A major part of the society considers women as sex objects but cannot accept the female deity and its sexuality together. Women in all forms aren’t respected in our society, but when it comes to festivals, we all worship female goddesses. For example, sex workers are disdainfully excluded from society and festivals along with the entire ‘punya mati’ hypocrisy. Men too have to fit into accepted gender roles in society. This year, I have documented Durga Ma in her various forms, to address the whole issue of women, sexuality and gender through her imagery.
Image 1 explores the paradigm of how society can’t accept female deitism and sexuality together.
The next four images show us how identities are socially constructed. Boys and men learn to ‘appropriate’ gender roles in accordance to the masculine expectations of their given society, where they are expected to be big, tough, violent and aggressive. They are not supposed to put on lipstick and the one’s who do are considered not masculine enough, which is unacceptable in society (In the photo, the idol-maker is trying to express himself and the reaction of the idol of non-acceptance). It shows us how men feel just as much pressure as women to fit into a specific, set gender role in the society. The moustache with the lipstick can also represent the transgender community and how they are separated from the society.
The next images show patriarchy and various forms of male dominance, few of them being the purdah system, sexual assault and rape.
The next three images showcase women empowerment and how women are gradually becoming self-reliant, translating into greater overall independence as they push back on the sociocultural boundaries ascribed by tradition, and how men who feel threatened by these newly emancipated women are countering the power shift with an aggressive dominance. (The period of transition and the increasing number of abuse on women)
The last two images show how homosexuals (lesbians here) are socially or legally not accepted into the society.