August 26, 2008 at 12:24 am 4 comments

TISSTalks thanks everybody (so many hits on the page!) for their participation and perspective.

Perspectives on gender in activism and academia seem to have come from feminists. On this campus, even as few identify as feminist, many do think seriously about gender issues and some interesting thoughts have come up, that perhaps we could explore.

What is Gender? How does Gender influence our identity, beliefs and behaviour? Raging hormones, someone said, so, Does Gender have an influence on our Desire?

Exploring spaces on campus, the idea was to engender discussion. Most comments (and we do believe that there have been many insensitive ones), did prove that we live in an already gendered spaces, which produce certain gendered responses, of a particular nature.

The idea that TISS is a gender  sensitive/ neutral campus was challenged through testimonials from women (we may suspect harassment of men) who have felt violated through ‘gaze’ , through experiences with the GAC, through comments passed and from being pulled up by gender insensitive faculty. Let’s recognize this phenomena and give it, its rightful acknowledgement. Men defining violence and women trying to relate their experiences and understanding according to those preset norms, there is a dearth of discussion about what women think is violating and violent.

While the blog was meant to look at gender based experiences, the discussion veered (unfortunately) towards gendered roles, mostly in binary terms (men and women). There is a  presupposition that the way men and women behave is natural. While these were in the context of privilege and power (or lack thereof), an important line was also about looking at how our private lives translate in the public spaces we occupy. There were many comments on protection, there were more that were patronising. Some responses stressed agency.

There was a comment on the functioning of the GAC, which we believe has tremendous potential. A cursory look will tell us that the guidelines of the GAC are not being fulfilled.

The discussion was mainly on women’s bodies, and well, not too many women participated! This raises further questions of masculinity and what standards of gender do we hold high and live up to. And what this means at all for expression (this was mostly about what we (can and musn’t) wear). The posters elicited comments such as making links between staring and sexual harassment. What was interesting were the unresolved discussions on whether desire is natural, and what is acceptable.

There was also some interesting discussion on Sec 377. The reactions were mixed, and some rejected homosexuality as being unnatural. Still others affirmed and wanted to explore its meaning for a hetero-normative society. Mostly, the curiosity stemmed from the otherness of the issue.

TISSTalks is meant to be a supportive space, and we hope more people will participate in discussion. Suggestions for making this space more accessible and sensitive are welcome. We request that we keep the objective in mind, and not reduce the space to private conversations and mechanisms of defence and offense. Please write in to tisstalks@gmail.com, or leave a comment or testimonial. Every comment is taken seriously and reflected on collectively.


Entry filed under: In General. Tags: , , .

TISSTalks with Pramada Menon TISSTalks calls for you

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Chandni  |  August 29, 2008 at 12:05 am

    Dear all,
    I attended the ‘Sex and the City’ talk today. During the discussions on feminism, I wondered whether you guys know about Dilnavaz Bamboat’s recent initiative to have Indian feminists come together and be heard.

    You can also participate if you want to.


    Find below the two mails she’d sent.


    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Dilnavaz Bamboat
    Date: Tue, May 13, 2008
    Subject: Stand up & say it

    Hi all,

    I hope everyone’s having a good summer/late spring.

    Most of you are aware that I write for a colla-blog called Ultra Violet that provides a space for contemporary feminists in India. (In case you had no clue, see here–> http://youngfeminists.wordpress.com )
    For my next post, I’m compiling a pictoral directory of people (men, women and everybody in-between) who are willing to identify themselves as feminists (whatever your definition of the term may be– please, please, please believe it’s not about hairy, bra-burning misogynists who’ll bite you in the bum) and who will be willing to lend their pictures, soundbytes (a line is fine–about your view of feminism, how you came to believe in it, how you believe people get scared off by the very word, anything related) and, if you don’t mind, your age, location and day job.

    The idea is to create an Indian version of the campaign “This is what a feminist looks like” so we are more inclusive of the broad spectrum of feminism that may exist out there–the academic and the everyday. A surprisingly large number of folks still view the F word as threatening, new-age and nothing they want to be associated with, without actually taking the initiative to find out what it’s about. So this is a small step toward remedying that and perhaps introducing multiple perspectives of feminism to folks who are tentatively exploring the ideology.

    Keep your entry personal and pithy (unlike this email!) and it’ll be perfect. Mugs/half shots would be better than distant full-length pictures. Your real first and last name is required. And it would be effective if we could have people pitching in from all over the world. The only requirements for contribution are:
    1. the person needs to be a feminist
    2. the person needs to be an Indian citizen OR of Indian origin.
    3. The person needs to have lived in India for a large part of his/her life.

    I am hoping to get all the entries in within 2 weeks, i.e. by May 27, 2008. Could you please, please, please get to it as soon as possible?

    If you know of other folks who would be happy to contribute, please do forward this email to them and have them send me their pictures. Large files avoidable. And unzipped, please. I’m really hoping the men step up and make themselves heard! Don’t disappoint me now!

    Thank you in advance, and I look forward to hearing from you.

    From: Dilnavaz Bamboat
    Date: Aug 4, 2008
    Subject: you’re on UV

    Hello people,
    Just a note to tell you that your pretty faces and quotes are finally up on UV. I apologize for the delay, there were numerous hurdles we had to face before getting it all in place. I understand some of you were really enthusiastic about the project and didn’t keep in mind the 2-3 line limit on the quote, so we had to do the editing for you. I’ve tried to keep the spirit of the piece as intact as I could.
    You can see yourself here:

    Thank you for your contribution. Feel free to comment and check out other posts and spread the word about UV to your friends.
    Yours in solidarity,

  • 2. Varun (HRM)  |  August 31, 2008 at 12:30 am

    Fascinating to see so many men on that forum…..now there’s one more….( urs truly..!!)

  • 3. Subuhi  |  September 16, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    That’s great! The more male feminists there are, the better!

  • 4. tom  |  April 28, 2009 at 9:38 am

    hey why not anybody start discussion on how to avoid incidences like that happened recenlty in the institute. plz not to mention any bodys names in discussion. its really a painful incident. how to tackle and strategies. plz maintain confidentiality and decency.


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