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by Nina Somera

clip0209A beacon of light was lost, it seems with a death of an erstwhile feminist. Like many who were frustrated with gatekeepers in the country, she found and nurtured a space for herself elsewhere. And with her substance and persistence, her voice echoed back, so strong that she just could not be missed.

Rare is such a person that after her death, her protege could only sigh, "we suddenly need to grow up fast." While she groomed maybe one or two younger women - defended even against her contemporaries, she was generous in supporting the rest of the younger women --- both young in age and in the movements.

Unfortunately not all women have such self-consciousness over one's power nor the grace to respect the space of other women. Not demanding respect for the past or the old is the exception. The operative word is "demand" more than "respect".

It is even more appalling that some other women would be so arrogant to brag about themselves, their past entitlements and achievements, with hardly any regard to existing systems and people, including those who are supposedly in the path to discovering a new skill and a potential commitment.

Then there are the younger ones, who while espousing young feminisms, have not quite imbibed these. While their models remain the mothers of the movements, they expect their contemporaries to be of the same likeness as their idols.

Whatever happened to the I, identity, difference, process, becoming, subjectivity, location that both scholars like Stuart Hall, Avtar Brah, Luce Irigaray, Deniz Kandiyoti and even ordinary folks have imparted?

In the midst of such frustrating contradictions, there is solace among those who toil in the background, who could hardly care less of titles and entitlements. Such arrangement has generated ease for them and their colleagues, who have found renewed faith among themselves towards carving their own spaces.

Because for the more self-assured, it is not about passing the torch from the old to the young. It is about enabling the latter to create the torches that will light the paths they have chosen, paths that are littered with learning and daring, paths for self-discovery.


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