South Asian feminist & activist Sangeeta Pillai
I’m Sangeeta Pillai: an activist, podcaster, writer & speaker. And the creator of the South Asian feminist platform Soul Sutras. I’ve won many awards for my Masala Podcast and have been featured in the press a lot. But here’s what keeps me going: the hundreds of messages I get from my sisters who tell me that my work “changed their life”. It makes me tear up every single time…
Soul Sutras was born from my personal struggles…
I grew up in a slum in Mumbai. I experienced traumatic domestic violence in my family as a child. And this shaped my feminism early. I had to fight for everything: to cut my hair short, to wear what I wanted, to choose the job that I wanted. And I had to fight very hard to not have an arranged marriage…like everyone else around me. I was the first girl in my (very traditional) Keralan family to ever have a job, to go to university. Like so many other South Asian women, I grew up surrounded by shame and taboo. Particularly, shame around my body, my sexual self, periods….the list was exhausting. This inspired me to create Soul Sutras.
I want Soul Sutras to be a safe space for millions of South Asian women & girls, something that I never had…
I had never heard the word “feminist” in the Mumbai slum where I grew up, in a very conservative Indian family. And yet, I grew up with a fire in my belly, an instinct that my life had to be different. I was determined to have a life that was different to that of my mother, my grandmother and the generations that came before.
I created Soul Sutras to be a feminist platform for all my fellow Bad Betis. Which means, all South Asian women like me who refused to do as we were told.
I want Soul Sutras to be a safe space for us to express ourselves openly, without shame or fear. To explore all sorts of cultural taboos from sex, sexuality, periods, menopause, mental health, shame, sexual harassment to…nipple hair! To take those bits of our culture that work for us and to let go of the bits that no longer serve us. To hear stories of many inspiring women. And ultimately, to feel less alone in our life journeys.
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