Friday, June 25, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Dalit feminism to the fore

Dalit feminism to the fore

G Babu JayakumarExpress News ServiceFirst Published : 25 Jun 2010
04:31:01 AM ISTLast Updated : 25 Jun 2010 09:53:47 AM IST

CHENNAI: "The struggle against onslaughts on Dalit women's bodies will
be an epoch-making one as it would create situations demanding the
rewriting of history," thundered a woman poet at an academic session
of the World Classical Tamil Conference on Thursday.

The seminar on 'Dalit Studies' at Mangudi Maruthanar Arangam with
Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) MLA Ravikumar on the chair, saw
Thenmozhi, a poet, making a distinction between feminism and Dalit
feminism. In her paper 'Passing power - physical body, social body and
Dalit body', Thenmozhi said that all women do not face the same kind
of oppression. "They do not encounter a common type of power
structure. Perhaps there could be some common features and that could
give rise to a sense of temporary solidarity. Yet Dalit women face a
different power structure and suffer varied forms of oppression,"
Thenmozhi said, setting the tone for the new breed of feminism.

She said that all problems of our times were more or less related to
power. "It is doubtful if the idea that power flows from a point is
relevant now," she said, adding that it was doubtful if there could be
an escape from it. "This is a fact that all those caught in some form
of bondage or the other through oppression more so with someone who
identifies herself as a Dalit woman should reckon with."

The strident voice against oppression sought to fight all forms of
exploitation and domination not just those based on gender. Thenmozhi
said Dalit women have the need to be highly aware of all forms of
exploitation and power structures they face as they would be entering
the war field alone.

She pointed out that all governments till recently followed the Manu
Dharma, adding that the formation of alternative governments had not
completely weaned the administration away from the influence of
ancient Dharma shastras that uphold certain traditions.

Apart from Thenmozhi, A Murugupandian traced the history of Dalit
poetry while V Prabhakaran and K Nagarethnam spoke about Ayodhiya
Dasar, one of the foremost Dalit intellectuals.

Ravikumar wondered if Dalit poetry has lost its fervour.

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