Language is a medium that allows us to communicate, identify, and express ourselves. However, this kind of expression, along with other social identities, usually results in systemic prejudice against particular communities. Whether it’s the language’s fundamentals, which reflect and reinforce gender binary norms, or its intersection with an individual’s religion, nationality, or place of belonging.

Religion, gender, and language are often categorised as the building blocks of an individual’s identity. Each of these factors influences a person’s beliefs, values, and perceptions of themselves and others. Often, discrimination based on religion, gender, or linguistic choices is seen independently; nevertheless, the confluence of gender and religion, as well as linguistic preference, has a significant influence on individuals and communities. While religion influences a person’s moral and ethical ideals, gender incorporates social and cultural expectations, and language both reflects and reinforces gender binary norms in society.  

Religion & Language:

Language has always been a fundamental tool for portraying a religion. Whether it’s Arabic for Islam, Sanskrit for Hinduism, or Hebrew for Christianity, all of these affiliations stem from sacred texts written in these languages. Harold Schiffman in his book, “Linguistics, Culture and Language Policy’ explains that “One of the most basic issues where language and religion intersect is the existence, in many cultures, of sacred texts […]. For cultures where certain texts are so revered, there is often almost an identity of language and religion, such that the language of the texts also becomes sacred…”) 

However, with the need for a separate identity, this linkage of languages tied to certain religions mutated over time. The shift in language of South Asian Muslims to Urdu, Hindus to Hindi, and Christians to English is an important example of this. This language shift describes how linguistic choices change as the need for a separate identity grows. 

However, these linguistic freedoms quickly devolved into systemic discrimination against minority populations. Massive protests erupted at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in 2020 over the appointment of a Muslim associate professor in the faculty of literature of Sanskrit Vidya Dharm Vigyan (SVDV). Protesters argued that a Muslim professor would be incapable of teaching Sanskrit, a Hindu language. NDTV writes, “The administration backed the professor. The panel that selected him, which includes Professor Radhavallabh Tripathi, one of India’s most eminent Sanskrit scholars, repeatedly said he(the appointed Muslim professor) was the most qualified candidate.”

Not only that, but hate campaigns and violence erupted in various parts of India in light of the use of Urdu in advertisements for ‘Hindu festivals.’ Nivedita Menon, a professor at the Centre for Political Studies at JNU, told Al Jazeera, The Hindutva project sees Urdu as a ‘Muslim’ language. And invisibilising Urdu is part of the larger project of marginalising the Muslim community, in fact, physically eliminating it.” Linguists and historians contend that Hindi and Urdu evolved from ‘Khadi Boli,’ a dialect of the Delhi region, and are profoundly influenced by Persian, Turkish, Arabic, and Sanskrit. This hatred of a language because its identity is associated with a minority religion, despite its origins in India, highlights how segregation and systematic hatred towards minority religions are carried out through the use of languages.

Gender & Language:

Languages reflect and reinforce gender norms and the gender binary. This has an intricate connection with the culture, religion, and history of the language. In recent years, queer activists and linguists all over the world have advocated for the necessity of gender-neutral terms. While some languages incarcerate gender in binaries, others prove gender’s presence outside of binaries by not gendering inanimate objects. While individuals assert that gender-neutral language is a Western concept, many Indian languages dispute this claim. Languages like Bangla, Assamese, Bhojpuri, Kannada, Angika, Maithili, and others do not limit gender into binaries, while Sanskrit uses masculine, feminine, and gender-neutral terms to refer to inanimate objects.

However, the most widely spoken languages, such as Hindi and French, do enforce binary. So, why are certain languages unable to use gender-neutral verb conjugation? While extra research is needed, basic efforts by native speakers of these languages may increase the possibilities of making these languages inclusive for everyone.

“On my first day of my bachelor’s degree, when I addressed myself as ‘hum’, my professor asked me how many people I am addressing with myself.”- Chandan Kumar, in an article by Youth ki Awaaz. This linguistic rigidity is a result of the Hindi belt’s class superiority. Hindi teachers must stop such rigorous pronoun implementation, and textbooks should be revised to include a discussion of gender outside of binaries. Another source of optimism is the use of second-person pronouns in Hindi. The usage of ‘aap’ while speaking to elders or as a sign of respect, regardless of gender, supports the idea that ‘aap is neutral and assuming someone’s gender is disrespectful.’ Aside from this, we can make our language more inclusive by not strictly categorising non-living things as masculine or feminine.

While language has the potential to bring people together, it can also be used to isolate and oppress them. While individuals argue that changing language to incorporate gender-neutral terminology is impossible since language represents history and culture, the development and shift to new languages by religious communities as the need for a separate identity emerged rejects this notion.

Read Also: Language and Patriarchy: The Case of Gendered Language

Featured Image Credits: Deccan Herald

Dhruv Bhati

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The Supreme Court of India recently released a handbook that deals with countering harmful language used in court that fosters stereotypes against women.

The language spoken and accepted in court may not directly influence the outcome of a plea, but it serves as a significant indicator of the values upheld and endorsed by a country. Taking a step towards countering inappropriate and harmful language used against women and gender minorities, the Supreme Court recently issued a 30-page handbook detailing alternative and preferred phrases to be used in legal matters. 

(…) the language a judge uses reflects not only their interpretation of the law but their perception of society as well.” -Chief Justice Chandrachud

The handbook tries to eliminate some disdainful language that promotes stereotypes. Some of the identified phrases include ‘career woman’, ‘obedient wife’ and ‘chaste woman’. Another stereotype that the handbook aims to do away with is the idea that women are inherently overly emotional and thus incapacitated to make decisions. It also acknowledges that assumptions made about women’s characters depending on their sexual history and clothing preferences tamper with the judicial assessment of sexual violence cases as they diminish the importance of consent in sexual relationships.

The handbook also wishes to implement the use of more dignified language towards the LGBTQIA+ community. Moving forward, ‘sex assigned at birth’ is stated to be the preferred phrase in place of ‘biological sex’.  

When announcing the publication of this handbook in court, CJI D.Y. Chandrachud said that he hoped this would mark a milestone in the journey towards a more equitable society.

Implementation of measures like this one, especially by a nation’s highest authorities, is crucial for driving a fundamental transformation in how women and gender minorities are perceived within a country. Such initiatives not only signal a commitment to gender equality but also play a major role in determining societal norms in the long run. 

By challenging these long-existing biases, the Supreme Court of India has contributed to a broader cultural shift that recognizes and respects the dignity and rights of women. Hopefully, there is potential in this handbook to inspire change not only within the legal system but also in society as a whole. 

Read also: Handbook on Combating Gender Stereotypes – SC 

Featured image credits: Boom Live

Arshiya Pathania

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Debates and discussions on climate change have been going since centuries, but it is seldom that the role of gender is recognized in sustainable planning and implementation. 

The year began with horrific bushfires ravaging the heart of Australia and spurring the grave issue of climate change that has been haunting us since many decades. Even after much scientific evidence and climatic emergencies, many of our world leaders blatantly deny its existence and waver it off as ‘bulls**t or just a change in human habits’. But, not only is there a need to address it on a huge scale but also ponder over some of the more important aspects of climate change; such as ‘gender’. 

Changing climate is one of the most daunting global challenges of our time. The degree to which people are affected by climate change impacts is partly a function of their social status, gender, poverty, power and access to and control over resources. Over the next decades, billions of people, particularly those in developing countries, are expected to face shortages of water and food and risks to health and life as a result of climate change. Accounting for 70% of the world’s poor, women are the most vulnerable among them. 

It is quite astonishing that climate change is not ‘gender-neutral’. It impacts men and women differently due to a variety of reasons that can be attributed to ‘gender differentiated’ powers, roles and responsibilities. Ecofeminism is a branch of feminism that specifically observes “the connection between the exploitation and degradation of the natural world and the subordination and oppression of women.” High dependence on local natural resources for livelihood, limited mobility, and unequal access to resources, policy and decision – making processes are some of the reasons for natural disasters affecting the lives of women more abundantly. Moreover, socio-cultural norms limit women from acquiring the information and skills necessary to escape or avoid hazards (e.g. swimming and climbing trees to escape rising water levels). For instance, during the Asian tsunami of 2004, 70% of the victims were women as many women and children were trapped inside their homes. A lack of sex disaggregated data in all sectors (e.g. livelihoods, environment protection, health and well-being) often leads to an underestimation of women’s roles and contributions. This situation then results in gender-blind climate change policy and programming, which are inaccessible to many and thus turn out to be ineffective. 

But why should we include ‘gender’ in the climate effort? As men and women face their social, economic and environmental reality in different ways; how they participate is also different and is closely related to age, socio-economic class and culture. So, the gender approach helps tackle issues on a much inclusive and wider scale. Women can contribute to livelihood strategies adapted to changing environmental realities as play a pivotal role in natural resources management and in other productive and reproductive activities at the household and community levels. They tend to share information related to community well-being more extensively, choose less polluting energy sources and adapt more easily to environmental changes when their family’s survival is at stake. Women’s greater participation also enhances the effectiveness and sustainability of climate change projects and policies. Research has also revealed the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment to environmental sustainability and thus gender equality has been recognized as one of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

The climate protests in Nigeria exemplify the powerful role of women as agents of change. In 1999, Nigerian women headed a world movement to stop flaring natural gas by a transnational oil company. They organized simultaneous protests and awareness workshops in Nigeria and the United Kingdom that resulted in the company’s London headquarters being closed, and the temporary closing of the wells. Finally, in January 2006, the Nigerian courts cancelled the gas company’s licence.  This unprecedented international action demonstrates women’s ability to act as important agents for change who can help to mitigate climate change. Also, climate activists like Sunita Narain, Greta Thunberg, Christiana Figueres, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim and so on are bringing in diverse views and working for a sustainable future. 

United Nations climate change negotiations, void of gender-related texts and discussions until 2008, have more recently reflected an increased understanding of the links between gender equality and responding to climate change. But more concerted efforts need to be made all over the world.  Promoting education of girls is vital as it would provide financial security, agency at home and society, and give the capacity to navigate climate change. Access to high – quality, voluntary reproductive health care and advancing equity and well – being must be the aims of family planning, which would in  turn reduce demands for food, infrastructure etc. 

Gender-sensitive structures, guidelines, projects and tools need to be developed for all climate change financing mechanisms supporting adaptation and mitigation actions, at all levels by conducting an in-depth and evidence-based analysis that takes gender as one of the criteria. 

Katharine Wilkinson in her TED talk on ‘How empowering women and girls can help stop global warming’ quoted – “Some segments of human family cause exponentially greater harm, while others suffer outsized injustice.” The gender – climate connection extends beyond negative impacts and powerful solutions. Women are vital voices and agents for change on this planet and yet we are missing or barred from the ‘table’. All of this does not mean that only women have the onus of fighting climate change; it is just that we need to acknowledge the role of gender as a requisite for our climate effort’s success. The dynamics are not only unjust but leading humanity to failure. We need to bring diverse voices, including those that are typically excluded, into decision making to identify the best solutions for adapting to climate change. This is the only way we can build families, communities and societies that are resilient to the impacts of climate change. For this to be effective, we need to start from the premise that everyone matters—rich or poor, farmer or civil servant, woman or man.

Image Credits: Pinterest

Ipshika Ghosh 

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Delhi Queer Pride Parade 2019 witnessed a colourful celebration of love and inclusiveness, on Barakhamba Road. The march was also led against the regressive Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019. 

24th November, 2019 witnessed the famed Delhi Queer Pride on Barakhamba Road. The pride had dual motives this year, to celebrate love and inclusivity as well as protest against the regressive Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019, commonly called the Trans Bill. 

The march began from the intersection of Tolstoy Marg and Barakhamba Road till Janpath, and went even further. The entire road was lit up with rainbow coloured balloons, pride flags, and high-spirited people. 

Posters against the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019, the allegedly homophobic government, and depicting the struggles of the community were seen in abundance.

In a majority of states across our country, LGBTQIA+ rights and dignity are not fully protected by the law, and, in fact, there are fierce movements that seek to oppress and marginalise them and their social relationships. One such movement, being the Trans Bill. 

For many LGBT+ people, Pride is the one time of the year when they can be out and proud about who they are, and whom they love. It’s the one time of year that they can stand boldly in the streets with other queer individuals, proclaiming that “we are fully human”, and deserve to be celebrated and uplifted just like everyone else. Even in cities that are seen as LGBT+ friendly, it is still an incredibly subversive experience to get to march in parades or attend festivals where hundreds upon hundreds of LGBT+ people are letting their lights shine before all people without fear. Pride is often the beginning of the process of healing from the trauma inflicted on us by our heteronormative, patriarchal society.

A student from University of Delhi (DU) under the conditions of anonymity said, “Pride is the time where I can take out my mom’s saree and try it, not behind my bedroom’s closed door but out in the open in the streets, and be loved for it.”

The streets witnessed various scintillating performances on the beats of the dhol and drums playing. The parade was echoing with slogans like “Pyaar karne ki azadi, Modi se azadi” and “Jai Bheem”.

The major concern of the pride was to raise awareness against the resistance being faced by one part of the LGBTQIA+ community due to the Trans Bill. 

India’s Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2019, contradicts the rights and protections laid out in the country’s supreme court’s NALSA verdict of 2014. It also upholds the humiliating process of submitting an application to District Magistrate for a legal recognition of one’s transgender identity, which means to first register as a transgender, then submit proof of surgery to get identification as male or female. The bill also says that sexual violence against a trans persons will be subjected to a  punishment from 6 months to 2 years, in comparison to 7 years crimes against heterosexual women. It also rejects reservation and affirmative action for trans, intersex and gender nonconforming people in health, education and employment.

Student unions like All India Student Association (AISA) were also seen being part of the parade along with students from all over DU and other universities. 

However, the Pride didn’t only see participation from one age group. People from all walks of life had come together for pride, from school children to middle-aged men to the elderly. 

Delhi Queer Pride is a time where everyone steps out of the shadows and declares that they will no longer be forced to suppress their truest selves because of the heterosexual fragility and fear. 

Feature Image Credits: Noihrit Gogoi for DU Beat

Chhavi Bahmba 

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Everything about Hindu College’s annual V-Tree pooja tradition and the protests against it make for a brilliant case study in politics in action.

“The pooja epitomises politics in action. I find it fascinating”, says Saloni Verma, a third-year English Hons student at Hindu College. She says “I love how the pooja has been smartly evolved. It’s such a brilliant trick to capture the audience”. Without actually supporting the pooja, Saloni points towards a very interesting example of how politics is played out. Everything surrounding the tradition – from its concept and the opposition against it to the claims of competing parties and their mode of operation – is a case study into the functioning of active politics.

Now that the dust around the V-Tree episode has settled down (for now), this case study can be made. The very bone of contention – the tradition of the V-Tree pooja – illustrates how social issues
are often contested between the political right and the left. Analogies can be made with discussions surrounding other traditions which are often labelled ‘oppressive’. Saloni gives
an example of Rakshabandhan being considered by some to be a symbol of sexism and oppression. But such traditions have been modified.

Rakhis that sisters tie on their brothers’, and even sisters and sister-in-laws’ wrists, aren’t rare. About traditions and how the left and the right response to them, Saloni says “They (the left) just say that tradition is bad…Traditions can be misogynistic but the solution the left proposes is that you abandon the tradition which ignores the importance of traditions to people who may not have consumed the same literature as them. What the boys’ hostel did was that they morphed the tradition to make it somewhat acceptable.” She says that while
the decision to have a poster of Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma as a couple was
“tokenistic”, it was “beautiful politics” as it “moulded tradition according to contemporary relevance”.


Often in politics, means become important. When four top judges of the Supreme Court took to the media to address alleged problems of mismanagement within the judiciary last year, many people opposing it asked why was the ‘correct procedure’, that is, dealing with the issues internally, not followed. Perhaps the content of their complaints got overlooked to an extent. In Hindu College, while the clashes of 14 February were at their peak, many people were expressing discontent over the means followed by the protesters, especially regarding the participation of non-Hinduites and the possibility of people getting physically hurt in the process. Perhaps enough attention wasn’t paid to the core of the protesters’ concerns and the discourse leaned more towards the means over the goals. Then again, when we ask whether means can be prioritised over the ends or vice versa, a single correct answer perhaps doesn’t exist.

The analogy I find the most interesting is with regards to how competing sides often claim victories for themselves, despite how things actually turn out. The ‘Aadhaar’ verdict by the Supreme Court was seen as a win by both the government and the opposition, and so was the ‘Rafale’ judgement; so are opinion polls and even election results. Here too, both sides claimed that they won. Those supporting the pooja said that they successfully conducted the “grandest” pooja ever. The protesters claimed that the “mere action of men withdrawing from the public to the private space” and “disruption of the pooja” was a victory. The mutual allegations of threats, intimidation and violence by the other side were also levelled, just like they usually are in larger political activities.

Despite all that, the vital element is this: narratives and counter-narratives will always exist, tensions will inevitably arise and contestations won’t stop, be it in colleges or countries – and that must continue. And when conflicts come about, it will be this active political assertion that will challenge the status quo, for better or worse. This crucially reinforces a belief that the tradition of democratic protests is alive and well. Perhaps not all traditions are meant to be disposed of, after all?

Image credits- Prateek Pankaj for DU Beat
Image captions- The V-Tree episode beautifully represents active political participation

Prateek Pankaj
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While men have always had spacious pockets catering to their utility, women have had to endure a lack of pockets, false pockets, and pockets so small nothing would fit. DU Beat traces the journey of pockets through the 17th century and the gender divide they propagate every day.

“The history of pockets isn’t just sexist, it’s political.” Fashion thrives on sexism. Whether or not a garment gets utilitarian pockets depends upon the gender the garment is being stitched for and the norms surrounding that gender. While men have had baggy, spacious pockets since their advent in the 1600’s, women still continue to struggle with fashion norms that dictate a lack of pockets, false pockets and pockets, so small that you couldn’t fit anything inside.

In the late 17th century, pockets made their move to become a part of men’s clothing, permanently being sewn into coats, waistcoats, and trousers. However, women had to get creative and wrap a sack with a string around their waists and tuck it way under their petticoats as a substitute to pockets.

In the late 1800’s, sewing pockets into skirts became a medium of rebellion and the sign of a strong, independent woman. However, the idea of women having fabric between their legs made people uncomfortable because of reasons like “femininity.” With both the world wars, women’s fashion introduced utilitarian clothing, which meant that women finally got pants with pockets,

“After the first world war there was a drastic change in women’s clothing. Edwardian ideas were put out. There was a brief period in the mid-20th century when there were pants without pockets. The idea of this revolutionized fashion was that women would look thinner without pockets,” says Avnika Chhikara, a second year English Honours student at Maitreyi College.

By the end of the 18th century, women’s fashion revolved around restraint in terms of skirts being pulled close to the body, the thin slender waist, and the silhouette fitting the stereotypes.

“Victorian era gowns used to have decently sized pockets concealed in the skirts. That was practical at that time because the skirts of the gowns were fluffy and big. With the evolution of fashion and the introduction of form fitted clothing coming into the trends, the size of the pockets started to shrink,” says Bhavya Banerjee, a third year Political Science student at Daulat Ram College.

She further adds, “Women’s clothing is designed in a way so it looks more appealing, beautiful, flattering, rather than how it can help women be more productive, or according to their convenience. It’s not designed to help them advance or be more functional in a workspace.”

Esteemed designer Christian Dior was reported by the Spectator in 1954 as saying, “Men have pockets to keep things in, women for decoration.” Men’s fashion has always centred around comfort and utility while women’s fashion revolves around set stereotypes of beauty. The giant different in terms of pockets reinforces sexist ideas of gender.

To break free from these gender norms, it’s important for us to introduce liberal ideas within fashion and giving people their own space to experiment along. “Maybe we can start a trend of having a pocket in the middle of the shirt at the divide to symbolize gender neutrality,” says Antara Rao, a third year Economics Honours student of Jesus and Mary College.  

While women’s false pockets are pleasing to look at and serve aesthetic value, they also create a culture of dependency around them on other things/ people. “False pockets are just there for the aesthetic value. For me, they serve as half assed policies and tokenistic concessions that look good just on paper and are meant to be like “Oh look we are so forward thinking that we removed pads from the luxury tax bracket #feminism” while the actual question is why do they still cost so much if they’re a necessity?” says Charvee Gupta, a second year student of B.Com. (Hons.) at Jesus and Mary College.

The question remains, how an entire industry that claims to cater to women serve them to poorly? When an outfit has pockets, we look at it differently. Pockets also instil a sense of comfort and confidence in the space and utility they offer.

“I get my jeans stitched simply because I need normal pockets. The shop’s location is: A Teen, Mohan Singh Palace, CP. You can get A1 fit and latest designs in less than Rs. 1200,” says Niharika Dabral, a third year BA Hons. Humanities and Social Science student at the Cluster Innovation Center.

“One supremacy there is in men’s clothing… its adaptation to pockets. Women have from time to time carried bags, sometimes sewn in, sometimes tied on, sometimes brandished in the hand, but a bag is not a pocket,” wrote, American feminist and novelist, Charlotte P. Gilman, in 1905.

“Not having pockets forces women to buy handbags and clutches (they don’t even get nice wallets), so a lot of advertisements and films term this as extravagance and thrifty. It’s a necessity,” says Anushree Joshi, a first year English Honours student at Lady Shri Ram College for Women. But a bag is clearly not a pocket.

The lack of pockets has made handbags a necessity today and has increased the dependency women face when they go through this. “I feel the idea of women not having pockets stems from capitalism and consumerism. The lack of pockets forces women to buy another product – handbags! I feel that it’s purely business; create a need and then make money off of it,” says Shania Mohapatra, a second year student of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Cluster Innovation Centre.

Though today, the red carpet does show women like Amy Schumer wearing dresses with pockets, posing with their hands tucked into them, the idea of pockets hasn’t yet trickled down to everyday clothing like jeans or dresses.

Feature Image Credits: Racked

Muskan Sethi

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How should institutions founded on the notion that female-only spaces are vital, respond to and incorporate transgender students? 

Sehba (name changed on request) joined a girls’ college affiliated to the University of Delhi (DU) in the academic year 2016- 17. Born as a female, he never identified with the gender he was assigned at birth. He underwent a gender affirming surgery when he was in his second year of college. While he has had to struggle with the transition and guarded acceptance from his family, the college administration has made matters worse by threatening to cancel his admission. Four months into the gender affirming surgery, the status of his admission and continuance in the college is shrouded in doubt and uncertainty.

The questions revolving around this issue have wider connotations which have confounded admission officials at women’s colleges of DU in recent years. Should transgender women be allowed to apply? If so, how far into the gender transition process must an applicant be to be recognised as a woman? The transgender rights movement has now gained visibility, thereby challenging the existing institution of single-sex education in India, which has always been a largely heteronormative space.

Just how many transgender students, if any, are attending women’s colleges in DU remains unknown. Many colleges won’t disclose such information citing privacy concerns. Notwithstanding this, there has been a rise in the presence of transgender students in girls’ colleges across the country. With this increased visibility comes backlash that materialises in harassment against trans students.

When asked about the steps taken, if any, by college managements to prevent harassment of transgender students in girls’ colleges, Professor Arunima Roy, said, “We as an institution do whatever is in our capacity to provide counseling to the concerned students and figure out a suitable arrangement for them. However, the situation becomes tricky since the varsity has not issued specific guidelines regarding the admittance of transgender students in girls’ colleges.”

When DU Beat asked a graduate from Miranda House, Harshita Gujral, whether trans students should be allowed in a girls’ college or not, she responded in the affirmative and said, “Trans people are equally deserving of the kind of rights-centred environment that women’s colleges provide.” However, another graduate from the same college, Panchi Kalra, said, “Giving such status to trans people in women’s colleges would ultimately undermine the institutional mission to empower women.”

Women’s colleges of DU have long offered women a sanctuary from certain aspects of discrimination they face in the wider world. Now, these colleges have to decide whether or not to broaden their horizons of feminism, after all, intersectionality is everything.

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat

Vaibhavi Sharma Pathak
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It’s no revelation that women apologize more readily than men. Women need to talk a lot more in public spheres and should not be worried about upsetting people and saying things in a ‘nice’ way.

Women apologize a lot, no second thoughts about that. I realized this first, few weeks into college. Instead of simply asking questions and inquiring about things I had no idea about, there I was, saying sorry unnecessarily. I misunderstood politeness with apologizing. Women know what I’m talking about. Men might find it difficult to relate to this.

The apologies women make, if you observe are often knee-jerk reactions. They say sorry even when they are clearly not at fault. Saying sorry for asking questions in class, saying sorry when presenting ideas before a group of people, saying sorry when asking someone to stop doing something that’s making them uncomfortable, the list is endless. Eventually, it ends up being an ice-breaker and a great conversation starter. You lose count after a point of time. It becomes so normalized that one inculcates it as a habit which refuses to leave.

Right from their childhood, women are expected to be polite. They are viewed as the more responsible gender, the gender which diffuses tension in unwarranted situations. They, very easily feel guilty. They usually put themselves under a lot of pressure to not upset anyone and be a people pleaser.  According to a 2010 Canadian study in the journal Psychological Science, women have a lower threshold for what requires an apology because they are more concerned with the emotional experiences of others and in promoting harmony in relationships. The word ‘sorry’ is used to soften the blow and to confront people in unavoidable situations. “Women believe that they are making people mad when they’re speaking up”, says Radhika Nair, a second year student from Shaheed Rajguru College of Applied Sciences. “I sometimes think that we are expected to be very grateful for whatever opportunities we are bestowed with”, says Annmary Alex Thomas, an Ambedkar University student.

It is often seen that women tend to say sorry more for feeling a certain way, for not coming across as a woman who’s ‘difficult’ or ‘emotional’. Indian women, who are financially dependent on their family or husband, believe that they have no right whatsoever to express their opinions during family discussions given that they do not earn.

Ladies, listen up. Do not say sorry when someone encroaches upon your private space. Do not say sorry for your choices, indulgences, views and opinions. Your over-apologizing shows your lack of confidence in yourself. Instead, challenge the status quo and break free from the realms of conformity. Start checking the number of times you say sorry in personal conversations, over the email. You might have been conditioned to internalize this attitude but it’s in your hands to shift this attitude. Be unapologetically you!

Image Credits: Monster.com


Disha Saxena 

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Women achievers are often defined by their relationship with the men in their life or nation, and of course their gender. It undervalues their achievements. It’s time we take a look at the way we applaud and cherish our women for their success.

Recently, Sachin Tendulkar congratulated two of ‘India’s daughters’, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu on Twitter for their extraordinary performances in the final of Women’s Singles at Gold Coast, 2018.  There was something peculiar that did not stand out in this statement but most people failed to notice it. Most of us fail to see what was problematic with two of India’s top professional athletes got reduced to being called ‘India’s daughters’. I think that we need to stop calling women daughters, wives, sisters or mothers of the nation and the men.

Let me give you another example. You know how a call for action against rapists and molesters is by asking men how would they feel if such a ghastly incident happened with their daughters/wives/mothers/sisters and hence, they need to do better?  Such statements suggest that women should be honoured and respected only because the next victim might be the woman you share a relationship with. It also suggests that one should only treat those women with respect to whom you have any sort of relationship otherwise, you wouldn’t care what other men say or do to women. Women deserve respect women regardless of their relationship with men. In addition to being someone’s daughter, women are, at the end of the day, people.

Defining women by their relationships with the men in their life or the nation is misogynist and alienates women. You’re undermining the women’s accomplishments and achievements if you refer to them as a man’s someone.  If you ever find the time to read a celebrity couple news headline, you’ll notice the woman addressed as Mr XYZ’s wife, even if the woman is a successful actress. You sometimes might not even notice such things because you become so used to reading it all the time that the headline might seem okay to you.

Calling them daughters/wives/mothers/sisters of the nation and the men take away their identity as individuals. Sachin and MS Dhoni were never called sons of India. Saina and PV Sindhu are professional athletes first, even their gender comes second.  Let’s hope the narrative around this change because honestly its time women are addressed by their names and their capabilities and not by their social identities.

Feature Image credits –  Indian Express

Disha Saxena

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We are at a historic moment in terms of gender equality. Masculinity, as you know it, asks men to be ‘tough and ‘strong’. However, this machismo-driven notion of masculinity is killing both men and women.

 “Fight Club”, said my best friend when I asked him about his favourite movie. Of course, it was. Tyler Durden was all he wanted to be. He was violent and aggressive, a man who showed no emotions. Don’t get me wrong, Fight Club is one of the greatest American classics but it thrives on toxic masculinity. The ‘Project Mayhem’ looked like an opportunity to men to prove their worth by traditional means at a time when all of them were struggling internally, searching for meaning in life.  As women are fighting against the system for equal rights and opportunities, are we able to understand the way patriarchy affects men?

Toxic masculinity is a concept in which men have a “supreme valuation of characteristics culturally associated with masculine and denigration of characteristics associated with the feminine”. Everybody knows what those ‘masculine’ traits or male stereotypes are. Men, right from the very childhood are told that they are not allowed to cry because ‘big boys don’t cry’. They should ‘man up’ whenever the situation requires them to and never be vulnerable. They should not do things ‘like a little girl’ does. They should be self-reliant and be ‘lone wolves’ in order to succeed. Men need to show dominance and be in control of things. Men also have this false sense of superiority and entitlement over women, which results in hundreds of women being killed, raped and mutilated every single day.

Such unwritten rules of behaviour lead men to limit the expressions of their emotions, primarily to anger. I have often seen men talk in excessive pride about the fact that they haven’t cried in years. Is it even a good thing to be proud of? When they find themselves unable to deal with their overwhelming emotions and feelings and they can’t talk about it, it often gets channelized into two ways. The first one is being physically violent.  Zach Greiner’s character in Fight Club found ‘Project Mayhem’ as an outlet for his anger against the identity crisis he was facing. It was all about enduring pain as much as possible. The second way is experiencing stress and depression. According to studies, men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women. Men who adhere to the traditionally masculine cultural norms and pressurize themselves to be stoic and socially isolate themselves are less likely to seek help for their mental health issues.

These are the tools of the patriarchy that we all need to fight against. We need to help boys become connected men. We cannot allow a destructive sense of manhood with ‘boys will be boys’ narrative to perpetuate anymore. We need to start having real conversations with men, conversations about feelings and problems and everything in between, conversations which are open and honest, just like girls have with one another. You know how girls tell every minute detail of their lives to someone close to them? Well, it helps. Talking about your problems may not be the solution but it does make you feel better. Stifling your emotions to avoid being judged by other men is going to kill you, both literally and figuratively; it is time to open up and break free.


Feature Image credits– Christian Hopkins

Disha Saxena

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