Arts & Culture

Shubh Mangal Stigma-Dhaan

Decoding the association of aversion and mockery with certain physical health conditions, which further supervene with the complications, owing to the problematic conditioning in social spheres.

Imagine reading a hetronormative- cheap- erotica, where the male protagonist apart from being a ‘powerhouse of patriarchy,’ is also a patronage of heavenly body with a very palpable sex appeal, but suffers from ‘erectile dysfunction,’ or the female protagonist apart from being a damsel in distress has ‘ovarian cysts!’ Not erotic any more is it? The intention is not to romanticise any health ailment, but to question the normalisation of an unhealthy obsession with unreal beauty standards and gender roles, which go on to strengthen these norms perpetuated by the overbearing society and reinforced by media and literature of pop culture which are easily accessible. This makes any possible defiance uncomfortable, embarrassing and a standing joke!

Consequently, it becomes extremely tough for people diagnosed with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), or performance anxiety in bed, or other sexually transmitted or performative diseases/ailments to have a sense of dignity in the society. A feeling of shame gets appropriated by their own self which in turn hinders their self-esteem. Ludicrous jokes about patients who are positively diagnosed with such diseases, go a long way, since they face workplace discrimination and hardship in their personal relationships on almost daily basis. Facing a life threatening virus, or while fighting a sickness, the least they should worry about is their sense of dignity and existence, and it’s nothing but failure of a coherent society if we can’t provide that. People from deprived backgrounds with lack of access to practise safe sex, especially sex workers fall victim to such sickness and people use their supplied labels of what they ‘established’ as low associate it further to identify and stigmatise these diseases evermore.

A woman’s reproductive health is only appropriated by her potential to give birth, and if she’s incable then may God help her, because society is not going to. A sense of shame is instilled in women about their womanhood, diminishing chances of getting married are hinted, or if married then rising chance of separation is advocated upon getting diagnosed with syndromes such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). It’s a condition in which more than normal levels of male hormones are released, leading to intermittent menstruation, thus creating lesser chances of getting pregnant. A report by The Hindu suggested that, “one in five women in India are diagnosed with PCOS.” A simple inference is suggestive of the need of awareness that is needed with regards to such ailments and it’s treatment, because if due attention is not given then it may become life threatening.

When the essential requisite is to amplify cognizance regarding such conditions especially when they are attached with stigmas such as sex and menstruation as backdrop, we can’t have ignorance and insensitivity get abundant instead. From your casual jokes about someone’s irate bowel movements to your disdain about someone’s body image due to their obesity, all of it demands a retrospection. There’s nothing heroic about getting insomnia or binge eating disorder either. Don’t budge towards it to appear cool. While a sensibility is welcomed, no one should romanticise a sickness and at the same time patronise the ones who are a victim. They have a battle to go through, if they choose to keep it personal, respect their privacy and if they choose to share don’t add to their trouble, let’s construct a conducive environment which is a safe space for one and all!

Feature Image Credits: Indian Express

Umaima Khanam


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.