Sluts and sweethearts

12 09 2010

Women! Dare you approach the Pyramid of Egregiousness? This is the new chart that’s been put together by women’s groups in the US to classify the hate words used against us, from bad to worse to really quite stinkingly repulsive…

Sneer, leer, exploit, ignore

10 08 2010

For men and women alike, casual misogyny is the climate and context of all their interactions. It is unconcealed and automatic. It affects the way women are received, portrayed and considered as colleagues, friends, workers, mothers, artists, thinkers, public figures and victims of male violence and discrimination.

What slang words are used to describe lesbians in your country?

5 08 2010

Here are some from Asia.

From North India:

  • Chapat Baaz – meaning stuck things. For more on this read Ruth Vanita’s book Same sex love in India.
  • Ran Chandi – the word denotes an angry butch warrior like woman. Hmm, I think the Daily Mirror would like this in referring to us as man haters!
  • Bhayada – Hmm, I like this one. It literally translates as ‘androgynous’, not a man but not a woman either. The world needs more of these!
  • Babu Baai – meaning ‘man-woman’. Or sometimes just ‘babu’, meaning man but by calling a woman that, it implies she is not a woman.

From Sri Lanka:

  • Aappa – ahh! our favorite and the name of our blog!
  • Kello-Kello – meaning ‘girl-girl’. Pretty tame.
  • Thori – ‘thori’ is the feminine form of ‘thora’ which is the Sinhala word for Kingfish or seer fish. So lesbians are basically called fish. Great (must admit I do like the water!)
  • SLS – this one is a classic. It stands for ‘Sama Lingika Sevavan’, or ‘same sex services’! It can also be used to describe gay boys. I believe it is very popular in universities around here..

From Jordan:

  • Is she a taxi? – apparently taxis in Jordan are green and yellow in colour, and in conversation, when you ask “is she a taxi?” you are actually asking “Is she gay?” Green And Yellow = GAY, get it? Of course in Bangladesh calling someone a taxi is calling someone a prostitute.

I am fascinated by these words and expressions and wonder where they come from. I think of taking pride from these expressions and in re-owning these words. They take on a different meaning in a different place and time…. Of course there are more slang words for gay boys but it’s interesting to see what gay women are called.

Please feel free to add words from your countries.

In your native language…

6 04 2010

It’s alright if she doesn’t go to the same coffee shop!

6 02 2010

I shocked my mother when I was 17 years old when I said I saw nothing wrong in ‘living together’ as opposed to marriage. My mother was appalled. The first remedy was to tell me that it was a bad thing that would never be tolerated by her or my family. It didn’t stop there. How could a daughter who couldn’t see anything wrong with a man and a woman living together be trusted with finding a suitable man for marriage? Thereafter, no opportunity was lost in narrating tales of cousins getting married to ‘nice boys’ and the problems faced by friends’ daughters who got married to boys who were not from the same ‘family background’. Imagine her delight when she found out that I was going out with a nice boy (‘at least no need to worry about family background’) and her despair when she found out several years later that the nice boy had been ditched because he was not suitable (‘all men are possessive and want their wife to look after them’)!

While I was going out with the unsuitable nice boy I was asked a question by my guru. How is it that you fall in love only with a man from the same ethnic group, religion, and social class as you? Many times in my life I have thought of that question. All these categories are hard to cross: sex, ethnicity, religion, social class. Friends and relatives have crossed the lines of religion and ethnicity. It was not that difficult, it seemed to me, but maybe that was because I don’t care much about either. Falling in love with a woman didn’t bring me the trauma everyone expected. But maybe that was because I already had the politics for it. It seemed to me that of all things, social class was the most taboo. Invisible walls stop you from partnering with someone from a different social class. Nobody tells you you mustn’t, but it is understood that you shouldn’t.

But what the fuck? Why should love be bound by those walls? Who cares if your family becomes standoffish with the other family? They can stay away from your place. Who cares if you don’t have memories of the same hangout places? Just go hangout somewhere else! Who cares if friends can’t find common people to gossip about? If they don’t like it they can stop coming over! Who cares if you don’t sing the same songs and have the same group of friends? You can learn each other’s songs and hang out with everyone. Who cares if you don’t think in the same language? You can tell each other your dreams, you can still hold hands, and you can still make love.


4 11 2009

A friend of mine was traveling to New York recently and because I wanted to grab the opportunity to order some good lesbian books online and have her bring them back home, I started my search very excitedly on Amazon. I typed in the search words ‘Asian + lesbian’ but very little turned up. I then added the word ‘South’ before ‘Asian’ to the search words… but again not much came up. So I added the word ‘queer’.

This produced far more results than the other categories so I started browsing the titles and reading the excerpts. But sadly in spite of the volume of results of the search, I found very little of relevance to my life…or to what I think is representative of my life.

I tried searching other online stores as well. All of them had a large selection of gay and lesbian literature and many of the titles seemed interesting. Most of the literature was out of America and not by Asian writers. I was looking for something more Asian – more South Asian really and more Sri Lankan to be precise. That would have been perfect.

And I was looking for something lesbian – not male-centric. Comics, novels, novellas, fiction, non-fiction, I searched all the categories but found almost nothing. Two choices did come up though: Facing the mirror: Lesbian writing from India which i have read and have no great opinion of and Stealing Nazreen – a novel which I have yet to read.

Besides these two books there was nothing of real significance – and certainly nothing from Sri Lanka.

And then it struck me. We need to write our own ‘Herstories’!

That is the only way we will gain more visibility through literature. It really is our responsibility – to ourselves and to the next generation of young soul-searching Sri Lankan lesbians – to make them feel less alone and that they are not the first to be this way and will certainly not be the last.

We need to write our stories to ensure we are not omitted from the pages of history. We have to create our own language where none exists – to describe our lives and what and who we are. We can’t keep expecting other people to write the stories of our lives when we are the ones living them. No. We have to write our own stories and our own histories…and the time is now.

So I sat down and started writing…