When a senior female advocate faltered with her arguments last week at the Madras High Court, the judge apparently went on to ask her if she had a busy morning in the kitchen that day, reports Live Law. Instead of feeling put off, the entire courtroom erupted into laughter. That is how most people perceive sexist remarks, a casual jibe or a joke meant to instigate laughter. Who cares if it offends a woman? Who cares if it negates all her struggle, sincerity and effort to succeed on the professional front? At the end of the day a working woman is expected to feel grateful for being “allowed” to work. She must be eternally thankful to the society for letting her step into men’s world.
- For every working woman the act of stepping out of her home to earn comes with a cost.
- They are constantly reminded that they are better suited to stay at home.
- Most people perceive sexist remarks, a casual jibe or a joke meant to instigate laughter.
- Who cares if it negates all her struggle, sincerity and effort to succeed on the professional front?
Whether it is in offices, hospitals or courtrooms, your gender always catches up with you.
Every working woman in this country knows the price of crossing the threshold of their homes to earn their own money. While our society accepts working women’s existence in the outside world, it still does it with a bit of resentment. Women are better suited to stay at home and do kitchen duties, they still opine. For them, their professional duties are always secondary to the household duties. This is something many people still believe in and they never let go of an opportunity to remind women where they actually belong, according to them. So whether it is in offices, hospitals or courtrooms, their gender always catches up with them.
Sexist jibes are barbs thrown in working women’s way to remind them they are unwanted in the outside world. They must keep their heads down and work, but they must also never forget that they women navigating through men’s world and courtrooms are no different. The common perception seems to be that women are less competent to make arguments before the bench, according to the above stated report, and it isn’t hard to believe it. Being a woman we all know how our capabilities get side-lined, as people fail to look past our gender when they assess her.
Sexist jibes are barbs thrown in working women’s way to remind them they are unwanted in the outside world.
Just this International Women’s Day, Indira Jaising, one of India’s leading human rights advocate urged the CJI to take active measures to make sure that advocates and judges across the country are mindful and checked for the gender sensitivity of their language, inside the courtrooms and outside, in an open letter. “Recently, I was referred as a ‘wife’ rather than by my name or as counsel, by a senior male lawyer in the courtroom, although immediate corrective action was taken by him upon my protest. It was left to counsel to point out ‘this is a sexist remark.’ The judge did not protest. In another event, a lawyer remarked to a fellow panelist on a national television debate that ‘if you are afraid, go wear petticoats and bangles,” she wrote.
This is the Indian judiciary system we are talking about. We can’t have it wielding justice with tinted glasses. Women in courtrooms as judges and advocates or as plaintiffs are a normal sight. But the sexist gaze sees them as an abnormality. How then, can we expect that the law will be just to us, if our gender blocks the gaze of those who wield it? It is high time those inside the courtrooms in our country overruled sexism, because women are not going anywhere. They will stand tall and demand a gender neutral gaze and they’ll keep fighting their cause until justice is served.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.