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15 Stories On Cake That Made You Wanna Smash Patriarchy & Sexism In 2016

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This past year at Cake has been an exciting one. We rang in the new year by solemnly swearing to get up to some feminist good, with some of the most important literature on gender and sexuality. Soon after we took a trip down memory lane with the most progressive shows from the ‘90s, and before we knew it, we had already had our very first Twitter chat, and were ushering in Pride month with a set of special stories.

And in the many moments in between we tried bringing stories that made you laugh, made you think, and made you want to stick it to the cisheteropatriarchy. And here they are!

Unpacked Male Entitlement On The Big Screen

Why The ‘Nice Guy’ In ADHM Just Doesn’t Understand That No Means No, Bro

SPOILER ALERT “What else do you want me to do to make you love me?” says protagonist Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor) at one point in Karan Johar’s latest film, “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”. The words are directed at the female protagonist Alizeh (Anushka Sharma), who has (by then) constantly rejected his multiple romantic advances, and made it abundantly clear that she only sees him as a friend.

Look Closely At The Brand New Trans Rights Bill

India’s Transgender Rights Bill Is A Big Disappointment

Two years ago the Supreme Court of India’s NALSA verdict laid out a charter of possibilities for the rights of the transgender community – a community which has been ostracized for centuries.

A Brief Moment With This Bold Performer

Getting Real With A Famous Muslim Adult Film Star

Shuffling through supermarket aisles, with a pink backpack slung over one shoulder, Nadia Ali looks like your average girl-next-door. You’d never suspect the young woman picking out groceries has been banned from Pakistan for performing ‘adult scenes’ in Islamic wear.

Remembering Some Oft-Forgotten Issues

At A Queer Pride Event In Bengaluru, I Saw How Privilege Operates Within The Movement

I was all decked up and ready to go. It was the first time that I was going to attend an event organised in the name of Queer Pride. Sure, it was a talent show, not a march, but I was happy nevertheless.

And Others That Are Far More Visible

This Talk Show Host Just Exhibited The Most Sickening Homophobia & Transphobia

In a moment that was as upsetting as it was unsurprising, the host of Telugu talk show ” Bathuku Jataka Bandi” harassed two of her guests on air, simply because they were a queer couple. The episode was released on on October 31, and revolved around shaming a 20-year-old woman and a 23-year-old trans man who said they wanted to marry each other.

Raising Our Voices On Issues, Both Online And Off

This Sexist Meme About Women On The Delhi Metro Got An Amazing Unexpected Reaction

Oh Internet, how we love you and despair! A quick scroll through your Facebook timeline in the morning can set off the widest range of emotions – there’s cat gifs to melt your heart and outrageous news clips.

Speaking About What It’s Like To Be Young And Queer

What Life Was Like Growing Up Gay And With Raging Hormones In Dubai

While I was doing my undergrad in Bengaluru – India’s Silicon Valley – I would be the go-to person for all things gender, sexuality, sex, masturbation, orgasms, lubrication and so on and so forth.

Looking At The (Double) Standard Of Beauty

Hair Is What Men Think Of Women Who Don’t Wax Or Shave

It’s the month of November. The month where people show solidarity with the ones who are suffering from cancer by foregoing shaving and grooming. The money that they save in the process is donated to spread awareness about the disease in what is popularly called as No Shave November.

Dealing With ‘I Am Not A Feminist, But…’

Why Are Some Young Women Afraid To Call Themselves ‘Feminists’?

” I don’t think [Quantico is] a bra-burning feminist show where you’re like, we hate men, but we have really strong male characters, too,” said Priyanka Chopra in an interview last year. She is one of India’s leading pop culture icons who has countless young women looking up to her, and here she was, publicly dissociating herself from feminism despite stating that she believes in female empowerment.

And Celebrating Small But Significant Victories For Trans Inclusion

On The Right Track: Kochi Will Be The First Metro Rail Service To Hire Trans People!

Kerala is poised to challenge negative attitudes about transgender people in yet another way by including them in the workforce for the Kochi Metro Rail. This news comes only a few months after ‘ G-Taxi ‘ was announced in the same state, which aims to make social entrepreneurs of trans women involved in the programme.

Oh, and we had some fun conversations over tea and cake (interviews!) with these really awesome people too!

The Filmmaker Who Showed Us ‘LOEV’ Looks Like This Too

A Film On Queer Love + A Super Director Who Says It Like It Is: Meet The Maker Of ‘LOEV’

Some of the best loved films about LGBTQ people have had terrible endings. You had an assassination in ‘ Milk,’ and a devastating break up in ‘ Blue is the Warmest Colour.’ Who could forget how tinged-with-sorrow ‘ Brokeback Mountain’ was? And did we mention the ‘ bury-your-gays’ trope in most mainstream media?

The Trans TV Host Who’s Likened To Oprah

Meet Rose Venkatesan, India’s First Transgender TV Talk Show Host

Popularly known as India’s first transgender television talk show host, Rose Venkatesan has been a public voice for trans issues in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu since 2008. Called the local Oprah Winfrey at the time by the New York Times, Rose’s shows aired in 2008 and 2009.

The Performer Who Taught Us All About Drag

What Is Drag All About? Not ‘Men In Wigs’ For Sure, Explains Drag Performer Abhijeet!

In February this year, Gaysi Family and the Patchwork Ensemble put together a unique, first-of-its-kind show. Called ‘ Tape – The King of Drag,’ the 75-minute long piece starred performers Puja Swarup and Sheena Khalid as Shammi Kapoor and Justin Timberlake, questioning clothing, masculinity, and gender performativity.

The Illustrator Who Gave Us All The Body-Positive Feels

A New Comic is Talking About Being Fat And Fabulous! Meet Miss Moti!

Ever read a comic and thought that the female characters weren’t diverse enough? Meet Miss Moti, the comic-strip protagonist who’s South Asian, plus-sized, and unabashedly proud of her body and of herself.

And Finally, The Model Who’s Smashing Through The Gender Binary

This Fierce Model And Activist Has No Time For Your Gender Binary

The gender binary is oppressive. There’s more or less some consensus on this among people who have observed the ways in which nearly all of humanity has been split down the middle, with women on one side, and men on the other.

As we inch towards 2017 with hope, anxiety, desire and determination, we remember the hard won battles, the many discussions and debates. Our ideas about gender, sex and sexuality are constantly evolving, and we’re constantly trying to do better. So with that thought, here’s to the year we leave behind, and the one that’s in store!

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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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