In the Urdu language, the letter chay is used as a euphemism for derogatory or taboo expressions. Some of these expressions are “choot” (vagina) and “chootia” (lit. of the vagina, but signifying stupidity that ought to be dismissed). The use of such expressions of insult is pervasive in the Urdu language and extremely problematic. In its original and vernacular usage, these words and their euphemism, “chay”, associate women with that which is imbecilic, derogatory, bad, taboo and wrong.
We have named our magazine Chay as an act of resistance to the popular pejorative meaning attached to words like “choot” and “chootia”. It is both an attempt to reclaim our language and engage with some of its sexist trappings.
We understand that the sexism, patriarchy and heterosexism that are imbued in our language are only reflective of the complex, larger socio-cultural, political and economic conditions that persist in our society. Therefore, any project of re-appropriation and reclamation of not only language but also our place in society is far greater than just naming a magazine. But Chay is at the very least an initiation: an open invitation for fostering discourse that displaces the dominant and normative conceptions about womanhood, sex, sexuality, masculinity and so much more.
We want “choot” and all other words like it to be identified with empowerment, self-actualization and life-giving rather than weakness, filth and diminution. More than anything then Chay Magazine is a project of resistance, redefinition, reappropriation, reclamation and reinterpretation of the dominant discourse so that we can be fully empowered citizens of our country, our societies and our lives.