I’m finally getting into the grove with my classes. I’m keeping up with the reading for Queer Histories, Queer Cultures because it’s really cool, and not those for Equality and the Law because it’s more outside what I’m used to. For the first 3 weeks for Equality and the Law we read case studies. Have you ever read case studies? As someone who has never really studied law, most of the text felt superfluous, I didn’t understand what it was referring to, and so I had a hard time picking out the relevant bits. Now we’re on to theory for 3 weeks and I can take a deep breath of familiarity. Queer Histories, Queer Cultures is a history class focused on the history of queer life in London. We look at source material in and out of class. It’s so interesting. It is really neat to learn where and how queer life existed in London, what areas has what perceptions, as I’m becoming familiar with the areas myself. In the 1950s Soho was known to politicians and police as an area of sexual depravity- long the home of female prostitutes and more recently to male homosexual public encounters. Now it’s full of gay bars! I’ll be visiting the new lesbian bar in Soho this weekend- She bar. Man bar and GAY bar already exist, but are primarily geared towards, you guessed it, gay men. I appreciate the straight-forward nature of their names.
They have strikes every other week here, I swear. I’m not criticizing, it’s just something that stands out to me because it never happens at home! This Thursday, Birkbeck is having a strike and the Tube will be on its third day of strike. I don’t have my usual class because my teacher is part of the College Union striking and is politically active. To be fair, a lot of people wouldn’t have been able to make it anyways because of the tube strike!
Today I saw a film called Saving Face at a showing hosted by the newly inaugurated Birkbeck Pakistani Society. It was about a London-based British-Pakistani surgeon’s work operating on the faces of women who were victims of acid attacks at a clinic in Islamabad, and about the women’s experiences. The plastic surgeon, Dr. Mohammad Jawad, was present for a Q&A after the screening along with a religion scholar-student from Harvard. Pretty cool to hear from the man we had just sat and watched on screen. It was an eye-opening, informative film and I highly recommend it. I went because acid attacks and Pakistan are both something I don’t know very much about, so I figured I’d go get some education. Pakistan recently passed a law more highly criminalising acid attacks and sending a message that the offense is taken very seriously. Incarceration rates for acid attacks have doubled in the past year (if I recall correctly) because of it. The most common acids used are hydro-chloric and sulfuric acid. D: . In the past year or two, the Pakistani government made it so you need a license to purchase acid, but before any old person could buy it and it was commonly used for cleaning. The literacy rates there are low- definitely lower than, say, Bangladesh, The U.S. or UK, so many women are not aware of their rights, leading them to suffer instead of enacting them. Many of the acid victims are women who have been attacked by their husbands or other men- because of refusing proposals, wanting divorce, or acting in a way their husbands deemed ‘improper.’ It’s horrific. The acid actually melts the skin, and often damages one or both of the eyes, often permanently. Acid attacks and such poor treatment of women is by no means unique to Pakistan. I believe it’s Columbia that has the highest rates of acid attacks, on men and women, per capita. The U.S. has more domestic violence than the rest of the world. But what’s important is that Pakistan has acknowledge this issue and is working to fix it. I wish the U.S. would follow suit and work a little harder on domestic violence…
I had to grab a quick lunch between work and the film screening, so I visited Planet Organic on Torrington Place. I remember it being under renovation last time I was in London… I would walk by it en route from the Ridgemount hotel to Goodge St. Station. I got a triple threat colorful salad combo to go- purple (beets), orange (carrots), and green (broccoli)- along with a couple things I was craving: summer rolls, matcha latte, and belgian ale. The beer was organic! Woo. The food was all yummy, but I won’t be going back their often because it’s a tad pricey and places like that make me want to buy everything. Everything looks delicious, nourishing, and sustainable (to both body and earth). That’s the key: I feel like an ethical consumer when buying products at stores like this, so I buy more because I not only do not receive a guilty conscious, I feel like I’m doing something good.