“Aye, she was smiling at Vishal today. Did you see?”
“Arre woh to ladkiyon ki row hai. Wahan mat baith..”
Were these conversations a part of your school life? If you are one of the millions of Indians students, then I am sure they were.
So do you remember those days of school when by grades 4 or 5 there would be separate rows for boys and girls as if it was a rule? And by 8th grade, the territory would be so divided that nobody would dare to step into each other’s space.
Last week I was in Grade 7 and we were reflecting on what we learnt in the last unit. In the end, I shared my reflection, the details of which I have noted in one of my blog posts, and appreciated them for being gender neutral. Throughout the weeks I had seen students pair up with each other and provide help without being conscious about whether it is a girl I was sitting next to or a boy. They, of course, had a natural preference for their friends but they were not reluctant to speak to the other gender.
One of the students even quipped, “yes ma’am we do not have an LoC in our classroom.”
Now we had a good laugh about it but it got me thinking about how this imaginary LoC pans out in our world as they grow up.
And while hundreds and millions of words have been spoken about how women have difficulty entering the male bastion with lack of basic facilities like washrooms let me take the male’s perspective this time.
As soon as a male child grows enough to understand that he is a boy and there is something gender like girls, he is removed from all things female. While he has a natural and physical curiosity to understand the other half of the universe, social norms dictate that he dare not peep into the girl’s side of life. In multiple ways, he is discouraged by everyone from adults to peers. So much so that in a classroom he is not to talk to girls.
And then when he grows up he is expected to be understanding towards his girlfriend or wife or daughter and be romantic and chivalrous all in one. We believe that he has his mother and or sister to learn from. But those relationships are different. They are his blood and there is an innate comfort zone that exists for years. But how do you understand the complex woman, who also has grown in her own silo, that you are suddenly supposed to be with? This then leads to numerous squabbles and terrible misunderstandings and at times takes the form of violence as well.
But imagine if we could erase the LoC? If children were free or rather expected to mingle with each other in spite of gender differences. There would be some conditions we would have to take care of but they would learn so much more about each other and hold them in greater respect. They would not fear to enter a woman’s group or feel uncomfortable amongst men. They would know themselves better and would be easier to live with.
So what are your views on the LoC? Have some instances you would want to share with us?
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