Make It Normal
*How can sex be normalized?
Make It Normal is a campaign designed as a part of Shhh!Sex, our system design project. It aims at increasing discussion about sex and sexuality and shedding light on the dimly lit scenario of sexuality education. We came up with a number of ideas for this campaign. A few of them are listed below.
View the project blog here.
We devised a workshop called ‘Make It Normal’ for school students of class 8 and 11 separately, with the objective of starting a conversation about sex and sexuality.
The workshop would begin with an ice-breaking video just to have a laugh and make the students feel comfortable. The video would be followed by games – ‘Describe It’ and ‘Myth & Match’. Both games involve interactions between students that prompt exchanges of information between them regarding topics related to sex and sexuality, interspersed with us stepping in to provide them with extra information. The workshop would end with an anonymous Q & A session.
Before holding any workshops we consulted Ms. Jamila Firdaus, the school counselor at Navrachana High School, Vadodara, India. She helped us segregate our content age-appropriately and advised us about how to approach the students
The workshop led to a number of insights. The video made the class VIII students very shy, uncomfortable to play ‘Describe It’ by themselves. Seeing them refrain, we had to describe a few words for them ourselves. Playing ‘Myth & Match’ proved to be a big success as it involved moving around. The students started talking to each other about the myths and were eager to find out whether their guesses were correct or not.
Class XI students were much more comfortable with the workshop in general. In an attempt to make the experience more open and casual, we removed all the tables and made them sit in a cluster. The ice-breaking video had them laughing. They were familiar with the words from ‘Describe It’ and keen to go in front of the class and play the game. They could quickly guess most of the words and enthusiastically took part in the discussions that these words sparked.
The anonymous question-answer session was the most interesting bit. The questions ranged from vague queries to specific ones. It reinforced the fact that the students had a variety of questions about sex and sexuality, but no one to ask to. Their sources of information had been peers and the internet. They welcomed any assurance from someone older yet close to their age. More than half of the students said they preferred speaking to young adults and/or their peers about sex and sexuality over their parents.
There was a stark difference in the students’ behaviour between the start of the workshop and its end. Instead shying away from even saying the word ‘sex’ out loud, the students rose to ask various questions about without inhibition in a matter of one hour.
Post the workshop, we iterated the toolkit according to the feedback we received and devised a number of games with the objective of starting a conversation about sex and sexuality in schools and other teaching scenarios. We put together the activities and and games we played in the workshop in a box, with an instruction booklet to guide the giver of information
on the how to conduct the workshop and how to play the various games. The back of all the cards are left blank to customise each game according the socio-economic group the workshop would be conducted for. As the giver best knows the what works for her/his group of receivers!
Around the world, the utmost concern of censors is the depiction of violence and sex. So we came up with a set of postcards as a part of our campaign ‘Make It Normal’ questioning India’s policy of censorship – a constant dichotomy that we live in. While there is no dearth of ‘item songs’ objectifying women in popular media, various scenes in a film are not allowed past the filters due to 'questionable content'. While age-appropriate censoring should be prevalent, an adult should have full freedom to choose between what she/he wishes to watch. There must be uniformity in the exercise of deciding what is aired and what is bleeped. Artists should be allowed to express themselves in the manner they believe will do justice to their work.
These postcards with reference to popular forms of art make consumers question their values and governmental policies that filter content, and in turn result in individuals having skewed notions about sexuality.
We invited a few of our peers and asked them to read out some general facts about sex. None of them knew what they were going to be reading. We captured their reactions on camera.
But apart from all the awkwardness and the laughter involved, there are other reasons behind the making of this video. Their reactions show that talking out loud about these topics is not the most comfortable thing to do, even though they were speaking these words before their own friends, even though these statements are facts, adults of their age should know (that is if they knew what they were saying).
And beyond the kind people who spared time to participate, some of the ones watching this for the first time might just hear something they haven’t heard before, in a ‘more fun than biology class’ way.
But the bottom line is, why should it be so embarrassing?
Team - Kalyani Tupkary, Ishaan Dass, Rucha Joshi & Srayana Sanyal
Mentor - Praveen Nahar
My individual contribution to the project included -
Building content for the workshop, specifically the intro along with the 'Myth & Match' game, segregating the feedback, insightful analysis of the questions, making the workshop booklet with guidelines, production for the video followed by basic sorting and editing.
The giga map along with a research paper was selected for the RSD5 Symposium 2016, OCAD, Toronto