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Bombay, theatres, and gender in educational spaces July 22, 2008

Posted by K in contemporary, Gender, Politics, Reviews/Rants.

Maybe I need to go on a Saattvik diet or something (if I were to believe HT Brunch), but I HATE watching movies in theatres in Bombay! I resent the imposition of the national anthem on me, and I resent the arm-twisting of every theatre goer into standing up for the anthem. Just what is achieved by the exercise escapes me. I wonder if people rebel against it… or is the social pressure too strong for that. I know when I was late in standing up, I heard a voice say, rudely, ‘khare ho’. ‘Stand up’. I stood, because I was the only one not standing, around me. I succumbed to the ‘air’ around me. I felt threatened, as if I would get branded ‘anti-national’ or something. In ordinary situations, such a tag wouldn’t bother me. But in a strange city, amongst strangers, I’m not that brave. I suddenly realise, ever so often these days, what it is like, being the minority.

This automatically leads me to question how I became the minority. Was I, and people who think similarly, ever the majority? Or did the privileged space that I called my college lead me to believe in, and expect, a different reality.

I’ve often thought about the space and place of all-girls institutions. I was mostly against it. Incomplete education, unfair to the boys, unnecessary and bla bla. But Pallavi pointed out something that I had never considered. We are who we are, largely because we studied in an all-girls institution. And by that, I mean, we grew into people who are confident of their, our, ability. In several co-ed colleges, one sees that very few girls ever occupy union positions. If they do at all, they are elected into positions that are traditionally seen as a female domain-cultural representatives, literary representatives. Seldom will one find a girl sports representative. Very few girls are allowed to get their hands ‘dirty’ by running from pillar to post, arranging for sponsorships. In things like theatre productions, seldom do girls get to carry the heavier props, if there are boys around. I’m not making a very coherent article, but what I am trying to say, is that it is only in a girls college (I shall not speak about school at this point…) that girls do everything that goes into the making of college life, from administration, to running around, to doing a hell lot of ‘dirty work’, to you name it. Perhaps that is why students who pass out of such institutions gather such infamy as ‘feminists’. The lack of a need to depend on the other gender, or a need to protest against gender violence, verbal, physical and psychological, seems to ‘de-feminise’ the female. Having a mind of one’s own, and caring about things like how gender is portrayed and dealt with, automatically constructs a forbidding image.

How little the world has changed!



1. prometheustherebel - July 23, 2008

In my opinion, working hard, getting dirty, and carrying heavy props makes a woman. Same thing for men. It’s about taking care of responsibility and being yourself.

2. aa - July 23, 2008

Not enough patriotism. What you should do while the movie is going on is get up every 15 minutes and start singing our anthem loudly and proudly. Anyone who fails to join in is a traitor and should be denounced and preferably lynched.

3. chandni - July 23, 2008

I have had the opp experience growing up in a co-ed!

Wait, I might as well do a post πŸ™‚

4. All-girls VS Co-ed « BoHeMiAn RhApSoDy - July 23, 2008

[…] just saw this post by Sporadicblogger on gender in educational spaces, where she mentions: We are who we are, largely because we studied in an all-girls institution. And […]

5. Sunita - July 23, 2008

I am from a co-ed school & college and I strongly advocate it as well. This is a topic I have been pondering over for the past 2 months and I was planning to do a post. I think I will go and do my post :).

6. sporadicblogger - July 23, 2008

prometheustherebel- I personally agree πŸ™‚

aa- Excellent idea πŸ˜‰

Sunita- waiting for your post πŸ™‚

Chandi- read yours πŸ™‚

7. ish - July 23, 2008

Yes, you’re right. If you try to think out of the blue, you always end up being a majority. There are many people who can do that but are not allowed to because of that one thing that governs everything – society. It’s funny how everyone believes that imposing something on someone can make them believe in it. Back in school, I remember the morning prayers. Everybody was forced to close their eyes and bow their heads while praying. After that, everyone would recite the same old prayer that’s been fed into their heads. I’m sure 75% of them never felt what they were saying. Prayer is not that, prayer is something you do yourself. You can’t be forced to do that. Similarly this National Anthem thing. You can’t make people respect their country by forcing them to stand to their National Anthem. It’s equally common when it comes to religion. Being a Sikh, because of the society, I’m not allowed to cut my hair. I asked my parents why and they didn’t have any reason. They said it’s just because of the society. I say, screw the society. It’s my life and I should decide how to live it, right? I don’t have anything against my religion, I think it’s fairly tolerant and okay. But just because of the fact that I’m forced to keep my hair, I will start hating it. It’s but natural. I would wish I was born in some other religion. Hence, I believe one should be allowed to do something one really believes in. If he believes in the religion, and believes that hair matter to him as a person, he doesn’t get them cut. But you should never force it on somebody.

8. Co-ed vs. same-sex education | DesiPundit - July 23, 2008

[…] | Education, Gender Sporadicblogger feels that girls’ schools and colleges allow young women to grow without the imposition of gender constructs. In several co-ed colleges, one sees that very few girls ever occupy union positions. If they do at […]

9. cluelesschick - July 23, 2008

I would have to disagree with girls not occupying union positions and getting their hands dirty. I was on a LOT of committees during my college days, held various posts, and yes, also ran pillar to post trying to get sponsorships for various events.

How real is the confidence that is developed in a all-girls environment? Girls who are naturally confident will be confident anywhere. And those who are not confident w.r.t opposite sex will suddenly have a hard time when they step out into the real world. Dealing with such issues is not to shut yourself away from them, but to face them and get over them. If there are institutions that prefer male union leaders, then I think we should work on changing that rather than going away to an all-girls institute and pretending that such problems don’t exist.

10. Nids - July 24, 2008

Yea, I often wonder why they deem every girl from girls’ colleges as “feminists”. I’m not one. And still they call me that for standing up against guys. Hmph.

Anyway, they play the national anthem in halls in bombay?? How 70’s is that????? Whoa.

11. may7black - July 24, 2008

jingoism to the hilt.

it is strange how being “true” to the nation and the whole concept of patriotism has always occupied the hallowed grounds in the nation. treason was considered a crime worse than murder.
nowadays every party at the centre seems to inculcate patriotism as their moot ideology.
take the example of the nuclear deal. the left parties said> oppose the deal if you are patriotic.
the congress said >support the deal if you are patriotic.
the BJP again asked >the muslims to support the deal and prove again that they are patriotic.

frankly it is confusing and BORING to try and show each and every time how patriotic we are.
i think i should stick to rabindranath tagore’s internationalism rather than nationalism>>> “where the world has not been broken into narrow domestic walls.”

well that’s an utopia. and as your blog site tag reads >>> “i’m hapy in my strange new world”
and till then i’ll rather not go to watch movies in bombay.

12. bluebird - July 24, 2008

well, college in itself is a rather revelatory period.. so be it co-ed or all girls, you would end up having some sort of influence on the persons we are… but coming from a girls college myself.. (for five years).. sporadic blogger, i second your statement that we are who we are because of where we studied… i owe my confidence and the resulting intellect for the “man-free” space my college gave me…

13. Aishwarya - July 24, 2008

What happens with transgendered students in single sex educational institutions? I mean, do they have to go where their biological gender slots them, or with the gender they identify as? I always wanted to ask our principal this, but I only ever met her in contexts where it’d be inappropriate.

14. aa - July 24, 2008

girls are fags anyway

15. wild iris - July 25, 2008

Ooh ok. Now i finally feel better about the all-girls college thing. I confess it had worried me, but I never saw it this way πŸ™‚
Oh and congrats on your result!!! (yes I spied on the result sheet πŸ™‚ )

16. moukound - July 26, 2008

really?? does that what make a woman?? well in co-ed colleges you get to know a lotta things that you can’t even imagine in a all gals coll… and well if you are satisfied with just competing with gals then aren’t you in a way accepting(don’t say you do) that you aren’t prepared for the outside world yet πŸ˜›

17. aa - July 27, 2008



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