Societal norms that are contested, especially around body and sexuality, are often passed as the ‘natural order’ of things. The objective study of ‘nature’ that science claims to do induces society to seek scientific explanations to verify naturalness. It has been shown in many cases that the questions that scientists ask, and the methods they use, are coloured by norms of society. Yet, the ‘scientific answers’ thus got help determine what is natural. In the process, the normative gets naturalised.
Medical abortion is a threat to scientific authorities because it is technology easily used without the help of a medical provider. Since there is doubt that women will use the drug safely without supervision (even though they did it before and are still doing it), some think the kinder option is to remove their opportunity to fail.
A short documentary on India's menstruation man, Arunachalam Muruganantham, who wore an artificial uterus, was left by his wife for five years, and was called a pervert by the neighbours – all in his pursuit to create cheap yet effective sanitary napkins for women who cannot afford safe menstrual hygiene products.
A movement back to reusable cloth pads or even towards the use of menstrual cups aims not only to create ways of dealing with menstruation that are healthier for the body and the environment, but also to open up a dialogue regarding the taboos and inhibitions regarding menstrual blood that stem from culture as well as paid media.
No one ever really talks about how queer people in STEM fields navigate hostile spaces. ‘STEM’ stands for ‘Science, Technology, Engineering, Math’. We Indians, of course, are well aware of what these fields entail because our parents, neighbours and teachers often push us towards them. Pursuing a career in the humanities/arts means deviating from the norm, so it makes sense that sexualities and gender identities which are considered ‘deviant’ often flourish in these fields.
I spent time reading up the basics of gender-neutral design to understand the connect between science, society and gender. Sometimes, some people try to prove that there are ‘scientific’ reasons for inequality and injustice, for depriving one set of people of the same choices and opportunities that another set of people enjoy. This is not true. Times are changing. ‘Biased technologies’ are being altered.