Sunday, July 22, 2007
"Who am I?"
MIRROR MIRROR ON THE WALL WHO AM I AFTER ALL?
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?