Sunday, July 22, 2007

"Who am I?"



I watched this tele film by Naina Kapur and Smita Bharti in Doordharsan. It's a creative exploration of segregation and integration of self and sexuality as experienced by the students and teachers of an all girls school pursuing the pathway to sexual awareness. I felt it is a very good initiative and is important to conduct such a workshop in all schools. Those girls were confident, comfortable with their bodies and eager to face the world. Read more about it here and watch the film if possible.

When we were in the seventh standard, there was an short film that was shown by the Johnson and Johnson. Although it was an advertisement program for a Sanitory Napkin, it introduced the changes that a girl would undergo to acheive womanhood. And believe me except for a couple of girls who had entered early puberty, none of us even knew such a thing existed (And we were all 12 years of age which is the start of puberty for girls). And that did open up the atmosphere and we started talking about each others experience and realised it's natural and not something to be scared of. And it was not that we didn't have questions before. Seeing the ad of a beautiful white packet with small flowers, we did want to get the same. Our conclusion was that it is something to drink because in the ad Mom gave a drink to the girl and said something like "I'll always give the best to my daughter". Later when we asked our elders to get that drink, they told us it's not a drink, but failed to explain what it is. They just said "You will know when you grow up". errrr automatically?

And I guess there is a greater mystery for sex education. We are just afraid to broach the issue. As a result young people are left to fend for themselves. Things are made worse when they are surrounded by so many "Don'ts". I remember one discussion that we used to have. As girls we were constantly reminded that "cheethappeerundaakkaruthu"(Don't bring shame to the family/school) and we used to wonder "how" and "when" do you get "cheethappeeru". We had no clue whether it is talking, looking or sitting together. Having studied in a convent school for 14 years, I feel the gender relations projected there are really skewed and no where healthy. Boys were introduced to us as some scoundrels waiting to pounce on the prey. I have to confess I was scared even to talk to guys thinking something terrible will bestow on me.

I might be completely wrong in my views as I'm comparing with my school days - a system that's more than a decade old. It might be totally different in metro's like Bangalore, but I am not very confident that things have changed too much in other conservative socities. I am not bluffing here. Do check the excerpt from the rules of a college in chennai.

Denial is the best way to mislead. By refusing to leave the door open for healthy curiosity, we are generating an unhealthy response. Kids will anyway find some workarounds to get the information that they want. And today it will be accessing internet, pornography, misinformation and this will lead to irresponsible behaviour. Instead they should feel it is normal and acceptable and adults should offer guidance, direction and build responsibility around the issue. When we make a choice to know ourselves, to know who we are and what makes us, we become informed, healthy and complete as sexual beings. All we need today is healthy information.

Any other views?


Anonymous said...

The rules are not that strict!.. It did not say anything about looking at each other.. yet.. ;)

Vadapoche said...

Thats Satyabama, I guess.
Gr8 post. The reason why its taboo is our elders are not comfortable with it and their knowledge is actually limited. How can they offer what they dont have?

Impressionist said...

When we were in 8th, in our school also they took all the girls to the video room to show some demo video. and we boys were in the class itself. and when the girls came back they came in with blue packets with something inside! i knew what was inside it the very first moment i saw the cover! ;)
hehehe! :D well, i was always mischievous in school! :D hehe!!
and bout the rules!? they suck. ugh, i'd rather stop studying instead of studying in an institute with such shitty rules.
and the post!? it couldnt have been written any better!! :)

peace & love

Anonymous said...

its compulsory in the western schools that every high school kid( boy or girl) should have a condom pack in his/her school kit.. sounded wierd for me in the beginning.. but my 13 year old nephew is an example... If only I had such an exposure when I was young I would not have been as innocent like now

Alexis said...

Well written post on a very relevant topic. But these days it is more important to inform the kids rather than keeping the avoiding the topic.

Today's kids have a lot of information sources, that was not available to the previous generations. So the chances of getting the wrong information is more.

So the parents and teachers should take the time to educate children on the matters such as changes that happen to the body as one grows up, sex, sexual abuse,and how to behave in each situation.

Excellent post...

Scribbles said...

Rightly said... I went thru the same phase u mentioned.. We were taken for a demo by J & J. At tat time we knew nothing about puberty ...
Also the same about studying in a convent school... Had this real bad feeling about guys.. THink its somewhere in me still... I am still(slightly) wary abt guys... Even during BTech I never used to be very comfy with the guys.. becoz sometime in school, the nuns gave us an idea that even looking at a guy was bad.. Boys are bad and dont talk to them was the sort of motto... and to think that it was an anglo indian school..

Sh'shank said...

The campaign you metion is revolutionary because it brought such a change in the indian market.
Goes to say that globalisation affected every part of life in onw way or another.
Also about metros or otherwise thhe knowledge about anything sexual is quite rare.
I studied in Bangalore and in our final we were given these classes and it was a wonder how ignorant people were who had done no bio in their life.

Life Rocks!!! said...

Hey when I was in college and there were girls who had no idea about "things" they said it was because I was brought up abroad. Later I realised it is only coz I'm broad minded :)

pophabhi said...

Quite a daring subject! Nicely written, but it would be fair to say that sex education will remain a distant dream as long as some religious fundamentalist parties exist in India. Hypocrats to the core, especially those parties in mumbai.

Just remembered that I had a classmate in Engg days, who never shook hands with any guy thinking that she will become pregnant :D.

Richy said...

Sell me that sketch na?
Pleaaaaaaaaaaaaase :)

Dhanya said...

@ Sini : Yeh rules are not that strict. Would have loved to study there ;)

@ jollyroger : Yes it's Sathyabhama. I didn't want to mention the name of college in the post :) Yes elders are not comfortable but they are putting kids in danger without realizing.. They should learn to answer the kid’s questions scientifically and truthfully.

@ Rajeev : You seems to be quite well informed :D Yeh the rules are very illogical. Can't believe people are this narrow minded..

@ chronicwriter : Oh that really sound weird. but I guess in the current age where 53.22% children reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse (according to a study on Child Abuse INDIA 2007), nothing would be too much..

@ alexis : Yes you said it right. It's high time we speak up and educate children. I was very apprehensive while writing this post as I have never handled such a theme. But when I watched the film, I couldn't ignore the benefits that it brought and felt I should do my bit.. :)

@ scribbles : Yeh I can understand you very well. Things that are constantly repeated to us in convents are no way healthy :( During my 4 years of B.Tech I hardly spoke to my classmates. Only after I came to b'lore I started mingling and realized all of them are fine human beings and not someone to be scared of.. Now I have so many good friends and I'm happy that I got over my inhibitions :) So probably you should also work on that ;)

@ pricky : Yeh this campaign indeed is revolutionary. Knowledge empowers. We only need to get over the attitude..

@ Vidya : I guess even I was in the group of girls that you mentioned during my college days.. Later my roomie gave me a Readers Digest Book which talked about woman’s body and the different stages. And I'm happy that I got it the scientific way..

@ pophabhi : Though a daring subject, I feel it's very much relevant. And I don't think it should remain a dream. If it can be done in a conservative town like Ghaziabad, why not anywhere else? If they could overcome the resistance from parents and teachers, why not others?
hmm n about the hand shake - to be frank even I used to be very reluctant. Don't mistake me - I didn't think I will become pregnant n all but just that I was not used to it.. I remember during the early days of my career, our German Director came to say good bye as his tenure was over. He extended his hands to me n I was standing there like a statue wondering what to do.. :D

@ Richy : You want to buy that sketch from me????? WOW!! how sweet of you! n how much are you offering me? While quoting keep in mind that one day I might be as famous as MF Hussain and this would be worth crores :P

ദീപു : sandeep said...

I think it happened when I was in 8th or 9th. My neighbours used to come to watch TV in my house. Once when the Ad for napkin came up I asked "What is it?" because it didnt make any sense to me... Then all the ladies in the room started laughing... I understood there is some "mistake" and made up my mind to clear the 'doubt' with my friends next day. But once everyone left after the movie, Dad explained the things in a scientific way.
I am sure I would have followed it up with my frieds and spent a lot of time behind this just because of the way the ladies laughed when I asked the question.

Almost all the time when someone asks a question like this he never gets correct info and his next step, I suppose, will be to consult with his friends and
more often than not he might get wrong info. We can avoid all these situations if we have sex education, in my opinion.