Let’s Look Beyond the Gender, Shall We?
By Nandini Sood
While I was researching to write this article, I considered a lot of topics, but I was scared to talk about them considering the present state of affairs. Everything you say offends someone somewhere. But I must say something. So, I’ve decided to talk about something that concerns me and is based on my personal experience.
Let me share an anecdote with you! A few months back, my grandpa told me about his first job interview. The interviewer asked him about his hometown, Jhansi, a city in India in the state of Uttar Pradesh in the extreme south on the banks of Pahuj river, the town of famous Rani Lakshmi Bai, Queen of Maratha who revolted in 1857. But instead of mentioning the great female warrior, my grandpa talked about Maithalisharan Gupt, a male writer who talked about the struggles of women when feminism was not even a topic of concern. Maithalisharan Gupt wrote about the struggles and life of Urmila, Lakshman’s wife. He used the opportunity to move the spotlight from the main characters and their struggles and remember the unsung heroes who are left behind, moving the spotlight to the equally deserving story that the world needs to know. The interviewer was impressed, and grandpa was selected for this particular job.
Listening to this anecdote made me reconsider different stances. Even though I was intrigued, I was unsure about my grandpa’s fascination with Maithalisharan Gupt over Rani Lakshmi Bai. After all, Rani Lakshmi Bai did what Maithaisharan Gupt was talking about. How do you locate the center when it comes to the issue of gender? Does a certain story become more important simply because it has a character from the marginalized gender? These are complicated questions that may not have any definite answers. But why is it even important to draw comparison? More often than not, we remain trapped in unnecessary questions that are not helping anyone. Both Rani Lakshmi Bai and Maithalisharan Gupt are equally fascinating figures that inspire us to do better. This anecdote and the afterthought made me believe that there are few people in the society who look at things differently and have the courage to share their mind, not just because it is trending, but because it needs attention. And that should be the focal point.
It is interesting to see how there is an increase in discussion of gender-oriented concerns on the social media platforms, yet the cover picture of a girl boosts the algorithm, and the beauty filters enhance the social reach of the content. This highlights the polarized state of our society. We may have become technologically advanced, but we still live in an essentially heteronormative social order. Feminism has given us the choice to be ourselves, but everyone is conditioned, educated within an essentially patriarchal setup. It, therefore, requires constant scrutiny and unlearning to encourage the formation of a gender-neutral society where people are seen for their individual characteristics, irrespective of their gender.
Gender-neutrality can play a significant role to liberate society, letting people be who they are or what they want to be. “Be the change you want to see in the world” is a proverb we have heard a million times but how many times have we tried to actually implement it? We, as a generation, must take the responsibility to unlearn the prejudices and biases that are inherent in the society.
Nandini Sood is pursuing her Master’s in English from Panjab University. She runs her blog and podcast where she likes to pour her heart about things that matter to her.
For more stories, read Café Dissensus Everyday, the blog of Café Dissensus Magazine.