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Durga As I See Her: 12 Photos Of Her That Address Gender And Sexuality

By Sushrija Sakshi Upadhyaya:

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.

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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.

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The next images show patriarchy and various forms of male dominance, few of them being the purdah system, sexual assault and rape.

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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)

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The last two images show how homosexuals (lesbians here) are socially or legally not accepted into the society.

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You must be to comment.
  1. G.L.

    If women are so independant, emancipated, and liberated, why do you need a man to change your tire or lift your car out of the snow, why do you need a man to pay for your shopping and lunch, why do you need reserved seats in buses and metros, why do you need a man paying alimony and child support, why do you need special quotas in parliament and companies, why the reserved seats in colleges and universities?

    Feminists are narcissists and opportunists whose cries about gender equality are only applicable when it works in their favour.

  2. B

    A futile attempt to emasculate men. A man IS supposed to be tough and strong due to his God given role of a protector.

    Don’t feminists hate the word God, since religion is the only thing that stands in the way of immorality and injustice.

    P.S. I will become a feminist when women will have to spend their entire lives earning for men.

  3. Spider-Man

    Feminists are obsessed with nudity. They have not even spared Durga

  4. Ujjwal Singh

    To all the people with toxic masculine pride who have replied in the defence of men and went on to belittle people who have balls to call out shit. It’s very calm and comfortable to callously call out feminism or women empowerment a shit show and not understand the precarious existence of women in general. The whole idea of gender being engendered in us by Global political body and it’s institutions be it capital or state and so on is unfathomable to majority. So you might as well try to listen to what’s being displayed here. The institutions of modern state aren’t capable enought to catch all of the monstrous existence of human flesh, the more they try to contain the more it will slip. The artificial life that we have been living in is more of the reason people including “women” will be radicalised. And masochists and the last men wouldn’t be able to a thing about it. There is commonality and I’ll meet you all there.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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
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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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