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My Male Colleagues Are ‘Well-Educated’ And ‘Settled’ But Their Jokes Sexist And Filthy

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Some of the quips I hear when people crack jokes are: “take it lightly”, “it’s a joke” or anybody’s not serious. Really? How are these excuses even plausible? After all, it has been scientifically proven that jokes are also a part of our sub-conscious minds. Today, however, social media channels like WhatsApp are filled up with these kind of filthy remarks, excuses and comments.

Here, I would like to share some incidents from my life to show that these aren’t just my personal observations, but also the reality out there. I have more male colleagues than female. Predictably, they share jokes and sexist remarks about female behaviour, body language, intellect, capabilities and other different issues. Although all of them are from well educated and settled backgrounds, they can’t understand the reasons behind their insecurities against women.

They have generalised views about women, and laugh about these needlessly. A few days back, I was standing at a a bus stop. While waiting for a bus, I saw a girl who just fell off while running after getting tangled up in her saree. She fell on her knees – and immediately, the people, instead of picking her up or offering some water, started laughing. The women around felt embarrassed after seeing this reaction from the bystanders.

Here, I can recall another incident from my college days when low-waists were fashionable among youngsters. One of my friends (a Tibetan), who was wearing a very low waist jean, tried to catch a bus after running for some distance. He was able to do so after reaching up to the gate with a short but high jump. But while attempting this, his jeans slipped from his waist. He looked all around to check if anyone had noticed this embarrassing moment. But surprisingly, no one laughed. All the men in the bus reacted in a very normal way, as though nothing has happened.

This makes me wonder what was different in the incident I witnessed a few days earlier. How did that transform into a comedy circus for all?

I remember another incident during the arguments between my co-workers. One of my experienced colleague remarked and recalled Draupadi in one such conversation. Furthermore, every time a girl makes a decent point in the conversations between two boys, they mostly respond by saying that, “Yaad hai na dost, Mahabharat ki ladaai kiski wajah se hui thi (My friend, you do remember what led to Mahabharat war, right)?”

Is this really true? Have your heard the undertone of this comment?

Who doesn’t know that the evil intentions of the Kauravas led to the start of the war! Their greediness, the unsuccessful attempt to make out with their own sister-in-law and the insecurities about their own leadership qualities – there were many reasons for the war. Then, what is the need to target that single lady who supposedly suffered the most, each and every time?

People need to realise that targeting all the women in a derogatory way won’t make them better persons. Neither will it bring out their best in professional capacities.

Recently, we decided to bring a surprise cake for one of our teammates’ birthday. To this end, one of my female colleagues started collecting money from every member. But one of the men refused to contribute, because “ladkiyan paise lete huye achhi nahi lagti (It’s not decent for women to collect money).” This is how he taunted her while refusing to give his share. It was pathetic. I cannot relate to this kind of mentality at all. I feel disconnected in this setup, but what can I do?

Should I start speaking about the most-derogatory things my decent and understanding male team members have had to hear? What if I retort by speaking up in a similar manner? Will this help end these jokes and attitudes? I believe reverse sexism is a notion which tells you to retort to the people who ruthlessly criticise you, in exactly the same terms. It’s a ‘gender war’ kind of a thing. But do we really need this? No. We should just expect and seek some basic human values, unbiased against any gender. Dominant people can easily create their slang, jokes and values which they expect the other gender to follow. But my point is, what if I do not give-in to this?

In this case, I firmly but bluntly refused to interact with my so-called ‘funny’ team members. But how am I supposed to work then? I have restricted myself in my interactions, and I choose the people with whom I want to interact. But honestly, I don’t feel good this way. It is affecting my own sensibilities and thought processes. It felt like damaging your own self by keeping your mouth shut. Now, I am wondering if I have made the wrong point. How can the world be at so much peace with such perplexed people?

I am eagerly waiting to recollect myself creatively.


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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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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.

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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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