Feminist Characters from Tagore’s Stories That Resonate Even Today

Shruti Sonal

Shruti is a freelance journalist and poet, who writes about the intersection between gender, politics and art.

Like most Indians, I had grown up hearing about Tagore, reading Where The Mind is Without Fear” in our textbooks but never really delving into the vast body of his literature. While I had memorized his name as the first Indian recipient of the Nobel Prize, I could not say the same about his stories.

On the other hand, disillusioned by the lack of innovative and progressive shows on mainstream Indian television, I too had turned towards bingeing on western shows. That’s when I discovered “Stories by Rabindranath Tagore” on Netflix. Directed by Anurag Basu and first aired on EPIC Channel, the show is based on stories written by Tagore a century ago. As I binge watched it, it shone through for its relevance and ideas far ahead of its time.

What struck me the most was the portrayal of the female characters- so different from what I had seen before. They couldn’t be fit into black or white categories of the “sanskari bahu” or the vamp, neither could they be understood using an upright moral compass. They rebelled, they questioned, they desired and most importantly, they challenged the status quo of the society they lived in without fearing the consequences.

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Why are Indian men still refusing to use birth control methods?

Camilla Lyndem

Contributor at Moderne Magazine

Latest posts by Camilla Lyndem (see all)

Sex in India is still not openly discussed, not even in urban metropolitan cities. There exists a cultural taboo in accepting it as a natural act, at least until after marriage, which results in general ignorance and fallacy on the subject. There’s a lot more to sex than the act itself, and to educate ourselves on it is crucial. Porn websites alone cannot be the only places one learns about sex from.

The importance of using protection and the types of protection available is an important component of sex education and something which very few equip themselves with knowledge of. If our staggeringly high population is not testimony enough, there’s plenty of data available that supports the statement.

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How Indian parlor aunties contribute to insecurities in young women everyday

Anindita Dev

I pen down everything and anything that gives me a little bit of hope and inspiration.

Growing up, I would dread a visit to the beauty salon, but my mother simply enjoyed it. She would blow up a fortune on each visit, because somehow her skin was never soft enough, her hands too rough, her hair lacked lustre and shine, and her eyebrows unshaped. I didn’t understand it, the 9-year-old me thought that she was so pretty. But the parlor aunty differed. Every time my mom went,  the salon aestheticians would pass a battalion of deprecating judgements along with ‘valuable’ beauty advices to make her ‘beautiful’. As a result– dozens of herbal and cosmetic products would end up at my mother’s old wooden dressing. I figured my mom had rather grown used to this unsolicited criticism. It was difficult for a young girl to understand why her mother kept on visiting a place where people said her skin was dull, and her feet too cracked.

However, in an interesting but sad turn of events, I grew up to be this very woman that my mother was; I started visiting beauty salons to become beautiful. Slowly, the casual remarks laced with criticisms by the aunties started appearing normal to me. As a teenager, I would often partake in the jokes that would go around about the parlor aunties as me and my friends told each other of our most recent ordeals at the salon. Before we knew it, looking down upon someone with unkempt hair, bushy eyebrows, body hair, and open pores slowly transgressed from the walls of the parlours to our minds. We normalized this behaviour and in return became a passive contributor to the toxic cycle. Continue reading “How Indian parlor aunties contribute to insecurities in young women everyday”

My body is not an apology: The Delhi aunty incident

Anindita Dev

I pen down everything and anything that gives me a little bit of hope and inspiration.

Women have reached to the moon and back, have to their credit successful scientific inventions, nobel prizes, a whole gamut of laureates in diverse fields, and yet here we are, being shamed and called out for wearing what we want, something that amusingly still offends an entire set of self-claimed moral police mob.

What was supposed to be a peaceful holiday on a fine Wednesday turned out to be a day filled with disturbing and probably life-long traumatic events for a bunch of girls who went out for a quick bite. The Internet (as always) continued to be divided on opinions on a viral video shared by a group of women confronting a middle-aged aunty who shamed them for wearing short dresses to lure men. That is sadly not the first time that a regressive public incident like this has come to the limelight. Men in our country on their high horses denying patriarchy altogether,  the mike-blaring leaders on stage disgracing women for wanting their basic right and of course the neighbourhood aunties judging the length of your skirt from their balconies have often limited women’s existence as the torch-bearer of maintaining cultural integrity (apart from raising men, of course) in the society.

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Feminism for men: How to be a better ally?

When men say that they support women and feminism what most of them essentially mean is that they support equality till the time it doesn’t get too uncomfortable or challenging for them to question the systemic male privilege and misogyny that benefits them. Men enjoy a position that has been methodically created and upheld since ages for their own advantage, it must be scary to suddenly give up that kind of power, and that is why dismantling patriarchy is so damn difficult. 

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