Sanskaari, not sorry
A book club initiative led by two NGOs promises discussion sessions with a focus on feminism in the South-Asian context
We're still living in an era where any mention of feminism in daily discourse is frowned upon, or simply ignored — so much so that adding the word "feminist" on your Twitter bio is sufficient to put you under the radar of an army of Internet trolls. Building a safe space to facilitate a dialogue remains a challenge. But it took the collaboration of two NGOs — One Future Collective (OFC), that works towards building youth social leadership, and Strategic Advocacy of Human Rights (SAHR), a collective of human rights lawyers, academics and activists — to take the first step. They saw no other way than combining their two loves — reading and feminism. So, they started the Sanskaari Girls Book Club.
Elaborating on how this intersection ties in with their work, OFC founder Vandita Morarka, 24, tells us, "Gender is the core guiding principle when it comes to what we do. Every one in our organisation identifies as a feminist. We started this with the idea that people today rarely get the time to read for pleasure, but then we thought that this would be a great talking point for feminism." The club requires no exclusive membership and accepts fresh sign-ups for every meet-up; they have held three in Mumbai so far, with others in Delhi and Chennai. There's also a facilitator for every session that spans two and a half hours.
This Sunday, the book selected for discussion is Cyber Sexy by Richa Kaul Padte that offers a tour of online sex cultures, rethinking pornography. "We host these meet-ups every six weeks, so that leaves anyone planning to attend ample time to read a book. For our very first event, we discussed Feminist Fables by Suniti Namjoshi, which is a simple anthology but really makes you think. And we want to focus on women and queer writers from South Asia specifically because they do not get the attention they deserve," she says.
The book club attracts a diverse age group, and tries to be as inclusive as they can. "We had a 90-year-old attend our meet-up. Even men attend them and open up about notions of toxic masculinity. It is such a warm space that everyone is instantly connected," Morarka explains, adding that they also have an online facility for discussion with community members in London, New York and Finland. She says, "We don't want people to be deprived of reading such books, so we often share e-book copies or tie up with bookstores for discounts. And we'll even expand to include more languages in the future."
ON November 18, 2 pm to 5 pm
AT 91springboard, MIDC, Akruti Trade Centre, Andheri East.
The club requires no exclusive membership and accepts fresh sign-ups for every meet-up; they have held three in Mumbai so far, with others in Delhi and Chennai. There's also a facilitator for every session.
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