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This Tamil language anthology series gives us a look at how the same emotions might be expressed differently by men and women thanks to social conditioning.
Some time ago, I was reading different opinions on the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard. It occurred to me that treating crimes (murders) of passion as lesser crimes than premeditated murders might be biased against women.
Women are not taught to be loud about their emotions. They are told that they cannot be impulsive. They are not socialised to have direct, physical reactions like slamming someone’s face into the ground out of anger.
However, just because someone is quieter about their emotions, and cannot afford to react as impulsively, it does not mean that their responses are any less emotional. Just because an act involved more planning, it does not mean that the person who did it was necessarily thinking clearer than someone who did it impulsively.
And these gendered differences in the expression of emotions are not limited to anger. Unfortunately, not every single episode does this. But on the whole, Navarasa does end up showing how men and women often tend to display the same emotions differently.
The most obvious example of this is Roudhram, the episode on anger (each episode focuses on a specific emotion). The main character is male, and he expresses his anger impulsively by physically assaulting another man. However, there is more to the story. How does the main character’s sister respond? Is her anger any less scary than his, even if expressed differently?
And then, there is Ethiri, which I expected to be a stereotypical story of a woman showing compassion towards a violent man. However, I could not have been more wrong. Both of them are shown to display compassion as well as the lack of it. One of them might do it more obviously, and yet the message is clear.
Summer of ‘92 barely seems to have any significant roles for its female characters, and yet Lakshmi’s joke is the last line in the movie. Her quiet sense of humour comes through despite the male protagonist’s loud comedy being the focus for most of the episode.
Thunintha Pin is another episode that focuses on its leading men (there are two of them). And yet, Muthulakshmi’s confidence in the face of hopelessness is courage, even if she’s not engaged in a literal war unlike the male protagonists.
Payasam focuses on a seriously envious man who is attending a wedding, and how he ends up doing something really petty as a result. His widowed daughter by contrast, is extremely gracious. And yet, do we hear a hint of something more in her voice when she asks if the cook recalls making the same payasam (a type of sweet dish) for her wedding?
If Netflix does end up releasing a Volume 2 of Navarasa, I would love, love, love for all of the episodes to really dig into the intersectional gender dynamics of emotional expression, instead of most of the episodes focusing on men with only a little bit of space left behind for the women (even if they did shine in that little bit of space).
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I recommend reading Manjiri Indurkar's Origami Aai alongside her memoir to have a fulfilling and enriching experience of telling one's story with grace.
It’s All In Your Head, M famed author Manjiri Indurkar’s debut poetry collection, Origami Aai, is independent and yet an extension of her memoir in which she speaks with utmost grace about all forms of abuses that she has survived. In this book of intriguing and evocative poems, the poet weaves words to form images of the everyday life of her middle-class family, love found and lost, trauma, and healing.
The collection is divided into four segments, beginning with the family, slowly moving towards the world, and finally colliding them together.
We aren’t in mourning, but we are creatures of habit.
So we talk of each one who died of drowning,
and I listen to her stories with the patience
of a chronicler.
– Funereal Stories
When someone accuses you of "too much feminism", what they are really saying is, "I am uncomfortable with you challenging the status quo and disrupting my privilege".
Time and again, there is one phrase that keeps coming up in the social media discourse on feminism. Any guesses?
Ah, no prizes for guessing the infamous “itni bhi feminist” or “too much feminism” phrase, a classic eye-roller for me, and I am sure for many more of my tribe, in the realm of gender equality discussions.
Pray tell me, how can an ideology, a movement be too ‘much’? It’s not salt or the seasoning of your soup where you can go, “Oops, too much salt, only one spoon was required”. Either you stand for what feminism stands for, or you don’t.
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