Friday, 17 November 2017

Gender: What does it means to be a 'BOY'?

“We are two brothers and 3 sisters, both of us go to school however my parents don’t send my sisters to school. I always wondered why?”

As part of our ongoing intervention in the Government all boys’ school, Dwarka, the fifth session was based on Gender. It’s been an interesting journey with 30 boys because right from the second session, be it body changes during puberty, peer pressure, sex etc ; gender had always dominated the conversations hence I was really excited to see how the session on gender turns out to be! 

The workshop began with the energizer “Sword and shield” where in the boys actively and joyfully participated, this was followed by a quick revision of last four sessions, introduction of what will happen in next two hours and the agreements. In the next activity, all the three facilitators shared their personal story based on the gender.

“Being a boy, I always had the pressure to stand on my feet and earn good money. Once a boy is 24-25 years, he has to earn come what may be the situation and this is followed by extreme pressure to get married. I don’t want to get married however my parents insisted on seeing a girl for marriage”

“Being a girl, my parents are always worried about my where about? I am always told to come home early, not roam around late in the evening”

Following this, the participants were divided into three groups where-in they were invited to share “3 key messages they have received because they are boys”

“You need to study hard so that you can become something in life”

“Friends always say that you should have a girlfriend because you are a boy”

“I am always taunted for my height”

“As I am growing up, my parents don’t allow me to play with girls because the people around me will judge”

“Only boys can play cricket”

“If any boy plays badminton, then they are called girls”

“Don’t stay in home as girls”

“5 years back, when I used to play with girls, my friends used to tell me not to play with them because boys should play with boys”

“In the village, it’s me who is always sent to market. In case I am not in the home, my mother will never send sister to the market, they will wait for me and once I am home I would be sent to the market”

“My mother say may be I won’t get to eat in a day, but I will make sure that you study so that you could become something in your life”

“Once I sat on the ladies seat in a bus, I didn’t know anything. One uncle came to me and said that boys can’t sit on ladies seat”

“In the home, girls are told to wear veil and remain inside”

This was followed by the game of Chinese whispers; hilariously the facilitator whispered 2 lines in the ears of the first participant and the last person said just one word “NO”, following this a gender story was co-created from the times of ancient man to the current society that we live in. The facilitator then explained the concept and meaning of gender taking insights from the gender story and the chinese whispers. 

Once the definition of gender was established, the participants were again divided into 3 groups where in each group has to share the ‘difference between boy and girls in different spaces namely home, school and public places’.

“The girls are not allowed to go outside the home”

“In the home, all the things are first given to the male members then to the women and girls”

“Only sister and mother cook food in the home”

“Most of the household work is done by my sister”

“We are always told to be with sister, to guard them and not to leave them alone”

“When a girl goes outside their home, their brothers are also sent along with them”

“Girls are not given mobile phones”

“Boys are given more money”

“Girls are told to speak softly and little”

“Girls can’t wear clothes of their choice”

“Girls are given less food, else they will grow fat”

“Girls are not given anything that is sour or tangy to eat”

Public spaces-
‘Girls have seats reserved in metro and buses”

“Boys can play whatever they want to, till whatever time they want to, however that is not the case with girls”

“Most of the shops have male person to manage the shop”

“In the playgrounds and parks, mostly boys are seen”


Now this school is an all boys school, hence they twisted the question in a different way. The participants discussed as to why girls have school in the morning and why boys come in afternoon.
“Girls get up early in the morning, boys are lazy they get up late in the morning”

“Girls have to do household work after the school”

“They can’t stay late in the evening, because they might get kidnapped or something wrong might happen to them”

“In this school, we have all male teachers and only one female staff”

Apart from this,

“The boys are scolded or beaten more by teachers than girls”

“if both boys and girls study together, then the boys will eve tease them , harass them like yesterday few girls were giving examination in the class, all the boys hovered around to see them, every one was staring at them”

“There are more girls in a class room because they are enthusiastic and they love studying unlike boys”

“My parents, teachers, neighbors everyone tells me to stay away from the girls, don’t study with them, mingle with them because something wrong will happen”

I was astonished to see how gender is taking up its roots in the lives of adolescents. In the same group, one boy said, “If a girl complains then everyone listens to them.”

“But, the girls very rarely complains, so when they say people believe them because it takes lot of courage for a girl to speak up” I said.
“You are right didi, boys complain on every small thing so they are not always taken seriously”

“In case of eve teasing, girls don’t complain because they are scared of the culprits, their family as to how they will think about her and also people talk nonsense about her” I said
“Do you think if a girl is raped or beaten, it’s her fault?” I inquired

One boy promptly replied, “Didi, how can it be her fault? She is being harassed but everyone thinks it’s her fault because she is girl, family worries about their respect nobody thinks about their daughter. People say that she might have done something that’s why she has been raped. But I don’t agree”

Another boy, “If I ever see anyone harassing a girl, I will raise my voice and help her”

Another interesting conversation happened on movies, how boys and girls are projected in the Bollywood movie.
“Mostly it’s the male who are heroes, but there are films where girls are in action like phool bane angare, Mumbai ki kiran bedi, Mardani etc”

The session turned out to be fantastic with so many insights. I was really glad to watch the young boys having mature conversations around gender which just made my day J

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