About

Rita Banerji is an author, photographer and  gender activist.

Her book  Sex and Power: Defining History, Shaping Societies was released by Penguin Books in 2008 (Penguin Global, 2009).  She is also the founder and chief administrator of The 50 Million Missing, an online, global campaign working to stop the ongoing female genocide in India.

WRITINGS & PHOTOGRPAHY

Sex and Power: Defining History, Shaping Societies  was a  culmination of a five-year, in-depth, social and historical study of gender and sexuality in context of power in India.  The book looks at how and why the concept of sexual morality and the sexual customs changed in each historical period in India, and has been described asAn extraordinary take on a subject still a taboo [and].. a new interpretation of Indian history.”  The book also looks at how this power hierarchy of gender and sexuality has lead to India’s female gendercide.  The book was long-listed for the 2008 Crossword-Vodaphone Non-fiction Book Award.  In 2009 the book reached the no.1 spot on Crossword’s best-sellers list in Kolkata. For the reviews, excerpts and other details about the book visit www.sexandpower.info

Banerji  received the Apex Award of Excellence for Magazine and Journal Writing (U.S.A.) in 2009.  She is also a contributing photographer for Getty Images.

Her writings and photography have been published in magazines and newspapers in the USA, U.K., India, Nepal, Hong Kong and Australia.  The publications include The London Magazine, New Orleans Review, and India Today.

BLOGS:

She runs two personal blogs

Revolutions in My Space : has posts on a number of subjects politics, religion, society, environment, literature, art and gender. (click here)

The Sex and Power Discussion Blog explores topics related to sex, sexuality and gender in context of power. (click here)

BACKGROUND

Rita was born and raised in 17 towns and cities all over India. At 18 she moved to the U.S.A. where she lived for 11 years.  She attended Mount Holyoke College and George Washington University in the U.S.   Her fields of study were Ecology, Conservation Biology, and Cultural Anthropology, and she worked largely in the environmental field.  Many of her projects had a gender perspective.  She has worked with the Chipko women’s movement in India (under the supervision of Dr. Vandana Shiva), and with the Institute for Policy Studies and The World Resources Institute in Washington D.C.


AWARDS AND HONORS:

Apex Award of  Excellence for Magazine and Journal Writing (U.S.A.)

Long-listed for the Vodaphone-Crossword Non-Fiction Book Award (India)

National Award from the Association for Women in Science, Washington D.C. for Ph.D. research on acid rain (U.S.A.) [click to view announcement]

Morgan Adams Award in Biology for Ph.D. Research (U.S.A.)

Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, Associate member (-Ex)

Botanical Society of America’s Young Botanist Recognition Award

Howard Hughes Grant for research in genetics

Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities

Award for Student Leadership and Service, Mount Holyoke College

Charles A. Dana Fellowship for Research in Ecology

President’s Award for Commitment and Contribution to Campus Life, Mount Holyoke

22 thoughts on “About

  1. May be someday FEMICIDE will come to an END.One more door you should open and see what is wrong with that picture and try to identify that is kind a Famicide or not. Yes,I am talking about Gujarat…about Swaminarayan sampraday….one thing keep in mind that we are not against them,because all road goes to the GOD….but against their act for women of the world.They (all yogi maharaj and Saints) do not see them,touch them or speak to them and by mistake if they see,speak or touch them; they fast for the day to purify them selves !!!!
    I think they do not see them as a Human..Mom…Daughter…Sister.. To them They are untouchable,unspeakable,un see-able animal.(????).Yet they let them cook for them,let them make Prasad,let them clean-up after them…..!!!! What is this????Surprisingly all woman of that sampraday keep working for them as if they are their Masters,God…they all brainwashed and keep working for them as a SLAVES. That is where my thinking come to find out that this is also a part of FEMICIDE.
    I support your movement.God Bless you……..Jay Shree Ram.

    • I agree Bharat. I think the fact that women have internalized this repression is the biggest barrier to fighting it internally. Till women realize that this is an injustice which they have to reject and fight, we will not be able to move forward.

      • Hello Rita,
        One of the key things you miss out is on the oppression of men. You must know that the patriarchy has not just oppressed women. It is just that the oppression of women is external and very highly visible and the oppression of men is silent and goes invisible through politics of manhood and masculinity.Like a lot of women,most men also have internalized their oppressions and never speak of them, they consder their conditions as naturally ordained!
        It is a pity that when I point out this thing to feminists, they only direct me to go to men’s activist groups and say that this is not in their purview. However, in my opinion this is not only misleading but dangerously wrong. Unless men’s concerns are adhered to and their plights addressed, how can we ever think of liberating women?
        You see, these things are deeply tied together and more so in matters concerning sexuality. Transgender oppression is also deeply tied to the patriarchal oppression of men and women.
        To give you just a few examples of this. Consider how men not attracted to women are treated in society- as simply mere “impotents”. It seems value of an average man in society is tied to whether he can satisfy a woman which is definitely a wrong and unnatural expectation created on men from which there is simply no escape. Secondly, over oppressive masculine gender roles burden men but they fear being seen as lesser men by other men and women and need to hence conceal their real selves from society to fit in. Isn;t this a kind of oppression when you cannot do artistic things,cannot show emotions, cannot love other men (as is the typical “heterosexal” gender role of western societies) and cannot act and feel as you like? Needless to say, many men lead a second-grade life and there is seldom anything done to solve their problems.
        I need your views on this considering you are an intelligent and objective woman.

      • I’ve heard those arguments Tom. And yes, patriarchy may be self-repressive as you say. But its systematic extermination is targeting women in India. 20% of women have been exterminated, and as recent census results show, not before but after birth. See this article. In that regards, arguing for the oppression of men would be like arguing for the oppression of Germans during the Jewish genocide. There’s a reality here we need to face up to!

  2. hallo rita,
    i noticed that you got so many awards from abroad, only one from india. welldone and regards for your commendable work!. But i am not agree with the way you present the article about Desa Pitha. it is not ok to pursue further.
    I register my condmnation.

    • Ganesh Sdn, if condemning an act of gross unethical behaviour is condemnable on part of the author, then you would have to condemn me and I imagine a whole of people in this world.

      We may not be perfect, we may not be righteous all the time… but at least this author’s called a spade a spade…. It takes great salt to stand up against wrongs, especially when done by those considered righteous. And to act and voice out our view against indecent and disgusting behaviour… is the greatest righteousness there is in this world.

      Desh Pita he may be… but this Desh is not his Jagir… It is of all persons, it is your and it is mine…. Treat it as such.

  3. Your analysis of Asaram and Gandhiji is thought provoking…I appreciate your courage to criticise the Gandhi in a congress led India..I have read such details in the book”Freedom at midnight”.I am eagerly waiting for a study about women in Islam and in contemporory muslim society….

  4. Madam, sad to say this is the first I am reading from your breadth of work… and happy to say I have been fortunate to read it. You have as much support as I can muster….. however, how much I can muster may depend on the time…

    Thank you for your truthfulness and for your stand against monstrosity. I have taken the liberty of sending links to your articles to some acquaintances… God willing, there indeed shall be a better place for humanity in the future.

  5. dear Rita,
    I just wrote to an activist in France:
    http://flickrcomments.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/tagged-e-2/#comment-51180

    dear Iceman,
    you wrote in your little essay for example:
    “- What happened to the passion? It was amended , decreased or ended up …
    - Power struggles in Ukraine, Thailand also show the influence of passion. In a fight for freedom or for just better world , protesters find themselves in extremist side , sometimes racist movements and can also switch to something against which they struggled out.
    - Our wounds make us react with passion.
    - take the time to do some real break before falling into an unhealthy passion , in politics or elsewhere…”
    +
    Frizz reply:
    as a German author, with focus on the philosopher Immanuel Kant, I’m always skeptic about enthusiasm. Cool reason was the method Kant tried to support – watching the French revolution with sympathy. But he was not the man to build barricades on the streets. He hoped, that information, words, would be better than swords (or modern: Molotov cocktails). I hope writing is a chance, great enough to support political change. This is written in the times of global internet connection and digital social networks…
    P.S.:
    maybe thought provoking for you?

  6. Dear Rita,
    My name is Uttara Ray and I am responsible for the communication department of (BSSK) Baruipur Sitakundu Sneh Kunja, a Non-Governmental, Non-Religious and Non-Profit making organization dedicated for the upliftment of the neglected poor masses of the Sunderbans and Baruipur. We are working for the orphans, destitute and less fortunate neglected members of the society so as to help impinge on their causes to help the community to strengthen its local capacities. You can know about us by visiting http://www.bsskweb.com
    On course of my writing for the Global Magazine published by our Funding Agency – Global Humanitaria on recent news in India regarding Sexual and Gender Abuse I happened to refer to you and some other personals and their opinions and feedbacks which made Gabriel Díaz who is responsible for the Global Magazine, house-organ of the Global Humanitaria Spanish NGO eager to connect with you as he thinks your viewpoint could have a strong impact on the contributors around Spain.
    I have attached Gabriel Díaz’s contact letter for you and hope you will be kind to do the interview via mail. He shall send you all the interview questionnaires himself and shall be very happy if you could please enclose a few pictures of yourself so that the article could be published in the next GH magazine for next month.
    Hoping to get your response in the affirmative at the earliest.
    Thanking you,
    Uttara Ray

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s