Gender talk heats up chilly morning

Gender talk heats up chilly morning

A heated discussion erupted on the chilly morning of the fourth day of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), where renowned authors like Shobhaa De, Ashok Ferrey, Christos Tsiolkas and Mukul Deva debated gender and questioned typical masculine stereotypes.

The panellists discussed how and why manhood is defined by both social and biological factors.
Speaking in the session on “Dance like a Man: Refiguring Masculinity”, author Shobhaa De asked, “Why should a woman be forced to be like a man to protect herself?

Equating masculinity or display of masculinity with violence against women is the most worrisome aspect that everyone here must be concerned about.” She stressed upon the dire need to change the mindsets and let the youth take the driving seat. “I think much more acceptance is being pushed and driven by the young today. They are the ones telling society and the community that it is their time and they will decide and choose.”

Ashok Ferrey dwelt on what it is to “dance like a man”. He observed that in India, everyone aspires to dance like Salman Khan, which is apparently a harmless desire. On a deeper level, however, the powerful and often patriarchal Bollywood heroes create negative role models for men to follow.

Novelist Christos Tsiolkas said, “I regard dancing as a sort of freedom. I have learned to embrace the insecurities in the development of his writing. The best advice I got when starting off as a writer was that you have to be bisexual.”

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