Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Gender: Poked with Fun

The Solidarity Walk went fairly well today, despite the slight drizzle that threatened to push our route indoors, not having cukup masa to do our silkscreen stickers that we wanted to hand out, and slightly kucar-kacir when it came to mobilising people - especially those not directly involved with katagender - to tunjuk their support.

Starting at 5:00pm, we hung about outside of Kiosk 24 jam, waiting for people to turn up. First with not much anticipation, then as more and more people joined us, the playful spirit started to grin. By the time H & Z datang with our printed white cloth that bore the World March for Women logo, we had I think, close to 20 orang. With 2 journalists - one from CIJ & another from Keadilan (I think?). Cool! Yay! Thank you berjuta-juta for support! Also to KOMAS for documenting the whole action for us. Looking forward to seeing the clips, and also for some stills (since I stupidly tertinggal the kamera in the kereta! bodoh!)

So we slipped on our wrap-around skirts, sarongs and selendangs, most of the boys and some grrls put some lipstick on, grrls etched some dishy moustache on our faces with eyeliner and mascara, and we were ready to walk the talk :)

First the brief:

Why this walk?
To demonstrate our solidarity to the global women's movement to claim public spaces in sufacing women's rights as an issue that concerns everyone. From freedoms to equality to peace to justice to solidarity. We were very much part of this world-wide struggle for a gender lense to these issues. Our commitment to walk on a Monday, a couple of hours before buka puasa, was our small effort to tonjolkan this semangat solidariti.

Why X-Dress?

A playful poke at the absurdity of rigid gender roles. What makes a man, a man? What makes a woman, a woman? Why the hysterical need to assert the boundaries? What happens when we rearrange the signifiers on "normal" bodies in "normal" spaces? It is precisely the need to uniformly attach strict gender markers and all the values, privileges, marginalisations and exclusions that they signify onto particular bodies that creates a whole host of other social costs that are barriers to equality.

Why KLCC to Bukit Bintang through Jalan Raja Chulan?
A route that is focussed and dedicated to consumption, demonstrated through mega besar malls, we felt it was important to destabilise the normativity of these spaces through our bodies. Particularly since the roots of the World March for Women was invested in poverty. Plus lots of pedestrian traffic, and more opportunities to engage in dialogue.

How did it go?
Pretty interesting. There are some lessons learnt, but some good stuff that surfaced:

- connections between activists and people interested in issues who usually operate in different spaces and events coming together, even if it was a relatively small group of us.
- the gender transgressions, even though - or maybe precisely because - it was not a 'neat' or complete crossing, was responded to as threatening, quirky, interesting, weird, needing policing and performative. One guy especially started talking about how god made day and night, and men are day and women are night, and we shouldn't mess about with it, etc etc etc. Another guy said, no, he didnt want to ask questions sebab takut misai! padahalnya, dia pun ada misai lebat! misai aku bukannya bulu pun, lukis je... but interesting how a few dark lines penned onto the face can create such discomfort.
- our lack of materials to hand out meant that we actually were more compelled to walk up to people and engage random orang to berdialog & berdiskusi. Halfway through the jalan-jalan, getting tired of eyes that wanted to stare but resolutely refusing to be fixed into a reciprocal connection, we wrote "Tanyalah", "Ask me" on pieces of A4 paper and held them up as an offer for questioning. Some people did decide to tanya, which was cool :)

Trying to search for pictures I took on my phone to put on this blog, but can't seem to locate them. Maybe esok! Thinking maybe puppets next year...

No comments:

Post a Comment