FEMINIST FRIDAY: Romper’s ‘Doula Diaries’ Web Series & Rima Kallingal’s Epic TEDx Talk

Welcome to another edition of Feminist Friday! That part of our weekly schedule where we do something a little different and share a few of our fave videos of the moment, all of which fit into our inclusive definition of intersectional feminism. This week there is focus on the intersection of race and gender, making these videos all the more important. If feminism fails to recognize the intersections of a number of other issues, it cannot be relevant in today’s society.

First up is an original web series from Romper, a website dedicated to all things motherhood. ‘Doula Diaries‘ highlights the very important work of birth doulas who help a mother giving birth feel supported, safe and capable of enduring what can be a very difficult and painful experience. Season 1 follows 4 doulas who are helping women from a variety of different cultures and backgrounds, proving their services are not just for the affluent.

“A lot of times in birth, a lot of focus is on the baby. And doulas are there for the moms,” says Emilie, one of the featured doulas.

In the US, we have the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world (which affects black women 3-4 times more than white women), among other disparities toward pregnant women. Being the only industrialized nation not to have any form of federal paid leave program also can add to stresses and complicated decision-making for women wanting to start a family. Doulas are offering a support system that pregnant women perhaps cannot get elsewhere depending on their circumstance, as the US healthcare system is riddled with inequalities and complexities.

“Romper’s ‘Doula Diaries’ tells the stories of doulas, the women they serve, and the invaluable work they do. Because at the end of the day, birth is unpredictable, and things don’t always go according to plan,” says the website’s description. Watch all four episodes by clicking here, and see the trailer below.

The second video is the trailer for a feature-length award-winning documentary called ‘Essence of Healing: Journey of American Indian Nurses’, by director Loretta Heuer. It follows the life journeys of 14 American Indian nurses—their experiences growing up, their experiences in nursing school, and their experiences on the job.

“These 14 individuals are not just American Indians. They’re not just nurses. They are part of a larger story—a historical line of care and compassion that has run through hundreds of indigenous tribes for thousands of years,” says a description about the characters.

The documentary originally premiered in April 2016 and has since gone on to win a number of awards at film festivals, and is continually being screened at a number of academic and health institutions because of its focus. The film is set in North Dakota where each of these nurses live and work. According to the Bismarck Tribune, there are now programs dedicated to retaining Native nurses. The North Dakota State University has an Indigenous Wisdom in Nursing (I-WIN) program, and in 2016 a mere 2% of its near 14,800 graduates were Indigenous.

Filmmaker Loretta said she wanted to use the film as a way to ask how the they can get more Native students into the profession of nursing, especially as they can serve the specific needs of their community, while also breaking down barriers to accessing nursing programs.

“There weren’t any role models in the media, as American Indians aren’t always portrayed in a positive manner,” she told the Tribune.

Healthcare is indeed a feminist issue, and an intersectional one at that. It’s important for us to learn about the various issues that affect different communities, raise awareness (as this film is doing) and work alongside those hoping to make change. Watch the trailer to ‘Essence of Healing: Journey of American Indian Nurses’ below.

The third video this week is a TEDx Talk from popular Malayalam actor Rima Kallingal, which has been getting a lot of buzz around India lately. In her 14 minute talk, she breaks down gender discrimination and how she has been fighting stereotypes from a young age, even before she knew what it was.

She begins her talk proclaiming she is a feminist, and that her feminism began with a fish fry.

“Once upon a time, my family was seated around the dining table with my grand-mom, dad, my brother and myself. My mom is serving food and never in her entire life has it occurred to her that she can actually sit down along with us and we can all serve our own food. But that story is for another day. And today, she does three fish fries and she makes sure that the oldest one at the table and the two men at the table get one each. The 12-year-old me sees this and weeps. I’m deeply hurt and I demand to know why I am not considered deserving of the fish fry,” she told the audience.

She chose to mention the fish fry story as a starting point after being on the receiving end of trolls who told her on social media that she should, essentially, be given some fish fry and shut up. As outlined by Thenewsminute.com, feminism happens in every day life situations, from the wage gap to who gets to sit at the table and get served fish fry (in her case). Gender disparities are so ingrained into certain cultures and often result in bigger problems.

In India, it is very common for women to eat separately, and after, men in the family get their food. According to the 2017 Global Nutrition Report, 51% of Indian girls and women between the ages of 15 and 49 are suffering from anemia.

“An article titled ‘Why Indian Women Must Eat With Their Families, And How It Can Change India‘ published in India Spend in 2017, states that the practice of most Indian women eating their meal after the entire family has eaten, makes women and children ‘hungrier and sicker’,” writes Megha Varier.

This cultural trend may seem harmless to some, but statistics also show many Indian women start pregnancy underweight and gain little weight during pregnancy. This can lead to low birth weight babies, high rates of neonatal mortality, and less successful breastfeeding. All of a sudden, Rima’s fish fry story and the feminist message becomes a little clearer and more important. Today, she fights for gender equality in a number of areas. Along with other actresses in the Malayalam movie industry, she founded the Women in Cinema collective, a rights based group dealing with issues faced by women in the Movie industry.

Watch Rima’s TEDx Talk below:

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