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‘Hysteria’: Of Feminism, Gender Equality And The Collective Outrage Against Patriarchy

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By Prerana Y.S.K:

In India, a woman is raped every 32 minutes.
A minor girl is abducted every 36 minutes.
A girl is trafficked every 46 minutes.
A woman is sexually harassed every 12 minutes.
21 women are murdered every day.

And this is the why feminism is called ‘feminism’ and not ‘humanism’ or ‘penises have been oppressed for too long now’, dear Men’s Rights Activists. Because women have been oppressed for so long that they are a symbol of oppression, and that’s what the “fem” in feminism refers to.

hysteri by eye art collective

Globally, and on Youth Ki Awaaz, feminism has been a recurring theme and a rather controversial one. Some people seem to be of the opinion that feminism propagates women to take up a violent duel with men, and sadly, that might even be true if you keep calling us ‘bra burning and men hating feminazis’.

Being a feminist, I’d like to clear the air and state that feminism seeks gender equality and not the overthrowing and domination of a certain gender, unlike the men’s rights activism; go to Wikipedia, and you’ve got your proof, more so because Wikipedia is written and articulated by the common people themselves.

Actually, I firmly believe that feminism is the only solution to gender justice and it’s not about men or women only but the entire spectrum of gender and sexes; One cannot limit feminism to the empowerment of women, yes, but one cannot refuse the fact that upliftment of women and the LGBTQ community is a basic necessity for our society to achieve gender equality.

Afterall, how many men are burnt in dowry deaths? How many men are permitted to emote outside their loos? How many bisexuals are considered ‘legitimate’?

Also, as the famous feminist Jessica Valenti often keeps reiterating, “Feminism isn’t simply about being a woman in a position of power. It’s battling systemic inequities; it’s a social justice movement that believes sexism, racism and classism exist and interconnect, and that they should be consistently challenged”.

Observing an ideology similar to Valenti’s, an independent arts collective -Eye – which is also anti-establishment, queer positive, and anti racist, has come up with a feminist convention called Hysteria to initiate a healthy and intellectual conversation about feminism on a public forum in India.

It is a rather revolutionary concept and ideology; its primary aim is to make its audience – be they curious, concerned, or indifferent – question the world they inhabit, and the rules that govern it.

By extension, they hope to make their audience question themselves.

This is exactly what is needed in today’s dogmatic and hypocritical world which seems to be suffering from ‘pseudo-intellectual diarrhoea’.

When asked why the team behind Hysteria had opted for the name ‘Hysteria’, Manisha Ganguly, Co-Creator of Hysteria and Eye, replied- “Inherently patriarchal, the concept of hysteria as a mental illness was created to restrict independent feminine spirit, and conform women to the set stereotype of domesticity and docility. We wanted to obliterate the relation to this fictional “feminine” mental illness, reclaim the word from oppressive patriarchal connotations, and through it, expose the desperate attempt made by patriarchy to control and stigmatize independent spirit, and prevent the development of the feminist movement”.

They further explained “By reclaiming this word as feminist, we are in essence, raging against the patriarchy and no longer look upon this word as an insult, but as a pathology that speaks to and against the patriarchy. Secondly, we also wish to redeem the frenzy as something far from chaotic madness. Hysteria, to us, is the frenzy of an uprising that is a deliberate attack on the patriarchy; an attack that speaks out against gender discrimination, and gender violence, and works methodically to expose and demolish patriarchal machinery in everyday life”.

As a consumer of their ideology, the complex cognitive processes behind this nomenclature surprise me and lead me to further believe in the legitimacy of their cause and convictions.

Keeping their ideologies and the need of contemporary India in mind, the convention tries to launch dialogue on themes such as the male gaze in cinema and art, rape culture and the patriarchy, fascism in the Indian context, gender, queer theory and LGBTQ rights, sexual harassment at work, etc.

These are very pressing themes in India which need to be overtly and overly debated and deliberated upon so as to reach a mutually beneficial and equally worthy conclusion.

Further, volunteers at Eye believe in artivism – a beautiful amalgamation of art and activism, and in today’s world, where creativity as a medium has been bound to experiential schools and youth of Kolkata, it’s an innovative move to club social welfare with creative outlets of the members of the society, eventually leading to a more erudite society.

Personally, this revolutionary feminist convention comes across as India’s kick-start towards tackling our ignorance and inexperience with regard to the taboo theme of gender, sexuality and equality for all.

I have suffered the brunt of our society’s sexism and repetitive stereotyping on a daily basis: ‘Why’d you crop your hair short? Are you gay? Do you want to get raped, why go out after 9:30pm? This lake is not for women; please go back to your posh locality. Stop being so tough, you tomboy! You have a thing for that guy? He’s so gay, though!’.

Argh.

I really need these dull witted and imbecile comments to stop, and right now, Hysteria seems like a stepping stone to better our vapid society.

“Our convention is open to all who are victims of gender oppression, such as sexism, misogyny, trans misogyny, cissexism, transphobia and binarism. We seek to empower and liberate everyone targeted by the patriarchy and the kyriarchy. If this applies to you, you are welcome as long as you act in accordance with our safer spaces policy,” said Aranya Gupta, Co-Creator of Hysteria and Eye, and Manisha’s partner in crime.

And if you are, well, go ahead and be a part of this collective outrage against the inertia of Patriarchal Oppression!

Click here to know more about Hysteria, or help out with their cause.

Donate here, because they’re all young and penniless (like us).

You must be to comment.
  1. Babar

    More men are falsely accused of rape than the number of women raped, more men are trapped with fabricated allegations of dowry than the number of women harassed for dowry, more men are abused in relationships than women, but feminists and the media glorifies violence against women for attention, to gain people’s sympathy, and for money.

    Let me go with the statistics provided by the author: In India, a woman is raped every 32 minutes.

    This means annually, around 18,000 women are raped. Rape is a heinous crime deserving of the death penalty, but we cannot overlook the fact that over three times as many men rot in Indian jails in false cases of rape, while just as many are going under trauma and stress doing rounds of courts fighting legal battles to prove their innocence, after having been accused falsely.

    The same goes for dowry, and now it has become a fashion to accuse men under 498A, and while, again, dowry harassment is an inexcusable crime, we never talk about the fact that the number of men rotting in Indian jails falsely accused of dowry is much higher than the number of women harassed for dowry.

    It shows the mentality of feminists and the fact that they are clearly sending out the message that men are not human beings.

    1. Blue

      Sources, please.

    2. KB

      Provide citations for statistics, please.
      We’re not falling for MRA propaganda.

  2. Babar

    Abraham Lincoln said that to test a person’s character, give them power. And with the law in women’s favour, they are showing their true character with fabricated allegations of domestic abuse, rape, and dowry. And now when they have nothing to talk about, they rant over patriarchy, which oppresses men by forcing them to work, giving women the option. It is patriarchy which is responsible for men’s high rate of suicide. It is patriarchy due to which a man end’s up marrying a woman poorer than her, while women always get to marry men richer than them. A man in India commits suicide every 6 minutes due to the patriarchy.

    1. Blue

      So why would you object to the dismantling of patriarchy?

    2. KB

      Because he’s an MRA and believes patriarchy =men, without realising that the patriarchy is a power structure, not a gender.

    3. Chill

      I care about the problems of men. I care that the patriarchy tells men that they have to be stoic beasts incapable of emotion. I care that the patriarchy tells men that they are lust-filled monsters incapable of controlling their own libidos. I care that the patriarchy tells men that they cannot be raped or assaulted because the patriarchy believes women are too weak and inferior to be dangerous.

      Feminists did not do this to you, other men did.

  3. Babar

    Not everyone falls for feminist theories and lies about the patriarchy and equality though. More and more people are waking up to the lies of feminism, including women.

    Women Against Feminism

    1. KB

      “Lies”? You provide no sources for your random statistics and complain about “lies”?

  4. Babar

    A woman is innocent until proven guilty. A man is guilty until proven innocent.

    http://youtu.be/SM-YUFidNP4

  5. Babar

    Isn’t if funny that women who accuse men and in-laws of dowry harassment are the ones filing false cases of dowry to harass husbands and in-laws. Men are always at the receiving end, men are victimized, tormented, and traumatized. Men are not seen as human beings in society, that is why we never talk about the biases that men face on a daily basis, how women usurp half of men’s properties during divorces, how courts give men stricter sentences for the same crimes that women commit, how juries give verdicts against men in domestic disputes, how men give alimony to women, misandry in the media, sexism against men, domestic violence against men, how men are locked up in false cases of rape, dowry, and domestic abuse, etc.

    http://youtu.be/l1qbalfTPBE

    1. KB

      Do everyone a favor and fight for what you believr in then. MRAs want women to fight for their rights WHILE they dismember gender violence as imaginary.
      Notice how it says “gender” and not “women” on the campaign page? Oh wait, you didn’t check the Hysteria page before attacking it. Do so, please. We have a discussion on men’s rights too.
      http://www.aneyezine.com/hysteria

  6. Gaurav

    how many dead bodies of people are found on railway tracks everyday
    how many boys are abducted everyday
    how many boys are bullied in school and colleges
    how many men commit suicide everyday

    the point if till the time women continue to see violence and injustice from gender glasses a solution cannot be found. you need to get to the root of each and every issue. there are many ways to do that. are indians ready to find the truth and put their weight behind the person who is correct irrespective of that person’s gender

  7. Dhruwat Bhagat

    Instead throwing around fancy words such as partriarchy and gender equality, why not stand for fairness for everyone irrespective of ones caste, gender, sexual orientation, race or other attributes?

    If we learn to respect the idividual irrespective of of his personal traits, we will have done our part to address the all woes that are puling us back as a free and caring society.
    – Dhruwat

    1. KB

      If you’ve read the info available on feminism on the Hysteria page, we fight against the kyriarchy, not just the patriarchy. Which means we seek to demolish gender, sex,race, religion and class based discrimination. What have you the idea that feminism is for women only? Do not judge by this article and check the campaign for yourself.

  8. KB

    Gender is the oldest form of discrimination in india, pre existing class, which needs to be taken into account, hence we use the work kyriarchy, and not patriarchy in our campaign page.
    And stop comparing oppression, oppression is dynamic. We new fighting gender oppression, you can start something to fight what oppresses you. It’s a collective effort. So instead of criticizing other people’s efforts online, go out and do something for a change.
    And check out http://www.aneyezine.com/hysteria

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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