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We want to offend you and your everything: DU students challenge gender prejudice

DU students have launched a campaign to address and challenge gender-issues through social media project.

delhi Updated: Feb 02, 2017 11:27 IST
Nikita Saxena
Nikita Saxena
Hindustan Times
Shirin Chaudhary,Suvrita Bhatia,Delhi University
Three DU students have started a project to break gender stereotypes and challenge gender shaming.

“We want to offend your sight. We want to offend your gender binary. We want to offend you and your everything,” says one of the posts on the social media campaign ‘Redesign, Renovate, Refurbish’. The campaign is managed by Delhi University (DU) students Vanika Sharma, Shirin Chaudhary, and Suvrita Bhatia, which is essentially a photo series. It aims to break gender identities and stereotypes; challenge body and gender shaming, and encourage gender fluidity.

The point is to show people how differently one would dress seven days of the week, if there were no beauty or gender ideals. — Shirin Chaudhary

A picture in the series of a St Stephen’s College student, Devika Shekhawat with her jeans rolled up till knees, created quite a stir on social media for an unconventional reason — her hairy legs that defy gender shaming. And despite the 1,400 likes it has on Facebook, the picture has drawn haters innumerable. “The sexist and hateful comments on the picture are the reason we decided to start that campaign in the first place,” says Chaudhary of St Stephen’s College. “We’re also trying to show how one’s body language, posture, etc. change as one transgresses the idea of gender identity,” she adds.

Through the photo series, the girls try to show how people would behave if there were no gender identities.
It will feature all kinds of media relating to gender contributed by people from various socio-cultural and economic backgrounds. — Vanika Sharma

The campaign began as part of a three-student umbrella project, Gender Pages Project, an e-magazine created by Chaudhary and Sharma, to encourage conversations and art around gender and other issues related to it. “The project was started in January last year with the help of The Youth Parliament Foundation, a youth run-and-led organisation, when we were volunteering with them. Now, we’re running it independently,” says Sharma, a Delhi College of Arts and Commerce (DCAC) student. “We wanted to create a space where people could just come and talk about art, and be themselves. It will feature all kinds of media relating to gender contributed by people from various socio-cultural and economic backgrounds.”

The students exhibited the photos and submissions at St. Stephen’s College last week.
The idea behind my picture was to show that if men can sit in their balconies in vests, women come out in their bras in public spaces. — Shirin Chaudhary

The photographs in the series challenge gender prejudice. Another image that stands out in the series has Chaudhary standing in her balcony, wearing a bra and jeans. The front and back of her torso reads: I am becoming less of a woman and more of myself. “When I went out to my balcony in bra, a man kept on staring at me from neighbour’s balcony till the time I was out. Nobody cares when men go out in vests,” Chaudhary says, adding, “After exhibiting pictures in St Stephen’s College, we are looking for more venues where we can display them.”

First Published: Jan 31, 2017 19:35 IST