Much has been said and done about the hurried implementation of the FYUP which censured criticism and participation at various levels of its design. The dangers of unilateral decision making which isn’t rights’ based can be legitimately critiqued at many levels. But lately, what I’ve found most disturbing is what I’m being taught, the everyday classroom and the power dynamics of age which get played out in the classroom. This is especially true of the Indian Education System where sycophancy for a little extra credit is alright, where criticizing teachers is being “too big for our boots”.
Just a few months ago I wrote this following a deeply disturbing class. Thought I’d put this piece up, seeing that it was a product of slightly incoherent, but hurried and impassioned writing of 10 minutes. Suffice to say, no good came off it. But that’s a story for another time.
I think I was pretty disillusioned by the emphasis on objectivity and linearity in our department. It’s safe to say that it reached a new peak today when I attended the CAD (Child and Adolescent Development) lecture on Gender and Identities.
The class got me thinking as to what we are teaching our students and justifying in the name of “research evidence”. It is extremely important to recognize that psychology can and is one of the fundamental forces that do not recognize people who do not fit into neat little boxes that are easy to acknowledge. I find it disenchanting, I find it disturbing, and I feel deeply sad that I have been studying in this department which perpetuates these values.
In today’s class, 40 young women were taught that if not enough androgens are produced; you “aren’t enough of a man”. It was also taught that “not conforming by your sex identity, leads to suicide. You should not question biology.” Further, it was said that when we’re filling formal documentation forms, it is important to fill “sex” instead of “gender” as gender is socially constructed. I am of the opinion that that is precisely why we should put in gender- to reclaim and label your own personal identity in an empowering way.
I find it scary that this piece of information was given out to 40 women as “facts”. I find it even more disturbing that when I raised my hand to question these, I was not heard. This is not why I joined this department. I thought that the department of Psychology at LSR prided itself on inculcating values of diversity, choice and critical thinking and where research evidence is to be questioned, not used as an excuse to perpetuate discrimination and violence.
In an educational set up, making such statements leads to pushing people who might already be facing such issues viz. a viz. their identities. You are creating an environment where being different is not okay and promoting hatred for people who aren’t “normal”. The whole point of education is creating safe spaces where young people can explore dilemmas about their identities. I do not think LSR is a safe space to do this anymore.
Evidence-based, non-judgemental curricula are the key to empowering young women who go out and question these values in the outside space. By teaching this, you are creating violent societies where people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities face violence in many forms.
I believe this is not just an issue of one class. I think the department has given me a lot and it is also important to question this. I think we have excellent faculty who are mindful of these politics.
My aim is also not to offer a critique of the discipline as whole. I do not assume to know enough to do this. But I strongly believe that this is not a question of one class and a few lines loosely spoken. I would urge the faculty to look into how curricula are structured and taught and how this impacts young people. I would urge the faculty to take a follow-up class to present the alternate views on the issue as well.