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Updated: March 25, 2010 15:59 IST

Give ventilation to thoughts: Sister Jesme

Special Correspondent
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Sister Jesme. File Photo: K. Ananthan
THE HINDU Sister Jesme. File Photo: K. Ananthan

Women's rights activist Sister Jesme has called on contemporary women to train themselves to be brave and also to give ventilation to their thoughts and feelings.

Speaking at a seminar on 'Women empowerment' organised by the Sree Narayana College Women's Studies Cell on the college campus here on Thursday, Dr. Jesme, a former nun who left the convent and author of the book 'Amen' that hit the bookshops in 2009, said that the new generation women had be taught to say 'no' when they had displeasure and had to be redeemed from superstition.

"The man in every woman and the woman in every man should be brought out in proper ratio in all social and family spheres", she told the audience largely comprising students of the college. Speaking about challenges and realities being faced by contemporary women going out of college campuses today, she said that the women liberation movement in the 60s and 70s were more concerned about the question of civil and legal rights because almost all human institutions were male-centric. Men thrived at the expense of women and women enjoyed only few rights and privileges as they were faced with duties and obligations, she said. It was after the 70s that female uprising was seen in the country as a result of continual oppression perpetrated from various quarters, she said.

Dr. Jesme said that the protest against Women's Reservation Bill showed that men were wary of losing their central position. Through the ages, the woman had been defined not by what she had but what she lacked, she said. Much of the issue related to the gender inferiority had been generated by culture and religion and even by languages, she said. Today the socio-cultural construct of the angel image of woman had to be annihilated, she said adding that even heterosexual experiences of a woman could seldom be described in books and articles. Late poet and writer Kamala Surayya had escaped social attack by stating that everything in her autobiography was a fantasy, she pointed out.

Touching on her personal experience, she said that nuns were the new voiceless species and were made voiceless by male and female authorities to be puppets of religious authorities.

Contemporary women's rights organisations should support the calls of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, she said.

College Principal K. Balakrishnan presided over the session. Cell convener C.R. Lalitha, K. Sathi and V.N. Sujaya also spoke.

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