'Throw the snowballs of voice'
“If I could pack my unhappiness into snowballs, I would throw them at these people. (Ava)”
Imagine this. You do not have control of your hair. You do not have control over your clothes. You do not own the rights to the house where you lived for your entire life. You do not have custody of your own children whom you bathed, held and fed every day. You do not own the song you sing, you do not have control over your own voice from your body.
How could you ever agree with people, who possess all these controls and powers, and have done for a long time, shouting ‘control over one’s own body’ or for ‘reproductive rights for women’? Contraceptives and reproductive technologies have been born out of controlling the populations of minor, unwanted and foreign beings in ‘advanced countries’ in the first place. So, when we talk about control, whose voice are we listening to? Can you listen to the little, untranslated, sometimes wailing, sometimes mumbling voice? In what way does this voice touch us, stain us, penetrate us, and make us make a movement?
Could there be a connection between the empowerment of vulnerable beings who are aware of their power relations, and the little and loud voice from the broken kitchen, from the confined bedroom, from the pile of dead, the voice that was a feminist’s one before the word existed.
“If women of colour have roles in white feminism today, they are cameos, the supporting cast or the targets of pity – grasping for survival, or for a school, or a health clinic – rather than whole and complex humans. We are expected to be tellers of sad stories, where we detail how our particularly brutal men, our inherently flawed culture, our singularly draconian religion (but never the actions or inaction of white people) have caused us indescribable pain. For their part, white feminists offer us their precious and perhaps their righteous indignation at the savagery of our native cultures, which have left us in such a hopeless mess, pitiably but patiently waiting for their interventions (by force or by money) to sort things out. (Rafia)”
If you don’t see the blind spots of this white feminism, that’s not my feminism. The resilience, strength, and allyship that are born out of the struggle, with or without knowing the F word, the untranslated sighs, giggles and roars that are transmitted from lands, everywhere, everywhere that is reclaimed, wasted, policed and burned.
“To talk about racism within feminism is to get in the way of feminist happiness. If talking about racism within feminism gets in the way of feminist happiness, we need to get in the way of feminist happiness. (Sarah)”
Let us throw the snowballs of unhappiness.
Let us get in the way of cohesive storytelling of ownership.
Listen to our breathless wails.
* This short text was read and listened together with audience at the Mosaic Rooms as part of public event with Decolonising Botany Working Group in January 2023.
Ava Homa, 2021. Daughters of Smoke and Fire, Abrams, Incorporated.
Dilar Dirik, 2022. The Kurdish Women's Movement: History, Theory, Practice, Pluto Press.
Farida Akhter, 1986. Depopulating Bangladesh. Dhaka, UBINIG, pp. 2-3.
Rafia Zakaria, 2021. Against White Feminism, Penguin Books Limited.
Sarah Ahmed, 2016. Living a Feminist Life, Duke University Press.