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Being fat, feminist and free

Gender activist Pramada Menon returns to Mumbai with her stand-up comic piece Fat, Feminist and Free to initiate a talk about gender diversity, with a focus on dynamics at the work place

“I wear many hats,” explains Pramada Menon who is a consultant, professional trainer, filmmaker and a social activist. So what will she be doing in the city? A stand-up comic act at the Godrej India Culture Lab, which Menon likes to recognise as a political act. Thus, we get talking about her piece Fat, Feminist and Free that she has been performing across the country since 2007.

Pramada Menon
Pramada Menon

The 30-minute performance is themed on gender diversity while looking at its presence at work. Menon, who co-founded Creating Resources for Empowerment in Action in 2008, talks about how gender is played out in a workspace, “I look at the polarisation between men and women that happens at the work place, and produce situations that we end up laughing at.

For instance, when a man says, ‘You are looking good today. You should wear skirts more often,’ is told to be taken as a compliment. If the woman doesn’t do that, she is said to be uptight. Whereas you never see a woman going up to a man saying that you look great in this suit and your ass looks really nice.’ ”

Taking a pause, Menon mentions that this however, shouldn’t become a war. “We should be able to work together without focussing on what’s between our legs,” she quips in a flash. Menon finds humour a handy tool through which she hopes to break gender stereotypes.

Basing the piece on her experiences, Menon explains that the title of the piece confronts the reality; she elaborates, “You don’t say fat in real life. You say healthy. If you say feminist to someone, they think you are a man-hater or bra-burner types.”

Unsettling the norm, Menon resists adhering to just being called a performer. “I do few performances but they are more as a political context. In our country stand-up comedy is only looked at as a commercial act.” The New Delhi-based freelancer who has performed in the city earlier, in 2008, says that every performance of hers is new and unique.

Harrasment vs compliment

Menon who has been espousing feminism for the last three decades doles out handy advice: “For sexual harassment at work, which can happen between any gender, one has to say no. There’s a thin line between a compliment and harassment.

Harrasment

India’s population wouldn’t have reached a billion if people had not had sex but nobody wants to talk about sexuality in the open. We need to talk about pleasure as much about violence. We need to have more women on the streets. They are usually there in the public spaces with a sense of purpose whereas men just loiter.”

On: November 7, 5 pm onwards
At: Auditorium, gate no 2, Godrej Industries, Vikhroli (E).
Entry: Free
RSVP indiaculturelab@godrejinds.com

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