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 April, we feature Vinay Kumar.
From talking about caste portrayals in popular culture from southern India to elucidating about Dalit Literature from the South, Vinay’s exceptional flair of writing has covered a host of topics, keeping us hooked to his articles and his activism. Some of his other popular articles are 7 Anti-Caste Moments Of 2019 That Challenged Casteism In India, Arundhati And The Fading Feminism In The Last Decade Of Telugu Cinema and many others.
FII: Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
Vinay Kumar: I’m teaching at Azim Premji University. I used to freelance as a journalist, translator, and photographer. My areas of interest and work are cinema, pop-culture, and literature.
FII: How did you become a part of the FII writer family?
Vinay Kumar: I became a part of the FII writer family when I applied for a job as a multimedia editor. I didn’t get that job, but I was offered a freelance writing position instead. I took the job obviously, jumped at the opportunity to be precise.
FII: How and when did you become a feminist? Which issues within feminism are close to your heart?
Vinay Kumar: I can’t pick a particular moment or instance when I became a feminist. But growing up in a household surrounded by women, I saw the world differently. Domestic violence, abuse, and general disregard and discrimination against women shaped my world view. I’m not saying I was a feminist as a child, but I was aware that women were treated extremely differently from men. I realised I wasn’t doing enough when my mother walked into my room to check on me at what had recently become the hour I’d make coffee for both of us. She didn’t want to ask me if I’d make coffee, she was still uncomfortable. This made me realise there probably are a hundred small things like this, and I want to change it. Overthrowing patriarchy isn’t done in a day’s work.
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?
Vinay Kumar: I like all the stories I write for FII, picking a favourite seems too hard. I enjoyed researching for all the profiles (of women) I’ve written. There are very few Dalit journalists in the newsrooms across the nation, and as a Dalit, the opportunity to write so many stories on caste has been great. My piece on the “Sammakka Sarakka Jatara” talks about a tribal jatara that’s being appropriated. My current favourite story on FII is “Too Radical For Savarnas: Anti-Caste Feminist Legislation By Dalit Women & Ambedkar” because I didn’t know Babasaheb was pro-choice.
FII: What do you like to do when not writing about gender and social justice?
Vinay Kumar: When I’m not writing, I’m now preparing for class or reading. I like taking pictures, and portraits are my area of interest. I read everything that I can get my hands on or find interesting. Manga and anime are other forms of pop-culture I consume, and with anime, it leans closer to obsession. Anime is historically a masculine space that’s still catering to just men, mostly. There has been growth and maturity in the works now, and fanservice is still a problem.
FII: What do you like about FII and our work? What more would you like to see from us?
Vinay Kumar: FII is the only active media platform working for the cause of gender, intersectional feminism, and breaking Brahminical patriarchy, which is systematically oppressing women, and men. So what’s there to not like? FII is now a common source for academic work on gender and women in India.
FII thanks Vinay for his timely and valuable contributions. We are incredibly grateful to have him as a part of our writers’ community and appreciate him for his deeply informative writing. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter.