We have been featuring the best writers from our writers’ 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 writers’ community that we have steadily been building over the last three years.
This August, we feature Saonli Hazra. From talking about the effects of beauty standards on women around the globe to writing about the move beyond gendered boundaries of caregiving, Saonli’s exceptional writing skills have covered a host of topics, convincing us about the arguments which she presents in all her authored pieces. Some of her other popular articles are The New Fun Foods Advertisement—Providing Food for Thought, Flying From Dusk to Dawn: How Rituparno Ghosh Revolutionalised The Portrayal… and many others.
FII: Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
Saonli Hazra: It’s difficult to answer this for it necessitates that I choose parts of my identity useful for social consumption. As a mother, homemaker, teacher, writer, I try to justify these roles even as I persevere to locate myself through these. Through the canvas of each role I try to create- a dish, a lesson, a write up, a poem…
FII: How did you become a part of the FII writer family?
Saonli Hazra: I chanced upon FII when a former student forwarded an article on ‘The Role of Women in the Freedom Struggle’. Thereafter I read some of the articles put up and was suitably impressed. The diversity of topics, voices, communicative language – made me take note. At the very end was an invitation to join the community on WhatsApp. I did so and as the links came in swift and steady, I began to enjoy this outing with a virtual community which looked at women’s issues through the prism of humanity. It was then that I sent in my first article to FII – on Rituparno Ghosh and how his political stand on the LGBTQ community have affected media representations of the community.
FII: How and when did you become a feminist? Which issues within feminism are close to your heart?
SH: I believe that my tryst with real education started when I went to TISS, Mumbai. The professors, scholars, students and others helped me look at issues of discrimination, marginalisation and exploitation through the prism of caste, class, gender and other socio- political constructs. The fact that every woman, irrespective of her stated reality continues to be enclosed within the Iron Maiden Casket (an idea propounded by Naomi Wolf) disturbs me. I feel that despite successes in the first phase, the second phase poses greater challenges. The Beauty Myth dogs us, we are still fearful of freedom, we still are fighting with a phantom which makes the fight tougher.
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?
SH: It’s impossible to rate things that have cumulatively added to me as a woman. Every piece that I have read on the site, both dealing with contemporary issues like the one on the new Muslim Women’s Act, the Surrogacy Bill, or even on episodes when women have been gaslighted, broken codes of sisterhood – have helped me form my own stand. Also a look into the past struggles of women – pieces on women writers like Shergill, Chughtai and others have helped me grow. Similarly as a writer each one has been crafted through an amalgamation of cognitive and affective capabilities. How can I choose one over another?
FII: What do you like to do when not writing about gender and social justice?
SH: Teaching. That’s my medicine, my meditation, my passion. I love to teach Literature in English to students. Stories connect humans, one learns that one’s longings, struggles, triumphs are universal. In addition I do books for Times Publications. When I’m in the mood to touch Heaven I sing. I’m very fond of Indian Classical Music. And whenever I want to ignore life, I read…
FII: What do you like about FII and our work? What more would you like to see from us?
SH: There are stories that are waiting to be told, that have to be told so that the world ceases to live in a bubble. FII is providing women that platform from where they can voice, ventilate, consolidate and finally articulate their experiences. The feminist movement feeds off these shared experiences.
FII thanks Saonli for her timely and valuable contributions. We are incredibly grateful to have her as a part of our writers’ community and appreciate her for her deeply informative writing.