Oh, we all know what it is to feel shame. And it can be such a powerful force: it can be so deep-rooted that it dictates what we wear, where we go, whom we talk to, and how we feel about ourselves – among so many other things. We learn it directly when people judge us or make fun of us, and we learn to absorb it indirectly from family and friends (and parlour aunties!) and pop culture and the societies we live in. What is deemed shameful might be different at various times and in various places, but what always stays the same is that shame is used as a way of control – whether it’s to ensure that women are put in their place, or tell queer people they’re not welcome, or show people whose bodies don’t fit the norm that they aren’t cool enough.
This month, we explore the many ways in which shame enters our lives, and the many ways in which people have tried to de-fang it.
Dreams Soar Above Shame!
First up, our new video series #GrownUpGirls, made in collaboration with CREA, premieres in the first week of the month! It has glorious and joyful and chatpata docu-animation interviews in which young women outline their dreams of their grown-up lives. Whether it’s playing football all over the world or opening a shop or being a caring policewoman – their dreams reframe what it means to be an adult woman. These dreams soar above the shame they are meant to feel for not choosing marriage as their chief goal, and for not sticking to the narrow path laid out for them by the people around them.
Slutshaming means you need new friends!
“I Kissed a Boy (Plus Several More) and I Liked It: My Slutty Life”, a frank, personal essay puzzles through the experience of being slutshamed, with a narrator who realises that sometimes, in the face of social meanness, it’s not you but the people around you that need to change.
Bodyshaming is a shifty business.
Does having a hairy body mean that you can’t also have a sexy body? In “Not a Hair in Place: Sex, Waxing, and the Body in My Mind,” one woman examines the shame she feels for having body hair and her obsession with grooming – until a lover’s eagerness to be with her, waxed or unwaxed, shows her that maybe being hairy isn’t a big deal after all.
The stigma around STIs...
In “I Felt Humiliated for Contracting an STI but I Know I’m Touchable, Lovable and More-Than-Sexable,” a young woman talks about the stigma attached to getting STIs, and how she got over it, and got back in action!
Ever been selfie-shamed?
“Main Apni Sabse Favourite Hoon: Chronicles of an Instaspam Queen”, a woman’s witty personal essay about being a woman on Instagram and revelling in it, looks at how women are judged for being ‘too much’, too present, in a culture that wants them to be seen and not heard. (Don't miss the cool art by exoticdirtbag!)
There will be Twitter chats and plenty of discussions around how each of us learns to internalise shame, so do join in.
Also – are you following us on on social media?
Our monthly #SexEdFundas on Insta are unmissable and our IGTV channel is sizzling up with the summer – so follow us!
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