It was a Sunday. The 8th of November, 2015. To break free from the monotonous routine on the weekend, I and my photographer friend-Saswat Mishra chalked out a plan. We planned to set out to the out-skirts of the city. We had a checklist and we wanted to visit the following places: The Butterfly Park at Khanvel. The Satmalia Deer Park and at last, the Lion Safari at Vasona. Around 40 kilometres all in all. Not a big deal.
In this 2-part series, I and Kritika Sharma (Dr. Psycho!) of The Grey Matter set out to research and study Human Behavior. We started working and once we had a clear picture, we also had a few questions. Seeking answers to which, we reached the Vinoda Bhave Civil Hospital (V.B.C.H.), Silvassa to meet Mrs. Nayanashobha K.A, the clinical Psychologist.
I have seen a lot of campaigns online, all of which requires you to be something that you are not (Well what do you have to say about the time I saw you with a broom the other day?) but when I found something that requires you to be you, something that suggests you to not care of what others have to say, something that asks you to join hands and #BreakTheStereotypes, I sure had to talk to the one who came up with it.
17 year old, Pranaya Lokhande from Mumbai, or ‘Panna’ as she calls herself in her write ups, is breaking Instagram with her BreakTheStereotypes. Her efforts are appreciable, thought noble and the idea is simple: To communicate that the way you are, be so, regardless of what one expects from you or what one’s judgement about you maybe. If you like a Tshirt and short-jeans, pick it up, wear it and adorn it. Have no second thoughts by questioning ‘What if’. Be you, less bothered by other’s opinions or expectations about you.
So here it is!
A little about you to begin with:
I go by the names, Pranaya Lokhande/ Panna. Kidding lol. I’m batman.
I’m 17. I have a knack for Writing and talking too much on the internet while I’m socially awkward in person and will make super lame jokes to fill the silence. If I do gel well with someone though, I can talk about almost anything under the sun. I’m studying humanities and am in the 12th grade, I plan on perusing English Literature. I write, or I believe that I pen down some acceptable thoughts. Yeah, just about it.
Pranaya, stereotypes. The fact they exist is well understood. What’s the magnitude, how much of it is it there once you step outside your home is something that I want to hear from you. And secondly, what striked you, why did you feel the urge to speak up about it?
Stereotypes, well, I’m a teen, so you might assume where did she get that from. But, honestly, it’s so subtle, you hardly see it until it’s like up close. The magnitude basically, has no cardinal measurement. Some places, you can tell it’s really roof claiming high, while some places it is extremely chill.
Let’s begin with you walking out of your house in an attire that isn’t socially acceptable, or still in the 21st century something that is looked down upon, by the critics who matter the most; the aunties in your building.
You walk past them, till you have some more people with some more opinions. My awakening wasn’t really a huge deal, I was just plainly tired of a few pals telling me to dress up more like my gender, to chose curve fitting attire over my baggy clothes, for I personally always am in flannels twice my size (in my natural habitat).
When I posted the rant with the hashtag, I did not expect that support that flooded in, so obviously I was shook and pumped.
People’s take on the same movement is what astonished me, I looked beyond my own little rant bubble and saw that there were so many stereotypes that could be broken from one single platform and I was immediately inspired.
I realized there were indeed so many stereotypes apart from dressing, criticism on one’s body and color, their sexual orientation, were seen so frequent among the messages I received. I realized there was this constant need of trying to fit people into certain types or groups, like an the person’s individuality did not matter, and honestly it did make me a lot uncomfortable than I thought it would.
So that is exactly when I decided I wanted to do something.
If I call prejudice an attitude, and discrimination a behavior, where and what does Stereotypes fall and mean?
Given a situation as such, I’d say its blind faith. Its blind notions of pushing someone perfectly normal too much so that they’re just like the society’s rule-book states, sorted into groups that have been created for no specific reason.
To people stereotypes are an identity more like, so stereotyping someone is basically demeaning who and what they stand for.
Do you agree that there exists something called a positive stereotype? Or do all stereotypes constrict thought, action and growth?
Positive stereotypes, well, stereotyping itself is an idea I am against, and as much as I’ve come across not even one seemed like it was positive. Stereotyping basically constricts you in this square right, where you having to work according to stated rules or just plain behavior, apparently no one knows where it comes from. Fund me so that we find out.
This one’s a little stupid. But I think you can come with a great answer: Do you think geography, people have something to do with stereotypes? What’s experienced here, is it the same level of stereotyping that would happen in some other city in some other country?
Geography sure has it’s part to play. Like when we talk about attire, the western countries are obviously less hostile, but then again, they have their own seriously sickening stereotypes too! The Jocks, Nerds and what not. The problems with color, body shaming and sexual orientation are a sight in many western parts too.
The level and the experiences may differ but the monotonous idea is fairly constant.
Now, to the structure of your movement online: People insta-story-ing themselves in their true and original self. One thing that striked me is that each is up for just 24 hours, that’s the time after which Instagram takes down the story. You don’t leave a permanent trace, and seek to create a short but far reaching movement. You want this to be beyond Instagram and other social media channels?
Is that right, or did I get it all wrong?
Like I said, the support that came in the following days was not expected at all, but seeing a lot of people point this fact to me made me realize that maybe this movement would reach out more if it had a permanent and wide reaching platform.
Keeping this I mind, as a small step, #BreakTheStereotypes has its own instagram page now, @break_thestereotypes.
People’s take on the movement, their life stories or just their views and support is posted every once in a while. It’s a growing family which gives me hopes of seeing the movement reach new heights.
Shrushti Mane the beautiful human who runs the lgbtmumbai page has been an inspiration and a strong source of support too.
On this platform, we accept your contribution in the form of words, thoughts, art, experiences or just your mere existence. Join the movement. Lets #BreakTheStereotypes.
If you were to give a TedTalk (Less ambitious, more optimistic) what would be that one your understanding or opinion of stereotype as a whole that you’d speak of?
Obviously that seems like a far-fetched dream. I as, a teen have to do far more research in stereotyping than just plainly saying something, I believe that learning is a life long process, so I’ll keep gathering more experiences and lessons as we proceed with the movement.
To me, this is a revolution where we overthrow narrow mindsets and forceful stereotyping and appreciate and accept individuality as natural.
Like my friend Sudesh says, “We’re looking for a society where the moths will be considered as beautiful as the butterflies.”
Where we don’t have to be someone other than ourselves for acceptance.
Here’s Pranaya’s writing handle on Instagram: @positi_witty
All the responses and her personal stories, that’s where you’ll find them.
Bhakti Anerao, Sandeep Manush
So, Why is it that you need to meet a list of requirements if you want to serve but * tada * none if you want to lead?
It is understood, that to work for the country as a police officer, doctor, engineer, lawyer you need to have a certain amount of educational qualification but to run the country as a Minister, President or the Prime Minister you don’t necessarily need to have any qualification or criteria? Isn’t the share of power and responsibility greater on the other side?
Especially in a country like India which is still trying to eradicate illiteracy, why is it “ok” that people who swear to do so are many a times are illiterate themselves? The answer to this question needs to be understood in many different but individual parts:
Of Competence and Acceptance: The answer, doesn’t lie in the first part of the question, because those who serve, their qualification is a sign of proven competence. Being a doctor, lawyer, engineer or a police officer is not someone’s collective decision rather it’s the individual’s desire to become someone or achieve something in life. That’s why they have to prove themselves through various tests.
But, leaders on the other hand strive for social acceptance, and it is in fact the people who vote them to power. So, why do people elect these very idiots to power in the first place?
The answer includes everything that happens consciously in or around your environment, and the most unsuspected acts or actions that unconsciously go into your decision making. Just as Nalini Ambady calls it “thin-slice judgment”: the ability to make any number of social judgments from a seconds-long experience.
From my nose, and chin to my face-cut you would and can make a snap judgement about me in seconds even before interacting. That’s how the brain is hardwired.
Sad but true: Michael Maccoby in an article for the Harvard Business Reviews writes, ” For leaders to lead, they need not only exceptional talent but also the ability to attract followers”
In our opinion, the illiterate or less educated do that well on many counts. Because phenomenons like negative bias, is exploited to it’s best. People are hardwired to remember negative things rather than the positive.
The language: Writing on the psychology of electability, Maria Konnikova had said that when an confident person, who may be unqualified, says there’s a simple solution to make the big complicated thing go away, they seem far more appealing than someone more intelligent saying complicated things that contain uncomfortable, but accurate facts.
And that’s what the leaders do to be appealing to the people.
Let’s just say Administrative services function on an individual level for social welfare. While the Prime Minister, President are representative heads. If we put it in simple words, illiterate leaders don’t appear from nowhere into power but are rather elected by the masses according to their own choice. It’s people who elect these illiterate heads. It’s about masses collective decision. They don’t really set out to choose these illiterates, but somehow end up doing the same because a lot of activity that is masked and happens cognitively, influences the decision making.
Although there a few exceptional cases having illiterate leaders run one of the largest democracy of the world, however it doesn’t seem to be a pretty good idea. But this question gives rise to another one, and it is exactly what Zaria Gorvett writing for BBC Future had: If voting patterns can come from unconscious biases, does that decrease their validity?
I say no and yes. No, because even though your unconscious thoughts are unconscious, they are your own, repressed or hidden thoughts. And yes, not to the extent that the validity of electorate would be in question: Leaders use and exploit hacks and techniques to their advantage, and if you fall a trap to it, Buddy who to say what?
Maybe people themselves need to or at least try to hold a strong sense of judgement before electing their leaders. Because it all comes down to this:
That leaders value social acceptance than proven individual competence
Think This Over: Social acceptance as a result of proven competence? We’ll be back with this some other day to FAQ your mind. If you have something to say, write to us.
About FAQ, Answered: You must have have had this question before, and possibly gathered courage to ask this to someone you think could answer, who by the way, never answered it to the point. In this series of blog-posts that we chose to call it “FAQ, Answered” we’ll try answering such questions to open discussions and only at times unless other wise specifically mentioned, to close it for once and all. Not just that, we’ll come up with questions that are sure to FAQ your mind.
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