Saturday, September 3, 2011

Becoming women

Making A Difference
Edited by Ritu Menon
Women Unlimited
Rs 350  n pp 38

Never mind which city of the world it is, streets come alive when a SlutWalk is held. Quite often, the audacious garments (not so much on display in Delhi’s version) steal the show from the bold message being conveyed (a protest against the culture of blaming the victim in cases of sexual violence in public areas). And then, once the linguistic subversion of the word ‘slut’ has been amply debated, the question veers to the inevitable: has the fashionable (but so facile) feminism that is busy championing the short skirt gained primacy over old-style feminism that fought long and hard to change laws and make living slightly easier for women? To remain relevant and acceptable to market-led living, will feminism have to be less grrr, and more prrr, to borrow an expression frequently bandied about?

Making a Difference: Memoirs from the Women’s Movement in India does not answer those questions. As the title suggests, it is a compilation of personal accounts from some of the leading feminists and women’s rights activists of the country. The editor Ritu Menon had asked these women to talk about their forays into feminism (when, and how, exactly do you realise that you are a feminist), the struggles they waged and causes they promoted, and how they managed to sustain themselves through the difficult years. In this book, those direct, conversational narratives start speaking to you, devoid of academic jargon, their different voices amalgamating the major strands of the women’s movement through the fervent 1970s and 80s.

Full review here Hindustan Times

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