Trouble, thy name is woman. India is a country in the throes of a sexual revolution, and young women are firmly planted at the center of the controversy.
In some of the world's most populous cities, generational and ideological divides have become starkly visible. Saris, salwaar kameez, and kurtas are being replaced by jeans and t-shirts—or, even more scandalous, mini skirts and tank tops!—and the once-standard British English is being drowned out by the American pop cultural slang in the under thirty crowd who grew up watching Friends and Adam Sandler flicks instead of Absolutely Fabulous. While there's definitely a widespread adherence to conservative social norms, there are an increasing number of young people who push the boundaries of what's acceptable.
Artwork: Pink Chaddi Campaign
Over 80 years ago, the first feature-length animated movie was produced, not by a bunch of dudes and their rodent-obsessed leader, but by a German woman named Lotte Reiniger. Reiniger created her own style of animation, called sihouette animation, by taking what she loved about shadow puppet theatre—namely the cut-out puppets and backgrounds—and with her husband as cameraman, adapted them to the screen. Acting as director, animator, paper cutter, writer, and one-woman art department, Reiniger worked on over 70 films.
Nostalgia for the past has been rearing its feathered head in marketing campaigns over the past several years, and it doesn't look like it's going anywhere. Retro styles, re-released music, and 80s cartoons (Transformers, anyone?) are being made over for the new millennium as consumable items for a whole new crop of youngsters with babysitting money burning a whole in their pockets. And while I'm all for nostalgia, something just doesn't seem right about how these products are being revamped. Not only are their makeovers subtly (and not-so-subtly) sexist, they are also poorly designed and downright boring.
I'm always interested in how people in different regions, cultures and religions go about teaching sex ed. While I got the two awkward puberty videos in elementary school and a few "this is a vagina" overhead project lessons in high school, I think almost everything I knew about sex growing up came from Seinfeld.
I recently bought this art book 1000 Extraordinary Objects which is, as you'd imagine, page after page of extraordinary objects. A whole section is devoted to "the body" and lays out artifacts of sex ed from around the world, most of them handmade. I spent a while poring over the pages and think they're worth sharing—their funny, homemade, simple look definitely beats my television and overhead slides for creativity.
Kar Kar and Tak Tak: Designed in 1997 by the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong (FPAHK) as part of a sex education campaign, the dolls fit together to demonstrate intercourse. Tak Tak ("tak" means "moral" in Cantonese) and Kar Kar ("kar" means family) have similar faces so children can understand the equality of the sexes. "Tak Tak and Kar Kar can be used to perform a puppet show on topics like giving birth, knowing one's private parts and pubery changes," explains David Cheng of the association. A valuable service: Parents polled in one Hong Kong survey turned out to be too ignorant about sex to teach their children the facts of life. According to a FPAHK 1996 youth sexuality study, 78 percent of children in Hong Kong learn about sex from pornography and mass media.
Much of the feminist movement has been wrapped in a maternal bow. Suffrage was sold to naysayers as a way to give mothers a say in government, not to mention the view that women would clean up politics. Organizations like Moms Rising and CODEPink appeal to women as caregivers and moms for ending wars and realizing universal healthcare. But a funny thing happened on our way to a feminist society - we also impacted the way boys and men are viewed.