FII Inside News Meet Harshi– FII’s Featured Writer Of February 2024

Meet Harshi– FII’s Featured Writer Of February 2024

FII would not exist if not for the passionate and loyal feminist writers’ community that we have steadily been building over the years. This February, we feature Harshi Bhatt.

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 few years. This February, we feature Harshi Bhatt.

Harshi is a writer and LGBTQ+ rights activist. Harshi is also a self-identified singer. Harshi’s preferred pronouns are she/they and she identifies as a Non Binary Transwomxn. Raised to be someone who should just accept the norm, Harshi has spent the last decade reading and writing about eccentric people and their experiences around her. Harshi has completed B.A.(HONS.) English from the University of Delhi and M.A. in English from Amity University. Harshi cautions anyone who is thinking of doing the same. Harshi thinks she is a realist, she still hopes to see some good change in the history of Human Rights in her country with a little contribution from her writing and activism. You can find Harshi on Instagram- iamharshib.

Sone of Harshi’s popular articles include ‘One Day’: A Deep Dive Into The Passage Of Time And Human Connections, ‘12th Fail’: A Glaring View Of Indian Social Realities Through The Lens Of Struggle And Triumph, Pranshu Yadav’s Death Reaffirms The Precarity Faced By Young Queer Content Creators In Digital India and Nurturing Connection: A Deeper Dive Into Loneliness As A Feminist Issue among others.

FII: Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

This question is going to do wonders for my unhealthy narcissism, but I shall try. Hello,

I am Harshi. I am 23 years young and my soul identifies as 79 years old. I also am a Queer womxn with Trans experience, and these days, I prefer to do nothing, except when I am not working or writing, or sleeping. I currently work for a corporate Fintech company as a Customer Care Professional.

I had hoped the above information would suffice for all I do, and now that it does, I don’t know what else I do. But I will say this, I am grateful to have this much disappointment and nothing else. For the longest time I had longed to have a home of my own after I left my father’s house, and it seemed to finally occur to me that it might actually be coming true. So, yes, currently, my time is occupied by work during the week, and my sleep during the weekend, but I am grateful for every bit of it. I believe that is the most of what I do- be grateful.

FII: How did you become a part of the FII writer family?

Well, this is a funny one. So, before I got the above mentioned job, you know one I am so grateful for, I had gone through a period of a bit of misfortune. I was fired from two companies back to back, the last one was a company of not more than 15 people, and they had deemed my position redundant, leaving the content department being run by one person and one person only. I shall not comment on any queer phobia as I did not witness anything directly, though I shall take their decision to dispense off my services in not more than 15 days as simply nothing else. They certainly base it on my mettle and my merit, and I am assured enough of my capability to say that it was not my inability to write.

It was then a new friend, who also happens to be on the writing team, had crossed my mind. I was speaking to him on a different matter altogether, but he did mention meeting some deadline for y’all. I had previously contributed to your column back in 2020, and I knew that you are always looking for writers to add more to your columns. So, I took all my writing samples, made a short portfolio, and sent it in. I was hoping for a more permanent position at the moment, I shall admit, but when I look back, I only thank the stars for having this opportunity as I have it today. To have the freedom to choose through the topics, to pitch my own ideas, and yes, I am aware that I mostly write about TV shows and OTT movies, but I do believe them to be powerful mediums. Media today is not what it used to be compared to when I started writing. And yes, I shall always prefer books to anything else, given they provide me an enchanting solace and a quiet company, but I have come to see how alluring these mediums today have become. They are not only there to amuse us or entertain us, they also provide a commentary more adequate to the present and a realistic reflection of the past. It will always be a writer’s dream to have a part to play in exactly that.

FII: How and when did you become a feminist?

To be a feminist for me, or rather to stay being one, has been an interesting journey. Coming from an academic background as I do, I find myself a little too aware of the terminology and this is that one place where I differ from the saying, with knowledge comes clarity. My knowledge initially always brings me confusion. It is the same in my personal life. When I see someone, I feel drawn to them, only to figure out later that I was simply drawn to parts of myself that I had either left behind or one I would like to acquire.

Becoming a feminist has been somewhat like that. I had to leave a life behind when I ran away from my home. I thought I would simply start fresh and have a clean slate. But it doesn’t really work like that. I carry with me at least two generations of the Indian woman experience and growing up as I did, I always longed to be more than that. It is also worth mentioning that a womxn like me hasn’t been given a place in the corners of Modern Indian Feminism, or to say Feminism at large. Writers like JK Rowling question our existence and our places in the world, on a daily basis, it is hard to feel a belonging at those occurrences.

To me, my feminism does not stem from the biology of our pain and blood. I may not bleed in the same places as my cisgender sisters on a regular basis, but I also would like to say that life as a Transwomxn, has its own banes.

So, these days when I travel in the woman’s coach in the metro, and on some chosen days, when I don’t cover my face with a mask, I remember to myself as well, there is nary a woman in my surroundings who doesn’t feel that there is something missing. That there is something she could be doing better to be a more prettier, acceptable, conventional version of what her parents and society has worthy of appreciation. That is where my collective feminism starts, knowing that amongst the lines of our differences there are more spaces of our similarities.

FII: Which issues within feminism are close to your heart?

I must mention two of my favorite writers of all time here. The first being Ms. Maya Angelou who said, ‘Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possible, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.’

I also take with me, Betty Friedan, from her groundbreaking work of The Feminine Mystique, whence she said ‘The only way for a woman, as for a man, to find herself, to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own.

These women, beyond their race and color, have also lived lives that wouldn’t be known to most as a respectful beginning, given what their stature is today, and yet it is because of those backgrounds these women wrote what they wrote. They came to become who they are today knowing it was difficult and it would never be easier to be a woman.

The various waves of Feminism required various thinkers. There was a need for a Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir, for Mary Wollstonecraft couldn’t do it all alone in her time. In the second wave, you had Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinham, but you also required a Shirley Chisholm, someone to be there amongst all the white women and talk about the black woman’s experience.

This only goes to solidify my point of our similarities and differences being equally needed for our collective protest. My Queerness may match with that of a Lesbian Feminist’s protest, but my Transness separates me from her. It doesn’t not require us to give up. It simply requires us to find a space that will include us both while acknowledging that we are, in fact, coming from our own particular experiences. That quest of inclusivity and intersectionality is what’s closest to my heart, and not just in feminism, but in life altogether.

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?

Oh I get stricken with things way too much.

The latter part of the question is easier to answer, so I’ll answer that first. It would be a piece by Vishal Sharma, my very aloof peer. It was a piece titled Palestinian Women And Children Are Suffering A Mental Health Catastrophe on Palestinian women and children suffering a mental health crisis, and I remember this one line very vividly, which went,

When retribution is hailed as the righteous remedy…something something… we are doomed to wait for deadly horrors.

Don’t tell him I quoted him, he’ll be unbearable, smiling too much the next time I see him, not that I get to see him that often. But it is quite rare to find young people with serious demeanor and viewpoints clear enough to see through the lens of false media, and I’m glad we have writers like him contributing.

My favorite pieces amongst the very few that I’ve written for you (she coughs humbly, but like not) would be Pranshu Yadav’s Death Reaffirms The Precarity Faced By Young Queer Content Creators In Digital India. It came from a very humbling place as a queer person. We have kids like Pranshu and Arvey Malhotra losing their lives due to the cruelty of people on the internet. Freaks behind their very small screens telling precocious young babes to go homo off a building or how they’d enjoy raping them in dingy corners, is this what it has come to? Just a week before a non-binary kid was beaten in a washroom and died the next day in Oklahoma.

You can ask yourself a great deal of questions here, and you should, but the one you should ask yourself first is, are we really ready to take innocent children’s lives over things like gender and geographical lines? Perhaps that’s the one thing we need to achieve, have the right people with power to see these viewpoints and not turn a blind eye.

FII: What do you like to do when not writing about gender and social justice?

Oh, you don’t want to know that. I am far too sad and vain when I am not fighting for social justice. Am I doing that at all? Fighting for social justice? I fight more with the sabzi vala bhaiya!

Well, if you must know, I write about my personal experiences more than required. I also sing, mostly to myself, and I worry more and more about my digestive issues, to say it with a modicum of respect. This is where my 79 years old soul kicks in with the knee pains and poisonous gasses, although I know it is simply my lack of exercise and forgetfulness of drinking water. But meh, there is always tomorrow!

FII: What do you like about FII and our work?

A lot to like here. This platform gave me an opportunity when I was looking for anything and everything, just something to hold onto. Coming to a larger viewpoint, I appreciate this platform the most for providing more than just one perspective. You have just as many men writing as you have women, coming from all orientations and gender identities. And we are not just ranting here, if one would check out the roster of the writers, we have people from all kinds of backgrounds; you could have a doctor writing next to a high school graduate and they’d both bring a POV unique to their experience in society. What I really am saying here is Diversity and Inclusion only works if people on both ends work together, the people who’d use the opportunity and the one who’d provide the former with one, without bias or prejudice. And y’all are doing just that. I hope y’all keep doing that.

FIi: What more would you like to see from us?

I mean this is just cruel. I just sang your praises in the previous question.

But, if I were to say something here, it would be more of a hope for the platform than an expectation from y’all. I would hope for more writers to come forward and contribute. We have some really good writers, yes, but what one should want more than perfection is progress. We can have the best, but we require more people from the margins to come ahead. I am saying this as one of the women who stood on the margins for the longest of time, who wouldn’t be getting opportunities like this, to talk about feminist theory and stories in the mainstream media, anywhere else.

I mean, it took one Trinetra Haldar to become one of the first Transwomen to portray a trans person in a major TV series, and she is still one of the only ones. You have people like Sushmita Sen, Vaani Kapoor, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui taking on trans roles and being called brave. Talented as they are, they are not people of trans experience. They can only mimic so much, but mimicry doesn’t make one capable in all situations.

Similarly, I can understand the POV of a dalit person, but I wouldn’t be the one to write about it, or a woman of a darker complexion, or even a Transman. We all might be fighting the same war, but we are not fighting the same battles. We have different battle scars, and we all must come forward with our stories. Our experiences define us, more than we give them credit for.

FII thanks Harshi for her timely and valuable contributions. We are incredibly grateful to have Harshi as a part of our writers’ community and appreciate her for the deeply informative writing. 

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