Feminist Stories in Bridging Gaps – Reflections

Posted by on May 4, 2019 in Blog, Critic's Area | 0 comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I finally shared my opinion piece on #MeToo https://www.browngirlmagazine.com/2019/03/metoo-finding-my-voice-post-weinstein-era/ Huge thanks to Texas-based Brown Girl Magazine for publishing it.

More at the end of my previous op-ed published by Feminism in India, which marked the start of my Ph.D. in Australia: https://feminisminindia.com/2019/02/01/overcame-trauma-found-voice/

How can these stories make a social change? What is the art of storytelling, literal and visual?

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of reflecting on a couple of poignant articles that celebrity studies scholar Kirsty Fairclough kindly shared on Twitter.

It started one morning. Her posts opened my eyes in a way that got me closer to the vision that my mum and dad had for me while they lived in Canada and in India: equality.

Kirsty shared feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk “The Danger of a Single Story“.  In that talk, she tells us how a dominant narrative disposes and systematically ‘others’ voices from positions of entitlement in quite unconscious ways – that kind of narrative seeks ‘differences’ instead of ‘commonalities’ in humanity.

But, as writers or readers, if our goals are related to learning, informing or connecting, we must ensure what is in common while using our own artistic styles. Otherwise, you and I will fall into the same trap that once ‘othered’ us in oppressive systems.

I trust that we can find much more in common.

Perhaps our own ‘style’ of giving a voice needs a chance in storytelling.

If so, what does style mean for us in popular culture?

It is more than a fashion. No wonder Hollywood red carpet events have political statements in a stylistic way that exceeds static forms of glamorous fashion: https://www.cbc.ca/news/entertainment/political-fashion-red-carpet-1.4964004?cmp=rss

At the same time, actors and models are developing a style of giving opinions beyond the fashion that was once associated with their original fame, and they become influencers without expertise: http://theconversation.com/how-celebrity-non-experts-and-amateur-opinion-could-change-the-way-we-acquire-knowledge-106002

Is that style of voice better than researched facts from positions that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie would critique?

Yes and no.

The rationality in written words has the power to categorize and discriminate while enabling progressive thoughts. The dominant usage of words is part of another consistent style in dominant narratives that can ‘Other’ and wipe out multiple stories in favor of influence and privilege. No wonder online bullying happens. In a recent Skype chat, journalist Janet Johnson quite appropriately said that we were actually never taught to have a voice. If we do not have a voice, how can we give one? So, as Janet further pointed out, many entitled users were not prepared to handle new voices when the use of social media exploded.

However, our own stylistic art of storytelling in non-verbal, aesthetic communication still has some power to create more equality. Read more: http://samitanandy.com/kabirbedi-interview

In my personal experience of feminist photography and visual narratives, I question the monolithic style acquired to represent female models in our image-obsessed celebrity culture. Despite being clothed or not, females are often photographed in static ways that are not too far from nude Pre-Raphaelites for male sexual appetite and their gaze in the Early Renaissance. Put a mirror in their hands of the nudes and, oh, it was called vanity! That is what Emma Hope Allwood invites us to reconsider: https://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/34166/1/why-we-still-need-ways-of-seeing-john-berger

Read more in Kirsty’s post:  https://thelowryblog.wordpress.com/2018/12/21/dr-kirsty-fairclough-on-the-nature-of-celebrity/

That male gaze is unconsciously present and widening social gaps even when I do not have a man photographing me.

So here is a proposition for us to consider in ‘bridging gaps’:

1)    Tell your story in a style that has the capacity to point Adichie’s ‘commonalities’ rather than ‘differences in humanity.’ That art of storytelling might be related to rare contexts, times, roles, relations, and non-verbal communication that is often dominated but might have touched you in your far-off travels, literally and metaphorically.

2)    Voice a social cause (not a single-issue one) that can be part of your story.

Once you find the style(s) of voicing your story, it can be like the sunrise of one morning with which you start your days. Cause guess what? Other people can’t tell – they, too, have to tell their story.

 

 

Special thanks to all who have been part of this writing. More coming up in the 71st edition of the Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies (CMCS) newsletter and at the 8th CMCS conference in New York City on August 31-September 1.

 

 

 

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