As Jammu and Kashmir goes from being a state to two Union Territories, the misogynist mindset that many fester has raised its head again in the form of ‘casual’ sexist WhatsApp jokes and even political statements. BJP MLA Vikram Singh Saini from Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar is under fire for saying that men can now marry ‘fair’ Kashmiri girls. However, Saini isn’t the only one, as social media is dripping with misogynist jokes about how men from outside of Kashmir can now go and marry the ‘fair and beautiful’ women from the region. In fact there is also an undercurrent of saviour’s complex in their statements of having saved Kashmiri women from a life of oppression.
- BJP MLA Vikram Singh Saini from Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar said that men can now marry ‘fair’ Kashmiri girls.
- Are Kashmiri women property that men can now acquire?
- Such statements show how for most men, women still don't deserve to have a say in matters like marriage.
- While the MLA should be sacked for his insensitive comments, there is no dearth of such comments on social media from common folks.
Saini isn’t the only one, as social media is dripping with misogynist jokes about how men from outside of Kashmir can now go and marry the ‘fair and beautiful women from the region.
According to The Indian Express, Saini said, “Karyakarta bahut utsuk hai aur jo kunwaare hai, unki shaadi wahi karva denge, koi dikkat nahi hai. Kya dikkat hai? Pehle wahaan mahilaon par kitna atyachar tha. Wahaan ki ladki agar kisi Uttar Pradesh ke chorey se shaadi kar le, toh uski nagrikta khatam. Bharat ki nagrikta alag, Kashmir ki alag… Aur jo Muslim karyakarta hai yahaan par, unko khushi manani chahiye… Shaadi wahaan karo na, Kashmiri gori ladki se. Khushi manani chahiye. Poore chahe Hindu, Musalman koi ho. Yeh poore desh ke liye utsah ka vishay hai. (The workers are very excited and those who are bachelors, we'll get them married there. What’s the problem? Earlier, women had to face so much oppression there. If a woman from there got married to a lad from Uttar Pradesh, her citizenship would be revoked. They had different citizenship for India and Kashmir. And the Muslim karyakartas here should celebrate. Get married there now, to a fair Kashmiri girl. There should be celebrations. Everyone should do so… Be it Hindu or Muslims. This is a subject for celebration across the nation.)
Are Kashmiri women objects that can be possessed freely by the men now? Do they have no agency in the social narrative that surrounds revoking of Article 370 and 35A? Note how the MLA doesn’t say that Kashmiri women can marry anyone they want (which would have still been wrong, as there was never a restriction on women marrying outside of Kashmir), he instead says that men can now go and marry them. This isn't just about the structuring of sentences; it is about the likening of millions of women to a piece of land, which is now free for acquisition to all. This is the narrative one can see among social media trolls as well. Just as they are enthusiastically making plans to buy property in Kashmir, they want to marry Kashmiri women too. Many of these poorly informed people see themselves as knights in shining armour for Kashmiri women, out to save them from decades of oppression.
Are Kashmiri women objects that can be possessed freely by the men now? Do they have no agency in the social narrative that surrounds revoking of Article 370 and 35A?
Why just Kashmir though, women's agency over their bodies and individuality have very few takers in our patriarchal society, countrywide. Women still largely remain devoid of the right to makes life choices for themselves. Whom they marry is decided by their peers. Whom they should love is decided my entitled Romeos who cannot take 'no' for an answer. So does this statement from an elected leader come as a surprise? No, it doesn't. Perhaps the cost of land would keep these men from barging into Kashmir to buy property, but what will stop them from feeling entitled to marry or chase Kashmir's women?
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.