Keep up the good work!
It has been a pleasure to read SWM in recent weeks. Despite the persistence of a few contributors whose standards are below the overall quality of the magazine, there have been a number of excellent contributions -- both by staff writers and regular contributors. Srabonti Ali's piece on incest was a brave attempt at handling a sensitive topic. It would be good to see more of these kinds of issues addressed in the magazine. Similarly, I have been impressed by Rubaiyat Hossain's analytical pieces, including that on the mixed messages being sent around issues of domestic and sexual violence, and romantic love. This is a very dangerous trend in Bollywood, and should be strongly challenged. It is important for men to work alongside women in speaking out against such stereotypes.
Finally, I was intrigued to see that you have a new "face" on board, the presumed youngster "8Teen", who has made a good effort in his/her first piece for SWM. I am sure that he/she will learn further from the excellent contributions of the writers already mentioned, and contribute to maintaining the high standards of the magazine. Keep up the good work, SWM!
A belated response
This is a belated response to Rubaiyat Hossain's article "I know I am a woman" which came into print in the July 1 issue of SWM. After going through the article it seems that Hossain is over-protective for her being a woman. She seems to be a natural hater of the male species. Her point of view was not wrong. But some aspects of that piece of writing were too ridiculous to believe that it was written by a modern woman. Men dominate society, they torture women in ways -- true! But how can one generalise and blame many every man. How can one write lines like "Marriage entitles him to rape her lawfully as many times as he wishes"? Is this all marriage means to Hossain? Again, the writer is not wrong, but all men are not the same. Do women never willingly have sex with their male partners? The conclusion of the article was good. The suggestion given by the writer was pragmatic. But I think the writer was too pessimistic in describing the present, painful conditions of Bangali women. All men are not that bad, Rubaiyat Hossain! Open your third eye!
IBA, Dhaka University
Welcome back, Richa!
It was amazing to read Richa Jha's piece "Gentle Birth". I am a woman of 26 and I am seeing people getting pregnant and giving birth around me. So far I have felt like it is the most painful and brutal process, but there was always a part of me that wanted to believe that giving birth is actually a very special experience. But I also despise the tendency to glorify motherhood and childbirth, because it comes from the patriarchal authority as a mechanism to gain hegemony over women and oppress them even further. Richa Jha's piece on the other hand gives us a very different outlook on childbirth. She talks about communicating with the baby, which I found to be the most special thing. Richa Jha is talks about childbirth from a point of view which is rewarding, empowering, and most importantly, enjoyable for a woman. I feel that's the way childbirth should be. I have seen way too many young women get pregnant, be stuck with the baby (since abortion is not always a socially acceptable option) and give birth under the most miserable conditions. What I get after Richa Jha's piece is that childbirth can be rewarding only if it is a conscious decision made by the woman without any societal, patriarchal, and emotional manipulation. Thanks, Richa, for helping me gain my faith in motherhood and childbirth as a spiritual experience. I send my love for you and your two children.
I am very happy that Richa has come back, the pair's 'life' gets 'life' again. You write of life, and touch its every slice exactly. Each story is as simple as it could be, and at the same time as true as it should be. It speaks of your life, my life and in fact everybody's life. And for those who argue against your points, I say they have not experienced life. For them I can only say, make slices of life, be it sweet like sweet cakes or sour like stale cakes, analyse it, and you will find what Richa is talking about. Richa's story-telling is perfect in every sense. Great job, Richa! And congratulations on your new baby. The newborn must be the sweetest cake in your life's slice!
Department of EEE
Congratulations to Richa on her being blessed with a new child and welcome back to "Slice of Life"! Her piece "The Unbuttered Slice" was a great read after such a long time of her absence that was felt profoundly by her readers. We had missed Richa badly, but did not want to disturb her. I recall the great write-up where she talked about the coming of her second child and telling him/her about the harsh realities of life in a wonderful way which reminded me of the great song titled "Welcome to the Machine" by the legendary classic rock band Pink Floyd. The world today and this cobweb-civilisation, is indeed a trying time for mankind. Human values like love, compassion, honesty, tolerance, fellow feeling and the like have been replaced by hypocrisy, indifference, intolerance, hatred and a robotic approach. A look around the globe at the insane killing of innocents in wars and bomb blasts make one hopeless. Congrats again to Richa, and we look forward to relishing your slices - buttered or unbuttered!
Rafiqul Islam Rime
On mental abuse at school
For some weeks, newspapers have been reporting physical abuse inflicted upon students by teachers, but long-lasting mental abuse has not been reported or even mentioned.
Along with government educational institutions, some of the country's best private educational institutions are infamous with their mental abuse stories. These schools claim to have the best teaching staff that does not use physical punishment. At a reputed school in Dhaka former student of Class 4 was accused of dirtying the toilet and was forced to clean it to avoid suspension. An accusation the boy denies and, as far as is known, he was indeed innocent. In another case, a former teacher of Class 2 of the same school, who is now vice-principal of another school in Dhaka, is said to have used words like "brats", "slump kids", "budtameas" (ill-bred), etc. Both the teachers escaped punishment because they had good relations with people in the administration. These activities would definitely leave a long lasting mental scar upon the children. In certain cases, some students were forced to leave school because of discrimination based on social status, insulting remarks about their performance, characteristics, attitude, etc. The person with the highest authority in school is said to have used profane words in public. These activities take place in a school which has a reputation for firing teachers who are not up-to-date with the latest teaching strategies or who are unable to create the best learning atmosphere. In any case, the best atmosphere for learning is the place where students feel at home and discipline is maintained with a mild nature rather than a whip of tongue.
Ifthekar Haque Chowdury
New York, USA
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