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 January, we feature Halima Zoha Ansari.
At FII, Halima has shown keen interest in covering politics and current affairs with a special focus on India’s politics. Additionally, Halima has also authored some of FII’s top read articles under the broad categories of pop culture, sexuality and cinema. Some of her most popular essays are: ‘An Enquiry Into Internalised Male Gaze: Whose Camera Is It Anyway?’, which attempts to critically probe the ubiquitous presence of the male gaze in the creation of an alternative culture in contemporary cinema; ‘What Is The History Behind The Masculine Hindu Hero And The Virile Muslim Other?’, which is an analytical-academic essay on the emasculation of the Muslim minority and the hyper-masculinisation of the Hindu majority, wherein the bodies of Muslim women become the sites of communalism and coercion in India’s Hindu-majority politics; among others.
FII: Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
Halima Zoha Ansari: I’m a Master’s scholar of international relations at Jamia Millia Islamia and will be graduating this summer. My area of specialisation is Chinese area studies. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in history from Lady Shri Ram College, which is where my interest in gender studies bloomed.
FII: How did you become a part of the FII writer family?
Halima Zoha Ansari: I joined FII as an intern in October of 2020 and have continued writing for the organisation since.
FII: How and when did you become a feminist? Which issues within feminism are close to your heart?
Halima Zoha Ansari: I gained feminist consciousness at quite a young age. I remember it was by the age of 6 or 7 that I had realised I was being treated differently because of my sex. By 13-14, Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf had become my favourite authors, playing a crucial role in my development of womanhood as well as feminism. Reading Beauvoir, Federici, and Davis as a young undergraduate student also had a significant influence on my conception of feminism. The intersection between imperialism and exploitation of women of the global south, exploitation of reproductive labour, prostitution and sex industry, and class struggle are the most important feminist issues in my worldview.
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?
Halima Zoha Ansari: My favourite piece I’ve ever written for FII is ‘An Enquiry Into Internalised Male Gaze: Whose Camera Is It Anyway?’. I wrote this during the first wave of the pandemic after a nauseating exposure to social media. The article captures the relationship between women and social media and I argue that a camera lens is often reflective of a male gazed self perception. My favourite article that I’ve read on FII has to be ‘A Brief Summary Of The Second Wave Of Feminism’. This was one of the first articles that I read on here and I believe its an important read for anyone beginning with their study of feminist history. The narration is accurate and I liked that it didn’t dismiss the achievements of second wave feminists, which too many postmodern feminists tend to do.
FII: What do you like to do when not writing about gender and social justice?
Halima Zoha Ansari: Most of my days are spent learning Chinese, attending lectures, and working on my research. Any free time is a luxury that is usually spent cuddling my two cats, or sitting down with a cup of espresso, a book and some Patti Smith or Joni Mitchell. I also enjoy running and hope to participate in Delhi’s half marathon this winter.
FII: What do you like about FII and our work? What more would you like to see from us?
Halima Zoha Ansari: FII’s content is very user friendly and helps the masses understand complex issues with ease. I really enjoy FII’s weekly podcats and in the future I hope to see more podcasts featuring feminist activists who work on the ground.
FII thanks Halima 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. You can follow her on Instagram.