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Sixth #OpenMinds on 27th of November 2019

Gender Stereotypes in Sikh Punjabi Culture 

Thank you to St Luke’s Community Centre for hosting Octobers’ Open Minds (Khula Mana) LGBTQ+ Support Group. The group was facilitated by Dr Kuljit Bhogal on behalf of Sarbat and Taraki. We were lucky to be joined by both of the facilitators of the Taraki Mens Forum (Chai in the City) who wanted to take part in the discussion.  This is a summary of some of what was discussed. . 

Gender is the socially constructed characteristics of women and men. Sikhism advocates for gender equality but Punjabi culture usually requires people to define themselves with or against gender stereotypes. This is true in religious spaces, domestic environments and in social relationships. 

We started the session by reflecting on how our gender shapes our day to day experiences of life. The groups were then asked to think how these experiences might be similar or different for those of the opposite gender. 

The group felt that stereotypically women are allowed to be sad or upset more openly than men. Men might be more likely to express their sadness as anger or volatility. 

The group felt that men are expected to look “strong” and women are required to look “attractive”. The group felt that in reality the divide between the genders is much more complicated and depended on individual family cultures. In saying this, women are much more likely to be discriminated against or treated unfairly in Punjabi culture. 

Only one woman attended this session and this was a significant limitation in our discussion. 

We ended the group by talking about what we can do as individuals to challenge and change stereotypes about the gender roles. It is clear that gender stereotypes shape many of the issues in Punjabi culture and we are likely to come back to it as a topic in future sessions. 

Decembers Open Minds group is just round the corner on the 18th of December 2019. It will be held at St Luke’s centre in London at 6 pm. We will be talking about coping with Christmas.

Please contact us at khulamana@gmail.com if you would like to find out more. 

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