Posts filed under ‘In General’
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?
GENDER AND SPACE
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.
OUR PRIVATE SELVES AND OUR PUBLIC REACTIONS
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.
GENDER AMITY COMMITTEE
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.
SEXUALITY, BODY AND EXPRESSION
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment or testimonial. Every comment is taken seriously and reflected on collectively.
Break the silence-
I have heard the silence
loud and clear…
I have felt…
the pain and anger that your eyes
I have seen
you going along, amidst the shadows
on the path that is your life,
knowing that its yours alone…
but I want
you to know, that I will be there,
to break the silence with you.
Sent in by Chandni Khanduja
While talking about TISSTalks to various people in campus, one reaction (which was shared by quite a number of people) was that they haven’t faced sexual harassment on campus. I wish I were among that privileged few, however I am unfortunately not and this was my experience here.
They say campus is a gender sensitive space. While I have always been conscious that I am studying with people of the opposite sex, I have never really worried about what they thought of me and whether I should dress a certain way only because I am going to be around them. I never knew then, that it was wrong of me to wear something ‘inappropriate’ to class. And so, stupid me, I decided one fine morning to wear a skirt to class.
There was a chorus of hoots and whoops which I did not really expect but accepted as run-of-the-mill. I had never worn a skirt before that, besides which, most of that choir was made of girls. However, later on, this guy from my class comes up to me and says – Well Sanjana, the other guys and myself were talking about you and we decided to buy you a longer skirt.
For a moment, I was speechless. Actually, I STILL am speechless. At that point of time, I laughed it but inside I was seething. How dare they imply that I was not supposed to wear something, which I am comfortable in, which I think I look good in? How dare they say that I (as a big person) could not be allowed to show off (my ugly?) legs? How dare I affect their delicate sensibilities by showing some skin?
It may have sounded like a mild statement to some. It may seem harmless to others. But to me, it spoke of complete disregard for a person’s, a woman’s free will to dress the way she feels like. Offering to buy something for someone out of friendship is something, but to do the same to cover up the person’s legs is something else altogether. I still cannot get over this and I am ashamed to admit this but now, whenever I open my cupboard and look at that particular skirt, I hesitate. Cause I don’t know who’s going to ask me to cover up this time.
I am glad that finally I can tell the whole campus about this. I am glad that people will now know that such statements are NOT ACCEPTABLE. I am more than my body, I am more than my legs. And don’t ask me to cover up…because I wont. Because it’s not about you…it’s about me.
TISSTalks is for all of us.
Gender. Sex. Harassment. Violence. Discrimination.
Our experiences, coloured by who we are, where we come from and what we define as our identities. Our experiences that are hidden and secret.
Here’s our chance to talk about this. Here’s our chance to make ourselves heard.
Whoever we are. Female, male, both, uncertain, we welcome thoughts, we welcome reflection, we welcome ideas.
Mail us at email@example.com and we’ll put it up here for discussion. As per our code of confidentiality WE SHALL DISCUSS THE ISSUE AND NOT THE INDIVIDUAL.
TISS TALKS put up this poster two days ago outside the Dining Hall. We received our first response to it this evening.
We invite comments.
from two eyes
land on these lumps of flesh
and roam freely about.
A stare. A wink. A brush. A rub. A pinch…
when uninvited IS Sexual Harassment
On the road
In the bus,
In the classroom,
they chase my step
snapping here and there.
These poison fangs
The main gate. The canteen. Gym. Under MH2. Library. Tapri. NCH Stairs. Gym. Dining Hall.
But the earth is mine too.
I’ve taught my eyes
to stare back,
Stares for stares,
that is how I wage my war now.
A public space on campus to challenge, realise and unlearn the existing realities.
How I long for the day when
not only eyes, but
the whole body
of a woman
Aditi Malhotra (II MSW), Ammel Sharon (II DS), Arundathi Vishwanath (II MSW), Natasha Koshy (II DS), Neha Dhingra (II MSW) Reena Patel (II MSW), Sanchita Bakshi (II DS), Sanjana J (II MSW), Swati Gupta (II MSW), Ujithra Ponniah (II DS)
The verses are from Chupulu (Stares) by Jayaprabha, originally published in Telegu