I challenged and questioned the Asian patriarchy throughout my childhood while growing up on the continent. My childhood was peppered with ‘don’t do’ and ‘not allowed to do’. It was an existence defined in unequal measure by taboos and restrictions but with the freedom to pursue education as a female. The purpose of education was not to question one’s environment or society but to obtain the right qualifications needed to get a well paying job. Being a feminist felt like a white woman’s right, not an Asian woman’s prerogative.
It is heartening to see that there is far less of a void these days when it comes to challenging the Asian patriarchy. Asian women are now speaking up and writing boldly in efforts to join forces to break down barriers. The clamour to be heard uncensored and with frankness is a victory of sorts. While White women are more readily able to challenge the norm, Asian women were silenced by fear from speaking up so as not to rock the boat within families and the society. Silence was the mortar that held the patriarchy together.
Following my appearance on the Channel 4 show, ‘Mums Make Porn’, I was delighted to be invited to contribute to the ‘Break the Silence’ zine on how I want to help Asian women reclaim their sexuality from the taboos and stigma that surround us. As I say in my article, when I use the word ‘sexuality’ I use it in a broad sense to include inner confidence, choosing to dress the way we want to and to make the sorts of choices dictated by subjective reasons.
The brave South Asian women who contributed to the zine have written on a wide array of issues such as mental health, being gay, colourism and other everyday issues that make up the fabric of South Asian lives.
Break the Silence is an enthralling and cracking short read that will take you into the world of intersectionality and culture.