Questioning Feminist “action” Abroad







Culture Shock/Reverse Culture Shock:

Picture taken in Bangalore outside McDonald.

The patriarchy in India strongly divides labor of men and women even in developing/westernize areas like Bangalore. At first it was shocking walking down the streets seeing 90% men working, driving, and standing. Then once I arrive to school I see the majority of the student body made up by women.

Most people working jobs that require face to face contact are men while many jobs that require minimal face to face contact are occupied by women. As time passes the culture shock has began to pass and I have become comfortable in this community although the reverse culture sock still has a strong hold on me. I have heard/endured many racist western superior remarks about the culture, people, and customs here in India.

Picture taken at Golden Temple (Namdroling Monastery) in Mysore.

Many students in my study abroad group don’t agree with these racist remarks although there isn’t much being done or said about a problematic presents from certain individuals with our group. Instead catty remarks are made behind close doors but never fully confronted. This dynamic has lead me to question what it means to do feminist work within our communities.

What it means to be in a community where racism is kept hidden in the shadows. Even in the circle of those who call themselves “feminist or advocates for social change” hold harsh judgment of Indian traditions and people. I began to ask myself “Is this what we do as feminist? Is this the American culture?  Complain about things we don’t agree but never confront it? Where does that get us? What type of energy does this action/non-action create?

How do we confront racism and make a difference? This reckoning has brought me to challenge myself. I will no longer stand for unproductive criticism of others. I will push to change the unproductive negativity by exploring ways of addressing racism in our study abroad community. I will also push myself to address problematic notions of Indian culture head on, even if that means having uncomfortable conversations.

Picture taken at Mysore Palace.