logo

Patriarchy and misogyny go together

What tragedy for us that this evil must become a part of the heritage, the curse we hand over.

Patriarchy and misogyny go together

When Rahul Gandhi asked why there were no women in shorts in RSS, the parent organisation of his arch-rival political party BJP, he intended to hit RSS painting the organisation as anti-woman. Little did his support staff realised that in the process the Congress leader also exhibited how women are viewed by Indian politicians. Coming from a half foreigner, son, and perhaps qualified enough to hold passports of some European country, if Rahul Gandhi could use an effective dehati (rustic) narrative, what would we expect from not so elite a politician? Evidently, his image managers thought that would be the correct way to attract the audience and also media to the fact that RSS does not have women in its fold. Even if it means disrespecting women.

Rahul is not alone in this. I quote from the Facebook post of an outspoken woman, who happens to be my daughter. "In my mid-30s now, I don't even care to, or actually can recall all the times this country and its men, have disappointed my expectations, upset my sense of balance, and violated my privacy. Yes, it is rampant and unchecked, unnoticed and unguarded,'' she writes. "Women from all and every walk of life face it. From streets to swanky apartments, from pavements to palatial bungalows. Drag queens, to Bollywood queens alike, we are all painted with the same brush, eyed with the same intentions, treated with the same disrespect and derision.''
Interestingly, even successful women who have reached a level many men aspire and fail to come close to are at the receiving end of such ill-treatment. Smriti Irani is a glaring example, abused openly by her detractors and whispered by her own party colleagues, she has so far stood her ground. But not everyone is as strong as Smriti, many crumble under the pressure. That is how we see many educated talented urban girls giving up their promising career for the sake of their caregiving duties at home. Instances are galore when women willingly leave their jobs conditioned as they are to believe that housekeeping, childbearing are their primary duties and roles.
"It is our Normal… As I write this I am filled with disgust at the way our women's minds work but yet this is our reality. We live like this every day, young and old alike, without question, without support, without hope. Our legacy, the one we pass on to our own daughters are more of the same fear." I quote from the Facebook post.
Mulayam Singh Yadav, the veteran socialist politician had said 'boys will be boys, they commit mistakes'. This was in the context of death penalty for three persons convicted in gang rape case. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said at Dacca University how strong was Sheikh Hasina, his Bangladeshi counterpart when she expressed zero tolerance for terrorism, 'despite being a woman'. Evidently, to Modi, the archetypal image of a woman is a soft, weak person bending under pressure.
Why single out male politicians, after all, men will be men. Let us look at Mamata Banerjee, the strong leader from West Bengal. She had on several occasions commented on rape victims questioning the veracity of their complaints or purity of their characters. If a strong woman leader makes such impetuous observations her males colleagues, brought up in a misogynist world, naturally would make abusive observations on women.
And why blame the culturally regressive people alone, take a look at how in Uncle Sam's the land of promises persons like Harvey Weinstein could thrive. See how comedians like James Corden, the host of popular 'The Late Night Show' commented that the night was beautiful, ''so beautiful that Harvey Wein stein has already asked tonight up to his hotel to give him a massage.'' Is this mere insensitivity or the deep-rooted male feeling of supremacy?
Why single out politicians or comedians (not much difference in them, however!), two Professors of Psychology, Baumeister and Vohs in a paper on sexual economics said that sex is a female resource for social exchange in heterosexual interactions. They viewed a heterosexual community as a marketplace in which men seek to acquire sex from women by offering other resources in exchange. Societies will, therefore, define gender roles as if women are sellers and men buyers of sex. Evidently, persons like Weinstein and Bill Clinton were influenced by such thoughts which saw many women also accepting the same as a trade-off for success. According to the eminent Professors, "the sexual activities of different couples are loosely interrelated by a marketplace, instead of being fully separate or private, and each couple's decisions may be influenced by market conditions.'' Triple talaq and female foeticide are the offshoots of the same views.
In a study, two Professors Laurie Rudman and Janell Fetterolf observed that data from implicit and behavioural choice measures did not support sexual economics theory's central tenet that women view female sexuality as a commodity. Instead, men endorsed sexual exchange more than women did. This supports the idea of Baumeister and Vohs is a vestige of patriarchy. According to Rudman and Fetterolf "men's sexual advice, more than women's, enforced the sexual double standard (i.e., men encouraged men more than women to have casual sex) - a gender difference that was mediated by hostile sexism, but also by men's greater implicit investment in sexual economics. That is, men were more likely to suppress female sexuality because they resisted female empowerment and automatically associated sex with money more than women did. It appears that women are not invested in sexual economics, but rather, men are invested in patriarchy, even when it means raising the price of sexual relations.''
How to survive in such a world? Mothers give tips to be vigilant, to be inconspicuous, to be less free-spirited, less flamboyant, more alert, and more cautious, and pray every time they walk out of the door that will work. They hope that mother's training will insulate them, help them avoid trouble. How does a young mother feel? To quote from the Facebook post, ''It's a sad thing that when one becomes a mother to a daughter, this ultimate realisation sinks in. All the times your own mother was scared for your safety and how you felt it was an assault on your freedom. When the real evil, THIS EVIL perpetuated daily on our gender in various ways was out there. What tragedy for us that this evil, too, must become a part of the heritage; the curse we handover.''
(Views are strictly personal.)

Sugato Hazra

Sugato Hazra

Our Contributor help bring you the latest article around you


Exclusive

View All

Latest News

View All
Share it
Top