International Women’s Day


Language is being altered to bring change, create conversations among people, and include certain communities. The effectiveness of the same, however, doesn’t enjoy consensus.

For centuries, women have been on the receiving end of objectification, racism, and sexism. Waves of the feminist movement have attempted to minimise the gap between genders across the world. Amid these efforts, some activists and linguists realised the role of language in perpetuating the existence of harmful sociological patterns. A tool as basic as language, they believe, has the power to bring about change by breaking the normalcy in the lives of people.

The term ‘womxn’ is an alternative term for the English language word ‘women’ which have been used occasionally to explicitly include transgender women. Scholars of English have used terms like “wimmin” and womyn”, as an alternative to rejecting the folk etymology of ‘woman’ allegedly being ‘of man’. While the cause behind the usage of this word is noble, the very idea of altering the language to bring change has failed to invite consensus from people.

In October 2018, a programme of events at the Welcome Collection, a museum in London, ‘Daylighting’ used the term ‘womxn’ and triggered a national controversy in the United Kingdom. While some supported theidea, many others outrightly rejected it, with a belief that the word is ratherexclusive, and portrays transgenderwomen as being different. The intersectionality that the word seeks to achieve fails to achieve unanimity. A few days later, Welcome Collectionapologised publicly, owing to thebacklash received by it on Twitter and elsewhere.

There are multiple views regarding the same. A Twitter user, Sam Baxter, asked, “Who exactly is this meant to include? Trans women call themselves women, non-binary people don’t call themselves women at all. The only thing that comes to mind is that this could be to include both ‘woman’and ‘women’, which implies there are women who identify as plurals.”

Priyanshi Banerjee, a student of Lady Shri Ram College for Women said, “Languages and linguistics are not isolated from psychology and society, these are overlapping concepts. The introduction of ‘womxn’ as a term would be fruitful. Even if one person bats an eyelid over the term and googles about the word, one would come across the word- ‘woman’ and realise its etymology- ‘of man’, that would mean the realisation of deep- seated patriarchy which exists without realisation. That realisation is a victory.”

While there are harder conflicts regarding the inclusion of different genders, most people are on a consensus regarding the patriarchal nature of the word ‘woman’. Women, the most importantstakeholders of this issue, are not at one with each other, when it comes to doing away with it. Some of them believe that altering language isn’t fruitful, and the conversations that it might bring about are restricted to the privileged class, who are not victims of the same kind of oppression. The inclusion that this word aims to achieve, they think, is both tokenistic and unnecessary.

But there are others who believe that language, as a tool is effective to bring about change. Terms like “wimmin” and “womyn” were introduced to normalise the pronunciation of words employed by certain communities. They think that something as basic as language can create powerful conversations around the norms of patriarchy, and the exclusionary nature of certain words.

In the end, certain questions linger. Is language effective enough to bringchange? If it is, should it be used at all? Are we, in order to create conversations, willing to appropriate the lives of certain genders, who might or might not agree with the usage of such words?

Feature Image Credits: Rukshana Kapali, Transgender Activist

Kuber Bathla

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The Indian attire saree goes centuries back to the Indus Valley Civilisation, and has transformed rapidly. Saree is a social evidence to the evolving Indian culture.

The evolution of saree moves parallel to the history of India, representing that it is not just a simple garment worn by Indian woman, but a symbol of India’s past, present, and future. Saree, a garment as traditional as it can be, yet represents contemperary women, with diverse choices. However, it has been wildly sexualised by Bollywood, with its tip-tip brass paani, yet saree was a choice of fierce women. This International Women’s Day, bask in the glory of Saree.

Ancient India

Called the ‘Sattika’, the attire consisted of a three-piece poshak which was an ensemble of antriya, the lower garment, uttariya, a veil worn over the shoulder and the head, and a stanapatta, a chest band, which later evolved into a choli.

Mughal Period

The Mughals contributed not only to the architecture of India, but also to its dress sense. This period focused on a bright and lavish saree look. The Mughals perfected the art of stitching and had a great fascination with silk clothes. This era was obsessed with elegant, embroidery-rich, silk clothes. The modern way of draping sarees originated during this period. This period made the sari look very royal and graceful.

British Raj

Indian women owe the modern jewelled pins and brooches for the draping of saris to the British, who transformed the way Indian women used to dress to suit their own rules. Many British colonies adopted western clothing during the British rule, but India held onto its traditional clothing.

The Late 90s

The late 90s focused mainly on the colour and the fabric. Highly influencedby Bollywood, this period witnessedwomen wearing bolder colours with sheer chiffon fabric, embracing and accepting, more than ever.

The 2000s

This era witnessed ample experiments with the traditional saree. Apart from colour and fabric, the way of draping saree also saw major changes. The concept of fusing with the western look was attained in the early 2000s giving the traditional saree, a stunning, and wholesome look.

Saree is widely diverse when it comes to the geography of India, blessed with the cultural diversity of our nation. There’s no particular style that can define the beauty of this Indian attire, as it evolves to something even more mesmerising with every state we cross, and every cultural difference we comprehend.

Feature Image Source:  Ashwini Iyer for DU Beat

Avni Dhawan

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The freedom to loiter, occupy public spaces post 9 p.m., and see how our campus looks at midnight is a luxury and experience that women students are denied.

Earlier last week, women from Daulat Ram College (DRC) Hostel protested in front of the Vice Chancellor’s office demanding the removal of members of the hostel administration who infringed their privacy and policed their choices. The protests barely affected the administration.
As a student journalist, this development didn’t surprise me. A year ago, I was pursuing a story on hostel in-timings. Both Miranda and DRC had strict hostel timings that were religiously enforced. In contrast, when I spoke to the evening shift guard of Kirori Mal College Hostel, he breezily mentioned how he lets the boys come late if it’s a friend’s birthday or allows them to go out at midnight if they are hungry. This casual remark hit me very personally as having lived in a hostel the last three years, I know I would not be allowed to go out after 10 p.m., no matter whose birthday it was or how hungry I was.
Most women’s hostels and paying guest accommodations have an actual metal grill gate that is shut and locked at 10 p.m. and opened again at 7 a.m. before classes. Why would a good woman be out between these ungodly hours anyway? We are quite literally locked inside brick, mortar, and metal, sometimes without a fire exit. Our moral guardians like to believe that these in-timings don’t interfere with our education. Attending lectures is a luxury we
are allowed and anything beyond lectures though is curtailed by these timings. They ensure that there are no parties, no midnight walks at India Gate, no unplanned trips, and no chai at 1 a.m. We are quite literally modern
Cinderellas, as the clock strikes 10 our facade of empowerment and emancipation falls apart, like a badly
stitched polyester dress after one little rip. I particularly detest the social media forwards that urge men to respect women “because she is someone’s wife, daughter, sister, and mother” but make no mention of the fact that she is human and deserves to have her autonomy respected. I wonder if we will ever live in a space that does not restrict
us to these roles alone. It is exhausting to rise and set with the sun, to rush home as the clock ticks 9, sweating frantically as I lose my patience as the clock ticks closer to the deadline. It is high time the University administration let go of this facade of hostel in-timings. If we are old enough to vote, old enough to get married, then we are old enough to decide when to stay in and when to go out.

The scam that hostel in-timings keep women safe from harassment is the biggest lie. If there were certainty that I would never be harassed if I never set foot after 9, I would be willing to pay the price. But these so-called
pretenders who appear to care about our safety are the same people who avert their eyes as they see a man elbow a woman’s breasts in the metro. To say that you should stay in and protect yourself from rapists is the ultimate form of victim blaming. It implies that the responsibility of protecting oneself from harassment lies with the victim. It says that if you stay indoors then the perpetrator can find another victim, probably one out later at night, less covered up, and less sober.

The three years of college life are often the first time when girls get to move beyond their house. College life allows considerable time for youngsters to experiment, roam around, and have the first taste of freedom. These are
the days that people recount as they regale about the risks they took, the weddings they gate crashed,
hours they killed while doing nothing, etc. But when you deny someone to loiter or even run errands for 10 hours every day then you are essentially denying them the opportunity to have fun. A sight of girls carelessly singing songs
at Sudama Tea Point past 8 p.m. is a revolutionary imagery. It may be nothing for the guys, but the girls still
dream of loitering, just existing outside.

Kinjal Pandey
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International Women’s Day is celebrated across nations to empower women and commemorate their struggles for attaining their current stature and recognition.

According to UN, Women’s Day was established to honour the movement for women’s rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. All throughout history, women have had to struggle for their basic and fundamental rights- the right to education, political representation, right over their bodies, birth control, all kinds of shaming and bullying, freedom to work and equal pay. Women in states like the USA, Europe, and Australia have achieved most of these rights but millions of women still struggle to get access to these basic rights.

Women have always been less represented in all fields but that did not deter them from achieving some of the most innovative and helpful breakthroughs in various spheres. A female scientist, Dorothy Hodgkin worked out the structure of insulin, penicillin and vitamin B12. Virologist Françoise Barré-Sinoussi identified HIV as the cause of AIDS. Biologist Gail Martin identified and demonstrated the potential of stem cells. All these women won Nobel Prizes for their discoveries. All these women have proved that this world would not become a better place by chaining women in the four walls of the house and leaving them only to raise kids.

Talking about our own University, it consists of numerous girls colleges. These girls’ colleges are a source of inspiration for the first years who take shelter in these institutions for the next three to four years. Each day is an adventure and a lesson. The young women in these colleges deal with all these struggles on a daily basis while girls of co-ed colleges fight for their spaces and representation in each event. The opportunities and freedom allow young women to develop their personalities and become strong individuals ready to take on the world.

Pinjra Tod has become this empowering feminist movement in our University that fights for equality for girl students. Since their inception, they have picked up the gauntlets, raised their voices and accomplished marvellous feats in making our institution more inclusive, equal and empowering.

The young women who have walked through the doors of our institution raised their voices against any sort of discrimination, harassment and/or abuse and strived to make it safer. Each year more girls take admission in our University, they look up to the legacy we leave behind and would do the same when they leave these walls of empowerment when we all make them feel safe, free, inclusive, and special.


Feature Image Credits: GenUN

Prachi Mehra

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