Safe Space for the color Rainbow

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Pratiksha Gurung

Tell me, honestly, if you ever caught a male friend “pink-handed”, pun intended, with a pink lighter or a pink shirt, wouldn’t the word ‘feminine’ come to your mind even if you didn’t snigger or jeer at him?

From the day that babies are brought home and cradled in their pink or blue blankets, implications have been made about gender and color. Walk into any newborn’s room and you can almost always tell the gender of the child based on the colors of its blankets, toys, bedding, walls and so much more. As we grow up, gender color preferences are visible in everything from wardrobes to cars (though nowadays the line is thinning). The study from 2003 by Joe Hallock polling from 232 people from 22 countries all over the world showed 23% of females chose purple as their favorite. No males chose purple as their favorite. But let me tell you, there are actually no concrete rules about what colors are exclusively masculine or feminine.

A group study conducted on subjects in the age range of 7 months up to 5 years, (both boys and girls), had the subjects pick objects of different colors. It was noted that only girls above the age of 2 years picked pink objects while boys over 2.5 years avoided the pink ones. It is evident from this study that: only through everyday observation are children more prone to becoming aware of ‘gender and colors’ stereotyping of this sort.

Color coding is also applied to other gendered conceptions of girls’ and boys’ interests. For example, in a study conducted with 40 children aged between 5 and 15 months, researchers found that adults gave boys sports equipment, cars, tools and blue clothing while the females were given dolls, furniture and pink clothing.

In essence we are limiting the choices of children. Our focus on the color of children’s clothing is so ingrained that it may seem like a law of nature. It can be really hard to defy gender norms, even when one is aware that the bias exists and disagree with it.

Worrying about what colors boys and girls wear may seem like a classic first-world problem. Some may not even consider it an issue at all, considering that boys and girls ARE undeniably biologically different. But children are not genetically predisposed to prefer pink or blue based on their gender; that’s a behavior that they’re cultured into.

Given the prevalence and rigidity of the “pink is for girls, blue is for boys” school of thought today, it’s difficult to imagine things being any other way. However, some evidence suggests that these color lines actually weren’t drawn until the middle of the twentieth century. But by the 1940s, the tables had turned, and society’s equating of pink with femininity and blue with masculinity has remained intact since then. And no matter how the color designations for male and female children have evolved through the ages, the current incarnations appear to be here for the long haul.

Colors, it seems, influence our behavior much more than we realize. There is a growing movement back towards promoting gender neutrality. Even though we’ve made big strides in closing the gender gap in recent years, we have a long way to go. Pink and blue is not just about clothing options for babies. It creates clearly demarcated spaces for little boys and girls, establishing gender stereotypes and carving out spaces within the home and the outside world.

And it is THE time that we rise above the strides of color coding and create safe spaces to practice any rainbow color a person covets, no matter which gender they belong to.

 

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My Identity, my Safe Space

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Bibek Magar

That is the moment, I was watching YouTube on my laptop parallel to Facebook as usual. Suddenly, my mother called on phone. I was very frightened because my aunt had already asked me about my sexuality. Since my mum and aunt are very close to each other, I thought my aunt must have shared my sexuality with her. I received my mum’s call and she directly mentioned about homosexuality. At first, I was real nervous thinking how she would react and act with me. I must say I was feeling headstrong as I was to share my biggest fear but the truest part of my life. I had also already read about the successful history of many people alike, so I was pretty sure I could make my mum understand about homosexuality and LGBTI and to accept the person that I am. I and my mum have been close ever since and we do share an emotional bond with each other especially after the death of my father. Just at the age of 23, my mum lost her husband and took into the responsibilities of raising me when she was to focus on her studies and career.

My mom is now in abroad. Social media network has been a very easy option to connect with her. But the moment she called me on phone and asked me about homosexuality was a frightening moment for me even though I had set my mind to tell her the truth because she deserved nothing less than the truth. I started explaining about the time when I had won the social choice in Mr. and Ms. Rainbow pageant and about me. She was literally in shock at first and broke into tears. And who wouldn’t, right?  I tried to console her. She was more afraid of what the society would think. She continued explaining that homosexuality might rather be an influence and that I should start taking medications for it. I elucidated more to her about my sexuality and my identity.

Two day talk with mum and she wouldn’t listen to me. Some people even told her that I was just doing this for money and work. That, my friend, was a very wrong concern instilled to my mum’s mind.  She further asked me where I was working, asked me to leave the job saying she would hand in money if I needed them. I was so in dilemma what to do at that moment but I told her; yes, I am a homosexual mum and yes I am attracted to a male counterpart and yes, I finally told her my biggest fear of my life and felt liberated. I told her I am aware of the societal norms and ideals but I have to live freely and my identity is what matters the most. She started crying again and I had never heard that well of a cry from the bottom of her heart. Seriously, I felt very weak. My precious person. My mother. At that moment, I actually wanted to lie to her saying it was nothing more but a hoax and yet I knew in my heart, this was for the best. With all these rampant thoughts running in my head, I never realized I had started crying too and my mom paused for she had never heard me cry before too.

To be continued…

My Safe Space at YUWA

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Lirisha Tuladhar

Drip drop on the tree tops are the rain drops all the way from heaven. A place so safe so silent I can only imagine..I have no idea about what safe means.. everywhere I go there seems that the aura of unsafeness lingers by..

I sit by the windowsill waiting for the cool breeze to cherish my face, it feels safe when the silent wind whispers the songs of freedom.. at least im not chained or so it feels..

I walk around but there is that echo that deafens me saying you are unsafe and there is no place called safe space.. i turn back every ticking time to check if i am safe.. i find that sweat rolling off my forehead warning that i am unsafe

The hairs on my body stand up frozen with the smallest of sound in that roadway marking the way i feel unsafe..

Slanting towards the  budding glow of youthfulness there is that perfumed smell of curiosity and new ideas yet the pungent smell of unsafe environment pollutes the innovation and ideas that help flourish the age of youth.

Unsafe when WE travel a bus… unsafe when people give US that look when WE speak in public… unsafe when WE become the only one to speak.. unsafe when OUR voice refuses to speak.   Unsafe when WE walk by the roads – alone..  unsafe when WE walk by the roads-in crowds… unsafe when  talk in  silent tone.. unsafe when WE talk when others are talking too… unsafe when WE stroll peacefully in the park.. unsafe when WE even take the dog for a walk.. unsafe when WE dine at a hotel alone.. unsafe when WE party out with friends in chilled zone.. unsafe when WE was just a child… unsafe still when WE growing up a youth..

WHY??

Because youths stand out! Different! Variety! With colours of innovations that don’t match up the world environment…

Where is SAFE SPACE then??

Does it even exist for YOUTHS?

Yes!! It does..

WHERE?

Right where you are heard;

Right where your peers have similar ideas to collaborate;

Right where your aura spreads with appreciation;

Right where your efforts are acknowledged.

Youth led organizations are mushrooming today and you can feel that familiar feel of the safety that hugs you and lifts you up to face the chains of unsafeness.

Still wondering how to get there? Scared living in the barriers of the unsafe society for so long?

Don’t be.. TRY IT and Experience the flavours of safe space around you. You’ d be surprised as to how much progress you can do when you feel the safeness around you.

Don’t just wait for Unsafe to turn to Safe;

Go and find your own Safe Space for yourself.

I have found my safe space at Yuwa.. Where is your SAFE SPACE?

The Real You in your Safe Space

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Mahim Aryal

You are the real you in your safe space, while you are not the same person you were anymore in unsafe space.

Safe space for youths, Safe space is such an area where youths can share their opinions, discuss, express them or can open up with their self, discarding the stereotypes, discrimination and prejudices.

Where do you feel safe to open up? Home right? Why do you think you feel safe there? Is it because there are people who understand you or is it because you can be yourself? But the rest of the time you are worried about people judging you or you feel uncomfortable because people are staring at you.

Why do you think those unsafe spaces should be turned into safe spaces? It is because you can have your say, so that you can have a healthy discussion about a topic. Safe space is very important in your school, college, workplace, public places, on the streets because the topics of mental health, sex and gender are a very sensitive topic, you can have your say, but you need to think whether you have offended another person because that person might understand the things you say from another perspective which might be offensive to him/her.

Considering the context of Nepal, we need to be empathetic towards other people in order to know whether it is good to speak that specific topic in front of them or not. To allow everybody under the sky become comfortable about any topic safe space is important. So to obtain safe space we need to aware people on that sensitive topic of gender or mental health.

Giving my personal example, I was introduced to the topic of Sexual and reproductive health and rights in 2012, but before that I used to feel uncomfortable in front of transgender people because I was unaware about LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Gender queer.) I used to think they are the way they are due to mistake;it is not a mistake to be a LGBTIQ. If they are proud the ways they are then why do all of us see them like some alien?? I was uncomfortable because I was not used to seeing Transgender people in the markets or in any place. But now, I think they are normal. I learned this through the internet when I became curious.

In order to learn new things, we need to listen to other people’s opinion sometime, in order to have a healthy discussion safe space is essential. Almost all children go to school, if we allow safe space as a culture in the school then, children will embrace this culture. Also, if we add the sensitive topic in the curriculum of children, then they will learn what not to speak in front of other people. And, if we form a group of people and train them to give peer to peer education to the out of school youths or the youth who have dropped out of the school then it will be good for all.

 

 

 

 

 

A safer Social Media

 

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Shreya Shrestha

Social media is an inevitable part of our lives. Networking apps such as Facebook, twitter and Instagram is very popular and not just with millennials and Get Z but with older generations too. With literally billions of people using and signing up to these apps everyday a lot of our personal information are being shared and uploaded as well as collected for economic purposes.

Social media is a platform that can be very useful if navigated properly but it also has a lot of drawbacks. With e-commerce on the rise, hackers and identity thieves are provided with limitless opportunities to cause harm.

Nowadays people are more into creating a social media presence and posting pictures, locations and creating more digital updates than ever.

This has made very important to pay attention to online security and privacy. Here are some practical tips on how to stay safer and more secure on social media.

  1. Pay attention to privacy settings

Every social media platform has privacy settings that can be customized according to our comfort level. We have the power and choice to decide who can view our posts, friend lists and pages you follow or like. We can also limit friend requests and prevent people from seeing your email address and other personal information.

  1. Don’t reveal everything

Contrast to popular trends we do not have to post everything we did, ate, etc on social media. Posting photos of your home or sharing locations and addresses of your work or residence is a big no. As benign as it may seem, such practices could put you in harm’s way.

  1. Choose friends carefully

An average social media user is glad to see new friend requests. After all, you want to feel acknowledged and appreciated by your peers. But popularity isn’t everything. A best practice is to only accept friend requests from people you know or have met in real life.

  1. Links May Lead to Malware

When in doubt, throw it out: Links in emails, social media posts and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to steal your personal information. Even if you know the source, if something looks suspicious, delete or ignore it.

  1. Strengthen Passwords

We saved the best for last. Most hackers use gigantic databases to break passwords; a weak password will increase the odds of your account being accessed. A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “I love country music.”). On many sites, you can even use spaces!

 

 

Speak Up!

 

Nisha Adhikari

I was 17 when I got married. I had just completed my secondary level of education. We were a family of 7 including my mum, father and my 4 siblings. I was the eldest one among them all. The economic background of my family was not very sound enough to let me pursue further education. So the only option as seen by parents was -marriage.

Shankar, my husband was 5 years elder than me. Though the economic status of his family was better than mine, but not that well off. At the age of 19, with much difficulty during delivery, I gave birth to our twin daughters. Without any job it became difficult for us to maintain our livelihood including the education of our daughters. Every other member forced Shankar to go abroad in a working visa. He went to a gulf country in search of a job.

He returned to Nepal after 5 long years. Everything was going fine for 7-8 months but the economic crisis of the family forced him to go back again. For this, he was going through all the medical tests and something shocking was found in his reports that we had ever imagined. He was diagnosed HIV positive. I don’t know whether he was aware about this before but knowingly or unknowingly it also got transmitted to me. I would have somehow bear the fact of myself being HIV positive but what about the unborn baby in my belly.

The first thought that ran into my mind was to get abortion. But it was already 6 months due which I made it risky for me to do so.

In a society full of stigmatization, discrimination and male dominance, everyone started to put fault in me rather than my husband. It was getting difficult for me to seek help. Symptoms had already started showing up in my husband’s case but he was denying to seek medical care and open up. Though it was hard for me to bear this fact, it was still me who insisted to have medical checkup and get proper counselling for this. Now he is under the anti-retroviral therapy and I am taking the necessary medication to prevent the transmission to my baby.

Knowing that the HIV status is itself not enough, we should be able to open up and seek the possible treatment available.

Women shall propose!

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Falling in love is the most wonderful feeling. We all know that.  However, there is a slight problem. You need to be with somebody who loves you at the same time.  And most importantly, one of you needs to propose the other!

Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen always!

If a woman has decided she wants to get married and that she’s met the right person she is hemmed in on all sides by societal expectations to wait it out. She can vote, drive, become CEO, President, pilot a spacecraft, but the final frontier remains – she cannot propose. There is honor and dignity that is given to a woman when she is pursued and won over. You are worthy of the pursuit. When you read Song of Solomon, you see how he pursues the bride over and over.

But at a point, we have to let tradition be a choice and not a mandate, because while it’s sweet to see a guy so smitten that he asks for marriage, it’s just as lovely to see a woman do it! The world won’t end if the guy makes a first move, sure. But anything that says a woman shouldn’t have the choice (or else they’re weird or lame or desperate) is an issue.

Even today, as we constantly disrupt the status quo, many women tend to think they should be feminine. This means waiting for the guy to ask you on a date, waiting for the guy to buy a drink, waiting for the guy to message you on social sites. Because otherwise, you’re desperate or slutty or pushy.

Of course, not everyone equates these behaviors to something bad. But this all goes back to the construct of gender norms. “We’re just pretty little ladies sitting here waiting on a big strong man to come and whisk us away to our future!”

“And it’s not a leap year!” I hear you cry. And you’d be right. That day, once every four years when it becomes marginally more socially acceptable for a woman to ask the man they want to spend the rest of their life with to do so. Legend has it that “The Ladies’ Privilege,” as it was known then, originated in the fifth century, with an Irish nun later known as St. Brigid. Through her intervention it was decided that on Feb. 29, women would be given the opportunity to pop the question as a way to balance traditional gender roles in a manner not unlike how leap year serves to balance the calendar. The argument is – why wait for a fluke of the Roman calendar?

Women don’t need leap year to step up and ask what they want.

Yeah, I mean, come on, who does not like to be swept off their feet with an extravagant proposal by her guy? But well, you know that you too can take the initiative, right? Speak up, speak out and don’t tell women that they’re lame for proposing. Because that makes you even lamer.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a guy or a girl. Don’t sit back and expect the other person to know it through telepathy. Break the stereotypical image of girls being the passive recipient and why not just tell the guy that you do love him? Take pride in who you are, go ahead and speak your heart out. True love has no parameters that need to be fulfilled.