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I Wrote About Masturbation And Virginity On LinkedIn And Here’s What Happened

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I wrote on masturbation on LinkedIn. Yes, you read it correctly. 

man siting on laptop at his home
As expected, the post received some interesting-but-saddening comments that forced me and might also force you to reassess where we are heading towards. Representational image.

I somehow gathered the courage and presented my views on why we should talk about it openly to spread much-needed awareness. 

Is masturbation good?

As expected, the post received some interesting-but-saddening comments that forced me and might also force you to reassess where we are heading.

It isn’t the first time that I talked about a taboo topic on LinkedIn. A few months ago, I wrote how people like to assess a girl’s character by examining her virginity. 

 

Back then too, some people mocked me while a few others abused me publicly for writing on social issues on a professional platform. However, some common comments on both the posts were:

“LinkedIn is not Facebook or Twitter.”

“This post is not relevant for LinkedIn.”

“Please spare a professional platform at least. This topic doesn’t have to do anything with a job search.”

I was taken aback by the comments. At first, I thought it to be a passing wind. But later, I realised that the platform isn’t a problem; the mentality is.

People don’t talk about social issues and taboo topics on a professional platform like LinkedIn. They consider these topics to be inappropriate for LinkedIn where they come to find jobs, get new business deals and build professional relationships. 

But professionals are humans too, right?

Employees, businessmen, leaders, recruiters, startup owners, entrepreneurs, executives, and even investors are humans too. They think, act and express as all other humans do. Then, why can these issues be discussed freely on Facebook and Twitter, but not LinkedIn? 

Why Do People Refrain From Talking On Taboo Issues In The Professional World?

When I wrote about females’ virginity for the first time on LinkedIn, a gentleman messaged and asked me to remove the post. Further, he also suggested that I repost it on Facebook to reach a wider audience. When I asked him the reason for saying so, he gave a weird logic, saying, “Literate and educated people are not narrow-minded. They know what’s right, what’s wrong. Facebook is the right place to write these posts since everyone from youngsters to old people uses Facebook”. 

I was surprised by his logic. But when several other people also sent me similar requests, I realised where this mentality has stemmed from. 

People wrongly assume that professionals or educated people are mature enough to understand these issues and stay well within their limits. If it was the case, there would be nothing like “Sexual Harassment at the Workplace”. 

Sadly, the cases of workplace sexual harassment have been so horrendous that the government had to come up with POSH Act, which deals exclusively with sexual harassment of women at workplace. The Times of India reported that POSH complaints in BSE 500 companies have risen by 28%.

If you thought that work-from-home environment would reduce the cases of workplace sexual harassment, you’ve been proved wrong. 29% of women don’t consider work from home to be a safer option as compared to being in the office. 

Every other day, I see a post from a female where she reports how she received unjustified requests or creepy messages from a fellow connection on LinkedIn. I think that 5 out of every 10 females have received creepy messages at least once during their LinkedIn journey. 

Like Rome wasn’t built in a day, mentality can’t be developed overnight. You can’t expect a person to have a different mentality at home and in office.

Stereotypes and prejudice that people have created in their minds remain intact forever. Once they step into the professional world, they carry the same perceptions and mentality which they possessed outside the professional world.  In such situations, you can’t differentiate between the professional and personal world, and between the professional topics and personal topics, as such.

What Is The Solution To This Problem?

For a long time, everyone has been advocating to include sex education in the school curriculum. It’s high time that we make these topics a point of discussion on professional platforms, in boardroom meetings, and even casual networking discussions during seminars and conferences. 

We can’t run away from discussing taboo issues by tagging them under “fit for personal lives” or “relevant to Facebook” categories. 

Whether we have to stop workplace sexual harassment or other kinds of sexual harassment, the first step is to spread awareness about the sensitive topics like virginity, masturbation, menstruation, etc. and change the mindset of people. For that to happen, we shouldn’t hesitate to discuss them on open platforms or during professional meetings.

Remember, every professional is a human first of all. When we discuss these topics continuously across various platforms, only then, we will be able to change people’s mentality and tell them: Harassment is harassment everywhere. Crime is a crime wherever you go. 

The Road Ahead

According to me, people should openly discuss these topics and share their ideas and views on even professional platforms like LinkedIn, Quora, and other meetup platforms. But it may be solely my point of view.

I would leave to you to decide whether you think that these topics should be restricted to Facebook or Twitter. There are some other associated topics also like dowry and reservation that demand everyone’s attention. But should LinkedIn be the place we should talk openly on?

What do you think? Let me know in the comment section below. 

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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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