Love Dhakka


Penny Mathews

This is a crap culture to fall in love in. I kind of get why people will voluntarily go for arranged marriages. There’s no place anywhere to troll for potential mates. Gay men, you would think, have it easier, but actually, while gay men have a lot of places to find sex, there aren’t that many avenues for true love, or even true-enough love, in our culture. There is, however, a lot of fucking and running.

With straight people, there are more avenues – you can go out on dates and have relationships that are acceptable in culture. But even there, you have to fit a very narrow, tight definition of “girl” and “boy” to be successful, and that success tends to be outward more than inward. Macho guys and girlie girls. No variations allowed.

It’s luck and patience, finding a partner in love, and really hard work sticking together. And I think that’s true for gays, bis and straights – here anyway.


Childhood Homophobia

When I was 15 or 16 years old, I had a falling-apart relationship with a boy who wasn’t at my school, a really close best friend whom I adored, a crush on another boy who’s now a good friend, and a (now very occasional) sex-buddy who was a girl.

Quite possibly at this time it was a toss-up who was more important to me – my boyfriend or this best friend of mine. He was waning and she was waxing, and I definitely worshipped at the altar of her. Still do, to some extent.

She was utterly straight and very homophobic. (She’s stopped with the homophobia now.) She used to say that these two sisters who were a year behind us were fans of my various studenty activity because at least one was a total lesbian. She had a crush on me like I wouldn’t believe, said my best friend. I said, heh, um, heh, no, why would she even know she’s, i mean, it’s scary IimagineIdon’treallyknow you know to say um heh really?

At school, there was also a couple, classic butch-femme dichotomy, who flaunted their lesbianness and didn’t give a fuck about anyone. Someone said (I think it was Boy I had Crush On) that they’d ben seen in the back, making out; and someone else said they’d been seen having sex; and someone else said; and someone else said.

I talked such trash about those girls. I would roll my eyes along with everyone else, laugh at all the disgusting jokes, the whole nine yards. My heart slammed in my chest every time they came up in conversation, or walked by when we were all sitting together.

It’s no fun pretending you’re not something you are, and it makes you act like an abominable shithead.


Coming out again and again and again

I’m visitig family these days and my cousins, all of whom are younger, all have significant others. The youngest is 16 and he’s got a new girlfriend he’s terribly excited about. The oldest is 20 and has bee with the same guy for at least 4 years. All my cousins, despite my secret predictions, are straight (so far, anyway). And the whole famikly is really open to them being in relationships that are probaby quite physical.

I’ve been feeling awkward and strange since I got here because I can’t talk about Lovely to any of them. Not that I couldn’t come out to this side of the family: I could. But my mom doesn’t want me to because I’ll leave and then she’ll have to deal with making sure my aunt doesnt’ blab to my grandparents (who really can’t handle it and shouldn’t have to, I guess) and the low grade generica homophobia that is going to come from them. It wouldn’t be fair to my mom and it would be a huge family event and so, yeah, I shouldn’t tell them.

And yet. My aunt, my oldest cousin, her boyfriend and I went out for a late night dinnery snacky thing last night and my aunt asked me if I was being fixed up back home. I talked like it was completely normal and I talked about not having a boyriend and not wanting to get married any time soon (not exactly true, the marriage thing, but what can you say if you haven’t got a boy). In short, I acted totally straight and it didn’t even ruffle me, I didn’t even stumble over it. I just had a deep urge to say, well, I do have someone and she’s awesome. I had a deep urge to say, well, my father does try but the reason he’s being as weird as I’m describing to you is not because he’s old fashioned but because I came out to him and he wishes I wasn’t in a relationship with a woman. I wanted to say all these things and I was unable.

I suppose it’s easier. Or better. Or something. I feel like I’m betraying Lovely every time I hide our relationship from someone. Because, barring the most difficult, dangerous situations, she would want to be out. She is less out than she wants to be because of me.

Once upon a time, for a very short time, we were living abroad and we were out to everybody. And that was good. I didn’t understand a year ago when I finally made contact with some queer women in Lahore why they felt like it was so hellish to live there, even when they had some support, like we do. Now I’m sort of getting it. Maybe we should move.

Anyway. I wish I could tell my family. I think they’d take it in their stride. Weird stride, but still.


Why is everybody such a fucking victim?

The blogosphere is stupid place. It encourages stupidity. It did so way back when it wasn’t a blogosphere, but just a bunch of bulletin boards and chat rooms. It did so when all we had was listserves to wank on. But now, stupid has proliferated into a kind of art form.

My favourite stupid of the moment is the stupidity in using the term “safe space.” I learned it when I was in college, in my women’s studies classes, and I learned pretty much simultaneously that there is no such thing as “safe” space. There might be “safer” spaces, where you specify what constitutes your personal safety and can agree on that with a bunch of other people, without threatening them over some issue of safety that you haven’t discussed already because of your own privilege and blindness.

If this logic is not easily followable, it’s because I wrote it wrong. Suffice it to say that some contexts are safer for some people than other contexts; and when people are in the minority, then they will seek out similarly disenfranchised people, hang out together and feel relatively safe.

Well and good. But when feminists decide not to feel safe at the drop of a hat because someone else on another blog has said something disagreeable – I don’t know where to put my head.

So, two things that are pissing me off lately:

1. “I’m such a fucking victim and so in danger all the time because I have a cunt and the world is so unfriendly to cunts that, even though I spend all my time with other cunts, I’m in constant danger from the cuntless and the cunt-appropriator and the traitor cunts.” Fuck that shit. I don’t know what’s so  radical about only engaging the choir (she says as she refuses to invite her own non-choir to this post… sheepishness ensues). I don’t know what’s so radical about fighting with other people who are fighting for female power. I just don’t get it. What happened to engaging patriarchal discourse? Oh. This.

Shit, I linked it. Now I’m in trouble.

2. “You can speak here ’cause I say so and you’re annoying me and lalalala I’m putting finger in ears now, I can’t here you, OH SAY CAN YOU SEEEEE!”

On the one hand, I absolutely agree. It’s a blog. It’s owned by a person. It is not a public forum, it’s a private forum publicly available. The blogger has every right to throw whoever she wants off the blog.

On the other hand, it’s so ridiculous to start a controversial conversation, get a fuckload of negative feedback that argues with you, some of which is downright rude and obnoxious, and after a while, just delete the lot because you didn’t like how it went. The blogger is, I must point out, within her rights. But it’s just so… ridiculous.

I get the impulse. I’ve had some comments on here that really made me feel like shit. But people think like that. People have horrible opinions – of women, of queers, of sex-positive feminists, of feminists against prostitution and sex-work, of transgender folk, of bisexual folk. People are horrible.

But surely the purpose of blogging publicly is to reduce the horribleness of people, one’s own and other people’s? I mean, what’s a feminist intervention if you’re in a safe space all the damn time?

There’s a bunch of examples I could link, but I’m lazy and I’d rather spend the time weeding through the reference literature for my thesis than trawl through the web re-looking at things that pissed me off.

Yeah, I’m just that pussy.


Calling All Desi Queers!

Having spent some time hanging out with the mostly US feministie group, I gotta say – they’re great but have nothing much to do with us. I don’t know who us is – Pakistan, South Asia, Muslim, some combo – but it’s not them. It’s just a different world out here.

So where are you guys? Girls, more specifically, but I’ll take the guys. What are we talking about? What does queer even mean? Does someone have a definition? Because to me it’s more than an alternative sexuality. It’s a lot more.

And there needs to be conversation. There is already conversation in India, I know that. And there’s conversation off the internet, I’ve heard it. But let’s bring it online.

OR if it’s already online, tell me where it is. I’m quite tired of feeling so fucking useless. And I like to talk. Don’t you like to talk?



I’ve been doing the rounds of the feminist blogs a bit lately. And I’m finding them a bit difficult to swallow. The big ones, that is. They are a bit angry. A lot angry, actually. And the blog posts themselves don’t express as much anger as the commenters who visit the blog. So that feminism is this contested territory in which you can be a bad feminist or a good feminist, depending on what you are in favour of (pornography and sex worker rights!) or against (pornography and sex workers!).

The American blogs, anyway. There’s only about five of us desi feminist bloggers, so we just huddle together for warmth (Hey, Ladies! How you doin?) It’s not that I don’t get anything out of these blogs – I do – but a lot of the content is at such a far remove from anything that seems really relevant that, like all foreign hegemonic systems, I wonder if it doesn’t need some sort of counter strategy.

And there’s the bile. The vitriol. That’s just pointless.

I wish there were more desi feminist bloggers though. It’s not like they aren’t out there. And it’s not like they’re too busy fighting off dowry death and shaking their fist at the government. There just isn’t much writing. Or talking. Or expressing interesting things, organic things, that come up from here, from us. It’s all a little hard to swallow.