Kanika Sharma | kanika.sharma21@gmail.com

How to Become a Woman? A Satire on Indian Middle-class Family’s Social Conditioning of a Girl Child to Fit into Stereotypes

Guide Dr Deepak John Mathew
Sponsor Self Sponsered
Keywords Cyanotype;gallery scenario;sanitary pads;social conditioning

This project is a reflection on the process of social conditioning which differentiates between the upbringing of a girl and a boy, by setting stereotypical gender performances and constructing their personalities in accordance with the accepted norms of the society.

The ideas of an ideal daughter, sister, wife, daughter-in-law, and mother are equally inculcated in the fabric of society through the process of socialisation; they are reinforced into stereotypes by popular media, thus deciding “how we dream/aspire about women?” The project looked at various experiences of women belonging to middle-class families in India; these experiences affected their personalities and “made” them the women that they are.

These personal stories were juxtaposed next to the blueprint (Cyanotype) images taken from the photographer’s personal collection in order to depict the homogenising effect of the social conditioning process. The text taken from the stories was printed on sanitary pads and would be placed under the image as a title placard when exhibited in a gallery scenario; this would symbolise the disposable nature of these stories and also highlight the taboos associated with them. The sanitary pads serve as the physical manifestation of all that has been never discussed in public. The final deliverable of the project was a series of nine Cyanotype alternative photographic prints, along with text printed on sanitary pads that would function as textual references to the images.

This project opened a window into the changing realms of contemporary practices in photography, where, image making is more than simply clicking the shutter, and the private spaces merging into public domains, thus creating a unique, transcendental, and open-ended visual language.
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