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Using both beautiful poetry and vivid prose, Seema Taneja is a versatile writer who writes on long-held societal prejudices as well as contemporary events that illustrate the condition of women in India.
Every month, Women’s Web recognises the contribution of 3 talented writers from our community, who bring you thought-provoking, engaging reads. Seema Taneja is one of our 3 featured Authors of the Month, this October 2017. You can find her writing here on Women’s Web, and on her own blog as well.
Authors are often asked this question, but everyone has their own reasons, very personal to them. So, why do you write?
I have been writing ever since I can remember. I was perhaps seven or eight years old when I wrote my first story about an orphan child. In fact, my parents tell me that I have always been immensely observant of my surroundings and people and creatively inclined enough to put my thoughts into words. When I was around ten or twelve years old, there was some upheaval in the political scenario in my state and I had penned a few couplets narrating in my childish vocabulary how the commoners were affected by corruption and inflation yet the leaders were busy in fighting amongst themselves.
So for me it has always been like this. If I am deeply affected by any incident- a leader’s statement, a crime, a social issue and I feel I must share my thoughts, then there’s no better medium than through my writing because written words have a more far-reaching and lasting impact than mere discussions among family or friends.
I write simply because I need to write to express myself; be it through poetry, fiction, a play or article.
What do you enjoy reading? Does any of it help your writing?
I like reading classics, mystery, crime thrillers, contemporary poetry, fiction and poetry related to social issues especially women and children, both in Hindi and English. It helps me in gaining knowledge, gaining an insight and developing a fresh perspective. Reading different genres broadens my range of writing and refines my skills as a writer. I am a sucker for news and reading newspapers helps me in writing about various social and gender issues, unequal distribution of resources, hypocrisy in political dialogues and actions and also double standards in social media.
I am equally adept in expressing myself in Hindi and English and quite a few of my writeups have been published in The Times of India, The Anonymous Writer हिंदी, mycity4kids, बकर अड्डा (Bakar Adda) and of course my favorite platform, Women’s Web. Besides contributing on multiple platforms, I also write on my personal blog and Facebook page regularly.
When it comes to writing on/for/about women, what questions and issues drive you the most?
I am immensely perturbed by the deeply entrenched patriarchy and sexism in our society because it deprives our women of their rights as an equal human and citizen and pushes them into subservience. Right to nutritious food and access to schools and hospitals, right to free speech and movement, right to dress as they wish, right to equal work, equal wages and safety are denied to women as if they are second grade citizens in their own country.
Continuing with orthodox and sexist rituals in the name of culture and traditions is nothing but perpetuating obsolete symbolism to deny women an equal space in society. When women have started going out to earn and share the responsibilities of men, when they are proving themselves as equal to men in every sphere, when the defining lines between traditional roles of men and women are gradually fading, then why do we have to perpetuate male superiority through our ancient rituals and symbols for married women? Why do we have to put women on a high pedestal as goddesses and then expect them to sacrifice not only their aspirations, desires, rights, health, comfort but even their identity to pander the male ego? We also need to do away with inherited stereotypes like calling a daughter as the son of the family if she’s earning and supporting her family. Why can’t a daughter/sister/daughter-in-
Do you a consider yourself a feminist? Why/Why not?
Yes, I am a feminist, have always been. But I am a feminist who is not on a collision course with the men. I believe that men and women are not competitors; rather they complement each other. I believe in equality of genders and don’t want that in our pursuit to secure justice for women we begin to discriminate against men. I seek equal rights and free spaces for ourselves but not by oppressing men in turn. I believe that in order to secure true justice for women, we need to fight for equality between genders not fight for becoming superior to men.
Name 3 other writers or bloggers on Women’s Web whose writing you enjoy reading.
It’s really difficult to choose three out of the so many bloggers whose writing I absolutely enjoy but if I have to name three they are (not in order of preference): Kasturi Patra, Anupama Dalmia and Akshata Ramesh. It’s because of the diverse topics they choose, their refreshing ideas on feminism, gender issues, parenting, ethics in corporate sector etc and excellent range of articulation that I love their writing. I also look forward to reading Tanvi Sinha for her bold, forthright and straight-from-the-heart articles on women’s issues. Tina Sequeira’s articles on movies and actors, Jyotishree’s articles encapsulating Women’s Web’s weekly twitter chat and Anju Jayaram’s travelogues also interest me.