like to take you through Pride with OFC initiatives over the years as we begin Pride Month, 2022. 

 

Pride with OFC, 2020

 

In June 2020, OFC observed Pride Month through #PridewithOFC campaign. The campaign aimed to develop knowledge and resources about queer lives using a intersectional, rights-based approach, and celebrate queer people’s strength and expression through activism and art. During this year, our work during Pride was informed by the conditions of COVID-19 and initial lockdowns, which posed complex challenges of safety, mental and physical health and well-being for queer individuals.

 

  • Online Events:

To engage with people online we held variety of IGTV lives to understand queer affirmative counselling during COVID-19, trace the history of Pride in India and reflect on young queer people’s activism. We also collaborated with organizations like VCF India and MullenLowe Lintas Group to hold some informative workshops. 

 

Keeping up with the spirit of Pride, we held our 12th Feminist Futures meet-up to facilitate dialogue around queer allyship and the 13th virtual meet-up for the Sanskari Girls Book Club to discuss Jump Space by Mary Anne Mohanraj. 

 

  • Queer Art Festival: 

Through Pride 2020, One Future Collective decided to amplify the voices of some brilliant queer artists through a showcasing of their work. We curated a completely virtual Queer Art Festival in association with Social Offline. We partnered with 10 of India’s most prominent and active LGBTQ+ organisations to bring queer movies, artists, and music to the fore. Through the Queer Art Festival, we reached 10,00,000+ people and amplified the voices of several queer artists, musicians, directors, through our channels. 

 

During the Queer Art Festival, we also curated two important panel discussions. The first one discussed ‘Queer Mental Health’ with illustrator Sonaksha Iyengar, mental health professional Richa Vashista and researcher Sukhnidh Kaur. The second one was based on ‘Workplace Inclusion’ and was facilitated by Apurupa Vatsalya, Daniel Mendonca, Koninika Roy and Shambhavi Saxena. 

 

Pride with OFC, 2021

 

For our second Pride Month in the midst of the pandemic, we wanted to focus learning and reflection to queer people’s needs for safety and healing from the second wave of COVID-19. We did this by working on encouraging allyship and support, building knowledge on technological justice as we navigate more and more of our lives in cyberspace, and hosting several celebratory spaces. 

 

  • Queer Rights and Allyship (QRA) course:

Our Queer Rights and Allyship course was especially curated to encourage allies and community members to extend their support to queer communities not just during, but also beyond Pride Month by donating to queer causes, educating themselves and inculcating inclusive practices in their work and workplaces. The course was one OFC has run many times, and it was run as a free, open course to make it accessible to all. We had over 40 signups for the course and ran it in two batches, facilitated by Apurupa Vatsalya and Kuhoo Tiwari. 

 

The main objectives of this course were to understand the basics of Gender and sexuality, navigate legal provisions and safeguards (or lack thereof) for queer communities, develop allyship and put it in practice, and understand and address the mental health needs of the queer persons. 

 

  • Online Events:

We organized virtual events like open mic jamming,  poetry reading, as well as healing spaces with art and movement. We also organized a  workshop to discuss “Privacy and Gender”.  Here, we talked about technology,  safety and identity for queer folks and gender minorities –  from gender injustice to tech policies, and to the use of dating apps to track people. 

 

We had over 120 sign-ups across two weekends with over 9 events to attend! 

 

In addition to these events, we also curated lists of state-specific policies for trans folks in India that deal with health, education, skill and economic support for trans folks.

 

Pride with OFC, 2022

 

We are very excited to welcome you to our Pride journey for 2022, as we navigate several key intersecting axes along which queer lives are organized, and continue to center safety and joy in our work with the built and social environments of queer folks. 

 

This year, Pride with OFC is going to be all about building knowledge about and celebrating LGBTQIA+ realities in unique and engaging ways. Our objective is simple: as queer folks, this year (as we strive to do every day of the year), we take up space, represent our lived experiences, and collaboratively work on creating safer, healthier, happier worlds! 

 

As a part of this, OFC will be hosting a range of virtual and in-person events, including community spaces, sharing circles, workshops, Instagram lives, discussions on queer art and literature, online courses, and offline educational spaces in residential homes and local shops.

 

  • We are launching a Solidarity Program, through which will engage 20 volunteers, who are allies or identify as queer, towards building community awareness. Sign up: bit.ly/OFCSolidarityProgram
  • We will hold space, both offline and online, for celebration and for us to come together as communities. Sign up for spaces now: bit.ly/OFCPrideSpaces
  • We are also going to spend some time building knowledge throughout this month. You can sign up for a course or a workshop as an individual, or apply as an organisation/group!

 

Apply now:

  1. Queer Rights and Allyship (Paid Certificate Course): bit.ly/QRA_ApplyNow (Certificate Course – Paid)
  2. Queer Rights and Allyship (Free Group Workshops) bit.ly/QRAWorkshop_ApplyNow 

 

  • You can also keep an eye out for Instagram lives, blogs, and resources about various personal and political queer concerns, and fun collaborations with a queer artist!

 

We are beyond excited to kick this month off and celebrate the joy of being queer with all of you. See you all at Pride With OFC.

 

To know more about our work during Pride, 2022, visit: https://bit.ly/PrideWithOFC2022_KnowMore 

 

Happy Pride!

I want to be free, but patriarchy and capitalism tether me!

Pride with OFC, 2022

Who decides what queerness looks like?

Who decides what queerness looks like?