We got in a conversation with the Girls behind the viral #GirlsWillBeGirls video on Instagram and understood the need of making a bold statement and journey of coming together for the video.
There is no second doubt if each woman irrespective of their age is either advised to behave in a certain way or judged if she is not acting as per the set definition of Woman or the societal rules that defined and chained woman freedom.
In a country vocal about Woman empowerment, a woman is not safe both offline and online. Instances like BoisLockerRoom and rape threats are a common phenomenon on the Internet.
Triggered from personal experience, made Sharanya and Shramona start a dialogue through this video to normalise the conversation around women.
This powerful video is conceptualized by Sharanya Iyer, Shramona Poddar, Anupriya Kapur and Srishti Tehri and written by Shramona Poddar. Sharanya Iyer has lent her beautiful voice to this video. It also features bold influencers Ankita Kumar, Anupriya Kapur, Sharanya Iyer, Japleen Kaur, Prakriti Varshney, Preethi Parthasarathy, Shramona Poddar, Srishti Tehri and Stuti Ashok Gupta.
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Don't do this and don't say that, Don't wear this and don't be that. Instructions and manuals on how to be and how not to be. While there continue to be new headlines everyday, And plenty more that don't make it our way. Been really sick of the fact that it's frikkin' 2020, and women are still victim blamed and shamed for not adhering to societal 'norms' and prescribed gender roles, for somehow being responsible for the repeated abuse that comes our way, and for daring to want to express ourselves in ways that don't quite fit into patriarchal stereotypes. This is a video we put together to empower more women to speak up and be themselves, express themselves and ACCEPT themselves, so long as their actions don't bring harm to anyone. A little reminder to turn the dialogue towards perpetrators and not victims, To question casual patriarchy and locker room talk which has somehow become an excuse, validation and even a lesson taught to girls and boys around the world- that Boys will be Boys. And in doing and saying so, stifling our voices by asking us to adjust and expect harmful, toxic behaviour that violates us. We're sorry, but no. We want more. We need more. We DESERVE more! To be ourselves, to voice ourselves in ways that fuel us, and to live and let us live. #GirlsWILLbeGirls , yeah? So let's focus on re-writing harmful gender roles and stereotypes. Let's teach consent, kindness, empathy and humanity 🙏 . . . Video Conceptualised by: @trulynomadly @mishti.and.meat @anupriyakapur @srish_teee Written by: @mishti.and.meat Edit and Voice Over by: @trulynomadly Girls: @monkey.inc @anupriyakapur @millennialladki @itisinthename @peppytravelgirl @trulynomadly @mishti.and.meat @srishtee @stutiashokgupta
Take a look at our conversation with Sharanya Iyer and Shramona Poddar:
What triggered to make this video?
Sharanya Iyer: “As women, each one of us in this video has faced some sort of verbal or physical abuse/harassment from men. Including but not limited to unsolicited DMs on social media, catcalling, eve-teasing, groping and more. And we also come from families where our parents have been worried about us being out at night, travelling solo, wearing bikinis and having public Instagram profiles. But in May this year, two events triggered an urgent need to strongly communicate a message on women’s safety and our freedom to expression. The #BoisLockerRoom incident and a beautiful picture Shramona uploaded on her Instagram, in a bikini. She received some alarmingly forward messages from men, and Anupriya and I noticed that and soon enough, it became a serious discussion amongst us all.”
What was the core thought you wanted to convey to the audience?
Sharanya Iyer: “That the dialogue needs to shift to the perpetrator and not the victim. That we are not to be blamed for ‘inciting’ any form of harassment or violation of our bodies when deep-rooted patriarchy continues to give men an excuse for their transgressions. We wanted to question the toxic locker room lingo and the infamous phrase ‘Boys will be Boys’ which is used as an excuse for men and turn it into a phrase that signifies freedom of expression for women. #GirlsWillBeGirls isn’t a casual remark or excuse, it is a request to society to let women exercise their agency and choose how they want to express themselves without being boxed into labels and currently prevalent stereotypes, so long as they aren’t causing harm to anyone.”
Can you take us through the journey from the idea of bringing all the girls together and finally the outcome?
Sharanya Iyer: “When we noticed Shramona’s post and comments, I created a small Whatsapp group the same night. We began to have a casual conversation on how often we are asked not to post pictures of ourselves from our travels, how scary it is to be labelled a certain way because of our opinions and expression, and how we still second guess everything we do that doesn’t fit into society prescribed gender roles. Shramona, Anupriya, Srishti and I realised that amongst us, we have a pretty big audience with whom we could start a serious conversation. And thus was born, #GirlsWillbeGirls. A catchphrase I hesitantly suggested, that has now become our war cry. Shramona, our master wordsmith, picked up the phrase and gave it wings! She wrote the poem, we assessed it and fine-tuned it and worked together since then to visualise the video and bring it to life. We decided to bring in some more of our fellow content creator friends, women who are outspoken and take a stand and have an online presence that would help us maximise the number of people the video would reach. It took us about 2 months to shoot, reshoot, edit and execute the final video, and we’re very overwhelmed at how well it has been received!”
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Tell me something girl, Are you happy in this modern world? Or do you need more? Is there something else you're searching for? . . . You can imagine how much of a blah day this is, for *I* have turned to quoting a song in my caption. Sigh. Bombay is still in strict lockdown, and the cage just seems to be coming in even closer. Looking back at this girl out in nature and smiling a little. I can literally close my eyes and remember the whole range of sensory goodness- the smells, the sounds, the sky changing colours, and the humid sweat trickling down the nape of my neck. Grateful for the bank of memories 💚
How are the initial response and support from your peers on this? Did you receive any negativity or hate on the video?
Shramona Poddar: “In all honesty, we did doubt ourselves a couple of times during the creation process We hoped that the thought/concept we have in our minds, resonates well with the final execution. So, of course, we showed it to a few of our peers before taking it live. The collective response from everyone was how powerful and strong the video is. According to them, our message was very well conveyed and there was no scope for misinterpretation. The support we received from our peers gave the final motivation that we needed to take it live. We suppose anything that goes viral on the internet has both a good and a bad side to it. Thankfully, our video received immense love and appreciation by most from our community. There were unbelievable numbers of likes and shares and it was well admired across the internet. However, few filthy and nasty comments were immediately blocked. We didn’t want to lose our mental peace over it Of course a few who came up with constructive criticism were well discussed and explained from our end.”
How else do you think women can normalise this conversation?
Shramona Poddar: “We are very well aware that one video on the internet cannot bring about a radical change but we also know that it is a part of the change, albeit slow. I think women should start having these difficult conversations at home and amongst their social circles. It’s important to take these conversations offline as well and have logical discussions on them. Raise uncomfortable questions, discuss victim shaming, talk about how a brother and sister belonging to the same home are treated differently. The first step that normalizes this conversation is to talk about it. Along with that, sometimes we believe, knowingly/unknowingly we are a part of the problem too. So it’s important that we delve into ourselves first and deconstruct the preconceived notions we have in our minds.”
How are you planning to scale this initiative from here?
Shramona Poddar: “Well, we definitely don’t intend it to be a one-time thing. We are brainstorming on some more ideas around the concept and hoping to involve the community more next time. Nothing very structured yet but we are definite that the conversation doesn’t end here.”
What would be the one thing that you would want to say to a 10-year-old girl and a 60-year-old woman to convey this thought?
Shramona Poddar: “There’s a video on the internet called #LikeAGirl which was one of the inspirations for our video. It shows how a 10-year-old girl doesn’t know that the phrase ‘Fight like a Girl’ or ‘Throw like a Girl’ is used to insinuate weakness or insult. As she grows up, it is a society that creates such gender discriminations for her. So one thing we look like to tell a 10-year-old will be – Do whatever you want to do, be whoever you want to as long as you are hurting nobody. And to a 60-year-old woman, we’d only like to say that as we progress as a society and have more of these conversations, we must be open to unlearning and re-learning. We all grow up with some form of conditioning, and it is okay to learn that something that was perhaps taboo when you were young, is a symbol of freedom today. There is no harm in accepting change and allowing ourselves to evolve and learn with time. Our age shouldn’t dictate what we can or cannot do, and the learning curve never stops! Be whoever you want to be. Reinvent. Adapt. Accept. Let’s make this world a better place together.”
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A few months ago, I’d posted a photograph of mine in a bikini on my feed. Shot in Gokarna during a Christmas trip with friends, I'd happened to find it on my drive years later, and happy memories from that trip had come gushing by. Little did I know that the photograph on the internet will provoke some men to spew bullshit in the comment section. Amidst all the lovely messages I’d received, a handful of nasty remarks caught my attention and after letting it affect me for a bit, I chose to report the remarks and the jackasses! You see, it was undoubtedly enraging but definitely not surprising. Because, we girls have been familiar with slut-shaming, body-shaming, abuses and dick pics all over the internet and in person. Thus stemmed the concept of #Girlswillbegirls. Hear us out when we say, it’s not an excuse for our misdeeds. It means, we shall continue living fearlessly, despite all the hate and abuses you hurl at us. We shall continue travelling solo and run our goddamn show and it’s about time you focus the dialogue on perpetrators rather than suppressing a woman’s right to expression. This curation right here, took us a fairly long time to bring to reality but I am glad we did. The conversation must continue. Every woman I know today has faced some sort of abuse. It’s about time we stop being sorry and stop taking the blame. We would like you to let us be. Because #Girlswillbegirls, you see. Conceptualized by: @trulynomadly @mishti.and.meat @anupriyakapur @srish_teee Written by: @mishti.and.meat Edit and Voice Over by: @trulynomadly Girls @monkey.inc @anupriyakapur @millennialladki @itisinthename @peppytravelgirl @trulynomadly @mishti.and.meat @srish_teee @stutiashokgupta #GirlswillbeGirls