Gender, Sexuality & Body Politics
In December 2019, a six-day consultation program titled ‘Gender, Sexuality and Body Politics’ was hosted by photo.circle as part of Counter Culture Nepal. The goal of the program was to deepen our understanding related to these topics and how they are connected to social justice and violence. Over the course of the program, participants worked in small groups and also had opportunities to present individually in front of the whole group. The program was designed and facilitated by Prathama Raghavan and Niranjan Kunwar.
When we bring up gender and sexuality as topics to discuss and deconstruct with young people, our goal is to present these ideas as they relate to the broader context of social justice and power. We want young people to reflect on their own privileges and realize that our identities are influenced by various intersections. How are these intersections informed by dominant discourses? By patriarchy and mainstream notions of normality? Since gender identities and sexuality can also be viewed as issues related to physicality and body image, we wanted to expand the thesis of our program and include sessions focused on disability. Our intention is that participants recognize various forms of diversity and understand that different minority groups oppressed by the dominant culture can find connections. Because people with disabilities are often marginalized by society due to misconceptions as well as an unwillingness to make accommodations, we may find common stories of hope as well as strategies for countering pre-existing notions. How can we empower young people with ideas that will help them build solidarity? How can we support alternate voices?
Several concepts were woven together while designing the agenda for the six-day consultation program. The entire program was planned for participants who were available during the course of the six days. If educators intend to design their own units related to some or all of these issues, they’ll probably have to reconsider the agenda and even select only a few topics depending on the age of their students and time available.
Since these are potentially sensitive issues, we provided enough slots for participants to have partner talks and small group discussions so that they would feel safe and comfortable during the process. We also used various exercises and activities in order to foster an experiential learning environment as opposed to a primarily text-based approach. For example, a couple of sessions were devoted to role-playing scenarios to provide a more visceral experience. Participants also watched videos, read various literary materials and socialized during breaks in order to extend their discussions as they saw fit.
Specific sessions, content and duration will depend on particular groups. For example, a 2-day program was specifically designed for medical professionals in February 2020 and a one-day session was also conducted at YUWA, an organization that works with youth empowerment. Similarly, separate curricular units can be designed for high school and college students.
Video : Prathama Raghavan on Feminism