JAIPUR: The last day of the Jaipur Literature Festival saw an interesting session on Intersections: Caste, Colour and Gender — sponsored by The New Indian Express Group. Speaking on the issue of collective movement, Urvashi Butalia, an Indian feminist writer, publisher and activist said, “The women who are protesting against the Citizen Amendment Act across India, from Shaheen Bagh in Delhi to many other places, the issue of women’s right to citizenship and equal citizenship has hardly ever been recognised. It has been on paper but in practice, citizenship for us has been mediated through family and marriage. And here are women voicing their opinion with men supporting them.”
Butalia also highlighted how in the past, people across caste, class and sexual orientation have come together to fight for their rights.
“The gay and lesbian movement along with the trans movement and others came together to fight against 377,” she said, adding, “The women’s movement in this country has also been intersectional. We didn’t think that feminism was separate from the issues of poverty, health or hunger, and so on. So, when we demanded that marital rape should be recognised by the state and considered illegal, we were also making a critic of marriage, the power relations within the marriage and the inequalities that exist.”
During the session, Sharmila Sen, author of Not Quite Not White: Losing and Finding Race in America, shared how in her book she plays with the rhetoric of naming white people.
“I think there is great power in naming that which is not named because what isn’t named becomes normalised. For instance, we don’t name men. We don’t say that’s a ‘male doctor’ but we do say a ‘female doctor’,” said Sen.
Vivek Tejuja, author of So Now You Know: A Memoir of Growing Up Gay in India, who narrated his story of coming out a gay, pointed out the need to be empathetic towards the minority.