Skip to main content
Read page text

l o /A s i l i a l o i t o

Kl u

L u that you starve yourself to be thinner. But also feminism should be for all women, not just for white or fair, richer women. Kamla: I totally echo this. I have spent my life training or talking to younger women. Patriarchy is all around us and we have to keep looking at the interconnectedness of it all. All issues are women’s issues. Rape is not just a feminist issue; it’s everybody’s issue. Hannah: What are your thoughts on men and feminism? Lili: I’m not a fan of men. I do think their participation is important in the furthering of the feminist agenda, but feminism is about celebrating women, making their voices louder, improving things for them; so I hate focusing on men. I know it’s necessary but I just hate it. Once you say, patriarchy hurts men as well, they’ll go, ‘Oh, I’m so oppressed’! Or they’ll say, ‘I don’t really have male privilege.’ Kamla: I know enough women who are totally patriarchal, who are totally anti-women; who do nasty things to other women, and I have known men who have worked for women’s rights their whole life. Feminism is not biological: feminism is an ideology. Men who are against patriarchy and who fight patriarchy are also feminists. I agree with Lili in so far as men cannot take over our movements and I don’t even invite them to join feminism per se, but to start their own organizations, to think what patriarchy is doing to them. But women can’t do it alone; we need to work with progressive men who are willing to learn. So while I understand what Lili is saying and I think it’s the right position for her to have at her age, I’ve moved on. Hannah: What do you think of the notions of ‘waves’ of feminism? Lili: I like the categorization of it because it connects suffragettes to feminists, which doesn’t happen so often, but it’s very confusing – are we on the fifth wave, the fourth, the seventeenth…? Hannah: Do you consider yourself any particular wave? Kamla: I don’t, but if I were pushed, I would say I am an eco-feminist, a socialist feminist – I see the links between rape of women and rape of mother nature. I see links between all other forms of oppression: class, caste and race. Feminism will keep changing because patriarchy is constantly changing, constantly renewing itself, coming in newer phases. The power of patriarchy has increased so many fold. If we had to fight only our traditional patriarchies, we might have succeeded. Lili: Second-wave feminism did a huge amount, especially around laws and equality; however, it was incredibly racist, at least in the West, transphobic and homophobic, a lot of the time. The third wave started to move towards violence against the everyday woman, but again it was still very transphobic and quite racist, especially in America. And now we’re maybe on the fourth or fifth wave, we’ve got this globalized media which more people have access to and it brings us a more intersectional viewpoint. I hope we will soon no longer have these oppressive attitudes within feminism. Hannah: Lili, would you like to get Kamla on Twitter? Lili: I’d love to tweet Kamla, but if she doesn’t want to, she doesn’t have to: it’s all about what is best for you. I found it good because I learned through listening to other women’s experiences, not through a book or a report. So while I’ve only read three or four, maybe five, feminist books, I know a lot more than that. Kamla: Lili, can you explain to me why you call yourself Twitter Youth Feminist Army? Here I am working on women and peace – I hate armies. Lili: It started as a joke; we don’t really use the name anymore, just the acronym TYFA – we’re not just on Twitter, and we’re not just young people, and we eat a lot more cake than we do fighting, so we’re not really an army either; but I do find anger very constructive. Kamla: Use anger, but don’t allow anger to use you. I find a lot of feminists, because they are angry, alienate other women and that doesn’t help the cause. So, anger is to be used as a tool: we are using the tool, the tool is not using us. Lili: I like that quote, ‘Well-behaved women rarely make history’. We didn’t get the vote by asking nicely. Feminist anger is always presented by the media as irrational and ‘what are these crazy people talking about?’ Anger and passion are important in de-normalizing these sexist experiences that we have, but we have to use it constructively and not just be really angry everywhere, to no purpose. Kamla: Yes, I agree. Feminism is like water. It’s everywhere but it takes the shape of the container into which it is poured. My feminism is different from Lili’s feminism because I live in India, because my patriarchy is different, my technology is different. But in order to succeed, feminism has to be a global movement, because patriarchy is global, capitalism is global, racism is global: so we need to be fighting them all together, on all fronts. n

‘Feminism is like water. It’s everywhere but it takes the shape of the container into which it is poured’

Kamla Bhasin is from Sangat (the South Asian Feminist Network) and part of the One Billion Rising campaign. Lilinaz Evans co-founded the Twitter Youth Feminist Army and Campaign4Consent in schools. Hannah Pool is a journalist and author. She is chair of UK Feminista and curates the talks and debates at the WOW festival, Southbank Centre.

N e w I n t e r n at i o n a l i s t ● july/au gust 2 014 ● 2 5

My Bookmarks

    Skip to main content