For the first time in 16 years, a men’s Diwali magazine is introducing a women’s writing section, with a focus on sexuality.
Titled Purushspandan (Men’s Expressions), the magazine will be released on Friday at a panel discussion on the theme of sexuality.
“Although our readers are primarily men, they were interested in women’s perspective,” said Harish Sadani, of Men Against Violence and Abuse (MAVA), which brings out the magazine. “The magazine promotes healthy dialogue between men and women. Sexuality is a taboo subject and it needs to be discussed for healthy relationships. So we introduced a section by women writers on this theme.”
First published in 1995, the magazine prints around 2000 copies every Diwali.
This year’s issue has contributions from academician Chhaya Datar, writer and activist Vandana Khare and writer Meghana Pethe. “At least in cities one does not have to create separate spaces for men and women. We need more spaces for mutual dialogue,” said Vandana Khare, writer and activist who translated and staged the Eve Ensler’s play Vagina Monologues in Marathi.
“For the magazine, I have written about how films such as Natarang, Bal Gandharva and Jogwa, which appear to break the stereotypes with men essaying female roles, do not really go beyond the male perception about gender roles.” Activists said women’s perspective on sexuality would be important in a magazine, which has otherwise been a platform for men’s perspectives and issues.
“I do not write exclusively for men or women or as a woman writer,” said Meghana Pethe, a fiction writer whose books have explored sexuality through several protagonists’ characters. “When I write fiction, I am finding out about human nature. Sex or the lack of it is an integral part of human life, so it becomes a byproduct of what I am trying.”
When asked how introduction of women writers in a men’s magazine would change perceptions, Pethe said, “Traditionally women have been taught not to express themselves but the hallmark of modern times is increased communication. Any effort of putting honesty in expression and feelings is a good effort”