A great blog discovery

As the name shows Kavadi is a miniature representation of the Kavu itself with an arched horse shoe like Ajanta Chaitya Vatayana motif. Kumbham and Kutam are both miniature motifs and key icons resembling the Stupa’s global or spherical structure. Both these processions are of Buddhist origin when we analyse the semiotics and cultural significations. But after the middle ages ritual mutilations also crept into this Kumbodam tradition in the form of Sulam Kutu or body piercing using metallic little lancers as a result of Hinduization and its violent sado-masochist Himsa cults in the frenzy of Bhakti. Now the ritual is dwindling. In earlier days it was mostly the Avarna who were the performers in Paravai, Tookkam and Kumbodam. Velan, Viswakarma and Ezhava performers were there in Kottayam.

[…] Since the Tookkam was barbaric and was misused by the caste Hindu hegemonic forces as a ritual re-enacting the symbolic submission and ritualistic mutilation of the Avarna before the Hinduized deity, especially Kali in violent and bloody form; it was banned in places like Ilavoor in the north of Ernakulam. Most of these Kali temples are altered Mahamaya sacred grove shrines or Kavus of Buddhism, violently taken over and modified into Hindu Kali temples.

[…] This ridiculous and absurd story of a blood sucking Kali Mata is a cunning articulation of the demonization and then extermination of the south Indian Buddhists by the henchmen of Brahmanism and then the ritualistic re-enactment of the holocaust and the bloody pogrom in the yearly festivities at the shrine as a re-establishment of the caste Hindu order and hegemony over the Avarna or the former Buddhists.”

The ritual is not dwindling in Mauritius (and Malaysia) of course and this sheds a lot of light on the origins which were always a mystery. We were told it’s mixed with tribal practices of the era people came as indenture. Well, where are those tribal people? I guess Adi Dravidas may count. Anyhow, this blog is very helpful.

I wish I’d known this 15 years ago when my flatmates who were North Indian Mauritian Hindus were asking me why my culture has such barbaric practices. The answer shoulda been “it is your Hinduism that made it barbaric – take, for example, the rape culture inherent in your Holi festival”.

Hugh Mungus vs Brahmin feminist

So I shared this privately, mostly, last year. I find her tone* triggering as fuck so I never did get more timestamps. I never shared it with one of the people I credited, who today was giving her praise and publicity. Someone who basically doesn’t ask herself why, in her view, only a Brahmin should be on her shortlist of activists for media exposure.

Instead of making a post, I hit search and found this whole other incident.

Maybe I need more context before I say so. However, I’m still triggered by Joshi’s tone, almost a year later, and it does seem to be that. It is ironic to have people like her allegedly condemning what they actively promote and partake in, what protects them in the Hindustan they are so fond of. Do they ever criticise the Indian police or sexual violence on the most vulnerable women?

‘Women’ bc there has always been a movement of Adivasi, Adi and bahujan women alongside queer and trans folks of these castes or castelessness, Muslims, Buddhists, religious minorities, Kashmiris.

*To the new reader or someone who doesn’t read the linked content: the Brahminical tone is triggering af for those of us who have regularly been oppressed by them.

January 1st celebrations for Some Indians

Although for the same people and those in solidarity, here is a recap of 2016 by Sanghapali Aruna Lohitakshi.

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A rare photograph of Babasaheb Ambedkar at #BhimaKoregaon. Posted by Pardeep Singh.

Pinak Banik posted on January 1, 2015 · · ·

“The Battle of Bhima Koregao.. An unsung Saga or Bravery and Courage which dismantled the Brahmnical Peshwa Rule.

History of India is nothing but the struggle between untouchables and so called upper castes. However the Indian historians have always misled us by not showing the true face of Indian History.

The glorious victory of few hundred untouchable soldiers over numerically superior Peshwas army in the battle of Koregaon, fought on 1st January, 1818, is one such chapter in Indian history whose significance has been carefully hidden.

On that day, when many were busy celebrating the new year, a small force of 500 mahar (an untouchable caste in Maharashtra) soldiers in the British army were preparing for a war against the most brutal Indian state of that times – Brahmin Peshwa rulers of Pune, Maharashtra.
In the history books, this battle is considered an important one and is known as second Anglo-Maratha war that resulted in the total destruction of Peshwa kingdom and sealed the victory of British Empire in India. However, there is a different historical dimension to this war that all of us need to be aware of.

This war was also between the Indian untouchables (who were condemned to live a life so miserable that you might not find any parallels in the world history) and Brahminism (manifested through brahmin rulers from Pune).

For mahar soldiers, this was not just another battle but it was their battle for self-respect, dignity and against the supremacy of Manusmriti. And these soldiers, just 500 of them, defeated the Peshwa army of over 30,000 in just one day. Their victory against a mighty force is perhaps unparallel in Indian history.

On this and every New Year eve, rather than indulging ourselves in mindless revelry let all of us pay rich tributes to our heroic forefathers who, through their bravery and courage, tore down the powerful Peshwai and brought freedom for untouchables from the fanatic brahmin rulers who ruled the land according to the diktat from Manusmriti. It is also a powerful occasion for all of us to become little more aware towards our rich history.”

On 1st January 1848, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule opened the 1st school for girls in India.

Happy arbitrarily marked completion of one Earth’s solar orbit, as denoted by an artificial euro-centric numbering system. But it is the solar anniversary of these victories for Adivasi and Dalit-Bahujan. That is what fireworks celebrate in parts of India and that is probably why Indian channels broadcast a 2015 film whose protagonist is Brahmin ruler Bajirao Peshwa?

Our collective and individual liberation lies in that of the Dalits (and Adivasi), the so-called untouchables but the influential and powerful Indians (in diasporas too) are against that, they are post-caste, as others are post-racial (here on my island, they are both in fact).

This day is hardly bearable

I am worried for Chagossians and my marginalised and disabled friends on Turtle Island, where I never set foot and had never planned to.
Some soothing words:

Get Your People

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dear-white-women-we-messed-this-up-election-2016_us_582341c9e4b0aac62488970e?
but they will fail to ally. It has started already, in the disabled community, no less, with the erasure of refugee crises in Africa as well as issues by poor Black disabled folks. White South Africans will come out in numbers to support white USians pleading as if their country has been bombed by the US or Israel for months.

I am sorry white supremacy won again big time. It’s winning even in places I see disappointed whites complaining. Maybe this is how it creates a positive reinforcement so that it wins ultimately.

Let’s not forget another supremacy. Modi fans, the Hindu American Foundation and the like were supporting the election of Donald Trump, I’ve said that a lot in the past months. Simplistically encompassing all POC doesn’t work when it comes to South Asians. Some count as white, it’s not about skin colour.

Just as how Ambedkar put it regarding caste, I realised today that maybe whiteness ‘is a state of mind’, besides being systemic etc. Some mixed-race and allegedly mixed race white South Africans by money (and white privilege) or by birth, are either felicitating a rapist in an elaborate and nauseating and callous manner (when a ‘bravo’ or ‘good luck’ would’ve sufficed to keep one’s level of white privilege if one hangs out with Republicans or whatever the eff; I’ve seen ‘friends’ writing at length about how great this is bc (positive thinking) it brings change and that it will make America great again or others looking at their self-interest or other white interest, first and foremost.

People whom I call alleged mixed-race bc I don’t fucking get how one can analogise anti-disability with anti-blackness then in the end come out and say, “actually most Afrikaaners come from this one Khoisan woman”. Then change it to “actually, one of my parents was a bit darker than other whites”. Then demand intellectual and emotional labour from a disabled brown person to sift through one’s shit when one isn’t even doing that. It’s like the 1/16th First Nations who are not only white passing but pro-white and the only link I could find with one woman was that she sold Native American jewellery.

Disabled in the struggle

Disabled people vary a great deal and some of us cannot attend rallies and protests, while others can and have fought for a lot including disability rights. For those gimps, crips and mads who can attend here is a handy legal guide though from Boston for participation in direct action.

In 2014 when I read 26 ways to be in the struggle beyond the streets I also knew many abled protesters I knew didn’t care. With a few, we’d been acquainted online for a coupla years, I came back in part for them, for the struggles we had in common, and I met with ableism, complete disrespect (which I was meant to be okay with since the person made a place accessible for me once, not structural or involving efforts or expense) or disinterest. I was greener on the other side. I was probably seen as something closer to grass than to human. The disabled are not perceived as fully human by most. In this case, I had been reposting disability justice posts for these years online, so these activists were not ignorant. It did seem that when I post some words by a white person they had never heard of, it has more weight than whatever I have to say. Sure, my white-passing USian friend was much more articulate than I am, in English. Now when I repost a lot from a Black USian activist, and sometimes from an Asian one, or Black South African, no one cares.

It ties in with elitism, social-capital-ism, and new-ageism. I’m appalled at social justice here. I can clearly see some I still am in touch with who are just waiting for me to die so they can tag me because in death I’ll be at least valuable to them. This is positive thinking, folks! You see, it’s clear I won’t put up with tokenism, and I call people in. That is why I have no value now. They also say they didn’t know other disabled folks personally, either because they are callous or they don’t like the idea of disabled folks organising.

Fortunately it is not the case in all movements everywhere. On the upside, I’m so relieved these local activists didn’t get onto my twitter, an all-too-quiet and peaceful place.

Disabled oppression

Deconstructing Disability Oppression within Social Justice Work

All manifestations of oppression are connected to form a matrix of domination, necessitated by settler colonialism, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, cis* gender supremacy and economic exploitation.

Because we have all been socialized into this matrix of domination, anti-oppression is therefore a life-long process of unlearning, relearning and resisting.

Ableism: a set of institutionalized attitudes, policies and systems which dehumanize, pathologize, criminalize and either desexualize or hypersexualize people whose bodies* do not fit into socially constructed notions of what constitutes a ”normal” human being/body.”

— A presentation by the fabulous Edward Khanya Ndopu, black queer disabled Afropolitan femme.

*including brains and gut brains =]

Bowie, a genderqueer icon?

Julie Burchill was a fan of David Bowie in her adolescence. I was not, I might have first heard of Bowie in relation to Iman. There were about 2 supermodels close to my skin colour; and music magazines weren’t easily available on my island.

Content note: Rape (incl. statutory rape), rape culture; rape humour and details in the xojane piece.

Recently I read Lori Mattix, who was 13 or 14 when she first got raped, by Bowie. Here is something about children and consent and words by someone who has been like “baby groupies”. In response to posts, rape apologists have said Mattix/Maddox changed her statements on whether it was Jimmy Page or Bowie first but they absolutely trust her words when she says it was not rape. As hard as it may be to lay charges against a celebrity for rape, a 30-year old did but Bowie was not charged. I must have heard about a rape allegation and at the same time I knew of a pervert who was a fan, I chose to not listen to Bowie. I must have heard some on the radio and at a friend’s, a huge Bowie fan. I thought of her when I got the news, I felt sorry for her. Recently I also learned about R Kelly being a pedophile and today I learn about Iggy Pop. Well I wish I hadn’t wasted my money on his music in the past. I’m disgusted that a fave cartoon had a jingle by him! It was on TV and it is for kids! This is white supremacist culture. Part of what is triggering is not that the world’s “faves are problematic”. “Problematic” isn’t even appropriate, and let’s also recognise that global majority cultures have a heavy global north bias.

I’ve been thinking of how abusers are charismatic in life as in culture. Some, without even knowing the celebrity is a rapist or abuser, may not understand what the big fuss is about their work then on the whole, it’s almost as if there have been efforts to propel abusers to the forefront of culture. That they make “art” and get funds or the opportunities to make more funds is one thing; it’s another that Iggy Pop, a rapist, is asked to make a tune for kids! That just feeds into my impressions that white culture is deliberately constructed in this way. The terrible reactions or endorsements from our friends, colleagues or strangers following DB’s death reinforce my impressions. These conversations did not start with DB’s death but with the news of his last album. That is when I learned Mattix/Maddox’s name. I’m older now, had free time and internet access (both which I haven’t always had readily). His death opens a space of public discussion that goes predominantly as headlines tell us, it is dishonest in more than one way and please don’t call it disrespectful when there’ll be other discourses. Many are only finding out he was a rapist. His fame triggers rape survivors. Survivors who get broken then see their assaulters not only get on with their lives but who are put on a pedestal while the survivor is called a liar or mentally unstable; assaulters remain free to assault others. ‘Free’ not in the carceral sense but as if permission is granted by society for abusers to thrive.

I can’t recall if I’d heard about Bowie’s anti-semitism before his death. I also read “actively anti-racist” as a descriptor but I see stories of him as a white saviour. Let’s not use this moment to redefine what is anti-racism. Rock Against Racism started against Bowie. Then he reportedly changed. Racism is a business, as is charity or media statements against it. Transphobia has been colonised into cultures, then culture places gender bending white performance as revolutionary.

“Though he’s helped many folks realize their gender and sexual identity, while he impacted the gender binary, it’s imperative to credit most of that – along with the acceptance he was shown by pop culture – to the fact that he was white, male, and wealthy.” Impacted the gender binary for whom?

Kemp’s fascination with kabuki in particular was a major influence on Bowie’s gender-bending ways. “The main thing [Bowie] got from Kemp was his taste for turning life itself into a performance, another Kabuki-like influence,” Ian Buruma writes in the New York Review of Books. “In the old days onnagata actors [men who dressed as women in Kabuki theatre] were encouraged to dress up as women in real life too.”

Lately regarding Bowie, it was his persona’s gender expression people are talking about when they say “gender identity” or “androgyny”. It was appropriation for commercial purposes, a bit like Eddie Redmayne portraying Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl, except no one has been saying that Lili Elbe was intersex! Did Bowie’s impersonating a disabled woman make him an icon for white trans PwD? Is Eddie Radmayne’s role as a PwD praiseworthy?

Mostly white bisexuals, or queers commemorate Bowie speaking of his influence on them or on their genderDoes the narrative change with all the space he gets to occupy around his death?

“At this point, Bowie is beginning to become more commercially successful and some say that his choice to out himself publicly right before the release of his next album was done for purely economic reasons.

It was his album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (commonly shortened to Ziggy Stardust) that shot Bowie into mainstream and commercial success. […] As soon as the world finds out that David Bowie is not heterosexual, his gender expression is more accepted and almost expected. […] This is problematic for those in the transgender community […] and even the bisexual community because their gender expression and orientation is not part of a character or role; that expression is their identity and who they are.”

I wonder if someone had said that he tried to be gay or bisexual by choice (those are valid orientations) and he failed, Bowie didn’t say it, he said he was a closet heterosexual thus mis-appropriating even the word “closet” perhaps, I wonder.

What were Ziggy’s pronouns?

“[…] taking a closer look at some of his lyrics, there are some raised questions about his personal gay pride. In the song “Lady Stardust” Ziggy is “Lady Stardust [singing] his songs of darkness and disgrace.” If Ziggy was strong and comfortable with his identity and proud of who he is (as Ziggy and as Lady), why are his songs filled with darkness and disgrace? These lyrics just raise certain questions about the pride of this strong gay persona. But, in his song “Width of a Circle” off of The Man Who Sold The World, the lyrics seem to demonize the gay lifestyle. The narrator sings that “he smelt the burning pit of fear” and his “tongue [was] swollen with devil’s love.” The song tells a story of a gay seducer and it seems that through these metaphors for gay sex, that Bowie is commenting that they are wrong and sinful.

A Bowie biographer, Christopher Sandford explains that a sexual acquaintance of Bowie said that Bowie and his wife at the time “created their bisexual fantasy” (Sandford 48). It would seem that David Bowie used bisexuality and androgyny in his performance as art and a way to gain fame and money.” Latter quotes from this essay.

“we for whom queerness is not a phase seem to have two options in terms of how we deal with Bowie’s fraught relationship to our name and our stuff. We can be pissed off and view his career as, at least in part, an act of sly cultural appropriation—one of many that pop has committed at our expense over the years. Or, […]”

“Bowie would seem to be a natural fit in this category; you can’t appropriate what you help create. ”

DB helped create what he appropriated from Little Richard, Romy Haag and kabuki?

“The biggest mistake I ever made,” Bowie told journalist Kurt Loder over some beers in Australia, “was telling that Melody Maker writer that I was bisexual. Christ, I was so young then. I was experimenting …” Though many queer fans viewed this recantation as “an act of betrayal” according to biographer Marc Spitz, coming as it did at the onset of the AIDS crisis, Bowie doubled-down in 1993. You can read more here, and about “culturally gay” It just sounds like gaypitalism trying to profit from Bowie’s appropriation or is inclusive of anyone who has money. After all white gaypitalism would rather count Bowie among them than those they leave to be homeless, face violence, live in poverty or die.

Looking at the bigger picture, gaypitalism would rather have someone who was a hebephile freely commiting statutory rapes, and accused of rape on a 30-y-o, upheld as a queer icon even though politics of substitution (Puenzo’s XXY, end of page) of pedophilia/ hebephilia with minority sexual orientation or gender identity vilifies the SOGI minorities. Then again perhaps it is a sign that rich white gays are now immune to that. They’ve had  representation in white popular culture while transwomen continue to be devalued or vilified and non-binary is erased. *Little Richard had been an inspiration for a decade before Bowie, Little Richard was the homeless queer youth turned genius, flamboyant performer, the bisexual alien who embraced that label again 9 years ago.

I have many people to thank for making this eye-opening moment more bearable on social media. I want to quote them all (each and every status or comment I liked or post I  shared has been so valuable, and each presence has been important though I don’t know most of those people) but for readers, here’s a couple:

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“If people only lie about having been raped ~2% of the time (same % as other crimes); If only 32% of rapes are reported; and If only 2% of rapists will ever spend a single day in jail; Then why do we ask “do we really believe he did it” 100% of the time?” — RJ Blank

 

 

The Kinfolk Kollective:

“Y’all can keep all your rape apologists scenarios and deflection:

*Yes, I’ve done plenty of shit wrong in my life. None of that includes raping anyone.

*There’s no complexity to it. I don’t support rapists. If all my idols are found to be rapists, I then have no idols.

*I don’t give a fuck if David Bowie was on his John Brown shit, A RAPIST IS A RAPIST. Keep your fucking white savior awards and ally cookies. They are not rape pardons.

*If we don’t define people by their worst acts, tell me why the fuck OJ is associated with murder more than football? Tell me why y’all CHEERED when Osama bin Laden was killed. Tell me why y’all don’t go digging up all the good done by suicide bombers.

*Ain’t a CD, TV show, movie, clothing line or book on earth that would make me conflicted about calling a rapist what he is.

*Rape culture is a fucking problem. Just because rape is confined, excused and explained away doesn’t make it any less morally reprehensible.

*Stop fucking asking why people are bringing this up now, after his death. I ain’t see none of y’all mention him before yesterday either. Obviously, people are going to have something to say when you’re fawning over a rapist.”

Tony Brazier : I was thinking about writing an article about how there probably won‘t be as big of a deal made when Little Richard dies[…]. At first I thought it was a really good idea, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized no one would want to publish that article. I doubt if you will see as much on Social Media, about the artists that really did something new. Not to discount Bowie, but it’s not like he created a whole new genre, I mean he had 10-20 years of Pink Floyd, the Beatles, ELO, Black Sabbath, etc… to pave the way before him. Richard, and many other black artists made something totally different from jazz and blues and took it out into the world where they faced insane challenges. […]