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Love In The Time Of Hook-Up Culture

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My friends didn’t have nice things to say when I told them I was going to try Tinder. Mine is a small city with a small circle where everybody knows everyone, if not personally, then on Facebook. They told me that all good men are either married or have moved out of the city. They also told me there are fair chances of bumping into a stalker. I was shocked when a friend said that Tinder reeks of desperation and good girls should only go to matrimonial sites.

I’d been reading a lot of Tinder experiences online and I remember reading about dates turning into either mind-boggling sex, painful one-sided love stories and actual fairy tales, exactly the kind I covet. Of course, there were awry dates, weird conversation and examples everything going wrong, yet I decided to give it a chance. So one fine morning, I downloaded the app and got started.

Within 30 minutes I had 10 matches, and by then I also knew why my friends had cautioned me about Tindering in Lucknow. Most men assumed that it was sex or the lack of it that got me on the app, especially since I’m a journalist. I also saw a lot of married men and some of them had pictures with wives and kids.

A couple of them even asked me if I was up for a short fling (read extramarital affair) because “Journalists are so open-minded!” One man, who turned out to be a friend’s friend’s husband, had the audacity to ask me why I was on Tinder if not for sex. I was about to give up, when Z texted, and within a few minutes I knew he was different from the rest (and the best looking guy I had matched with) and that was another reason why I gave him my phone number. A quick search on Facebook assured me that everything was alright and we soon moved to WhatsApp. I knew the app had already given me the best and I uninstalled it from my phone.

We never had long chats but the short conversations we had were enough to indicate that he was everything that I was not and yet I felt tremendously attracted to him. We would mostly talk about love, relationships and sex and while he sounded quite advanced in those areas, I was still naïve. I told him clearly that I was not looking for casual sex and he was okay with that.

We talked almost every day. Although he’d make plans, he never made any special efforts to make them work. I didn’t know what or whether to think of him at all. What I found really strange was that he would never shy away from asking journalistic favours but had a problem coming to see me.

It was frustrating, but then the heart wants what it wants. He’d ask me to promote his company and I’d do whatever I could, thinking if I helped him, he would also fall for me. And one fine day we met. It was completely unplanned, yet soul filling. He just texted me before leaving his office and within 30 minutes, I found him waiting for me outside my house.

He was every inch a gentleman and I loved every minute. He was definitely more fun in person and I never wanted that evening to end. We spoke of food, Bollywood, work and everything under the sun. He asked a lot of questions about my work and seemed interested in me, or so I thought. I’ve never been with anyone and I was overwhelmed with all the attention. Soon the date came to an end and we left the restaurant with awkward goodbyes. I badly wanted him to hold me, but then maybe another time…

We talked for a couple of months and I didn’t even realise how my feelings for him got stronger and how texting turned into sexting. I badly wanted to be with him but without making it casual. He, on the other hand, had told me that he wasn’t looking for a long-term relationship.

I wanted love, attention, commitment, dreamy dates and steamy kisses, but all he had to offer was a job in his company! While Rihanna found love in a hopeless place, I had to make do with a job offer. We eventually stopped talking and I tried Tinder again, but blame it on fate or the city with limited options, I always end up seeing him on the app. And the moment I see him, I uninstall.

I am not completely over him, but now that I look back I realise how wrong it was to look for love on Tinder. He’d tell me he found me hot, cute, a genuine friend and somebody he could rely on, and yet he didn’t want to date me. This is something beyond me; as my friend says, “Tinder or no Tinder, it’s a sin to look for love in a time of hook-up culture.” And hopeless romantics like me are just victims!

This article was first written by Manjari Singh for Bonobology.com.

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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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