Last Saturday, 31 October 2015, was an interesting session at Prithvi Theatre on “Are Women the Second Sex still?” which was part of the ongoing #TATALitLive2015 from October 29, 2015, to November 1, 2015, at NCPA and Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai.
The panel had eminent Feminist scholars from around the world to discuss this.  They were: Germaine Greer, Mona Eltahawy and Shobha De.
Germaine Greer
Germaine Greer is an Australian writer. She is regarded as one of the major voices of the second-wave feminist movement. She is the author of the most renowned book ‘The Female Eunuch’ written in 1970. Some of her other books are ‘The Whole Woman’ in 1999, ‘White Beech: The Rainforest Years’ in 1999, ‘The Beautiful Boy’ in 2003, ‘Daddy, we hardly knew you’ in 1989, ‘The Change’ in 1991, ‘The Obstacle Race’ in 1979, ‘Shakespeare’s Wife’ in 2008 and many more. In her book, ‘The Whole Woman (1999) she says, “did not see the female’s potential in terms of the male’s actual.” She further states that women’s liberation means to embrace sex differences in a positive manner- a struggle for the freedom of women “to define their own values, order their priorities and decide their own fate.”
Mona Eltahawy
Mona Eltahawy is a freelance Egyptian- American journalist and commenter living in New York City. She has written essays and co-eds for publications from around the world on Egypt and Islamic World, including women’s issues and Muslim political and social affairs. Her work has been published in Washington Post, The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor and Miami Herald. Her first book ‘Headscarves and Hymens’ was published in May 2015. The book ‘Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution’ is based on misogyny in Arab society. She has been a strong critic of Hosni Mubarak regime and the Egypt- based Muslim Brotherhood. She describes herself as a secular, radical feminist Muslim.
Shobha De
Shobha De is an Indian columnist and novelist. She is known for her depiction of socialites and sex in her fiction works. She regularly writes columns for The Times of India and Asian Age. Books written by her are Socialite Evenings (1989), Starry Nights (1989), Sisters (1992), Sultry Days (1994), Shooting from the hip (1994), Second Thoughts (1996) and many more.
Greer gave comparisons between Indian society and culture and the West in relation to issues of the old woman, mother-in-law and gang rape cases. She also spoke about Elton John’s marriage to David Furnish and adopting two sons under surrogacy where the mothers were unknown.  Following is the link – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/germaine-greer-criticises-elton-john-for-naming-husband-david-furnish-as-sons-mother-on-birth-10274618.html
Further, she stated that a dead women’s uterus is being used with chemicals injected which is then transplanted into an alive women’s body. The end result is ‘quality product’ delivered. Women are simply used for bringing in the next generation. Otherwise, men simply hate women and could do without them.

Egyptian writer, Mona Eltahawy states that how a women’s body is not her own but is controlled by men in her lives. She does not have control over her body. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is done to 91% of women in Africa and Egypt in order to control their sexuality. (Her book ‘Headscarves and Hymens’.) She spoke about her experience of how she wore at the age of 15 a ‘Hijaab’ and then stopped wearing it after 8 years as it did not serve the purpose. She narrates her experience at Haj in Mecca where she was groped at. She felt violated and ashamed at that time and how it took her 8 years to remove the Hijaab.

Shobha De mentioned about how BBC documentary -‘India’s daughter’ was banned in India. A documentary which is about Delhi gang rape case. Are women still safe on the streets?

From all of the above, the common message here is that it is not isolated to one region but women from all over the world have been subjected to misogyny and patriarchy is responsible for it. There needs to be a Sexual Revolution as stated by Mona Eltahawy. “I own my body. Not the state, not the temple, not the mosque.” Mona Eltahawy’s declaration on Sexual Revolution #TataLitLive2015. She states there is ‘tri-facto misogyny’: political, sexual and social. So, there needs to be a revolution for it.

 

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