Politicians across parties are increasingly running out of ammunition, as the general election draws closer. BJP spokesman Gaurav Bhatia’s “Go wear petticoat” comment on national television is a case in point. With this misplaced comment, Bhatia has insulted both the Indian women and the opposition alike and the act did nothing more than out him as a sexist man.

In their attempt to one-up the opposition, politicians often end up making offensive remarks, which are misogynist in nature. However, this specific comment by Bhatia draws spotlight towards a very commonplace diatribe amongst men, that of belittling the rival’s manhood by telling him to embrace femininity.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • In telling a Congress representative to “go wear petticoat” BJP spokesman Gaurav Bhatia insulted women and the opposition alike.
  • Such sexist diatribe is quite commonplace among Indian men, brimming with toxic masculinity.
  • Wearing bangles or petticoat isn’t a sign of fragility. Thus, men should stop using it as an insult.
  • Pinning your identity and existence to your manhood is a sign of insecurity.  

Why do men see feminine attributes as an insult?

You don’t have to watch news channels to wary of this gender-based attack, which is everyday on Indian streets. Indian men, brimming with ideas which glorify toxic behaviour, can seldom resist the temptation of taking a jibe at a rival’s manhood. And what better way to emasculate him by pushing femininity on him. But why do men see feminine attributes as an insult? Doesn’t it speak more about their own deep-seated insecurities, which sees being equated to women as degrading? Or has this something to do with centuries of conditioning, which has trained us to associate womanhood with weaker traits like fragility and timidity?

A modern Indian woman is anything but timid or dainty, and yet men in our country fail to see beyond these stereotypes. Wonder what will it take for women to brush off these cobwebs of toxicity? Women today serve in the armed forces, brave problems like harassment and gendered violence to attain education and remain in the workforce. But in this part of the world you are not a man if you are not toxically aggressive, fearless and invincible. Who is going to tell them that there is no such thing as being completely fearless or invincible? Or that men and women are both made of flesh and blood?

Strength and endurance aren’t just physical attributes, but psychological too. Thus, these aren’t traits specific to any gender.

The idea of toxic masculinity looks grand only on the silver screen. They look glamorous in your thoughts. But, dear men, when you exercise these values in real life, it only makes you more brittle and susceptible to manipulation. Anyone can goad you into committing a crime or being hateful by merely questioning your manhood. Why is your masculinity so fragile, that merely wearing bangles or petticoat can crush it to mulch? Isn’t it possible that it is you who has made it so susceptible to damage?

Men need to ask these questions to themselves, if they want to save themselves from the endless cycle of toxicity which ends up defining their lives. Women are strong, dependable, resilient and enduring despite wearing petticoats or bangles. Men have to just look at their mothers, wives, daughters, female friends and colleagues closely to understand that. No amount of gendered diatribe from men running high toxic masculinity can change this fact. So instead of taking it as an insult, take it as a compliment, if someone tells you to wear bangles or petticoats. These are not signs of fragility, but pinning your manhood on not being equated to women is.

Picture Credit: News18

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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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