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E-Zine / Are Indian Women Invisible?


(In)Visible Indian Women

In response to Nationwide's Mindy Kaling advertisement, a few thoughts about the idea of invisibility by our SL'ers/bloggers.

Invisible By JS
Invisible - magical, mystical, supernatural...not seen by human eyes.

However, in the social construct, it is very human to feel invisible-diminished as a person, as the writer Ralph Ellison described many decades ago, in his national award winning book "Invisible Man". This really applies to anyone..especially the "Invisible Woman"..who feels that her presence is unacknowledged and underappreciated.

Speaking for myself, I am comfortable being visible or invisible, and take some limited responsibility for it

If it is something important and worthwhile to me, which needs attention, I can easily step out of my comfort zone, become visible and demand attention. All things bold and brave come with risks and a price, and when we make ourselves into a "visible target" have to deal with jealousy and harsh judgments. Some things are easier to do, being invisible- in the shadows without distractions and unwanted attention.

When I look back, in most of the chapters of my life, I have been “someone different”..almost a misfit in various environments. Being the only one from a different background and group identity, in most places is almost the norm for me and I have embraced it...have not felt diminished by it. But, the world is changing..rare is not so rare anymore..

The question is also about- how much visibility? What is the purpose of being more visible?

In this social media era where everything goes viral..in a matter of seconds..the high level of visibility that the public spotlight or limelight brings is less exciting and more scary..and as Virginia Woolf says..from time to time..I too like to simply disappear, or wear a mask and become invisible.

"All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others." ~ Virginia Woolf

(In)Visible Indian Women By Meghana

"Mindy and I, and the thousand women I know are only a part of this community- we are not all of it. Not all of us are highly educated sale hunting yuppies living in America, talking about the inequalities in wages while sipping our martinis. There are a million Indian women taking public transportation in India at odd hours to make ends meet, wishing they were invisible to the pervert ideas and actions men force on them. There are a million Indian fetuses wishing their genders were invisible, giving them a chance at life. I don’t know them, I am not them, and I can pretend to be a feminist talking about celebrating "Anne Howard Shaw Suffragist Day" on February 14th- and continue to stay invisible to their cause, painting my work-life imbalance larger than life.

(In)visible? By Madhumita Datta

"Forgive me if I sound pompous, but when you are the youngest person and the only woman in a room full of academics deciding which university gets a National Science Foundation research grant on Nanotechnology, you are the exact opposite of invisible. That was twelve years back when I was a post-doctoral research associate. And it hasn't turned for the worse. Now that I am one of the oldest students among a class full of bright law students with a median age of 24, I am anything but invisible when I engage in a Socratic exchange with my Professor."

Being Invisible? Invincible? By Manou

"I often walk in meetings where there are only guys – most of my meetings are with guys. They seem to expect me to stay in my corner, take notes and not talk much. How do I know? When someone does not look in your direction in a meeting, that’s how you know. How surprised do they get when I start asking for updates and, how much more surprised, when it’s in their language too."

The cult of invisibility By Free Spirit

"When you cast off that cloak of invisibility, the gloves are off. The men show you a grudging respect but attack you in every possible way when it comes time to give you a fair share of anything – recognition, respect, share in property, equal access to opportunity be it walking alone on streets or advancing in the job, equal respect for your work when you get home, you name it. They will use name-calling, attack your choice of attire, attack your lifestyle choices, and here is my favorite one: talk about how they are really "not upset at what you say, but the way you said it"."

Dear Mindy Kaling By Rea Joshi

"So Mindy, step back and reevaluate. If you’re trying to make a point and stereotype us, be my guest. Instead of the woman who tries hard but still fails to get a cab, show a woman studying her architectural drawings, halfheartedly waving her hand to stop a cab. Show us the Indian woman who is walking in the car wash area testing the idea for a walk in automatic shower that she is thinking of patenting. Show a woman stretching out to read in the park. Show her sitting with Matt Damon to have a conversation instead of being rejected right away because she is different. Because that is what we are. Different in every single way. Not your average brown girl, are we?"

Mindy Kaling: You are so wrong! By The Perpetual Misfit

"The real challenge of being a south Asian woman isn’t anonymity or invisibility. It’s that there are too many of us. I feel like the first child who asks the mom “but I thought I was going to be the only one. Like forever!”. So Mindy Kaling, much as I love you, you are so.wrong. Nationwide is NOT on my side. I am hoping not."

Invisible By SK

"When I was on a recent business trip to Taiwan, I felt most at ease in various situations. I was taking a flight alone after a long time and was staying alone after a long time. I was anything but invisible. Folks held doors for me, opened cars for me, wished me good morning and good evening. Or it is very much possible that I didn’t notice if I was invisible to some. At work, being in a field of few women I am anything but invisible. Because if I am there, I am not to be ignored. Working at a place where diversity is valued I am the opposite of invisible."