STYLE ICON: Fatoumata Diawara
Breathtaking and talented with an eclectic style all her own, Ivorian-born Malian singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara is an undeniable beauty and a woman of many trades.
Not only does she sing and play the guitar, Diawara has appeared in several films including Cheick Oumar Sissoko’s 1999 feature film La Genèse, Dani Kouyate’s Sia, le rêve du python, and the musical Kirikou et Karaba in which she played the lead role.
Watch her World Sessions live feature here.
The Gulabi Gang is an extraordinary women’s movement formed in 2006 by Sampat Pal Devi in the Banda District of Uttar Pradesh in Northern India. This region is one of the poorest districts in the country and is marked by a deeply patriarchal culture, rigid caste divisions, female illiteracy, domestic violence, child labour, child marraiges and dowry demands. The women’s group is popularly known as Gulabi or ‘Pink’ Gang because the members wear bright pink saris and wield bamboo sticks. Sampat says, “We are not a gang in the usual sense of the term, we are a gang for justice.”
“Haenyo – The Indomitable Diving Grandmas of Jeju Island”
They call themselves haenyo (pronounced hen-yuh), which literally means sea women and the whistling sound they made preceding their exit from the depths is called sumbisori. They are representative of a centuries old tradition, one which transformed their island in to a functioning matriarchy but a way of life which today is in danger of disappearing forever.
The island of Jeju, 53 miles south of mainland Korea, lies at the watery crossroads of the Yellow and East China Seas. Diving for conch, octopus, urchin, and abalone had always taken place there but due to large taxes was never very profitable – something men would take up if there was no alternative. That was until a canny group of women in the 18th century realized that women did not, unlike their men folk, have to pay taxes. A loophole was about to become a living.
The haenyo (sometimes spelled haenyeo) do not use oxygen tanks, which would only weigh them down and make their difficult task even harder. Their black wet suits and goggles are all they need to descend to the sea floor to collect their bounty. The skills they possess serve them well now – and did so too under the Japanese occupation of the Second World War. Many haenyo became heroines of the Korean resistance movement.
Learn more about these awesome women over at Kuriositas!
[via The Presurfer]
[tw mentions of brutal state violence and sexual violence]
notes: i use south korea and “ROK” (republic of korea) interchangeably. i also use north korea and “DPRK” (democratic people’s republic of korea) interchangeably.
if you’re going to reblog something about the haenyo, then PLEASE read about how jeju island, home to the haenyo, fierce and peaceful villagers, and so much ecological beauty is in danger of being turned into just another strategic location for the US military. the US military and the south korean government want to construct a naval base on the village of gangjeong, which is “surrounded by three UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites and nine UNESCO Geo-Parks on an island that is designated a Global Biosphere Reserve. Construction is accelerating daily with the dredging of the island’s seabed and its coral communities currently underway. Many observers of the region believe that the Jeju Island naval base will serve as a port of call for the U.S. military’s sea-based component of its ballistic missile defense system.” (savejejuisland.org) the militarization of jeju island (an extension of US imperialism and the US/ROK war machine) is supposed to be to “defend” against DPRK. it won’t, if only for the fact that the destroyers that are planned to be stationed there aren’t even designed to defend against DPRK’s missiles.
jeju islanders haven’t just fought against japanese colonialism, but have also struggled against different imperial forces as well as the south korean government (which, of course, HAS ALWAYS BEEN an extension of the US empire). in 1948, the people of jeju island rose up to refuse the blatantly skewed and corrupted election that brought syngman rhee, a korean american US puppet, into power. upon taking the presidency, rhee (with the backing of the US and UN) massacred about 30,000 people (others estimate between that and 60,000), killing at least ten percent of the island’s population and razing about 70% of the villages on the island to the ground. the sexual violence and prolonged gang rapes committed at that time were horrific. of course, this was to “suppress communism.” few years later during the korean war, jeju island was still repressed and also used as a site to detain communists. this history, which is still pretty recent, serves as an important background (or at least i think it does) for thinking through what’s happening in jeju and in korea. especially because the same types of people have pretty much continued to be in power. current president lee myung bak follows the exact traditions of all the shitty oppressive exploitative korean leaders before him. militarism, anti-communism, love for US imperialism, political repression, police state tactics, neoliberalism and capitalism, same shit different time.
it’s disgusting and appalling that after what the south korean and US governments put jeju island through, traumatizing generations of the indigenous people, they’re pushing ahead to build a naval base on gangjeong village, destroying the environment, completely disregarding the votes and wishes of the people, arresting protesters, and censoring the media. the ongoing construction of a naval base on jeju island, along with the recently (illegally) passed KOR-US FTA (which was passed in FOUR MINUTES in a sealed chamber amidst huge demonstrations), demonstrate the continuing unity between US imperialists and the south korean ruling class in fucking over the rest of korea (north AND south). this has been the case even during the days of japanese colonialism (see: taft-katsura act and how the elite korean collaborators/officials installed by the colonizers were kept in power by US forces post-“liberation”).
this is all relevant to the article i’m reblogging because 1) the haenyo live in jeju, 2) the pollution that would come from the naval base would destroy the environment that haenyo need to fish in, and 3) the struggles that jeju islanders continue to experience are results and projects of imperialism.
i also take issue with how this article exoticizes haenyo and their “way of life,” as if they didn’t also experience misogyny and oppression. being a haenyo is some fuckin grueling work. does being a woman diver actually mean that these women have institutional or economic power equal to or over men? it is some bullshit white feminism to assert that haenyo doing some hard physical labor is indicative of “equality.” and while it is sad to see that such a long-standing tradition seems to be fading, i think it’s being heavily romanticized in the way that most articles about haenyo just make me feel uncomfortable.
a recent survey taken in gangjeong indicated that “50 percent of haenyo were suicidal and 70 percent are extremely psychologically stressed.” how you gonna romanticize that? and back to the military base: haenyo were bribed by government and naval officials to support the construction of the naval base, promised economic compensation and a hospital for elderly haenyo. and that indicates something more sinister at play than a benign passage of time. an elderly haenyo said that “if there was no money, they would all protest the base,” as the haenyo of hwasoom and wimi also did. if we are to be so concerned about the continuation of haenyo tradition, then i think it’s important to examine what these women are experiencing economically and why. apparently, the money they were bribed with was what they could make in one year. (Naval Base Tears Apart Korean Village)
the construction of this naval base is tearing apart a community. haenyos who have dived together for the past forty years are divided and fighting with each other bitterly. (Naval Base Tears Apart Korean Village). the destruction wouldn’t simply stop at the construction of the base, either—US military presence and “US interests” in general (which always comes w/ sexual violence and rape) in korea have always been especially devastating for women and girls. and the environment that so many jeju islanders and haenyo rely on would be damaged irreparably.
i think it’s extremely irresponsible to circulate and exoticize images of haenyo (even if they are incredibly beautiful) without taking stock of what is happening in jeju right now, and what is threatening haenyo’s livelihoods in a very immediate way aside from this depoliticized trope that is more about old ways slowly becoming obsolete THAN about thinking through WHY certain ways of living become less and less feasible with time (here are some clues: imperialism, globalization, capitalism, militarization, which all have to do with gender violence as well). the OP was apparently written just five days ago. what i wanna know is, how the FUCK do you write about haenyo and include such beautiful photography of them and jeju island without even fucking mentioning that all of that is in danger? are you shitting me???? UGH. okay i’m done.
you can read up more on SAVEJEJUISLAND.ORG and KPOLICY.ORG, on the current status of the struggle and what you can do to support jeju. sorry if this is really sloppy writing but i wanted to respond to this somehow while i still had energy to write. :\
This photoset is making the rounds again. Please read miswritten’s commentary. It is important.
Another proof, that the U.S. still hasn’t given up their wish to have the Pacific and a stronghold in Asia. And this shit isn’t just in South Korea, but other parts of Asia and the Pacific as well, such as my country, the Philippines. I’m sorry folks but if you are from the U.S., this is your country. See how “wonderful” it is to the rest of the world.
Just so you know, this blog just became a Haunani-Kay Trask appreciation blog and always will be. When I first read her essay The Color of Violence, it was the same feelings I got when reading Malcolm’s autobiography.
Here’s a taste of some of her writing:
“Racism is not only history and sociology, economics and politics. Racism is also the psychology of subjugation. The inferior must be made to feel inferior every day, to suffer their subjugation, to be dehumanized in accordance with the colonizer’s rules. Thus, as Frantz Fanon so eloquently argued, colonized people, like colonized cultures, are no longer open, dynamic, and fertile. Once colonized they become moribund, oppressed, segregated, closed, or apathetic. They must negotiate a hostile world and a menacing daily reality with great care lest they suffer increased injury. Is it any wonder that white Americans, on the whole, live longer than Black people, and Native people? For the colonized, the colonizer is a killer; literally, a killer.”
WHAAAAAATTTTTTTT?!?!?!?!?! This woman is the baddest ever. I will post more of her truth bombs in the future!
Kimberly Anyadike at 15 years old (now 18) became the first African American teen to fly across the United States! She is now a finalist in Seventeen Magazine’s Pretty Amazing Cover contest, where one inspiring, extraordinary reader will be chosen to have her story featured in the magazine along with her picture on the cover ! Interview with Kimberly coming FRIDAY! :)
- Vote for Kim here:
And also she was Vice President of her class.
And she’s already finished a year’s worth of college credit.
And also she’s getting her pilot’s license within the year.
Oh and she’s going to UCLA.
To become a doctor.
So she can join Doctors Without Borders.
And fly herself out to treat patients.
I mean I’m not telling you what to do or anything.
But all the cool kids are voting for her sooooo
SIGNAL BOOST SIGNAL BOOST SIGNAL BOOST BECAUSE THE WORLD NEEDS TO HEAR ABOUT BADASS BLACK GIRLS
Amrita Sher-Gil (Punjabi: ਅੰਿਮ੍ਤਾ ਸ਼ੇਰਗਿਲ) (अमृता शेरगिल) (January 30, 1913, – December 5, 1941), was an eminent Indian painter, sometimes known as India’s Frida Kahlo,and today considered an important woman painter of 20th century India, whose legacy stands at par with that of the Masters of Bengal Renaissance; she is also the ‘most expensive’ woman painter of India
BY: JOE DORAN （杜乔）
In 1801, a pirate named Zheng Yi was busy raiding Canton. Aside from the prerequisite plundering and rum-drinking, he had given his men one specific order: to break into a local brothel and bring him the prostitute Zheng Yi Sao (郑一嫂), or “Zheng Yi’s wife”.
One might expect a sinister fate to have awaited Zheng Yi Sao upon her deliverance to the pirate captain (rape, swiftly followed by murder, being the most obvious). In actuality, Zheng Yi’s intentions were considerably more gentlemanly.
He intended to marry her. And recognizing that her current future prospects were rather limited, Zheng Yi Sao accepted.
But Zheng Yi Sao didn’t intend on spending the rest of her days as some plunder-hungry pirate’s eye candy. She wanted to become a pirate as well, and she did – one of the greatest pirates to have ever lived.
That first part doesn’t do justice, here read this:
Right from the get-go, Zheng Yi Sao displayed a staggering degree of cunning. She happily accepted Zheng Yi’s proposal, but only on the condition that he share his wealth and power with her, equally. Then, while her new husband went about his pirate duties – further plunder and rum-drinking, presumably – she focused on the business side of things. The result was that in six years, she had engineered an alliance between Zheng Yi and his former pirate rivals, amassed a force of some 1500 ships (called the Red Flag Fleet) and created a swashbuckling empire that extended all the way from Korea to Malaysia.
Zheng Yi certainly knew how to pick ‘em.
Unfortunately, Zheng Yi was killed in 1807 after a misunderstanding with a typhoon. Unfortunate for him, but extremely fortunate for Zheng Yi Sao. Refusing to step aside like a good, diligent widow, Zheng Yi Sao took charge of the Red Flag Fleet, convinced her late husband’s First Mate to support her and swiftly set about making herself the most respected and/or feared individual in all the East.
If films/books/video games have taught us anything, it’s that pirates were a rowdy bunch at the best of times, and their attitudes towards women were…less than progressive. Zheng Yi Sao, of course, was having none of that and quickly established a new pirate code to keep her peg-legged men in line. Anyone who looted a town that had already paid tribute had their head cut off and was dumped in the ocean. Anyone caught, or even suspected, of stealing from the treasury had their head cut off and was dumped in the ocean. Anyone who raped a female prisoner had their head cut off and was dumped in the ocean (there’s a pattern there somewhere).
Needless to say, Zheng Yi Sao was not messing around. Not all her laws were quite so decapitation-happy, though. Ugly female prisoners were to be set free, and when a crewmember purchased one of the prettier captives, he had no choice but to marry her.
But if he was unfaithful…head cut off, dumped in the ocean.
After just one year leading her pirate hegemony, Zheng Yi Sao had formed one of the largest navies on the planet, with some 17,000 men under her command. Extorted tributes from merchants across the Chinese seas and from the coastal towns between Macau and Canton swelled her treasury to staggering levels, and her power was so great that she became the de facto government of the region. No longer was she merely a pirate; she was an entire political entity.
Wow. And in Pirates of the Carribean, what do we have? Oh yes, Keira Knightely’s white womanhood is threatened with rape by the evil!Oriental pirate, who’s subsequently killed off so that the white woman who could put on some ridiculous Orientalist garb and take over the fleet. Yea, not gross at all *sarcasm*