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Lilli Hlavin

Ms. Dott

English Period III

25 October 2017

Blue Men and Red Women

Dipti Kulkarni’s paint strokes lace the canvas, vocalizing her stories as an Indian woman

through the fiery embers of reds and oranges, and calming nodes of blue that she capitalized

through her elegant swipes upon the textured fabric. In her art piece, “Gender Discrimination,” the

divided canvas she painted upon represents two different lives. On one side a man, closer to the

top of the canvas surrounded by waves and strokes of calming colors, presenting the man as having

a serene, easy life. As the eyes of readers drift to the right side of the painting, they will be drawn

to a woman staggered lower on the canvas, bowing her head in shame. By studying the woman,

her facial features become evidently representative of the age-old oppression of women in the

homes of many, especially those of minorities. The idea that women are weak, defenseless, and

emotional is conveyed through the streaming tear drops that torrent the helpless woman’s face.

The woman cannot manage her emotions due to the growing blaze that begins to encompass her,

covering her entirely. The flames represent the harsh criticism and judgement that comes along

with possessing female entities in communities that resent the powerful capabilities of women.

Dipti’s collection, “Women’s Rights and Empowerment,” represents the pain and suffering that

has been passed down through generations of mothers, grandmothers and sisters and informs the

audience of the systematic oppression of women throughout the Indian culture (Dipti Kulkarni’s

Art Gallery).
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"You can tell the condition of a Nation by looking at the status of its Women” (Sharma,

Saarthak). When looking at India, what conclusion would be drawn in regards to their “status?”

Over forty-six percent of women remain illiterate in India, compared to the rate of illiteracy in

men, which is twenty-six percent. India is a relatively evolved country, slowly becoming less and

less misogynistic towards women, but those statistics continue to fuel the fire that perpetuates these

basic gender inequalities that invariably restrict women. Though the mass majority of countries

are making strides towards the improvement of legislation that supports women’s rights, a large

portion of India has not proceeded to follow suit. When a woman is not granted the knowledge

and rights necessary to pursue a future that is meaningful outside of her home, the unbalance of

the genders that currently remains will never disintegrate. Dipti’s painting represents trauma that

women in India face; as the opportunities given to men, are either out of reach, or unattainable due

to laws in place, location, wealth, or family values. Continuously prohibiting women from seeking

productive careers by restricting the opportunity for equal education ensures that men will continue

being seen and treated as the superior gender in the Indian culture. Indian culture in general can

be seen as a parallel to a bountiful amount of other countries, especially those not exposed to the

political and social practices of the “western world.”

Often we impose stereotypes onto women and men, both consciously and subconsciously

alike. Toxic masculinity promotes the ignorance of possessing emotions if you are a man,

inhibiting the possibility to have natural bodily reactions, such as crying, in numerous situations.

In the American school system, the majority of children begin school in kindergarten. In

kindergarten, expectations of how males should appropriately handle their feelings have not been

drilled into their feeble and naive minds yet. As they move into first grade, and then onto second

grade, “male indoctrination begins” (Nelson, Psychology Today). Psychology Today suggests that
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“what [one emotion] is okay for one, isn't okay for the other,” eluding to the different spectrum of

emotions for the genders. Men are seen as aggressive and macho, whereas women are viewed as

delicate, fragile, and in some cases, given the label of being “hormonal” if they show any form of

aggression. This piece of art effectively shows the different range of emotions women are

recognized as being born with, while also showcasing the “strength" and withholding of emotions

that men are taught to maintain throughout their life. Teaching men and women to express and

communicate their feelings in ways specific to their own genders, bolsters unhealthy expectations

for both men and women, which will down the line make the incapable of functioning properly in

one hundred percent of the issues that will undoubtedly present themselves.

“72% of people… [in India say that]… opportunities are equal between genders, including

68% of women” (Doward, The Observer). If this is truly the case, and seventy-two percent of

people in India believe that equal opportunities are equal, then why is art like this being produced

and discussed in forums around the world? Why is there a such a dire request for inclusivity and

the development of programs that go out of their way to promote gender equality if the genders

are indeed equal? It is because in countries like India, the majority of men and women have not

been exposed to the benefits of gender equality, and deep rooted issues that gender inequalities

possess due to the fact they are not included in the information sharing of the western world. As

of 2011, only slightly over ten percent of India used the internet (Doward). Without the internet,

everything is literally and figuratively slower. Mankind wouldn’t have access to a large fraction

of the information we are exposed to today that allows us to partake in the solution to our most

pertinent issues. So this is why when only ten percent of an entire country has and uses the internet,

it is almost impossible for them to be as functional and up-to-date as the rest of the world. This

leads the country (continuing with the example of India) blindly into thinking that their culture is
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the most efficient way to function, thus neglecting the needs of their own people in regards to

equality. “…According to the UN’s gender inequality index, India comes bottom of the 23

countries surveyed by Ipsos” (Doward). How can we expect a country that is not capable of

reaching the rest of the world, to understand the systematic oppression of their women?

Through her art, Dipti provokes a greater issue that resides in her everyday life; the

inequalities of the genders and the emotional effects it has on women, and the lack thereof of

emotional reactions and recognition of these issues in men. Dipti Kulkarni’s piece effectively

vocalizes the everyday Indian woman's struggle to acquire her basic rights that every man is

granted from their first step on this Earth. Her purpose of making this artwork and collection has

been achieved. The purpose of making this collection was to allow those looking in from the

outside (men) to be exposed and encouraged to recognize their privilege in the judicial, social,

economic, and educational aspects of life. When looking at this painting, the message rings loud

and clear: men are seen as superior and stronger than women. In this case, men are seen as

hierarchically better than women, and in order to advocate for the demolition of these extremely

prominent and toxic belief and treatment systems. The interpretation of this painting is based solely

on where the viewer stands in today’s systems. But the effect is the same. Women and men both

deserve the same equality. And with this painting, we are one step closer to achieving it.

Work Cited

Doward, Jamie. “Women Have Achieved Equality at Long Last ... According to Men.” The

Observer, Guardian News and Media, 28 Jan. 2017, www.theguardian.com/society/2017/

jan/29/women-inequality-survey

Nelson, Audrey. “Why Don't Many Men Show Their Emotions?” Psychology Today, Sussex

Publishers, 24 Jan. 2015, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/he-speaks-she-speaks/


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201501/why-don-t-many-men-show-their-emotions

Sharma, Kusum. “Women's Situation in India.” Saarthak, Sussex Publishers, saarthakindia.org/

womens_situation_India.html

“Women's Rights and Empowerment.” Dipti Kulkarni's Art Gallery, http://www.diptiarts.net/

my-gallery/woman-rights-and-empowerment