Book of the Month Discussion: You Jin’s “Death By Perfume” Sat, 27 Feb 2016 | 3:00pm Venue: Grassroots Book Room, 25 Bukit […]
to Melbourne to do an honours degree in literature. After she returned to Singapore, she joined Aware (now Singapore’s leading gender equality advocacy group) and worked on issues such as domestic violence against women and underperformance of Indian students in schools, among others.
“Whether it is Kerala, that narrow-strip of land in south India where everybody has an opinion on everything and where she lived for seven years as a child, or Singapore, where she spent almost all of her 77 years, she is a patriot,” writes Balji. “She could have decided to make Australia her home, disappointed with the events back home.”
The feminist rallying cry – “the personal is political” – rings on every page of this memoir by a distinguished citizen whose ideas and ideals galvanised the women’s movement in Singapore.
The word “margins” in the title refers to the multiple ways in which Constance Singam found herself marginalised: as a woman, an ethnic Indian, a widow and a civil society activist.
Her answer to each kind of marginality was to rewrite the prevailing terms of discourse so that her femininity, her Malayalee-Indian culture, and her political disquiet became sources of self-empowerment, not of self-denial.
“I am who I think I am,” she declares defiantly. “I am what I believe. I am what I do.” The personal could not be more political.