“Complicit No More” is a collection of essays curated by Yasmin Gunaratnam. It tackles the crosscutting facets of complicity as they play out within our relationships to our bodies, each other, our communities, to media representations and to mobilisation.
- In “Toxic Wars” vs. Conscientious Feminism Minna Salami draws upon cross-cultural activism and dialogue to offer ‘Conscientious Feminism’ as an antidote to ‘toxic feminism’ and an ethical ‘compass that can be used to navigate the labyrinth of oppression’.
- Touched by Patsey’s struggles in the Oscar winning film ‘12 Years a Slave’, Karen Williams’ describes how the film helped her to recognise and articulate the depths of latter day racism in her own ‘Public Life of Intimate Violence’
- In ‘Washing Our Dirty Linen in Public’ Sukhwant Dhaliwal reflects on 25 years of Women Against Fundamentalism, a coalition of women brought together in the aftermath of the Rushdie affair. For Dhaliwal, control of women’s bodies and minds lies at the heart of all religious fundamentalism.
- Carolyn Wysinger takes us on a journey into the corporate workplace, where as the ‘first boi in’ her inventive transgression of gender dress codes also means getting used to ‘the daily stares, the interested glances of some and the disdain of others.’
- Stunning traditional henna designs on hands, backs and legs are the subject of artist Hina Ali’s photo essay, exploring skin as a ‘repository of honour & canvass of oppression’.
- What use is diversity in popular culture when it still conforms to narrow aesthetic norms? Sunny Singh discusses women’s “range of life stories, complete with joys and tragedies”
- In a vivid and sometimes playful account, cultural critic and ‘master code-switcher’ Désirée Wariaro explores racial mixedness. ‘Ontological doubt’ is a constant companion for the ‘tragic mulatto’ when ‘much of the world is blind to the inherent genius of the way my body dissects and pollutes tradition.’
- Honour-Based Violence is part of a spectrum of violence against women that all too readily has become associated with certain cultures. Drawing from her research and activism Aisha K. Gill tackles the racialisation of HBV and women’s complicity with it
- Professor Heidi Mizra reflects upon her involvement in black feminism and the changes she has witnessed over the past 30 years. She is hopeful about new generations of activists and reminds us that “black women’s activism has been central in tackling problems within our local communities.”
E-book ON SALE WORLDWIDE NOW!
Media Diversified’s KICKSTARTER
We’re very happy to have reached 50% of our fundraising target! Since we began we have had unprecedented levels of support from established authors including Zadie Smith, Sara Ahmed, Courttia Newland, Aminatta Forna and Leila Aboulela who have donated signed copies of their books because they support what we’re trying to do. Online, authors such as Gary Younge, Sunny SIngh, Tanya Byrne, Malorie Blackman and Caitlin Moran (our biggest donor so far!) have also been adding their weight behind our cause and we couldn’t be more grateful.
We have less than two weeks to complete the goal and intend to spread the word far and wide and hope you’ll help do so too! We were quoted and campaign mentioned recently in the World Association of Newspapers - Editors Forum “game-changer for online, print and broadcasting.”
The Media Diversified network as well as providing a resource for the media has also provided a much needed life-line and vibrant forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences. It’s a mothership of affirmation and nurturing for writers, building resilience for the future and supporting people to take risks in tackling controversial topics and subjects that others aren’t. Long may that continue
This past October I sat in the assembly room of my children’s primary school for the Year 1 presentation for parents. After a group of children in animal masks told us about their visit to the farm, and a few songs, another group of children came to the forefront of the stage to act out the story of Rosa Parks. Eight chairs had been arranged in pairs of two, to simulate the…
by Brittney White
The “diversity in video games” conversation has of late gained a lot of ground and reached larger levels within the gaming community. A recent example of this is the hour long speech Manveer Heir, a Bioware developer, delivered at Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2014 about racism, sexism, and homophobia in video games. I didn’t attend GDC, so I unfortunately wasn’t able to hear…
By Huma Munshi
I find summers a difficult time. Most people struggle in the winter with Seasonal Affective Disorder but, for me, it is the summer.
It could be because three summers ago my mental health deteriorated quite seriously and, for the first time in my life, I was unable to take care of myself.I pride myself on being independent and self-sufficient so this was – and remains – a deeply…
CONTENT NOTE: Some of the embedded links in this piece are NSFW.
by Shane Thomas
While not placing it in the pantheon of truly great television, I’ve been a fan of Game of Thrones since the show debuted in 2011. I normally like my drama pessimistic, with a hard edge, and even downright cruel on occasion. I like even more that a show in the fantasy realm cares as much about its tonal execution,…
“When You’re Strange”
I felt like a stranger in my family—and in my country of origin, Canada—long before my father ever spoke those hurtful words. Orville Douglasis a dark-skinned, gay, Black man and no doubt his experience of discrimination in Toronto is informed by his identity, his personality, and—I suspect—his family (who seem not to have prepared him for life as a…
by Zetta Elliot
In 2005 I wrote my first memoir following the death of my father and the unexpected termination of what was supposed to be a year-long teaching assignment in East Africa. From the discomfort of my childhood home I created a mixed-media memoir that examines the shifting terrain upon which we negotiate race, kinship, and identity. A couple of years before his…
by Huma Munshi
I was not politically conscious or an activist as a student despite studying politics. I was a bystander but then circumstances propelled me into something much more and once your consciousness is raised it is hard to curtail the activism that can come with it. The pivotal movement for me was connecting with other feminists on social media and recognising the patriarchal…
“Well, when I was nine years old, Star Trek came on, I looked at it and I went screaming through the house, ‘Come here, mum, everybody, come quick, come quick, there’s a black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!’ I knew right then and there I could be anything I wanted to be.” — Whoopi Goldberg
Recently we asked our Twitter followers to tell us their ‘media heroes of colour’, names…
CARICOM, an organisation representing fifteen Caribbean countries is in the process of taking legal action against the UK, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark in pursuit of reparation for the enduring suffering caused by the Atlantic slave trade.
Sir Hilary Beckles- Chair of the Reparations Task Force
A ten point planwhich will form the basis of the international…
by Huma Munshi
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote a stirring piece on the power of forgiveness this weekend. In the article he writes of the guilt he carried as a child witnessing the violence perpetrated by his father against his mother, which he was powerless to stop. He realises now that this guilt is unfounded and has been able to forgive his father and forgive his younger…
by Hina Ali with Rakshi
The Artist’s Journey: I am a final year undergraduate, studying Fine Art for Design at Batley School of Art. My search for mediums of artistic expression during my studies has also coincided with the exploration of ways to re-imagine my identity. In my work, I have drawn upon my cultural moorings and the ‘feminine’ visual art form of South Asia: Mehndi (henna). In the beginning, I worked typographically, using expletives and disguising them with delicate and intricate patterns. I decided to continue to use this idea of entwining and layering typography and patterns. It took time and experimentation to decide what to write about and what words to use, but I soon started to include themes and quotes from the daily conversations that were taking place around me within my family environment. I researched Indian textile design to use as images. The typography and images evolved into the use of mehndi patterns on paper and then into body art. The idea was to turn gendered negativity into something beautiful, and so I did just that, as an act of subversive defiance in visual form. For every ‘rule’ that I received, my creations became the embodiment of the questions that I posed.
In this article, as I write about the complexities and intersections of my identity, I will present my interpretations, using intricately designed Mehndi patterns as the theme for a reclamation or literal re-writing of some cultural frames that come into play in both the control and celebration of some Pakistani women’s bodies.
I grew up in a traditional Pakistani family with its received wisdom of different gender roles and rules for men and women, the balance of which is heavily stacked against women. My culture and my identity has always been something that I have questioned and struggled with. As a woman, in a traditional Pakistani family, I have seen the differences between the sexes and experienced negativity through the ways in differences are imagined.
I have been told how to dress, behave and even, how to think of myself. I am 23. Yet, I am not a woman. Until I am married, I must remain a girl.
I wouldn’t say I have rebelled against the way “I should act”, but I would say I have pushed some boundaries against the rules and conventions to uphold my ‘self’-respect and that of my family.
The sun shines differently for the men and women in my house. The freedom for a young woman to be outside and enjoy a bit of evening is not approved. I have a curfew: sunset. Be home before sunset.
My freedom, indeed, my very concept of self is inextricably bound up in familial ties and cultural prescription. Skin is often a boundary and a surface upon which the interrelations between self, family and community can be played out. My skin, the colour of ‘me’ can become a focal point of hurtful questions and wistful conversations. The last time I heard “You’d be prettier if you weren’t dark skinned” was when my sister asked my grandma, which one of us three sisters was the prettiest. My Grandmother did not hesitate to mention that my skin tone was a hindrance to my appearance. She also didn’t hesitate to defend her grandsons when I pointed out that they had a darker skin tone then me. Her exact words were “God knows, they are white.” For my grandma, an 80 year old Pakistani woman, ‘whiteness’ was a shield with which she could protect her grandsons, it was a quality that could bestow some honour.
I feel that I have always fought to defend my skin tone. Not just within my family environment or the Pakistani community, but also among white people. “Oh, I love your tan” has rung in my ears too many times, my arm being pushed against the pale skin of another. Soon after, I’m being stared at as if this is my cue to tell them how I got the “tan”. I explain (in robotic fashion), “It’s not a tan, it’s my skin colour.”
The Pakistani community echoes the belief that beauty only belongs to the fair-skinned woman. My family members have always had something to say about my dark skin. Neighbours have recommended many beauty products that I should try out and I’ve been somewhat praised when appearing to have lighter skin.
I have always been seen as ‘ugly’ because I am not fair skinned. The one thing that has always mystified me is, why aren’t the men in my family who have a darker skin tone, ever seen as ‘ugly’.
I understand that these experiences are only one aspect of how women can be oppressed but through my art I want to create a point of connection and ‘voice’ between women. I want to be able to tell any story, happy or sad and everything in-between.
One of my recent projects was a publication that included my family’s conversations that I had recorded. I’d slip the microphone behind the sofa, onto the windowsill. Not everyone was aware that I was recording their conversations and the family members who did, soon forgot. There are big questions about ethics of such covert research but I felt that this secret recording was important to capture the very ordinary ways in which gender conventions can be a part of everyday talk within a family. The publication is about my personal experience of growing up and living within a Pakistani culture. It follows my family and their day-to-day conversations. The book contains humorous, emotional, meaningful conversations and superficial talk. It highlights conflicting arguments, stereotypical thinking and controversial subjects.
I have also recorded a little get-together with a group of my girlfriends. The publication will display the range of our conversations, which include going to the gym, boys and our nail painting adventures. The journey of self-discovery through these various conversations has opened up a new source of vision for me. I do look at things from a different perspective now. I have always acted like the “Not-so-Asian, Asian girl”, perhaps because I was a little ashamed of who I was. Today, through my work, I find the strength to appreciate and embrace the entire gamut of my experiences that eventually informs the way I shape my art. I still have a lot to learn, but my critical self-reflexive scrutiny of my cultural heritage has given me more confidence. It is the foil against which I am able to explore who I am becoming and where I am headed.
I strove to reclaim and express my voice on the trifecta of being a woman, a Pakistani woman, a Muslim Pakistani woman. Much of the restrictions that a culture imposes are on the body. The body is not just the repository of honour. It can become a canvass for oppression. It is these relationships that I have chosen to explore. I have taken my experiences of imposed boundaries and transformed these into a voice for myself. My ‘body’ of work is a vortex of these intersections. In doing so, I hope that my art is not just about my story, but is a story that will find resonance with the experiences and stories of other South Asian women.
Hina Ali is a final year undergraduate, studying Fine Art for Design (B.A Hons). A 23 year old female British Pakistani, born and raised in the North of England, in a small town called Heckmondwike her art work explores her experiences of her cultural heritage. The experiences she has faced in life, her family, culture and other South Asian women are the source of her inspiration. Hina’s work consists of the uses of typography, Indian textile designs and mehndi patterns. Twitter @OTMV1
Rakshi is an editor for Media Diversified. Studied psychology to become a mind-reader. Failing that, has settled for social psychology (curses!) and peering through labels. Intersectional-humanist. Atheist. Indian. Psychologist. Pro-trans-feminist. The wrathful bird flits between Scotland & India.
Feminism, Womanism and Intersectionality series “Complicit No More” curated by Yasmin Gunaratnam tackles the cross-cutting facets of complicity as they play out within our relationships to our bodies, each other, our communities, to media representations and to mobilisation.
Media Diversified is a 100% reader-funded, non-profit organisaton. Every donation is of great help and goes directly towards sustaining the organisationVisual Subversions by Hina Ali with Rakshi The Artist’s Journey: I am a final year undergraduate, studying Fine Art for Design at Batley School of Art.
by Heidi Mirza
‘Thank you for organising this. I thought black feminism was dead!’ wrote a young woman in an email to me.
Heidi Safia Mirza
In 2006, I had organised a national seminar ‘Black feminism and postcolonial paradigms’ it was received positively. I found myself asking the question, ‘Has black feminism as a collective movement now become obsolete?’But, why then I wondered, are we also…