First things first.
- I love Team Gaysi. I love MJ. I admire her commitment and dedication.
- Nothing I write here is a personal attack. Infact, I have a go-ahead from the Team to write this post.
- I believe that it is human nature to generalize. We all generalize, including me.
- It is an individual’s choice whom they are attracted to and not attracted to (including specific race, color, body type etc..)
- I respect and value freedom of speech. We all are entitled to our opinion.
Now, this post is to say I am very disappointed and upset by some of the comments made in the latest podcast – Gaysi Podcast 5.0 : The Indecent podcast.
Especially the line below was extremely hurtful to me.
South Indian women are hippas man, they are not petite in any sense. North Indian women follow regular hygiene, more polished and are girly-girly”
As I said above, we all generalize. But at what cost?
- South Indian women are conservative, South Indian women are shy, South Indian women play hard to get – Generalizations, Many might not feel offended
- South Indian women don’t maintain personal hygiene, South Indian women are not polished, South Indian women are hippas – Generalizations that are to an extent derogatory, many might feel offended.
I don’t understand why these were not edited out, especially when QC and Broom were obviously irked by these comments and Broom even said those lines needs to go. I don’t buy that it is just “us being silly”. Well may be it is. But the moment, two people in the podcast feel irked, it should have been enough signal to realize, not to go ahead with the comments. In whatever context you hear it, these comments are offensive. It is worse if you are are a South Indian or fat or butch. I am a South Indian, I have a history of bullying for not being “masculine” enough, so I know exactly how many woman would feel if they were called “not girly”. To do that to an entire race, in the name of fun and entertainment is insensitive. If we think comments like this provides entertainment, then we are opening a Pandora’s box.
I have no doubt that MJ’s comments were not intentional and she didn’t mean to hurt anyone. And it is her choice and freedom to say whatever she wants to say. We all stay stuff like this among friends, but is it okay to have that in a podcast that is intended for the community? Freedom of speech comes with its limits in public forums, don’t you think?
How are these comments different from Straight men saying – “Lesbians are mean, fat and ugly”. Of course it is their freedom of speech, and some of them do believe so (based on their limited exposure to Lesbians), but would it be okay if someone posted such a comment on Gaysi? Would it be okay if someone wrote north Indian men are Sissys?
Gaysi will not allow homophobic or transphobic comments. But why? If it is all about freedom of speech, a Gay man who writes for Gaysi might want to say “Transgenders are public nuisance” or “Bisexuals are cheaters”. Isn’t that freedom of Speech? Why is it not okay? Because we are a LGBT website? If that is so, I see so many problems here.
No. 1: Singular identity: We are assuming that our readers have a singular identity. Queer! I want to share few lines from a piece feminisit and activist, Shiva Subbaraman wrote,
For over twenty years, I have been trying to “come out” in the US –as a Tamilian (whose cultural and political ethos was often marginalized in the national politics of that time); AND as a Brahmin (shaped by the anti-brahmin rhetoric and politics which gave me a particular sense of my privilege and put my marginalization in context); AND as a feminist shaped as much by Sivasankari (a Tamil writer) as Virginia Woolf; AND as a woman married to a man who chose to walk in the queer world; AND as an activist and an academic. The US however demanded a somewhat uni-dimensional coming out: a singular, lean lesbian.
I identify myself as Gay, as a Tamilian, as a South Indian, as an Indian, as a South Asian, as Queer and as many other things. I will be offended by insensitive Gay jokes as well as insenstive South Indian jokes.
No.2: “Other” minorities: Many Indians in the US, are racially sensitive, but they are homophobic. They don’t use the N word, they don’t make racial comments against Hispanics, but they mock their fellow Indians who are Queer. I am sure many of you heard the story of how SALGA was denied entry in the New York India day parade. This is the mindset many minorities have. Do we want Gaysi to be one of those?
When I go to desi Gay clubs abroad like Sholay or Kali, there is a clear northie, southie divide. North Indians think they are superior and they show it, to your face. (Some, not all). I have been asked where I am from and when I say I am from Chennai, folks ask me “Really? You don’t look like you are from Chennai.” For them if you are polished, fit, light skinned (relatively, not that I am ‘fair and lovely’) – then you can’t be from Chennai. They have a typical “Quick Gun Murugan” type image of Chennaiates on their minds. And I realize MJ has a unhygienic Mango dolly on her mind, inspite of having these many South Indian folks in her circle. That to me is disappointing.
Again MJ, was among friends and is totally allowed to speak her mind. All I am saying is as a space for Gaysis, we shouldn’t be posting such things publicly, knowing it would hurt and offend people. We can’t and shouldn’t take political correctness completely off the table. As a community platform, we have to be sensitive to our readers feelings. I am not saying, we have to watch every single word we speak, write or post on Gaysi. Sometimes, we might say or write something that ends up offending people. But if and when we know that it did, we should be able to apologize, correct ourselves and make sure we don’t repeat it.
What have we achieved with these comments? I can guarantee you that they alienated people. As a South Indian, I feel alienated and targeted. Even if it is a few handful of our readers, why do it? Podcasts can be made enjoyable and fun even without such comments, don’t you think? If it was me, I would have apologized and taken the podcast off, respecting the feelings of readers and others in the team. But that’s me. My fellow Gaysis think whoever feels offended are welcome to write about it on Gaysi, as it is an open platform. That is also a solution. And I respect it. So here I am, venting it all out and registering my opposition. I owe this to a lot of people here.
Thanks for listening!