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June 11, 2020

My Rating - 2 out of 5 stars
Publisher - Penguin Random House
Genre - Anthology
Publishing year - 1999
Language - English
ISBN - 978-0-143-44857-0
Pages - 376 

My Review - 

Facing the Mirror is the first book that is based on Indian lesbian experiences. It has more than ninety compositions in the form of verses, articles, short narratives. Ashwini Sukthankar edited and compiled them into a book. 

The tales don't have a particular theme; some are about the first crush, love, or sexual experiences. While some are about heartbreaks, confusion, and forced marriages. In India, people don't address sexuality openly, and homophobia predominates for a long time. People even don't want to use the term Lesbian because they think it is a modern expression, and there are no such people in India, but love between two women exists in ancient Indian texts, and they were treated well. 

While nowadays, there is no one to tell that it is normal to be gay. We talked about being modern but live in denial. We heard the story of lesbian suicides or runaways so they can live with their partner, and some will sympathize. But the big question is, why do they have to take such drastic steps? Why society can't accept them? 

Men always think of women as inferior; they don't have the right to marry a person they want to or study or live life on their own terms, and I am talking about straight girls. Now just think about the lesbians. They have to deal with these craps plus their sexual identity. They have this constant fear, and sometimes the guilt took them to a path of seclusion. 

This book questions the unquestionable, and some of the stories are heart whelming, but a few are very disturbing and legally/morally wrong. Let me explain to you why? 

In one story, thirteen-year Shikha wanted to explore her sexuality; she spent some time at her relative's house where her cousin, who is twenty-five years old, start touching Shikha's private parts when they go to bed. The teenager clearly enjoyed it; now she shared about it in this book like some kind of triumph, but it is not. It is substantially corrupt, and that cousin was a sexual predator. Adolescents are not matured enough to understand illegal physical behavior, it is our responsibility to educate them, and I think this kind of book deserves much better stories.

Another story is about two college lesbian girls who exploit a eunuch (Hijra). As they say and I quote, I realized that Hijras are here only to serve women, especially women like us. This is the most insane and disgusting thing I ever read. I loathe those girls. They were cruel, selfish, and emotionless. You have no idea what kind of things they did to her. I find only a few stories likable, to be very honest. 

I agreed that lesbians face issues, and we need to accept them, and things are slowly progressing. I also appreciate Ashwini's efforts to bring the stories together, but it would be much better if it has some theme instead of scattering anecdotes. Still, the book is much needed and portrays a lesbian's struggles. It also provides them a platform to showcase their feelings that is commendable. This volume is a one time read, and I left reading it; or not to you.

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