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WOMAN
Articles - Literature: Queer & More
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Wednesday, 21 May 2008 00:00

This article is written by our guest writer, Ho Chi Sam.


The world is so much easily understood if we saw and believed in everything in binary opposites, and ideally, both ends/poles function in tandem, in contrast, interdependently, symbiotically, and eventually contribute to a whole, a stable system, a status quo.

Where does the woman stand in the world of binary opposites? For millennia, literature, rhetoric and discourses have by default refer to ‘humanity’ as ‘man’, ‘humankind’ as ‘mankind’, most random persons as ‘he’ (Freudian slip any one?). This whole, stable system and status quo privileges a dominant kind ‘ the male-oriented. It is gendered and sexed accordingly to toe the line of the androcentric, patriarchal and heterosexist establishment.

What I find puzzling is that women are often described in terms of their functions. A woman is a mother, a wife, a daughter, a child-bearer, a housewife, a slave, an asset, a tradable commodity. These identities are roles, spokes in the wheel of a dominant worldview, almost implying that women are functional to men.

The main problem here is: how do we actually define a woman? Is the woman an onion, with many layers of (male) meanings piled and ascribed upon her? Is the woman a jigsaw puzzle, with each piece equally as meaningful (to the man) put together (by the man)? Is the woman a paint mix of all the colours, eventually acquiring a shade of black, leaving no clue as to colours of which she was comprised?

I am a sucker for structure. Defining a woman is problematic. It’s like using a stick to draw a figure in a trough of sand. The stick and trough are already tools and apparatuses of dominant male ideology. Even the sand in the trough is limited in quantity because it is provided for you by the very ideology you are striving to confront. You could resist by drawing a different picture, but you are still limited by the materials bestowed upon you.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 17:57
 
I Saw The Fireworks: Part 1
Articles - Literature: Queer & More
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Saturday, 03 May 2008 00:00

Image Copyright of Sayoni

This is co-written by Yee and Qin, a love story which began in Sayoni through the Personals section… all it takes is an email, ladies.

Another normal day at work, Yee was at her desk sorting the emails in her mailbox.

*Click* *Click* A mail caught her eye from a sender named Qin.

Little did they know that this email would set the clockwork in place to spin a tale of two souls whose paths crossed through the wonders of cyberspace; brought together by a forum which they frequent, Sayoni. They have never met, do not even know each other but somehow they were brought together which I would like to believe as serendipity. It was the beginning of a new chapter in their lives and hopefully, in the following chapters of the book, imprinted by the footprints of these two characters who met by chance.

Two persons with diverse backgrounds. Two persons with diverse interests. Two persons with diverse trail of thoughts.

Yee always associated herself as a dork, interested in nothing but academics and was a total workaholic.

Qin was dreamy, interested in the arts, and had loads of aspirations.

Was it because of the Qin’s forthcoming attitude? Or the uniqueness of the name “Qin”? Yee was drawn and as the days went by, the virtual contact became more frequent. From emails, it escalated to Instant Messenger via MSN and thoughts, ideals were thrown back and forth sparking an intense and intriguing conversation/s on their beliefs, perspectives and ideals which little did they know, would form part of an amazing connection that came from two people from seemingly different walks in life and whom have never met.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 17:56
 
Interview: Giti Thadani
Articles - Literature: Queer & More
Written by sayoni   
Thursday, 10 April 2008 00:00

To commemorate our 2nd Anniversary, we go back to our roots and have a heart-to-heart with the author of the book that inspired us – Giti Thadani, author of Sakhiyani.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in Delhi, 10-05-1961. Went to a typical convent school there.

Later, I got constantly into trouble because I refused to pray and believe in Jesus Christ. It was apparently compulsory even for non-Christians. Anyway, I dropped out. Otherwise I would have probably studied mathematics.

Instead, my life followed a course outside all institutions. I never had a career; this research became a passion as did traveling over 30 countries. I have lived between Europe and India for more than 25 years, more in India now.

I’ve been learning languages – 7 so far. Have done all kinds of work to pay the expenses; I try to keep them frugal so that I have my freedom, but now I am managing to survive through a mix of artistic and other work.

2. What inspired you to get involved in research?

I wanted to travel in India, wanted to explore what it really was also intellectually and culturally, so I also started re-learning Sanskrit. It was a very organic desire, I had the space and was perhaps 'mad' enough. I had dropped out of school at 15 as I hated the idiocy of convent education. That decision gave me so much freedom to live differently although it was and continues to be an existence on the margins.

So I bought a small pick up truck, met a 66 year old woman who wanted me to taxi her around. I drove her 6,000 km, much of it on rattling bad roads and that's how the research started. Then I was literally driven like someone possessed.

3. How has this changed your life?

Completely. It became a lifestyle – traveling all over, discovering old texts. Initially, I still felt a deep rupture between what I was finding and the society in which I was living. It was very taboo, this research, even in feminist circles, and there was no lesbian group or anything.

Now, I see a continuum in my own life, not that society around me has changed, but the kind of energy and understanding that I draw is very different.

4. What inspired you to write Sakhiyani?

I was just very angry at the invisibility and appropriation by indologists, even by the 'secularists' and so called progressive people here, and of course in the way Hinduism was being constructed. Nobody was willing to confront these traditions.

Even till today, I have never once been asked to present Sakhiyani, I have never done a reading on it. So it was a mix of sheer rage and a kind of responsibility to somehow bring out these histories. The publishing house actually took out about 80 pages and I do not like what they made out of the book.

5. What are your goals and aspirations, and future projects?

Actually, my artistic projects are getting very abstract, what I call a kind of visual music. The other projects are to give this work off in different forms: mobile exhibitions, workshops, enlarging the website, occasionally taking women travellers to some of these sites.

6. For the benefit of the readers who have not read your book [it is actually rather difficult to get hold of], how did you arrive at your interpretation of Sayoni as a lesbian concept?

Yes, it is out of print, but as an aside, my newer book Moebiustrip is available with Spinifex, also in an electronic version.

But coming back to Sayoni. It took me years to come to the connection. There is so much material in the Rig Ved about 2 yonis and once I started to glean it out, it became clear. Also with the phonetics and etymology, the prefix sah would ellipse into Sayoni. Sah indicates togetherness.

The other thing is the contextual usage of Sayoni. Some of the hymns in which it appears was written by a woman. I also think that the fact that you all have tuned in to it is also part of the tremendous archetypal energy it contains.

7. What are your views on the place of lesbians in mythology, beyond what you discovered about Sayoni? 10. How has the discovery of Sayoni, and other lesbian mythology affected the way you view your sexuality?

It’s so extensive, the literature. When I worked on the Rig Ved , there were so many citations of the dual. One of them has an association of jami sayoni and mithuna. Mithuna means both ‘twin’ and ’sexual entwining’.

I hate the new language of sexuality, for example intercourse – as if it’s some kind of discharge and dirt. I think that's why there are so many curse words around sexuality. Whereas if you have another language, another imagery, your whole experiencing of sexuality and eros is very different. It takes you into the liminal.

The later texts have several kinds of straightforward lesbian mythology: two queens who get together – two women from different castes, a queen and her attendant. Then you have dual pairs.

Then there are versions of gender crossing.

What for me is even more subtle, are the constellations.

For example, the desire-kinship-liminal matrix : The birth of Ganesh – One mythology is that Parvati drinks the mal of an elephant-headed goddess. This mal ‘feminine fluid’ (as opposed to semen) is transported by the river goddess Ganga. Parvati drinks it from her mouth and an androgynous, elephant-headed god is born. He is to be the gatekeeper the shaman. This mythology in sexual terms is a sublimation of sambhog (mutual pleasure implying oral sexuality). The kinship matrix is again between the feminine and even the son has an in-between gender, andro-gyn.

Another example is that of the mahavidya (a form of knowledge-consciousness) Chinnamasta. The iconographic form is that the woman-goddess is holding her own cut-off head. There are tongues depicted as 3 streams of blood gushing out; one goes back into her own head, the other two go into the mouths of her two woman-yogini companions. Blood-tongue is also described as wine and the triadic circulation as eternal circulating pleasure and eros. The word for pleasure is again feminised as rati. Again, there is a triadic flow of fluid exchange through the mouths. There is another aspect to this kind of erotic experiencing ,as a healing to rape (e.g. Chinnamasta tantra).

Both examples see the sexual-erotic matrix as a flow based on erotic circulation and mutual pleasure, the experience of which also contains the possibility of healing and liminality.

I see sexuality more as sexual and erotic energy now. It is one of the most powerful energies and there are several dimensions that I feel that it can be lived out. I search for the magical which does not happen everyday but a few times in my life. Above all, it is one of the deepest forms of touching through the body, whereas the erotic need not go through a kind of physicality. I think each deep attraction brings out its own form.

Sayoni for me is not just about touching, but being in the same yonic space, which then becomes much more that just the yoni. I thnk that's what twins go through; they inhabit the same womb and are umblically linked. I think in that deep looking for ones jami and then the experiencing of the Sayoni is perhaps closest to the above.

8. So, many of our readers surely are wondering by this time… do you have a girlfriend?

I am a die hard lesbian but I am happily single since many years.

9. Tell us something about yourself most people don’t know.

I am just a very private person; spend hours alone and love gardening.

10. Lastly, do you have a message for our readers?

Assume and celebrate ones desire & eros along with consciousness and responsibility.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 17:50
 
Writing Contest: Beginnings
Articles - Literature: Queer & More
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Sunday, 09 March 2008 00:00
This entry for the Writing Contest of February is written by Centaur, and is the winner of this month’s contest. Congratulations centaur! We will be publishing the top 2 entries for the contest.

Over and Over Again.

Sitting apart from you, with my bowl-cut hair and dirty fingernails. I was worlds apart from the immaculate you. You in your prefect outfit and neat pony-tail. There was something strange going on. As you laugh with that high-pitched voice and chatter with childish enthusiasm, I found myself without ground beneath my feet. As though I was being sucked under, into somewhere.

Where?

I don’t know. But this new feeling was both pleasure and pain. No words could label it. I wasn’t even conscious of it. All I knew was that you were incredible, fragile yet beautiful.

But I had no balls to tell you that.

You were a little secret, tucked neatly in a precious corner of a twelve year old’s heart. A secret that never saw the light of day.

5 years later:

I disliked you. The moment I first heard of you (your reputation preceded you) till the moment you joined our new class sullen-faced. Prettiest girl from another junior college? Hah! Not my kind of pretty, evidently. Everyone wanted to know who the new kid on the block was. ‘Who was this girl?’ I stood in the background, too aloof and proud to join in these lowly activities. Everyone wanted to be your best friend. Not I.

But I had no choice, I was forced into it.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 17:55
 
Writing Contest!
Articles - Literature: Queer & More
Written by sayoni   
Tuesday, 22 January 2008 00:00

Sayoni is holding a writing contest from now till the 13th of February. The one with the best entry walks away with $50 in cash or vouchers, and bragging rights.

Theme: Beginnings

Here’s what you need to do:

Pen a queer-related story/article and send your story to [email protected] by 13th February 2008. Include a secondary email contact, the username you would like to be known by, and a short line about yourself.

The top few entries will be published on Sayoni’s blog and the winner will be notified by email by end February, and announced on the blog.

Please submit original material that have not been published elsewhere (including personal blogs).

All women are welcomed.

 
Pierced Years
Articles - Literature: Queer & More
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Friday, 19 October 2007 00:00

I’ve always found it uncomfortable attending family weddings and reunion dinners as an officially single person but family funerals are worse. Plus I never thought I would feel nostalgic for the days when people called me ‘Sir’ by mistake. Here, in this very cold room at my mother’s funeral wake, the staff of the Singapore Casket Company are calling me ‘Aunty’.

My Mum died alone. I know I should feel more upset than I do but I think it hasn’t sunk in yet. I didn’t realize people die so fast.
The problem is, we don’t schedule dying the way we schedule other family activities. When my mother died two nights ago, my brother was away on a business trip and I had gone to Phuket for a weekend to get over a break up; what’s known in the community as the annual break-up. The one that begins with, ‘Don’t you care about anything?’
, ‘Why do you have to be so intense about everything?’

Most inter-generational Singapore lesbian couples will probably know what I mean’of course you don’t have to have a younger partner to have problems, but if you do, they tend to be more ‘interesting’ and if you really want trouble, get involved with a young activist. (One thing I find amazing now is how breaking up takes so much longer and consumes so much more effort and energy than dying.) Pinky says people her age are the only ones doing anything because those my age don’t dare and those younger than her don’t care.

For the record I would like to point out it’s not that I didn’t dare join Pinky in that ‘getting the Singapore flag painted on gay bare body parts project (organised by her hero Alex Au’’Proud parts of a proud Nation’) it’s just that other things are important too, like not getting fired so you can earn a living and pay the mortgage’ also for the record I realize I’m starting to sound like my mother’s my late mother. Funny. I thought I never listened to my mother. Like she never listened to me. And apparently didn’t look at me.

My mother left me all her earrings; at least two dozen pairs, including the ones my grandmother left her. Gold studs, pearl studs, rubies, jade tear drops and a pair of diamonds set in white gold’all beautifully designed ladylike’pierced’ear lobes. I don’t have pierced ears. I don’t wear ladylike jewelry; I thought after forty-five years my mum would have noticed that. That’s why I was surprised I got the earrings. I wasn’t the only one.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 17:53
 
Ms Millennia
Articles - Literature: Queer & More
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Friday, 24 August 2007 00:00

This is a poem written by Alan Ardy, for the Millenium issue of AWARE, who has kindly allowed us to republish this. Alan has a upcoming poetry book, Champagne & Handcuffs.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 23:30
 
Unseen Smithereens
Articles - Literature: Queer & More
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Thursday, 23 November 2006 00:00

Family…
A place of warmth and love,
A place of acceptance,
Bestowed upon by birth.

One day, to one’s consternation,
What i never knew…
Acceptance is only acceptance,
When their mould i fit into.

What’s wrong with this?
I don’t understand.
Why’s love not a crime,
only between woman and man?

“She’s beautiful, Mum.
Personality, character and all.
You will like her
As you get to know her more.”

“Abnormal! My child,
You have grieved me so.
Same-sex love is spurious…
Please redeem your soul!

“… For God on high is full of wrath
for people of such kind.
Leave this lifestyle, please my child.
Don’t, by lust, be blind.

“… Your Daddy has cancer…
he’s weaker by the day.
Don’t you care for your father?
Can’t you stop your play?

“… Our relatives will mock us.
My friends, what will they say?
That i’ve failed at parenting,
thus my child is gay!”

A foot into the mould i put…
An awkward shape it is.
Cramped toes, sprained back…
In pain, I clenched my fists.

Family… supposedly…
A place of warmth and love,
A place of acceptance,
Bestowed upon by birth.

Alas, acceptance is acceptance,
When their mould i cramp into.
Would they care my heart smithereens
as long the facade fools?

*Author has chosen to remain anonymous.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 17:42
 
Waterlights
Articles - Literature: Queer & More
Written by Teng Qian Xi   
Sunday, 13 August 2006 00:00

According to the legend of the White Snake, Bai Suzhen (a white snake that turned into an immortal woman) bought a green snake which she turned into a young girl. She named her Xiao Qing, and she remained her companion even after her marriage. When an evil monk trapped Bai Suzhen in a pagoda, it was Xiao Qing who, after years of martial arts training, was the one to free her. Together they fought the monk, and after winning they went back to her family home and lived happily ever after.

I appeared in the story only because you
wanted me to. It was your pale hands
that lifted me, a whip of emerald,
from the marketplace basket, and it was your words
that writhed out a soul from my shine-crusted body.
So there I was, to the world something between
your friend and a maid. He tended
towards the former; he was nice, that husband
of yours. I remember the rain when we
first saw him- it lanced silver across your cheek
while I cried out in spite of myself, isn't he the one?
You just smiled, holding his hand as you
stepped lightly onto the boat.
That, I tell people, is how it began...
love at first sight, silver flashing down your face
while I (everyone laughs here) vomited into
the spangles on the water.

It was never explained to him why I moved
into his new home. I was just the giveaway
that had to be accepted with the amazing deal.
We got along in the end, and there was always
three of us at important events:
your child's birth, the shop's opening
and the inconvenient business you try not to remember.
But there was only me through the years
of perfecting my dance of death for you.
It was a rain of silver blades that I lived ten years in,
that quivered your pagoda-prison
into a thousand glittering shards. We won, of course. Now
it's difficult at New Year visits; I ignore
your rhapsodies on family life
and the bachelors you invite to dinner. Now
your child thinks I'm his aunt; he pesters me
for stories of your life, but only my eyes
(when the tears melt him into your image)
tell him what you have forgotten:

Your face darted among the swords
like a river's shifting light and we danced
in a rain of silver for the last time
together. Darling, I would have died for you
but I never had the luck.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 17:51
 
“inspired” by the deluge of weight-loss resolutions
Articles - Literature: Queer & More
Written by immoralfear   
Wednesday, 22 March 2006 00:00

super models
cover girls
porn stars and strippers
sex appeal, superficial beauty
little girl wake up and see
you’re nothing if you don’t grow up to look like Barbie
the modern symbol of femininity
ladies: starve your body
feed your anxiety
we recieve those messages
too loud and clear
liposuction and boob jobs
suck it in, stick ‘em out
give in to envy and self doubt
spend your life savings on cosmetic surgery
paint yourself unrecognizable
make sure you glow
from head to toe
your health is always compromisable
nail polish, lipstick
try this beauty trick
make up, miracle creams
try to be the woman of men’s dreams
make sure your teeth are perfect
or you’ll never be able to forget
that you aren’t good enough
and you aren’t made of the right stuff
keep trying to look like her
see how much abuse your body can endure
for the sake of superficial beauty
desire isn’t blind
so you can’t have peace of mind
you’re repulsive compared to the woman over there
so lose weight, put make up on, dye your hair
so says the mirror on my wall
so many products, I’ve tried them all
and still there’s no getting away
from the pressure of looking attractive today
this is how women are made to feel
society has a wound that will never heal

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 16:15
 
I’m that girl
Articles - Literature: Queer & More
Written by Indu   
Tuesday, 14 March 2006 00:00

Note: This is a edited version of the entry I wrote in my own blog long time ago, in response to a meme started by Mercermachine

I'm that girl. Yes, that girl, whom at 8, felt older than the rest of the world. I'm that girl who climbed trees and played soccer and cricket with the boys, yet loved her Barbie Dolls. I'm that girl who was always on the outside, no matter where she went.

I'm that girl who is always so resistant to change, yet when it actually happens, she adapts like a chameleon. I'm that girl who played alone in the playground of her new flat, because she didn't know anyone in this new country. I'm that girl who made a hobby of going up and down in the elevators of HDB blocks, because it was all so new to her.

I'm that girl who then grew up and fell in love with you. I was the one who would make all kinds of excuses to be with you, even though she didn't know why. I'm that girl who thought you were beautiful even when you were drenched, exhausted, and had a pimple on your nose.

I'm that girl, who told you her love by the seaside, waves lapping up on the shore of Sentosa, knowing you could never reciprocate. I was the girl who then watched you walk away from me, after you most politely rejected me because. I was a girl.

I'm that girl, who said no because she didn't want to break your heart with the pain of distance. I'm that girl who still loves you from afar.

I am the girl now, who watches your every move now, every facial expression and gesture. I am the girl who flushes every single time you speak to me. I am that girl, who gets irrationally jealous when others get near you, boy or girl.

I'm that girl, who lost your friendship when I told you I was bisexual. I'm the one, who loves men and women, but presents only one side to the world for the fear of losing more of you.

I’m that girl who is politely cast out of the community because she refuses to conform to any label. I’m that girl who has to ignore her own heritage in order to function anywhere.

I’m that girl, who has everything and nothing at the same time. I’m that girl, who is always caught between two conflicting worlds, and can find no way to heal the rift.

Yeah, I'm that girl. So who are you?

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 16:25
 
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