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Emerging Trend of Feminist Writers

Author : Dr. Neelam Tikkha


This paper critically analyses the feminist attitude as reflected in the works of Ms. Rupi Kaur,
R.H. Sin (whose real name is Reuben Holmes) and Joanna Thangiah. The paper also analyses if
solely social media is the reason of the success or the content which are short bits of wisdom.
Ms. Rupi Kaurs success has been assigned to convenient use of social media. Young generation
is addicted to social media and now is showing presence through expression through various
forms like poems, cartoons and illustrations on social media like Instagram. Rupi Kaur a Candian
writer, who became popular by her Instagram posts and first publication Milk and Honey
(Kaur 2015). The book was hailed as a number one best seller by New York Times. Her million
copies sold in a years time. Milk and Honey a collection of 200 meager lines about love,
hurting, breaking, abuse and healing remained on the New York Times bestseller list for 80
consecutive weeks. Her recent book The Sun and Her Flowers published in October 2017 is
also a best seller. She has celebrities like Ariana Grande as her follower on Instagram. Kaurs
particular brand of celebrity is more akin to that of a pop star like Grande than a traditional poet.
Her Tickets for the London leg of her world tour in spring 2017 sold out in less than ten minutes.
In July, when Kaur uploaded a series of Instagram posts to announce her forthcoming second
poetry collection the Sun and Her Flowers, to be released on Oct. 3 by Simon & Schuster
each image racked up over 100,000 likes. Kaurs explosive success is largely due to her origins
as a social media star (Giovanni). Hence, it is also necessary to study what exactly is the reason
of the success social media or the content.

Feminism Defined:

Feminism, the belief in the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes. Although
largely originating in the West, feminism is manifested worldwide and is represented by various
institutions committed to activity on behalf of womens rights and interests (Burkett).

Concept of Feminism

R H Sin:
R H Sin also represents his feminist attitude through Instagram in various ways like posting
images cartoons, sketches and diagrams. The New Yorker in culture section mentions Its a
fascinating look at The Life of an Instagram Poet specifically, R.H. Sin (whose real name is
Reuben Holmes) pithy bits of fourth-wave feminism have attracted a huge audience online.
Fourteen months ago, Sins pro-female poetry had amassed a whopping 251,018 followers on
Instagram. A year later, at the start of 2017, that number had doubled to 515,164 followers
and it is still growing. In the last 10 weeks, its climbed to 580,000.R.H. Sin though male
speaks pro female. The poems if judged through classic meters and rhythms are far from being
called even a literary piece of writing but, reflect feminist attitude.

A look at the following lines would delineate the veracity of the statement:
I know you. You are the one wearing that

Smile, even though last night you barely

slept. Your selfies tell a different story, the

one you dont want others to know .

Happiness on the surface but theres pain

in your soul. I think the world of you . The

way you stand upright, refusing to fall.

You walk through the madness and if you

had to youd crawl.So to the strongest

Souls I know , to the ones reading this

Now. When the world throws its punches,

Defend yourself & adjust your crown..

Shes either too emotional or too

Cold & youre too stupid to

Understand that the most beautiful

Thing a woman can do is feel. Youre

Too immature to appreciate the value

In a woman feeling for you.

Some of the lines reflect narcisstic attitude which women should develop.
The following two liner poem speaks loudly of how R.H Sin feels about women.

Youre worth it

Theyre just not worthy.


Joanna Thangiah, a 26-year-old student of graphic design of Sydney, uses art to talk about
Feminism . She calls her work reflecting" feminism, mental health and fragments of my inner
monologue." The drawings are in comic-book-style women who are curvy, sexy, fashionable and
sufficiently confident. They talk about body image, fat shaming and sexual harassment. She feels
confident with her body and rejects the Eurocentric belief of beauty, of whiteness, of
desirability, and cisgendered heterosexuality (FII Team). She says that I like to draw and
dream that I'm a space man. My comics are dead, but I feminist art on instagram. (Thangiah)

Her cartoons delineate her feminist attitude and also reflect her pride in the body shape , dark
skin color and is not concerned about the hair on her legs too.
Image (FII Team)

Image :

She feels proud of her fatness she says you dont have to suck it in your belly is glorious so
many people concerned that my fat body doesnt get any dick. Yeah we never had trouble in that
department. Three cartoon image reflects her pride in her body. (Thangiah).
She is confident of her unshapely figure.
She is upset with the pronouns that are being used and hated the binary of respect linked to them.
She believes that women do not get enough opportunities and support for being successful like
men .

Her cartoons express her feminist attitude. "My art initially started off as a reflection of my own
experiences," Thangiah told Women's e- news in an email exchange. "It turns out a lot of people
have shared these experiences, which allows me to help them while I try and help myself."
Thangiah also transforms her drawings into stickers, pins and accessories that she sells online.
(Naili)

joannathangiah
She feels a woman should be more empathetic and supportive towards another woman.

R. H Sin though a male poet but writes lines pro feminist.


good women are tired of giving their love to people who do nothing but break their spirit
. Mighty women are tired of using their strength to hold on to relationships that arent
worthy of their energy these women are capable of walking away and they will.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur is a collection of poem specially for women and teenaged girls.
When Ms. Kaur was a 5 year old child her mother handed her paint brush and asked to draw her
heart out (Kaur, Milk and Honey 2015). Rupi Kaur through her illustrations and poem has
opened her heart out and set on an artistic journey. The poems are replete with a search for Milk
and Honey in a land Canada which has always been termed as the land of milk and honey by
men who find it a land of opportunity and growth . For a dark woman this land still remains to be
a land of pain as mentioned by writers like Rohinton Mistry in his story Swimming Lessons
published in Tales from Firozshah Baag (Mistry, Tales from Firozshah Baag) but for me
life in the land of milk and honey was just a pain in the posterior ( TFB 168). It is interesting to
note that Quite unlike Rohinton Mistry, Rupi Kaur does not come to a negative conclusion. She
is full of positive force and is ready to set the world on fire with her identity, self complacency
and her potentials. She thinks about life to be a journey like demonstrated by Dostoyevsky in his
book The Idiot. It is life, life that matters, life alone the continuous and everlasting process of
discovering it and not the discovery itself. (Malcolm)
The poems flow like a smooth mellow river melting and exposing her heart out. The struggle of
a woman against man to establish an identity and do not remain in an invisible state to him.
Illustrations along with the poems help anchor ideas in proper perspective. The poems will
shatter the reader, tear open the heart and move the reader to tears. She has been criticized for
using social media for her convenience by negative popularity by posting picture of her
menstrual leak on instagram. But, Ms. Kaurs success on social media is because of her bold
statements and illustrations and provide a look into suffering of Asian women that go along with
the poems. Women reader of this collection of vignettes of short poems will feel like looking
into a looking glass. The poems sadden the reader because of the profound misogyny which is
reflected in the writing and additionally, women where they expect love are returned with hate.
The love they get from the male gender is akin to incest and rape. The poems are replete with
hate for men and male relatives who exploited her and handled her like a commodity.

Rupi Kaur mentions a pathetic state to which a woman has been reduced to that of a receptacle
by men
You
have been
taught your legs
are a pit stop for men
that need a place to rest
a vacant body empty enough
for guests but no one
ever comes and is
willing to
stay. (Kaur, The Hurting 2015,13)
Her longing for love is evident from her cry as appears in the following lines
she was a rose
in the hands of those
who had no intention
of keeping her(18).

The most striking lines written by her about woman is being used for the purpose
of creation and recreation but, her inner self is as ugly as her natural biology as
described in the following lines
Apparently it is ungraceful of me
To mention my period in public
Cause the actual biology
Of my body is too real
It is okay to sell whats
Between a womans legs
More than it is
Okay to mention its inner workings
The recreational use of
this body is seen as
beautiful while the nature
is seen as ugly( 177).

Her poems are replete with examples which talk about a woman being treated as a machine
the first boy that kissed me
held my shoulders down
like the handlebars of the first bicycle
he ever rode
i was five (Kaur, The hurting 2015,12)
She describes the exploitation of a five year old girl by her own uncle, cousins and
all wrong men. Yet, she is taught by her alcoholic father to be quiet. She
poignantly mentions

When my mother opens her mouth


To have a conversation at dinner
My father shoves the word hush
Between her lips and tells her to
Never speak with her mouth full
This is how the women in my family
learned to live with their mouths closed
our knees
pried open
by cousins
and uncles
and men
our bodies touched
by all the wrong people
that even in the bed full of safety
we are afraid. (Kaur, Milk and Honey,p36)
The voice of the girl is stifled because exploitation must not surface. Truth is
bitter and challenges a mans world and his indignant attitude towards women. The
girl learns the lesson since childhood to stifle the voice.
You were so afraid
of my voice
I decided to be
afraid of it too(17)
Her lines written to fathers with daughters
Every time you tell your daughter
You yell at her
Out of love
You teach her to confuse
Anger with kindness
Which seems like a good idea
Till she grows up to
Trust men who hurt her
Cause they look so much
Like you (19)
Fatherly attitude is missing and performs an apathetic role which is demonstrated
in beautiful lines
He was supposed to be
the first male love of your life
You still search for him everywhere
It is your blood
in my veins tell me how Im
supposed to forget (16)

the thing about having


an alcoholic parent
is an alcoholic parent
does not exist simply
an alcoholic
who could not stay sober
long enough to raise their kids
The idea that we were still capable of love
But still chose to be toxic (23)
The idea that woman brings dishonor to the family is very strange and weird if she
remains safe and chaste
There is no bigger illusion in the world
Than the idea that a woman will
Bring dishonor into a home
If she tries to keep her heart and body safe(24).
She talks of the cultural chain that pins a woman.
You pinned my legs to the ground
With your feet and demanded
I stand up (25)

On one hand for the quality of procreation a woman is considered closest thing to god
when my mother was pregnant

with her second child i was four

i pointed at her swollen belly confused at how

my mother had gotten so big in such little time

my father scooped me in his tree trunk arms and

said the closest thing to god on this earth

is a woman's body it's where life comes from

and to have a grown man tell me something


so powerful at such a young age

changed me to see the entire universe

rested at my mother's feet (Kaur, The Healing p 49)

The girl child is chained mentally and culturally like the mother earth . Love has
changed to lust which leads to rape and crushing of female soul.
Rupi Kaur demonstrates how love has changed to rape in a world where woman is treated as a
commodity.
Sex takes the consent of two
If one person is lying there not doing anything
Cause they are not ready
Or not in the mood
Or simply dont want to yet the other is having sex
With their body its not love
It is rape (22)
She also talks about what rape does to a womans identity:
The rape will
tear you
in half
But it
will not
end you (26).

The awesome is the concept of divide between mother and father which Rupi Kaur
mentions is like a rift between two countries:

Your mother
Is in the habit of
Offering more love
Than you can carry
Your father is absent
You are a war
The border between two countries
The collateral damage
The paradox that joins the two
But also splits them apart.
It is painful to read the lines that the moment daughter is born she becomes
invisible to the world and loses her identity
Emptying out of my mothers belly
Was my first act of disappearance
Learning to shrink for a family
Who likes their daughters invisible
Was the second
The art of being empty
Is simple
Believe them when they say
You are nothing
Repeat it to yourself
Like a wish
I am nothing
I am nothing
I am nothing
So often the only reason you know
youre still alive is from the heaving of the chest(33).
She calls itthe art of being empty which a woman must learn in a male
dominated world. Use of small i also shows how insignificant is the woman and
being a woman itself means a sinner.
perhaps
i dont deserve nice things
Cause i am paying
For sins i dont remember (Kaur, The Healing 2015,147) The illustration along
with this poem allegorizes it to be the planet earth . Both women and the earth
suffers for sins of others.
She questions man boldly and out rightly
How do you turn
a forest fire like me
So soft I turn into
Running water (Kaur, The hurting 2015, 65)
She belives to be complete and thinks that the idea that woman is incomplete
without man must be given up.

The same desire of a woman to be individually complete is echoed in the poems


of Rupi Kaur as by James Tip tree in her short story Houston, Houston, Do You
Read
Rupi challenges the existing cultural belief of Ardh Narishwar that a woman is not
complete without a man. She boldly rejects the concept of her emptiness by the
belief that woman is complete in herself and needs a man just to complement her.
She can alone illuminate the world with her identity
I do not want to have you
To fill the empty parts of me
I want to be full on my own
I want to be so complete
I could light a whole city
And then
I want to have you
Cause the two of us
combined could set it on fire(Kaur, The Loving 2015, 59)
The healing begins with the idea that a woman is complete and looks for support in
her own company
Loneliness is a sign you are in desperate need of yourself.(Kaur, The Healing
2015,153)
Fall in love with your solitude( 161)
She is a positive iconclast who tries to break the myth existing for ages that a
woman is incomplete without a man
You are in the habit
of co-depending on people to make up for what you think you lack
Who tricked you into believing
another person was meant to complete you
when the most they can do is complement ( 154)
She pities women who look for being complete towards man and looks down
upon them and presents cogently
perhaps the saddest of all
Are those who live waiting
For someone theyre not sure
Exists.
7 billion people (157)
She feels proud to be a woman
I love that about us
How capable we are of feeling
How unafraid we are of breaking
And tend to our wounds with grace just being a woman calling myself a woman
Makes me utterly whole
And complete( 169).
She compares the woman with gold who is as pure as the metal since she has great
resilience to oppression and torture yet returns it with happiness and love to the
world.
She most poignantly mentions the plight of women of color , wherein the body a
woman carries reminds her everyday of the disasters and abuses she has suffered.
The analogy of female body with that of a museum is very striking
Our backs tell stories no books have spine to carry (171).
Your body is a museum of natural disasters
Can you grasp how
Stunning that is ( 173).
Rupi Kaur mentions
Other womens bodies
Are not our battlegrounds (176)
My heart aches for sisters more than anything
It aches for women helping women
Like flowers ache for spring (187)
Ms. Kaur has successfully managed to deliver difficult perspective and emotions in very short
collection of poems. There is a variety both in length and style with the poems. Rupi Kaurs
clean and simple illustrations on almost every poem give an edge to the imagination of the
reader. Kaurs medium and her treatment of her subjects are tied to one another. Hers is a voice
of the future, which is the instantaneous now. There will be others. But we cannot anticipate
them nor mimic them nor know where they lead. (Ali 2017)A strong theme of self-confidence
and finding strength in ones self ran throughout this entire collectioneach section builds upon
it until it cultivates in the last fourth. Overall, its a very important satirical message to the
society. (Bergthaller 2017) Ms. Kaurs poetry speaks for itself. Its raw. It tells a story. Shes
telling her story of a womans experience better than I ever could. It may be only two lines, but
there is so much there in those two lines (Crawford). The reading of the writings of Rupi Kaur
projects a truth that female gender and has been exploited and ravaged by man ruthlessly .
Women have been oppressed since ages Women and nature both have been treated as
commodity and unless women take initiative and firm steps it would not stop men from
exploitation. It is a well known fact that men are exploitative and aggressive by nature.
According to Rupi Kaur the culture and love is already extinct. Poems of Rupi Kaur narrate a
horrendous tale of oriental womens marginalization. A woman needs to love herself and be
proud of her body only then can she save herself from being used as commodity merely for
recreation and creation by man. Rupi Kaurs love sounds like Sapphos tending towards
lesbianism. The poems are a struggle of memory and forgetting that women are meant for
recreation of man and are sinners for being born as a woman. Women can expiate for their sins
only when exploited by men for eroticizing and procreation. Womens bodies are museums that
tell story of disasters.

Analysis against backdrop of classical work:


Classical poets like John Donne , Eliot, Keats or Shelleys works reflect brilliance of mind that
gives an interesting turn . A reader keeps wondering at the brilliance of ideas and images . The
poem The Flea written by John Donne has a wonderful idea. John Donne calls Flea a nuptial bed

This flea is you and I, and this


Our marriage bed and marriage temple is;
Though parents grudge, and you, we are met,
And cloistered in these living walls of jet (Donne).

Every line written by Shelley is timeless and has a permanent value.


The reader will be enchanted to read the comparisons and imagery
The sanguine Sunrise, with his meteor eyes,
And his burning plumes outspread,
Leaps on the back of my sailing rack,
When the morning star shines dead;...

That orbed maiden with white fire laden


Whom mortals call the Moon,
Glides glimmering o'er my fleece-like floor
By the midnight breezes strewn;
And wherever the beat of her unseen feet,
Which only the angels hear, 50
May have broken the woof, of my tent's thin roof,
The stars peep behind her, and peer;
And I laugh to see them whirl and flee,
Like a swarm of golden bees,
When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent, .. (Shelley)
Classical poets followed a pattern, rhyme and meter. The poems reflected acumen
of mind , wonderful images for example Shelleys Ode to West Wind , Keats
Ode to the Grecian Urn and fantastic comparison like John Donnes poems where
contrasting ideas are yoked together.

VI Conclusion:

Joanna Thangiah is popular because of cute cartoons with Feminist ideas. The lines written by
her are popular because they are catchy and suitable for T-Shirt messages or stickers. Rupi Kaur
is better than R.H Sin but, comes nowhere close to classical poets. Classical poets like John
Donne, Shelley or Keats would amaze the reader with the imagery and brilliance of mind. R.H
Sins and Rupi Kaurs writings carry advise for broken, unhappy female souls . The popularity
seems to be more because of the present culture where heart breaks and hurting has become very
common phenomenon. Young generation has also started expressing their experiences.
Furthermore, western world likes to know Eastern culture. The selling culture of East is poverty ,
slum tours, porn and suffering of women. Rupi Kaur wonderfully exploits on it for her
popularity. Additionally, social media and fan following has made them famous and popular .
The lines are not worth even being called as serious writings and will have temporal value.
Present writers have a fan following and social media which helps quick dissemination that
makes them popular. If classical poets like Eliot , Shelley, John Donne or Wordsworth know that
they are being compared with pop poets of today they would turn in their graves with grief.