Karnataka Energy Minister HD Revanna’s remarks against actor Sumalatha shows how women can never have it easy in politics. No matter what, sexist remarks and crass political discourse is never far from you. Often, women with any kind of political links only end up becoming frequent targets of such jibes. Fellow politicians feel it is fair to take digs at these women because they are versed with ways of the field. But this is not an acceptable excuse to pass any kind of sexist remarks. Period.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • HD Revanna criticised actor Sumalatha for venturing into politics just months after her politician-husband’s death.
  • Should a bereaved woman retire from public life altogether, as per the minister?
  • Women deserve respect and the right to live their lives as per their will, irrespective of their background or marital status.
  • Revanna’s remarks, try to cash on that bias which widows face due to their status.

Should widows retire from public life altogether?

According to The News Minute, HD Revanna questioned Sumalatha’s entrance into politics just months after her politician husband’s demise. He said, “It’s not even been a month since her husband died and instead of grieving, she is already displaying political ambitions and is saying she wants to contest elections. See what level they have stooped to.” Revanna questioned a widow’s intentions, for contesting elections from her late husband’s seat. Should a bereaved woman retire from public life altogether? Or what is the acceptable period after which he would approve of her taking up politics?

Revanna’s comments try to cash on the orthodox mandates that we implement on widows, for political gains.

Indian widows face a lot of regulations and prejudices due to their status. There is a stark difference in a way we treat unmarried, married and widowed women. Most people still expect the latter to lead a humble life, away from the public eye, mourning their loss, long enough for people to be convinced that they actually feel bereaved. From what they eat to how they dress, even how they carry themselves in public, nothing is off scrutiny.

So if a widow resumes work, begins to socialise or resumes her daily life soon after her husband’s death, people feel entitled to reprimand her and question her intentions. Oh, she overtook family business so soon after her husband passed away, surely she married him for his money. She went back to wearing “attractive” clothes just months into widowhood, she is already looking for a second husband shamelessly. Revanna’s comments too, try to cash on these orthodox mandates.

Women deserve respect and the right to live their lives as per their will, irrespective of their background or marital status.

Should this former actress simply not contest the general elections, which happen once in five years, because they come at the heels of her husband’s demise? Perhaps it is her way of paying a tribute to her husband. Perhaps she doesn’t want some else to contest and win from the constituency which her husband fought from. Or perhaps her motivations are purely political. But no reason validates Revanna’s comment. Female politicians or women with political backgrounds cannot be treated as easy targets, at whom anyone can take a pot shot, as, when and however they like.

Women deserve respect and the right to live their lives as per their will, irrespective of their background or marital status. So, is there no cure for this menace of sexist diatribes against women in politics? Sure, there is – a reprimand. We must all unanimously reprimand leaders who resort to making sexist comments at female politicians. Political rivalry is one thing but demeaning someone by upholding patriarchal and outdated dictates is a regressive practice which needs to end. We cannot allow politicians to keep festering it, just because we identify or back the political party or ideology they represent.

But then is battling sexism a top priority in our country right now? Do we actually care more about how women are treated, more than we care about political agendas? Your guess is as good as mine. And that is where the change needs to begin.

Picture Credit : The News Minute

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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