Heteronormativity.

By Juliana Pasker

 

Heternormativity is the belief or assumption that all people are heterosexual, or that heterosexuality is the default or “normal” state of human being.

It tends to supplement and go with ideas like cisnormativity, sexual orientation binarism, and gender essentialism. A heteronormative society works on the supposition that heterosexuality and particular gender features are the human “default.” These presumptions can be frightful in light of the fact that they are vilifying and minimizing, making individuals who are LGBT+ feel like they are seen as degenerate or unnatural.

Heteronormativity, is a system that works to normalize behaviours and societal expectations that are tied to the presumption of heterosexuality and an adherence to a strict gender binary. 

Stop homophobia. Gay pride slogan. Handwritten text on rainbow watercolor texture. Vector design.

It is the assumption which considers heterosexuality as not only “normal” but rather the “correct” state for human being. Thus a relationship between two men or two women will be considered not only abnormal but also incorrect or wrong. Society propagates the relationship between man and woman with associated gander based roles. The gender binary is vital to the system of heteronomativity.   There is a lack in the representation of the LGBTQ+ community in the media. Heteronormative marginalization is similar to marginalization of people of colour in the media thus most programs or films do not include gay characters and present them in an unrealistic and stereotyped way even when they are included.

Heteronormativity ,the priviledge of heterosexuality that results in social pressure to conform to heterosexual roles leads individuals to conceive themselves and their social worlds in a particular way. This creates a stress caused by heteronormative social pressure, prejudice and discrimination targeted at sexual minorities. The stigma and lack of representation created by heteronomativity pushes the sexual minorities further from the society making them outcasts or others. This ignorance creates hatred and intolerance. Homophobia thus becomes a major issue as it more of a dislike and non acceptance of people who are different, rather than fear. Homosexuals are not identified as individuals but only in accordance to their sexual orientations. 

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Challenging heteronormative assumptions is not the same as challenging heterosexuality: the sexuality of heterosexual people is as valid as that of LGBTQ+ individuals. Rather, people seek to dismantle the belief that heterosexuality is the only natural sexuality and affirm the existence and rights of LGBTQ+ individuals as equally valid.

My visit to an Old Age Home

By Deepshikha De

 

The Udbartan social welfare organization has pulled in all its resources to provide a safe heaven for those who have no place to go, and no one to take care of them. This old age home is situated in the village of Khandra in the district, Burdwan. Old citizens from all over the state and some from all over the country have resided here during their retirement period to live a peaceful life. I had the privilege of visiting this home, and to my wonder and amazement, I found souls who had faced a lot of pain and sorrow, yet they had not given up on life. 

the HOME

The foundation stone of this old age home was laid by the Governor of  West Bengal , M.K Narayan on 11th July 2012.The orphanage consists of over five acres of land, there are beautiful gardens and a pond with plenty of fish. The president of the  Old age home is Mr.Prakash Sha, he had donated all the land and a vast amount of money to the orphanage. Arup Sinha is the vice-president, while talking to him, I found out about the routine of the old citizens and the lives they lead.

There are fifteen of them, twelve are female and three are male. The food they get is decent, although they all have different tastes, and it is extremely difficult to cook dishes individually for all of them. Sometimes, these senior citizens act like children. For example, every evening, they are given a light snack of Muri(puffed rice) and Beguni(a fried item). Since these snacks are oily, and elder people need to have light food, the caretaker decided to give them fruits instead. However they all protested against this, they wanted their fried snacks back. This is almost childlike behaviour. When asked, how they spend their time, most citizens said, they invested their time in gardening, reading Bengali books and books about God. Doctors come to the old age regularly to conduct check-ups for the patients. Occasions like Rabindra Jayanti are celebrated, pandal hopping is mandatory during the pujas.

Some people have incredibly disheartening stories that led them here. 

Mr. Gorachand Mukherjee used to work for DSP(Durgapur Steel Plant). He had bought a few apartments in different parts of Kolkata. Unfortunately his son sold them all and decided to shift to Pune, he asked his father  to come with him. Mr. Gorachand agreed, however an unfortunate turn of events occurred. Mr.Gorachand’s son left him in a hotel in Pune and fled. After that, Mr. Gorachand tried contacting his daughter, however his daughter denied their relationship, and told him, he had ceased existing for her from the day her mother died.  Fortunately, Mr. Mukherjee’s daughter got him admitted to this old age home. He says he has found peace here, and he has stopped thinking about all the pain he had faced before. He spends his time by reading novels written by Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray. However the most surprising fact is, Mr.G.Mukherjee calls his caretaker, the same name he called his son,-’Bubla’. Mr. Mukherjee deludes himself into thinking his son stays with him, even after all the turmoil he had to face because of his son.

We also came across another old lady, who could not accept reality, and lived in her own world.  Her son is an aircraft engineer and lives in U.S, however he comes all the way from U.S to visit her as much as he can. It was very difficult approaching her for an interview, as she was wary of anyone trying to talk to her and was suspicious about everyone. She thought people were trying to hurt her .I couldn’t help admiring the staff who had to deal with such tough situations every day. 

The spectacular view.
A view during the sunset from the premises of  the old age home.

Before leaving, we came across a jolly resident known as Saraswati, and although she was a little hard of hearing, her smile was so infectious that we could not help smiling back at her. It was a treat to watch all the resident’s eyes light up when we offered them sweets. By ‘we’ I mean, me and two of my cousin sisters, who were a big help. We did not know how time passed by, as we had interesting conversations and maintained a steady rapport with the elderly. Soon, it was time to go and we came out wiser out of the orphanage that we had gone in. We realised all lessons can’t be learned from books, we need to experience slices of reality to learn the life changing lessons.

Rendez-vous with the rising star Nikita Gandhi

By Deepshikha De

 

Most of us have heard the Raabta title song, and although all eyes were on Deepika, we couldn’t help admiring the beautiful voice that sang that song. For those of you all, who are patiently waiting for the movie Jagga Jasoos to release, if you have tubed the song ’Ullu ka pattha’, the female voice along with Arijit Singh belongs to Nikita Gandhi, a playback singer who is taking Bollywood by storm. She has sung in four other Indian languages, including Tamil and Telegu until she was discovered by Pritam, who gave her an opportunity to showcase her talents for Raabta. The Raabta title song was her first song in Bollywood, it became extremely popular and was number one on the charts. 

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What people don’t know about her is, she is also a dentist and a very responsible citizen as she is associated with many social initiatives.  She is in her late twenties, and it is overwhelming to see her achieve so much at such a young age. This is what I discovered about her during a whatsapp interview, she gave this interview while she was dubbing for Jagga Jasoos. 

Q: From what age did you start singing?

Nikita: I started singing at the age of five.

Q: What instrument do you play, if any?

Nikita: I play the guitar. I also play the harmonium.

Q: Did you take music lessons?

Nikita: I learnt Hindustani Classical from a very young age.

Q: During school and college, did you take part in any musical events?

Nikita: Yep! I took part in all the festivals in Indian and western music, both in school and college.

Q: Who is your favourite singer/band, both in Indian and Western?

Nikita: I really never know how to answer this question. I have plenty of influences and favourites!

Q: What is your favourite song?

Nikita: ‘My way’ by Frank Sinatra. It’s not only my favourite song; it’s my motto for life.

Q: How does it feel to make it big in Bollywood?

Nikita: It is extremely overwhelming and exciting. It feels like I am living a dream that i did not know I had, but I am so glad I found it. 

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Q: How did Raabta happen?

Nikita: I guess my work in Tamil films brought my voice to Bombay and to Pritam da!

Q: Who is your role icon?

Nikita: My dad. He’s patient, he’s focused, he is hardworking and he is passionate about work. Most importantly, I am living his dream in a lot of ways and I owe it to him and mom for being the strongest most supportive pillars.

Q: You are involved with some social initiatives? Can you tell us about them?

Nikita: I am the ambassador for the Grow and Save Trees initiative which was launched by Rotary Club of Mahanagar on the 1st of July, this year. 

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Picture courtesy : Instagram @nikhitagandhiofficial

Q: How do you manage your career as a dentist, along with music?

Nikita: The first two years were very hectic because I was literally dodging to two lives and pulling all-nighters. Now, I’m used to it.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

Nikita: More music, more collaborations, more social initiatives.

Q: What message would you like to give to your fans and aspiring singers?

Nikita: Hard work and being true to your self is the only dogma, and stay grounded.