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. For May 2021, we feature Sudipta Das.
A communications professional with experience of working on issues around queer rights, child rights, gender-based violence and sexuality, Sudipta writes eloquently on topics varying from pop culture, cinema to caste-based oppression and gender and sexuality. An India Fellow’17 and a Likho Citizen Journalism Fellow’19, Sudipta’s timely contributions to FII have often helped us gain a better and nuanced understanding of issues we see in our society. Some of their popular articles are Geeli Pucchi: Exploring The Messiness Of Caste And Sexuality, We Need To Stop Perpetuating Casteism Through Our Language, ‘Make-Up for Men’ And Selective Wokeness Of Social Media Influencers, among others.
FII: Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
Sudipta Das: My Instagram bio reads as ‘Radical. Gets zoned out easily. Curious. Coping with the world through writing & eating’ and this perfectly sums up my present positioning in life. Currently, I am working with a youth-run and youth-led organization, The YP Foundation on the FAYA (Feminist Adolescent and Youth-Led action) project. The project aims at building awareness on comprehensive sexuality education and also facilitating platforms for young people to raise demands and advocate for their rights in four districts in Rajasthan. I always have had a keen interest in using digital mediums as tools to advocate for meaningful representation and inclusion of marginalized people, issues, and uphold social justice.
FII: How did you become a part of the FII writer family?
Sudipta Das: Well, this is an interesting story. Last year during the unprecedented lockdown my only means of coping with the distress was either overeating or talking to close friends. Most of our conversations were either about how corona might be a conspiracy or aimless ranting on the failure of inclusion, systems or radical ideas of social justice. One of my close friends was already writing for FII and she pitched an idea that I talked about in one of our conversations. Her editor at FII loved the idea and asked my friend to proceed with it. My friend was true to her ethical grounds and introduced me to the FII editor as it was originally my idea. Then there was no looking back, I kept writing for FII almost every month since then and eventually became a staff writer.
FII: How and when did you become a feminist? Which issues within feminism are close to your heart?
Sudipta Das: I have always been a feminist. It is only later in my life that I found home in the word ‘feminist’ that could summarize me as well as expanded my sense of self. I have vivid memories of discomfort with heteronormaitivity as a non-conforming child, cringing every time while watching sexist mainstream Bollywood movies and always finding solace in like-minded spaces that promise solidarity and empathy. Feminism provided me the vocabulary, as well as theories to comprehend and meaningfully access my lived realities and at times also reimagined them. Eventually, as I started working in the development sector, particularly in feminist spaces, my understanding of feminism also started evolving with constant questioning, disagreement, full of aha moments & authentic euphoria. My evolving self-awareness helped me to find high value in the anti-caste movement and queer movement that directly influences me & many people like me who lives a life of marginalisation & precarity.
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?
Sudipta Das: It is hard to pick one favourite piece from the rich pool of all the articles. As someone who grew up reading a lot of Bengali literature, I enjoyed reading ‘Mahasweta Devi’s Draupadi As A Symbol Of Subaltern Defiance’ by Nikhat Hoque. Among other pieces, I also loved reading my dear friend Riju Banerjee’s article ‘Item Songs, Transness And Guilty Pleasure’ that subtly transcends from self-exploration to feminist politics and leaves the reader contented. My favorite piece among my contributions is the first one “To ‘Equal Opportunity’ Employers: Inclusion Of Dalit – Queer People Needs More Than Mere ‘Encouragement”. This one is always going to be special as it is my first published work at the site and also as I shared my lived reality as evidence to advocate for inclusion of historically-systematically marginalised people at workplaces. It was also during the times that I was critically examining the understanding of inclusivity, identity politics in close circles. Writing the piece helped me process deeper feelings & failures.
FII: What do you like to do when not writing about gender and social justice?
Sudipta Das: I am an unapologetic foodie and I love cooking/baking. I also love watching documentaries on a range of topics starting from murder mysteries, religious conflicts to investigative social stories. Last year, I gave myself a Wacom to draw digital illustrations as means of self-care and self-healing. I mostly draw abstract human look-alike figures and happy pictures of Frida Kahlo. I am a hoarder of anything with art or pictures of Frida.
FII: What do you like about FII and our work? What more would you like to see from us?
Sudipta Das: I like FII’s commitment to upholding marginalised voices with their ‘no appropriation’ editing policy. Their heartfelt initiatives such as the ‘Job board’, video explainers, or relevant campaigns help me and many other people to find opportunities, engage with social justice issues and also find a sense of belonging. Most importantly, I love that a lot of FII’s feminist content is accessible for non-academic individuals as well. In the future, I would like to see FII articles in more languages.
FII thanks Sudipta for their timely and valuable contributions. We are incredibly grateful to have them as a part of our writers’ community and appreciate them for their deeply informative writing. Sudipta can be found Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.