But I do want to share with you an interesting program that I and some of my colleagues will be facilitating in Bangalore next month. It is called Gender and Identity. The idea is to explore how we are influenced by our ideas of who we are and a very significant portion of "who am I" is coded in our ideas of the kind of Man or Woman that we believe we are or we wish to be.
I am giving below an excerpt from the brochure to give you some details of what will be explored in this program. Do write to me if you are interested to attend or simply with your comments about what do you think about the idea.
What does being a man or woman mean to us?
The meanings that we give to being a man or a woman are extremely significant in how we look at ourselves, and how we perceive and relate with others in the world.
Traditionally, the meanings given to gender were predominantly defined by the social roles associated with them. However, advancements in technology have influenced the social fabric in such a way that it has considerably reduced the need for gender to be a significant determinant of these roles. The polarities here are traditional values and socio-technical parameters.
In other words, our social identity is becoming increasingly gender neutral. This brings in a welcome relief from the traditional stereotypes of gender roles. It is therefore not surprising that many people today feel more comfortable being a ‘person’ rather than being a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’. However, since this transition is not seamless, people also find themselves struggling with values that have been inherited and new ones that are being created in the changing world around them.
This creates considerable confusion in our personal, work and community spaces about a very basic question:
What does being a “man” or a “woman” really mean to us and it’s impact on our role taking processes?
This question is especially relevant when we hold gender stereotypes within and yet function from a platform of gender neutrality, which seems to have become the new norm.
The answers perhaps lie in looking at how we derive the meanings we give to our gender.
The Concept feminine and masculine
In our understanding this meaning making is derived from three significant sources: -
a) our personal history, particularly in respect to our encounters with significant others, i.e. family members, close relationships both in personal as well as work/secondary spaces;
b) our socio-cultural symbols associated with masculinity and femininity through direct experience and through the world of myths, folktales and folklore, language, history, media, politics and literature; and
c) our bio existential associations with our gender.
In our opinion, femininity and masculinity are abstract concepts, not the qualities, traits or energies of biological men and women. The principles of femininity and masculinity are configured in our psyche through various symbols and are held uniquely by each of us. These symbols, through their unique configuration in each individual offer their share of myths, perceptions, dilemmas and confusions. These, then, shape our day-to-day role taking processes in our personal and work spaces.
In this context, this program will provide the participants an opportunity to explore:
• The individualized, unique meanings of our gender roles and images of our selves and our bodies.
• The ways in which we relate to significant others in our relationships; the meanings and rules we develop around these relationships – in personal and in workspaces.
• Our internal values frames about morality, sexuality, intimacy, etc
• Residues of aggression, guilt, joy, shame, etc and their impact on codes of expression,
evocation and inhibition.
• And, the opportunity of creating a new perspective and a new anchorage in our gendered identity. This then may lead to new frames about the human context in personal as well as work/group/community spaces.
This program is meant for people interested in exploring these issues; and may be particularly relevant for men and women who are working as Change Agents, Institution Builders and Leaders in the field of Management, Art and Social Services, especially in the area of Gender Diversity.
If you wish to know more, please visit www.sumedhas.org or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do let me know what you think of the idea.