Last week a bunch of us decided to hold a feminist meetup and form a collective in Mumbai- Mumbai Feminists. The first ever Mumbai Feminists meetup was held on 30. August 2015 at Candies, Bandra West. Those who attended were Japleen Pasricha, Tessa George, Arpita Bhagat, Himadri Barman, Rashi Vidyasagar and Riddhima Sharma.
After a quick round of introductions, where we talked about our organisational work as well as our personal projects, we discussed the journey of becoming a feminist. Himadri explained how he found it weird that women were not allowed to apply for mining engineering and decided to ask the authorities. He was very disappointed when he got to know that there is no scientific explanation for that, only that women are considered weak. Japleen and Riddhima talked about their patriarchal cultures (Punjabi, Harayanvi and Marwari) and how it resulted in making them into fiery feminists. Tessa talked about the misogyny prevalent in Kerala while Arpita talked about environment and how for her both go hand-in-hand. We also discussed the Jasleen Kaur-Saravjeet Singh case and talked about laws and how people jump to abuse/misuse of women-centric laws by women and ignore all the abuse which happens to other general laws.
Then we discussed why we have got together today and what is the purpose of this collective. We want to (at the moment and it will be forever changing and developing) achieve the following goals:
- Have regular monthly meetings
- Connect with the group Badal Ja!
- Create a Google Group for MF once we grow bigger
- Connect and organise walk with Neha Singh of Why Loiter and Shreya Sen of Zehen
- Do collaborative work in light of the above
- Look for venues for the Women Making Films festival
- Share information on feminist events, protests, etc.
Later, Himadri asked how we can organise events which do not require huge funding and are sustainable. Rashi suggested doing a Bar Camp and gave an example of Alda Camp (a women-centric camp) organised in the USA.
We discussed action, campaigns and work for future meetings. Rashi suggested we should do an event for the 16 Days of Activism in November. Riddhima talked about a campaign on media reporting on violence. Japleen discussed a campaign on moral policing in response to Mumbai Police recent raid in hotels. We also decided we want to do a report on sexist advertisements as well as a media workshop on how to do responsible reporting.
Rashi suggested choosing a topic for future meetups and then inviting an expert to speak. Arpita talked about her project- The Kachra Project and explained in detail the recent campaign she conducted on menstrual waste-Period Of Change. We decided that the members in the previous meetup will decide the topics for the next meetup. Hence, the topics are:
- Sex-positive feminism
- Sexism in media and responsible reporting
- Celebrity feminism
Lastly, we decided that we want to have clear goals before the next meetup so that we just don’t talk but also act. We mutually decided on the following homework:
- Bring more individuals on board
- Collaborative reaction to trolling, sexist articles, media, etc.
- Riddhima, Japleen, Arpita and Rashi will work on a Google doc and flag off media/news articles which are condescending while reporting violence.
- We will not make a Facebook group or page for Mumbai Feminists as of now and will use Feminism In India and FemPositive for announcing meetups and reporting back.
- We will read up on the above mentioned topics for the next meetup.
- Tentative date for next meetup is 26 or 27 September.
If you liked what you read above, you can contact Japleen Pasricha, Rashi Vidyasagar or Riddhima Sharma to join the collective.