The workshop booklet can be viewed here
The workshop booklet can be viewed here
Around the world, the utmost concern of censors is the depiction of violence and sex. So we came up with a set of postcards as a part of our campaign ‘Make It Normal’ questioning India’s policy of censorship – a constant dichotomy that we live in. While there is no dearth of ‘item songs’ objectifying women in popular media, various scenes in a film are not allowed past the filters due to “questionable content”. While age appropriate censoring should be prevalent, an adult should have full freedom to choose between what she/he wishes to watch. There must be uniformity in the exercise of deciding what is aired and what is bleeped. Artists should be allowed to express themselves in the manner they believe will do justice to their work.
These postcards with reference to popular forms of art make consumers question their values and governmental policies that filter content, and in turn result in individuals having skewed notions about sexuality.
The various permutations and combinations from the GMTN model led to the following 8 approaches we wished to take forward.
Do you remember our GMTs and our affinity map? (see https://shhhsex.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/method-to-madness/)
And our trigger cards? (see https://shhhsex.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/trigger-cards/)
We printed all our GMTN cards and trigger cards, to use them for a second round of ideation. We picked up Goal, Method and Tool cards at random and thought of solutions related to these cards. Different permutations and combinations lead to various kinds of solutions, and in the process more cards got linked to each solution.
Coming up with all our ideas was the easy part. The ride gets bumpy now, when we have to pick the ones we want to take forward (really excited about all the arguments the four of us are going to have). The card games are over, it’s time for battle.
We had sent out two surveys to everyone we know back at the start of October; one to be filled by the ‘children’ (between the ages of 13 and 25 years old) and the other to be filled by the ‘parents’. In total, over 400 individuals filled out these surveys. The responses we got shed even more light on why sex and sexuality need to be taken out of this dingy, dark abyss of shame and ignorance.
When we read the statements above it’s evident that most parents needed an external trigger to start this conversation; a conversation that wasn’t held as much as it just happened (fortunately!). Why should “the talk” require to be an ice breaking session between parents and their children? Why should we even throw in quotation marks and place this topic on a pedestal cursed with taboo in the first place?
Here we see what the children have to say about the talk. From their general tone of speaking, certain things are very clear. Their sarcasm shows regret for all the lost opportunities of having a discussion, and for all the discomfort they felt during the discussions that did take place. There is a sense of defiance that points towards a big
difference in the opinions of the two respective generations. And in the minority that did seem to be able to speak to their parents openly, we see gratitude and confidence.
Also, we must spare a few moments of utmost empathy for the ones who were supposedly expected to learn from porn! Parents, please; children need correct information and good guidance.
Half of these children wouldn’t ask their parents, two thirds of them wouldn’t ask their teachers. The result? The internet is the most trusted source, followed by their peers.
But the point to note here is that the most trusted sources of information are not the most reliable ones.
In other shocking news, there are many individuals that have wrong information regarding the spread of STIs, even though our country’s education system seems to promote the teaching of topics like contraception and safe sex. A third of them believe that oral sex cannot cause STIs, almost a third of them believe that abstinence can cause them and one fourth of them believe that oral contraceptives can keep them safe from these diseases. At least the topics that are being taught should be taught very well, shouldn’t they? It seems not.
So the bottom line is, we need to start having ‘the talk’, and it should not be such a big deal for everyone. If personal stories don’t alarm you, the numbers surely ought to. We need good sex and sexuality education, now.
Conducting our workshop was a great experience for us. We had a lot of fun interacting with the students, finding out what all they know about sex and sexuality and see them slowly come out of their shells.
The ice-breaking video made the class 8 students very shy. They felt uncomfortable in coming to the front of the class and describing words from ‘Describe It’ by themselves. Seeing them refrain, we had to describe a few words for them ourselves.
The presence of their Biology teacher also played a part in making them feel awkward, and while she was in the class their interaction with us was limited. However, after she stepped out, the students gradually opened up.
Playing ‘Myth & Match’ proved to be a big success. The students started talking to each other about the myths and were eager to find out whether their guesses were correct or not.
Class 11 students were much more comfortable with the workshop in general. In an attempt to make the experience more open and casual, we removed all the tables and made them sit in a cluster. They were laughing away while the ice-breaking video was playing, were familiar with the words from ‘Describe It’ and keen to go in front of the class and play the game. They could quickly guess most of the words and enthusiastically took part in the discussions that these words sparked. Even while playing Myth & Match, most of them made correct choices or guesses while deciding which statements were true.
The anonymous question answer session was very interesting for both classes. This activity made us realize that they do have a lot of queries regarding these topics. The questions ranged from vague queries to specific ones. It reinforced the fact that the students had a variety of opinions and doubts about sex and sexuality, doubts that they could not ask everyone around them. Their sources of information had been their peers and the internet. Hence they welcomed any assurance from someone older yet close to their age and preferred talking to young adults like us or their friends over teachers or parents.
The fact that speaking to the adults around the students (parents and teachers) was difficult for them also reflected in the feedback forms. More than half of the students said they preferred speaking to young adults and/or their peers about sex and sexuality over their parents. The feedback we got was very positive too; it was a huge boost for our confidence! All students said that they learnt something new and almost all of them said that the workshop was fun.
There was stark difference in the students’ behaviour between the start of the workshop and its end. From shying away from even saying the word ‘sex’ out loud to asking questions about it without inhibition in a matter of one and a half hours told us that they were eager to know more; that they believed in the benefits of sex and sexuality education. The most satisfying bit for us, was sensing that the students had started trusting us.