Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Feminifesto Seminar Club: Session 5


Session 5 of the Feminifesto Seminar Club was a full house.

We first began with an activity where everyone had to write down their unfiltered thoughts about their appearance in a selfie.  We then followed it up with a viewing and discussion of Thissari Randunu’s TED Talk on “The Feminist Paradox” – which, in a nutshell, led us to introspect, question, explore, and to expand on our understanding of both the concept and the experience of feminism in our everyday lives.

Vasanthi began the discussion by sharing how her understanding was that the first thoughts in her mind are a product of absolutely raw and unconditioned thinking – while the thoughts that follow are more refined and driven by her learning.

Malavika used an economics lens and talked about how she thought of it as a case of one’s first thought as being the prior, primary one, while the second set of thoughts are almost always a conditioned and influenced product of the first. She connected it to social conditioning and how it is difficult to break away from such views.

Yashasvini looked at the two rounds of thoughts as those that one does not necessarily differentiate between – and felt herself looking at a particular area Thissari talked about – namely, whether makeup can be deemed empowering or not. For Vaishnavi, the idea of conditioning also makes it imperative to question those who hold views that are problematic.

On the other hand, she also found it difficult to reconcile the idea of not having to question people whose views are formed out of not knowing any better. Sri and Yashasvini responded to Vaishnavi with a note on how there is a sliding scale on holding people accountable – for those who have people looking up to them need to be more responsible.

Malavika also talked about how it is important to acknowledge how men look at women – because that contributes to keeping conditioning alive. She drew from her experience at work, where she identified that women, though recognize are better than their male counterparts at a lot of things, find themselves holding back.

Sri shared how her views centered on talking to the behavior and not to the person. For example, hitting a person is patently wrong, in that there is only one if clause. But when it comes to something like makeup or dressing choices, it is important to go beyond our subjective and judgmental views and take a deeper dive into the story behind the person.

Sneha shared that she agreed with these key views, while also thought that the talk was a bit predictable.

The discussion then dovetailed into personal stories and anecdotes that touched upon particular experiences in their lives that made them introspected on personal views on feminism. The larger consensus arrived at was that there was a recognition of choices, consequences, circumstances making certain choices available or not, and finally, the larger rhetoric question of who bears the consequences of choices made.