This year, we have decided to feature the best writers from our writer community for their committed contribution to FII, making it what it is today. FII would not exist if not for the passionate and loyal feminist writer community that we have steadily been building over the last three years. This month, we feature Nupur Preeti Alok, who joined the FII team as an intern in August 2016, and stayed on as a Contributing Writer, with 11 articles to her name. Her well-researched historical essays on Savitribai Phule and Jhalkari Bai and stirring account of sexual harassment in the workplace were received well by our readers.
So without further ado, let’s meet the writer herself!
FII: Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
NPA: I am Nupur Jain, 27, currently based out of Pune. I was born and brought up in Nagpur and moved to Pune for my studies 9 years ago, during which I completed my Undergraduate and Graduate studies and worked in Bombay for a couple of years. I have a Masters degree in ‘Gender Culture and Development Studies’ from Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule Women’s Studies Centre, Savitribai Phule Pune University. Currently, I am working as a Research Assistant with the centre. Next, I plan to pursue my PhD in Gender Studies. My areas of interest include intersectional topics like gender, caste, culture, religion and politics.
FII: How did you become a part of the FII writer family?
NPA: I have been following FII on social media since I started studying at KSP Women’s Studies Centre in 2014. FII had posted about their internship program and I had finished my Masters recently then. I was keen on doing the internship as I would be able to write on intersectional, feminist, anti-caste, and gender-related issues. I have always struggled with a lot of anxiety when it comes to expressing my views on public platforms though I really enjoy writing a lot. What FII offered was an amazing intersectional and fun learning space and this gave me a lot of confidence to begin. Everything just fit well, so I applied.
FII: How and when did you become a feminist? Which issues within feminism are close to your heart?
NPA: Over time I guess. After I joined KSP WSC there was a drastic change in how I looked at the world around me. This was largely because of the amazing feminist works that I read and studied. A lot of self-introspection and thinking would go in after I had read something good. It was this process of analyzing and understanding the consumed knowledge which I think made me a feminist. I also vividly remember the times when I have defended feminism around a whole bunch of anti-feminist people; where I have ended up saying it out loud why I think it’s amazing to be a feminist and how it changes your life. But a lot times there is a tendency to either leave out the issues of the marginalized while talking of feminism or co-opt their issues and make it look like your own as if it is the privileged who is suffering and thus constantly feeling the need to be present on every platform. Therefore keeping in mind my position as an upper caste and class woman, I feel the need to talk about feminism in the context of caste and gender both. To put it very simply, I don’t think I can voice the oppression of the marginalized without talking of how caste gets sustained and reproduced by the dominant and how they benefit from it.
FII: What is your favourite piece on this site that you have written, and your favourite piece on this site that you have read? Why did they strike you?
NPA: Oh this is difficult! Among those that I have written, ‘Sexual Harassment at Workplace and What I Now Know About It‘ is one of my favourites. I spoke about my experience of harassment for the first time, and it meant a lot to me. I could muster the courage to do it because I read a lot of survivor stories and felt more compassionate towards how they have dealt with the suffering. I was humbled and moved. Having said that, I am not placing myself against anyone who hasn’t spoken about their experiences for reasons that are valid and will remain so.
I have not been able to read a lot on FII lately, but there are some articles I really liked. ‘I Was Ashamed of my Breasts: On Bras and Breasts‘ is one of them. Though the article talks only in the context of ‘women’, it’s a really well-written article. I could instantly relate it, and it reminded me my younger self. A lot of my (rigid and naive) ideas about sexuality were shaped during that time, but thanks to feminism, I could find the ability to fight and overcome it.
FII: What do you like to do when not writing about gender and social justice?
NPA: When I am not writing, I like to watch movies, spend time with family and take long walks. I also like spending time at the Centre, discussing interesting things with fellow feminists around. The things I love, among many, include Bombay, Thai food, Bollywood, red wine, winters, and Mark Knopfler’s music. I enjoy painting occasionally.
FII: What do you like about FII and our work? What more would you like to see from us?
NPA: I really love the fact that FII is intersectional and strives to keep up to their policy which states this clearly. It has voices from different sections of the society and I think that is what makes it so diverse and interesting. I look forward to more articles in regional languages because I believe language is very crucial when it comes to intersectional issues.