Disclaimer: This is not a political article. That is to say, it doesn’t pertain to any discussion of different political party agendas and how they are or are not viable for this country. As important as that discussion is, my inclinations are different, perhaps, more urgent, more public than political.
In his first public rally, named Vishal Kisaan Rally, after winning the elections in three states, the Congress President, Rahul Gandhi addressed a gathering at Jaipur. Apart from obviously talking about the farmers at length, he began an attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Rafale deal. His attack was based on the fact that Nirmala Sitharam, India’s Defence Minister, spoke on behalf of PM Modi and defended the Rafale deal in the Lok Sabha, countering questions raised by Congress and other opposition parties. The PM promptly replied to the opposition and that is how the #BeAMan campaign on Twitter started, many calling out Rahul Gandhi for his remarks.
Deconstructing The Fiasco
There have been debates around BJP vs Congress for years now, too many to keep a count. However, what caught my attention today was this headline: BJP vs Congress: Who is the bigger Misogynist?. I was confused because misogyny isn’t a new thing in Indian politics – refer to this article for or stay tuned for a more thorough deconstruction of Indian politics and its misogyny on our website. For now, let’s delve into why it recently became a relevant topic for mainstream media.
Gandhi, in the rally, attacked PM Modi by claiming, “the Prime Minister with the 56-inch-chest didn’t come even once to the people’s court – the Parliament. We smashed the Raksha Mantri’s speech. 56-inch-chest Prime Minister said to a woman, Sitharaman Ji ‘protect me’, I will not be able to protect myself.” For those who are stuffed comfortably with their privilege in a bubble and cannot understand why this is offensive – let me do you a favor.
First, referring to a man’s chest size, as Mr. Gandhi did in order to insult the PM, is a humiliating case of toxic masculinity. That is, mentioning that a man has a chest size of 56 inches is only relevant outside the context of stating his physical measurements when it is meant to reiterate how ‘manly’ or ‘bold’ someone is, as if the chest size, manliness, and boldness are all correlated in a very intricate manner that absolutely cannot be refuted. What Mr. Gandhi intended by that remark was that even though Prime Minister Modi is supposed to be a ‘manly’ person, he didn’t step inside the parliament because he was afraid.
How does Gandhi prove PM Modi’s cowardice? By bringing to notice that a woman, who is also the defence minister of the country, which is of course irrelevant to Rahul Gandhi, had to speak for the PM. How could PM Modi stoop as low as letting a woman speak for him? Didn’t he attend his classes at “How to be a Misogynist 101”?
Fun Fact: Nirmala Sitharaman is India’s first full time defence minister and the second women to be part of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). She was formerly a member of the National Commission for Women from 2003-2005 and also established a school in Hyderabad called Pranava School.
How could PM Modi stoop as low as letting a woman speak for him? Didn’t he attend his classes at “How to be a Misogynist 101”?
PM Modi very rightly replied to Rahul Gandhi’s statements at a rally in Agra by saying, “This is a matter of women’s pride and progress. And when our Raksha Mantri (Defence Minister), a woman, smashed Opposition parties’ leaders out of the park, exposed all their lies — you would have seen their eyes were torn asunder. And our Raksha Mantri (Defence Minister), one-by-one, put the truth on the floor of the house. They were so shocked, they have been reduced to insulting a woman – a woman Raksha Mantri (Defence Minister).”
I am in no way propagating one political ideology over another, I am only pointing out a person’s misogyny and another person’s applaud worthy response to it. It is true that a lot of times when a group of men are proved wrong or are opposed by a woman and the woman in many ways gets the appreciation for it, they resort to insulting her ‘womanhood’. This is because they have internalised the thinking that being a woman, or being spoken for by a woman is more derogatory than actually being publicly opposed by someone who can make logical refutes, regardless of their gender.
This is not about which side of the party won the debate about the Rafale deal or who could answer what. It is about how a woman having the ability to oppose men was reason enough for them to use that as an insult, instead of using any other factual, conceptual or referential comment to defend their party.
It is about how a woman having the ability to oppose men was reason enough for them to use that as an insult.
The misogyny doesn’t end here. Rahul Gandhi again tweets to PM Modi asking him to “Be a Man” and answer his questions. Again, very confusing as to what Gandhi thinks women do. Can women not answer? What’s the point of using that statement? How does being a man help one intellectually rebuttal questions better than being a woman? I would be so grateful to get answers for these questions.
Obviously, his remarks did not go unnoticed. He received a lot of backlash on the internet and the National Commission for Women (NCW) issued a notice to the Congress President Rahul Gandhi for these statements. But wait, it isn’t over yet! To call Rahul Gandhi out for his misogyny BJP started a new trend on Twitter, which ironically is called #BeAMan – which is in itself a statement that is a product of patriarchy. Hilarious. People thought it was absolutely acceptable to resort to sexism in order to bring to attention their opposition party president’s misogyny.
I might be wrong and I hope that the hashtag is just people and BJP allies trying to be sarcastic. If not, honest to God, just replace all the aforementioned questions in the context of having to respect women with dignity and answer, what does “being a man” have to do with anything?
Featured Image Source: NewsX