By Johannes Hangula
THE Goethe-Institut Namibia’s gender project kicked off with a show called Pink% Blue in Windhoek recently. The different comedic perceptions of the gender show invited audience suggestions engendering a lively discourse on the topic.
The project which is themed ‘Mindset dialogues: Questioning Gender stereotypes Through Art’, comprises a series of events which will give ideas about people’s lifestyles, and it runs until the end of October. Within these events of films, concerts, exhibitions and discussions, the Goethe-Institut aims to be an eye opener, get rid of prejudice and show that there is nothing to hate or fear about the ongoing gender stereotypes in the communities.
Speaking at the opening event, Goethe-Institut cultural programmes coordinator Ruth Suermann said, “It is not only about sexuality. It’s about attitude and lifestyles as well. Even heterosexual men that want to stay at home and raise the kids or heterosexual women that want to become mechanics might be bullied just because they do not follow the old patterns”.
She added that, “All of us know how much is coming from the expectations of our friends, family and the society have on us. We want to please, we want to be loved. We think we will not be loved if we do not follow the expectations, but what, if the people that surround you only know the two options of male and female or heterosexual and homosexual? And you feel that you don’t fit in one of these patterns? You might be afraid to disappoint and rather hide who you are”.
“All this leads me towards my wish that gender stereotypes will change, that the ideas of how people should be will become more and more diverse and flexible, until expectations disappear and everybody is open to surprises”.
The project continued with the screening of a film titled, Call me Helen (Mein Sohn Helen) last Tuesday. The 2015 film is a German dramedy that focuses on the life of a 17-year-old boy and his journey as a transgendered female. After a year abroad in San Francisco, Finn returns to his hometown Berlin, but not as a boy. In the film he undertook gender reassignment and now lives a Helen and his single dad can’t cope with the situation and Helen’s friends and peers also don’t accept the change. Helen is mobbed and for her father’s sake decides to become Finn again with catastrophic consequences.
Next week on Monday the project hosts an exhibition titled ‘I Am a Different Me’. The photographs encapsulate a transformative process following a workshop held at Out-Right Namibia using the methodology ‘Looking In, Looking Out’ (LiLo).
Film screening will continue the following day, with Stories of our lives, a 2014 Kenyan drama that is based on five true stories that in one way or other lead into each other. The stories all deal with homosexuality and different challenges Kenyans face when expressing their sexuality and desires. In a country where same-sex relations are considered a crime and are punished, these five narratives can only end in tragedies; however, there remains a ray of hope for the future.
The project event series will further continue on October 13-18.
After all of these events, the Goethe- Institut gender project will round up with a workshop: ‘Gender Stereotypes in Music and Vnyl Emulation Software’ on October 20.
The workshop on gender music will be facilitated by Anna Gross, Jennifer Gegenlaufer and DJ Blasfematic. During the workshop they will present different hip hop, reggae and soul artists from German speaking countries who all question gender stereotypes and/ or identify as feminist.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015