Recently a former soldier’s wife, traumatised by the attacks on Indian soldiers in Kashmir, sent Prime Minister Mr. Modi a 56 inch blouse (which some people argue is a bra) protesting against his incapacity to protect his country. This became a ‘potent’ weapon to ridicule the ‘impotency’ of Modi on social media. Of course it was a tight slap on his magnificent 56 inch chest. Anything wrong with it? Well, who cares? It is a tested formula in the political history of India.
In the aftermath of terrorist attacks in 2013, Smriti Irani, the former HRD minister and one of the few women faces of BJP, offered bangles to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Now sitting in opposition, Kapil Sibal relived the short memory of politics and thus offered Modi bangles to wear. Yes, because law and logic sans misogyny is not his forte.
While this is an utterly ridiculous gesture, it stands in sync with the hypermasculine political tactics of Modi. Modi, regarded as the ambassador for development in India, has no interest in the progression of India towards equality. He, in fact, has a troop of trolls to harass every woman who chooses to speak up.
in this hypermasculine political arena,the biggest insult to our Prime Minister would be to be associated with femininity.
His idea of power and politics is very masculine which was reflected in his campaign for Lok Sabha elections. He called Rahul Gandhi a hybrid calf of ‘Jersey Cow‘ (of course before gau-raksha was fashionable). His infamous attack on Tharoor calling his wife 50 crore girlfriend or his notorious remarks on Sonia Gandhi’s lack of household skills, which was followed by a roar of claps in his rallies, says something about our leaders and their cheerleaders. His idea of good marketing is a ‘beautiful’ woman selling pickle bottles. He presented himself as the He-man of politics as opposed to the then Prime Minister.
Our dear Prime Minister, almost a year back, said that Sheikh Hasina has a zero tolerance policy towards terrorism despite being a women. Words of kindness and compassion, apparently. The 56 inch chest, in which the development mongers sought refuge in, is nothing but a manifestation of society’s notions of power caged in macho identities.
So in this hypermasculine political arena, it is only natural that the biggest insult to our Prime Minister would be to be associated with femininity – bras and breasts. The worst part is that it would be considered offensive towards him and not the women of this country.
While this is a brief story of Modi’s attitude towards misogyny, it is not limited to him. It is a pervasive phenomenon all over the globe. While its existence in other spheres of society cannot be negated, it definitely has an intensive application in the field of politics. Right from attacks on the child-rearing capacity of the former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to Todd Atkin’s theory of legitimate rape in the American Senate, the disgusting issues which the women politicians are confronted with are inestimable.
In India, male politicians have skipped no occasion to ridicule women politicians and reduce them to their looks or past professions. Not only that, on numerous occasions our leaders have blurted out the most disgusting remarks normalising rapes or talking about women as child producing machines or labelling them as demons.
In fact patriarchy and misogyny are the only two ideologies which operate everywhere in our very diverse country. Sexism is the norm and equality the exception. It is almost impossible for strong and feminist women to penetrate through this world unless they adopt the innate patriarchy of politics and adorn it. A woman with no sense of culture and tradition is demonised in India.
However horrible this might seem in theory, the fact remains that the tolerance towards sexism in society is very high. It attracts few headlines and wrath of some feminists and then dies down. It does not have any real consequence in terms of power that can lead to any kind of deterrence. It is almost futile to elucidate on this phenomenon after the election of Donald Trump as the President of the most progressive country of the world. The attitudinal problem of men towards women is not a political issue yet.
male politicians have skipped no occasion to ridicule women politicians and reduce them to their looks or past professions.
Things in India are equally worse where the definition of welfare of women is some governmental policy in the name of women qualified by an adjective that stands for the societal expectation of an ideal woman. That makes us wonder that probably the politicians in India are rightly catering to their consumer market. “Yatha Raja, Tatha Praja” holds the ground still today.
The political reality of India is not divorced from the societal reality. We are largely a misogynist and orthodox country still high on the masculine ideas of power. Our talks around wars and murders are mostly coated with misogyny. The idea of femininity being weak and meek is an idea which has been ingrained in our veins by gender socialisation.
While these ideas of femininity and masculinity hardly have any scientific bias, their societal and political foundation is so strong that it is next to impossible to assail them. It is a matter of routine to ask an incompetent politician to wear bangles or put henna on their feet. That logically leads to an illogical conclusion of people wearing bangles being incompetent.
In the current state of affairs, when no one expressed wrath over this extremely sexist way of protest, it can be seen that the gender consciousness amongst the masses is nil. So let us conclude that every adornment of women is a symbol of weakness and exploitation. Well, at least there is no hypocrisy here. The misogyny is manifest. So next time when you are not in a mood to work, wear a bra. Well, we do. Thus impotency!
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