Monologues written by Aksa Saghir.
We will be showcasing a series of short monologue plays, performed via Instagram IGTV @osch.youngpeople to explore young South Asian women and belonging in the UK. The monologues are addressing ideas such as: my heritage is in another country; I keep being told to go home, but ‘home’ is an alien country; losing yourself in one culture; tiptoeing the line between two identities and so much more…
The idea is to examine diaspora through poetic art. The written word is used to explore the feelings of young females within the South Asian diaspora – and how diasporic belonging can be complex for young south Asians who call Britain their home. Diaspora has a deeper meaning for the 2nd and 3rd generations, who are working out how they belong locally, nationally and globally.
“So I was born and raised in Brum, I don’t wanna hear any Brummie jokes because I’m sure I’ve heard them all. It’s where I got my BA, it will always have a special place in my heart. But I left Brum for my masters, for personal and academic reasons. I wanted to be more independent and Brum didn’t do the course I wanted for my postgrad. I ended up in another city that shall remain nameless because I did not have a positive experience but 2 months in I had a lecture I was eagerly anticipating; feminist methods.
I had found my way into feminism at around 15, slowly discovering it through twitter. My bachelors had brought me even more nuanced feminism, I really suggest everyone discovers Thealogy, it changed my life. Most people have never heard of Thealogy, it’s a theory about envisioning God, whichever God you worship, in feminine terms, to see the female as also being divine, not just the male. Of course this already happens in non- Abrahamic religions but for a Muslim this was a new way of thinking.
Anyway, this lecture unfortunately wasn’t on Thealogy, it was on feminist methods of reading religion, I was awaiting this lecture with baited breath. I immediately was sceptical when I discovered the lecturer was a middle aged, middle class white American man. But I thought stop stereotyping. Turns out I wasn’t far off with that stereotype because he walked in and said,
‘I am not a card-carrying feminist, I believe it’s gone too far’.
WHAT? Are you joking? I have to be taught feminism by this bloody American. He clearly had been forced to teach this, as if someone had threatened him, or he had some misguided notion that he was gonna rescue all feminists from their silly beliefs.
He continued, [accent] ‘I just think feminism is not needed. What more do women want? Complete domination??
He kind of reminded me of Professor Snape from Harry Potter, a complete and utter asshole. I still can’t think of a positive thought about him – wait one positive thought he gave me a first on my essay, but it wasn’t on feminism- other than that, no positive qualities.
He also spent the lecture picking on me, at first I thought I was crazy but shortly realised as the only visible WOC making her point known, his reaction to my arguments was very different to his reaction to white women and very different to his reactions to white men.
Following an atrocious lecture, he sends around an email saying he was worried we had misunderstood each other and we should have an open discussion about the lecture. I decided I would take him up on this. I needed to give him a chance. The naïve girl in me wanted to believe I could change his view. I wasn’t alone though, I had Jen.
I met Jen early on in my MA. We became friends but I believe it was this moment that created a solid bond between us. She held similar views to me, we could discuss equality for hours. Unlike me, she was confident getting into arguments with people about her beliefs. I tend to only fight people on twitter or my imagination. I need to work on that, but
I guess that’s the beauty of social media. I can rant at people without the worry of being seen as over emotional, and having time to control my anger. Although that may be to do with me being a visible woman of colour, Jen is also a WOC except she’s white passing so it’s easier for her to be taken seriously. In public, I can feel people discounting my opinion as soon as I open my mouth, online people don’t know what I look like, even though I don’t hide it. South Asian Women can very rarely open our mouths without someone proclaiming that we should be grateful because at least we’re not back in our backwards country – even though they know nothing about our home countries, and should probably educate themselves on how the UK is just as sexist.
Back we go to Jen and I, we went in ready to defend our beliefs, woman power and all! Every step of the way however someone at the university would make a comment that we were arguing about nothing, it wasn’t important, we just wanted to damage a lifelong career. They encouraged us to let it go… but this isn’t, I’m not going to let my beliefs go. Also I’m pretty sure that song was all about a woman taking control of her body and being proud of who she is, I think that got lost on a lot of people.
However, perhaps they were right. The meeting turned out to be a failure. I thought I could change his mind, but I now question why is it my job to educate people about sexism, especially sexism that women of colour face.
But that made me realise that I’ve spent years trying to explain and justify my beliefs and my very existence, my right to be here in this country, in institutions?!?!?
I used to believe it was because people didn’t understand but I’ve come to the realisation that they don’t want to understand. There are people who want to live a life of bigotry and we need to accept that we can’t change that and I need to live with that and somehow move forward in this world.”
Written by Aksa Saghir (Instagram: @anactualbunny )
Performed and edited by Ambiya Khatun