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Fighting Patriarchy And Sexism Alongside Men

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It seems as if the world is running a marathon to counter the possibility of your survival as a protagonist or a misogynist. Where are we ‘leading’ – as a country or as a society? We are producing a bunch of stupid people who are not taught the values or ethics that are required to make life sustainable for a purpose. But, they always find destructive and complex ways. Does the possession of a sword make them masculine?

To be very honest, I often think that most men are nothing more than a ‘presentable’ possession of a family to follow the legacy of producing yet another bunch of stupid beings. Have we ever wondered the reason behind the emergence of such emotionless beings? Since childhood, they are raised and taught the principles of being dominant and fearless. Apart from the genetic difference, the ‘distinction’ of being a man and woman (in terms of character, behaviour and upbringing) has been imbibed in them thoroughly.

A man is supposed to think well, and be authoritative and commanding. He is a man – so he can’t shed tears, be frightened of any situation or express his fears and doubts. Our society, too, plays a vital role in describing a man’s character. They never realise that the repercussions of such perceptions can be so heinous. When it comes to treating a woman well, they often forget the meaning of ‘respect’ and ‘vitality’ – both of which women deserve.

They are supposed to be raised under hard conditions. The austerity of manhood is often termed as ‘chauvinist’. This pride is fake and hidden behind the slanders they often give to people. In the end, they remain answerable to no one. To add to this, the society and families play the most important role in characterising the ‘being of a man’ while assassinating human behaviour and values. I don’t think that we can completely blame men for being what they are. They are rarely aware of the differences. Issues like domestic violence, harassment, dowry, rape, subjugation of women are the real examples of the existing scenario. The number of such incidents is multiplying every second. Who can we hold responsible for all this?

We need to understand that these men are coming with the mindset of treating women like commodities for their own selfish purposes and needs. However, the times are changing – and it can be hoped that the upbringing of men will also change.

Still, it’s extremely painful to witness sensitive issues cropping up daily – regardless of age, caste, class, gender and sex. There is therefore an urgent need to develop certain skills in men so that they are also able to acknowledge the austerity and hardships a woman goes through. In that context, this slogan is perhaps relevant, “Beta padao, sanskar sikhao.”

In the end, the society is majorly responsible for this ‘phenomenal agenda’. Men too are part of our society and culture. They too have the right to feel humane and experience sanity.

Certain steps will help us cultivate a bright future for both genders – a future where both men and women will stand shoulder-to-shoulder, and be responsible for their own equality. The number of incidents related to rape, harassment, domestic violence and sexuality will also drop down.

For instance, consider this example of segregation – ‘pink (the colour), dolls and house plays’ for girls and ‘blue (the colour), cricket and football’ for boys. To address this, let’s exchange the role-plays – and you will notice a significant difference in the upbringing of both the sexes. Our idea is a positive approach where both have the freedom to live and contribute to society in the best way possible.

These issues lie within the ambit of ‘mainstream differences’ – and with age, they are intensified by our gendered culture. After all, children don’t inherit intellectual differences. Rather, they learn them and adapt accordingly.

This point is backed by Eliot“Yes, boys and girls, men and women, are different,” she states in a recent paper in New Scientist. “But most of those differences are far smaller than the ‘Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus’ stereotypes suggest.”

On the other hand, Cambridge University psychologist and autism expert Simon Baron-Cohen says, “The female brain is predominantly hard-wired for empathy. The male brain is predominantly hard-wired for understanding and building systems.”

How Can We Bring Change In The Society And The Predominant Scenarios That Are Responsible?

1. We need to encourage positive male ‘role-model involvement’ in our children’s lives – as nurturers and supporters.

2. A family is an institution which comprises of people with different genders. So, the first change begins at home.

3. Single parents, especially fathers, can become role models for their kids who have, till then, been protected from the harsh reality and have dealt only with the choicest of options.

4. ‘A man is known for his physical ability while a woman is looked upon as an emotional and comfort support’ – we need to break this notion while engaging with both girls and boys.

5. Men should talk about the topics like sex, menstruation and other hormone related issues with their kids. This can also help smash taboos and myths about the society.

6. Eradicating malpractices will also bridge the gap between both the sexes and help them ensure a bright future for their kids too.


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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.

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        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.

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        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.

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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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