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Un-Forbidden Fruit for young women
NIDHI GUPTA  6th Nov 2011

Women at the forbidden fruit workshop

harnita Arora, who runs a life-skills coaching centre Perfect Life Spot Vision in Delhi, has always felt the need of healthy companionship models among women in the Indian society. Last weekend, she collaborated with her colleague and friend Bridget, a writer, performer, director and facilitator from Chicago, to hold a two-day workshop titled 'Forbidden Fruit: The Power Puff bite for women' in North Delhi.

They planned quirky sessions such as 'meeting pinky' to understand the meaning of being a woman in India. 'Bitchology and mooh-phat' asked questions good girls never ask; 'understanding the Jalebi-Bai' decoded portrayals of women in media; and 'banana talk' busted myths on sex and health. These social entrepreneurs have reached out to women between the age group of 17 and 25 years, creating a space for liberating young minds from social norms.

"These days, the focus of the young people and their parents is on career and not life-skills. We need to reorganise our priorities. After all, career is only a means to achieve well-being," explains Arora. They distributed mirrors among the girls and asked them to give themselves marks out of 10. "It was disturbing to note that none thought of themselves worthy enough to be given even 9 out of 10," says Bridget.

From dispelling notions on ideal beauty and basic sex education, the participating women were given much food for thought. "Their guilt and shame, repression, distorted understanding of gender differences and the negative effects of all this on relationships, marriage included, were of concern," Bridget points out.

This was not a 'feminist' exercise, she explains. "I am planning to replicate the project in schools and NGOs in other cities, but I would include boys as well. There are parallel male anxieties about life too. If women are preoccupied with an unachievable notion of beauty, men are obsessed with the idea of ownership too," Arora adds.

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