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Gender Studies Cell, St.Stephen’s College: Taboo Diaries, Chapter 2

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The Gender Studies Cell (GSC), St.Stephen’s College, held its second discussion as part of ‘Taboo Diaries’ on ‘Sex, Sexuality and Shame’. The GSC hopes to bring the topics that most of us aren’t too comfortable discussing, out into the open for an informal and engaging discussion.

The panel of eight comprised entirely of students from the college, spread across batches and courses: Aayesha Varma, Prerna Subramanian, Paro Tomar, Suchismita Panda, Shirin Choudhary, Anshul Mukarji, Havisha Khurana and Harsha Sanyukta, presented their views on various taboos and misconceptions surrounding and not limited to, concepts of sexuality, safe sex, masturbation and sex education, after which they engaged in a discussion with the audience.

The event was flagged off by Angha Gopal, with a slam poetry performance, on the issues of body image and coming to terms with it. As she encouraged us to ‘tip the scales over,’ she had the audience snapping their fingers in agreement.

The question of the body being the primary criteria, on which judgment of an individual is based, was raised. Further, the opinion that people who are overweight are not ‘victims’ or objects towards whom sympathy is directed was also expressed. The panelists put forth their own experiences with regard to their parents or schools shunning or in some cases accepting open discussions on sex and sexual practices. Sex sells and titillates as long as it is behind closed doors, but buying condoms to practice safe sex is still considered ’embarrassing’. This glaring public-private divide is essential to any discussion on sexual practices.


The taboos surrounding porn and masturbation were discussed. It is common to be judged negatively for being a woman who masturbates, to the extent that most women are unaware that masturbation is natural and normal. The spaces that less privileged classes have to explore their sexuality and the problem of spaces to articulate same sex desire being inherently unsafe were other questions that were raised. Being scorned for enjoying casual sex, or ‘slut shaming’, is another taboo that exists on the same page. In order to dispel these misconceptions and taboos that surround sex and sexuality, sex education should be of supreme importance.

The most significant aspect of such a discussion is that lived experiences of students themselves are brought to the fore. While scholarly lectures or research papers may limit such discussions to a certain audience, a more informal affair ensures that maximum number of people are involved and interested in topics that they can relate to. Further, pertinent questions and issues are addressed with regard to topics that must be broached, else society considers these taboos too ‘shameful’ to be discussed outside of the privacy of our bedrooms.

Abhinaya Harigovind
[email protected]

Image Credits: Annalisa Mansukhani for DU Beat

Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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