Web Series & Starters
Lauren (WIGS Youtube Channel)
Lauren is about a young woman soldier who reports her gang-rape by fellow soldiers and the consequences of this decision. Both Troian Bellisario, who plays Lauren, and Jennifer Beals, who plays her commanding officer, skilfully portray the struggles that women face in the military. The writing is sharp yet complex, and the series does not shy away from making the audience uncomfortable (as one should feel) through its subject matter. While the setting is a military base, the manner in which assault is addressed is universal. From victim blaming and shaming, to the internal struggles that the survivor faces as a result of a system that is skewed against her, the series delves into the stigma that is still attached to rape. The discussions on women in the military is one that does not seem to have an end in sight; and with that in mind, this series has never been more relevant.
Books & Main Courses
Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan (William Dalrymple)
Think of any volatile geographic region in the world and it’s a very good bet that the root of the issue there stems from some sort of abuse of imperial/colonial power. Afghanistan is the textbook example of this, seemingly facing invasion on a regular basis – from the USA, to Russia, to the UK, which is the focus of this book.
The First Anglo-Afghan War, which began in 1839, led to utter decimation of the premier military in the world – by nothing more than poorly equipped tribesmen. However, what makes this book so engrossing & thoughtful is Dalrymple, aside from travelling to some of the most dangerous areas on the planet for research, has told this tale from the point-of-view of several characters, thus developing nuance. Not every Afghan, as is so often portrayed in mainstream media, is a bloodthirsty quasi-animal, reckless in battle. His thinking process is examined, rationalised and put in the wider context of the struggle for Afghan independence.
Dalrymple is also unrivalled in his storytelling. There is just enough detail for us to mull over; there is just enough subtlety to allow us to draw inference to the current, parallel military situation in Afghanistan. If you have even the slightest interest in Middle Eastern imperial history, then this book should be foremost on your reading list.
Podcasts & Desserts
Barriers and Boundaries: The Guilty Feminist
While the podcast has made me laugh out loud and scare strangers on the road by shouting “Amen” to things being said, this particular episode on Barriers and Boundaries was a more serious one. The guest for the episode, Avery Edison, is a transgendered woman who spoke about an incident where she was detained and discriminated against in an airport, as a result of being queer. Deborah, similarly, called attention to the boundaries that often get crossed by people in authority and what it means to stand up in defence of personal space.
This podcast has been particularly enlightening and life altering (not an exaggeration) for me because of the community that it has created of its listeners. Engaging with other GFs (guilty feminists) has been enriching for me because it has created an open safe space for dialogue on very real issues. This is definitely worth checking out!