This year, we have been featuring 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 Karthika Nair, who has been one of the earliest supporters of FII. Having messaged Japleen Pasricha, FII founder, from when she announced her plans of starting a feminist platform, Karthika has always lent her support and voice to FII’s initiatives, even being the administrator of our Facebook group and keeping it clear of trolls and spam! She has written 15 articles on FII, casting a feminist lens on films, popular culture and current events.
FII: Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
KN: I am a multimedia postgraduate. Currently, I am doing freelancing. I write for magazines and news portals. I am passionate about writing and blogging, also have a film review website called Reelistic Views.
FII: How did you become a part of the FII writer family?
KN: I have been involved since Japleen founded the FII portal. She announced via Twitter that she was considering a website to go along with her Facebook page “Feminism in India”. I messaged her via FB saying “Go for it!” and that I was willing to participate in terms of contribution. Lo and behold! She was soon ready with the website. I also played a minor role in terms of choosing the logo and suggested the sections “Cinema” and “History“. From time to time, I did pieces from “everyday sexism” to film reviews. Before FII, I wrote in my personal blog about issues like misogyny and women’s rights. I am also the admin of FII Facebook group and do my role in busting trolls and also use it to share my views with other likeminded feminists.
FII: How and when did you become a feminist? Which issues within feminism are close to your heart?
KN: I have a feminist voice, owing to the fact that feminism, as a movement, helped women come out of the box and be individuals. Even today benevolent sexism is present and issues like “female foeticide”, “child marriage”, “slut shaming of rape survivors” etc. are prevalent. I am born and raised in a family that celebrates the birth of a girl child and my parents are liberals in terms of my right to choose a career, and in that sense, I am privileged. While growing I came across situations that angered me. This made me start questioning a lot of situations; like why women are asked to be “careful” while boys get a lot of liberty. Socially constructed gender roles that cause instability and religious practices that marginalize women are other situations that bother me.
I guess my pro-feminist perspective awakened when I read about female foeticide and infanticide in 8th grade and the shameless ways in which some sections defended the practice (as mentioned in the textbook). The one issue related to feminism that I want resolved is the recognition of women in their respective fields beyond objectification, mobility, and violence which puts them within the four walls of the home. I want to see more women in major fields like politics, art, literature, and defence. Women will be recognized for their achievements and girls will no longer be “ghar ki bhoj”. At the same time, it is necessary to remove all the negativity associated with the F-word, like feminism being equated to man-hating. Even today you see eyes popping and hear gasps when you say the F-word.
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?
KN: My personal favourite piece that I have written for the portal is definitely “10 effective ways in which you could avoid rape and molestation. It is the one piece I wrote the fastest and, in a way, expressed my anger at the victim-blaming section of society. Women are constantly equated with “flowers”, “sugar”, “cars” and “candies”. The Indian constitution has ensured our right to mobility – is it too much to be able to do that? I got the inspiration after seeing the cartoon by Doodleodrama and though to myself, “How about a bindi that exhibits electromagnetic waves that keeps molesters at bay?”. I get motivated when I see positive response to my writings and FII team always encouraged that.
As for the pieces that I like, it is very difficult to choose from a really good collection. I loved the piece “Women in public spaces; do public spaces only belong to men?” by Asmita Ghosh. It is a profound piece with many chilling details of everyday sexism and it also mentions the effect of sidelining of women’s right to occupy public spaces.
I also want to mentioned 4 other favourites of mine.
1. “Undoing of the mind and the rest is followed” by Adishi Gupta, where she spoke about her experience with depression. It was a simple yet effective piece.
2. “An open letter to the antifeminists in my life” by Shruti S. The piece has most of what I want to put forward.
3. “Universal human rights: the interplay of women’s rights and culture” by Srishti Agnihotri. It an effective addressing issues that need to be brought to limelight.
4. “What is cyberVAW?” by Japleen Pasricha. Cyber VAW is a major issue that is not taken seriously like it should be. Her report is a necessary eye opener. More than anything else, it is essential to see the “violence” aspect of the same.
FII: What do you like to do when not writing about gender and social justice?
KN: I watch films, read books, listen to music (Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Sonu Nigam, Lata Mangeshkar, Hans Zimmer and ABBA being my favourites), blog film reviews and do research on start-up I am planning. I am an aspiring author and am currently working on several plot ideas I have. We will see how things go.
FII: What do you like about FII and our work? What more would you like to see from us?
KN: What I love the best about FII is the way marginalized voices are amplified. There is a common misunderstanding that feminism focuses only on women’s rights. Of all pages I have followed, where most of them simply focused on campaigning for capital punishment for rapist, FII did the best job in terms of amplifying marginalized voices and including diversity in topics. How often do we talk about mental health, taboos, survivors getting rehabilitation and misogyny within pop culture? FII has just crossed the border since its inception, there is a lot more to do. As a reader, I would love to see more on Muslim women’s rights, poverty and effects, lifestyle and health issues faced by women. I have also recommended that FII team publish a book of feminist short stories, and hope that the team will consider it.
FII thanks Karthika for lending her support and perspective to our magazine. You can read more of her work here and follow her on Twitter @karthu1993. You can also follow her film-reviews at Reelistic Views and on Facebook. To become a part of our writer community, click here.