With a vehement passion to take the discipline of Sociology beyond classroom levels and create a strong platform for change in the society, the Department of Sociology of Maitreyi College released its very first Newsletter- ‘Sociologue: Aao Baat Karein’ followed by a talk on ‘Why Gender? Need for Feminist Thinking’ by Professor Rajni Palriwala on the 27th of October, 2015, from 11 a.m. till 1 p.m. in the Seminar Hall of Maitreyi College, New Delhi.
The programme began with a short speech by Dr. (Mrs.) Yamini Gautam, Vice-Principal of Maitreyi College, on the great value of newsletters in today’s times for disseminating information and spreading awareness on various issues around the world, which are otherwise left unvoiced. Professor (Mrs.) Maala was then, called on the stage to give a warm welcome to the guest speaker, Dr. Rajni Palriwala, who is a Professor of Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University. Her research interests include gender, kinship and marriage, care, citizenship, feminist theory and politics, agrarian and development studies and comparative sociology. She is also an eminent author of many novels and journals, some of which include Changing Kinship, Family and Gender Relations in South Asia; Planning Families, Planning Gender; and Marriage, Migration and Gender.
The event was followed by Dr. Rashi Bhargava, Assistant Professor and Editor-in-chief of Sociologue, who explained the true purpose of their newsletter, which was to initiate a platform for social discussion and dialogue, and to promote interactions and liberation of ideas on issues of everyday life which must be confronted, but are mostly neglected. A presentation on an overview of the whole newsletter was thus, demonstrated to give a brief on all the major Editorial features such as Feature Articles, Editors’ Choice, Department Updates, News Headlines, Reflection Box, and Letters to the Editor and Issue Specific Features which would include Stories/Poems/Reviews, Comic Strips/Visual Pieces and Food For Thought, built around one particular theme, every year.
The entire team of Sociologue, including the Editorial Board, Creative Team and Publicity Team along with Dr. Rajni, Dr. Yamini, Prof. Maala, Dr. Rashi, Associate Professor Dr. Gopi Tripathy and Prof. Koyal were then, all, invited on the stage to perform the inauguration ceremony.
Having run the theme ‘Gender Matters’ this year, it was crucial for someone as prestigious as Professor Rajni to address her few words of wisdom during the launch of Sociologue. She started by reminiscing her childhood days wherein she was surprised to observe that despite being treated equally in the arena of education, her family would always create differences among her siblings when it came to cooking, and every time, she would persuade her family into finding her a groom who could cook instead, a wave of laughter would fill the air. Growing up, she realized that such differences, which she earlier took as being natural, were in fact, cultural- that is, made by the world around us, and which have always been prevalent, ever since the times of Suffrage and the Indian National Movement.
She explained that the reason “Why Gender?” is debated upon so much is because of the fact that people always took gender differences as being natural, especially in the dimension of work. She said, that, “People always required women to cook, take care of the ‘unpaid domestic work’ and become the bedrock of their families. They thought that women did all this naturally, and it was thus, considered as their ‘real job’. Even if middle-class or poor women did go out for work to subsist their family, they were still required to finish their entire household ‘work’ as well.”
She then, emphasized that the reason why unequal treatment of women in the public sphere of education and employment is still very much prevalent in our society, is because our constitution has only acquired formal equality for women, and not a substantive one. She referred to the popular saying, “Personal is political” by justifying that our lives are deeply political as it’s all about the personal ‘power’ of a person, whether it’s men who may dominate their power over others or women who may succumb to the oppression of powers by others.
She further elucidated that many women have now become victims of the ‘Stockholm syndrome’ which means that after being imprisoned or bounded by the dominant structure of the society for so long, women have started accepting such ways of life where they no longer feel the urge to break away. This is also one of the reasons why most of them do not raise their voice anymore and choose to stay silent despite being treated unfairly repeatedly by anyone.
She also enlightened everyone with the fact that the equality which women ask for is not of being treated exactly as men, but of that in which men and women of all castes and classes must be different. She said that, “the idea of true equality does not call for exact sameness, but of enhancing and appreciating the idea of differences among them, and being treated with ‘equal’ dignity and respect.”
She, therefore, encouraged all the girls to continue the fight against unjust treatment and to continue discussing such topics with those having opposite perspectives until they realize that they are wrong. According to her, there must be a very strong sense of collectivity and uniformity among women, or a need for Feminism, as the battle to remove all gender inequalities may be slow and hard, but will eventually bring about an epicenter of change.
Image Credits: Bayar Jain and Vibhana Kanwar, Members of Vista- The Photography Society of Maitreyi College