Menon, Nivedita. Seeing Like a Feminist
2012, Penguin India and Zubaan Books.
Added by: Anne-Marie McCallion
For Nivedita Menon, feminism is not about a moment of final triumph over patriarchy but about the gradual transformation of the social field so decisively that old markers shift forever. From sexual harassment charges against international figures to the challenge that caste politics poses to feminism, from the ban on the veil in France to the attempt to impose skirts on international women badminton players, from queer politics to domestic servants’ unions to the Pink Chaddi campaign, Menon deftly illustrates how feminism complicates the field irrevocably. Incisive, eclectic and politically engaged, Seeing like a Feminist is a bold and wide-ranging book that reorders contemporary societ
Comment: Nivedita Menon is an influential feminist academic, who briefly taught in Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi, and is currently a professor of political science in Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. What probably heightens her ability to see through the flawless nude makeup of our patriarchal culture is the fact that she was brought up in the Nair community of Kerala which, until her grandmother’s generation, was matrilineal. Seeing Like A Feminist is about both the challenges faced by feminism in India as well as global and intersectional movements of feminism. It covers a wide range of issues like the Hindu Code Bills, the Pink Chaddi campaign that was heavily criticized by the media, ‘gender verification’ tests for the Olympic Games, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, gender performativity, the Women’s Reservation Bill (Sharma, 2016). In this chapter, Menon critically examines the concept of ‘nature’ how it functions to corset our perception and actions, and in turn, constrain woBTQ+ emancipation.