As a teacher to high school children, whenever we discussed social justice in the worlds of books we read, one question that would repeatedly come up was, "How do we understand privilege, if you say it is all around us—how can we work with the 'lowest' common denominator if there will always be more walls and more marginalization?"; and I remember not being to answer that question most of the time. By the end of the year, as a class, what we could loftily conclude was where our own privileges and marginalizations lay; given that we did all that we could to "not speak for others." Of course, we should have realized that growing up in Bombay meant we were speaking for others; coming of age in the decades of neoliberal economic policies in the cultural capital of the country does that to a generation of people—by being the very people who later India Shining addresses, we yield that kind of power. The privilege to voice someone else's story, and to use our particular frame to view their lives.
Hello good readers of Bitch blogs! Starting this week for the next twelve weeks, I'll be blogging at Bitch about Indian feminist books and films and I might quite possibly "ruin" India for many of you (it's a superpower of mine, I'm often told) and I'm hoping in turn you'll "ruin" my impression of north-Atlantic feminisms (which in my experience have not been of the most dedicated listeners). Apart from the sense of accomplishment I get while rupturing romanticized versions of India—because really, who wouldn't be happy to break bubbles like: "What do you mean there are no tigers on the street? So this tattoo really means "my father is over there" in Sanskrit? Why can't I like, go to tribal camp?"—I also hope that this break in lines of thought and action will make us talk and listen to one another.