This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Mansi Bhaskar. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

I Use Classical Indian Figures In My Art To Question Our Society’s Biases

I grew up in a typical middle class family, where words like “periods”, and “sanitary napkins” are never used with comfort. I remember an incident that happened with me a few years ago. There were no sanitary pads left in my almirah. That day, my mom was out with my dad, and I had no option except asking my brother to get a packet from the nearby chemist. I remember how I got scolded later that evening for what I had done. At that very moment I realized despite being so modern and developed (as we consider ourselves to be) we often forget that when it comes to such issues we still are so backward and close-minded.

It was after this incident that my parents’ perception towards this issue started to change. I have witnessed and lived through so many similar incidents. After going through so much and seeing the real world, I felt a strange pull towards the harsh realities of this world. And I turned to art.

For me, art is the way I speak and show myself to the world. It is the only way how I feel comfortable in conveying my opinions to everyone. For me art is my religion. And I don’t find any other medium comfortable enough to go with. For me these illustrations are a tight slap on the face of the society which has so many double standards.

Whenever such issues are taken into consideration people start to mumble. The sculptures of Khajuraho Temple, in Madhya Pradesh are themselves the biggest example of irony, regarding our illogical social norms.

I wanted to question the society in which we live in – why do we tend stay silent whenever there is a discussion about those ‘less talked about topics’? This is why my style directly emphasizes on the Indian classical sculptures and figures.

I remember how one of my classmates in school got mocked by some fellow students just because she had a red mark on her skirt during one of her menstruation days.

My question is: What is so embarrassing about it? They are just periods! The fact that a woman’s vagina is bleeding is not something that should we deal with with such hesitation.

Moreover I have always failed to understand why being called a “pussy” is so shameful. Despite being the human organ that can endure so much and which creates a new life, why is the human vagina considered to be a symbol of weakness?

We live in a country that gave “Kama Sutra” to the world and still our voices turn into whispers when we talk about sex. And this happens in a world where talking about making love is an open invitation to all those judgmental mouths. The funny irony is the same crowd may be jerking off to porn sites in private! Resources show that affectionate mouth-to-mouth kissing was first described in the Hindu epic, the “Mahabharata”. And today where we proudly talk about development, even holding hands in public raises thousands of eyes.

Speaking of shaming, I have been body shamed a couple of times, for many reasons. Being too skinny is one of them, and I always used to get comments that I should gain weight or else I won’t be able to give birth. And I know it affects others too. I have seen so many girls out there trying some crèmes or similar stuff to remove their stretch marks.

In recent years, we’ve seen guys go to drastic extents to prove they fit the definition of being “macho”. One such incident revolves around acid attacks. It is so strange to me that a person go so far to prove he is a man. For me he is nothing but a coward.

Throughout our whole lives, we live according to the society which actually has nothing to do with our choices, or our way of living. We get affected so much by the opinions of those people who themselves are so doubtful and shallow about their own selves. And that’s what I question through my art.

To see more of Mansi’s work, check out @sankibanjaaran on Instagram!

Images courtesy of Mansi Bhaskar.
You must be to comment.
  1. Abhinav Verma

    India need more souls like you! Made me a fan of your work. Keep up the good work!

    1. Mansi Bhaskar

      Heyi Thanx 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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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