Gender refers to socially constructed roles that are considered to be appropriate for individuals of a given sex in a given culture. Such gender “roles” stereotype individuals into a binary that we believe cuts out a whole range of gender identities and expressions.
Radhika Radhakrishnan, an engineering student at MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology and an active parliamentary debater, has been a vocal crusader for taking down the patriarchy. She felt that a large number of students belonging to technical universities do not understand the nuances of gender, sexuality, and their associated movements and demands in status-quo. This complaisance is largely due to the fact that engineering curriculum does not mandate the understanding of these critical issues. A direct result of such complaisance is the internalization of ostracization, which further leads to the tacit perpetration of a misogynist culture. Common instances of this include differential hostel curfews for the sexes on campus, the clubbing together of every identity that’s not Male/Female as “Other” in university forms, and colloquial usage of gender-bashing slur (such as ‘pussy’ to mean ‘weak’).
She was inspired to set up the MSRIT Gender and Sexuality Forum (GSF). It is an initiative to normalize the spectrum of gender and sexual identities, and enhance their understanding of relevant issues surrounding the same. At the GSF, they primarily hold talks on gender and sexuality related issues, and provide a platform for reporting and redressing complaints against abuse faced by students on campus. They also collaborate with dedicated initiatives that are experienced in dealing with these societal issues, and can help organize workshops, campaigns, and further debate.
In light of this, #GenderBender campaign was organised to embrace the gender spectrum and encourage individuals to break free from gender stereotypes (let’s all make our own sandwiches!). Students as well as people outside form MSRIT sent in entries for the campaign. If you’d like to participate in the campaign, send love, kisses, hugs or any other brick bats, connect with the organiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Us women need to stop being amused about our supposed super-power of ‘withholding sex’ in a relationship. It reinforces the societal view that sex is a transaction – something that woman have and that men want. It reiterates the idea that women can use the promise of sex as an incentive, or the threat of withholding as a bludgeon. By allowing such a narrative to exist, we buy into a culture which justifies rape by painting male sexuality as a barely restrained animal instinct, and women as mere facilitators of this male instinct.
It is not true that women hardly enjoy sex and that there isn’t any emotional connection involved in sexual acts for women. It is also not true that men are driven primarily by hormones and will do anything to ‘earn’ sex.
DISCLAIMER: It is within the rights of any person to refuse sex at any time for any reason or for no reason at all, and that must always be respected. However, treating it as a disproportionate privilege of one gender over another has serious societal repercussions.
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Cilappatikaram is an interesting piece of literature that makes a woman the lead of the story. More than that, she ends up defending her husband and “winning” him back in some ways. But how feminist can we call this story?