By Jasleena Grewal for Kajal Mag
Madame Gandhi’s collaboration with NorBlack NorWhite reclaims freedom and power. Next week, Kajal will exclusively release Gandhi’s photoshoot featuring NBNW’s new pieces.
If you look at Kiran Gandhi’s, stage name: Madame Gandhi, LinkedIn page, you will see that she has several degrees and many talents. And none of her qualities exist in vain. She is a centered and authentic musician, someone incredibly human and heart-wise, even when she may not realize it herself.
“I want to be more focused. Pisces always have a million different gifts,” she told Kajal. “One of the most interesting things I learned when I was in [Harvard] business school was that we live in an attention economy and that money follows attention. I often think about how can I get as many people as possible listening to the message that I want talk about.”
One of the most obvious ways is to get on the stage and perform for as many people as you can. Madame Gandhi is partnering with the progressive, femme-powered, artisan-legacy rooted fashion brand NorBlackNorWhite (NBNW) to raise awareness about the global rape crisis in an India-led campaign for her tour in India this month.
Gandhi will wear NBNW pieces on each of her stages. The campaign’s paragon piece, a t-shirt with the text, “A Woman Was Harassed Here,” was inspired by artist Aqui Thami who posted posters with the same text in places she was harassed in India, like Bandra, Fort, Colaba, and Chembur. The sale of the “A Woman Was Harassed Here” merchandise will support the Dharavi Art Room, a project committed to using art as a tool for women and children to have a voice and express themselves.
“Space is tragic,” said Gandhi. “There is no such thing as a safe space for women. Women who are harassed, assaulted, or raped should be able to go to their HR representatives, policemen, or family. But those spaces, which are supposed to be solutions, oftentimes shame, blame, and interrogate women.”
Safety and violence exist physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. This is a dichotomy in every woman, especially for women of color, that cannot safely exist in a patriarchal society. As a result, the rhetoric of internalized misogyny from all genders perpetuates false logic around sexual violence.
“[It’s not right] that we teach our women what not to wear…[we should] instead teach our men not to rape,” said Gandhi. “I want to live in a world where the men are like, ‘What can I do to healthily win the consent of this person such that they want me?’ That dance is way cuter than violently asserting yourself over someone.”
“It doesn’t help that in pornography, men’s fantasy ends up being so violent, which then translates to reality. Violence can be healthy and consensual as long as it is mutually decided upon. There is a domination aspect that women can enjoy but we have to know about our sexuality enough to step into that and enjoy it as something that’s desirable and not something that’s used against us,” said Gandhi.
After social media’s explosive #MeToo narratives, many were left thinking, “So what?” and “What now?” Gandhi overcomes pain with empowerment, underscoring the antidote to sexual violence: sex positivity.
“Women’s sexuality and female sexuality is always shrouded in tragedy. I don’t want to only associate female sexuality with rape and sexual assault. Let’s talk about positive fucking, masturbation, women feeling hot and powerful in their own femme and in their own body, knowing the pleasure of their own anatomy,” she said.
Gandhi’s partnership with NBNW shows the powerful and necessary role of art in social movements. Moreover, it meaningfully integrates the world’s most symbolic driver: money.
“The simplest form of activism that anyone can do is decide how they spend their dollar because we live in a capitalist society. How we vote with our dollar has deep activism embedded in it, moment to moment, in our daily lives,” she said. “I’m not pressed for money. I don’t care about it. It’s liberating to talk about money intelligently without wanting it. It’s empowering.”
Gandhi’s work is without ego and agenda, aligned with the mission to make the world a better and safer place for women.
Check out dates and buy tickets for Madame Gandhi’s India tour on her website.