“The liberation of the earth, the liberation of women, the liberation of all humanity is the next step of freedom we need to work for, and it’s the next step of peace that we need to create.” – Vandana Shiva
“I only write when I can’t not.” – Arundhati Roy
WHO SHE IS: Indian writer and political activist, best known for her 1997 Booker Prize-winning book, The God of Small Things.
WHAT SHE HAS ACCOMPLISHED: An outspoken critic of globalization, she promotes social justice, sustainability, feminist principles and the preservation of traditional ways of life. In the past decade, she has been increasingly critical of the Indian state’s policy towards Kashmir, nuclear weapons program, and the environmental destruction and corruption caused by domestic mega-corporations, government organizations and officials.
She works tirelessly to bring to light the issues facing poor and marginalized communities across India and wrought by globalization, such as the dams and mineral quarries that displace peasants and destroy the environment under the guise of progress and development.
She has lived with revolutionary armies fighting in the Indian jungle and written about her time there, calling attention to the circumstances they face. When asked why she supports their armed resistance and does not argue for a non-violent solution, she succinctly illustrates the lack of alternatives:
“If you’re an adivasi [tribal Indian] living in a forest village and 800 CRP [Central Reserve Police] come and surround your village and start burning it, what are you supposed to do? Are you supposed to go on hunger strike? Can the hungry go on a hunger strike? Non-violence is a piece of theatre. You need an audience. What can you do when you have no audience? People have the right to resist annihilation.”
WHY WE LOVE HER: She is the embodiment of speaking truth to power. She articulately and passionately speaks out against the structural conditions and entities that maintain systemic injustice in her homeland and beyond. She critiques the realities of so-called “democracies” that have been co-opted in support of neoliberal market ideology and globalization. Despite threats to her own safety, she exhibits a matter-of-fact courage in the face of attacks by those who wish to maintain the status quo. Aware that “anybody who says anything is in danger,” she presses on with her radical agenda. She does not ask to be celebrated and she will not back down.
She refused a deal to turn The God of Small Things, her incredibly moving and original novel, into a film because she wanted each reader to be able to maintain their own vision of the story. Although she earned a substantial amount of money from its worldwide publication (it was translated into 40 languages) and sale, she has given most of her money away to political causes. She says she “is not in sacrificial mode” and does not claim to be a saint, but that as a political person, she would rather not keep it, but instead “deploy” it appropriately.
Her person, her work and her fearlessness “ignites our political imagination.” An incredible writer and public speaker, she tours not only large metropolitan areas but across India, reaching out to those in country towns and small cities, speaking on a wide range of issues related to the misdeeds of the Indian state and the policies of marketized globalization. Although she continues to write essays and political articles and has recently published an essay collection entitled “Broken Republic,” she says doesn’t care if she ever finishes a second novel, as she never intended to be a novel factory. In fact, she says in some ways she wishes she could “do as little as possible,” but that she only writes “when she can’t not.” Considering the multitude of grave injustices she challenges with her writing, we are genuinely grateful that she answers the call.
We do not own the photos above, nor do we intend any copyright infringement. Quotations taken from interviews with Ms. Roy by The Guardian. Links are below. We highly recommend these articles for further reading.
Arundhati Roy: ‘They are trying to keep me destabilised. Anybody who says anything is in danger’ [Stephen Moss, The Guardian]
Arundhati Roy: India’s bold and brilliant daughter [Ian Jack, The Guardian]
Arundhati Roy: ‘The people who created the crisis will not be the ones that come up with a solution’ [Arun Gupta, The Guardian]
It’s no surprise that these are turbulent times we are living in, but they are particularly so today. While a general strike and public protests sweep southern Europe in response to neoliberal “austerity” in this time of economic crisis, Israel has launched a fresh attack on the Gaza strip, killing and injuring civilians, a woman has died in Ireland after being denied an abortion due to religious reasons, and last month a teenage girl activist in Pakistan was shot in the head as a response to her campaigning for girls’ education.
We commend those who are taking collective action to protest being forced into more dire economic conditions due to austerity, taking on both the police and the state in hopes of ensuring a better future. We stand in solidarity with the Palestinians who are suffering yet another grave injustice at the hands of the IDF. We honor the deceased and keep the injured in our thoughts.
We are grateful for the survival of 14-year old Malala Yousafzai and support her courageous work to ensure girls in a misogynist society have access to education, and are overjoyed to hear of the passing of Pakistan’s Universal Education Bill, undoubtedly spurred by international attention on Malala. Yet at the same time, we mourn the loss of Savita Halappanavar, who died unnecessarily due to an archaic law and sexist medical and religious culture that refused her requests for a termination. Along with many other feminist activists, in her honor, we will continue to work for the rights of all women to authority over our own bodies and lives.
Many are resisting. In addition to the millions on strike, Spanish and Portuguese demonstrators are blocking roads and clashing with police, vigils have been held in Ireland and London to remember Savita and call for legalized abortion in Ireland, and a list of emergency global actions for Gaza to happen in the next few days is currently being compiled. Support actions in your area or add to it if you are able to help organize one.
For more detailed coverage on these topics, see the below articles and video compiled from media that we consider as reputable as possible. Underneath the headlines you will find the hashtags to follow on Twitter for more info and breaking updates.
EUROPEAN GENERAL STRIKE
GAZA UNDER ATTACK
Israel launches fresh strikes on Gaza [Al-Jazeera]
DEATH OF SAVITA HALAPPANAVAR
Vigils and protests over Savita held [Irish Times]
MALALA YOUSAFZAI SURVIVES SHOOTING, PAKISTAN PASSES BILL OF RIGHTS FOR GIRLS’ EDUCATION
A strong feminist practice must be based on a solid foundation. To that end, we present some of the key principles that inform and guide our day-to-day lived feminism. The overarching concept tying these principles together is a commitment to practicing a self-aware, intersectional sisterly solidarity that underpins our struggles to unlearn, address and correct the oppression present in ourselves, our circles, and our societies.
We note that the personal is political and no position is innocent. Thus, not only do we acknowledge the ways we ourselves are conditioned by the WMPS, but we also actively seek to 1) identify oppressive forces in ourselves and in our communities, 2) work to understand them with an anti-oppressive feminist analysis and re-visioning of each situation, and 3) actively re-figure our roles, responsibilities, and relationships so that they are honest, healthy and free from patriarchal oppression and other systems of domination.
Read these principles, digest and share them with fellow feminists and allies, and particularly with anybody who claims that they are feminist yet continues to cause suffering due to misogyny, sexism, or other oppressive practices. We hope they will be of use to you in your personal feminist praxis. In the comments, share with us and other readers the feminist principles you choose to live by, so we can continue to learn together. Continue reading
Sisters of Resistance have recently read some powerful sisters talking back, challenging racist, sexist stereotypes of the dominant white male power structure.
Lauryn Hill has spoken back against the poisonous nature of the music industry in a powerful statement available here.
Erykah Badu has directly addressed those who seek to badmouth her because of her third child here.
Lastly, this in depth article analyses “respectability politics” and how they can be oppressive for black women in particular, making reference to the racist film The Help and Erykah Badu.