Feminist Rani: Vagina and its social scrutiny
I know my vagina is the cause of all problem. I am my vagina, something that undergoes tremendous social scrutiny at all times and all levels of my life. It doesn’t matter who I am or what I’ve accomplished as a human being, all that matters is my vagina and the social chaos that it is capable of creating.
Easily offended people, behold. When we say vagina, we are not just focussing on the organ, but also on the symbolism it carries in our everyday context of sexuality. The fact that it is such a powerful ‘tool’ and has been kept under wraps of shame and silence for generations, makes it all the more essential to talk about it, understand its true nature and power potential, and use that to change the regressive stance of society about it.
So to begin with, is VAGINA still a dirty word? Is it actually subject to control and how? And remember, vagina here means both the organ and its role at symbolic value. This is what the month’s Feminist Rani was all about. Anu Menon, popularly known for the feminist character VJ Lola Kutty and Mahbanoo Kotwal, who brought Vagina Monologues to India came together to talk with Meghna Pant about female sexuality, the power it brings to the owner and the problems that come with controlled ownership.
The most amazing part about the evening was that both women’s views came in opposition to each other at many points, though it was difficult to state either side as wrong. It was like a platter of feminist realities of different generations. Like Anu Menon rightly remarked about the good and the bad, that they are seen as relative concepts. The discussion around women’s vagina got to sexuality, stereotyping, media presumption and popular culture. Anu spoke for women in the Indian comic seen, who are looked at with an ‘Image presumption’ that limits them to a compartment only a certain kind of comedy and jokes. Even in popular comic shows, women’s character is essayed by men dressed up as women.The highlight was Mahbanoo’s critical suggestion when she said that like cigarettes and alcohol, there needs to be a statutory warning at every lecherous scene, stating that such behaviour is socially unacceptable and highly condemnable. Mahbanoo’s arguments largely revolved around the fact that both women and men have been brainwashed to believe certain things and thus we all have, knowingly or unknowingly, put on certain roles. With her vast experience of opening gateways to sexual conversations from the lanes of Dharavi to the posh households of Malabar Hills, Mahbanoo emphasized on the need for women’s autonomy in choice of sexuality, born out of emotional independence, which comes from economic independence, which in turn comes from education.
The discussion started out with laying out certain realities that exist, then looking at it through the gender-lens. Each reality clearly indicated that its a patriarchal world that we live in, and change would be at an extremely low rate if women kept obstructing each others pathways to liberation. Sharing personal anecdotes, these women spoke how, many a times, even women fall into the trap of indoctrination and forget the objectives that their reality sets out for them. One of the audience members also raised the recent debate of Sunny Leone’s interview with Chaubey, where her sexual identity is deemed her true self, and that she is okay with it. The whole discussion came back to the point of the need for women to assert their sexual identity as individuals. With each conversation, these conversations get deeper and more intense. Our next episode happens n March 1st at Deepak Talkies, for ore information and updates, register here.