womens 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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We’re half-way through the Women’s History Month. From poems of longing to essays of resistance, here are 10 Indian authors you need to read this Women’s History Month.

1. Mridula Koshy

Author of two novels and a collection of short stories her work has received many accolades including the 2009 Vodafone Crossbook Award. Her short stories have appeared in literary journals like The Dalhousie Review, as well as in anthologies like 21 Under Forty from Zubaan. She also works as a librarian and organiser for The Community Library Project.

2. Arundhati Roy

India’s favourite anti-national and the winner of the Man Booker Prize for her novel The God of Small Things, Roy’s work is perfect to trigger your local sanghis. Her book My seditious heart, a collection essays and speeches is expected to be released this June.

3. Temsula Ao

Author of 5 poetry collections and 2 short stories collections, Ao is the retired professor of English literature at North Eastern Hill University (NEHU). Her short story collection These Hills Called Home: Stories from the War Zone focuses on the insurgency in Nagaland.

4. Kamala Das

Kamala Das (later, Kamala Surayya) was a leading Malyalam and English poet. Her work revolves around the female body, sexuality and desire.

5. Anuradha Roy

Journalist, novelist, editor, designer and author of four books, Anuradha Roy is probably known for her latest novel All The Lives We Never Lived. Her novels have been translated in over fifteen languages. She is also the co-founder of the publishing house Permanent Black.

6. Tishani Doshi

Doshi is a Welsh-Indian poet, journalist and dancer. She has published six books of poetry and fiction. Her poetry surpasses the metaphorical dimensions of space and time and revolves around love, body, emotions, death and rain. She was also a dancer with the Chandralekha troupe for sixteen years. Her latest book Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods was published by HarperCollins in 2017.

7. Urvashi Bahuguna

Author of Terrarium published by The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, Urvashi Bahuguna grew up in Goa and now lives in New Delhi. Her debut Terrarium (originally called Mudscope) was selected by 2017 Emerging Poets Prize.

8. Sharanya Manivannan

Author of the short story collection The High Priestess Never Marries, two books of poetry Witchcraft and The Altar of The Only World, Manivannan’s work draws from mythology, personal experiences and explores the themes of love, separation and exile. Her first novel was published in 2018 by HarperCollins India.

9. Shubhangi Swarup

Mumbai based journalist, filmmaker, educationist and novelist. Her debut novel Latitudes of Longing won the JCB Prize for Literature. Latitudes of Longing traces geographies of desire and languages of love.

10. Anita Desai

Desai is probably most known for her work In Custody which was adapted into a film of the same name. She has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times and received a Sahitya Akademi Award in 1978 for her book Fire on the Mountain. She was awarded the third-highest civilian award, Padma Bhushan in 2014.

Image Credits: womenshistorymonth.gov

Jaishree Kumar
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We attempt to unearth the history of criminalisation and censorship of women’s bodies.

A bra is one of the many things that societies have imposed upon girls by tricking them into believing they need
it. Reach puberty and a girl’s nipple is perceived to be the most censored object in the universe. Regardless of how blazing the summers are, it’s imperative for the members of the “fairer sex” to cage their breasts. A 15-year study done by Jean-Denis Rouillon, a sports science expert from the University of Besançon, refutes the widely held notion that bras help retain the healthy structure of breasts; another study done by the Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, School of Medicine, Brazil found that wearing a bra for several hours is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. This isn’t a rant against bras (they have their own perks), but against the notion that has made them a sartorial compulsion owing to societal dikkats.

British Brought Blouses

A look at old Indian sculptures or paintings will tell how bras weren’t a part of the Indian culture, our art often
depicts women as topless. Evidence from history suggests that the visibility of the breasts was not equivalent to its
sexualised showcase. But this cannot be used as extended evidence for our progressive nature in the past.

Bandana Tewari, Editor-at-Large of Vogue India, writes, “I think the idea of nudity being sinful came with the Abrahamic religion. Not just in India, but if you look at pre-Abrahamic cultures anywhere in the world, like the Mayan civilization and the Egyptian civilization, bras didn’t exist because the breasts were not seen as objects of titillation. That’s a relatively new phenomenon.”
Brahmins Imposed Nudity

In the book Indian Fashion: Tradition, Innovation, Style, Arti Sandhu wrote that Jnanadanandini Tagore, a social
reformer who invented distinct styles of draping saris, was denied entry to clubs because she covered her breasts
with her saris alone. These facts show how the concept of covering up isn’t as inherently “Indian” as our desi aunties
would like us to believe.

In Southern India, during as early as the 19th century, women from lower castes weren’t allowed to cover their breasts, and to do so they had to pay Mula Karam or breast tax.
In the book Native Life in Travancore, writer Samuel Mateer mentions over a hundred taxes that were levied on the
lower caste population; breast tax was one of them. It was because of Nangeli, an Ezhava woman, whose sacrifice
removed this unjust practice. The folklore around her says that Nangeli covered her blossom and refused to endow the breast tax. When an officer came to her doorstep and demanded the tax, she cut her breasts and gave those to him. She died the same day from her injury, but her act sparked protests that soon led to the removal of Mula Karam.

Today when urban women (most of them upper caste), post topless photos online with populist hashtags like
#FreetheNipple, inspired by a campaign that originated in America, we often conveniently forget how an entire section of women were forcefully kept bare-breasted. The blouse, choli, angadis, or kanchuks weren’t for them. So with this history, one can’t help but feel a sense of irony as urban women of the upper castes denounce their upper garments. Embracing toplessness, thus, suggests an appropriation of DBA women’s lived experiences, and may even be viewed as a negation of their history of oppression.
Reclaiming our Anatomy from Hypocrisy
According to Lina Esco, Director of Free the Nipple, the topfreedom “highlights the general convention of allowing
men to appear topless in public while considering it sexual or indecent for women to do the same and asserts that
this difference is the unjust treatment of women. The campaign argues that it should be legally and culturally
acceptable for women to bare their nipples in public.”
Women’s bodies are sexualised all around us. Censorship regulators are fine with airing hate speeches, gruesome murders, and films that objectify women, but the moment a nipple from the female body comes into frame, screens go black. The feminists aren’t demanding billboards of topless girls to be plastered everywhere, but they are seeking to absolve the taboo attached to female nipples. This taboo further translates to girls being conscious and ashamed of their bodies, and promotes needless censorship.
Adam Lavine’s bare-chested performance at the Super Bowl halftime this February brought back the memory of the Super Bowl halftime of 2004. Named as the infamous “Nipplegate”, it referred to the performance where Janet Jackson’s breast was exposed by Justin Timberlake due to a wardrobe malfunction. Following the incident, Janet was heavily shamed for a nip-slip that wasn’t her fault. Jackson’s singles and music videos were banned by Viacom, MTV, and Infinity Broadcasting. This was a major backseat for her career. Even after giving lengthy explanations and apologies, she continued to be boycotted. At the same time Justin Timberlake went on to have his career and could afford to even joke about the incident. If this isn’t unfairness, then a rational mind wouldn’t know what is.

The feminist battle cries of “burn the bras” might seem very first-worldish and unrelatable in a county like India,
but the effect of these fights will be seen years from now when things like breastfeeding in public, or enjoying the
rain without fearing a translucent t-shirt are normalised.

Feature Image Credits: Katie Vijos

Niharika Dabral
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“Louis CK is accused by 5 women for sexual misconduct”, read The New York Times on November 9, 2017. My heart sank. I stared at the headline a bit too long. “No, this can’t be true”, I mumbled. My first instinct was to dismiss the report and not believe the victims. However, I decided to re-watch his videos. To my astonishment, he had cracked a lot of rape jokes in his stand-up acts. I just chose to ignore them before. After this revelation, I was inclined to think that his jokes were not really jokes, but manifestations of his desires. Should we all have paid attention to it and seen it as a portent of danger before?

I am guilty of laughing at the sexist/rape jokes cracked by my male friends. I laughed because I wanted to be the ‘cool’ girl who doesn’t get offended easily and can take jokes in her stride. Guess what? I was contributing to the rape culture. Rape jokes are a part of culture that propagates sexual violence. So, what exactly is rape culture? According to Marshall University’s Women’s Center website, rape culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture. Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.

Rape culture plays a huge role in our social lives. It’s crazy how misogyny and sexism has been so normalized that you don’t notice it anymore. Rape culture entails catcalling, stalking, groping, molestation, and unwanted touch. It is defining manhood as dominant and sexually aggressive. It is trivializing sexual assault, not believing victims, and publicly humiliating them on the clothes they wore and their motives. It is the disclosure of private details, non-consensual photography, sending unsolicited pictures, and being sexist.

Now that you know what rape culture is, how can we help dismantle it? Firstly, let’s talk to the men out there, how they can be agents of change in small ways. Call out your male friends for problematic language/behavior. Confront them and correct them whenever necessary. Avoid using language that degrades women. Do not assume consent at any point. It can be withdrawn and learn to respect that. Do not speak for women. Understand that your gender stereotypes are hurtful. Be supportive when a woman talks to you about the abuse she has faced in the hands of men. Believe her. Also, stop complaining about being in the ‘friend zone’. Women don’t owe you anything. Nice guys know that sex isn’t a trade for being a good friend. You do not deserve an Oscar for behaving decently with women. Ask yourselves how you can do better. Have the courage to admit that you have done something wrong and reflect upon it.

Do not let toxic masculinity stop you from expressing your feelings and emotions. Do not believe in the narratives, ‘Boys will be boys’, ‘Man up’, etc. Seek help whenever needed. Define manhood on your own terms. Women, listen up. If somebody invades your physical space without your consent, tell them about it without any hesitation. Demand safe spaces. Break free from the shackles of vicious patriarchy which you have internalized due to years of social conditioning to serve men. Do not take ‘You’re not like other girls’ as a compliment because after all, you are the combination of every woman that you’ve ever met. Under patriarchy, women are constantly pit against other women and they learn to hate each other. Try to support other women. Do not body-shame other women. Stop romanticizing the abusive actions of men. Stop doing emotional labour for men, especially in romantic relationships.

With #MeToo and #TimesUp, women are screaming their lungs out and telling the world their stories. It’s time we join that conversation too.


Feature Image Credits: Etsy

Disha Saxena
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DSC_0029 Students of Maitreyi college – Shrishti Mishra along with Anjali Mehra, Hitayu Bhardwaj and Rakshita Singh organised an event to celebrate International Women’s Day on 9th March. The theme of the program was ‘Yes I Can Because.. I Am A Woman – Celebrating Womanhood’ IMG-20160309-WA0097   The college premises came alive with the signature campaign. Two competitions, namely Poetry and Poster making were organised to bring out the best of the creative students. Each competition had 15 talented participants from different streams. The winner for the poetry competition was Komal from the Commerce Department and the winner for the Poster competition was Tanisha Garg from Sociology. Image Credits: Kritika Narula & Shrishti Mishra Kritika Narula [email protected] With Inputs from Shrishti Mishra]]>

On the occasion of International women’s Day, different colleges across DU curated different events to celebrate womanhood.

The Women Development Cell, Indraprastha College for Women, in collaboration with Men Against Violence and Abuse (MAVA) in lieu of celebrating International Women’s Day held a feminist film festival in the college Seminar Hall from 11 AM onwards in a one of a kind film festival.  MAVA’s ‘Sama-bhav’ Film Festival showcased films on Gender, Masculinity and Relationships. To name a few, these were Broken Image  by Aravind VK,  Raising Men by Gauri Adelkar, The Boxing Girls of Kabul (Canada)among others. a short interaction followed each of the films screened.

The film festival was followed by a Khula Manch Competition that powered a discourse on whether the Indian Democracy has failed its women. Through rounds of competitions, Shaonlee Patranabis, Dipanwesha And Mayra bagged the first, second and third prize respectively. The celebrations ended with a fun, cultural evening with the minds behind #PinjraTod.


Students of Maitreyi college – Shrishti Mishra along with Anjali Mehra, Hitayu Bhardwaj and Rakshita Singh organised an event to celebrate International Women’s Day on 9th March. The theme of the program was ‘Yes I Can Because.. I Am A Woman – Celebrating Womanhood’



The college premises came alive with the signature campaign. Two competitions, namely Poetry and Poster making were organised to bring out the best of the creative students. Each competition had 15 talented participants from different streams. The winner for the poetry competition was Komal from the Commerce Department and the winner for the Poster competition was Tanisha Garg from Sociology.

Image Credits: Kritika Narula & Shrishti Mishra

Kritika Narula

[email protected]

With Inputs from Shrishti Mishra

As part of their Women’s Day campaign, Team Sanitation Solutions organised various sessions in 14 slums and villages across Delhi-NCR, Haryana and Rajasthan on 8th March, 2014. A similar camp will be conducted in Rajasthan on the 10th.

In the first session, the focus was on various health issues faced by women, primarily menstrual health and pregnancy. The objective was to dispel all myths and taboos associated with menstruation and to encourage the use of sanitary napkin. The team also shed light on the Right age to get pregnant, the use of contraception, Unsafe sex and sexually transmitted infections, Schemes being run by the Government for free delivery and several other issues.The aim was as the members of Team Sanitation Solutions say “to make women emerge as confident individuals and to take pride in the concept of womanhood.”

photo 1 (2)

The second session laid emphasis on community building activities. Teams of 5-6 women each were made to compete in an fun filled art and craft competition.  The basic aim of this activity was to give women firsthand experience of working in a team, to make them accept the challenge of working with completely new faces as a single unit.

The third and the final session featured motivational and inspirational slides to make women recognize their importance in the building of a society.The purpose was to instill a feeling of self-confidence in them. Women were encouraged to step forward, put a hand print with pink paint on white chart paper and sign against their name. Because the session focused on hands and the work they create, four pink bangles were distributed as symbolic possession. 

The participants were not just recipients of knowledge. They sang  folk songs and encouraged the volunteers and team members to join them, which became a learning experience for them as  well.