Yesterday the feminist book club met up for the fourth month in a row, yay! This time at Rack and Brew in Gadong, to eat fries and soft shell crab kolomee, drink green tea and ginger bread lattes, and to discuss Ayisha Malik’s Sofia Khan is Not Obliged. I’ve talked about this book previously here, and it was great to hear what other people thought about it and remember parts I’d forgotten or hadn’t thought about!
Interesting fact: one book club member picked up the sequel, The Other Half of Happiness, in Singapore last week, while those of us who were relying on Amazon noted that both the .com and the .co.uk had the sequel coming out on April 6th for Kindle.
There were a lot of conversations going on yesterday, here are some of the ones I remember:
- Polygamy – its practice, issues of consent and cultural acceptability, how it’s been misunderstood/misappopriated/abused as a practice and ideology, the burgeoning Western interest in and acceptance of polyamory. How do we understand ideas of love, HEAs?
- Feminism in Bruneian classrooms! With a few teachers in our midst, it’s always fascinating to hear about how they approach the topic, the kind of kick-back they get, the resources they use (Trevor Noah included). Of particular interest, what kind of feminist role models work in the Bruneian context? The Nicki Minaj model is so linked to a particular kind of sexual revolution and freedom that it’s hard to get students to connect; Emma Watson was flagged up, Noor Tagouri —
- Conversely, local issues like domestic abuse, the local, cultural and religious valorization of motherhood and housewives (clause: at the expense of other choices) the insistence by local men and women that feminism isn’t needed in Brunei – signalling a societal/cultural reluctance and resistance to feminism as ideology, in part because of the perceived dissonance between —
- Feminism and (acceptable, normative) femininities – bra-burning, man-hating, books like The Power (which might be our July read!), strident femininities versus soft-spoken, tudong-wearing Muslimah femininity.
- A question came up – one member was slightly incredulous – do women generally really feel fearful when walking down streets, getting catcalled, etc? I can’t speak for others, but I certainly feel uneasy, and am made aware of the threat that exists. I don’t know if I’d say I’m fearful exactly, but I’m always always aware that there is potential for fear.
- Comedy as a vehicle for boundary pushing, esp in regards to the previous night’s Bruhaha event.
- Book wise – The Hole in the Wall. How did everybody picture it? Some did a semi-detached house, another did a food hatch in the wall, yet another said doorway with beaded strings hanging over it.
- The various male heroes in the novel – Naim, Imran, Abid, Conall – how they matched up with Bridget Jones heroes, and who was able to predict from the start that Conall was the Real Romantic Hero? (I didn’t! How how!)
These are only the conversations I remember and which I was able to listen in on – I’m sure others went on around me that I missed out on! (At one point one member and I were discussing Buzzfeed and local digital platform Muslyfe so I’m sure similar tangents were happening around us.)
Our chosen book for April is Jami Attenberg’s All Grown Up. Looking forward to it. I’ll close out this post with my favourite thing, a pie chart estimating how we spend our time during book club. Disclaimer: probably only about 50% accurate.